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Crafting a Personal Brand in the Corporate World with Zabrina Jenkins

Crafting a Personal Brand in the Corporate World with Zabrina Jenkins
Crafting a Personal Brand in the Corporate World with Zabrina Jenkins

Sometimes, the best career and life advice you receive comes from your family. My guest can certainly relate since she has received pivotal advice from her Dad that has helped her throughout her career!

From Zabrina’s upbringing to her love for sports and spontaneity, we explore how her personal interests and family values have shaped her approach to leadership and personal branding. Zabrina’s fundamental belief is that your personal brand should echo your core values, a philosophy that has guided her own career and life decisions.

In this episode of the Branding Room Only podcast, Zabrina shares her impressive journey of climbing the corporate ladder, a path filled with unexpected turns and valuable learnings. She opens up about the importance of embracing career changes as opportunities for growth and the profound impact of stepping outside one’s comfort zone. Zabrina’s remarkable story is a testament to adaptability, mentorship, and the relentless pursuit of excellence.



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1:40 – What a personal brand reflects, how Zabrina describes herself, and her favorite quote and hype song

4:12 – How growing up with a dad in the Air Force influenced Zabrina’s childhood and her approach to the world, and her career

15:30 – The impact of leadership roles on Zabrina’s brand, the three A’s to her success, and how you reflect other people’s brands

21:42 – Ground rules Zabrina follows that can help you navigate through life and the different roles you play

26:45 – The impact that mentorship can have on your life and career

30:47 – Tips to help you navigate your personal brand in a corporate environment

34:56 – How much Zabrina loves sports and the outdoors, the risk she will never take, and the one thing some people find disarming about her

Connect With Zabrina Jenkins

Zabrina is an executive advisor to the office of the Chief Executive Officer and the former acting general counsel and executive vice president for Starbucks Coffee Company. Additionally, Zabrina is an executive champion to the Starbucks Black Partner Network and an advisor to the diversity committee for the Law & Corporate Affairs department. A Starbucks partner since 2005, Zabrina previously held roles as the general counsel to the COO, interim chief ethics and compliance officer, lead legal advisor for Teavana, and was a core member of the Starbucks 2018 Philadelphia incident crisis management response team.

Zabrina is an independent board director for Retail Opportunity Investments Corp. (NASDAQ: ROIC).  Appointed by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee in 2019, she is a Trustee for Central Washington University and a member of the Enrollment Management subcommittee.  She also serves on the advisory boards of the Washington Leadership Institute and the Loren Miller Bar Foundation.  Zabrina previously served on the Board of Directors for Artist Trust and Central Washington University Foundation and on the advisory board of the Central Washington University College of Business. 

Zabrina received her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Central Washington University, Master of Science degree from Syracuse University School of Education, and Juris Doctor cum laude from Syracuse University College of Law. She is a member of the International Women’s Forum 2019-2020 Fellows Program. 

Zabrina Jenkins on LinkedIn

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Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by PGE Consulting Group LLC.

PGE Consulting Group LLC is dedicated to providing a practical hybrid of professional development training and diversity solutions. From speaking to consulting to programming and more, all services and resources are carefully tailored for each partner. Paula Edgar’s distinct expertise helps engage attendees and create lasting change for her clients.

To learn more about Paula and her services, go to or contact her at [email protected], and follow Paula Edgar and the PGE Consulting Group LLC on LinkedIn.

Paula Edgar: Welcome to The Branding Room Only Podcast where we share career stories, strategies, and lessons learned on how industry leaders and influencers have built their personal brands. Now, let’s get started with the show. Hi everybody, it’s Paula Edgar, host of The Branding Room Only, where I talk to industry leaders, professionals about their brands, what their reflections are about personal brands, and also advice they may have about personal branding. And I’m super, super excited to talk to my newest BFF, Zabrina Jenkins, today. Let me tell you a little bit about Zabrina. She is a distinguished corporate strategist and legal expert, currently serving as executive advisor to the office of the chief executive officer at Starbucks. Renowned for her dynamic role in shaping global brands, her extensive background includes pivotal leadership positions within Starbucks and a legal career marked by significant contributions to brand evolution. Her expertise in corporate governance, diversity and brand integrity positions her as a key voice in contemporary brand strategy. Welcome to The Branding Room.

