Episode Nineteen… A Path to Empowerment: Overcoming Life’s Challenges with Jennie Rossi

Episode Description

We all have challenges in life that we must endure, and these challenges shape us into the individuals we become.

In this episode of Empowered Owners, Jennie Rossi, Sales Forecasting and Planning Manager at TVF, takes us through her journey of personal growth and resilience while finding strength in gratitude for her accomplishments and the meaningful connections she has fostered at Empowered Ventures.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to embrace change and challenges. The key is to come out of difficult times stronger and more resilient and to identify areas of positive growth.
  • To practice gratitude in everyday life. By embracing gratitude, you’ll find a more positive outlook on life, which can profoundly impact your well-being and work performance.
  • Be supportive and open-minded. When you support those around you, it creates a culture of compassion and collaboration.

Jump into the conversation:

[01:47] What the word “overcoming” means to Jennie
[02:46] How life’s challenges help build resilience
[06:40] The importance of staying connected
[11:48] Practicing gratitude daily
[15:59] How employee ownership has been a positive change

How to Listen or Watch

Listen below or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Watch below or @Empowered_Ventures on YouTube.

Read the full transcript here or below the following media links.


Episode Transcript

Jennie Rossi: I have a lot of things to be grateful for, and I think it’s a message that I would say to everybody, you don’t know if tomorrow comes. Live every day to your fullest, do the best you can, be nice to people. It’s just simple things like that.

Chris Fredericks: Welcome to Empowered Owners, the podcast that takes you inside Empowered Ventures. I’m your host, Chris Fredericks. In each episode, I’ll have a discussion with one of our employees to discover and highlight their distinct personalities, perspectives, and skills while also keeping you in the loop with exclusive news, updates on company performance, and a glimpse into the future plans of Empowered Ventures. This is an opportunity for me to learn more about our amazing employee owners and an opportunity for you to hear regularly from me and others from within Empowered Ventures. On this episode of Empowered Owners, I’m talking with Jennie Rossi, who has worked at TVF since May 2007. Jennie is TVF’s Sales Forecasting and Planning Manager, but has also found herself saying yes to lots of projects and committees over the years at both TVF and in the community. Growing up, Jennie’s family moved around quite a bit, but heading into her high school years, they’d landed in Indianapolis. She attended Purdue University and majored in math after originally planning to become an engineer. Like her dad, a self proclaimed data nerd, she loves to analyze data and information, bringing a scientific approach to a job she considers more of an art, ultimately forecasting customer demand. I absolutely loved this conversation with Jennie. We talked about her passion for overcoming life’s challenges and helping others do the same, why giving back is so important to her, how certain formative childhood experiences shaped who she is today, how employee ownership has impacted her, and much more. Jennie is full of life and energy, and I’m excited to share this conversation with you. Jennie Rossi, welcome to Empowered Owners.

Jennie Rossi: Thank you for having me.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, I really appreciate you joining. I thought I’d start with a question. When I say the word overcoming, who in your life comes to mind?

Jennie Rossi: I would say my dad. Nobody in his family went to college or anything, and he was determined to be bound to do that. And he’s always been somebody that I’ve looked up to throughout my whole life.

Chris Fredericks: Was going to college to him a big deal?

Jennie Rossi: Yeah. Nobody in his family went to college like his parents or anything, and he went to college, he went to grad school, and now he’s retired and teaching. He never wants to stop. He always needs to use his brain, and I admire him for that. But sometimes retirement you work for pretty hard to get there. Maybe you should enjoy it a little bit, too. But he’s one of those people just always driven to do something new.

Chris Fredericks: Very cool. What was your life like growing up?

Jennie Rossi: It’s funny that you say this, because I was just on a women inspirational tea call, and there was a lady on there talking about her life and her upbringing, and she mentioned how her family doesn’t have dinner together. And I found that today, a lot of families don’t do that. But growing up, my family, it was dinner time, especially on Sundays. All four of us sat down together, and we had a meal together, and we talked. My dad traveled a lot growing up, so mom would always cook this lemon chicken. She wasn’t a cook, but my sister and I think are scarred from the lemon chicken. But we always ate dinner together. And I think that’s something that I really, if I had a family, that would be something that I would have totally incorporated. But I don’t see a lot of families doing it today. I think it’s a lot of children and activities, and everybody’s running and running and not actually enjoying each other. So that’s something that I remember from my childhood, for sure.

Chris Fredericks: If I understand correctly, I think maybe you moved around a lot, too, as a kid, so I imagine those dinners were really important to you.

Jennie Rossi: Yeah. My dad was in sales, so when he moved his jobs, we moved. And my entire family lives in New Jersey, and that’s where I was born. But then we moved following my dad’s job and had different experiences, for sure. He’d be in and out of jobs, and then we’d have to go to different schools and things like that. Overcoming is one of the words that I think of, is, like, overcoming new challenges, and that’s what he was doing. And then together as a family, we had to do the same.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, because I would imagine every time you moved, that’s a challenge in and of itself.

