Watch the Interview
Chicks and Local Charities Connecting with Jewels Muller
Jewels Muller is a wife and a mother of twin boys. She is the Founder and CEO of Chicks Connect Mastermind Support Network. She has an amazing passion for life and supporting entrepreneurs. She has her Master’s Degree in Education, Policies, Foundation and Administration, and her undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon. She spent many years as a teacher and Administrator in the Public-School System. Jewels has spent over a decade as an Entrepreneur.
She launched Peace of Mind Organizing Firm in 2004 where she worked with clients organizing and creating systems for productivity in their homes and offices. Her simple organizational and productivity processes and systems have assisted numerous clients to become even more efficient so that they can spend time doing the things they love. In 2006 she added coaching services through a Life Blueprint Coaching program. Speaking, writing, and supporting entrepreneurs are her passions which is evident in her coaching clientele and her ever-growing Mastermind Support Network, Chicks Connect. You can join the movement at www.ChicksConnect.com and connect with her on social media by searching Jewels Muller.
Read the Interview
Hugh Ballou: Greetings, this is Hugh Ballou. Welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. I have a lovely guest today, someone who I’ve known for a number of years. I pinned her down and said, “Why don’t you share some of your stories with all these leaders out there looking for creative ideas?” People who talk to us have great experiences, great stories, great wisdom. I’m here to tell my story because I made all the mistakes possible, so I know a lot of things that don’t work. We have people with life experience on here. I’m going to say hello to Jewels Muller today. Say a little bit about yourself and what is your passion for what you’re doing.
Jewels Muller: Hugh, thanks so much for having me. Hello to the community who is watching and reading and listening. I’m excited to be here and share some mistakes that I’ve made as well, some challenges that I face as a leader, and my passion.
My background is that of education. I was a teacher in elementary, middle, and high school. I got my master’s in administration and went back as a vice principal. Then I was blessed with twins. I decided at that time after they were probably two years old that it was time for me to leave education and be a stay-at-home mom, of which I realized that was the hardest job I’ve ever done. After a few months of doing that, I really took a look at what my passions were and what my talents, abilities, gifts, and skills were. I realized I had a real knack for organization. I’m left-brain, I’m a little OCD, so I like things systematic, in order. I knew that I could help other people create order out of chaos in their home space, their business space, and soon to be, in their mind space, as I ventured out into coaching as well.
I 2004, I started a professional organizing company called Peace of Mind because that is the result I wanted my clients to have. In 2006, I started a coaching program. I was certified by a fabulous coach, Laura Berman Fortgang, in the 90 Days to a New Life Direction coaching program. Then I realized a lot of my coaching clients were women. A lot of my organizing clients were women. Some of them were hiring me to do things that friends used to do for them. If you can imagine, I know as a young teen, my girlfriends and I would sort through our closets and help each other figure out what clothes we wanted to keep and what ones we wanted to give away. You usually ended up with a bag of clothes from your friends. A lot of clients hiring me for organizing were really looking for a friend. They wanted me to stay for lunch, and help them get organized, but have that connection, that relationship. They were either new to town or newly divorced. Some of them just needed help and support. My passion really was about helping people, primarily women. I didn’t exclude men; it just seemed that women were more my clientele base. That went on for a good six years.
Then I moved. I realized that I had to build my network all over again. I was wondering how am I going to do that in a new town. I went to some networking meetings with the Chamber and realized that I missed that connection that wasn’t just business. I was looking for a support system as well as business promotion. I decided I had my own meetings, and I invited three women I knew and asked them to invite friends they knew. In 2010, we met in a coffee shop, and I led it like I would a normal meeting. We had an agenda. We had a purpose for our meeting. I asked the women join together and really support one another personally and professionally.
Since then, it’s been something I’ve really been fascinated with: supporting people on a local as well as global level.
Hugh: It’s fair to say you’ve been mobile for most of the time I’ve known you. You finally put roots down in South Carolina. What was the event to say you needed to buy a house and settle down?