Zabrina Jenkins: Oh, thank you, Paula.

Paula Edgar: I am super, super excited. From the moment that I met you, I had a chance to connect with you, I was like, “I need to have her on my podcast.” So again, with setting intentions and having it is happening right now. So I’m super excited. Welcome. How are you today?

Zabrina Jenkins: Thank you. I am doing great. I have to say, I am so overwhelmed by the opportunity to be here with you today. I am just so touched by this. So thank you. I am doing great.

Paula Edgar: Well, it’s a mutual love club over here. All right, let’s get into it. Tell me what personal brand means to you. How do you define it?

Zabrina Jenkins: Yeah, I define it as sort of how you present yourself and it’s a reflection of your values, pretty much what do you want to be known for? To me, that’s what your brand, your personal brand is about.

Paula Edgar: I love it. I love it. All right, so that being said, and how would you describe yourself in three words or phrases?

Zabrina Jenkins: In three words or phrases, I would describe myself as an extroverted introvert who cares and feels deeply for my family, my friends, and the people that are in my circle, people that I love and I thrive to be a solution finder. That’s really, I think, how I sum up what my brand is about.

Paula Edgar: Solution finder. I love that. I love that. Okay, do you have a favorite quote or mantra?

Zabrina Jenkins: I do. This is something that I grew up with from my father. My father was an Air Force retired colonel and something that he told me and my siblings for as long as I can remember is the best doesn’t come easy. That’s why there’s nothing else like it. So that’s a quote that I reflect back on whenever I’m struggling with something or I’m trying to achieve something, and I need that motivation to kind of keep going. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. So you put the time in to try and be successful.

Paula Edgar: I love that. I love that. It’s like striving for excellence, right? It’s that understanding of resilience for excellence. That is fantastic. Okay, so do you have a hype song? So something that when they’re going to get full-on Zabrina with a Z, they know that’s a song that’s playing?

Zabrina Jenkins: Absolutely.

Paula Edgar: Something to kind of pick you up if you’re feeling down, what’s that song?

Zabrina Jenkins: Well, I’ve got several, but I would say the one that stands out for me right now is Shining by DJ Khaled with Beyonce and Jay Z. I love the refrain in the lyrics where, I can’t sing, so I’m not going to even try to sing the part, but the lyrics are, “Don’t try to slow me down.” So whenever I need to be hyped, I think about that song, I play that song, and the beat’s great. I love music, so the beat is great, but the lyrics really speak to me.

Paula Edgar: I love that. Okay, so you already alluded to growing up as a daughter of someone who was in the Air Force, as a pilot, and living in all these states because of that. How did that help influence your upbringing and sort of how you approach the world?

Zabrina Jenkins: Yeah. Well, we grew up, I’m the youngest of three, and I was born in Maryland. My dad was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base and he worked at the Pentagon. Then we moved to Hawaii and we moved to California, and then we moved to Washington State. I would say that that setting, my upbringing really taught me early on how to be around people of different races, different backgrounds, and different cultures. I have friends who were Korean and Filipino and people who looked like us, people who didn’t look like us. So it gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about different cultures. It also taught me a lot about working to be outgoing and to be resilient. As I mentioned in sort of how do I describe myself, I actually am an introvert, and one thing that having a military background where you are living in different places, you’re having to meet new people, you learn how to go into a room and to start a conversation and to start talking to people, even if that’s not your natural inclination, but it’s kind of a survival thing. Otherwise, you don’t survive and you don’t make friends. So that upbringing really kind of influenced who I am as a person.

