015: Jeanne Englehart

Sep 22, 2020

Jeanne Englehart

Jeanne Englehart is recognized as an accomplished, dynamic individual with a proven track record of successful business leadership and lots of firsts on her list. She also considers herself a new world chef. Jeanne Englehart is today’s Power Woman.

Powerful Women: Let’s Talk is created by WGVU NPR and made possible by WGVU NPR sustaining monthly donors. Become a sustaining monthly donor now at wgvu.org/donate to support WGVU NPR’s local programs, including Powerful Women: Let’s Talk.

Full Transcript:

>> Produced by women about powerful women, let's talk is a series of interviews with women who have helped shape our community and transform who we are and how we live.

Jeanne Englehart is recognized as an accomplished dynamic individual with a proven track record of successful business leadership, public policy in nonprofit management, award winning a first female president of a 120 year local chamber. Today she gives back through the consulting firm, ETC consulting and did you know, she considers herself a new world chef, welcome to this edition of powerful women, let's talk.

>> Hi Jeanne

>> Hi

>>What's cooking for lunch today?

>>Not much today because I'm not at home, I’m working.

>>World chef that's what threw me

>> We just try lots of different things

>> Nice, we'll get back to that congratulations on your success and I’ll say thus far. What’s your secret to success?

>> Well, I don't know that I have a secret I think one of the things that I have is I believe that I have is have a lot of integrity and I'm very careful about ..someone told me once you know it's OK to disagree, but it's not OK to be disagreeable. And so I try to use that and that may be may be one of the secrets is that you know you  can't make too many enemies in a town this size

>>Again an extensive resume with your mantle full of awards. But I want to go back to the day that you knew you had a talent for the business world.

>>Well, I think it was probably even back in high school but as other, and I'll say other women because it primarily was women. You know they were they were far more interested in home ec. and the cooking and I was fascinated by numbers. I love to read a spreadsheet and balance sheet and put something together that didn't make sense before but does now. And teach people how to do that

>> So the big picture challenges surprises and thrills of a woman owned business. What was the name your business originally?

>>The name of it was originally in the Englehart training center which is where the ETC comes from, but eventually I merged with 4 other companies and we formed a company called Productivity Point International which was a franchise system and by the time we sold it had 123 franchise locations that were all individually owned that were part of a Productivity Point.

>>Was there a surprise and or thrill of that journey?

I think the biggest surprise was I didn't anticipate that it would be so difficult as a woman. And it was very immediate to me that I wasn't being treated the same as men and what I had to do to go through to jump through hoops to get a loan was much different than the male counterparts that I knew that had businesses. So I think the biggest surprise to me was women werent treated equally then.

>> May I ask what decade were speaking in.

>> [laughing] The decade of the 80's.

>>What was a joy, what was a thrill? Because there had to have been many.

>>I think two stand out in particular one was when I built the training center, the 12000 foot traing center. Which I never thought you know when I started my business and I thought well I’ll train a few people but eventually everybody would know everything about computers so it's just a short gig. By the time I sold it which was 13 years, we're training over 50,000 people a year and had a staff of 52 people and I think what I was most proud of was the fact that I contributed to society, these people had houses and cars and jobs and really gave back. So my little idea which grew way beyond what I thought. I thought how nice it is to have created something that has supported the community.

>>And yet if I may take half that step back to ask how did you do it? How did you bypass the naysayer?

>>I mean when people would say no to me I didn't accept that.. I have tenacity like nobody else I know. And so if you tell me I can’t do it, I’m going to work twice as hard to make sure it happens. So probably it was it was a good thing that at that time I was getting challenged so much because it just made me that much more determined.

>> The first female president of a 120 year-old local chamber, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, what moved you to this role?

Well after I sold my business. I went to work for Congressman Vern Ehlers as his community services director here locally and Vern was the most wonderful mentor I could ever had and he taught me a lot about public policy which the chamber does a lot with public policy. He also taught me a lot about how to be as I say disagree, but not be disagreeable. And so this job opportunity came along and I've been with Vern for like 6 years and no intention of leaving at all and I was approached by the chamber to put my name in , my hat in the ring and a lo and behold it got down to 2 people and I was just I was just floored so I was I'm just I was recruited and I ended up getting the job.

>> What was your leadership skill? What worked?

>>Treating people equally. It's the care and feeding of volunteers there isn’t a chamber out there that can't live without its volunteers. So I think that's one of the things was learning to work with volunteers and I had learned that through Vern because obviously with campaigns you have to do that. But it was also treating people I didn't care if you were somebody who had you know millions of dollars or fewer, a new little business that was just started picking up. My favorite on the list was called it a poop scooper, they picked up dog poop, I mean who would have thought of that, Well you might have because you have dogs. You know I would take the time with them equally.

>>All right, let's bring in where you have, is it Hela-skied, you’ve been dropped from a helicopter at the top of a mountain in Canada and skied to the bottom now you say obviously much younger and more flexible than you are. Tell me about that

>>Oh yes oh, yes that was back in the day I've always been an avid skier, I skied my whole life, I skied on the ski team in high school and at one point had the opportunity to do Helasking which they just take you up in a helicopter, they land, just sort of hover above the top of the mountain and you jump out and ski. Now they're obviously different skis there wider and yet because of the snow  but it was something I always thought sounded good, but like a lot of fun to do. On the other hand I’m not an adventurous person.  I was early 20's and I don’t  think I had  drank, I should have.

