Hello, I’m Jess Ratcliffe - an entrepreneur, transformative coach and the creator of Unleash Your Extraordinary

The inspiration behind Unleash Your Extraordinary

In 2016, I was a ticking time bomb. Out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening and ultra-rare blood disease. It's called PNH, 1 in 1.3 million people have it and to stop the bomb going off, I'll need regular treatment for the rest of my life.

This experience - and specifically, facing my mortality - unleashed in me something extraordinary: a renewed energy and determination to pursue my ambitions, a confidence that can feel limitless, and a resilience that can feel superhuman. It inspired me to leave my product role in San Francisco and embark on the mission to create my most extraordinary life: empowering and supporting you to create yours.

Back to the beginning (almost)

  19 year old Jess. Man, I loved those high top sneaks.

19 year old Jess. Man, I loved those high top sneaks.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been ambitious. I was 15 when I had the idea for my first business, a video game swapping website called GaBoom.

When I was 19, GaBoom became reality and so did my goal of becoming an “entrepreneur” (and dropping out of University to work on GaBoom full-time).

Fast forward 3 years, after building GaBoom, raising investment and having my 15-minutes of "fame" on Dragons’ Den (the UK’s Shark Tank), it was time to find my next challenge.

  My time on Dragons' Den.

My time on Dragons' Den.

That lead me to Mind Candy - the then gem of Silicon Roundabout - and the craft of product management. After building products at Mind Candy, I jumped to Big Health, where I joined a team of 8 as their first product manager.

The move to Big Health took me from Silicon Roundabout to Silicon Valley - in 2015, we moved to the beautiful city of San Francisco. Living in San Francisco was another goal of mine, after vowing that I would live there on a long visit 3 years earlier.

The day that changed my life

Then, in 2016 everything changed. Out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening and ultra-rare blood disease. It’s called PNH, 1 in 1.3 million people have it and it requires treatment for the rest of my life.

In a nutshell, PNH means that I create abnormal blood cells; cells that are missing the coating they need to survive and not stick together, forming blood clots (the leading cause of death in PNH).

Some of us may have a small percentage of PNH cells and never know - the ratio of PNH cells to healthy cells is low enough that we’re never at risk. However, the higher the percentage of PNH cells, the higher the risk. My percentage is 99%, meaning that I was ticking time bomb who had somehow had been surviving on my 1% of healthy cells.

The fact that I hadn’t formed a blood clot was beyond comprehension; especially since I was flying back-and-forth across the Atlantic, severely increasing my chances.

Life’s too short to live anything but your most extraordinary life. To wake up feeling excited every single day. To feel inspired to push outside of your comfort zone. And empowered to achieve your highest potential.

Facing my mortality

There have been a handful of times when I was convinced I was going to die. In each of those moments, all I could feel was the overwhelming fear that it was all going to end - that I was going to die before becoming the person I wanted to be.

This taught me how precious time is and that I wasn’t living the life I wanted. At the time of my diagnosis, I wasn’t happy and I certainly wasn’t giving life my all. I was drifting through life and I didn’t even know it.

A year later - having processed my new lens on the world and worked on returning my emotions to “normality” - I made a big decision: this wake up call wasn’t going to be wasted. This experience - and all it had taught me - was going to be the inspiration to create the life I want and somehow help others do the same.

Facing my mortality unleashed in me something extraordinary: a resilience that feels superhuman, a confidence that feels limitless and a fire to give life everything I’ve got. It has completely changed my lens on the world, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

With a background in building products, I turned to that experience to bring Unleash Your Extraordinary to life.

Taking a leap

So I made a leap; I quit my job as a product manager, packed my bags and set off to discover what the life I wanted looked like. At the time of leaping, I had no idea what was next - all I knew was that I was being pulled towards something and I refused to remain in a life where I wasn’t happy.

What followed was a journey of self-exploration, through beautiful locations, deep and meaningful conversations and giving myself the space for self-investigation and creation.

It was out of that journey that Unleash Your Extraordinary was born. It sounds “cliche” to call it a eureka moment but it was.

Creating Unleash Your Extraordinary

 The first Unleash Your Extraordinary at Google, NYC.

The first Unleash Your Extraordinary at Google, NYC.

With a background in building products, I turned to that experience to bring Unleash Your Extraordinary to life.

Quickly, an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) was created and I began testing the content by hosting a series of pilot workshops. Gathering feedback and iterating and iterating, until many workshops, cities and hundreds of attendees later, Unleash Your Extraordinary felt like magic. And the feedback that followed gave me goosebumps.

 Hosting Unleash Your Extraordinary at the European Women in Technology Conference, Amsterdam.

Hosting Unleash Your Extraordinary at the European Women in Technology Conference, Amsterdam.

Past attendees describe feeling emboldened, motivated and inspired to pursue their ambitions, going on to become the superstars on their team, feel more confident at work and surpass their goals. What more could I ask for?

The overwhelming response and the experience of witnessing attendees light up, leaves me feeling like I’ve found my purpose and that all of the above happened for a reason.