Paula Edgar: I love that reflection about that because I always say that introverts rule the world. People think that because we’re loud, and I was like, we, I mean I, as extroverts that we– it’s not. It’s that introverts are so much more strategic. They don’t want to do it, so they’re going to do it. Let’s get it done. This is what I gotta get done. I think that it is a much more powerful stance, particularly in relationship building, to be introverted in the thought of that, you’re focused. I sort of say to myself sometimes I’m like a butterfly. I’m like, “I’m gonna go from flower to flower, to flower, to flower.” I want the rose and I want the daisy. And that’s it. I’m good. What island were you on in Hawaii, were you stationed in Hawai?

Zabrina Jenkins: We were stationed at Hickam Air Force Base on Oʻahu.

Paula Edgar: My husband is a marine.

Zabrina Jenkins: Oh, I did not know.

Paula Edgar: I can always say it wrong, Oʻahu. I’m going to get in trouble. Anyway, it tells a long story. But anyway, I have the Hawaii-California connection because I also lived in California. I lived in Orange County when I was, I would say growing up because, yes, it was when I was growing up, but not when I was a kid. It was definitely growing up. Okay, so talk to me about now how all of that, the growing, the sort of learning and connecting as somebody who went to a lot of different places and experienced a lot of different people, how did that then fuse into you becoming an attorney and taking it from law firm live to in-house and now being the business side, advising the CEO, the office of the CEO? Tell me that.

Zabrina Jenkins: Yeah, of course. Well, I guess I’ll start by saying I’ve always had an interest in going law school. Growing up, people said I was argumentative, I’d be a great lawyer. So that kind of stuck with me. Actually, as I learned more about the law, I realized that it was the opportunity to continue to learn that really attracted me to law school. When I graduated from Syracuse, I was fortunate to have an offer from a law firm in Seattle, and joined that firm back in 2000. I was in my fourth year of practice when one of my mentors reached out to me to tell me that Starbucks was going to have its first junior-level litigation position. I honestly had not thought about going in-house at that point in time in my career.

I thought you kind of had to spend a lot of time in-house, and then make that transition when you were a partner. But this opportunity was presented to me and I need to look into it and kind of seize the opportunity. I was familiar with the brand, having lived in Washington, but it wasn’t Starbucks as it is today. We had 7000 stores, there were 200,000 employees, and our legal department was a little over 100. But I came in, got the job, and came in to oversee the company’s premises liability cases. So all the lawsuits that were filed against our stores and just over the course of my time with the company, the company continued to grow and the department primarily kind of stayed a little lean. So it presented opportunities for us to go into different spaces.

While I started just to oversee the store litigation, it led to commercial litigation. Then I just continued to increase my responsibilities. When we acquired our tea business, I took a stretch assignment and went to Atlanta and moved to Atlanta to work for Teavana. That one, I will say, was a huge learning opportunity for me in terms of building my confidence. I will admit that when the role was first posted, I thought, “Oh, they’re looking for a transactional lawyer,” kind of self-selected out on that, and was thankful to have a great manager mentor who said, “No, you need to put your name in for this. This would be a great opportunity for you.” And he was right.

Ultimately, it was a competitive process. I was selected and it was my first opportunity to really work on the business side, serving on the leadership team of that newly acquired business. That then led to an assignment where I moved back to Seattle and started leading the litigation team. From there, I was promoted, took on a vice president role with litigation and employment, and we had a sudden departure of our chief ethics and compliance officer. So I was asked to take on that role as well. Then the next promotion came through, some changes within the organization structurally, and I was promoted as senior vice president and assigned as the general counsel for Roz Brewer when she was our chief operating officer, which I will say honestly was one of the best experiences I have had in my career, hands down. Then most recently, when Howard Schultz returned as our interim CEO, he made some changes within the leadership team as well and asked me to be his general counsel. So I served in that role for about 18 months.

When our new CEO came in, he made some changes as well and brought in a new general counsel. I transitioned to the executive advisor role to his office and our office of strategy, public affairs, and legal. So that’s kind of my journey kind of in a nutshell. There are some peaks and valleys in that time where there were things where I put myself out there and I didn’t get the role. Other times, I was asked to do something and I didn’t really think it was something that I wanted to do, but wanted to be a team player and certainly learned the value of learning something different in that process. It just has led to this interesting career where I went from the most junior position to the most senior position in the legal department, and I’ve been with the company for a little over 18 years.

