Leadership with heart, mind, and soul

Routine Examination #005: Jess Ekstrom

Added on by Sam Davidson.

To say that Jess Ekstrom is one of my favorite people is an understatement and doesn't do her much justice. Ditto for saying that she's accomplished a lot at such a young age. The fact is, she' be a favorite person of anyone who would meet her, and she's accomplished a lot for any age.

Better yet, she does so much with so much purpose. Her company, Headbands of Hope, sells headbands on its website and its network of hundreds of retailers, and with each headband sold, one is given to a young girl facing childhood cancer. Jess's work has been featured in many media outlets, including The Today Show. 

She also keeps a busy travel schedule, as she speaks to college students and at conferences all over the country to inspire others with her tale of social entrepreneurship, leadership, and action. Certainly we can all learn something from someone who does a lot - a lot that matters. 

What type of routine do you look to set (daily, weekly, etc.)?

I have aspects of my day that are a daily routine: workout, check emails, talk to friends/family. Everything else outside of that is typically sporadic. But I like having elements of routine so I can keep some familiarity in my life. 

What time do you wake up each morning?

8 am. 

What is the first thing you think about each morning (before you even get out of bed perhaps)?

The first thing I do before I get out of bed (even though it’s probably not the healthiest thing) is check my email. I always have a fear that some huge error happened in my company while I was asleep. I always check my email to make sure there aren’t any fires, then think about what I need to do that day. 

What thing do you have to do in your personal life every day?

I have to workout in some shape or form every day. I’ve found that days when I don’t workout are the ones that are hardest for me, or I burn out quickly. I prefer doing something high intensity, like Crossfit, in the morning, but I’m also trying to do yoga more in the evening to calm down before bed. 

What is the last thing you do before “quitting” or “leaving” work for the day?

I check in with my staff and make sure they don’t need anything from me before I leave. 

What do you read on a regular basis?

I read The Skimm every morning. It’s basically a simplified-witty version of the news in an email form. 

Who do you speak to on a regular basis?

I have a lot of people that I talk to daily, but I can’t go more than a few days without talking to my mom. She’s one of the most positive and energetic people I’ve ever met in my life. Hearing her talk makes my day feel lighter. 

What do you wish were a part of your routine?

I wish some kind of organized sport was a part of my routine. I grew up my whole life playing sports, and you don’t realize how hard it is to continue that after you’re out of school. 

What part of your routine do you hope to stop one day?

I hope to stop waking up to check emails. I’d like for my first thoughts when I open my eyes to be more positive instead of anxious. When you have a business with so many moving parts, it’s easy to feel on edge with everything that could go wrong instead of appreciating what’s going right.

My takeaway: Learn what you need each day and make time for it. Then you'll have energy and space for what you love.

View all past Routine Examination interviews here.

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