Leadership Development Lessons from Janie Jasin – Speaker, Author, Friend


Leadership Development Lessons from Janie Jasin – Speaker, Author, Friend

Recently, my speaking coach, mentor, and friend Janie Jasin, passed away. She always encouraged me. She challenged me to raise the bar on my own leadership development. She positively impacted the lives of all who crossed her path. She will be deeply missed.

About eighteen months ago, I wrote my first tribute to Janie. Today, I pay tribute to Janie Jasin again – an influential, impactful, inspirational, encouraging, and visionary leader. 

As a successful professional speaker, Janie shared her wisdom in thousands of presentations for more than 30 years. She authored several books, including The Littlest Christmas Tree, which sold more than 2 million copies. 

Here are some of the key moments with Janie that spotlight her influence on my leadership development journey.

First Impressions, Lasting Impact

I first saw Janie in Minneapolis. We were both facilitating workshops at a convention for high-performance leaders. When I finished my workshop, I sneaked into the back of the room where Janie was speaking. Within moments, I was spellbound – as was the rest of the audience.  Her ability to compellingly communicate was something to behold. It was transformational.

At that moment, I knew I needed her as my speaking coach! I wanted to make a positive impact in people’s lives – to be a transformational author, speaker, coach, and consultant.

The most influential leaders crave making a lasting, transformative impact.

Build Relationship, Then Build the Business

Janie’s approach as a coach and mentor impacted my own approach. In preparing for the launch of Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leaders,  I knew this was the opportune time to reach out to Janie.

Before we “got down to business,” Janie invited me into a relationship. She wanted to learn more about my gifts, talents, dreams, aspirations, fears, and calling. She also shared herself and her story, opening a treasure chest of knowledge, expertise, and experience. Before long, it knew I was talking to a friend – one I could trust with my hopes and dreams. One I could trust with my passion for training up strong character-based leaders.

But don’t get me wrong, when it came down to the business part, Janie was relentless. She challenged me to see life from different perspectives – to “feel” life from the vantage point of the other person.

Janie’s approach of building a relationship first, before starting the process of mentoring and coaching, impacted me, and others, greatly.

The most impactful leaders, build relationships built on trust.

Create Opportunities, Then Make an Impact

Janie sought to turn every opportunity into a high impact encounter. Here are some practices that she shared with me, that challenge me to be intentional and strategic in my communication: 

  • When I ask a question to the audience and I’m giving them time to think and respond, I wait patiently, praying The Lord’s Prayer.” I thought, my goodness, what a wonderful way to stay calm and focused!
  • “When I’m autographing books, I pray for the person as I’m writing them a short note of encouragement.” Again, I was astounded. Every time I had to do a book signing session for Millennials Matter, I remembered her words.
  • And, this is still the most impactful for me, “Danita, it’s so important to love the audience. Love them like Jesus loves them. Then they will see His Light shining through you.”Janie’s focus wasn’t on getting the audience to think she was giving a great talk.  Her focus was on conveying her message in such a way that they will be touched on a spiritual level.

This selfless attitude continually calls me to “raise the bar” on my own game, whether I’m writing or keynoting.

The most inspirational leaders seek to opportunities to make a positive impact.

Care About the Small, Achieve Big Results

Janie and I often discussed developing leaders of solid character, the main theme of Millennials Matter. She reminded me to look at the bigger picture. Every aspect of a person must be well-cared for: spiritual, relational, physical, intellectual, and financial – Janie was adamant that each of these areas deserved attention.

A few days after our discussed, she mailed me this “Well-being Formula.”

  1. Search for new ways to do your work so that you become even MORE effective.
  2. Learn survival skills and special stress-buster exercises to use at work, at home, and in life.
  3. Experience music and movement as a tool to relax.
  4. Find ways to create a nurturing atmosphere for your work and life.
  5. Reactivate your sense of humor and don’t take yourself too seriously.
  6. Use breathing exercises to help you stay focused on the now.
  7. Take a mini-moment vacation to give your brain a breather.
  8. Smile more often – it is a miracle of soft connecting.
  9. Disarm overly serious people with humor. Humor is your ally.

Janie put this last one in all caps!  She knew I was always focused on my ToDo List, and sometimes forgot to look, listen and laugh. , Whenever I look at this list, that’s the first item I see. It makes me smile.

The most encouraging leaders know the power of really looking, listening and laughing.

Serving Others, Deliver a Huge ROI

At the Millennials Matter book in Minneapolis, she gifted me with this special message, which she penned. This poem reminds me of the positive impact she had on the lives of all who crossed her path.



Success is the feeling you get when you know

You did something so special; you were the star of your show.

It’s a fire that crackles and feels like it glows

You get all excited right down through your toes.

It makes you so peppy, you can hardly sit still.

Your mind dances around you from ridges to rill.

You speak with conviction YOU BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

The people you meet stay on just to listen.

They stay all around you to learn how to glisten.

And later that day when you are alone,

You find that you’re smiling right through to the bone.

For success is the service, turned into esteem.

You did something for others, your lamp’s on high beam.

You look on ahead not frightened or shy.

You can see more good coming, you know by and by.

That you’ve got what it takes to build on the past

Remembering highlights and memories that last.

Putting others out front, you turn inside out.

You feel what they’re feeling. Their praises you shout.

You wrap it in presents, and still you get more.

You draw it in pictures, it comes in the door.

You keep on giving it and giving it away.

Copyright, Janie Jasin, 1998.

Break from the Old, Break into the New

When the first lockdowns were announced in 2020, the world was in shock. I shared my concerns with Janie. Her reply blew me away. In this note, Janie assured me, in her unique, eloquent way, that this is not the end.  It’s the beginning of a new way. These lines really hit home…

“Break from The Old – Break into the New. 

We enter life, work, family, at our NORMAL, and then surprises and shocks awaken us to different patterns, fears, hopes, and plans. 

You will find the way. You began speaking one way. You are now called to explore the many new ways to reach people.”

Interestingly, that’s the theme of my recent articles series where we discuss the power of asking ourselves one power-packed question – What might I do to make a positive impact?

The most visionary leaders embrace the future.

Be an Influential, Impactful, Inspirational, Encouraging, Visionary Leader 

You can read more about “what-might-I-do-to-make-a- positive-impact” concept that was inspired by Janie’s impact on me in the 5 Success Mindset Series HERE.

Leadership Lesson: Invite a next-gen leader into your area of expertise and challenge them to grow.

Leadership Question:  Who is the Millennial in your life whom you can impact positively?

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