Jennie Rossi: Yeah. It’s like starting over. I went to a Catholic school growing up, and so then when we moved here to Indy, we didn’t go to Catholic school anymore. And I was a teenager and a female, and I had the red hair in there.

Chris Fredericks: When you did move to Indy, what were your impressions?

Jennie Rossi: It was major culture shock for me, mostly because I was in a small town outside of St. Louis before we moved here. Catholic school with a small amount of people, and then going to a public school in a big city, a lot of different people, a lot of trying to fit in. The people that I was going to school with now had been going to school together for years and years, and there was a lot of rebellion, unfortunately. But I learned a lot from that, and I feel like that is something that made me who I am today. And to appreciate certain things in life that you may or may not have.

Chris Fredericks: Tell me more? Yeah. You said you learned a lot. What did you learn?

Jennie Rossi: Mostly just that there are so many different people out there and different experiences and the cultures. And I had friends in all different friend groups. That was my thing because luckily I was in some of the AP classes or whatever, so I had my smart people friends that we do the homework with and study with, but then I had my everyday friends. Yeah, that was just part of growing up, I think. But I love the challenge of getting to know new people. I even find it today. It’s weird because obviously I work with some of my closest friends, but we work together every day going on 16 and a half years here now. It’s just really nice to have the different groups of people and friends and then to have experiences with some people who are married, with families, and you can be a part of that. And then there’s the people who aren’t married and single or older, and their kids are in college now, and it’s just been a really great experience. And I love getting to know new people and learning about them because everybody has their challenges growing up, and then you like to hear how they’ve overcome them and how they got to where they are today is just really interesting to me.

Chris Fredericks: You’ve always seemed like a connector to me, someone who really enjoys meeting people and talking to people. Where do you think that comes from, that desire to help a group stay connected?

Jennie Rossi: That’s a really good question. I think it’s just because of that transition period of being with the same people all the time, growing up with the same people, you have the same friends. Like I had my whole life planned out. I can tell you right now, barely any of that happened. When I was a 14 year old kid, I was going to go to a Catholic high school, knew where I was going go with all my same friends. And then we come here and move here and everything is different and you have to adapt can be challenging, for sure, but it’s been really great experience for me. And so I think that’s what trying to connect with people and grow those relationships has really been something that I’ve embraced over the years. People are pretty great, actually.

Chris Fredericks: What makes me think of something else I’ve seen with you at work is I feel like you really brought an emphasis and an interest in community service and giving back to work and to TVF, and I wonder if that’s something you’re proud of and also where your interest in community service and giving back comes.

Jennie Rossi: So actually that comes from one of my best friends that I met here, who moved here to Indy the same time that I did, and she moved here from Iowa. So we both came into a new experience together, and she was in those AP classes with me, and we did all of our studying together and got to know each other, and we’re still best friends today. She was very involved with charity organizations. Cystic fibrosis, for instance. They had this guys and dolls gala that they used to do here. I don’t know if you remember that at alL, but she was always a leader in wanting to give back, and that just really inspired me, and I was like, I need to find something. I’m hoping that something comes along that I can be that passionate about as well. And luckily I did. Meeting Connie, it’s a fellow coworker. Unfortunately, a friend of hers, kid died from alcohol poisoning, just about to go off to college, and him and his friends didn’t know about the lifeline law in Indiana. And I’m now part of an organization where I am helping to spread the word with that intro. I am now part of a larger organization, and I’m serving as the vice president on the board of directors for the Indiana Youth Services Association. So they’re a provider of resources, financially and in many other ways, of all of the Youth Service Bureaus in Indiana. So I’ve gotten to learn a lot about that. But we’re giving back to the kid, and it’s like, from experiences of growing up and change and adapting, I’ve learned so much that I feel like I can give that back to these younger folks. So that’s where I spend a lot of my community service these days. But also, we just had a blood drive here last week, which I’m super excited about doing. Mostly it was all people from the public that came to our headquarters. We had over 30 people. It was so awesome. And so that’s something that we’re going to do here twice a year, at least. So I’m really passionate about helping other people. And least you can do it, I guess, is sit there for 30 minutes.

Chris Fredericks: That’s awesome. Thank you so much for doing that, for bringing that TVF.

Jennie Rossi: Yeah, I’m grateful that TVF has let us do this.

Chris Fredericks: What else comes to mind? In terms of things that have inspired you or stories that are inspirational to you, or this theme of overcoming? What else comes to mind?

Jennie Rossi: The travel was one thing, just moving as a child, but definitely like overcoming life, not turning out the way that you thought it would. It’s a growing and learning experience. I’m divorced. I don’t have any children. I’m Catholic. I didn’t turn out the way that I initially thought that I would turn out. But then you have to start and think about all of the positive things. I got a degree from Purdue. I have all of these incredibly amazing friends and family. I bought my own and built my own house when I was 25 years old. A lot of people can’t say that working at a great organization like this for over 16 years. A lot of people can’t say that either. And watching it grow is something that’s been the coolest experience. When I got here, we had green bar paper. So it’s just overcoming all of those changes throughout life and then not being exactly how you wanted it to be. I was laid off, too, in 2007 in the recession before I came here. There have been a lot of struggles in overcoming, and I’m proud to be the person that I am today because of overcoming all of them and trying to take the positive outlooks out of all of them.