Jewels: Let me back up a few paces to talk about why we went mobile. After that first meeting where the 12 women met, and I asked them to share personally and professionally ways that we could support them, the women had a hard time identifying a personal support question they might have. They were so used to caring for aging parents or children or their business employees or other people that they weren’t taking a look at what they needed themselves. When we finally got through to them as far as what might a personal request be, we had a brave woman stand up and say, “I’m a newly divorced woman. I’m single. My kids are grown and gone. I’d like to have some fun.” We said, “Okay. Let’s have some fun.” That became a founding principle of what I’m doing today. Another woman said, “I’m trying to have a conversation with my 14-year-old son, but we’re not connecting.” A woman across the table said, “I have a 21-year-old son. I’ve been there, done that. Let’s talk about it after the meeting.” All these little connections were popping, and the support was happening naturally, which was beautiful.
After the first meeting, the women asked to do this again. We decided to do it the next week. During that second meeting, I call it the download from God, He had been tapping on my head, “Bring women together. Show your love and support. Get back to education.” It was just taking a different format. I opened my mouth and said, “I need a leader for this chapter. I need to open this worldwide.” I couldn’t believe I said it. I had no idea how. We were talking about the how. I just knew that it was supposed to happen. I’d figure out the how along the way. It was just about eight months later that I hit the road, which became part of the how.
What you mentioned was when we met, I was mobile. Not only did I have the prompting to start this community where women support women, but I also had the prompting to sell everything we had, get into a motor home, travel, homeschool our kids, and share this message with people face-to-face so they could feel my passion, know my heart, know my purpose, and know the importance to me not to have a virtual community, but have a local community. I know you help people do the same in their local communities, just with nonprofits and churches. That is why we hit the road. That was eight years ago.
That gets you caught up to eight years of traveling across the United States and sharing Chicks Connect and homeschooling our kiddos and touring this beautiful country of ours. It has truly been a blessing. A lot of movements on faith, that’s for sure.
Hugh: That all sounds very romantic. I’m sure there is a reality side of that. Let’s travel and see the country. But you went some intriguing places. I met you somewhere soon after you started this.
Jewels: I think so.
Hugh: It was a unique idea. Thanks for that story. What is the value of community, both virtual and local? Why even think about a community?
Jewels: I know especially through times like this, uncertain times, it’s great to have a community of support. Now our chapters couldn’t meet locally, but we switched our chapters to a virtual community using the Zoom platform. That love and support and encouragement could continue. Our meetings, it depended on the chapter, but each meeting altered their format just a little bit to attend to emergency needs, like what’s happening right now in your world. What conversations do we need to have? Those wouldn’t typically necessarily be part of a meeting structure. They did what they had to do in order to support one another throughout these uncertain times.
The other thing that happened, a challenge to our business, is our numbers decreased. People were losing their businesses, their jobs. People were worried financially. Quickly, we had Sister Chicks donate money to scholarships for some of the women in their chapter. I matched those scholarships. It’s building that support and sisterhood and community to take care of one another in hardship times.
Other things. We’ve had death of spouses. We’ve had people’s family members or loving pets lost. We’ve had a leadership role within our chapters called the Care Chick. Our Care Chick responsibility is if a member is not at a meeting, they send a quick text, “Hey, we missed you. We love you. We’re thinking about you.” Or if someone is having a baby, they coordinate the baby shower. If there has been a loved one lost, they help coordinate the meal train. The real importance of local support is not only in times of tragedy, but times of celebration. So often, especially the women that I was working with as coaching clients, they are very driven. They will check off all the things on their to-do list, but they will forget to celebrate. Having that support system that surrounds you, helps you celebrate in times of accomplishments, no matter how big or small the accomplishment is, it’s great to take a moment and pause and celebrate that. Those are some of the things that the community does to support one another.
Hugh: The collaborative energy. I am thinking of communities. I served Christian churches, mega-churches, for 40 years as music director, so I related everybody. Where I am now, my wife works for the judicatory; there is 86 Methodist churches, so we move around a lot. I miss that anchor community, but I do have a Rotary, which is purpose-driven and strong principles and is a service organization. It’s an exemplary organization. Like all organizations, we’re in transition. Many of those organizations are losing members. It’s a time. I keep hearing the term, “We’re coming out of this COVID quarantine, so it’s time for a new normal.” It’s almost time for a new radical. We all need to do things differently.
