Finding A Better Way To Ignite Lives With JB Owen
When you share your transformational story, you create impact and ignite lives. JB Owen, the founder and CEO at Ignite You, is passionate about working with people who have a higher mission and purpose.
When you share your transformational story, you create impact and ignite lives. JB Owen, the founder and CEO at Ignite You, is passionate about working with people who have a higher mission and purpose. JB is a fearless female leader and a believer in the power of empowerment. Join in the conversation and witness how JB’s WHY played a huge impact in forming her to be a world-class speaker, 17-time bestselling author, and powerful business owner. She’s helped over 700 authors become international best-sellers. Don’t miss out on this igniting episode!
If you are a regular audience, you know that every week, we talk about 1 of the 9 whys, and then we bring on somebody with that why so you can see how their why has played out in their life. In this episode, we are going to be talking about the why of Better Way. If this is your why, then you are the ultimate innovator, and you are constantly seeking better ways to do everything. You find yourself wanting to improve virtually anything by finding a way to make it better.
You also desire to share your improvement with the world. You constantly ask yourself questions like, “What if we tried this differently? What if we did this another way? How can we make this better?” You contribute to the world with better processes and systems while operating under the motto, “I’m often pleased but never satisfied.” You are excellent at associating, which means that you are adept at taking ideas or systems from one industry or discipline and applying them to another, always with the ultimate goal of improving something.
In this episode, I’ve got a great guest for you. Her name is JB Owen. She is a fearless female leader and a believer in the power of empowerment. Her true focus is on helping others, which is why she started Ignite Publishing, the leader in empowerment publishing, in 2018. She’s a world-class speaker, a seventeen-time best-selling author, and a powerful business owner. She has published over 700 authors, turning them into international bestsellers. She combines purpose, passion, and possibility in everything she does. She is truly inspirational, motivational, transformational in the way she teaches and empowers others. JB, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much. What a beautiful intro. Thank you for having me.
Tell us a little bit about where you live.
I like to say my furniture is in Canada. I have been traveling for years. I am now on the West side of Canada, and we are experiencing a tiny little bit of snow. We are pretty lucky that it’s the end of November 2021, and we’ve only got a bit of snow. I am enjoying the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada.
Tell us how did you get to where you are now. Where did you grow up? What were you like in high school? Where did you go to school, and how did you get into publishing?
I will quickly tell you the story. I grew up in a small town of 70,000 people. It’s not that small but it felt small to me. I was always an outcast. I was dressing in ways that didn’t fit into the town, doing things, challenging the status quo, planning things, and making all kinds of stuff happen. The town did not understand me at all, so eleven days after I graduated, I moved to Vancouver. I started working in the film and fashion business. I started my own company right out of college, and I have been in film and fashion ever since.
Interestingly enough, when I had my first child, I started a great clothing company. I did that for quite a few years and then had that great self-implosion that many of us have when we entrepreneur ourselves right out of a marriage and our health, so it took a couple of years to ground myself and focus. I started writing and telling stories. I had always been making products and developing things, so it was a natural progression for me to get into publishing, working with private clients, and now, it has grown into this incredible business of Ignite.
Let’s go back a little bit. In high school, you were that kid that was a little bit different. For those of you that are reading and cannot see us, JB has platinum-colored hair. Do you change your hair color quite often or not?
I have always been platinum since I was seventeen. I say some people are born blonde, and some are born to be blonde. I have been dying my hair platinum since I was seventeen. I always had big jewelry, big earrings and lipstick. I was loving life, and I have always loved fashion and clothes. When I was a teenager, I had purple and pink hair. I had handcuffs on my boots and leopard pants.
I was way out there, and in a small town in the prairies where everyone is a farmer, it was a shocking thing. In fact, people would phone my parents and say, “I saw your daughter at the mall.” It was shocking to them but I wanted to be in fashion. I wanted to be in the theater and walking the Paris runway. I wanted to be out there doing stuff and so much more than what my small town had to offer.
We had JB discover not only her why but her how and what. Her why is Better Way, and her how is challenge, which explains so much of what we heard. How she does it is by challenging the way things are done and doing things differently, and ultimately, her what is what she brings. It is the right way to get results, the structure and process systems around getting predictable results. When you discovered that, what did that feel like to you?
