Jessica Vibberts

Use your extroversion to meet people, but use your curiosity and compassion to listen and know them. Use your vulnerability to let them know you. And use gratitude and generosity to continue to grow and keep your connection with them.


Jessica Vibberts is the Founder and Chief Strategist of Full Potential Ventures, an innovative leadership catalyst, giving mission-driven professionals the edge they need to do the work the world needs. She has devoted her life to growing authentic and brave leaders and organizations, focused on the people who bring great ideas and powerful impact to life. Her two decades in roles as COO, CEO, and her favorite: Chief People Officer, in fast-growing, entrepreneurial nonprofits, readied her to launch her own venture to speak to the lack of effective resources available to grow and sustain the incredible talent and drive found in purpose-driven companies. Her leadership and people strategies have steered organizations through significant periods of change, market downturn, founder transitions, and culture makeovers, all while triumphantly landing them on the 50 Best Nonprofits To Work For list or gaining national recognition and funding for excellent programming. Her creative approach to living and working led her to uproot her family from a cozy suburban life in the Bay Area, to a globe-trotting adventure that keeps her awareness and senses heightened and fresh; she currently calls Mexico her home base.

Where did the idea for Full Potential Ventures come from?

I spent two decades working in leadership positions in the nonprofit sector. I was incredibly lucky to receive world-class talent development opportunities many of my peers did not. As a leader, I was always struck by how hard it was to find excellent leadership development and network-building opportunities for myself and others that weren’t extremely financially out of reach.

So, I decided to take everything I have learned and created, gather a team of outstanding talent leaders, and work together to launch a meaningful and effective leadership development program with a wide reach and deep impact, especially for those doing purpose-driven work.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

First, it’s important to know that I started Full Potential Ventures while on what was supposed to be a year-long sabbatical in Mexico. A month in, I was bursting with ideas and energy and through a lot of reflection and market research, my company was born.

My days start with a gratitude reflection and free-writing (I do a lot of creative writing in my free time). Then, for the first time in my daughter’s 9 year-old life, I help her get ready and off to school. (In my previous executive life, I was on the road by 4:30am to beat terrible Bay Area traffic). After she is off, I focus on my biggest, meatiest goal for the day for 90-120 minutes before breaking. I believe managing energy is infinitely more important than managing time. I typically work in a focused way for blocks of time like that with breaks in between. But I listen very carefully to my body as well–if I am feeling tired, I switch it up: do some yoga, go for a walk, even spend a little time with my husband who also works from home!

I am super productive and have learned to get into my flow pretty easily by pre-planning what I will work on and removing all distractions. So, by the time my daughter is home around 3:30, I am able to break to eat comida (main meal of the day here in Mexico) with my family. I usually then do wrap-up activities (check email, plan my next day, tie up any loose ends) while she works on homework and then I shut it down for the day by 5:30 or 6. That leaves evenings for dance classes, reading, time with friends, or getting swept up in whatever fiesta surprises us on the street.

How do you bring ideas to life?

My style is a mix of creativity and strategy. I love to play with ideas, toss them around, look at them from different perspectives and angles, write about them, put them on big flip-charts on the wall, and talk with my team about them to see what really sticks and sticks around. While we like to play with ideas, we also only want to focus on the ones that are the best. Once I’ve committed to an idea, I build out the strategy that will take it from it’s idea-phase to reality. That strategy also goes on the wall as well as in a written document on my computer. Then, I follow that strategy until I’ve learned enough that I need to alter it!

What’s one trend that excites you?

I am a fan of the Minimalism trend that I see many people, especially millennials (which I am not) adopting. Besides too much stuff being a huge burden on the environment, Minimalism signifies a chance for people to fill their lives and time with things that they’ve reflected will bring them a deeper level of joy and satisfaction. I love the concept of “less but better” when it comes to what we purchase and what we say “yes” to!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I have always used a laddered-goals approach to how I spend my time, especially at work. This means I start with my big, overarching goals like annual goals, and then break them into smaller parts like quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. This keeps me productive on a daily basis working toward the more audacious goals I’ve set for myself and my business. I recently started using Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner, and though I would design it differently, it does follow this approach.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Dear younger self: Relationships are like gold. Use your extroversion to meet people, but use your curiosity and compassion to listen and know them. Use your vulnerability to let them know you. And use gratitude and generosity to continue to grow and keep your connection with them.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Sex is the root of creativity. And creativity is essential to cutting-edge ideas and businesses. There…I said it! Maybe people disagree, or maybe they don’t, but certainly not enough people are willing to openly talk about it. (And with the terrible abuses of power, sexual harassment and discrimination, I get that it is very tricky). But, we are creative beings and our creative life-force stems from our sexual energy…it is where we all came from and this energy can propel other creative works, too.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

On my desktop, fridge, or office wall, I have a copy of my personal mission and values. I check in regularly to reflect on my actions and decisions to make sure they are aligned with what I’ve written.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Very early on, I realized I wasn’t going to be successful (or am not going to grow quickly) alone. I brought on a team, but with limited resources had to be creative about how I was doing it. I also knew that I needed an inner-circle of supporters to help me. I asked these early adopters to nominate the students for my first leadership cohort, which got Full Potential Ventures in front of people who would have never otherwise known about us at this stage.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I’m still in start-up phase, so I am sure I will have bigger and better failures to share down the line. But, there have been tons of learnings. So far, some of my offerings haven’t had any traction. But that is more of a success than a failure, because I was really piloting to see what would take. Those failures are likely a combination of market desire and my own desire (or lack of it) to produce those programs.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’m always saying “someone should do this…but not me!”. The most recent one has been an online program for homeschoolers/worldschoolers or just for supplemental learning that provides rich, age-appropriate lessons across all subjects. Khan Academy has something like this, but it is pretty limited. As we have found that our daughter’s schooling in Mexico isn’t as strong as we’d like, and we prepare for a big travel adventure that will have her out of school for 4 months, we’d like something plug and play that allows her to learn as we are on the road and gives us ideas as parents for supporting her real-world learning.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

My Vionic sandals. While not directly business-related, I try to get at least 10k steps a day in, so comfortable (and stylish!) shoes are important. A healthy body is key to the energy I need to create and be productive as an entrepreneur!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I use and love Acuity Scheduling so that my students can schedule office-hours with me or other facilitators or sign up for different events we run. I tried a few different scheduling programs, and this one by far was the most user-friendly and included all the features I wanted.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Oh so many…one, really?! “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown speaks to the Minimalism trend I am in love with, but from a business perspective. I think it is an essential read!

What is your favorite quote?

I have a new favorite quote every week it seems. My two most recent favorites:

The quality of your relationships is what determines the quality of your life” -Esther Perel

I used to believe…that there were creative people and there were non-creative people. And now I absolutely understand personally (and professionally from the data) that there are no such thing as non-creative people. There are just people who use their creativity and people who don’t. And unused creativity is not benign.”
-Brené Brown

Key Learnings:

  • Managing your energy is more important than managing your time
  • Focus on “less but better” for success and satisfaction in life and work
  • Relationships matter. A lot.
  • We are creative beings and that creativity drives innovation and new business

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