Let’s talk about your situation. Yes, you lost numbers. You did have scholarships come up, so you can help people stay in the chapters. What needs to change just generally in communities? I’m looking at this myself because SynerVision has a community for nonprofit leaders, people who are creating a local organization that is focusing on purpose. How do we help people? I’m interested myself in what you will say. I learn something from every guest. What needs to be different in your world? What thoughts do you have for other people? A lot of people do have private communities. What are your thoughts about realigning and reenergizing your community in the future?
Jewels: That’s a great question and one you do need to pose to your individual communities. Yearly, I ask my community what their personal challenges are and what their professional challenges are. Then I ask them to pose three personal and professional. I take all the results and create the curriculum for the next year. Part of our organization IS A WEEKLY lesson based on discussion topics around their biggest challenges. That’s just one suggestion I have.
Another suggestion would be creative innovation. If you think about Walt Disney, he had some sort of dream room. If you could gather some volunteers from your community to get together into a dream room, it’s like a massive brain dump or storm where everyone has innovative ideas. You talk about what you love about this organization, what we haven’t been engaging with that we could let go of, and work collaboratively so there is buy-in. a lot of times, leaders think that they need to know all the answers for their community. I encourage you to collaborate with your community. If you’re serving them. What is it they need? What do they want? The thing that I encourage our community all the time and the individual chapters is make it fun. Right now especially, people are overwhelmed and stressed out. How can we bring about love, support, fun, and friendship into a business or nonprofit? How can we bring about collaboration and creative ideas?
Sometimes, in the coaching program that I was trained in back in 2006, when you’re working with a coaching client and they reach a stuck point that you can’t past, the training I received was to encourage them to do a hobby by crisis. That means get out and ride a bike, get your legs moving. Do pottery. Sit down and color in one of those color books. Start getting that right brain engaged and thinking creatively and innovatively in a collaborative, creative way. There are lots of different activities that you can do to foster that. I encourage you not to do that alone, but to do it with your community. Possibly, if you’re leading a community, do it with the community that you lead. You as a leader, I hope you also have a community that supports you and gives you what you need so you can be at 100% and fill your communities as well.
Hugh: If you were to list all the reasons that people would join an exclusive community like you have, like we have, what would be the top three?
Jewels: A sense of belonging. I think that’s a connectedness.
A contribution. Where people contribute to you and you contribute to them.
And serving a greater purpose. The day and time, the purpose might be for you to grow personally, or it might be for you to assist someone within your organization to grow professionally, or for them to reach outside beyond the circles of your support group or mastermind group and serve and support others as well. I don’t know that’s very concise.
Hugh: It’s hard to be concise when there is a lot of issues. I do think I would agree that the comradery of having that synergy of like-mindedness together. I have breakfast with my Rotary group. It’s a great bunch of people. They’re there because they want to serve the community. They come from different walks of life. You have realtors, lawyers, accountants, the whole gamut. What we do have in common is what’s important. Especially with clergy and nonprofit leaders, it’s a very high-stress job. The burnout level with nonprofit leaders is 45%. I’ve seen research that only 1/10 clergy make it to retirement. Those are high-stress jobs. We do contribute our share to that stress, all of us.
When I do group sessions from the members in our community, we have a chat, 8-10 people on the screen. Someone will talk about something from Michigan, and someone in Vegas says, “Oh, I know that person. I could connect you with them.” You now live in the South. Welcome, y’all. What we say none of us is as smart as all of us. We have our own grammar rules, as you know.
Jewels: I’m learning.
Hugh: A bunch of y’all is all y’all. There is nuances to language. There are some commonalities that we need to be with our people. When I’m with a bunch of conductors, there is an energy feel that is different than when I am with a bunch of coaches or leadership speakers. There is the synergy of that commonality. Belonging has that.
What are the mechanics? You launched an online community. You join this online community. How did you figure out how to do that?
Jewels: In 2009, I started my path of personal growth and development because in 2008, I joined a company called Send Out Cards. I joined Send Out Cards because it was a perfect relationship-building tool. It would be perfect for me to help their clients get organized with business cards, reaching out, follow-ups, and thank-you’s. It was a perfect organizing tool. What I didn’t realize was that a byproduct of joining a network marketing company was training and instruction in personal growth and development.
I went to my first convention, and T. Harv Eker spoke at the convention. I have a lot of energy. When T. Harv Eker spoke on that stage, I felt like I had met my match. Someone with more energy than I had. I felt normal, and I was like, “Whatever he’s selling, I want to be a part of that.” He’s just very high-energy. He wrote the book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind and ran Peak Potential programs.
