Raj Jana is an impact-driven entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and media host who’s passionate about using capitalism and business to make the world a brighter place.
In 2015, Raj founded JavaPresse® – a lifestyle brand on a mission to transform ordinary coffee rituals into extraordinary daily experiences.
As a partner of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, JavaPresse® has donated over $50,000 to children with life-threatening illnesses.
Raj is also the founder of Stay Grounded®, a global podcast, education platform, and social media movement, helping thousands of people realize and leverage the tools they have to achieve happiness, success, and fulfillment in daily life.
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Nicole Holland 0:04
Hey, there entrepreneur. Welcome back to another fascinating episode of Fascinating Founders. I'm your host, Nicole Holland and I'm thrilled to be your guide as we dive in and uncover the stories that came before the success of some of the world's most fascinating founders. Hailing from a multitude of industries and socio-economic starts, you're going to learn what's made these fascinating men and women realize their dreams from an inspired idea to millions in revenue, disrupting, innovating and impacting humanity for the better. Today's episode is brought to you in part by Podcasting Goldmine. Are you reaching and converting your ideal buyers through podcasts yet? You'd better believe that your competition is the podcast industry is exploding right now with billions of dollars being poured into it and well over 1 million active podcasts in the directories in just the past 90 days alone. Hundreds of thousands of new podcasts have been added and the industry will continue to grow. Whether or not you're a part of it your market my friend is listening to podcasts. And I would love to personally help you design a strategic podcast marketing plan to help your company scale and reach your business growth goals through podcasts from getting you featured as the expert guest on premium podcasts that your ideal buyers are already listening to, to designing and launching a profitable podcast for your company to show sponsorship and advertising. Podcasting for business growth is totally my jam. If you're ready to take a serious look at how you can effectively leverage podcasts for business growth, visit PodcastingGoldmine.com and request a complimentary consultation for us to explore how we can make podcasts work for you. Again, that URL is PodcastingGoldmine.com. Now you never know what we're going to get into on an episode of Fascinating Founders. So get your notebook ready, cozy up with a Great Cup of Joe. And let's dive into another inspiring journey with today's guest.
Today, my friend Raj, Jonna, is joining me. He's an impact driven entrepreneur, keynote speaker and media host who's passionate about using capitalism and business to make the world a brighter place. In 2015. Raj founded Java press, a lifestyle brand on a mission to transform ordinary coffee rituals into extraordinary daily experiences. As a partner of the Make A Wish Foundation Java press has donated over $50,000 to children with life threatening illnesses. Raj is also the founder of stay grounded a global podcast, education platform and social media movement, helping thousands of people realize and leverage the tools They already have to achieve happiness, success and fulfillment in daily life. And it is always such a pleasure to connect with Raj. And I'm excited to have him here today. How's it going, Raj?
Raj Jana 3:12
super good. How are you, Nicole? Fantastic. And I'm
Nicole Holland 3:15
really excited to dive into your fantastic journey of how you took an idea, a concept from zero to mid market. So let's start out with back at the beginning when you were little Raj, what is it that you really wanted to be when you grew up? What was your as far back as you can remember the trajectory that you believed you were going to follow as a young man growing up?
Raj Jana 3:40
I wanted to be a professional athlete, actually a tennis player was a super competitive tennis player growing up is my life. I mean, everything was revolving around the tennis court. And so I just remember growing up watching people at Wimbledon and just seeing the face of triumph when under One I don't know, there's just a really really really powerful visual for me. And so my entire life file is actually wanted to be professional athletes. So that was that was my pipe dream growing up and and the thing that drove me
Nicole Holland 4:12
awesome, but what point did you say maybe I have something different that I should be focused on?
