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Jane Enright ’91

Jane Enright ’91: From Catastrophe to Super-Awesome

Learn about McMaster alumni Jane Enright, author of Butter Side Up: How I Survived My Most Terrible Year & Created My Super Awesome Life and Jane’s Jam: Inspiration To Create Your Super Awesome Life.

Oct 07, 2022

Today, Jane Enright (Sociology ’91) has what she would certainly describe as her dream job. It’s not even a job, really, in the conventional sense. She’s an award-winning author, speaker and entrepreneur. When Jane was an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Social Sciences, however, she knew she wasn’t on a specific path to a specific job. Looking back now, she paraphrases a famous line from Forrest Gump to describe the experience of earning a degree without a clearly defined career goal: “It’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

What Jane did get after graduation was a rewarding job helping at-risk individuals find worthwhile employment. She then took the communication skills she had developed as a student and honed in her early days as a professional to a new position in market research where she facilitated surveys and focus groups.

In 1994, as part of this job, Jane had the opportunity to spend a few moments with the legendary management guru Peter Drucker. She asked the then-octogenarian for some advice. When he said, “Jane, nobody likes change except a wet baby,” Jane discovered the theme that would become the heart of her professional life while linking back to that diverse, adaptable education she had at Mac. Two decades later, it would also help her survive what she would call her “most terrible year” and find a completely new career path as she emerged from catastrophe.

That theme is change.

Armed with a new clarity of purpose, Jane expanded her expertise in facilitation and change management and started working with companies navigating organizational change. One of the interesting things she observed in that work was that business leaders found it relatively easy to employ big-picture thinking during times of transition. “When we put on our business hat, we find this [kind of change] very easy to do,” Jane says. “But in our personal lives, it’s challenging because there’s this thing called emotionality that gets in the way of decision-making.”

Twelve catastrophic months from 2017 to 2018 would put Jane’s beliefs about personal change management to the ultimate test and lead her to what she now describes as a “super-awesome life.”

Jane’s “most terrible year” began when she suffered a head injury that caused memory issues and speech aphasia. Then her partner had a separate accident that stole his memory, including his memory of her. “I was erased,” she recalls. Finally, she lost a close friend. As she worked to recover from her injury and endured the grief for the relationships she had lost, Jane realized that her professional change management techniques might be the pathway out of her situation. She said, “I’m tired of hard and sad. I want a super-awesome life,” and then went about building it.

Jane took an extended and life-changing trip with her two young-adult sons. She began writing about her travel experiences. She began working on a book. At first, each step was for her, but the more she progressed, the more she realized she had found a new professional mission.

Jane published the first edition of her book Butter Side Up: How I Survived My Most Terrible Year & Created My Super Awesome Life in November 2020 which became an Eric Hoffer Award Finalist.  She began delivering public talks, making media appearances and launched the inspirational website Most recently, Jane was awarded a Silver Evergreen Medal for the second edition of Butter Side Up by Living Book Awards to commemorate a world-changing book on health and wellness. Her companion book Jane’s Jam: Inspiration To Create Your Super Awesome Life is due for publication on November 1st, 2022. Now, Jane is a professional “positivity expert” which she explains is not about being positive all the time – that’s impossible – but rather having a more optimistic attitude which helps you be resilient when challenges arise and look for the best paths forward through change. “Just like we are what we eat,” she says, “we are what we think.”

Jane’s box-of-chocolates path from graduation in 1991 to successful author in 2022 has also brought her back to McMaster. As an alumni representative on the Experiential Education Governing Council and a guest lecturer, Jane found it particularly rewarding to connect with students because she knows the kind of changes they face as they consider their options after graduation. “If I can make anyone else’s journey easier,” she says, “that’s what I want to do.”

You can find Jane on LinkedIn, Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. For more information, visit her at,, or shewritespress.