Your process was phenomenal. It touched my heart. I felt verklempt a little bit because I was like, “It understands me so well if this is exactly who I am.” It was beautiful to read it and see like, “That’s what I do. That’s what I’m good at, and that’s what I love doing.” Sometimes, people chastise you, and they give you a hard time for the way you do things, especially people like me who want to find the better way, who want to find the better way again, who keep going at it, and who are never satisfied. It was so rewarding to read it and be like, “That’s exactly me.”
It’s okay to be you.
I love being me, and it’s taken me a while but I will say that growing up with the name JB, in a small town, wanting to be in fashion, in the movies, and doing things like that was a challenge. Interestingly enough, I worked for fifteen years in the film business, and my job was continuity director. I would be like, “The purse-string was on the left side in this scene. It had to be on the left side of the other scene. The button had to be done up. Everything had to be perfect.” I loved it because I always was seeing how to make it better, how to fix it, and how to tweak it. Your gift often can be your curse but I have always enjoyed having that creative mind to be like, “How do we improve the process? How do we make it better? How do we make it more enjoyable?”
What did you like about fashion and movies? Why was that so intriguing to you?
Probably because I’m a Gemini, so I love that diversity but it is the idea of fantasy, creativity, limitlessness and possibility. I love that. Much of what I teach now is what’s possible, what’s capable, what we can do, and what has not been done before, so television, movies, and designing things were always pushing the limits on what hasn’t been done before.
What was the turning point to say, “It’s time for me to move on from this.”
I wanted to have kids, so it was time for me to be a mom. I knew this was going to be my last film. I did my last film with Dwayne Johnson. I had a great experience. I knew I was going to get married that fall and be pregnant by the next year. That’s what better way people do. We plan these things. I had my kids, and within five months of my son, I thought, “Boys get ripped off when it comes to clothing, and there’s nothing out here for UV protection. Also, why isn’t there better rain gear?” Within a very short time, I developed an entire kids’ clothing line. Within four years, I was selling in over 60 countries, 600 stores and had made a million-dollar business because I wanted to find a better way for kids and boys, especially UV protection and all those things. That was the turning point in my film career.
I wonder if having the why of Better Way equates almost to no fear. You should have been scared of that. You were a stay-at-home mom now. What are you doing starting a clothing company?
Going to China and doing business on my own as a platinum blonde woman that is a foot and a half taller than everybody else, they picked me up at the airport with a sign that always said, Mr. Owen. I would laugh because it was so unheard-of women going to Asia to do business. Many years ago, that was not something people did. There was no fear. I haven’t told you this story but my husband and I cycled 6,500 kilometers to the Top of the World Highway in Alaska.
I said to him, “Let’s cycle to the Top of the World Highway. I’m going to tell everybody. I’m going to put it on social media. I’m going to announce it.” He’s like, “What if you fail?” I had to stop and think like, “Fail? There is no fail. If I cycle 10 kilometers, I didn’t fail. I’m going to get as far as I get. That’s never a failure.” It was interesting to me because there is this idea that people are like, “What if you fail? What if it’s not possible? What if you can’t do it?” I feel like I have been put on this planet to show people that it is possible. You can do it. It’s always possible. Maybe, you have to take some U-turns and some course corrections but you are going to get exactly where you are meant to get to.
Where you are meant to get to, is that always where you envisioned it?
It’s not, and that’s the exciting part. When you surrender, let go and say, “I know I’m on this journey, and here’s my destination that I want to get to,” but the process of letting go and understanding that the universe wants more for you than you even know what’s possible, and you let yourself weave through that journey, you end up in the most fascinating places.
When my children were 8 and 11, I took them out of school and traveled for a year. We went to 11 countries in 12 months, and all we did was raise money for charity. We’ve always got on the wrong bus, ended up in the wrong place, and met different people in the times but the thing is what was so fascinating was, we always ended up meeting the right imperfect people, taking the right imperfect detour, and ending up in the right and perfect place.
