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Woman of the Week: MSNBC's JJ Ramberg says to not give up... talk until your face turns blue

by Angela Jia Kim on October 18, 2012.

JJ Ramberg is a superstar entrepreneur. Maybe you've seen her on Savor the Success, or maybe you've seen her on her MSNBC TV show Your Business, a series dedicated to the world of small business and empowering entrepreneurs to pave their way to success.

At this point in her life, JJ has launched a business, a television show, a book, and a family, and she has done it all with brilliant energy and a positive outlook. So, with all that is on her plate, we wondered if this star ever finds herself burnt out?

"Not really," she replied, "because I chose this life for all that it is -- I knew the work I had ahead of me, and I knew what I wanted to accomplish. I don't get discouraged or burnt out, because it's what I wanted (and want) for myself!"

Her message was simple, clear and powerful. We can certainly go about our days feeling stressed, unsupported and overwhelmed. Those are choices we make for ourselves. The beauty is that the power of choice gives us the option to say "YES!" every day to all that lay ahead of us instead of letting the "No" get in the way of accomplishing our dreams. When the going gets tough, the Yes can get us going.

So what else is in JJ's recipe to a happy, successful entrepreneurial life? We'll let her speak for herself :) Bon apetit!

JJ Ramberg

Describe your lifestyle as an entrepreneur. 

I've had a little bit of a crazy life the past seven years! In 2005 I launched my company GoodSearch.com, which turns people's everyday actions into ways to support their favorite cause.  In 2006, I launched my msnbc TV show Your Business.  In 2007, I got married and had the first of my three children.  And in 2012, I launched my book It's Your Business - 183 Essential Tips that Will Transform Your Small Business

So, to keep everything on track, my life as an entrepreneur is one of a lot of list making.  My personal and work lists are melded together so a list could include something like "Schedule brainstorming meeting" right next to "Sign kids up for soccer."  I find that as long as I write everything down, somehow it all gets done. 

Was there something in your childhood that influenced what you are doing today?
Without a doubt, my mother influenced me.  My mother was 46 when she (and my brother Ken) founded JOBTRAK, which she subsequently sold to Monster.com thirteen years later. Keep in mind, my mom had barely held a paying job before she started that business!   

Watching her and Ken start and grow JOBTRAK truly taught me about having faith in an idea and combining that faith with hard work. My father is also an entrepreneur and has started and run a number of companies. He is very excited by entrepreneurship and definitely infected his children with the same enthusiasm.

JJ

What inspires you?
I'm inspired by knowing that I'm in a position to help people. I wrote It's Your Business because I have spent the last six years interviewing thousands of entrepreneurs for my msnbc program Your Business to understand what they're doing to grow their companies.   

Through these interviews, I learned so many simple practical tips that really make a big difference in the way that companies perform. I felt that I had to compile the best of what I learned into a book so I could share the ideas with other small business owners. 

I started GoodSearch because my brother (and co-founder) and wanted to do something game-changing in the world of philanthropy. We wanted to change "doing good" into something that did not just happen when you have time to volunteer or money to donate, but something that happened every day. 

By using GoodSearch each time you search the internet, shop online or dine out, a donation can be made to your favorite cause at no cost to you.  We now have more than 15 million users and have raised more than $9 million for the nonprofits and schools listed on the site!

 JJ


What was one of the biggest obstacles you faced when starting your own business?
I heard over and over again, "This is too good to be true. I don't believe this can work."  When we launched GoodSearch, people just could not believe that each time they searched the Internet they could raise a penny for their cause. It just sounded, as they said, "too good to be true,"  so I had to do a lot of work educating people that this was for real. 

I spent hours on the phone and in person with nonprofits giving them demonstrations so they would get the word out to supporters, and equal amounts of time with potential users showing them how easy it was to support their favorite cause. 
 
What advice would you give to a woman facing the same or similar obstacles right now?
Do not give up. Talk until your face turns blue and don't sleep until your message is out there.  Once we started to get some traction, nobody ever questioned again whether this concept would work or not. 

JJ


What is one gold nugget of advice that you can give Savor entrepreneurs?
I actually have 183 gold nuggets which I put into my book It's Your Business - 183 Essential Tips that Will Transform Your Small Business.  Here is one of my favorites:
 
Tip #69:  Set expectations high from the start. This tip came from a woman I worked with at Cooking.com. Whenever a new employee would hand in a project, she would ask them, "Do you think this is absolutely complete and your best work?"  Then she'd give them a chance to go back and fix it (if it needed fixing).

She was very nice about it, but by asking that question, she made it very clear that she would not put up with any kind of slacking off. Because of this, she worked with employees who really gave it their all. And, people loved working for her because she set the bar high and supported them in reaching it.
 
If you got to play "hookie" from work one day, what would be on your list of fun things to do?
At this point, going to the movies sounds really fantastic!  I think I've seen three movies in the movie theater in the past six years. 

Connect with JJ by tweeting this out! 

RT @savorthesuccess: Savor's Woman of the Week MSNBC's @jjramberg says to not give up- talk until your face turns blue http://www.savorthesuccess.com ;

About the author:

Angela Jia Kim

Om Aroma & Co. / Savor the Success- CEO + Founder

http://www.omaroma.com

Savor the Success - named Forbes 100 Best Websites for Women

Older Comments

Susan Connor said:
posted on on November 12, 2012

I loved reading this. thank you! : )

Sometimes, I think we are all in such a rush that even if we want to, we don't do our best. Something I've been working on personally is slowing down and asking myself to really consider if I am doing my best.

Doing this has helped me identify where I need help, and where I need more support to get things done right. It's been great for my brand, and as a person, helped me feel more thoughtful ans in control of where my company is going.... Even if it is not going there as quickly as some... I'm building something solid.

Again, thank you so much for sharing with us... I am ever amazed at the incredible women, and their generosity in sharing their wisdom, here at Savor.


Carolyn Herfurth said:
posted on on October 23, 2012

Love hearing your story, JJ.

BTW - I'm friends w/the CEO of Cooking.com. Based on our biz conversations, I'm not surprised she would have someone working for her who would ask such a brilliant question to inspire employees to do their best.

Congrats on your success and your book!


Rosemary Camposano said:
posted on on October 21, 2012

You know, I'm sitting here on a Sunday morning in my pajama's with a massive marketing spread sheet in front of me and NPR in the background. I was feeling a little sorry for myself because it is a gorgeous fall day in California and I W-O-R-K-I-N-G! Pooooooor Rosemary! :)
But I read JJ's words and I thought, "nope, I haven't done my best today so get back to work until it's done, done, done!"
I mean "poor Rosemary" is such BS. I have a fantastic business. I employ 80 fantastic women and 2 brave men. I am living the dream I had; employ single mothers and women who might not otherwise have a job in an economy that could have pushed them (and their kids) into permanent poverty. AND we are using those amazing women to make other women look and feel fabulous by caring for their hair and giving them amazing blow dry's and styles.
Is it perfect? No. Hell no. Do I need to close this investor I'm working with? Yes! Hell yes! But I'm not done yet! I'm not done yet!
Thank you JJ and thank you Angela. Savor is the place I come to get off the Pity Potty. Savor serves my "higher good" by keeping me on track.


Audrey Pellicano said:
posted on on October 21, 2012

RT done! Love the Goodsearch idea. Sending the link to non--for-profits I serve to get signed up for this great way to raise funds.
Thanks so much for this valuable info.
Best,
Audrey


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