Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Groover bookDr. Relly Nadler: This week we have Jen Groover on Innovation and some of her entrepreneurship endeavors. She has been tagged by Success Magazine as a “One Woman Brand” and “Creativity and Innovation Guru.” A Leading Serial Entrepreneur by Entrepreneur Magazine, having drawn comparisons to Walt Disney and Benjamin Franklin.

Jen’s name has quickly become synonymous with innovation, entrepreneurship and evolution. This concept and product development expert has not only masterminded and built her own companies, but she has also assisted in the launch of over 50 other companies and in the process, taken on more roles than a Shakespeare Theater.

She has gone from guest hosting spots on QVC to linking deals with some of the industry’s biggest names and heavyweights. She will be a keynote at the Pennsylvania Commission for Women in September, 2009.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: That’s actually the Pennsylvania Governor’s Conference for Women which is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Commission for Women.  It’s been a really exciting opportunity for me to be a part of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Conference for Women to help present some of the speakers that are going to be at the event and keep them, if you will, kind of top and mind. Jen is one of those wonderful speakers who I think you are going to learn a lot from in a very short period of time, during today’s show.

Today we are going to be talking about something a little bit different, which is entrepreneurship. What are the skills and some of the strategies you might think about to become an entrepreneur and what does that mean?

I’m looking at a four-page outline of Jen’s history and all of her exciting successes in the marketplace. So Jen, as we go through your interview today to talk about leadership and entrepreneurship, you might want to add some of these wonderful tidbits about the things that you are doing on branding.

I just want to talk a little bit about some of these and I find the whole thing so fascinating. I guess it was your innovative handbag company, the award-winning Butler Bag Company, Jen, which launched just over 2 years ago (2007) and is now being tracked as one of the fastest growing handbag brands in history. It really catapulted you into the spotlight.

I certainly don’t want our listeners to make the mistake of assuming that you experience and your appeal, obviously, are not just focused on the fashion industry. I guess with a very sharp, relevant, and vast breadth of knowledge on everything from business issues to education, to government policy and certainly with a natural and energetic on-air presence, which I’ve experienced myself, personally.

Again, as a progressive force to be reckoned with in the marketplace, she has already become a regularly featured business and lifestyle expert for such programs as Fox News, The Strategy Room, ABC’s Money Matters, CBS Early Show, CNBC The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch and Meredith Corporations Better TV.

Obviously, a great example of Jen’s broad scope of vision and appeal can be found in her signing of a major licensing deal with the brand management company behind Isaac Mizrahi’s Target line. I think all of us that shop at Target are familiar with that.

This a move that will allow her Butler Bag inspired complete lifestyle brand of products to brand out on a scale that we haven’t seen before to a degree that only the world’s top designers have enjoyed.

She has been featured in 100’s of media outlets including “O,” The Oprah Magazine, Redbook Us Weekly, People, Success and Entrepreneur.

Her products can be found all over the nation at various retailers big and small, and obviously on Prime Time QVC.

Jen, we are going to talk a lot about your diverse experience, your obvious unique perspective, your knowledge that enables you to help relate, motivate, and inspire people from all over the world in, obviously, various backgrounds, to really become the sought after speaker and the author that you are now known to be.

We are so excited to have you on the show, and I look forward to seeing you at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Conference for Women.

Jen Groover: Thank you. I’m excited to see you again there, and it’s always an amazing event that is so empowering and so inspiring. I’m always happy to be part of the conference.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Now, you have a blog, and I just want to make sure our listeners get it now, but it’s www.whatifandwhynot.com.

Jen Groover: I also write for the Huffington Post on the topics of small business, with a fusion of technical information and a fusion with inspiration and motivation and some psychological insight to the world of entrepreneurism.

Right now I’m actually working on a post that is going to be in the next day or so that’s about adversity and how we handle it and what we can learn from it, and what are the best things to do and the best techniques to use when we are faced with it. I think that in the past year and one half small business owners and large business owners, everybody across the board, have really been faced with adversity and so I’m really talking about why adversity as a small business owner, actually, what the benefits are. There are quite a few benefits from it.

Dr. Relly Nadler: So Jen, we’d like to hear about the adversity topic, but usually what we want to do is start off with a little bit about your background and then really about some of the key influencers, the people in your life, that have allowed you to be such an entrepreneur and a leader.

