Inspiring Women Series - Meet Jennifer Lea

Director of Client Training at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute

Jennifer Lea, Performance Coach, Director of Client Training, Johnson & Johnson
Jennifer Lea, Performance Coach, Director of Client Training, Johnson & Johnson. Jennifer Lea

Making Health Matter

Though I hesitate to invoke a celebrity name, here goes. Stephen Covey used to talk about quadrants of activity, about what was important versus what was urgent. He cautioned against becoming addicted to solving short-term problems to feel the rush of accomplishment while neglecting those things that matter—family, relationships, training, introspection and health.

Jennifer 'Jenn' Lea has built a life and career around the idea that working on what is important can fortify us to deal with a wider range of problems, from the mundane to the critical to the fire before us.

Her whole-life approach builds out a confidence base from which to experiment, explore and excel. It's not just about the ability to solve problems. It's about the capacity to reach up. She begins and ends each day with her mission statement, which speaks to intention, to live fully and have an impact.

It's this intention that underlies the conversation about her role as a performance coach at the Human Performance Institute (HPI) at Johnson & Johnson. What we do on purpose matters. How we manage our energy and how we increase it, matters to Jenn. "It all comes down to having enough energy."

I spoke with Jenn about her role as Director of Client Training at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, and about the perspective of corporate leader as corporate athlete. It's not just a convenient metaphor but a holistic approach comprising psychologists, dietitians, performance coaches and exercise physiologists.

Jenn and her team at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute have trained C-level execs, entrepreneurs, special forces, hostage rescue teams, as well as, professional and Olympic athletes. Their Corporate Athlete courses focus on energy regulation, clarity, who the clients are becoming, "what is their aspirational self?"

Corporate training program tend to be riddled with bromides and happy talk, but Jenn immediately strikes you as a true believer. She lives it. Jenn articulates the concept of self-investment in an enthusiastic, but scientific manner, backed up by education, experience and an immersive lifestyle.

Jenn Lea holds a Master's degree in Health Services Administration and a BS in Health Education and Behavior. She is a certified strength and conditioning coach. She is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine in personal training. She gets that people are busy. Jenn is a mother, wife, writer, speaker, trainer and is active in community organizations, women's business organizations and an array of networking groups. She should be exhausted. She is not. Why? Focus, clarity of purpose, exercise, rest, nutrition and self-investment. We all have places to go, but no matter how urgent the drive is, you won't get there without gas in the tank. It's the management of that engine that is at the core of her work at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute.

Jenn helps clients develop a more coherent vision, then works to define the "dissonance" that obstructs the path from where they are stuck to where they need to be.

It's a sort of unmasking process during which she helps clients define the mission. Jenn says, "You can't align as a team or a project without a north star."

Her team then develops a 90-day action plan rooted in an energy management system. The goal is to preside over your whole day, not just the moment. The clients learn to open their field of vision from an energy perspective. What do I have to accomplish? How much energy do I have at any given moment.

Jenn and the Institute have developed a four-part approach that includes body, mind, heart and spirit, in developing a belief system with a purpose.

Finding the why through significant life changes:

  • Emotional energy
  • Quality of energy
  • High and low stress factors
  • Survival mentality
  • The energy to stay present in the moment
  • Defining the message before bringing the message


    I asked Jenn about wearable technology and the role tech plays in energy management. "What we're doing at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute is walking the talk. We value physical health, accountability, introspection, a complete personal mission legacy. Tech, wearable tech and other devices are extrinsic motivators that play a role in keeping people engaged, in their own mission and the north star of the team and organization." To enhance that notion, the HPI has developed The Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout App, courses and papers such as The Life Benefits of Managing Energy. Whatever helps you to stay engaged is a good thing. Jenn's team devotes a lot of time in the follow-up, in assessing progress and helping clients to stay focused and on the correct course, making subtle changes when necessary.

    Women in Business

    What does Jenn see as obstacles to women in business? "We tend to stand in our own way. We create stories that hobble ourselves. We don't recognize the true value in our own inner coach. We need a reframing."

    I've interviewed women for this series who have said women need to ask different questions. Rather than asking, "Why can't I do this?" women should be asking, "What is it I need to do to acquire this skill, achieve this goal or increase the stamina I need to persevere?" Asking different questions changes perspective.

    If you ask, "why not?", you have to answer that question. That sets the brain up to find the negative precipitate to your positive aspiration. Rather than ask yourself questions that require negative answers, redesign your questions. Jenn works with all types of leaders in every domain. Successful people ask different questions.

    Many of us suffer from fear of success. That's not a clever redux of fear of failure. Fear of success is about sustainability. It's a fear that you got lucky and you don't have what it takes to build upon your first accomplishment, that you'll be found out, that you will tire or falter.

    Jenn's approach to energy management as part of a comprehensive program seems like an ideal fit for those who may struggle under the weight of self-doubt or of simply feeling too tired to manage it all.

    This is a high-order program, designed to drive optimal performance. The why is important but so is the how and ultimately, the how well. How am I managing the energy I need to not only complete the mission, but to have ample resources to develop myself , my relationships and my family? Jenn Lea looks beyond skills training for the whole person, to help you recognize that 'hobbling dissonance', then supercharge your way forward. To have the energy you must decide to make health matter.

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    Joe is a writer and retired police captain living in Toms River, New Jersey. He has recently completed a novel, The Unlost, due out in 2015. Hefferon is a regular guest writer and has published a series of articles featuring inspiring women.

    He can be reached at or Twitter: @HefferonJoe