I joined his program and had two years of his Quantum Leap training. I did Warrior and Wizard and the marketing courses and Guerilla Marketing Life. My husband and I did this program. It came at a time. I am probably going off topic, but I did want to mention this because it was a big challenge of ours and a big leap of faith. We had lost everything in 2008. My husband lost his businesses. We lost our houses. We lost everything. But I did have my education retirement because I was a teacher. I would not recommend this unless it’s part of your path, but this was the path we chose.
We decided to take our money out of the retirement and invest in our own education. We decided at that time, at age 40, if we couldn’t learn from these gurus, we were a lost cause. We decided to take the leap of faith and cashed out my retirement and invested it in the Peak Potential two-year Quantum Leap program. That was our step into the belief, the mindset. Our minds were messed up having lost everything. We felt like failures, depression. There were a lot of negatives associated with filing for bankruptcy and having your homes and vehicles repossessed. It was a very challenging time. But we decided to take that leap of faith, invest it in our education, and the belief that we could learn from these people who have done it before. That was in 2009.
I didn’t know what my passion or purpose was going to be. I spent two years preparing and learning about Facebook, membership sites, masterminds, the importance of joint ventures and affiliate marketing, providing massive value, charging a little bit each month, reaching the masses. I had all of this education and knowledge, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with it. It wasn’t until November 10, 2010 that that tapping and download came where I said, “Oh, I’m supposed to open this up worldwide.” I have the tools. I know how to create a membership. I know how to create an affiliate program. I know how to create a culture of collaboration, celebration, creation. I know how to support these women in launching these businesses. I can teach them through this platform all I have learned over the past two years and prior to that, my education of children, family, and staff members.
I said to one of my Chicks one time, “I don’t know where it came from.” She looked at me and said, “Jewels, you have been preparing for this your entire life.” It came. The why that makes you cry. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.
Hugh: And you love it, I can tell. I’ve had a similar story. There is nothing like being flat broke and losing everything to sober you up and say, “I gotta do something different here.”
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Chicks Connect is an online and in-person collaborative energy field of women making a difference. How do nonprofits enter into this?
Jewels: My passion for service really was lit on fire when I was a leadership teacher at a high school. We won a grant from PGE. We were given this lump sum of money we needed to disperse throughout the year. They partnered up with people, and they explored all the different charities that were in our school district. They did persuasive speeches and tried to encourage people to take their allotment and give it to their particular charity. I realized the collaboration. You have people working together in support of something else to create a bigger, better project. I understood the need for a lot of organizations and people that were in need of certain things. Even animals. Some students chose animal nonprofits to give to or earth nonprofits. It wasn’t always people. it was an exciting time during our class time when we talked about the charities. That fostered the importance of charity and being of service.
The other thing that fostered that was another personal challenge that I did want to make sure I mentioned today. I never quite know where to bring it up, but I think it’s important because it’s part of my story. I am in recovery. I have over 20 years of recovery for alcohol. Part of the AA program is to be of service during the meetings, to other alcoholics who suffer. I wanted to mention that. That is a core belief of mine. Focusing on being of service to others, but also always doing the next right thing and moving forward. That is a core principle of Chicks Connect.
With the service in my education, with the service in my part of being a community member of AA, and also realizing that giving back as a business owner is something that helps others, but also helps your business. It helps your business to be community-focused and community-minded. That was an important piece.
Part of Chicks Connect is about giving back to the local community. There are some chapters that adopt national or local nonprofits, but I encourage them to find a local charity that they can adopt. Through our organization Chicks Connect, we offer a free membership for that charity. They can send a representative to the meetings and share what fundraisers they have coming up or any support they might need. We give away one membership. Every chapter adopts a charity and schedules different fundraising efforts throughout the year for that charity.
One other thing I wanted to mention that incorporates the innovation, the collaboration. Sometimes, emergencies happen or catastrophes. We had Hurricane Irma. Some of our members of Chicks Connect were affected by that. When one of our members is affected by something, it has this ripple effect that everyone wants to know how they can support that person. A chapter came up with an innovative idea. They wanted to do a Zoom-a-thon. They proposed the idea to me that they would do a 24-hour Zoom-a-thon. I loved it. We didn’t know how we were going to do it. We just had a big, strong why: we wanted to raise money, we wanted to use the platform, and we were going to promote it live all day for 24 hours and create a page where people could donate.
