After a successful career of nearly two decades at Sylvan Learning, Jana Larsen took the leap into real estate. In the midst of this major career transition, Jana turned to Central Exchange, where she found the support and camaraderie she needed to succeed. Meet Jana.
Her path to CX:
When Jana’s mother attended the Midwest Leadership Summit (formerly Leadership Lyceum), she knew Central Exchange would be the positive community Jana needed. With Jana’s career change still fresh, her mother suggested she connect with Central Exchange. “I really felt like it was a good organization for me to get involved with,” Jana says. “My mother felt passionate enough about it that she committed to paying my first year membership to allow me to not only get to know women in Kansas City, but to have the potential of growing and networking my business as well.”
Central Exchange’s impact on her career:
For Jana, the highlight of Central Exchange is easily the connections made with the incredible women of the community. “It’s not only women supporting me, but me supporting other women,” Jana explains. Through Central Exchange, Jana has attended branding, sales and marketing programs that helped her grow her real estate business. Jana has even found clients through her connections at Central Exchange.
Central Exchange’s impact on her life:
“I’ve really utilized Central Exchange to not only expand my network but to build friendships,” she says. Shifting from a workplace full of friends to the largely solo role of being a real estate agent, Jana was hungry to connect with other women. Jana enjoys meeting women at CX events and then connecting with them over cups of coffee or glasses of wine. She’s met many CX members who are involved in the same nonprofit organizations as well, and share her passion for community service.
Connections across generations:
Once Jana got to know Judy Gerstner, she was thoroughly impressed with how she’s built a business from scratch, networked and been extremely successful with what she’s done. “I really see her as a mentor,” Jana says. “I can learn what worked and what didn’t in her business. She’s someone who’s been there, done that.” Jana also treasures her friendship with Jennifer Bertels. In Jennifer, Jana found someone who’s as passionate, committed and strategic as herself. “We both care a lot about Central Exchange,” Jana says, “and we speak often about building that because we know what an amazing organization it is for women. We’re both committed to helping move the mission forward.”
One key takeaway Jana has gained from Central Exchange is to never settle. “Be hungry,” Jana says. “Continue to seek out new information. Continue to grow. Don’t just settle for who you are told you are or what you feel like you are in the moment. There may be something in you that’s untapped.”
CX leadership skills:
Jana recalls the advice she heard in college, to always hire people who are smarter than you. At Central Exchange, Jana has continued to surround herself with strong, encouraging, innovative women who help her become a better leader. At a recent CX event, Jana was reminded by the speaker that she is a strong woman too. “I have a voice,” Jana notes. “I need to be confident in what I say and surround myself with the right people.”
Jana sums up Central Exchange with this one word: fulfilling. “I joined Central Exchange for one reason, but ended up discovering I needed it for something entirely different,” Jana explains. “You know, I joined thinking, ‘Okay, it’s a business opportunity and I’m going to meet all these people to grow my business.’ But I realized what I really needed, even more than building my business, was to make connections and build friendships with other successful women.” At Central Exchange, Jana found much more than what she expected. The connections she’s grown are what keep her coming back year after year.
Big thanks to Jana for contributing so much passion to Central Exchange. Here you’ll find women who support each other like Jana. Join us and create your own friendships and connections. You’re invited! Be our guest at one of our many upcoming programs.
Since 1980, women like Jan have come to Central Exchange to empower their career — and their life. Meet more of our unparalleled members.