Raj Jana 4:18
Yeah, so I played a lot in high school nationally ranked and I dedicated a lot of my life to playing tennis and I was actually really good at school too. So I was I had great grades. And you know, I was good at tennis, but I was able to get into better schools if I wasn't going to play tennis. And so, I made the decision to put up my racket begrudgingly, because my parents wanted me to go to a better academic school and I wanted to play tennis. But the end of the day, you know, it felt like the right decision at the time even though it broke my heart. And so I ended up putting up my tennis racket way before I was ready to do so which led to a whole slew of me really searching for meaning when I got to college, like when I got to college now I was at the University of Texas, I didn't have this identity of an athlete to put myself on. And I didn't have that. So I had to try and fill that void with something else. And that's when I got to college, you know, organizations, fraternities, I ended up launching my own fraternity at UT. And that was like, my way of doing something special because I felt like my entire high school career, middle school career elementary school, like I was always looking to use sports as a vehicle to do something great. And now I didn't have that. So I was like, Okay, well, I don't want to just join something. I want to try and do something that's going to empower me to do something great. Yeah, it's weird, I guess, like something that I was so sad and mad about letting go of tennis and moving to college and trying something new, how that created the perfect recipes and the ingredients for the cocktail of like entrepreneurship or starting something new or trying something different to emerge onto the platform. So
Nicole Holland 5:56
I love it. So let's dig into that pattern. idea just a little bit, because I'm guessing it's not like I'm hung up the racket, what can I do? Oh, I'm gonna just start a fraternity of my own and then all the things fell into place. However, it couldn't have taken too long since you did it during your college university career. So I'm curious about the evolution from when you came to the awareness that you wanted to create something or wanted to create specifically for eternity to the actual figuring out how to do that to the implementation to the actual launching in creation of that and then beyond that, can you walk us briefly through? Yeah, so
Raj Jana 6:41
I mean, I didn't plan on any of it. I'll be honest, like, I came to college not really knowing what to expect. I knew what to say no to like I was going to rush parties. I was hanging out I was meeting people I knew what to say no to but then I'm one of my my friends. He introduced me to a friend who was thinking about charter A fraternity and he is like, Hey, man, this is a cool thing. It's like, I want to do this. And I went to just learn more about it. And it just something wrong about it. And I was like, Okay, this feels like the right thing to do. So I'm going to say yes. And that has been a pretty emergent theme, I think, in my journey is like being open minded to opportunities and kind of intuitively knowing and feeling that I don't have all the answers, like I have a plan. And really, honestly, in high school and growing up, like, I always had that plan, like that plan to become this thing, this athlete, and that didn't work out. And so now I was kind of for the first time of my life without a plan. I really didn't know what I wanted. I even came into college, undeclared, like, I didn't know what my major was going to be. So I came in not knowing why majors I was just kind of going with the flow and learning and, you know, engineering was what my parents really pushed on me. And so I was trying to get into engineering school, but I didn't know and so I think that was a pretty formative place for me. Like just having so much choice and being aware of so much Like I was in a bubble growing up, like I really didn't have a lot of awareness of what was out there. So I went to college. I mean, University of Texas has 50,000 students. So it's a massive school big city way different than where I grew up. I mean, there's just so much so I think getting to school and kind of allowing myself to say yes to things that I think I might like, became pretty, pretty obvious and clear. And so that's how it started, started there. And then I had to we had to learn a lot. I had nine, eight other line brothers, we all had to like, figure it out. Like, I didn't really know how to rush kids. I didn't know how to throw parties. I didn't know how to do any of it. So it's a lot of learning along the way and a lot of leadership in that like so. I think that was the first place where I really learned guerilla marketing in a lot of ways like really kind of learning how to like get people to buy into something that was so small when there were so many other established sort of Greek organizations at school so it kind of taught me how to sell in a lot of ways like sell sell myself. It taught me how to how to leverage how to To put together events, how to make us look bigger than we were like, in a lot of ways, like it was a lot of stuff that is applicable, very applicable to starting any business and building social proof and creating sort of like a mass frenzy around something we're doing, but that I kind of accidentally fell into that. And I loved it. I mean, I learned more launching my fraternity than I did getting a petroleum engineering degree. Like that was the best, like soft skill development I could have ever asked for was just being so social and taking something that I didn't I just taking something and trying to turn it into something like I didn't know what that was, but it was that middle ground that created such a great recipe for learning.
Nicole Holland 9:38
Raj Jana 9:39
And I still attribute a lot of what I have today to that.