During that 24 hours of time, we scheduled half-hour blocks of various things. One woman taught how to make Thanksgiving cupcakes. She took us all through putting turkeys on top of a cupcake. Another woman taught us how to do a massage for your partner. Another woman worked with another client on some inquisitive questions on coaching to help you get moved out of being stuck. Someone else played music on the piano for a half hour. Someone else read from their book of poetry. Each half hour, the person was responsible for promoting out to their community. Then we had the donation link going for 24 hours. It was something random that we all came together in a collaborative effort and raised money for all the Sister Chicks who were in need. Our main goal was to give them some money so they could replace their groceries that went bad because they were out of electricity, so we were able to help eight of our own members.
An idea to get your leaders thinking about working collaboratively. When someone sparks an idea, people come together, and everybody pitches in, there are ways to get things done.
Hugh: I see! I am a simple guy. I have a simple definition of leadership. Leaders get things done; you figure out how to get things done; and you influence people. We can choose to influence them negatively or positively. You’re a walking example of that.
You can go to ChicksConnect.com for the website. Your email address is Jewels@ChicksConnect.com. It’s a fascinating website. Is it U.S. only or international?
Jewels: We are international, but we only have one member outside the U.S. Actually, our very first ever paying member was in Canada. We were international before we were national. But our member we have outside the U.S. is in Ireland. We are excited to take a Chick trip and go visit her. She is a dentist in Ireland.
That is the other thing. I mentioned fun. I encourage you and your communities, those of you who are listening, to come up with ways to have fun. If you are constantly doing meetings and problem-solving and working on things, you need a break. You need a good balance. What’s interesting is when you are out having fun, you really come up with good ideas. The conversations will continue to be around things that you’re interested in, but you’re in a less stressful environment sometimes when you’re off enjoying a picnic or going on a hike. However you are able to join during this time, I encourage you to physically get together as you can.
Hugh: If a woman somewhere wants to talk about starting a chapter, they can email you. They can go to the website and find out more information. This is intriguing. Have all of the chapters adopted a nonprofit?
Jewels: I think there are some that are still looking. They don’t keep them year after year. They trade off and on. If you have a nonprofit that wants to collaborate, then reach out to a businessperson. A wonderful collaboration would be if you are a nonprofit leader and have a favorite businesswoman in the community, encourage that woman to start a chapter so you can be their nonprofit. We’ll help them. You’ll be able to be part of that and have efforts go toward fundraising. Also volunteer opportunities. A lot of our women will also go to the nonprofit and volunteer whenever they have the need for volunteers. That might be at their fundraising efforts, or if they are hosting something and need volunteers, you have this group of excited and eager businesswomen to support you and your efforts.
Hugh: You are a bundle of energy. I wondered if it would go the other way; I will have to rest up after this interview. I’ve seen T. Harv Eker present. I need to find some Chicks to adopt SynerVision Leadership Foundation.
We are in an era when women are stepping up in many fields. You’ve had a remarkable journey. Thank you for sharing that journey. Many people would have given up.
Jewels: Numerous times.
Hugh: I’m 74 next September, and I’m having the time of my life doing the most important work of my life. I’ve done some important things.
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Jewels, this has been fun. I’ve known you for eight/nine years, and I’ve learned things today I never knew. What do you want to leave people with today?
Jewels: I would say to the leaders: Make sure to have your own support system. Maybe even more than one. You’ll find that you have different conversations in different groups based on the experiences and goals of the group. There will be days where you will not feel like doing what you’re supposed to do in order to forward your purpose and your passion. Having people that you can be the real you, I encourage you to create that support system around you.
I also encourage you to be real, be as authentic as you can be. When I can talk about the challenges I’ve had personally, I don’t have to be afraid of them. I don’t have to be afraid of someone finding something out about me when I can be open and honest about the things that aren’t perfect. I encourage you to address those and work through those and find people who will resonate with you because of your bravery for sharing those things.
The third thing would be when you’re afraid and you do it anyway, you’re growing. I would encourage you all to do it anyway.
Hugh: Love it. Jewels Muller. Chicks Connect. Thank you for sharing your story with us today.
Jewels: Thank you!