Leisa: Hello, I’m Leisa Holland Nelson and welcome to another edition of Women Mean Business, where we’re going to take you up close and personal with extraordinary women doing extraordinary things. My guest today is JJ Ramberg, the Founder and CEO of GoodShop, one of the web’s longest running couponing sites. And also – she’s got a lot of longests in her name – an MSNBC contributor, It’s Your Business, second longest running show on MSNBC.
JJ: Yep. Your Business.
Leisa: And a best seller – I mean she’s really awesome or extraordinary as we say here at Women Mean Business.
JJ: Thank you, thank you; busy maybe is a better word.
Leisa: Yeah, welcome JJ.
JJ: Thank you, thank you so much for inviting me.
Leisa: I want you to tell me about both; I want to know about GoodShop and I want to know about It’s your Business. You can do GoodShop first.
JJ: Great. GoodShop is a company I started with my brother 11 years ago; literally startup 101, both of us working from home 24 hours a day and in my pajamas basically. And what we are is you use coupons online or people may use coupons online, but we realize is it is a pain to find coupons. You go to Google, you type in Gap coupons, you get a whole list and it’s just a pain. So we created a browser plugin called Gumdrop – getgumdrop.com – and it takes 30 seconds to add and once it’s added every time you go to an online store the coupons automatically activate and you don’t need to search for them anymore.
So that’s what we created but we also launched ourselves on this platform of social responsibility from day one. So in addition if you sign up and select a cause, which can be anything from the American Cancer Society to a friend’s medical need or playground, a percentage of what you spend goes back to those causes and so we’ve raised almost $13 million now for causes.
Leisa: That’s fantastic. So how did you get to MSNBC?
JJ: So I was a journalist first. When I graduated from college I was the receptionist for Nightly News, it was my first job and I kind of made my way up there, Nightly News, worked for Dateline and then left and went to business school. And then left business school and worked in business for a while and then missed journalism and so I went to CNN. And then I left CNN to start GoodShop and then I got called by MSNBC and they said we’re starting a small business show and do you want to host it. So I had to ping pong back and forth between journalism and business and for the past 10 years I’ve done them both.
Leisa: And so is Your Business on once a week?
JJ: Yeah, your Business is on 7:30 Eastern time Sunday mornings on MSNBC.
Leisa: And how do you prepare for it?
JJ: Well there’s a whole team of us and we – the whole purpose of the show is to give advice to entrepreneurs and people who are running growing businesses, basically so we don’t feel like we are alone out there. And so we prepare by going out and finding great stories and then going out and shooting them and having people who come on to the show and talk about what they’ve done to help grow their businesses. But for me because I’ve been living it for 11 years it’s less preparation than if I were covering something that I didn’t know. It’s part of my world so so many times you could probably understand what’s going on in my own business because you’ll see me ask particular questions on the show.
Leisa: I really do relate.
Leisa: Yeah. So before your business, before Gumdrop or GoodShop, what were you doing and how did you get to this?
JJ: So I’d always been interested in socially responsible business. When I was a kid Patagonia and The Body Shop and Ben & Jerry’s, I just remember thinking that’s so cool – my family had always been interested in helping others with my parents – and I just thought that is so neat that there are these products that I really love and I love this ice cream and I love this hand lotion and they’re doing something good. It was the beginning of really hearing about that. And so I always had this idea that I wanted to have a socially responsible business in some way but I didn’t have an idea.
And so I went into journalism because I also love the idea of just telling stories and knowing about the world and being able to tell people about the world and so that’s how I ended up at Nightly News. And then I left News to go to business school one day when I didn’t want to do a story on some celebrity and I just felt like this is not my world at 3 in the morning. And so just kind of on a whim almost I went to business school. And then worked in business and then missed journalism and I just liked them both so much.
Leisa: You’re successful on two levels I think. You have a successful business but you also have a successful media career and both of them are really exciting. Is the advice you would give someone who wanted to achieve your success different for the different areas or is it the same and what is it?
JJ: It’s really want it badly enough that you can handle all the rejection. So on the TV side when I went back to television I said I want to go do this but this time – I was an Associate Producer when I left Dateline to go to business school – I really wanted to see what it would be like to be a reporter. And so I joined CNN and said I will take this job but give me a chance to be on the other side of the camera. That’s’ not my job, you’re hiring me as a producer, but give me a chance.
And I was truly awful; I wish when I tell this story I could have the tapes so people could see how terrible I was. And I spent a year doing things on my own time, taking every piece that I did for the host that I worked with, the anchor, and I would redo it myself with my own voice, with my own face on it and I would send it every month to my Executive Producer and say okay, here it is. And every month he would come back and he’d say in kinder words but this is awful. And so I wanted to do it enough that I felt like okay, well I’ll try again.
And I think you just have to not let that get you down; if you want to do something and it’s something that you feel you can learn – this I felt like I must be able to learn it if I just give it enough chances and pay enough attention I will be able to learn it. And finally I got to the point where they gave me a chance. I mean frankly I still think I was pretty darn terrible on camera but someone saw something that gave me a chance.
Leisa: And the same thing for GoodShop?
JJ: For GoodShop my brother and I were the Co-founders, we just really care about the company. For that it’s a little bit different, we just constantly have to be creative and think about what’s next. And I had not run a business before – I’d worked in business – but my brother had, but everything about working with employees and listening to your customers and creating your product, you have to – people say it all the time but it’s the most obvious one of just you have to really understand there’s a market out there for what you are putting out, your customers really want it. And you have to know that there are going to be great times where you’re so excited and there are going to be hard times where you think maybe I should just have a paycheck somewhere. But if the net is that it’s great then it’s right for you.
Leisa: Thank you very much.
JJ: Thank you so much.
Leisa: There you have it, another extraordinary woman doing extraordinary things. I’m Leisa Holland Nelson, Vice Presidnet and Chief Marketing Officer of Astoundz, your one click, one search, one company for all your interactive needs; websites, search engine optimization and social media. You can find me at Astoundz.com or follow me on Twitter @LHNelson. We’ll be back again next week with another edition of Women Mean Business.
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