Nicole Holland 9:42
Absolutely. So let's talk about the spark or what you have today because that came about during college. Yeah. How did you come up with the idea for Java press? What was it
Raj Jana 9:52
so it actually wasn't so weirdly like when I graduated college, I got a full really high paying job. In the oil and gas industry right out of school, I moved to New Orleans. And I started working for Chevron. And like, I mean, I was making great money. But there was something missing for me like, I mean, four years of college where I was like constantly trying to put something on the map, like trying to make this thing big, like, I love the thrill of it. And for the first time of my life, I went to now a really, really, really like big company, where there's lots of processes, things are slow, like, it just felt boring. And I felt like something was missing. And I didn't really know what that was. And I couldn't really put a name to it until I remember like the first year I was in, you know, I was getting ready for performance reviews, and I did more work than any of my peers and I still was told to wait my turn to get something I wanted. That's what I realized. I was like, okay, that emptiness is coming from me not being in control, not having some element of like, I want to do these with my hands. So that's when I started really getting into like, just learning about entrepreneurship. I remember so I graduated In 2013, so november of 2014 is when I was like fed up and I remember going back home for Thanksgiving. And I remember seeing the four hour workweek in a library at or not not a library, but one of the bookstores at the airport. It was like escape the nine to five live your dream life. I was like, that's exactly what I was like speaking to me that little palm tree on it. And I was like, that's what I want right now. So I remember buying the book and I finished it in like a day because I was so fascinated with this guy. This is the first time I'd ever heard of anybody retiring every three months. Like this guy was like, working, you know, the perito principle. And I was just like, what is this madness? This guy is hacking the hell out of life. And it's something so far removed from what I learned from my parents, from my mentors from my college years, something I just never knew. So that started then like my addiction with buying courses and like teaching myself marketing I bought a course that teaches people how to start a software company from scratch. I bought like, basically ads consulting, I bought you name it, I bought just about all these different courses because I was making a lot of money, but I had the budget to spend on education. And so I just started taking all my discretionary income and buying courses and teaching myself all this stuff and reading books. And then along the way I that's when I stumbled across my one of my first courses that actually made me money, which was a course that taught people how to sell products on Amazon. So find product in China private label and create a brand on Amazon make money. And that was like, just to the formula with a lot of red tape in the middle, but like, the gist of it was that I bought that course in June of 2015. And then by September of 2015, we had our first product for Java press launched which was a manual coffee grinder. And initially we didn't have a patent on it. We just bought like a, you know, a private label generic design and slapped our logo on it and put it up. Yeah, and then that's that's the start. That's how it started. It really didn't start from me having an idea. It started from me, knowing what I wanted with was freedom and choice and the ability to control my own destiny and a craving for that because I had tasted that in college, you know that I just kind of got lucky really or the right book popped out. I wouldn't say anything lucky. Like at the end of the day, like that's, that's come back to the intuitive sort of like, Man, that book is speaking man, I need to pick that up or like, oh, man, this person is talking about a fraternity. I need to lean into that. Like, I think that's always been pretty intense, right? Yeah. Like I've been pretty aware of like when I feel curious, and I kind of lean into my curiosities and let that sort of drive. And that's still a really big part of who I am today. But I remember that in the very beginning. And I remember just kind of leading down that path and not necessarily letting the outcome or the failure dictate where I was going to go is like, Oh, I'm gonna buy this course on software. Great. Okay, I'm gonna buy this course on this thing. Oh, whoa, I learned about this. I'm gonna buy a course on this. And then naturally, that curiosity leading to something that was going to work for me I wasn't married to the process as much as I was married to The like, the eventual outcome, I was like, I just want to be successful. I don't care if I sell this, this, this or this. Like, I just want something to work. And I think that flexibility gave me a lot of a lot of slack to figure it out instead of forcing myself to make one thing work. Do you
Nicole Holland 14:20
mind if I reflect something back here? Yeah, sure. So I find it really interesting and really important. I so appreciate you sharing that story. And I think there's some so much to take away from that. But because of our relationship, and because of the people who I deal with on a day to day basis, and who I help in the way that I help, I think it's really worth mentioning that you had invested right, you had purchased all these informational courses, books, doing the things, whether it was Facebook ads, or whatever. And I'm curious to how you wound up deciding other than resonance, but rather than going back there right now, what I really want to point out is that if I'm not mistaken, you Found something that sparked your connection to who you are, that changed the game for you as opposed to what you can do. And I think that this is something where as you were talking, it reminded me of a conversation we were having over dinner one day, and I'm not sure if you remember this or not, but we were sitting next to each other. And we got to chatting about some things that you were just discovering. And you were just learning about that were new to you. And the energy that you had, as you were talking about those things and the enthusiasm and the interest and the like, all and wonder of it all. Was this pure, like child energy almost. And you could tell that you were so passionate, but what I got from that was You are so lit up from the inside about the expansion that you got to experience knowing about this brand new thing that would new to you Right, and then you like would go down that path. And I think that's something that really makes you very special. And I think that that's a quality that successful founders have as well, that it's one of the key differences, I think, between people who are chasing after something. And the people who are embracing expanding and allowing what they know to come the result that they know for their own experience opposed to a specific, tangible goal, if you will.
