We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Cassetta and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The mission behind the work I’ve been doing for the past twenty years is to help people feel more strong, safe and powerful from the streets to the boardroom. I now do this through keynote speaking and leading workshops on personal empowerment, self defense and overall badassery. In my early twenties two things happened that led me to the work that I do now. The first is finding martial arts. In 2000, I stepped inside a Hapkido Dojang (martial arts studio) and fell madly in love. A year later, I found myself running from the ashes on September 11th, 3 block south of the World Trade Center. That event, led me to dive even deeper into my martial arts training which saved me from PTSD and gave me a sense of purpose to share these mind, body and spirit benefits with the world. It took fifteen more years to take my skills to the stage with crafted keynotes that empower, motivate and inspire others to action.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Although I never had a business plan or even a clear path of how to get where I am, I always had a vision that was strong enough to pull me forward into it. I saw myself traveling, on stage and with large groups of people, teaching the skills that I’ve embodied through years of practice and self development work.
It’s been a long journey but I wouldn’t have it any other way. If it came too easy, I doubt I would appreciate it as much. I had to go through all of the challenges and iterations of being a personal trainer, health coach and self defense instructor for many years before wrapping that all up into a career in public speaking. I needed all of that life experience to write my book, The Art of Badassery: Unleash Your Mojo With Wisdom of the Dojo, coming out on 8/23/22.
The Art of Badassery summarizes all of the lessons that I learned on the dojo mat and how they relate to real life. The lessons include, embracing the suck as a white belt and learning how to get back up after you’ve been knocked down. Learning how to block negativity from other people. Using your voice in a powerful way to stick up for yourself and others. Learning to go within to listen to your intuition and finally to the lesson of the black belt, which is a style of leadership that is heart forward and authentic. It’s a compilation of life lessons that I could not have shared with others until I lived through them in both my personal and professional life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I moved from NYC to LA in 2009 and never looked back. I love Los Angeles and it’s sunny disposition and easy access to the mountains, ocean and desert. When friends come to visit I love staying on the west side and using bikes or feet for transportation. My favorite bike ride is down the beach bike path with a stop for brunch at Playa Provisions or if we feel like a longer cycle, down to Fishing With Dynamite in Manhattan Beach for seafood and Bloody Mary’s. After a nap on the beach and dip in the ocean, we ride back towards Santa Monica and stop at Venice Beach Wines for a glass of vino and maybe a sneaky ice cream at Jeni’s. For friends that don’t bike, a walk down to Shutters for a sunset cocktail feels iconic followed by dinner at one of the many gems in this neighborhood: Piccolo, Local, Ester’s or Ghisallo. If eating at home, I’ll hit Santa Monica Seafood for the freshest in town and bread from Jyan Isaac Bread. For a road trip, I love heading up to Los Olivos for wine tasting or Santa Barbara for a break from LA.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am a personal development junkie. I started listening to Tony Robbins cassette tapes when I was a kid while my Dad had them playing on repeat in the car. In my early twenties, I went to my first Tony Robbins live seminar and was mesmerized by the way he moved and spoke to the crowd. I spent countless hours reading books and attending more of his seminars as well as those of Wayne Dyer’s, Brendon Burchard and other personal development work. In the meantime, I dedicated a decade to learning and teaching Hapkido and the wisdom of martial arts from my teachers at World Martial Arts Center in NYC.
Michael Cinquino for the flying kick.