When we look back on it, it was so beautiful and magical. That has led to my publishing house, where I help people tell those amazing stories of those pivotal moments in their life, where at one point, it could have felt like the worst moment ever. You were down on your knees and knocked upside the head but the truth is, in hindsight, it was the silver lining. It was the golden nugget. It was the path you were meant to take, and by looking at it in hindsight and reassigning meaning to it, you now tell the story in a way that benefits others, and it makes a difference for people.
What got you into writing? What was the moment that you said, “I’ve got to write a book?”
I was a latchkey kid when I grew up. My mom was a very successful businesswoman, and I would take the bus from school to her office, and then I would sit in her office and wait for her to finish work until I could go home with her. Her secretary would always leave, so I would sit and plunk away on her secretary’s typewriter and write, “The woe is me of JB, having to sit here being a latchkey kid and not being able to go home. It’s 7:00 PM, and I still haven’t eaten.” I would pour out my mid junior high angst on my mom’s secretary’s typewriter but I always loved story writing because it was an opportunity for me to escape into fantasy. It allowed me to think of things that had never been done before.
I will tell you that after my successful kids’ clothing company, I did crash and burn. I did go through that very difficult time of reassigning my meaning entirely, and to your point, why was I doing what I was doing. I would go to China 5 to 6 times a year. I would spend 20 to 25 days in Asia away from my kids. I remember coming home eight days before Christmas. I had been gone for three weeks. No one was there to pick me up at the airport. I took a taxi to my house.
When I opened the door, I could hear my kids laughing with the nanny. They were 3 and 5 at the time. I was jealous that they were having fun with the nanny, and instead of saying hello to them, I snuck up to the guest room, which I had been sleeping in for two years because my husband and I weren’t getting along, and I convinced myself it was okay to go to bed that night without seeing my kids. I was like, “Mommy has been on a thirteen-hour flight. She will see them in the morning.”
In the middle of the night, my daughter woke up in her crib, and she started calling the nanny’s name. I knew right there and then that every single thing in my life had to change, including my why. Why was I making kids’ clothes? Why was I running around the world talking about kids’ clothing, health for kids, and functional clothing for kids, and my own kids wouldn’t even call me in the middle of the night?
My why completely shifted, and I went on a two-year sabbatical. I closed my business 90 days after that moment. I sold everything and walked away. I left $780,000 worth of stock in a warehouse. I took my van and my kids. I left my marriage. I started over. I started completely redefining my why. Why was I doing what I was doing? That was probably day one of the road to the JB that you see now.
What was that like? What did you do to rebuild yourself? What did you do to get to know yourself? How did you redevelop JB?
I will be honest. It’s truly so simple. Know thyself. I went deep within. I did meditate. I went to Sedona. I went in silent retreats. I did all kinds of health practitioners. I did Reiki. I tried everything. I tried drawing myself in circles, painting, dancing, sleeping, and writing. I went through every single thing. What did I like? What didn’t I like? What was interesting to me? What was important to me? Everybody was doing this but I didn’t think that was cool. Everybody thought this was amazing but that wasn’t for me.
I started discovering what I liked. What is my currency of success? As a businesswoman, for many years, I was dialed into what was important to men. I thought, “This is successful.” It was the corporate office, the corner room, and the briefcase. I had to define what success was to me, a woman in my 40s, 2 kids, this experience, and living in this town. What was my currency of success? I went into a deep introspection of me and finding out about me, getting to know me, loving me, understanding me, and then accepting why I do what it is I do.
What did you find as your currency of success?
I love showing people that it’s possible. My currency of success is that if I can do it, you can do it, and if I’ve got to do it first to show you that it’s possible, I’m going to do the work. I love doing the work. I love putting in the grind. I love going after it. I love dissecting what’s done and how do we do it better. I felt that if I could be me 100%, show up in total authenticity, tell my story to the world, and let people know that it’s okay to do exactly the same thing so that they feel the greatest version of themselves, that was my mission. That was what I was going to get passionate about.
I have been doing it for the last couple of years, and I love it. I have the best job in the world. I love waking up every day, throwing back the covers at 4:00 AM, and getting going. People think it’s crazy but I love it because I believe that we are a mirror for the people closest to us and from a distance. If we can be a mirror for them to see what’s possible in them, if we can be the catalyst or if we can inspire them in a way that they haven’t seen before by us being our authentic selves, that will create a big and massive shift.
Me being the fake JB, the businesswoman JB or the power version of a female business owner, that was all a stereotype. That was all something that was planted as a seed in me instead of me being authentically me. It takes so much less work and effort to be yourself. You don’t have to think as much. You get to be you and show up as you. It’s way more fun. As a Gemini and as a person who loves the better way, it’s got to be fun or I’m not doing it.
I’m a Gemini in a better way, too. Let me see if this resonates with you because I love what you said, “If I can do it, you can do it because I believe that top,” but I will also add to that. If they can do it, I can do it, and if I can do it, you can do it, because I will see somebody doing that and be like, “If they can do this, then I’m sure I can do it.” Do you notice that as well?
There are so many people out there doing amazing things, and they inspire me. What you have done has inspired me. Your program and your protocol have inspired me. That’s the lifting of the lid that we all have to go through. It’s that it is possible. There is another option. There are other ways of doing it, and when we surround ourselves with people who are challenging that, it lifts our lid and allows us to see things that maybe we didn’t see before from our past conditioning.
I will never be the JB I am now if I kept being the JB that was born in a small town. We often root ourselves in our stories. We can’t do this because of where we came from, who our parents were, we aren’t smart enough, thin enough or rich enough. That story goes with us as we travel through our lives. It isn’t until we tell our story and see it from that bird’s-eye view or from that new updated version. The new version of JB is not necessarily the version of JB that left this town but I have returned to this town.
My mom had a stroke, so I’m back here, and then COVID has kept me here. Interestingly, I sometimes bump into some schoolmates, some friends or people of my parent’s friends who know me. They still think I’m that same person, and I have to chuckle because it is hard sometimes for people to see you for who you really are.
I was reading in some of your notes. You said, “What’s the best advice anyone has ever given or you have given?” For me, it’s always to be who you want to be known for. Be the person you want to be known for. When my son came here, he was starting a new school. He was like, “I’m nervous about starting school tomorrow,” and I said, “What are you nervous about?” He’s like, “I don’t know if the kids are going to like me. I don’t know what everyone is going to think.”
I said, “Why don’t you be you? Be you and be the person you want to be known for. If you want to be known for the class clown, be that. If you want to be known for the athlete, be that. If you want to be known for the intellect, be that but be who you want to be known for. Don’t be who you think they think you are and don’t be who you think you think you should be. Be who you want to be known for. If you want to be known for you, then be that.”
That’s the best advice that I have been able to give anyone, and I try to live it every day. Whenever I struggle with a choice, it’s like, “What do I want to be known for? Do I want to be known as the person who made this decision or this decision? Do I want to be known as the person who runs this business or lives this life? What do I want to be known for?” That allows us to step into our greater version of ourselves.
I was listening to a speech by Steve Jobs, and in it, he says, “You cannot connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking backward.” That’s what you were talking about. You don’t know where you are going to end up. I wonder if that’s a Better Way thing because I feel the same way. I have an idea of where I want to go but along the way, who knows where we are going to end up?
I doubt that I’m going to end up where I thought I was going but it’s going to be a fun journey along the way, and then when I get there, I can look back and connect the dots like, “That’s why I talked to this person, saw this, missed that flight, did this, and all those other things.” You can only connect the dots looking back and not looking forward. Does that make sense?
Yes, and it’s so true. We don’t know what the masters haven’t worked for us. I was writing. I’m doing a new book called Wisdom for the Back of a Bike, and it’s about my cycle ride. We had a plan to get to the other side of Canada to dip our toe in the Atlantic Ocean, and of course, COVID stopped us along the way because they were not letting people into the Atlantic provinces with the Atlantic bubble. We looped around Canada and ended up being at the parliament building. We decided we were going to make the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa be our final destination. That was going to be our 5,000 kilometers. It was a beautiful experience. It was so full of accomplishment and pride.
That very day was the first time they were ever going to allow public speaking on Parliament Hill and have an open mic, so because of everything that was happening in COVID and the way that things were unfolding in politics, they decided to have an open mic first time ever on Capitol Hill in the Parliament. I threw my hand up and put my name on the list to be one of the speakers. My kids were mortified. They couldn’t believe that their mom was going to talk. I’m in my cycling gear and my cycling cleats.
