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Meet Jennifer Purdie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Purdie.

Jennifer, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I always adored the art of storytelling, playing pretend with words and conceptualizing articles like puzzle pieces. I started writing at a young age (I found a book I wrote at age 5) and majored in English in college. From there, I started working in publishing and throughout the years wrote for The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report and others, and served as an editor for a couple of national magazines.

Years ago, I started a position as a college sports writer and felt in awe of the athletes’ dedication to their workouts, diet and passion for their respective sports at such a young age. During this time, I interviewed Justin Pedroia who now plays for the Boston Red Sox, Zach Miller who played for the Seahawks, Cain Velasquez who is a UFC fighter, Desiree Linden who won the Boston Marathon this year—and numerous others. I felt inspired to intensify my workouts.

I started training for marathons and triathlons, as I always loved running and was in the junior high and high school track team. Since then, I have run marathons all over the world on every continent, completed Ironmans and ultramarathons. I parlayed my love of endurance sports into writing about them, and now I write for Under Armour, VICE and other publications; published a book on sports psychology; and give motivational talks, such as for TEDx, on the sport of running. I get to combine both my personal and professional interests.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It was never a smooth road and still is not. I lost out on professional opportunities along my journey, including the position that originally brought me to San Diego due to bullying in a professional environment. I loathe bullies and refuse to work with them.

Unfortunately, in the sports world, you find a number of them. I find the majority of people who either work in sports or play sports (or often both) are driven by competition above all else—and that often (but not always) translates into a bullish personality. They will step on anything or anyone who gets in their way. My personality does in no way jive with this.

I’m also an introvert, which makes chasing stories challenging and zaps my energy levels. Above all, in writing, you face rejection all the time. When sending out pitches, you get editors who say no more often than yes. It feels frustrating to carefully craft a pitch and articulate the topic of an article, only to receive a “no.” That’s time in which you do not get paid and makes you feel like a nobody.

Please tell us about Jennifer Purdie.
I am in the business of storytelling, whether I write a personal essay for the Los Angeles Times or a book for athletes. I also consider myself in the service industry. Writing is disseminating information to others for entertainment or helpful information or both.

I tend to focus on health and fitness stories for publications, as well as corporate communications for hospitals and healthcare agencies.

I am most proud of my book that came out last year called Growth Mindset for Athletes, Coaches and Trainers. I think it is because I personally learned the most from it than anything else I wrote. Writing it felt like teaching, and teachers usually get the most out of a lesson–more than students do.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I could recreate my career from the beginning, I would look for mentors. I say this to students in the classes I taught: find people in the jobs you want and initiate contact. You will find most people want to help and will feel flattered. For those who feel timid in asking, reach out to a director within your own company.

Create a 15-30 minute ongoing meeting and spend that time asking for someone’s background, the mistakes they made along their career journey and helpful advice they have either received or can provide.

These people will probably look forward to such meetings and you will establish a professional relationship that can live beyond the time at the organization–you will become memorable.

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