Paula Edgar: Obviously, you’re talking about it, it’s like, “Oh,” and I’m sitting here like, “Oh, my gosh.” Every single time you said the change, I was like, “I’m so scared. I’m scared. I’m scared about that. That’s scary.” So tell me if you think that this is a good explanation of you.

It sounds to me very much like you have a growth mindset, like you understand that even if it feels a little scary, that you can go ahead and do it and learn something from the process. Is that right? Because I’m scared and I was like, “I don’t want this.”

Zabrina Jenkins: I’ll also add to that is most of those changes, with the exception of my first two moves from corporate counsel to director, came as a result of someone leaving. So I didn’t have the transition and I just had to go in. That’s why I honestly do consider myself a solution finder, because I learned to get in there, and it hasn’t always been just kind of my natural inclination or my comfort zone. There is a diagram, sort of a GIF, I guess it is, that I keep on my phone and I share it with people and I reflect on it myself because I often have to be reminded myself. But there’s a small circle that says, “Your comfort zone,” and then there’s a big circle that says “where the magic happens.” I love that because you do have to get out of your comfort zone to really try to capitalize on the magic. And it’s not easy. I mean, trust me, every time I’m just like, “Am I supposed to do, can I do this?” But each time you gain a little more confidence and you understand, I made it through this, I can pull on my resources, my experience.

The other thing I guess I would say is it’s not going at it alone. Knowing that there are people who are out there who can support you and not being afraid to ask for help is something that has helped me throughout my career.

Paula Edgar: First of all, you’re going to need to send me that GIF because I need it.

Zabrina Jenkins: Gladly. I love it. I absolutely love it.

Paula Edgar: It’s the first thing and I’m a little bit taken aback. I’m rarely, rarely speechless, but I’m having a moment because it’s almost like, what’s the word I’m trying to say? When you think about what we want, what we say we want, I’m sure when you walk through whatever that Starbucks store was that first day, you were like, “I’m here. I made it. I moved from the hard part, which was the law firm.” And then to go from could you have even forecasted? That’s what I mean. I’m pulling this out and stopping here because I want the folks who are listening to really get that so often, people think that there’s this linear journey and it’s so not. Sometimes, even what we think we want, we don’t even know. So being open to opportunity, whether it’s by will or skill, is a good thing.

Zabrina Jenkins: Right.

Paula Edgar: I am inspired. I’m like, “What can I do [inaudible]?” I’m going to get to that magic spot. That’s great. Well, I mean, you kind of answered the next question. I want to jump into talking about another role that’s leadership that you have, which is being an independent board director for the Retail Opportunity Investments Corp and other board roles. Tell me about how corporate governance and being in leadership sort of not work, but work, shapes what you do, how to use your skill set towards that, and how that impacts your brand.

Zabrina Jenkins: Yeah, well, I guess to answer your last question, it definitely impacts my brand, period. I mean, you go from some level of anonymity to kind of putting yourself out there in a public way. That’s become part of my brand as well. I don’t take that for granted. I hold that very dear. I recognize that it’s also not just about me that I’m representing a number of other constituents. Quite frankly, I’m representing other people who look like me.

I’m representing my employer. I’m representing the other organizations that I’m affiliated with. So I’ve learned a lot just from serving on both civic organizations and public boards. I’m a trustee for Central Washington University. I would say that’s the one where I acutely feel that I am a public figure because all the meetings are publicly held open by state law, for good or for bad. It’s a constant reminder that it’s not just about me and that the brand and how I show up again to how I defined a personal brand is really important. So it’s helped me in being thoughtful in terms of how I present, how I speak, how I look. I should mention, growing up, Dad and my uncle had this–

We used to get lots of different pieces of advice, and as I was preparing for this, I found something that I had when I was growing up which said what my dad and my uncle would always say. Remember the three A’s to success: Appearance, Attitude, and Assertiveness. I think about that just in terms of what does it mean to serve on a public board? What does it mean to serve on any sort of board and my brand? Appearance is important and your attitude is really important, and certainly your assertiveness because you’re being asked to serve in a certain role and sometimes you need to kind of get out there and get into some things. That’s what I would say just to kind of summarize how my experience has been.

