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Somewhere early in my life, I got the message that acknowledging my pain was not okay. Being vulnerable opened me up for attack. It was dangerous. Messages like “never let them see your sweat” often got mixed up with “no pain, no gain.” So there’s a mixture of: don’t show your pain getting the best of you yet show yourself conquering it all.

And it’s not working.

Just look at the stats of those suffering from clinical depression, clinical anxiety, substance use and abuse, suicide attempts and completion, marital and relational distress, and the effects of trauma and post-traumatic stress.

Hiding our pain—avoiding it, even demonizing it—is taking us out because it’s not sustainable.

But when you acknowledge your pain as an inspiration instead of an identity, this is where the gold lies that fuels your meaning and purpose.

On today’s episode, I’m excited to talk with cultural expert, speaker, educator, and consultant, Jess Weiner.

Jess continues to fight against being defined by her struggles, choosing instead to be inspired by them–even when the burdens of recurring struggles take her out. She has identified her blind spots, collected the data, and is now continuing to create and iterate–crediting her original pain story as part of her foundational inspiration.

Jess is the CEO of Talk to Jess, where she advises Fortune 500 companies to help them better reflect people in their media, marketing, advertising, and workforce. She is also an adjunct professor at USC in the Annenberg School of Journalism, an acclaimed author, and was recently named by Fast Company as one of the most creative people in Business in the areas of Diversity and Inclusion.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Jess continues to heal, grow, and respond to her pain in ways that inspire change in her personal life and her body of work
  • Why Jess’ recovery awakened her activism and led her to creative outreach avenues, including theatre
  • How pain leads us down the path of self-discovery and unleashes some of our best work into the world

Learn more about Jess:

Learn more about Rebecca:

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meet the founder

I’m Rebecca Ching, LMFT.

I help change-making leaders get to the root of recurring struggles and get confidently back on track with your values, your vision, and your bottom line. 

I combine psychotherapeutic principles, future-forward coaching, and healthy business practices to meet the unique needs and challenges of highly-committed leaders in a high-stakes world.

This is unburdened leadership

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Everybody’s carrying a burden that’s weighing them down. If you dare to care, it is inevitable you will end up carrying the burdens from grief, betrayal, and rejection. And these burdens are often unseen. These invisible struggles fuel loneliness, shame, and despair. Eventually, the unaddressed burdens we carry start to impact our ability to live […]


EP 27: Frank Anderson, MD – Challenging the Fear of Rejection and Leading with Vulnerability – Part 1

We watch leaders crash & burn all the time. We watch with morbid fascination as leaders fall out of grace because their unaddressed pain led them on an unsustainable path of poor choices–even dangerous and deadly choices–to avoid feeling the vulnerability of rejection. Those times when you experienced the pain of rejection leave their mark […]


EP 21: Leading With Body Resilience with Co-Author of More Than A Body, Lindsay Kite, PhD

Caring about those you lead means caring about the harm you may unknowingly be doing. Many of us who fit western standards of beauty and live in conventionally abled bodies don’t understand how our choices can cause pain. We’ve internalized ableism and fat-phobia to the point where we can’t even grasp how our words & […]

Mental Well-being

EP 19: Defining Your Own Version Success with Natalie Borton, Founder of Natalie Borton Designs

The quickest way to crash and burn your business and life is to place your worthiness and safety with the opinions of others. This may sound like a captain-obvious statement but the pull to care what others think is something fierce. And it is sneaky. The competitive drive is no stranger to many of you. […]

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EP 17: Community Over Competition with Co-Founder of The Rising Tide Society Natalie Franke

Community over competition is indeed a well-worn hashtag. The cynical can dismiss it. Those beat up by year after year of injustice understandably call BS. But in practice, leading with the lens of community over competition is subversive and culture-shifting. Community over competition requires deep life-long work to unburden the load we carry of scarcity […]

Leading Teams

EP 02: How Self-Leadership Saves You From The Relentless Drive To Succeed with Dr. Richard Schwartz

My body was telling me to take a step back and reevaluate. Five years ago I had pneumonia and I couldn’t really do anything other than prop myself up on the couch and breathe… …breathe and think about how I ended up in this mess I’d run myself into the ground. My schedule was full-to-overflowing. […]


And clearing the way for a more innovative, inclusive future.

Unburdened Leaders are breaking
cycles of workplace burnout…

Are you about this, too? Let’s meet and see if I’m your coach – no expectations. Just connection.