Dietetic Career Spotlight on Jennifer McDaniel, McDaniel Nutrition Therapy
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on MAY 1, 2017
Want to know how Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, found her dream job? She hired herself! Read on to learn how she started her private practice and how she has other dietitians working with her. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
My grandmother, who almost lived to 102, (one month shy) influenced my path into the career of nutrition. Grammie gave me the nickname “nutri-pie” when I was five. She always complemented how I would eat the nutritious foods she enjoyed cooking. She also passed down the appreciation for nutrition and wellness to my mom. I remember observing my mom polish off the leftover water from steamed broccoli. When I asked what she was doing, she replied, “getting the most nutrition out of my broccoli buck!” I have a lineage of women concerned with wellness.
Your Job Title?
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist – Owner & Founder McDaniel Nutrition Therapy, a private practice based in St. Louis
Company you are with now?
McDaniel Nutrition Therapy
– Twitter: mcdanielrdn
– Facebook: McDaniel Nutrition Therapy
– Instagram: mcdanielrdn
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
I fall into the “not so typical” category. Everyday is different. However, if I were to categorize my tasks:
1 hour per day: As a business owner, I usually spend time billing clients, payroll for my dietitians, website updates, etc.
2-3 hours a day/2-3 days a week working with clients.
1 hour per day making and photographing food for social media
2-3 hours per day on two to three different nutrition-related projects
1 hour per day on media work for interview for my spokesperson role.
30 min to 1 hour per day spent in physical activity like a run, walking to my office or doing yoga session at home.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I hired myself! J Prior to opening my nutrition business, I was working full-time as the instructor and Didactic Program Director at St. Louis University. During the 6 years in this teaching job, I “moonlighted” on the side by seeing private. When my husband and I decided to start a family, I opted for a job that had a bit more flexibility and slowly began the process of building McDaniel Nutrition Therapy. In the last 5 years, while McDaniel Nutrition has grown, I have also had three sons. Clearly, the growth of the company has ebbed and flowed with being a mother. However, hiring dietitians to grow as a team was one of the best moves I have made as a business owner.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I am a very good listener. I can read people well, and this has allowed me to be successful with building my private practice clientele.
I was born with the love to learn and continuously challenging myself to stay on top of current nutrition science (as well the science of behaviors and habit formation).
I would also consider myself to have grit. I do my best to see failures as opportunities to learn and improve. I am constantly picking myself up and trying something again or looking for new ways to tackle something.
As a Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, I have to be an effective communicator and presenter. As a former instructor and current dietitian for several corporations, I am becoming a more engaging speaker and spokesperson. Spokespeople receive media training twice a year. These media tools and techniques are certainly a learned set of skills.
Communication through writing. While I enjoy writing, it takes me a long time to compose a blog or article. I have my mom proof almost all of my work. I use an app called Hemingway to be succinct and accurate when I write. My writing has improved over time, but I still have a long way to go.
Asking for what I am worth. I get uncomfortable asking for money. However, I am becoming much better at asking for the compensation that I require and deserve from clients and corporations.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Align yourself with mentors along your professional journey. There will always be someone smarter & more experienced than you, and lucky for us, who are willing to be there to help you move forward with your professional ideals. Find this person by networking at local dietetic meetings, or by attending the community women’s business association group. Your mentors might not all be dietitians, but they could be movers & shakers in the community who seriously promote their health initiatives. Do not be afraid to ask for help: a monthly coffee meeting with a mentor is time worth spent.
Fro “R”, take Risks: I’ve found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. Fall forward. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success. You’ve got to take risks. You will fail at some point in your life. Accept it. You will lose. You will embarrass yourself. You will really be BAD at something, but never be discouraged and don’t look back. Give everything you’ve got. And when you fall throughout life, fall forward.”
C, for Curious: Be curious. As Eleanor Roosevelt quoted: “I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow (it) a child with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” I have witnessed this in my sons whose ultimate two favorite questions are: “what’s this?” And “why?” Somewhere down the road maybe your questions felt silly or your curious idea was rejected. Do not let those experiences squelch your potential and your creative desire to explore “beyond the box.”
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
Massages. Whenever I “gift” myself with anything, it is the calmness of a good therapeutic massage. I would also like a few extra hours in the day to give to myself. Raising three young boys 5 and under is pretty darn tiring.