Paula Edgar: I think that that is so profound. First of all, I’m definitely stealing the three A’s with attribution. I think about this because I’m also on a lot of boards. Not public boards, yet. Comma, yet.

Zabrina Jenkins: Yeah, put that on there.

Paula Edgar: Exactly. That’s going to be on my vision board too. But I definitely am at different bar association boards. All of these other things and I do think very deeply about what I do. The fun Paula and the not-so-fun Paula, all of the Paula is aligned with other brands and you in particular, you’re aligned with big brands and significant brands. To being reflective about it is important because people are not necessarily, and this is much to my chagrin, aren’t necessarily as thoughtful enough as to separate the person from the things. So they will be like that person from insert organization here did this thing versus this person.

Zabrina Jenkins: Right. Well, I will tie that back to just my upbringing as well. You can appreciate that with my father being a Black Air Force officer who went on to become a colonel in the Air Force. As children, we knew that what we did was a reflection of him. He made it very clear to us that we couldn’t do certain things, we couldn’t act a certain way, we couldn’t behave a certain way out there in the streets because that would shine a poor negative light on him and his career. So that whole concept of branding and being an ambassador and people seeing you beyond just who you are as a person has been something that I’ve grown up with.

Paula Edgar: We have that in common. I am the daughter of immigrants, Barbados and Jamaica respectively. What my parents would tell me often was, “Do not embarrass us. Don’t you go outside and embarrass us.” So not as eloquent maybe as your father said. My mother would tell me there’s a baseline, speaking of parents on how you go outside, “You cannot have ashy lips.” That was like a big deal for my mother. Like, “Why are you outside ashy?” I think we definitely have that in common. Thinking about it, and I have a daughter who is a freshman in college, Belmont College, shout out.

Zabrina Jenkins: Yeah.

Paula Edgar: I try to align with her all the time to say, “I know it feels like a pressure,” but it’s hard to say because as a parent, kids don’t want to hear you. But I also know that whether or not it’s what we want, people do judge you by how you show up. I often, particularly with people of color and folks from underrepresented groups, I don’t want to say conform. So that’s not the thing. It is to be very thoughtful about how you show up and also align where it makes sense, and then to differentiate where it makes sense for you, too. That is fabulous. Okay, so tell me this. How do you, and I hate the word balance, unless I’m actually trying to balance something, but how do you navigate all of your different roles at work and the volunteerism and all of these other pieces and kind of just being you, how do you balance all of that? If you wouldn’t call it balance, navigate.

Zabrina Jenkins: Well, it’s not without a lot of thought and intention. I have to say, I’m not always good at it, but it’s all about kind of values as well. I mean, I’ve always said family first, end stop. Then keeping that sort of at the forefront and keeping that centered. Then you think about, “Okay, well, where do I have space for other things and how do I need to prioritize?” And balancing your priorities with really knowing your limits as well, and then surrounding yourself with people who will add value to your life. Going, again, back to sort of my upbringing and some information that was always shared with us. My uncle used to circulate to us the ground rules for developing a good value system and setting goals. I was looking again at it this morning. Number six is select your friends with care.

When selecting your friends, even your mate for life, take a close look at their value system. Where do they want to go in life? What is their goal? This is very important. You can never reach your greatest potential if you pick the wrong mate or friends. So that’s something that was ingrained in me sort of early in terms of your circle. I would say by extension, I think about that in terms of all the things that I am involved with. I’m selective. I’m not going to just give my time if I’m not passionate about it and it’s not something that I can do well and have a meaningful, and well, I mean having a meaningful impact, I’m not trying to profess that I need to be a perfectionist at anything, but certainly, it’s important to make sure that you are spending your time in ways that provide value to you and that you feel like you’re being impactful. So that’s, I think, how I best balance all of my priorities and my engagement in different organizations. Sometimes I just have to say no because it’s either something that I know I can’t give my time to because I’m at my limit, or it’s not something that I’m really that passionate about and know that perhaps someone else will give more to that particular organization.

