Jeff Jacobson was born in Seattle in 1968, and grew up enchanted by the lush landscape, the long summer days, and the short winter nights of the Pacific Northwest.
Once, when he was a wee kindergartner, his grandmother let slip that she was a “modern witch, who flew on a vacuum cleaner over his house at night to protect him.”
Jeff had seen her vacuum cleaner. The cord wasn’t long enough to reach his house. But in bed that night, left alone with creaky sounds and branches scraping over window frames, he decided that having a witch for a grandmother wasn’t such a bad thing. Even if it weren’t true.
Two years later, his second-grade teacher Mrs. Eliason read spooky ghost stories and hung cardboard decorations of bats, witches, vampires, and spiders from the ceiling of his classroom for the two months leading up to Halloween. With Seattle’s gloomy, wet afternoons as the setting, the spirit of Halloween took root in his heart, just a few inches over from where his grandmother’s witchy identity resided.
From then on, he did his best to navigate the mundane world of school, chores, and everyday life, while his imagination often ran wild, and he read as many books on witches and All Hallows’ Eve as could get his hands on.
In the third grade he spoke Pig Latin and other made-up languages with his friends, creating an early love of sound, linguistic study, and fascination with foreign cultures.
Sports played a big role in his life. He swam on swim teams, ran track, played soccer and tennis, and was a springboard diver for six years. This, combined with the fact that he didn’t play dress-up as a kid, or stage musicals, gave him the false impression that he was just like every other boy around him (foreshadowing alert!).
In college he took Asian Studies classes and dove into learning Mandarin Chinese with gusto, spent his senior year studying in 10 different countries in Asia. He went on to live in Taiwan for two years after graduating from college to pursue advanced Mandarin studies.
In 1994, Jeff moved to California to begin a master’s program in Chinese translation and interpretation, and also joined a men’s group. Three months later he realized two things: that he was much more interested in community-based coaching than he was in being an interpreter, and that it was finally time to come out of the closet.
Soon afterward he learned about the wider field of coaching as a profession, and became a certified coach, as well as a faculty member for the Co-Active Training Institute