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Women in Leadership Jennifer Berlin

Jennifer Berlin, District Advisor, Tampa, Florida

Aug 7, 2020 | 3 min. read

District Advisor Jennifer Berlin discusses what drives her and the inspirational words she lives by.

District Advisors are critical to helping Financial Advisors in their area develop and continually improve their business plans and practices. For the Tampa district, Berlin is responsible for recruiting and onboarding new Advisors, as well as coaching and mentoring existing Advisors for maximum client satisfaction and career fulfillment.

Why did you decide to join First Command?

I was in the financial services industry for many years. I am a military spouse who has experienced frequent PCS moves, and every time my husband moved, I had to search for a new job. I kept starting and stopping. It was hard to find a good fit since I was so far beyond entry level. I was close to getting out of the industry—I even considered becoming a professor.

Then I met Ed Daffron from First Command in El Paso, and he said, “What if I could tell you your resume would only have First Command on it for the rest of your career?” That made me stop and think. First Command is a company founded by the military for the military. I fell in love with it. I am giving back to the same community who did so much for me—this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

How have you excelled in the world of financial advising?

I love people. I am uncomfortable with complacency. I am always moving forward. The harder I work here at First Command, the more successful I am. I will outwork anyone around me, and this career field rewards that. If we can do this rewarding work and help people at that same time—that’s the pinnacle of career aspirations.

What are some of the biggest challenges with your job?

Balance. I believe you can have it all. You just have to work toward balance, and plan accordingly. First Command CEO Mark Steffe says, “You can’t do everything, but you can put yourself in a position to do anything.” That really speaks to me.

Learning to prioritize is paramount in this career. It is so rewarding to do work that can have a lifelong impact for the families we serve.

What are you most excited about at First Command?

I am watching things change and evolve, and I am excited about the opportunity. I am thrilled about the leadership additions to our company, and the collaborative spirit they bring to the culture. This company is going to grow and be even more phenomenal.

The District Advisor role is one of the coolest positions in the organization. I love to mentor and mold the team, and I get to do that every day. I have a front row seat to watch members achieve new levels of greatness that may have felt overwhelming to them just the day before. It’s an honor to be part of someone’s else’s growth.

I am proud of my team’s diversity. We are a great balance of age, male/female ratio, and origin. Our strengths come from our differences. I am always looking to hire individuals who can bring new strengths to the team.

Is there a woman who influenced your life the most?

The easy answer is my Mom. She set the foundation for who I would become. I can hear her saying, “Jennifer, shoulders back, chin up, and confidently know you’re going to make a big impact.”

Professionally, I feel like very talented women were put in my path at critical points in my development. Here at First Command, Robin Jones has had serious influence on my leadership development. Her high standards, yet love for the members of the team, held me accountable and challenged me to become who I am.

Interpersonal skills are so important for a leader. What soft skills helped you get to this position?

I am genuinely interested in people’s lives and the way people think. I often ask myself, “What are they seeing that I’m not seeing?” I see people as human beings first, and whatever role they are in second.

I also try to see things for the opportunity they present. A simple challenge to myself many years back was to change the word “have” in my vocabulary to “get.” For example, “I get to run an errand at lunch” instead of “I have to run an errand at lunch.” That one simple shift has really moved the needle on my gratitude, innovation and overall outlook.

Favorite Movie: A League of their Own

Favorite Book:  It Worked for Me in Life and Leadership by Colin Powell

Favorite Work Resource:  The Harvard Business Review and CEO reading lists. I pick a different CEO each year and read through their top 50-60 books. I try to follow their thought processes and decision making. Essentially, if you read what your mentors or role models are reading, you begin to think the way they think.

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