Each week, #SpanningtheNeed will present an “Inspirational Person of the Week’ and have a “Q & A” with one of its many gifted individuals and/or groups who are willing to go out of their own way to help others. This week’s featured is Jessica Bader from Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities
Name: Jessica Bader, LSW
Position: Quality Improvement Manager
Organization: Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities / 330ToGO Media Network, LLP
Jessica Bader is an independent business owner, speaker, corporate consultant, coach, mom, wife and friend! She works full time at a local Non-Profit, Direction Home Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities as the Quality Improvement Manager. Jessica also serves as Chief Operating Officer with Northeast Ohio’s Hottest and Fastest growing News and Entertainment Network, 330ToGO! Jessica presents a spirited approach to work and life and specializes in positivity, enthusiasm, building up people, developing teams, modeling and implementing leadership principles and practices. Jess is an extra-extrovert and is energized by being with people and soaking up good conversation and company. Jessica is a member of several local organizations including Akron Executives Association, B.A.C.O.N., and LEAD. Jessica is Black Belt Candidate in Lean & Six Sigma, a licensed social worker in the state of Ohio, a graduate of the University of Akron and alumni of THE Ohio State University.
What made you want to go into this field?
Honestly, I didn’t really “want” to get into this field. And, to be even more transparent I don’t consider myself to be contained within just one field. If you ask me, I would say that I am in the business of people and that takes on many different shapes and sizes. In my more formal professional life I am a social worker by trade and work full time at Direction Home Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities, a local non-profit organization that assists older adults with living independently in the community. There my current role is the Quality Improvement Manager where our team focuses on process improvements and implementing LEAN & Six Sigma methodologies across the social services setting. Previously with Direction Home I have had a more clinical role in the field assisting the elderly and disabled folks transition out of the long term care setting and back into the community. This is relevant because this day-time work has allowed me to see the world through different lenses, in different communities, cultures and people and recognize that we are all so much more the same than we are different!
Because of my long history of work in the community and with community partners, I realized a great need for accessible, informational, real-time news and entertainment that was easily accessible to everyone anywhere. Along with our business partners, we have worked to fill this gap by providing up to the minute news and entertainment through various social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and X(Twitter).
330ToGO is Northeast Ohio’s Hottest and Fastest News and Entertainment Network that provides local information to and from friends and neighbors with the goal of delivering warm and trusted experiences. 330ToGO is driven by you! It’s the community who curates what is shared and prioritized which gives all involved a personal experience on some level. We bring neighbors together, keep families in the know about what is going on in their hometown, level up date nights by reviewing the newest yummy spot in town, keep boredom at bay through showing the next fun kid event, and provide a place where folks can talk with each other and express their thoughts and feelings about what is going on that directly impacts them.
We are passionate about supporting our local community, especially our fellow small businesses! 330ToGO helps strengthen the small business network of Northeast Ohio by sharing the good work being done through LIVE interviews that help make these businesses a household name.
What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
The first thing that comes to mind is how you define “success”. In my view, success is not necessarily achieving a certain milestone but rather the ability and fortitude to keep going and keep trying despite the outcome. Success is getting gritty and knowing that if this attempt doesn’t work out that, perhaps, the next one will.
This is the approach and mindset that I have developed throughout my life and refined throughout my professional career(s). I have learned the importance of being gritty through my work in the social service setting. Certainly that carries over into the small business sector even more when thinking of the many “tries” it takes to move the needle on maintaining a small business venture.
Truly, trial and error are what make progress occur but I would have to say the secret sauce to success is relationships. As I mentioned earlier, I consider myself to be in the business of people and that is not possible without building, having, and maintaining relationships across the board.
For example, I would say that our biggest contributor to the success of 330ToGO has been the buy-in from our community at large. We have established a consistent, personal and professional relationship with the audience that transcends through the screen and into the lives of those who come to us for information. This is so important to the 330ToGO Team and we are always keeping the pulse on the voice of our customer. Whether it comes to providing real-time updates on emergent occurrences or sharing the details of a fundraising event benefiting those in need, 330ToGO is here to provide a direct line of communication between the people of the 330 and the happenings in the 330 that anyone can access and contribute to.
What is the biggest professional mistake you made along the way?
I make plenty of mistakes. In many cases I am “building the plane while flying it” or actively learning in the process of doing so! There are many times that I look back and think, “Yeah, I could have handled that better” or “Next time I need to have a good standard process in place before we execute this”. What it takes is being OK with making mistakes and knowing that I can and will review lessons learned, recalibrate, and re-engage to do it better the next time. My new favorite quote that I’ve held to recently is “As many mistakes as it takes”! This has really hit home and provided a kind of safe space that allows us to keep trying even when things get difficult.