Raj Jana 16:34
I think there's, I appreciate you saying that, but I fully received that. I think it's important to recognize that there's two sides of the story, right? There's discipline and saying that you're going to do something and then sticking something all the way through, and then there's surrender, which is being able to pivot when things aren't going well, or when things aren't working. Now, I think that balance is something that some people are more natural at than others, like some people are more natural at being able to pivot and intuitively know what's going to happen. And some people are very, very, very skilled at being disciplined and sticking down and figuring it out along the way. But I think for me, the the thing that really reinforced that from from the start, like when I when I started getting curious about things, and I started trying to do things, every single time I would buy a course like I remember the first course I bought was, how do you start a software company from scratch? That was the first course I bought, right? The inside of that course they asked us to cold call a bunch of people and ask them about their biggest pains. Because once you find out their biggest pains, you can create something to fix it for them. So that made me curious enough to make a cold call, which I was absolutely terrified of doing. Oh my god was I scared to do that. I was so scared. I cannot tell you how I've never been as scared as anything as I was about that first cold call that I made. I was forced to do it actually, like I was in an accountability group that that told me like, hey, if you don't do this, you're gonna have to shave your head or something. I don't remember what that was. But I was like, Alright, fine, I'll do it. So I remember begrudgingly getting on the phone, calling When I called the guy picked up, and I was really nervous, I was like, Hey, man, I just want to ask you a couple questions. And he's like, dude, I'm busy right now. Can you call me back in two hours? And I was like, Oh, yeah, sure. Then you hung up. And I remember like, that experience, literally, like, I didn't care if he couldn't talk to me, I was filled with energy. Because the thing that I thought was so terrifying ended up not being terrifying at all, it was actually this liberating feeling of like, just expansion. And I think that one experience really early on now that I'm thinking about it, like was so important, that set the tone for the conversations we had and the energy that maybe you were noticing. It's just that, like, all the things that I thought were terrifying, and things that I couldn't do when you truly lean into it, and you have the courage to just go and just try most oftentimes 99.999% of the time, there's just a bunch of smoke and mirrors and it's actually not the worst outcome. The fear makes it hard to stick through. But if you can train yourself to not be afraid, and you just in every moment, it's like almost God, those things that I was afraid of actually had no merit. So I'm actually way more powerful than I give myself credit for. And when that compounds over time, it creates a snowball effect where you have more confidence in your ability to go from discipline to surrender discipline to surrender. And then that flexibility I think, is what creates the ability for for you to sort of navigate and dance throughout the different cycles of business. That's something that has come back to me more now, especially now with so many different things changing and business plans having to be thrown out the window and new things having to emerge. And I think now all all that stuff, those courses I bought, I have no idea how they connected now, but I think every single thing that I was forced to do early on is just set me up now to be better prepared to be the founder. I need to be right now.
Nicole Holland 19:51
I love it. So good. Let's fast forward a little bit. We don't have a lot of time left and I want to touch on a couple more things with you. Yeah. So when you start Did this then it was about your goals of lifestyle and freedom. And you weren't married to what you were going to sell, just that it was going to sell and your curiosity and expansion has led you along this amazing path to where you are today and where stay grounded is going and all the different things. Now you also brought in philanthropy and connecting with Make a wish and supporting them. And I know that Java press is a company that's a force for good and that's part of your value. When did that come in? What was the awareness you had going from, hey, we're selling a product. It's doing well to going hey, we want to make a difference to in this other way.