Paula Edgar: That is such a good lens. First of all, you have to share the list. Go through everything that your uncle and your dad gave you and just send it to me in a box. Thanks.

Zabrina Jenkins: Absolutely. On like a typewriter type font. That’s how.

Paula Edgar: Okay. I need it. That is so clutch. I often will talk to people about their personal board of directors, but I say have one but also remember that for every board, there should be term limits and you should be reflecting on how people add value for the folks because I have pruned people and put them into advisory status. I have said, “I need you to be more present.” It’s really a thoughtful thing. As you know, every year, I am very intentional about what I want to do and who I want to do it with, but even more so, and I think as I get older and as I really think about what my impact and what my legacy is going to be, I don’t have time to waste. Time is literally, I can’t give that back. So I feel very honored when I spend time with people who bring me joy because everybody knows it’s my word of the year, but really, if I don’t feel joy from it or if I don’t feel I’m going to have an impact, then I’m not servicing myself properly.

Zabrina Jenkins: Right.

Paula Edgar: Yeah.

Zabrina Jenkins: My word for the year is focused because I find that I get a little distracted and it’s easy to kind of have some of that noise creep in and you lose sight of things. So for me, it’s focused.

Paula Edgar: I love that as a thing. I have started to kind of incorporate some reflection questions in order for me to decide, like, if somebody says, “Paula, can you do XYZ thing?” For this year, and I shift the top question each year. I’ve been building this list for a while, but the first question this year is, “Will this bring me joy?” I can tell you, beginning of the year, there’s been several things where I’m like, “Ooh, that’s not going to work for me.” In light of the priorities that I have this year, I’m unable to take on that asset, and it feels so authentic and good. I don’t feel bad about it because I’m not just saying yes or no, saying I’m thoughtful about it.

Zabrina Jenkins: Absolutely.

Paula Edgar: I love it. Okay, so tell me about mentors. Have you had any through your career? Tell me how they impacted you.

Zabrina Jenkins: Oh, my goodness. I’m so blessed to have had so many. I will tell you, again, kind of bringing it to my father, when I left for college, I’m very fortunate to have my father really give us a lot of sound advice. One of the things that he said when I left for college and shared the same with my siblings is he told me that I needed to get a godfather, and I didn’t know exactly what he was speaking about at the time. I now understand that today’s modern definition of a mentor, but what he said was, “You need to get a godfather when you get to school. Someone who can look out for you, someone who can answer questions for you, can kind of support you and give you guidance while you’re on campus.” So that concept of mentorship started with me early on.

What that has led to is sort of the same thing that you’ve said in terms of some have time limits, some are situational, some are, they will forever be on my board of directors because they just are in a place where they’re someone that I want to emulate. When you get that list that I share with you, number eight is look for mentors, someone that you can emulate. Mentors who are larger than life expand us, and mentors in different fields broaden us. Yes. Mentorship and sponsorship, I think, are incredibly important. I would not had the career that I’ve had or had the experiences that I’ve had without having both mentors and sponsors. It’s just honestly something that I am grateful for to continue to build those relationships. I think it’s also important with mentorship to know that they don’t necessarily need to look like you, that you learn a lot just from people who are different from you but may have had an experience that you either want to emulate or learn from.

Paula Edgar: Yes. First of all, this list is like fire right now, like, this is the list. But I think larger in life, I always say that Oprah is like a mentor in my head. So, yes, I have met her, but only to the side and just a wave.

Zabrina Jenkins: Don’t you try to downplay that. You met her.

Paula Edgar: It was just a little bit of a meet, but that’s okay, because one day, she’s going to be on this podcast and y’all gonna say [inaudible]. It’s all good.

Zabrina Jenkins: We are going to set that intention right now.