What is the hardest decision you ever had to make in this field?
The hardest decision I make every day is when to press pause on “work” and press “play” on my family. This might sound rather simple to some but for me it is a struggle to find the balance. And, frankly, I don’t think there is such a thing as balance. Because I work a full time job and help run a full time business there are never-ending tasks and to-do’s. It is imperative that I am able to incorporate all the MUST do’s into my day seamlessly and still make time for my husband and children. This gets challenging because at the core, the reason I work as much as I do is for them. It’s kind of a catch 22. As my boys grow older (they are in their teens now) I am becoming acutely aware of how short our time is together and that gives me a sense of urgency and a drive to prioritize appropriately and invest in them while they are still here. I’ll drop whatever I can, whenever I can to do carpool pick-up because I know that they won’t always need me to give them a ride. I’ll stop anything I’m doing to watch the hilarious YouTube shorts they want to share with me because they won’t always be around to “share their shorts”. Keeping the order of my life in alignment is something that I make a point to tend to on a daily basis.
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently regarding your profession?
I wish we would have started sooner! I wish I would have taken more risks! Recently we’ve been doing a study on the word “decide”. What does that mean, to decide? The latin root of the word decide is decidere which means de= Off cidere = Cut. So deciding means literally to cut off from the other options. To remove them as a possibility. So, what I would do differently is have decided to pursue this opportunity sooner and been serious about cutting off the other options or distractions. Time will go by whether we are pursuing our calling or not, so, why delay?
For much of the front end of my career and life in general I was very much risk averse but as I have learned more in many ways I have become more aggressive and confident in my decision making. If I could do things differently I would have taken bigger steps earlier in my career and life.
What inspires you to do good in our community?
My faith is the primary driver in my life. The goal is always to serve God and serve people! That is our 30,000ft goal every day, to serve people and ask the question “How can we help?” Some days I am really good at this. Other days, not so much but either way I’m confident in who God is and that he loves me which gives me a passion to share that with others!
What do you enjoy most about volunteering in our community?
Making Friends! Volunteering is a beautiful conduit to meet people, start conversations and build relationships. In my personal life, professional life and thought 330ToGO we jump at the chance to step in whenever possible and link arms with others in our community. We want to be intentional about showing up and being there to show that we care.
What song best describes you or is the soundtrack to your life?
Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Jefferson Starship – On a personal note, this is my love song to my husband and a love song to myself and a love song to my family, my friends, and our audience. I’m an 80’s baby so this music was the backdrop of my childhood. As I grew older and actually listened to the words they have taken on more meaning with every year. My favorite part of the song is the chorus “We can build this dream together, Standing strong forever, Nothing’s gonna stop us now. And if this world runs out of lovers, we’ll still have each other. Nothing’s gonna stop us now.” Fun song, great lyrics, awesome memories of singing into broomstick handles in the garage with my dad. Great Question!
What is your best accomplishment/experience in life?
Growing 2 human beings in my body and my marriage… 18 years and counting. Hands down the thing that I am most proud of is our little family and the commitment that my husband and I have to one another and to staying in and leaning in no matter what it takes. Lots of day’s it would have been easier to quit, but, Bader’s don’t quit. So, we don’t. And we keep going. And we work on coming back to each other. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. It’s a beautiful life.
Who is your role model and Why?
Several role model’s on several different levels. My Gram, Ila Justice, is and will always be a huge role model in my life. She and I always used to say “As long as I’m alive she’ll never be dead” because in so many ways we are so exactly similar. She’s been with Jesus since October 2016 and I miss her very much but her influence lives on in me. I get my gumption from her and I am grateful for it!!
Recently, I’ve been listening through some of the work coming from Lydia Fenet and Myron Golden. Both are very inspirational and serve as an example of where I would like to be in my personal life, professional life in the next 3-5 years. If interested, you should check them both out! Highly recommend!
If there was one person that you would like to meet, past or present and why?
This past summer I had the pleasure of taking a few minutes to explore my family tree. Fascinating to actually read the names of the people that are your ancestors and know that they are a part of you. I think it would be so interesting and great fun to go back and meet the matriarchs and patriarchs of my family tree. Who were they? What were their personalities like? How did they get HERE? I could ask them questions for days!
A favorite quote that you live by?
I have MANY favorite quotes… My most recent favorite is “As many mistakes as it takes”.
And, because we are heading into the start of the school year, I will start telling my big boys ( Freshman & Junior) the same thing that I have told them every day for the last decade as they leave for school in the morning… So, it makes sense that I should share that with you too.
“Have a great day, make a difference today. If you have an opportunity, take it. Head up. Shoulders back. Leadership. I’ll be praying for YOU!”