Jen Groover: Sure. I think my mom was a huge influence for me. My mom was definitely a woman ahead of her time. She ran political campaigns. She had a TV show with Cablevision with Cablevision first started. That was about current events and current affairs. I was a kid commentator for her. I was on the street asking kids questions about different current events and politic topics, and political topics.

It’s funny, having said that, it was actually an interesting experience for me because once I got to school and kids started seeing me on TV, kids made fun of me in my class, whether it was what I was wearing or what I said, or how my hair was. It was just the way kids could be. I actually quit. I never wanted to be on television ever, again.

I wasn’t on television again until, I think, I was 29. You know it’s something that I really feared. I feared the ridicule, I feared failure as we all do. I heard my mom’s voice in my head, if you are not uncomfortable today, you didn’t grow today. I kind of knew that all of the different things that I wanted to achieve in my life would be easier to achieve if I would just face the fear. It was exhilarating the first time I went back on to TV. It was on QVC, live in front of it could 10 to 15 million people at any given moment, and I just went head-on. I didn’t tell anyone that I knew that I was going to go on, and I just did it. It was exhilarating and it truly changed my life.

I have to tell your listeners, whatever you fear, do it, because you will never be the same person ever again. Every day, big or small, I look for things that I fear doing so that once I do them, I know that I’ve grown; my confidence level, my self-worth, my ability to achieve new things and to go to new places.

It’s kind of like my quote today on my status update on Facebook was, “if you want to face what’s possible, you have to go for what you thing is impossible.” Every day I look for what is impossible. Right out of college I was in the fitness industry, I was a national level fitness competitor, I worked for Reebok on the Aerobics Performance team, and competed in the U.S. National Aerobic Championship and the Galaxy Fitness Competition. I owned a gym, and I was into a totally different career than I am right now, in many ways.

Motivational speaking was very similar but I got had gotten ill from over-training and over-working for too long at a very young age, and I just knew that there had to be something more for my life.

Dr. Relly Nadler: I especially like what you just said; it sounds like when we all come to these crossroads, and if fear is one of the crossroads and one of the turns that you can take; you should take that turn. It sounds like regularly you have taken that turn it’s allowed you to open up until a lot of the endeavors that you are doing now.

Before the break, you were talking about fitness, and then in to what this next turn was. Maybe we can jump back into there.

Jen Groover: I was over-training and over-working in my fitness industry and my kidneys, liver and heart started shutting down. I was only 26-27 years old, and I had 20 employees and Corporate accounts, and a lot of people counting me at a very young age. I really had to have a huge moment of self-reflection on who I was and where I was going, and what I wanted to be in my next life, which is something most people at my age were just getting started.

I knew that I couldn’t keep doing that so I really realized at that point in time, my favorite thing to do wasn’t so much the fitness, but it was inspiring and motivating people. A lot of my clients at the time had said to me, you know Jen, you started a business right out of college, please teach me how to do it.

So I would do that for fun with them during their training sessions. Some of their companies would start evolve and grow into formidable companies and some very successful companies. I realized at the time, my true gift was creating ideas and taking those ideas to give them life and inspiring other people to run with those ideas as well.

At that time, I helped launch over 50 other companies and a lot of them on QVC. I also sat at the feet of many intellectual property gurus. What I learned, as I mentioned, one of my real gifts was ideas; coming up with ideas. But, we are not taught in school that ideas actually have value. I really needed to learn how to take my idea and value it to make money off of it, if that was my gift.

So sat at the feet of many people who were very successful in the intellectual property world, and learned everything that I possibly could learn from them and realized that my gift to give the world was to help other people take their ideas forward as well.

When I was then helping launch these companies at QVC, I always knew I had my ideas in my journal full of ideas, but waiting for that post-it note theory product. Meaning, a product that I knew had universal ability to actually really make millions of dollars. I didn’t want something that was going to just make some money, I wanted it to be big. I wanted it to be huge. So, when I had created the Butler Bag Company, I knew that would be my springboard company because it has everything that encompasses the post-it note theory, which means, if you can show somebody something and not even have to describe it, just show it to them, and they look at it and say, oh my gosh, why didn’t I think of that, or some on, somebody else had to have already thought of that, then you have a winning product.

If it’s something that changes somebody’s ease of lifestyle, it’s a winning product. So universally changing ease of lifestyle. When I launched the Butler Bag Company I really knew that that was going to not just be my only thing, but the springboard for all of these other ideas.

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