Paula Edgar: Exactly. Somebody tell somebody. But it is such a powerful thing when somebody says, “I’m investing in you.”

Zabrina Jenkins: Yes, absolutely.

Paula Edgar: I do a lot of training and education, primarily at law firms, about mentoring and how to appropriately mentor. What I find people mess up on this all the time is they want to create minimes as opposed to guiding the person to what they want to be. Right. It’s like, “Yes, I don’t want to go over that pothole. That’s what I want you to tell me, that the pothole is there, but I don’t want to be in the same car as you.”

Zabrina Jenkins: Don’t clone yourself.

Paula Edgar: Exactly. And it’s a lot of that space. A lot of folks will tell me, “Oh, well, that person can’t mention me because they don’t know me. They’re not like me.” And I go, “We have to learn everybody, because every person who we connect with, whether they look like you or not, whether you think they’re the same, you have to still learn them.” Giving folks the grace of, I think with every human being I’ve met, it’s three questions until I figure out something we have in common. Right. It’s us perceiving our difference, but we realize really quickly that we have a lot more in common than we have that separates us. If people would just get that, it would be so much better. That’s a whole nother podcast. Okay, so that being said, what advice would you give to somebody who is trying to navigate their personal brand in a corporate environment?

Zabrina Jenkins: Well, I think one, for starters, again, just the importance of mentorship and sponsorship. My dad used to always say, “I broke down the door, don’t go to the next door, walk behind me.” So keeping that sort of spirit in mind, look to people who have had that experience, who are in a place where you want to go in your corporate setting. I think it’s incredibly important. I mean, as I shared at the outset when you asked me about my career journey, I’m here because I had a mentor who called me and said, “Starbucks is going to have a position. I think you’d be great here.” Do I think it’s because even subconsciously, while I wasn’t working on it, he understood that I cared about my brand and I was a good reflection of him, as he referred me? Absolutely.

I think that’s the case. So I would say that anyone who’s kind of starting out, keep that in mind and build those relationships and understand that building the relationship is going to take time. Those things don’t happen necessarily overnight and that they should be authentic. I think sometimes people look at building relationships as something that they want to do simply from a transactional perspective, and it’s to help them kind of move them to wherever they’re trying to go. While that’s a piece of it, there does need to be some reciprocity in the relationship. So taking it away from just simply being transactional to approaching someone who you want to emulate and just asking them, “Interested to learn about your journey, and how can I learn from you, and how can I offer something in response?” I think is important. I think the other thing, particularly in a corporate setting, it’s important to be a team player and a collaborator. I think that’s how people ultimately succeed in the corporate setting. My experience has been you don’t actually ultimately get ahead by having sharp elbows and cutting people out.

That stuff always comes back at some point in time. So you’re better off working collaboratively with people, putting people up as well, and supporting people. I think it’s critically important.

Paula Edgar: Yes, to all of that. Is it something that you have made a priority because of the experience that you’ve had to also give those things back to other people? Is that a part of your leadership sort of ethos as well?

Zabrina Jenkins: Absolutely. I will say I do believe fundamentally it is ingrained in me. I come from a long legacy of family members who have given back and understand the importance of paying it forward. For me, it’s also personally gratifying. I mentioned earlier that I’m a solution-finder. I like thinking through issues. I like being able to help someone, not to get into gospel, but the song “If I can help somebody, then my journey will not be in vain.” That’s something my dad used to sing in our house as I was growing up and something that his mother sang in their house. I truly do believe that it is important to give back and to help others. Again, I personally find it personally gratifying to do that. So I try to do it as much as I can, and be honest about really, sometimes I can’t give people as much time as I want to, but I will always make time, even if it’s just a few minutes because it’s important just for people to know that they are being seen and heard.

Paula Edgar: Yeah, people want to be fairly treated and heard. All right, so tell me about the fun stuff. What do you do for fun?

Zabrina Jenkins: I do a lot of things for fun. I know it sounds very– I love having fun.

Paula Edgar: We have that in common.

