The Wisdom of Words – Jenni Trent Hughes. Life strategist, coach and Agony Aunt with a specialisation in relationships and family issues, Poppy Watt caught up with the multi-talented Jenni Trent Hughes to find out just how one goes about becoming a voice of reason in the often frantic world of love and romance.
“Relationships need work”.
This was Jenni Trent Hughes’ response to my opening question on what she thought makes the perfect relationship.
“Nothing is perfect. In fact, what makes us special are the little imperfections. How we deal with them determines whether we sink or swim in the grand “sea of life”.
For those of you unfamiliar with Jenni, it would be fair to say that she has a wealth of interests and talents, extending from a successful TV and radio career to her counselling and relationship work. She is a woman who knows what she wants and her confidence is immediately apparent.
Although born in Jamaica, Jenni now lives and works mainly in the the UK and from an early age she always felt her destiny was in writing.
“I was a pretty quiet kid at school but when we moved to America I was so overwhelmed by the country and the people that it almost silenced me completely! It was only later on in my senior school years when I became involved in school politics and had to make speeches in front of the student body; that my nervousness was cleared and after that, communication was never a problem again.
In her early working life, Jenni turned her hand to many career paths, from geophysical technician for an oil company to manager of a nightclub before she arrived at her present vocation as agony aunt.
“There were many stops in between then and now but I have always been the kind of person who approaches whatever presents itself to me. Opportunities should be grabbed not rejected”.
“I began my career as an agony aunt with an online site called handbag.com. They wanted someone with a more pragmatic role towards problem-solving. I used to be a corporate trouble-shooter so I said ‘give me some questions and we’ll see how I answer them’. After that, I was recruited as the co-presenter and relationship expert for the Channel 4 series Perfect Match and the rest – to use a very well-worn cliché – is history”.
“The internet is an absolute boon. I cannot stress enough how it has opened up the concept of people improving their circumstances. I do online counselling (emails and MSN sessions) and find that people open up much more when they feel they are not being ‘stared at’.
“Also you can research things and most importantly you can find people who are going through whatever you are going through and speak from the heart in relative anonymity”.
And contrary to general opinion, men do like to talk as another interesting statistic revealed when figures showed that a high number of guys approach agony aunts.
“We are not just used by women. These days I would say there is a 60–40 male/female ratio of questions which is up hugely from when I first started about 12 years ago when a question from a male were few and far between”
As a working mother, Jenni has managed to achieve a good work/life balance.
“I am VERY lucky in that I have a flexible schedule and when I do have to go out to work it is usually for a short period of time. My career is all about helping other people and improving the quality of their lives. I would like it if my son Jack chose to follow in my footsteps but who knows where his path will take him”.
Outside of her work, Jenni’s main interests are travel, reading and music and she did make the startling revelation that she is considering giving it all up to move to Egypt and become a quad biking instructor!
As you might expect from such a versatile woman, Jenni has used every medium to communicate with her public and she has written two successful books which focus on her speciality as a “people-person”.
ToughTalk: 101 Difficult Conversations and How to Have Them and The Greatest Relationships and Dating Tips in the World.
Having read the latter publication it is clearly apparent that the book is based upon past experiences obtained from the industry and is – in my opinion – a fascinating and worthy read.
“I think one of the most important things that one can do in life is to learn from what goes on around you. So you learn from your own experiences, your family and friends, strangers; in fact anyone who is willing to share their secrets and tales”.