Jodi O’Donnell-Ames

Trust your instincts and don’t sweat the small stuff!


Jodi O’Donnell-Ames is a former teacher and massage therapist, member of Union Fire Co. and Rescue Squad, writer and tireless advocate for Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). She is also the founder of Hope Loves Company, a non-profit organization committed to supporting the children and grandchildren of people living with ALS. Jodi has authored two books, Someone I Love Has ALS and The Stars that Shine. She has been recognized for her work by People Magazine’s “Hero Among Us, ” TIAA Difference Maker 100, Russ Berrie Making a Difference, and AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) -New Jersey Excellence in Philanthropy . Jodi lives a simple, but philanthropically hectic life with her husband Benton in N.J. and has three amazing young adult children.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

After losing my husband to ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2001 and after raising three children who experienced the enormous loss of a parent, I began to think about what if there were resources in place for my children and others? I thought about what that would look like and how those resources would be most helpful. The name Hope Loves Company came to me in the process of that brainstorming. We are the only non profit in the US with our mission!

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I wake up early and with coffee in hand, get to work. I keep a positive outlook, an open mind to ideas and an open heart to purpose. I am most productive by having a list of daily objectives and by checking them off as I go.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I enjoy cultivating ideas by doing research, brainstorming with my team, and sketching out the steps involved in bringing that idea to life. We then break the process down into achievable goals. We are not afraid to try something new as long as we are working towards our mission in a productive, positive and financially-sound way.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Woman are owning and running more businesses and that is very exciting!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I do not and have never worked normal hours. A day is done when goals are met. If I am awake at 3 am and full of ideas, I work.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Trust your instincts and don’t sweat the small stuff!

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

An old-fashioned, hand-written thank you is still relevant and appreciated!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Education is key. Read books and listen to podcasts about successful entrepreneurs and their journeys. You will learn what to do and what not to do from those with enormous experience.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I love what I do! It’s clear that I am passionate about my work and that inspires others to join our efforts.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I created a slogan for HLC years ago and then later wasn’t happy with it. I nixed the slogan and liked the result. Lesson learned- businesses grow and evolve. So do ideas.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I don’t have one that I can think of….

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

We spent $100 on four-five recommended books for our team. We keep them in our office library. When we get stuck, we look at our resources. At times, we bring the books into our meetings and share quotes.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Eleo. It’s a user friendly donor management software program. We use it for many things but are really appreciating it for adding volunteers and their skills to our database. Having great volunteers and knowing their skills is imperative to a non profit organization.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Blue Ocean Shift by W. Chan Kim. Your team is your best investment. Educating and inspiring them is a must!

What is your favorite quote?

“You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it.”

— Oprah Winfrey

Key Learnings:

  • Thank people.
  • Stay educated and inspired.
  • Read and learn from the masters.
  • Create a strong team.
  • Do what you love and success will follow.