Jennifer Cassetta


Every year in January we are bombarded with the #NewYearNewYou, that consists of promises to lose some pounds by giving up all of our favorite foods and doing some kind of fitness challenge, only to quit it all in a matter of weeks. Well, this year I am challenging you to something greater, something deeper. I am challenging you to have your most badass year to date.

The Urban Dictionary defines badassery as “engaging in seemingly impossible activities and achieving success in a manner that renders all onlookers completely awestruck.”

In 2004, after four years of blood, sweat and tears at a martial arts school in New York City, I finally tested for my black belt in Hapkido. We were instructed that the test would start at 4 am and that we needed to be prepared to train for several hours. That’s it. The rest would be a surprise. So, I and the others I trained with, prepped ourselves as best we could and practiced our forms, trained our techniques, adjusted our sleep schedules and our diets to get ready for the big test.

The night before the test, knowing that I had to be up early, I barely slept. But, I got myself there and after eight long hours of physically grueling work, we finished! I can’t tell you exactly what we did in the test because, a) it’s just a big blur and b) it’s like the first rule of Fight Club. You don’t talk about Fight Club. We all passed the test and received our first black belt. After the test, friends (non-martial artists) would ask me things like, why is the test so long? Or, why can’t you drink any water during testing? Or, why does it have to start at 4 am?

What I realized is that our martial arts master intentionally designed the black belt test to challenge us mentally, even more so than physically. Becoming a black belt wasn’t just about memorizing forms and techniques; it was about challenging your mental beliefs and your self-imposed limits.

Whether we are aware of them or not, we all have these self-imposed limits. Maybe something like, “That’s just the way I am.” Or, “I’ll never be like…” Many times we develop limitations because of our past or what others tell us about ourselves. Regardless, let 2017 be the year to let them go. Take away the limitations and choose areas in your life that you will achieve true badassery in. Render onlookers awestruck. It is the year to step out of your comfort and into your greatness. It’s time to be a badass.

Instead of thinking that we have to accomplish some large feat in order to achieve badassery, I’d like to propose the act of practicing badassery. It’s setting the alarm at an ungodly hour to train, it’s studying long hours for a test, it’s sending out resumes for jobs out of your league and it’s standing up for others when they can’t stand up for themselves. I’m sure there are so many areas in your life where you can practice badassery this coming year and beyond. Let it show when you walk, talk and think.

Walk like a badass.
Body language is a skill that most of us take for granted. A large part of our communication actually comes from non-verbal cues that we give off with our posture, eye contact, and movement. Even on days when you’re not feeling so hot, you can change your thoughts and other’s perceptions of you by practicing badass body language. Shoulders back, head up, eye contact and walking with awareness and purpose shows onlookers that you are on a mission and have no time for nonsense. Eyes and thumbs on your phone, headphones on and stumbling show vulnerability and disengagement with the outside world.

Talk like a badass.
Your tone is as important as language. Use your tone deliberately when you want to powerfully communicate a message. Lower your tone at the end of a sentence to let people know you are complete in your thought. Choose words mindfully when speaking to yourself or others. Ask yourself if your message is spreading positive or negative ideas or vibes to yourself and those around you. Try not to add more negativity as there is enough out there already.

Think like a badass.
Being a badass starts in the mind. A true badass doesn’t let life just happen to them. They take responsibility for as much of their life as possible (and badasses accept when life throws a few curveballs every so often), which includes their health, safety, career, and relationships. A small daily practice is to replace negative self-defeating thoughts with an empowering mantra. A mantra is a word or sentence that create to counteract negative thoughts. You can even use: I am a badass!

Practice random acts of kindness.
Focusing on improving ourselves is great. but, giving love, attention, and your skills to others is honorable and true badassery. Random acts of kindness are so rewarding because the recipient isn’t expecting it. It can be as easy as giving a compliment to buying a cup of coffee for a stranger. The act can be small, but the impact can be enormous.

So tell me, how will you practice badassery this year?

Learn more about badass keynote speaker Jennifer Cassetta’s new keynote, The Principles of Badassery and her story at