Standing at 4’11, you would think it would be easy to overlook her small stature, but once she opens her mouth she demands attention and respect. Media personality, entrepreneur, host, philanthropist, blogger, life coach, motivational speaker, and teacher Ms. Ebony J is truly the host that does the most. Born and raised in the Cincinnati tri-state area, Jeffonia Wynn (Ebony J.) had a willingness to inspire change in her community. She hosted open mics, facilitated leadership camps, sat on panels and was the youngest member of the American Red Cross board of directors. I had the pleasure to chat with Ms. Ebony J. about staying motivated in running a business, her multiple accomplishments, balancing a career and personal life, and the importance of speaking and coaching.
How did you get into motivational speaking and coaching?
EJ: “I literally had someone reach out to ask me to come speak to their students. The requester believed they were in jeopardy of messing up their lives. She advised that the students needed a reality check. I went to speak to them and the speaking engagement went so well that she asked me to return and do a 6 week session. I was nervous because theses 5th and 6th graders were hurt. They had thought they were grown and were expressing sassy attitudes. Initially, I wasn’t confident that I could reach them, but their teacher believed that I could. Luckily, my approach for these students worked.
One of the students graduated from elementary school. Later, she reached out to me while in high school to express that her mindset had changed as a result of my session. She went on to share with me that her self-confidence improved. She no longer felt like she had to fit in. She thanked me for teaching her the value of standing out. This experience helped me realize that it was time to use my experience to help others change their lives.”
What keeps you motivated in running a business?
EJ: “My students keep me motivated. I accept new interns into my MEJ Ambassador program each quarter. In this program, I teach student interns how to work as promotion assistants. Also, I teach them fundamentals of business. They learn how to handle administrative task, such as compiling a budget and planning events. Additionally, I teach them how to conduct themselves on camera, television and radio. Because we meet weekly and have events just about every weekend, they constantly keep me on my toes. I know that they are watching me, so it encourages me to be my very best.”
What are some tips you can give someone who wants to be a great host?
- KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE –Talk to the people, not at the people. Talk about things they care about.
- CONTROL YOUR CROWD– Don’t let them be rude to performers. Make sure you have their attention. Call and response is a great way to see how much of the audience is focused.
- ENGAGE IN YOUR AUDIENCE– Tell them who you are and show your personality. Ask them questions. Invite them to follow you on social media.
Over the years, what are the greatest lessons you’ve learned while running your business?
EJ: “Quality over Quantity. You can be booked and busy, but is there substance where you going? I used to host club events and would be in the club 3-4 nights a week. I was very busy, but I wasn’t changing lives. Now I move on purpose, live on purpose, and help others live out their purpose.
Also, I used to be concerned about having a big team to help me execute, but through my experience I learned it is more important to have the right person on your team. As long as that person works efficiently and they have a diverse skill set, you will be more effective with one strong person on your team then ten weak ones.”
Has a mistake ever led you to success?
EJ: “2 years ago, I was approached by a business owner to host an event at their location. Her philosophy was, if I started doing my events there, people would start to come. So, I had my first event in her location, which was extremely small. Initially, I had planned for 30 people to attend, but only about 12-15 people showed up, including the performers and speakers. Although the event didn’t have the crowd that I had wished for, it ended up being a very powerful event. All of the attendees enjoyed the event and encouraged me not to give up, so I didn’t.
My next event was a month later. This event sold out! During the event, I honored women and had speakers, prizes, and food. The success of this event led to me hosting this event annually. Currently we are planning for our 3rd Annual I AM Queen Awards. The “I AM Queen Awards” is scheduled for June 23, 2019 at 3-6pm. This year’s event will be hosted at Artsville in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2018, I had over 50 small business sponsors helping me to grow this experience and allowed me to include a scholarship for one very deserving high school female student. This year I am looking to make the event even bigger. We still have sponsorship opportunities available and are still accepting nominations for Queens. Our scholarship applications for 2019 and nominations for I AM Queen will be accepted through May 24, 2019 at 5:00pm EST.”
Which of your traits are you most proud of?
EJ: “I am a survivor of sexual assault, physical abuse and domestic violence. I would say that perseverance is the personal trait that I am most proud of. I have been through so much; it’s unbelievable that I’m still standing! I feel like God let me live so that I could share my story. This is why I have events to raise awareness for these issues.
It is my goal to let others know that they too have the power inside of them to survive! I want them to know I survived years of abuse; I was raped and kidnapped. I have been bullied to the point that I felt so worthless that I attempted suicide. I use to hate who I was because I was told everything about me was wrong. Yet, I am standing here today with a smile because my dark skin, big lips, nappy hair, wide hips and loud mouth keeps me paid. Embracing who I am and being comfortable knowing I AM. The tables have changed! Today, my life is filled with purpose and I am able to see that I AM a QUEEN who persevered.”
Your show is controversial, informative, and funny. What are some topics covered in your podcast?
EJ: “My podcast discuss a variety of topics from education to men’s health, women’s empowerment to different types of cancers plaguing our communities. I recently had Black Nurses Rock on my show discussing the challenges they face being the minority and how their Facebook community provides a safe place for nurses to connect and collaborate. The purpose of my show is to provide listeners with resources in the community that can help.”
Name some great highlights in your career?
I am the youngest member to ever sit on the American Red Cross Executive Board.
I hosted Podcast and Radio show THE Ebony J Show for 5 consecutive years.
I was the General Manager of norsecoderadio.com our campus radio station.
Immediately after college I landed a job at my dream station 101.1 The Wiz.
I had the opportunity to host the Nati Summer Bash which featured Future, Tink and Cool Amerika.
I launched Ebony J Media in 2015!
I was promoted to Educator Coordinator of the Ohio Media School in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Most recently, I was featured on the cover of Natural Women Magazine.
How do you balance business life and personal life?
EJ: “My google calendar has become my best friend. It’s my road map to success. I schedule everything from commute time to when I close my eyes. I used to simply schedule my work shift, but now I schedule everything starting with time for personal care including rest and cleaning first. Later I add work, time to manage my business and other family obligations. Luckily my family is pretty understanding about what I want for my life and supports me in any way that they can.”
What is the quote that keeps you going?
Dreams don’t work unless you do.” Growing up I was told one day someday I would be discovered. Initially, I would work so hard in hopes that someone would see my worth, recognize it, and somehow I would become famous. After starting my radio show in college, I realized that I was responsible for my own dreams and they could come true if I was willing to put in the work. I keep that quote in the front of my mind because I know I am responsible for the life I ultimately want to live.”