Entrepreneur and author Jen Lawrence was a stay-at-home mom who was shocked when her successful husband of 13 years decided to leave. Even though she’d worked as an investment banker before having kids, she’d lost touch with their personal finances and felt like her career prospects were slim. Rocked with emotion, Lawrence found it difficult to try to navigate the divorce process and make decisions that would optimize her, and her children’s, future.
Flash forward a decade to when her second husband left via a phone call from the airport. Lawrence, who was now working as a writer and consultant, had spent the last ten years researching divorce, money, self-care, parenting, happiness, power imbalance in relationships, and moving forward after trauma. She’d also researched and co-authored a book on critical thinking and decision making.
Her knowledge, combined with her previous experience with divorce, transformed the process from the chaos and confusion of her first divorce to a business deal that supported her future goals. She was able to put her energy into healing: something she’d not done during her first divorce, which is what led to an ill-fated marriage. She wanted other women facing divorce to be armed with her hard-earned knowledge and decided to train as a Divorce Coach.
To help guide women through the divorce process, Jen is releasing the book Design Your Divorce: Simple Ways to Preserve Your Health, Wealth, And Sanity in January 2021. Home Business Magazine recently caught up with Jen and asked her about her journey that brought her to where she is today and much more.
HBM: Can you share your professional background?
JL: “I’m a Divorce Coach. I have my CDC Certified Divorce Coach® and CDC Divorce Transition and Recovery Coach™ certifications, which are the gold-standard in divorce coaching. I’m also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professional, so I can help my clients better understand their finances.
Prior to being a Divorce Coach, I was a writer and did some consulting work while I was raising my kids as a single parent. I wrote a book on critical thinking titled Engage the Fox, which was taught at a few universities. My background is investment banking and consulting, where I learned that the key to helping people is to ask a lot of questions.”
HBM: How did you go from a career in banking to a WFH divorce coach? What does the process or training entail?
JL: “I worked in banking until I wanted to have kids. I had trouble getting pregnant and the high-stress banking environment was not helping. So, I ended up switching to not-for-profit work and then, once I had my children, I worked from home as a writer. I started out writing about business but ended up focusing on areas that interested me more, such as parenting, happiness, and self-care. I’d thought about becoming a coach for a long time, since I’d written a mentoring and coaching program for a client and I’d seen the value of coaching in my own life.
But I did not think about Divorce Coaching until my second husband called me from an airport in another city to announce the end of our marriage. I kicked into autopilot based on my previous experience with divorce a decade earlier. I knew what to do and, more importantly, I knew what not to do to make divorce easier. I decided to combine my knowledge of critical thinking, finance, the divorce process, and self-care to help clients through their divorces. I figured out what certifications I needed to get started, which included class time, peer coaching, mentor coaching, and exams. I feel like I’ve found my calling. All of my past experiences — including my rather bumpy personal life — have prepared me to coach my clients.”
HBM: How do you stand out from the rest of the competition?
JL: “I’m a pretty straight shooter and focus on getting my clients smarter about their money and maximizing their options. I’m not wind chimes and whale music and will dish out a dose of tough love if my client needs it. My goal is to help my clients figure out their goals, optimize their divorce settlements, and then use that as a springboard to build an amazing new life. There is nothing I like better than seeing someone transform themselves from a place of shock and fear to wanting to go out and build an empire.”
HBM: What is your best piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
JL: “You need to make sure people want your product or service so research, research, research. And then, you need people to find out about your product. I was a pioneering mommy blogger and back then, you could literally write keywords in your footer and readers would come flocking. Marketing is so much more sophisticated now so the very first thing I did with this business was to hire a marketing specialist. She’s worth her weight in gold.”
HBM: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who work with their spouses at home? How can they work together more effectively during quarantine?
JL: “Right now, I’m actually asking clients considering divorce to not jump to conclusions about their marriages, unless the need to exit is crystal clear (in the case of physical or financial abuse, the pandemic is putting people at higher risk.) Everyone is annoyed with their spouses right now due to the work-from-home dynamic.
Instead of encouraging clients to file for divorce, I encourage them to extend some grace to others and carve out some space for themselves. If one spouse has a particularly noisy call scheduled, maybe the other spouse can take that time to walk the dog. I encourage clients to make a physical space in their homes — even if it’s a closet or a bathroom — that’s off limits to spouses and children when the door is closed. I also recommend everyone to invest in a couple of pairs of noise-canceling earbuds and separate desks: it’s a way cheaper solution than divorce.”
HBM: How do you think that entrepreneurs will be working differently with COVID-19?
JL: “I had originally intended to set up a brick-and-mortar office and serve local clients. Instead, I established my coaching practice online using video calls and accountability software, so I can serve clients around the globe. I think that a lot of entrepreneurs have had to figure out how to serve their client groups remotely. I know one personal trainer who has moved online, and he can now serve former clients who have moved. I know there are huge losses due to the pandemic, but the challenge of entrepreneurship is to look for the opportunities.”
HBM: What’s your advice for those going through divorce?
JL: “I have a few actually:
1. Be kind to yourself. Truly. Divorce is one of the most traumatic experiences, so you need some time to grieve. Divorce also moves fast, so you’ll have to make some decisions when it’s the last thing you want to do. Build in lots of self-care. If you have a meeting with your lawyer, meet a friend after for a walk. And if, every once in a while, you lose it, extend yourself some grace.
2. Find a good support team in terms of professionals and friends. A solid divorce team — an attorney, a financial professional, and a coach or therapist — can make a huge difference when it comes to the duration and stress of your divorce. I always remind clients that this is their divorce and they need a team of people who support their choices. Take the time to interview professionals before hiring them to make sure they’re on the same wavelength. It’s also the time to surround yourself with your most solid friends: people who support your choices, don’t create drama, and make you feel good.
3. Realize that divorce is a business. The end of a marriage is often very emotional, but divorce is easier if you can separate the relationship from the business at hand. Divorce focuses on splitting assets, establishing support, and dividing parenting time. It’s not about establishing who’s right or who’s the bad guy or exacting revenge (the concept of no-fault divorce exists for a reason.) Work with your divorce team so you are in a place where you can compartmentalize your emotions. Your job is to figure out what you want from the divorce and then work with your team to get it.”
You can connect with Lawrence at the links below: