Never give up, believe in yourself and your mission. Plain and simple. Tenacity and perseverance ultimately win.
Jennifer Pearce is a fifteen+ year veteran of leading organizations, building and executing action plans that meet financial goals. She has held leadership roles in operational, financial and business decision support within the technology and consumer goods industry.
Jennifer is currently the President & CEO of PepPod LLC, building strategic plans and running all day-to-day operations. Prior to this role, she served as Vice President of Sales Operations at Integra Telecom Inc, where she led the sales strategy, marketing, operations, and program management functions. From 2011 to 2013, she was Vice President of Business Operations at Viasat Inc. responsible for establishing business objectives and implementing programs to meet these goals. From 2003 to 2011, she served as CFO for the Regional Markets Group, $9B annual revenue, and Director Credit Risk at CenturyLink Inc.
She earned her masters of science in applied mathematics at the University of Colorado and bachelors of science in mathematics at the University of New Hampshire. She currently serves on the board of directors for PepPod Inc. and served on the board of directors at TRMA from 2008-2009.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
To put it simply, I despise energy drinks. They epitomize what I see as the degradation and de-evolution of our food system. I don’t want to get preachy, but much of the food we eat today is not as nature intended or what our bodies need to operate optimally. We created PepPod as a way to naturally provide people with the energy they’re lacking from what they eat. Our food supply has become increasingly less and less nutritious as monoculture, artificial ingredients, heavy food processing and other detrimental routine practices persist. Until we can get back to growing and eating real food, there is a tremendous need for PepPod and other products like it.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As the CEO of a start-up, no two days are alike… one of many reasons I’m drawn to the entrepreneurial lifestyle. The only constant is that there isn’t one. In any given day I can be found pitching investors, reviewing creative, fulfilling product orders and literally everything in between. I like that the hands-on nature of a start-up keeps me close to the product, our customers and ultimately our mission… to help people thrive by replenishing their energy naturally.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life by rolling up my sleeves and making shit happen (a phrase you will hear often in our small office). I don’t wait for others to take the initiative. I’ve always believed in self reliance first. If you want to see forward progress, don’t expect someone else to make it happen. This is not to say that I don’t delegate, enlist support or outsource work, I do all of these things. But at the end of the day, I take responsibility for powering the engine. The other cars on the track are critical for carry the load, but it’s my job to ensure that the train has the power to make it up the hill.
What’s one trend that excites you?
While I’ve had my moments with Millennials, where I admittedly sound a lot like my parents complaining about my generation 20 years ago, I’m truly inspired by the social consciousness that characterizes this generation. I admire how much Millennials genuinely care about community and giving back.
With the advent of social media and all that comes with it, I worry about the world my 11 year old son is growing up in. With that said, it gives me solace to know that my son’s mentors (Millennials) are a generation that cares about the world and the communities they live in. That’s the type of influence I want for my son. My hope is that this social consciousness permeates everything we do as a society, from how we operate businesses to how we grow our food to our stewardship of the planet.
For all the times I’ve given Millennials a hard time, I have tremendous hope in the potential their generation holds.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I start every day with a 4 mile run around the park no matter what the conditions are. For obvious reasons the exercise and fresh air are good for me. But it’s even more than that. Running is a commitment I make to myself and honor each and every morning. It goes back to that idea of tenacity and perseverance. While my husband shakes his head as I set out in a blizzard, I do so with conviction, dedication and a healthy dose of stubbornness 😉
What advice would you give your younger self?
Surround yourself with people that share your passion, dedication and drive. These shouldn’t be replicas of yourself, but rather individuals that compliment and enhance your strengths rather than hamper them. You are only as good as your pit crew. If your team can’t replace a blown tire with urgency and precision, it doesn’t matter how fast you can drive.
Recognize the strengths in others and help elevate them. At the same time, recognize when others are doing more harm than good and move on, quickly.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
It’s not that nobody agrees, but I feel passionately that diverse leadership is desperately needed in our society. It’s where I’m convinced positive change can happen in the workplace AND the world. I know many amazing white male leaders and support them wholeheartedly. But it’s time for other voices to be heard and empowered on a grander scale.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Never give up, believe in yourself and your mission. Plain and simple. Tenacity and perseverance ultimately win. There’ve been many times I’ve wanted to throw in the towel, I mean really say “f*#k it”, but something fundamental within me simply won’t let me quit. And thank goodness for that, because I’ve learned that the breaking points are often when and where the magic happens. Adversity is a key ingredient to success. It stinks when you are going through it, but the payoffs are worth it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Pivoting quickly. As a start-up, it’s all about throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. And not being afraid to make a mess in the process, because you will make a mess in order to succeed! Start-up culture and success is predicated on trial and error. Discovering things that don’t work is just as valuable as figuring out what does work. PepPod has survived and thrived by taking calculated risks, evaluating the success or failure of each risk, and then pivoting or staying the course accordingly.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Every day I fail. Every day I succeed. It’s the nature of being an entrepreneur. Not letting the daily failures dominate my thoughts can be a challenge. But as an entrepreneur, I know that I need to look beyond the failures and focus on redefining the path forward for myself and my team.
You will make mistakes, you will not be perfect, you will waste money. Building a company from the ground up is an experience like no other. It’s the one and only time you can completely model your own path. Yes, there are lessons to be learned from others. But because each business is uniquely its own, you can never completely replicate someone else’s path to success. You have to find the confidence within yourself to chart your own course. And recognize that with any new idea, you’re asking consumers to trust you, your brand, and your product and that takes time. Be patient with them and be patient with yourself. After all, change is hard on all of us!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The best (and most successful) businesses are those built around a greater mission. Identify something in your life that troubles or irritates you and figure out how to fix it. It’s much easier to carve out a path when your product or service solves a real problem rather than a manufactured one.
Some of the best ideas come from listening to and observing kids. Unlike adults, their worldview is not (yet) inhibited by what they believe is and isn’t possible. My son was pitching a tent in our backyard the other day and wanted to know why he couldn’t just hit a button to erect it. On the one hand, it frustrated me that he was looking for the easy path (i.e. being lazy…) On the other, why not? A self erecting tent does sound pretty good! And imagine the benefits it would provide for individuals with disabilities. A self erecting tent would enable those with physical challenges to be more independent and experience the outdoors in a way they might not have been able to otherwise. Now we are talking about an idea that extends beyond just the functional and into a mission driven business concept that can solve a real world problem and help people!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Our family is currently on a pretty strict budget. Primarily to ensure that we have enough savings to be able to make a wide array of choices in the future. People all too often spend money on things that make them feel good in the moment (guilty as charged…), but ultimately trap them financially later on down the road. I’ve pleasantly discovered that once you’ve got a budget in place, it actually feels liberating rather than stifling. Being on a budget opens up future possibilities and it makes the occasional splurge feel all the more decadent. My recent splurge? A foodie dinner out with my foodie husband. Best thing ever.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Slack for efficiencies. We reserve email exclusively for official communications, rather than day to day dialogue. This keeps our inboxes free from clutter which takes a significant mental burden off the team. Especially those who simply can’t tolerate having unread messages in their inbox (present company included)!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. It’s super nerdy and analytical but all about how people think and why they do the irrational things they do (just like me). Fantastic! Any book that puts sense around crazy is my cup of tea. Plus added bonus chuckle: he uses words like the “world wide web” and print newspaper case studies (stuff that confuses and perplexes my 11 year old). I like it so much that I even bought the real book, filled with real pages, made from real paper, that you can actually turn.
What is your favorite quote?
“Get up, dress up, show up and never give up”… Genevieve Rhode
- Tenacity and perseverance are the keys to success. If you believe in something, don’t give up, ever.
- Pivot quickly! Trial, assess, refine, repeat.
- Surround yourself with superstars; your success is tied to theirs.
- Take care of yourself; your health and sanity are irreplaceable and you can’t succeed without them.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.