Wise Women Wednesday: Jodee Ruppel

Jodee Ruppel

Q. Who are you? What is your background? 
A. I am hard-working farm girl from Indiana who feels just as home wrangling animals as I do “hipstering it up” on the streets of Brooklyn.  I love traveling, getting lost in new cities, searching for the best donuts, singing and dancing while I teach spin, big sunglasses, beach hair, my cutie of a niece and anything sparkly.  I thrive on pushing people, organizations and programs to be the best they can be.

I grew up in Indiana on a sheep farm and made my way to North Carolina after a humbling stint traveling the country and to Japan with the National FFA Organization (those blue jackets you saw in Napoleon Dynamite).  I attended NC State University where I majored in Food Science (if you’ve ever tried the Ritz Chip Cheddar Flavor, that’s my flavoring handiwork!)  and acquired a masters in Health Communications. 

With my internships in Food Science, I quickly realized I talked WAY too much to be in a lab all day so I made the leap to work in what I love-- events, program management, partnerships, and strategy. I worked in higher education for UNCG and then moved to Brooklyn, NY (after a short stopover in DC) and worked at Columbia University.  I then had the amazing opportunity to lead the U.S. Community Engagement team for an International nonprofit, DKMS.  After deciding we wanted a 2 bedroom apartment and wanting to make a difference in my husband’s hometown, I moved back to Greensboro two years ago to work for Downtown Greensboro Inc.  Last November, I left the comforts of full-time employment to create my own consulting business, 5x5 Consulting, and to pursue my side passion of rehabbing and managing rental properties.  I also have a side-side hustle of teaching spin at various gyms in Greensboro,  so if you want to come get your dance on during a spin class come see me!

Jodee Ruppel

Q. What is your work?
A. I am the founder of 5x5 Consulting, an agency that focuses on nonprofits to make their programs, events and mission loud & clear.  (5x5 is a reference for signal strength and readability in assessing signal based communication aka walkie-talkies and radios.  If you can hear the person on the other walkie loud and clear you reply 5x5)   

I specialize in all aspects of program management. When an organization has a program or event they want to launch but don’t have the staff power or knowledge of how to make it work, I step in and make it happen. I love the excitement of creating an action plan to achieve a goal and executing on all aspects of that plan—galvanizing employees and stakeholders, sharing the vision of the organization (give me a stage and a microphone!), developing partnerships, and creating a template for future success.  I help an organization become more effective, efficient and raise their frequency in the community. 

Besides my professional consulting work, I also work with my husband to rehab homes and buildings.  We have a few rental properties and our last project was a downtown building in downtown Greensboro.  This was a two-year extravaganza that we worked on every weekend to create our dream space.  So when I’m not working with nonprofits you’ll find me epoxying floors, framing out a bathroom or working with subcontractors to get stuff done.

Jodee Ruppel

Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. I am in LOVE with my Future Fund Project!!! The Future Fund is an endowment of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.  This fund allows young professionals to donate a small amount of $125 a year, but make a major impact by giving away almost $50,000 to local nonprofits.  The mission of growing young philanthropists in our community is powerful and important.  While Future Fund is already very cool, my project with the Future Fund is to transform the way they give away money. 

Instead of just quietly picking great nonprofits who have applied for the grants, we are going to showcase the nonprofits to the community.  Imagine: Nonprofit meets Shark Tank.  Ten nonprofits will be chosen to be the Future Fund 10. The ten nonprofits will go through coaching sessions and then give a 3-minute pitch on stage in front of the community on why their nonprofit should be awarded money.  After hearing all 10 pitches, the audience votes for who will receive the money that night. The best thing about this event is that it lifts up issues that need addressing in our community and showcases the nonprofits addressing them.  This event and this group have the potential to transform young philanthropic activity throughout the City.

I love getting to work with the Future Funders, engage alumni and sponsors, and bring a brand new community event come to life.

(If you want to know more, help or join—contact me!!!!)

Jodee Ruppel

Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. Quitting my fulltime job!!!  It sounds cliché (I feel like all entrepreneurs tell this story)-- it was a great job with great benefits, and I was scared out of my mind to not have a steady paycheck, but I wanted to take a jump and build my own business.  I decided to make the leap and I was fortunate that I had an understanding boss who is now a client and a supportive spouse who encouraged me.  

Even though I knew this was a good decision, I struggled a LOT with not having a steady paycheck, not just because I wanted money, but I realized how much I tied my worth to my job and my pay.  I had to work to get past that feeling and learn to find my worth in small accomplishments.  I would set “mini goals” of calling 10 people for meetings, learning a new project management tool, reading 2 new articles on my business, etc. and celebrate when I crossed them off.  To continue the positive talk I would say confident affirmations out loud to myself while I was running (yes out loud I know people were thinking ‘what in the heck is that girl doing?’ but I did it anyway)  Even though I made strangers look, the positive reinforcement kept me moving towards my goals.  I kept believing that clients and exciting projects would come—and they have. I am currently making plans to grow my client list and am still scared to fail (there’s nobody else to blame but me if I do) but I’m committed to growing this business and helping organizations elevate their operating frequency, while I elevate mine.

Jodee Ruppel

Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it?  If not, why not?  What's stopping you? 
A. Okay, so besides being the next Joanna Gaines (although I would only wear grungy workout clothes on my HGTV show, how do those hosts do all that work and stay so clean???!!!) J I am doing what I want to be doing! 

I love helping organizations achieve their goals and make the community a better place. I also love the freedom of working for myself allowing me to pursue projects I’m passionate about, work in different cities and experience different cultures.

PS--if anyone is good with a video camera and wants to come tape some demos for a DIY TV show  . . . I’m open.   No reason I can’t consult and have my own TV show. :)

Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. Party more!  (aka network more)
I definitely wasn’t a complete dud in college but I was worried about grades, teaching
6am aerobics classes, and working a job so I had way too many early nights.  As I’ve gotten older I see how important connections are—to find your next job, your next client, your next roommate, etc.  You can make a ton of connections (and crazy stories) by letting loose and partying more.   What a way to expand your network! 

Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE!    I know I’m going all Oprah with this quote but I decided when I left my job this would be my motto.  I had always wanted something when I worked for an organization -- more time to travel, to see friends, to work remotely from Italy, etc. so when I decided to be my own boss I promised myself I would do the things I never had time for before and create experiences that I would remember

Plus I feel like this motto encompasses all my other favorite advice:

·       The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams (chase my passion of my business)

·       Just Do It (I feel better when I’m productive)

·       Beach Hair Don’t Care (obvious :))

·       Learn something every day

When I first started my business my husband got sent to California for work and I knew I would have a free hotel and a chance to see my West Coast friends that I hadn’t seen in three years.  I started to say “no, I don’t have the money” but then this motto popped in my head and I remembered why I wanted to be in control of my hours and my work.  I went and had a blast!

Jodee Ruppel

Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. I put away the computer.  When I’m stuck or blocked I try to draw/write down what I’m stuck on.  Somehow a pen and paper allow me to get the ideas out, organize my thoughts and get to my end product.  I’m a big fan of going old school.

If I’m super blocked and can make the time I head to a new city or the beach and just get lost in new scenery.  The challenge of my mind adapting to new surroundings resets my block and typically leads to a breakthrough.

Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. If I can do something that scares the s$*t out of me, you totally can too!!!

Jodee Ruppel marathon donut.jpg

Q. What's your favorite yoga pose? 
A. Pigeon---t hurts so good.  Plus it’s usually at the end of yoga class ;)  I’m a type A spinner so doing yoga is a big challenge for me.

Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
A. I practice gratitude. (Again with the Oprah way of thinking!)
I used to be skeptical of all those people who are like “I just say it and it comes!  I speak it to the universe. I write in my gratitude journal every day.” Yada Yada Yada.  I have been asking the universe to win the lottery for years and that hasn’t worked so how does it work for them?!  However-- during the time when I was struggling with my business and my self-worth I made myself focus on all the amazing things, accomplishments and people I have in my life.  Everything from enjoying the sunshine, teaching an inspiring spin class, facetiming
with niece, hearing my favorite song on the radio, to watching the flowers bloom—I would relish each moment and be thankful that this is my life and I am alive to see and experience these things.  Changing my thought pattern to be grateful for what I already have has had a transformational effect on my outlook.  (I guess that research was right)  Being grateful has let me celebrate my abundance and has attracted more wonderful moments and memories into my life.

Jodee Ruppel