You might call it courage, perseverance, or fortitude. Hannah Bouwmeester calls it “grit.” This is what drives her to excellence and keeps her pushing toward the very best version of herself.
Hannah was passed along from a halfway home to foster care before finding herself on her own at the young age of 17. Looking back, she knows those trying moments contributed to the character she has today. And years of raising and homeschooling six children as the CEO of a busy household certainly added to her self-proclaimed “gritty personality,” too.
“I was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of six for 13 years, and that was it. I’d been married, had my babies, and was very happily loving on and educating them. I was the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, Taxi Mom... and that was really my life – I was highly devoted to my family,” Hannah shares.
She wasn’t looking for a change in title. But though happy right where she was, circumstances quickly shifted for the Bouwmeesters. Hannah and her husband, Jason, were also caring for Hannah’s mom when they realized their family needed to be in a financially sustainable position for the long term. Raising six kids isn’t exactly easy on a budget. Around the same time, they were introduced to N2 Publishing in a fairly unique way, as Jason’s best friend is the brother of N2’s co-founder and president, Earl Seals..
“I was always looking for some kind of opportunity that would allow for us, as a homeschooling family, to have more flexibility in our schedule and to be there for our children, but also teach them the value of having an entrepreneurial mindset,” Hannah says.
They were sold on N2 when they saw the introductory videos, and Hannah and Jason both went to training with a plan to divide and conquer: He would handle sales and she would handle office tasks.
After attending training, they came home and dove in headfirst. Hannah was surprised to realize she had a knack for cold calling and was successfully booking 12 to 20 appointments a week for Jason. During this time, they realized Hannah had a special knack for the Area Director role, and that this was even something she could handle on her own.
“Jason got us to print. [Then] we finally had a conversation and he told me to take it over. To be honest, I thought it would be temporary,” Hannah remembers. “I figured he could go spend time with the children and take a break and then come back, but I ended up making five sales in my first week and continued over the next four months to get us up to [a high number of sales]. We then looked at each other and said, ‘Obviously we’re not going to try to unpour this milk.’”
Shifting Roles and Taking Names
Area Directors who come from another sales organization or the corporate world often experience a shift in free time and flexibility. For “Homeschooling Hannah,” this wasn’t the case. It was a big transition for the whole family, but thanks to her position with N2, what she could do was put five of her children in private education for no cost out of pocket. How? She partnered with the school, providing advertising in her publication and marketing consultations to cover the cost.
She continued to grow their first publication, ramped up a second in September 2015, and went to print by May 2016. That fall, she was also asked to become a Development Director.
“I absolutely loved being a Development Director. I didn’t know a ton about leadership in terms of leading adults. I knew how to lead a family, but Bernadette Hayes and Jason Pattee saw something in me and I absolutely loved pouring into the lives of others: coaching, encouraging, and being a cheerleader,” Hannah recalls.
Hannah with Area Director Christine Knapp.
She remembers feeling out of her depth at first, but she trusted the potential others saw in her, which led to her new role in 2018 – Sales Director.
“This whole year has been a journey of maturing in my leadership: improving, making mistakes, having failures, and stepping stones into this season of growth,” she says.
There’s been an evolution in what the Bouwmeester family looks like the past few years, with Hannah and Jason changing their dynamics while making sure everyone still feels cared for and loved. Now, because of Hannah’s income, the Bouwmeesters have enjoyed family vacations at Disney World. The children are able to partake in any sports or activities they want – piano, dance, gymnastics, drama, guitar, travel teams, you name it. All these opportunities are the result of going through a transition that, in the end, led to freedom in so many ways.
The Bouwmeesters at Disney World.
When it comes down to it, we sometimes end up in roles and places completely different than what we imagined. In times like these, it’s the people around us who rally and encourage us, and see something in us that we can’t, pushing us to greatness. Hannah’s roles at N2 have opened so many doors for her to inspire others, pass on an entrepreneurial spirit to her children, and show her grit through every moment.
“Sometimes in life we have to be willing to view ourselves through the lens of other people,” says Hannah. “Sometimes it’s positive, and sometimes it’s a reckoning, taking a hard look at constructive criticism. Both are super important. We need to be willing to allow ourselves to entertain the idea that we might actually have the potential in us that others see.”
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