JR Ridinger is the Founder, Chairman & CEO of Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM and the architect of the UnFranchise® Business System — a groundbreaking business model that rewards thousands of independent UnFranchise Owners around the world. Founded in 1992, Market America Worldwide is an award-winning global e-commerce and product brokerage company that specializes in one-to-one marketing. Since its inception, Market America Worldwide has grown into a global powerhouse with operations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. SHOP.COM, the primary global shopping site powered by Market America Worldwide, boasts millions of savvy shoppers and has generated more than $50 million in Cashback for consumers who have access to millions of products on SHOP.COM, including Market America Worldwide’s exclusive brands and thousands of top retail brands.
Built on product and powered by people, Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM employs close to 1,000 people worldwide and was recently ranked #55 in the Digital Commerce 360 (formerly Internet Retailer) 2022 Top 100 Online Marketplaces, #80 in the Digital Commerce 360 2022 Top 500 and Top 1,000 Online Retailers, #10 in the Digital Commerce 360 2022 Top 500 Online Retailers Primary Merchandise Category: Mass Merchant, and #19 in Newsweek Magazine’s Best Online Shops for 2021. The company is also a two-time winner of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, joined BBB National Programs as a National Partner in 2022 and was ranked #15 in the 2021 Business North Carolina Top 125.
Since founding the company 30 years ago, JR has grown Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM from a startup business based in his small 1,100-square-foot home into a successful global business by offering in-demand, market-driven products through the company’s exclusive product lines and millions of other items via the company’s online Partner Stores on SHOP.COM. JR has created the ultimate online shopping business concept and e-commerce destination, where customers get paid to shop. He’s elevated this concept to the next level by helping shoppers convert their everyday spending into earning with a revolutionary system known as the Shopping Annuity®, which makes the UnFranchise Business and SHOP.COM even more powerful. Passing along his gift for entrepreneurism, JR became an Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor through entrepreneur.com. He also ranks No. 1 in IndustryWired.com’s “Top 10 Influential Entrepreneurs in 2021,” was featured on the cover of Prime View Magazine for its February 2022 issue highlighting “The 10 Most Influential Leaders to Follow in 2022”and was the cover story for World’s Leaders Magazine’s January 2022 issue of “World’s Best Performing CEOs to Watch in 2022.”
Where did the idea for Market America Worldwide come from?
I started Market America in 1992, along with my wife Loren. To make a long story short, we went to the movies one night, and I was so impressed by the film I ended up telling a lot of people about it. Many people called me back after seeing the movie to talk about how much they also loved it, and it was through this simple process that I began to see the incredible potential for tracking the power of word of mouth.
It was really a matter of taking this concept and developing the technology needed to actually implement my vision. I set out to create a business that empowers consumers while also providing people a pathway to entrepreneurial success — and the rest, as they say, is history. What started out as a small home-based business flourished and evolved into a global business, with operations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As serial entrepreneurs, my amazing wife Loren and I operate a little differently than your average 9-to-5 couple. We stay up late because we have so many ideas, hopes and dreams we want to accomplish, and we get up early to make them happen. After some early email-checking, I always try to begin the day with yoga, which is as much for my mindset as it is for my physical well-being. After yoga, I spend much of my day meeting with our corporate team, strategizing and responding to emails.
I stay productive by always being on the go — place to place, meeting to meeting — there’s always something to do when you run such a dynamic business. I always have a handful of projects I’m working on, or presentations and events to prepare for — so I’m typically busy with things of that nature. I also try to read as much as possible (often through audiobooks) because I understand the importance of capitalizing on emerging trends or augmenting your approach to business to efficiently and effectively navigate the ever-changing challenges before you. Aside from that, any free time I have is spent with my family and our three amazing grandchildren, who have me wrapped around their fingers. As important as business is to me, nothing is more important than family.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Bringing ideas to life is a process that not only requires internal reflection but also outward consideration and input from others. Our entire corporate team works together to develop ideas; we even have regular strategic summits during which we outline new goals, concepts and ideas. For us it’s about developing ideas along with the means to implement them in a meaningful way. It’s not just about coming up with ideas; it’s about ensuring that these concepts work where the rubber meets the road.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I think any retailer would tell you right now that cryptocurrency payment options are only growing in importance, so obviously crypto is a huge trend everyone wants to capitalize upon. Fortunately we’ve got an extremely forward-thinking and proactive corporate leadership team, so we’ve always got an eye on the horizon and all the emerging trends and opportunities right around the corner. Things like NFTs and other digital properties are extremely popular right now, so naturally we’re exploring different ways to make a splash in this arena.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Yoga is one habit of mine that really makes a positive impact on my life and work. I find it plays a key role in helping me maintain a healthy spiritual, mental and physical balance, not to mention it’s a great way to start each day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself to never stop believing. Belief is what got us to where we are today, and the only way to leave a legendary legacy is to have an unwavering belief in oneself and the mission at hand. Remain true to yourself and you’ll never lose sight of where you came from or where you’re headed.