Jana Truman

I was probably very challenging to raise.
When I was a little girl, the only purpose my dolls served were for scale for the buildings I built for them.  As the oldest child of a large family, I learned to be very practical and problem solving, for good–or not. Early on I started winning art contests, which sent me in a direction toward my eventual college education of graphic design, marketing and advertising. I was a “creative” through and through.  It was a tough decision trying to decide what I wanted to be, if–and when, I finally grew up (a process I continue, I might add.) Because of my vivid and voracious imagination, I can only imagine how difficult I would have been to parent because sending me to my room, as long as I had even a piece of paper and a pencil, was not a punishment.   I wanted to do so many different, not-traditionally-feminine things. I read everything I could get my hands on about art, philosophy, world religions, history and biographies of men and women in science and the world.  I even read the encyclopedias.  I was particularly inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson, C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, Hellen Keller, Victor Frankel, Stephen Covey, Dr. John Gottman, Dr.s Robert Ader /Nicholas Cohen/David Felten, and many, many of the classics.

As a teenager, I had someone with personal influence tell me that I would have a difficult time finding any one to marry me because I was too smart for my own good.  Even at a young age, I wanted to be highly educated, not because I wanted to work outside the home, but so I could bless the lives of my children. I wanted to be able to have the skills necessary to help my family financially but I really and truly just wanted to be a “professional” stay-at-home mom.  I took it as seriously as I would any career. Being a wife and mother was and is the most important accomplishment I have in my life. Much to my parent’s relief, my religious beliefs have been a guiding passion for me, leading me to serve as a missionary and to volunteer my entire life.  My main guiding principle was and is “Seek for Excellence,” and “I am the one accountable for my own successes and failures, not what someone else says or thinks.”

Always stirring things up–Because of my intensely practical nature and my willingness to do things for the sake of accomplishing goals, not caring who gets the credit, it is probably not surprising to know I became highly involved in the community at a very young age, which continued even when my husband and I moved to Davis County, Utah.

I had dropped out of college to start a family for financial reasons, but always had a desire to finish. With great difficulty, I went back and finished my degree. My husband traveled extensively, leaving me to find other ways to have adult conversation and fulfillment with four rowdy, adorable, little boys.   I started a business called My Art Department, doing graphic design, web design and social media marketing. As I said, my main goal was to be a mom so I made my business something I could do from home.  I deepened my community involvement and worked very hard to promote causes of my heart, helping start a school for the arts, promoting arts in the community, political activism on several different fronts, educational excellence and Scouting.

My husband and I struggled with our relationship.  I wondered how I could best help it.  Surrounded by a tight-knit extended family and just as I was afforded opportunities to increase my political and community involvements to the highest levels, my husband received a command-performance promotion, “Move to Nashville, TN and become a vice president or find another job!”  After praying, our family decided to take the position. I felt that God was giving us the opportunity to work on our marriage.  We moved to a beautiful place with no family, went from being a member of a majority religion to an area where not only was I a minority, but my religion was initially very much held against me as I tried to involve myself in my previous activities.  I successfully continued my business but it was a struggle to gain my footing politically and communally in my rural, small, southern suburban town on the outskirts of Nashville. I can remember going to political activities where the first question was, “Where did you come from? Oh, Utah? So, are you a Mormon?” When I answered yes, the conversations would come to almost a complete stop. I withdrew from those activities for a time. It was difficult for me.

I missed my family terribly and I felt a huge loss of status in the community.  No one knew me or anything I had previously accomplished. I lived in a lovely town where people who had lived there for 30 years were still considered “Move-ins”.   I tried to become involved in Boy Scouts at the district level only to discover they, at the time, only wanted women to show up with cookies, and plan banquets or cub scouts, not actually be involved in district planning or any administration. My relationship with my husband continued to struggle. He is a good man and a good father so we continued to work together to try to get better.

Several years after our move, my husband lost his job.  My business income was not predictable enough so out of sheer necessity I needed to find something else.  My husband encouraged me to build my design business but I was reluctant to manage other artists as I had done when I was younger.  I knew I didn’t want to do that again, but I felt a desire to learn entrepreneurship more in depth.

I didn’t give up.  I was bound and determined to help my sons, my husband and make a difference in some way.  I decided to get involved in my community from a non-political volunteer stand point and over time I became more and more successful in that arena.  Because of my community involvement with the town’s economic development and my other involvements I became familiar with zoning codes and municipal government.  My friend wanted to start a commercial real estate appraising business.  I think he probably hired me mostly because he wanted someone who he could trust to be in his home around his kids, and who was willing to grow with the company.  It certainly wasn’t because I had stellar math and finance skills.  He said he appreciated my judgment and work ethic and that he could teach me what I needed to know.  He sent me to the best schools and I worked hard to wake up my lineal brain which had laid dormant for nearly 30 years. I very much appreciated being able to watch him start a successful business from the ground up.  It was excruciating to go from being a professional artist to a financial analyst of alternative investments but I did it.  My husband got another job, giving me the freedom to quit being a commercial real estate appraiser. I decided I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life, even if my brain would let me do it.  I loved and appreciated the knowledge I gained.   I started a business brokerage company, which was very successful. Early on I took classes and became a licensed real estate agent, and after a while I decided to devote my entire focus to commercial real estate. After lots of coaching, therapy and by the grace of God, my relationship with my husband is the best it has ever been.

It is ironic I have come full circle in so many ways, now, in my beloved Nashville, I am helping people find commercial buildings, using every bit of my creative problem solving skills, my marketing skills to market my client’s buildings and my own business, and my commercial real estate valuation skills.   I belong to several chambers of commerce, networking groups, sit or have sat on various town committees, and clubs’ and organizations’ boards. I am occasionally the key note speaker or moderator at local events.

I owe my current success to:
* My huge importance given to humor.
* Willingness to learn new things.
* Willingness to step outside my comfort levels.
* To not accept that just because I am good at one thing, that doesn’t mean I can’t be good at something else.
* The patience with myself to not be good at something until I am.

Advice to give is:
1-Forgive yourself earlier.
2-No amount of accomplishment or physical beauty can earn God’s love. It is freely given, just be open to it.
3-If you are female, no one else can define what being feminine is or not. That is up to you.
4-I have never regretted being kind.
5-Train your brain to be positive and to love.  It is a choice.
6-Don’t wait for someone else to solve your problems.
7-Be grateful every day.
8- And most importantly, “Don’t take yourself or life too seriously.  Laugh!”

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