Meet Jan Helson Co-Founder of Global Game Changers Children’s Education Initiative

June 2, 2022
6 mins read
Jan Helson Co-Founder of Global Game Changers Children’s Education Initiative
Jan Helson Co-Founder of Global Game Changers Children’s Education Initiative

Jan is a committed volunteer, a passionate entrepreneur, and a successful businessperson.

Together with her husband, Tim, she ran Golden Foods/Golden Brands for over 20 years and developed the company into a global market leader in the industry of industrial baking. Combining Rachel’s career and philanthropic career path was the inspiration to co-found Global Game Changers Children’s Education Initiative, Inc. (GGC) in 2013.

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit now offers social-emotional education (SEL) as well as a curriculum for character and leadership development that helps students overcome apathy, experience empathy, and create a lasting relationship with service.

Through generous assistance from The Novak Family Foundation, GGC was able to create a customized online platform for educators and further develop their student-empowering program throughout the nation and internationally.

The program is taught to pre-K to 5th-grade students across thirteen countries and 49 states.

In addition to running a real estate development business, Jan co-wrote two award-winning children’s novels, Philanthropy The Big Word for People with Big Hearts and The Global Game Changers.

Jan is a member of the University of Louisville Nystrand Center of Excellence in Education Advisory Board and the National SEL Providers Association Advocacy Committee.

She is the mother of two daughters, Rachel and Jackson, and lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband, Tim, and their Australian Shepherds, Amigo and Peanut.

https://globalgamechangers.org IG: @globalgamechangers

What was the source of inspiration to pursue your career originate?

Before working in education and nonprofits, I was employed in the business.

I managed the international fats and oils manufacturing company and Tim, my spouse. Tim.

In a few years, we began to see a rise in turnover among employees on the line at a higher amount than prior.

As we investigated the root of the problem, we discovered people who did not have the necessary tools to succeed in terms of academic abilities like reading a business manual or having social skills – such as knowing the importance of their role or how to rectify them an error.

When we were creating tools to assist the employees we had, I began to think how could someone have offered these tools to them at an earlier time? The second reason to create Global Game Changers was from my child Rachel.

After learning about the breast cancer epidemic from close friends and family members, Rachel became motivated to get involved.

My husband and I encouraged her to use her abilities to help make an impact.

Rachel was always a fan of acting and put on a show to raise money for an organization fighting breast cancer.

In addition to satisfaction from giving back to the community, this has also helped her acquire many life skills that led to a satisfying and lucrative career.

So, when I had the chance to decide on my career path following the sale of our business, I knew I wanted to aid children with the same tools I’d witnessed working in my own daughter’s lives.

What does your day-to-day routine look like? And how can you ensure that it is productive?

I usually wake up around 6:30, but it takes me a while to leave home.

I first drink freshly-picked fruit and coffee and then get into texts, emails, and texts.

I try not to schedule meetings before 11:00. My office is located in the city.

However, I reside on a farm just outside the city, so I keep in touch with my son, daughter, and sister over the phone between and to the office.

I insist on flexibility with my team since I believe it’s incredibly crucial to our achievement. There’s not a “typical” day for me.

I often meet with my team, speak to districts, schools, or partners, and focus other days on working at home.

I work in a balance in Global Game Changers with the real estate development company I run along with my husband and the demands and needs that my entire family needs.

I don’t eat lunch often, while my husband and I will always enjoy dinner together.

You can also find me at my comfy spot with my laptop late at night.

My work is a source of energy for my spirit, so I remind my employees that they can expect to receive emails from me every night at midnight but that they should not feel pressured to reply until the following morning!

How can you bring your ideas to the world?

I’m surrounded by ideas floating around in my mind at any time.

The combination of hard work, passion, and the support of many generous people can bring many of them to the forefront of my mind. Others are on my to-do list.

What is one trend that you are excited about?

I am delighted that there is a growing trend toward project-based learning for elementary and secondary schools.

This change provides needed real-world experience that allows students to develop and make an actual connection to their academic program.

The Global Game Changers program is built on the concept of project-based learning for this exact reason.

What’s an action you take that helps you be more efficient as a business owner?