I went up on stage and started to say like, “I’m JB, and I cycled 5,000 kilometers across Canada. I want to tell people that anything is possible.” It was a glorious experience because when I was eleven years old, I promised my Social Studies teacher that I would one day speak in Parliament, and then I thought, “Here we go. The universe has wrapped this whole dream around years later,” but I had no idea that not dipping my toe in the Atlantic Ocean would lead to me being on Parliament Hill speaking to thousands of people and talking about what’s possible.
What was your first book?
The very first book I wrote in 2003 was called Letters for My Mother. Interestingly enough, I had a difficult relationship with my mom when I was in my teenage years. I ended up leaving college and going to the Dominican Republic because it was about as far away as I could get from her on the cheapest ticket I could find. I lived in the Dominican for three years, and the fascinating part of that was that I thought I had everything growing up in Canada from a very affluent family but I realized I had nothing.
Those people in the Dominican had nothing. They lived in shacks and dirt floors but they had everything because they had their dignity, their faith, and they had each other, and they had a family. While I was away, I started writing letters to my mom to heal my relationship with her. I wrote her 200 letters over the three years. She never wrote me back but when I came home, I had such a beautiful relationship with her. I had worked through so many of my problems by writing her letters that I was inspired to write a book about how adult daughters and mothers can heal their relationships. That book is finding a better way on how you can heal a relationship. That was my first book in 2003.
How many books did you write until you decided you were going to a publishing company?
I wrote that single book, and then I wrote about four books that sat on the shelf and didn’t go to print. One day in 2018, I was sitting at a conference. There was a bunch of people up on stage telling their stories. Many of them were crying and losing their resolve because they were telling these emotional stories but the fascinating thing is when they’ve got offstage, people were hugging them, stepping out of the front row, embracing them, and welcoming them. Throughout the week at the conference, people became so close because they told their private and personal stories on stage. They became vulnerable and authentic.
I sat in the audience thinking, “We have something here. Every single person on the planet wants to be seen. Everyone has a story and deserves to be heard. If we could tell the stories in a way that showed the transformation, the growth, and the learning, we could make a difference.” No matter what color you are, what gender you are, where you live or how much is in your wallet, you can relate to the human experience of that hero’s journey between, “Do I become a victim or a villain, or do I take the hero’s journey, and I go for what’s better in my life?” That was the igniting moment where I realized I have to be the person to help people tell their stories.
I have to make a difference. The difference I’m going to make is giving everyone a platform to tell their beautiful and amazing transformational story. I, too, had a story because after I divorced my first husband, I had got into another relationship. It was very abusive, and that relationship was very short but I hid that story for a long time because I was embarrassed by it, and that hiding of that story kept me down. It held me back because I was always afraid people were going to find out that I made such a bad decision.
It wasn’t until I started telling that story that other women came out of the woodwork saying that they too had a similar experience, they could relate or that they appreciated me telling their story because it gave them the courage to tell their story. There was quite a process of me realizing how powerful storytelling is. Now 700 stories and multiple international best-selling books with the hundreds of thousands of people who have read our stories, I realize how valuable that genuine heartfelt story is and how much it changes people’s lives.
Tell us about your publishing company. What is it called, and who do you ideally like to work with?
We call it Ignite Publishing, and it is about igniting lives. I love working with people who have a mission and a message, and people who want to make an impact on others. I’m not the kind of publishing house where we put words on a page, pages in a book, and books on the shelf. We walk you through a transformational experience. As a writer, especially when you are telling your own story, you toggle between the fun, joy, struggles, pains, sorrows, and agony, and then there’s this incredibly rewarding experience at the end.
I work with people who want to tell their stories and who want to make an impact. I work with people who have a mission and have a higher purpose. They want to do something that’s going to benefit others. I strongly believe in the triple win. I win, you win, and someone else wins. Someone who reads your story wins. Someone they work with wins.
The proceeds from all of our books are going towards building schools in Cambodia for underprivileged kids. The triple win is now these kids that get to find out what’s possible for them and how to step into their greatness. We did a book with Les Brown that is all about greatness and igniting the hunger in you. I’m so passionate about the fact that these children who may not know what’s possible for them or may not ever have that deep desire and passion to go after their greatness will now have an environment to do so. That’s the whole thing that Ignite is all about.