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I’ve always been a big believer in the seemingly absurd concept that a billionth of a volt of electricity (the amount needed to generate an idea in the brain) can change the entire world. That statement may sound puzzling from a basic scientific standpoint and will thus have its fair share of disbelief — but what I mean to express is my admiration for the immense power of thought and its effect on the world we all share. All innovations begin as a mere spark of creativity, and by understanding the power of positive thought, we begin to appreciate the complex relationship between thought and the physical manifestation of our hopes, dreams and ideas. We are what we think about, and what we think about has the possibility to change our lives as well as the world. We determine our reality with each “spark.”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Follow up. No matter what endeavor you’re undertaking, they key to success always lies in your follow up. Tenacity is a huge part of the success equation for entrepreneurs. Not to mention that the way you follow through says a lot about your character and will play a massive role in your personal and professional evolution.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
You have to learn how to trust and believe in others. I think one of the most difficult tasks for any entrepreneur is to delegate responsibilities. More times than not, when an entrepreneur builds a company, it more or less begins as their brainchild, pet project or labor of love. Learning to let go of certain tasks or responsibilities can be a huge challenge for entrepreneurs, but when you surround yourself with critical thinkers who bring different perspectives, it’s far easier to navigate the challenges before you. So my strategy is simple — surround yourself with people who expand your thinking.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the early days of Market America, we didn’t necessarily experience any outright failures — but we faced our fair share of constant struggles and challenges. In the beginning, all we had was an unwavering belief in our business plan. It was so ahead of its time that it was difficult to find people who truly believed in the same potential I saw. We overcame this by keeping our nose to the grindstone and working hard to find people who had the same passion and belief in the business that I did. It was really about reaching a critical mass of belief, and once we did that, Market America truly began to flourish.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Without giving too much away, a “stock market” for NFTs could be a very useful utility in the near future.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Crypto. I’m a big believer in the future of cryptocurrency and the power of digital commerce. With so much going on in the world, investing in things like crypto just makes sense.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We do a lot of tremendous work in house and have developed some truly game-changing features and tools for our customers and UnFranchise® Owners, such as our UnFranchise Marketing App with its livestreaming feature SHOP LIVE which bridges the gap between online interaction and e-commerce. It’s a great resource that really helps UnFranchise Owners build their businesses in the digital age.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
As the Founder, Chairman and CEO of an international company, I read hundreds of reports and memos on a daily basis, plus hundreds of emails — and by the end of the day I’m usually pretty much “read out.” As a result, I prefer audiobooks and usually alternate between written books and audiobooks, as there is still something about the written word that gives it perspective and context. I don’t read as many books now, but I have been an avid reader my whole life and have a few favorites I always go back to — mainly because they played a critical role in my development and thinking process.
To be completely honest, I hate having to narrow down a list of influential books, because no matter what I include I know I’ll leave out an important and influential work — but regardless I think the following list is a good starting point:
The Strangest Secret, Earl Nightingale
Success Through Superconscious Power, Roy Eugene Davis
The Science of Success, Wallace D. Wattles
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is a poem titled I Know Something Good About You. I love it because it speaks about seeing the good in others. It was also a favorite poem of my father, so it’s extremely sentimental for me. I know it made a huge impact on my father and helped serve as his mantra when interacting with others, and I’ve tried to follow in his footsteps in this regard. In today’s world where everything is so polarized, I think it’s important to try and see the best in people, and that’s my favorite aspect of this beautiful little poem by Louis C. Shimon …
I Know Something Good About You
Wouldn’t this old world be better
If the folks we meet would say —
“I know something good about you!”
And treat us just that way?
Wouldn’t it be fine and dandy
If each handclasp, fond and true,
Carried with it this assurance —
“I know something good about you!”
Wouldn’t life be lots more happy
If the good that’s in us all
Were the only thing about us
That folks bothered to recall?
Wouldn’t life be lots more happy
If we praised the good we see?
For there’s such a lot of goodness
In the worst of you and me!
Wouldn’t it be nice to practice
That fine way of thinking, too?
You know something good about me;
I know something good about you.
- JR Ridinger started Market America in 1992 with his wife, Loren. His intention was to create a means for any individual to capitalize on their collective buying power and build a supplemental income. JR developed the concept for a revolutionary referral tracking system whose capabilities evolved as the computing age progressed, and he was able to create an entrepreneurial opportunity unlike any other.
- JR believes in the power of thought and the ability of ideas to manifest and shape reality.
- JR believes in teamwork and appreciates the power of people and their perspectives. He views entrepreneurship as an opportunity for collaboration rather than mere competition.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.