I am a frequent list maker and started when I was young…grade school age. They help me stay organized and are essential to my success. Every day, before going to bed, I look over the list of tasks for the day to remove any lessons I’ve completed and include any additional items.

They are usually based on notes I’ve made in meetings throughout the day.

I have a master checklist that is affectionately referred to as “the bible” and a daily schedule distributed through the bible as a list of assignments for the coming day.

I also keep a pad and pen of paper by my bedside, which I frequently use!

One of the things I do in the evening is print the updated list to ensure that my tasks and thoughts can be prioritized the moment I awake.

Do you have any advice you would offer to your future self?

That’s hard. I’ve been blessed and had many wonderful mentors and incredible opportunities.

I am a result of all those experiences and influences.

If I offered the advice in my youth and listened to it, it could change my course, and I don’t like my life to be any different from what it was.

Share something with us that is real that nearly no one agrees with you on.

I’m easy-going. I’m sure I’m Type A, very intense, and I love multi-tasking and don’t avoid conflicts, but honestly, I’m a very easy-going person.

It’s true for my husband, children, as well as my family and friends… smile when I say that.

Being an entrepreneur, what’s the thing you’ve done repeatedly, and what would you recommend to everyone else to do?

Let the things fall over my head. I will advise anyone wanting to progress to leadership positions on how important it is to have broad shoulders.

You need to be able to make difficult decisions that might provoke criticism.

It would help if you didn’t take criticism personally; you must let them roll.

What’s one thing that has helped you expand your company?

Face time. It’s not talking about Apple technology (although I’m an avid Apple consumer (Mac Pro, iPhone, and Apple TV).

I believe we as a species, as we get more comfortable in the age of technology, are more uncomfortable we feel with the personal interactions we have with others.

But I believe there is nothing like an individual call or visit to meet with the person you’re with.

There’s a lot that can’t be communicated via text messages or email.

Recently, I visited the school for a basic project. While meeting with my friend, we began to discuss the entire Global Game Changers program in greater detail.

This conversation resulted in the school’s acceptance of our complete schedule.

If I hadn’t attended in person, this relationship would have taken longer to develop.

There’s nothing like relationships that are a built-in person.

What was the biggest mistake you faced as an entrepreneur? If so, how did you get over it?

The biggest mistake I’d make could be not learning from my mistakes.

Failure is an integral aspect of being an entrepreneur.

If you try enough new ideas, you will have some not succeed.

Take the lessons learned and then move on to the next brilliant thought or knowledge.

What’s one business concept you’d like to give for free to readers?

Since I started working in nonprofits, I’ve been looking for ways to make nonprofits operate like businesses and make money for themselves to be not as dependent upon fundraising.

I believe a well-designed and effectively promoted online marketplace for goods created by or specifically for nonprofits would significantly increase their organization’s reach and impact. If you are interested, contact me or go for it!

What is the best dollar you’ve spent recently? Why?

My team bought me Ice cream after a stressful and hectic week.

What is the one program or web service that will help you to be more productive?

I am very comfortable using Microsoft Outlook. Global Game Changers has our email accounts through Gmail, However.

I transfer all of my Gmail into Outlook, which is much to the displeasure of a few of my younger colleagues.

Outlook is an excellent virtual filing cabinet that is visually tidy and efficiently organized.

What is the best book you would recommend that your community read, and why?

Take Control of You Self-Coaching Book written by David Novak, former CEO of YUM!

Brands, along with Jason Goldsmith, professional sports performance coach.

I found it an enjoyable read packed with practical and straightforward advice and tips that apply to entrepreneurs of all kinds regardless of where you are at in your profession.

What is your top quote?

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The Serenity Prayer

What could the Key Learnings “Jan Helson” offer to Enterprenuer readers?

Don’t discount the importance of your relationships.

Communication via text or email isn’t an alternative to talking to somebody.

The “master” and “daily” to-do lists are essential to staying well-organized and focused.

Entrepreneurs are inspired by every facet of their personal and professional existence.


Enterprenuer is a social interview and story publishing platform for entrepreneurs, founders, businessmen, businesswomen, startups, and anyone who inspires people globally.

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