Zabrina Jenkins: That is so important to me. So from anything to I love sports. I’m a huge sports fan. I love playing sports. I actually, believe it or not, still play basketball. I played collegiately and a little slower than I once was, but I still consider myself somewhat of a baller.

Paula Edgar: I love it.

Zabrina Jenkins: I love being outdoors, like skiing, golfing, boating. I have my captain’s license. I actually can drive a boat, skipper a boat, like travel, adventure, love music, love going to concerts. Went to some great concerts this year. Tony! Toni! Toné! When they were at CCWC in DC, went to that concert. So, yeah, love to do things and love adventure, love spontaneity. Let’s go.

Paula Edgar: You’re not just going to drop it off like, you have your captain’s license. You’re not going to drop it and think I’m going to say, like, “Okay, fine.” What?

Zabrina Jenkins: Well, there’s a story behind that.

Paula Edgar: There must be a story of like I need to hear it more.

Zabrina Jenkins: Well, one, my dad grew up in Alabama. He used to fish all the time. Before my parents got married, he had like a small boat that he used to tow behind his car. That was kind of like his guilty pleasure was to go out and go fishing. So I grew up with him always wanting to go out fishing and so on. But the boat thing came as a result of some self-reflection that I was just not spending enough time on Zabrina. I decided that if I did something like get my boating license and I have a friend who has a boat, that I would then spend more time out on the water.

So that’s what I did. I’m like, “You know what? I’m going to steady up and get my boating–” I took a course to do a double-engine diesel 36-footer. And, yeah, so that was kind of like, why not?

Paula Edgar: I am telling you, as much as I have conversations with people, I always feel like blessed that something tells me to say something and ask something that gets me to the thing, because, like you all, you should see my face and I’m like, number one, my cheeks are like eeeh. I’m smiling so much. But I love that because that gives me another aspect of your brand that we might not have gotten to in the question. The biggest piece of branding is self-awareness.

Zabrina Jenkins: Thank you.

Paula Edgar: It’s so true to be able to understand who you are, and more importantly, what you need is a really– I mean, I think that if leaders did that more, we would be in a much better space. I love that for you. We are definitely going out on the boat. Can we do it in the Caribbean? I mean, that part. Okay. So I ask the same two questions to everybody on my podcast. One is this, is to stand by your brand. What aspect of your brand will you never compromise?

Zabrina Jenkins: My integrity, I will never compromise. It’s not worth the risk. I grew up with the belief that you do the right thing. It’s very fortunate that when I joined the company here, the manager that I had, I will never forget when he was telling me about doing the job, he said, “Ultimately, you need to do the right thing.” I was like, “This is the right decision I made because this is what I grew up with,” and it’s something that I share with everyone who asks me about leadership and how do you handle different situations. It’s kind of always been my North Star. So the thing that I won’t ever compromise on is, quite frankly, my integrity. I think that it’s so important to who I am as a person.

Paula Edgar: I love that. Okay, second one is your Branding Room Only moment. So Branding Room Only is a play on standing room only. What is your magic? The thing that people will come into a room and it’ll be standing room only to experience about you.

Zabrina Jenkins: I think it’s just my overall disposition. I’m pretty even-keeled. I’m calm under pressure. I don’t really get very excited one way or the other. It’s a little disarming for some people because they expect me to be like, especially as someone who’s a litigator, they expect me to fly off the handle. I’m like, “No,” just very even-keeled for the most part. So, yeah, that’s who I am.

Paula Edgar: Wow. I am so happy that I had a chance to talk to you about who you are, and more importantly, the folks will be able to hear who you are, a little bit more about who you are. Thank you so much for being in The Branding Room with me. This has been a delightful conversation. Everybody, tell everybody to listen to this podcast episode.

Zabrina Jenkins: Listen, the fact that you have even given this opportunity, I am just so grateful for, so trust and believe I will be sharing it with others.

Paula Edgar: Fantastic. Everybody, talk to you soon. And, Zabrina, you’re welcome to come back to The Branding Room anytime.

Zabrina Jenkins: I would love that. Thank you, Paula.