Chris Fredericks: That’s so great and it’s amazing. I think everybody, I think, can relate to this idea of things not necessarily turning out the way we would have hoped or envisioned or idealized for our life. And I think the insight you have of not focusing on the past, it can be a bit of a cliche, but it sounds like hard earned, like you really, truly believe it and you’re proud of where you’re at.

Jennie Rossi: I have a lot of things to be grateful for, and I think it’s a message that I would say to everybody, you don’t know if tomorrow comes. Live every day to your fullest, do the best you can, be nice to people. It’s just simple things like that. I lost a very close family member this past year at the age of 28. So that’s why I say that and I embrace that. And she taught me to live every day to the fullest, no matter what.

Chris Fredericks: That’s amazing. Shifting to work a little bit. What accomplishment would you say you’re most proud of at work?

Jennie Rossi: I’m data geeky. I like my spreadsheets, but just learning new things and being involved with the systems over the years is my kind of niche. Outside of what I do every day. I love to analyze data. Truly believe that I’ve impacted in the growth of this company, and we’re still growing. And that’s the exciting part about it, is there’s still so much potential, and I know that I’ve said that for 16 years and there’s still so much, and that’s just super great to be a part of. I feel like I’ve also been a mentor to some people here. There’s been a lot of change with leadership and growing quickly, and then everybody’s different too. And sometimes you can just relate to different people. And I’ve had a few mentors of my own growing up and going through my professional card of life. And those people have really been there for me and made me want to be that person for somebody else. I feel like those coming right out of college and into the workforce, I like to share my experiences so that they can understand more, get a different perspective. There are a lot of people out there less fortunate, too, so I don’t know. That’s something that I really like to be that ear for a lot of people, especially when you’re struggling with personal and then professional things at the same time.

Chris Fredericks: That’s awesome. What would you say from the people that have mentored you or in your experience mentoring other people? What’s the key to being a good mentor?

Jennie Rossi: Listening.

Chris Fredericks: Has that something you’ve had to work on to be a great listener. Did it come naturally?

Jennie Rossi: I think it pretty much came naturally. My parents growing up, we had exchange students, so we welcomed people into our house that we didn’t know and like, culture. And the last exchange that I remember the most was from Kyrgyzstan. So she walked into our house and just touched everything was, wow. And just seeing a young person like that truly appreciate the littlest of things was really cool thing. My parents just always opened their house up to everybody and their guidance and acceptance of other people and willing to provide for them as well and give them opportunities that they couldn’t, may not have had in their hometown or even given them a different experience.

Chris Fredericks: I would think that would be very impactful to see people from other cultures and countries coming into your home and seeing it with their eyes.

Jennie Rossi: Yeah. And we had four exchange students, Kyrgyzstan, Brazil, Spain and the Netherlands. So completely different areas. We’ve gone to Spain and we’ve gone to the Netherlands to visit both of those exchange students. So it’s just so cool to learn other cultures and everything, too.

Chris Fredericks: How has employee ownership impacted you?

Jennie Rossi: Being here from the beginning has been really cool. I can tell you that much. It really makes you feel like a sense of ownership. When you come to work every day, you’re like, okay, for me, I need inventory on order now we need something to sell or we’re not going to be here. And also embracing the relationships that I’ve developed here over the years, it really feels like a family knowing each other for so long that we’ve gone through each other’s ups and downs together. Because you spend so much time with these people, more than you even do at home probably. So it’s nice to have a sense of that ownership and family every day. So that’s been a really cool experience for me. Also. I love all the extra things that we do, like the gatherings and the competitions. TVF has always been a competitive group of folk here. At the end of the day, we’re all here for the same thing and to make the company better and be better ourselves.

Chris Fredericks: That’s great. Last question, what advice would you have for your fellow employee owners?

Jennie Rossi: Something I do like to tell people is that it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be frustrated, it’s okay to have a bad day. It’s how you come out of it at the end of the day. And if you need to talk, don’t let things stir because then it just gets worse. I think it’s important to be able to talk about things and be secure with your feelings and everybody’s different. You don’t want to be somebody you’re not because I think that makes you unique and that makes you special in your own way. That’s something that I would just I think people should be who they are and voice concerns when they have them and just be open to change and challenges and try and do it positively because so far it seems to have worked out okay for me.

Chris Fredericks: That’s terrific advice, Jennie. Thank you so much for coming on Empowered Owners. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Jennie Rossi, employee owner at TBF since 2010. Thank you, Jennie for joining me for the discussion. Huge thank you as well to Emily, Bo and the team at share your genius for producing this episode. Remember, we want to hear from you. Please give us feedback, suggest guests and topics for future episodes, and tell us how we can keep improving in the show. To reach us, email [email protected]. Thanks for tuning in.

Tags: Podcast
Episode Eighteen… Season Two Kickoff: Employee Ownership, EV’s Influence, and Economic Olympics
Episode Twenty… Inside Our Philosophy and Approach to Company Support