Becoming a Badass


Hi! I’m Jessica Zelenko.

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I’m a Career Coach and I specialize in helping people figure out what they want to do with their lives and making the dream happen. 

I care a whole lot about you living a great life. I believe a great life includes a job you are pumped about. Is your life awesome in so many ways but you’re embarrassed about your job? Don’t worry! I’ve got you!

For years, I felt like I was leading a totally blessed life but I was deeply embarrassed about my career. Actually, I was embarrassed that I had no fricken clue what my career could, should, or would be. I was passionate about a lot of things but none of it seemed to transfer to my work life.

To this day, the word career makes me a little squirmy because I was never on a career track. I worked to get by, not ahead. I tried my best to be happy with boring work but an exciting life outside of work. But everyday, I felt like my brain was slowly melting. A brain I’d put a lot of money and effort into cultivating over the years! Each family reunion or stranger asking me what I did for a living became a more embarrassing and soul crunching experience.

I wasn’t doing anything with my degree at work. I wasn’t doing anything with my intelligence at work. I wasn’t doing anything with all of the hard work I had put into making myself into a smart, interesting go-getter at work.

Outside of work my life was full, challenging and fun. I was “Becoming a Badass” after all. But I kept coming back to the fact that I didn’t feel like a real badass. I had about 35 hours a week of brain-draining, soul-crushing work. (Which I acknowledge is not a lot of time spent at work but…)

I wanted to be a badass in every part of my life. 

I was a waitress for 5-years after graduating from a very expensive college, CalArts, with a BFA in Acting. CalArts is regularly named one of the top ten acting schools in the country, and even though I loved being on stage and in front of a camera, I realized during school that the life of a working actor was not what I wanted. I knew I didn’t want to spend in my life auditioning, facing rejection and having to live in LA or NYC.

I thought maybe I wanted to be a stylist, which I had a  job at a very cool vintage clothing store called Shareen Downtown in downtown LA where I helped style celebrities and LA cool kids. I felt really f-ing cool but I didn’t want to spend my life doing the LA hustle. Plus, there had to be more to life than dance parties and great outfits, right?

So, like the typical LA party girl I was, I decided to take a solo road trip to my parents unoccupied home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and do a juice cleanse. I thought I’d meditate, drink a bunch of water with cheyanne and lemon, see God or something and return to LA with it all figured out. I was a platinum blonde at the time, and believe me, I wasn’t counting on getting my hair done in a tiny town in Wyoming. I thought this would be a three week trip at most.

Three weeks turned into six years.

I broke my juice cleanse with a beer and ended up going on a few dates with the bartender. Jackson Hole was full of young athletic college graduates who wanted to ski, play and travel before settling into the “real world.” These people were having more fun than me and I could not let that happen.

I switched my goal from becoming an international party girl to Becoming a Badass. My most badass physical activity during college was peddling around campus on a vintage cruiser in ruffly undies, a sundress and oversized sunglasses. Basically, I took part in ironic bike riding. Oh, my hipster days.

To support myself in Jackson I got a job at the self-proclaimed World Famous Mangy Moose, dressing in a short skirt and fuzzy boots while convincing groups of men on their winter ski vacations to do rounds of car bombs so that I could fund my new hobbies of skiing and travel. I traveled to Japan, Thailand, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Italy, Israel and some other sweet spots. I learned how to ski, mountain bike, rock climb, cliff jump, scuba dive, climb volcanos, surf and, generally, became my definition of a badass at the time. This was really fun for a while, but when I turned 25, I was ready to turn in my fuzzy boots and flirtatious ways.

I decided it was time to get a job that, at the very least, frowned on doing shots while working. I upgraded to a nice restaurant, Trio, where I could make a ridiculous amount of money in a short amount of time and even get insurance (including dental!).

I was wearing what we in the service industry call the golden handcuffs. I had no real opportunity for advancement and definitely wasn’t stimulated but things were pretty darn good. I had a lot of freedom and stress free time on my hands and enough money, but I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I was born to do work that I actually was interested in. I spent three years at this job hoping someone would “discover me” and set me up with the perfect job. What that job was, I had no idea.

My friends and I would regularly complain over cocktails about how we were going to end up as crippled diner waitresses with flat feet and no retirement if we didn’t stop this ski bumming lifestyle.

Quick disclaimer:  I love me some ski bums. I’m inspired by people who love skiing so much that it’s all they want to do. I, unfortunately, am not  a ski bum at heart. I just don’t like skiing that much. :/

But I wasn’t just a waitress and ski bum during my post college years. In my abundant free time I was a self-improvement junkie. I was obsessed with improving every area of my life and documenting it on my blog Becoming a Badass.

In the blog, I  chronicled my journey from LA party girl to Jackson Hole Badass. I made such a successful transformation that others saw it and started asking me about making changes in their own lives. This was the beginning of what I now consider my life’s work.

When I tore my ACL skiing and was laid-up, unable to move much for three months, I finally started turning all of my attention to finding out what I want to do with my life. I read, researched and studied everything I could about how to find the right career. I took tons of personality tests, answered a lot of questions for self-assesment, did research and informational interviews and finally came to the conclusion and I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted to be a Career Coach and run an online business.

Then, I started coaching for free for about 3/4 of a year.

I was hooked. I was helping people change their lives for the better! I was finally doing work that I love.

I took three life coaching courses, one from Christie Watts Coaching, one from CoachU and, finally, I got my certificate from NYU in Life Coaching.

These days, I’m doing what I love and getting paid for it. It’s a good life! I’m still building my business and have bridge jobs to help pay the rent, but I’m getting closer and closer to doing what I love full time. Let me tell you, it feels amazing!

I want, more than anything, to help you feel amazing about what you do for work. I want you to be a badass in every area of your life. It’s time for you to love your work and your life!

I know what it’s like to be really confused and frustrated. Not knowing what you want to do with your life is a slow and subtle torture. It’s horrible but I’ve found the way out. Not only do I know how to help you figure out what you want to do with your life, I know how to make it fun.

I would be honored to help you badass up to your best life. Let’s get you some momentum and a smart plan to follow. I’ll be there to support you, hold you accountable and make sure you do the work to make your dream happen. I know you were meant for more than just a great life outside of your work.

Thanks for joining in on the adventure!




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