Are you looking for people that have a story but don’t know how to tell it or are you looking for people that are already established writers and are looking for a platform? Tell us more about who you are looking for.
I love those people who want a better way to get to the experience. I like people who are potentially not authors but they know they want to be authors. They are people who have a story and want to write it but they want to do it in the most efficient, practical, rewarding, enjoyable, affordable, and pleasurable way possible. I want it to be a maximum experience.
It is people who want to be a part of a community. If you are in an Ignite book, you step into a community of like-minded people. Every book has a theme, so you are with people who are of your peers, and then you use the collaboration of the peers to elevate, encourage, and create great partnerships that are going to benefit you and the whole purpose of the book.
I’m always looking for people who have a story, who want to make an impact, and who understand that there are these incremental ways to do things, and I help you get to the finish line because there are a lot of people who don’t know how to get to the finish line. It’s no different than if I wanted to fly an airplane, I would have to sit in the cockpit, and someone would have to teach me how to use the dials. That’s what we do. We do all the heavy lifting for you, and we show you how to do it. Ultimately because I want you to succeed. We show you how you can do it with your own solo book and with your books to come. I really teach you the business of being an author.
Now I’m seeing a little better. In the background behind JB are Ignite Recovery and a couple of others.
They are a group book, so it would be like a theme, and then if you have a story about recovery, health, or different things, then you would go in that particular book with a group of other authors that are similar.
Our new book coming out is Ignite Your Wisdom, so it’s all about Ignite stories around wisdom. These are people who are thought leaders, inventors, and who are into the mindset and who have had incredible experiences where something has opened up their lid and evolved their thinking, and broke down their limiting beliefs. They are people who are in that mind space or in that marketplace, so they want to write a book that has other people doing the same thing that would attract a customer that wants the answers to that problem.
Do we get multiple stories per book?
Yes, and action steps. Every single author puts not just their story, but then they put in the action steps that they took to get themselves there. As a better way person, I’m like, “Give me the baseline or bottom line of what do I need to do consistently every day to get myself to success,” so every single author writes their action steps at the end of their story.
If there’s somebody that’s reading and says, “I really want to connect with JB. I want to learn more about her books. I want to write a book. I want to be part of this,” what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Come to IgniteYou.life. That’s our website. You can go there. You can always find me on Facebook and Instagram. I’m the only JB Owen. I would love for you to reach out to me directly. I’m so accessible because I believe like a magnet, all the right and perfect people come to me to tell their stories. When somebody steps into my Viewfinder or into my world, I know that they are ready and that this is their time.
They just need me to help be the midwife to move them through the process. It’s easy to find me. Go to IgniteYou.life. You can go to Amazon and see all of our books are in a series. You can reach out to us that way, and you can get our books on our website. Please reach out to me. I would love to help you share your story.
I didn’t ask you the most obvious question, and that is what does JB stand for?
It’s such a great story. It’s all I’ve got. It’s all my parents gave me when I was born in a small town. My mom was not allowed to leave the hospital without giving me a name but my dad happened to be in Mexico racing riverboats. My mom put JB on the birth certificate, thinking that when my dad came back, they would call me Julie, Barbara, or Brenda. For the whole month that he was away, they called me baby JB because they didn’t know what my name was going to be, so when my dad came home after being in Mexico, he said, “JB. That’s cool. Let’s go with that.”
Thank you so much for taking the time to be here. It has been awesome talking to you. I love what you are doing. I’m excited to read your books, and hopefully, there are people that are reading that are right in line with what you want to do, and they will connect with you because you’ve got a great mission. I’m excited for us to stay in touch as we move along.
Thank you. I would love to reward your authors. I love giving things away, so if they would DM me or send something to me and put the word, “Why,” or we talked about on this episode, I happily will send anyone a link to any one of our books so that they can read the stories and be inspired. I would love to give them a book for free so that they can enjoy it.
Thank you for being here.
Thank you. You have been a treat to speak with. You are a blessing. I can’t wait to go forward, knowing the why so clearly. It’s beautiful.