[laughter]

>> I mentioned the new world chef it may be because you subscribe to every cooking magazine. You watch the food Network daily, you have recreated recipes to accommodate your own personal taste palates How do you find time for that?

I love to cook with a recipe, but I don't like to follow it, you know, so I kind of use it as a guideline and Jack helps me. He's my sous chef he will help me with the chopping and the cleanup. But we will look together at something and say oh that sounds really good But I that's probably too spicy for us. I don’t personally like cumin and you know there's certain things I don't like curry so a lot of things that have those spices we've learned to find other substitutes. And so I think that is being creative is my avocation, I love to cook.

>>As you mentioned, Congressman Ehlers as a role model. Is it important to find a role model?

>>Extremely important and I can't say that I had I had one when I was running my business I had women I knew, and I had people I knew but I didn't because they weren't role models. The women were very competitive ..for a lot of us out there that are looking to progress up the ladder in Grand Rapids and so I had friends but to have to say I had a mentor, I could pick up and call that really wasn't the case

>> Do you see that competition in today's world?

Yeah, I can't stand close enough to all of the young women, but the ones that I do know like us, but a number of them that were with me from Productivity Point are now in some pretty substantial jobs around the community and when I see them and hear them talk I realize that there is still that element it's not anywhere near as fierce as it was in the 80's. But I think young women now are just they're embracing their power There not looking for permission they’re just doing it.

>> You have a passion for mental health Jeannie, how important is it to get involved with our passions and can tell us about “Be nice” and more.

>>Well I do have a passion and I've worked very hard and it's not an easy subject for me to talk about. But when I left the chamber after and when I retired like many people who have been working 80 hours a week their whole life it all of a sudden I didn't know what was going to do and it really hit me harder than I thought it would. And my mental health really declined to the point that I attempted suicide and somebody found me it was okay and I'm here. So I take that take every opportunity to go out and to tell people that there is two ways to look at this there is what Be Nice does which is the upstream preventing it and they do such a great job, you know with schools and all of their programs that are  around the country and so it for me that's the key is not dealing with somebody after it's helping  somebody's before. And so when Christie Buck and I talked about Be Nice and I've known her for a long time she said why don’t you come in you know do some work with us and it took me probably a year to say yes. I mean I just I was still felt a little fragile and wasn't sure I was ready to be in that kind of a position and I've only been doing it for a few months now so not very long.

But the reason I'm there is because .. is the exciting part is that they've always been known for what they do in schools. They're now rolling out a program for the business community and there are some businesses already participating but many of the rules that apply when you're in a school apply to business. You want people to treat you with respect, no one wants bullying it all goes together. And businesses aren't as aware of it as they should be and so what this program is hopefully going to do is offer businesses the opportunity to have that same kind of training and to allow them to be part of this bigger picture. And hopefully it will trickle down because each business will have a liaison that that I work with I will do programs once a month or lunch and learns or whatever and so the idea is to really build into the culture of the business

>>Instead of asking what's your advice to the 18 year-old I'm going to ask you what your advice to the 65 year-old then that that will be look at her next chapter.

>>Find a passion before you before you retire. Figure out if you have a hobby or whatever it is you're in to, take that and use that to help yourself stay what I call safe and sound mentally and physically because if you don't you’re going atrophy.

>>Right back to the application of Jeanne Englehart ,Eclectic art collector tell me about some hand blown glass and some pottery

>>Yeah I've always had a passion for art especially a more modern kind of abstract art but it started years ago with a huge glass hand blown piece that we have hanging over our fireplace it. We found at an art show and from there, I know we just started to be a few, how things grow you know, I mean the ultimate collector .. I have so many collections of things that it’s the museum of Englehart. And we’re getting ready to sell our house.

>>There's going to be a lot for sale.

>>But then I started to get into pottery and I have some Potter's that are from out West that I just love what they’ve done and some two women that I know two sisters that paint some beautiful, beautiful paintings that they do and they do all Indian (Native American) women so anyway its just kind of grows. I think I like that, how much is it.

>> Favorite guilty pleasures are marshmallow Peeps and Cheetos now we’re really telling

>> [laughs] You can tell by looking at me. So at the stomp out stigma last week I got the privilege of being the person to hand out food, well and I’m sitting there with water and this huge boxes of snacks which includes Cheetos of course, I'm like I cannot sit next to a box of Cheetos all day, but I did it.

>> And you're a new world chefs so the sky's the limit for you on that. Jeannie leave us with a personal mantra please

>> When I was in 8th grade I had a French class. We were asked to find something that we felt passion about, significant. Weather it was a quote or  whether its a book or something. I found what I now even have it on bookmarks and they give it out when I do speeches and it's called bag of tools and it isn't it strange that princes and kings in clouds that caper in sawdust rings and common people like you and me are builders for eternity each is given a bag of tools, a shapeless mass a book of rules and each must make your life is flown a stumbling block or a stepping stone.

>>Jeanne Englehart,  ETC consulting your firm, Thank you for your time.

>>Thanks for having me.

>>Thanks for joining us.. that does it for this edition of powerful women, let's talk I’m Shelly Irwin

>> Produced by women about when these powerful podcast focus on powerful women and how their strength transforms who we are and how we live want to hear more powerful women, let's talk get additional interviews at WGVU dot org or wherever you get your podcasts these rate and subscribe powerful women, let's talk is produced by WGVU at the Myer public broadcast Center at Grand Valley State University, the views and opinions expressed on this program do not necessarily reflect those of WGVU its underwriters Grand Valley State University.