Clarify. Connect. Inspire.

Jessica Zou posing for a photograph in an orange shirt and black coat.
As a brand strategist, I belong to these amazing organizations:
My work in public schools, the upcoming book, and the Substack community.

Besides my service as a brand strategist, like many people, an essential part of my life has changed dramatically during COVID-19.

When the pandemic started, our city went into lockdown. The whole world stopped. Physical schools were no longer available, and everything was moved online.

Like everyone else, I did a lot of inner work in the midst of the pause. For the first time in my life, the outside world became a true danger. Everything "out there" was filled with a deadly virus, and the question of life and death was closer to us all "in here" than ever. Inevitably, I came to this question: if tomorrow were to be my last day on earth, what would I regret?

It was such a sad question. I thought about my children and their lives in the world without me. I thought about the challenges they would face. The virus, the unpredictable climate, the polarized society we have become, the misinformation and mistrust, all the complicated issues that divide us, and many more than I could imagine today.

I also realized that, for this moment, I would regret not paying enough attention to my children's schools. If I had a chance to do something to help prepare our children for the future but didn't take it, I would regret it if I kept looking away instead of staring at the problems head-on.

For the past eight years, I have volunteered and advocated in both the public school system and charter public schools. Based on my 6-year volunteer and advocacy work at our neighborhood school, I have been writing a book titled What is School For? A manifesto for parents, to be published in August 2024.

Alongside the book, I have started a community on Substack with the same title for parents, policymakers, community members, and visitors to join and discuss our public school systems.

We can't just say that "our children are the future of the world" without actively supporting and advocating for them in building that future.

I'm thrilled you are here.

How I became a community builder.

Growing up with two military officers as parents, my family culture valued generosity, personal sacrifice for the whole and an awareness of how our choices affect future generations. An emphasis on practicality and responsibility propelled me into a “successful” career in sales. However, over time, I slid into exhaustion and burnout. In 2010, I finally broke away from my lucrative but highly stressful sales job (a familiar story, right?) Not only was I physically sick, but I had lost clarity, enthusiasm and purpose. What was the definition of success that I had been pursuing all those years? What exactly did I live for?

New directions and re-discovering my purpose.

I buried myself in the busy mom’s life while trying to answer those questions. Next, I embarked on a career as a Brand Strategist and began working with numerous organizations and companies, each with unique goals and challenges. To better serve them, I began taking courses with acclaimed marketing expert and bestselling author Seth Godin. Through his books and workshops, I discovered not only remarkable business insights, but also an inspiring community of people who care about each other’s wellbeing, want to serve the world and stay focused on creating a positive impact.

The nurturing culture fostered within this community inspired me. Through it, I found friendship and partnership as we reached our business goals together.

From their generous and candid feedback, I re-discovered my purpose: helping people build brands and communities that achieve positive change in the world. In this role, I help shape brand and group cultures based on trust, collaboration and a sense of belonging.