Raj Jana 20:49
So I remember
we launched September 2015. right out the gate making sales. Like within three months, I was making sales. I was thrilled. Exactly. sited when I was like, wow, this is actually making me money. I remember getting my first sale and just being like I fell asleep, but I made money like, this is the best. I remember having that excitement and just really being there. And then January of 2016. I had a mentor who worked 37 years at the same company, a guy named Jerry Markowitz. He was my cubicle mate. He was three months away from retirement and he had a heart attack three months for his retirement date, this remember that like sort of period are really kind of blended together period. Like I can't even like separate any month from that. I remember the only thing I remember was right after he died, his wife came in the next week to clean out his cubicle. She was taken out all this stuff and she was learning stuff about him and she was you could just tell that like she was so sad that she hadn't taken the time to spend with him when she could and he had worked so much. I just saw this entire honestly I saw like a flash forward in some ways like Raj, if you stay on this path, that's gonna be you. And then I was like, And then I had a bigger realization as my parents stay on this path that's going to be them if my friend stay on this path that's going to be them. So I had this kind of big realization that everyone around me was constantly waiting for another date to finally do what they always want to do. And I remember that moment just kind of sparking it for me, I was like, man, I don't, I really don't care. I'm just gonna make this work. And so I put my head down and I worked for eight months. Just really hard. early mornings before work after work, learning I just so dedicated. We ended up hitting our first six figures by the end of the year, and I was so confused, because I thought that I was working so hard to make all this stuff happen. And I was not happy. I paid off my student loans. I was sending my parents money I thought all these things that I was like doing things for how this bs How's it going, I'm doing it for this doing it for that. And I wasn't doing it for that I was doing it. Because I was running from something inside me and I had no idea what it was. And remember, at the end of that year, I went to a conference called the underground marketing conference. It doesn't exist anymore, but it used to be run by And Yannick silver and Yannick he's also like the founder of a mastermind group called Maverick and his whole sort of philosophy is like you can be in business and do good at the same time. volved Enterprises what he called it and at the time, he had just written this book. Now I'm at this conference, and I'm around all these other entrepreneurs that are like that are giving back and doing business at the same time. And they were hinting around this idea of evolve enterprise. I had no idea how that was. Because I was always under the impression that you had to like, once you make your money, then you can start your plan. So I remember, he gave away a copy of the book, I read the book, same way that I did the four hour workweek, like cover to cover in a day. And then I was like, Oh, my God, I need this guy. And so I ended up buying his course, got involved in his community, really, his the book was teaching self awareness. Stop looking outside for your answers go inside. Remember, at the end of that, I had finally come to the realization like, wow, this thing became successful because right after Jerry died, I worked really hard. To make this happen, Jerry's death had a profound impact on the way that I lived on the on the way it was this one of the most motivating factors I could have ever had. It was like a slice of like the universe delivered something to me. And it turned into some sort of a fuel. And I realized the reason I was doing that so hard is because I didn't want anyone else in my life to think that they were stuck where they were stuck. I wanted to be an example. And that was a strong enough motivation to do it. And so from that is where stay grounded emerged. Initially, it came out as a way for us to use my coffee company as a way to sell this message of like, you don't have to wait to be happy. You can stay grounded in the moments you love right now. So it started off as a tagline. So January of 2017, rebranded the site changed it to helping people stay grounded. We help people stay grounded through the coffee they love. Like that's really what it was. I just started spreading this message because it was mine and I believed in it started out as a newsletter. One of our audience members reach out to me like, Hey, dude, I love your emails. It's so great. So positive. Have you ever thought about starting a podcast and I was like, kind of I had it on like on my little vision board of like, what is stay grounded stick around. It's a podcast, it's a it's a movement, etc, that all these things written but I didn't really know what the hell I wanted. And then that's how that came to be. So launched the podcast at the end of that year. And that started a whole new journey of learning and growing and being around people that were expanding my own sense of what's possible in life and then spirituality and business and love and, and just being a human being. I was really kind of expanding what's possible in life. Yeah, it changed my life, and it grew. And now it's 70 something countries and it's doing its own thing. It's kind of crazy to when you tell the story from start to finish, but really, it all started with with Jerry's passing. Like if Jerry hadn't passed, I don't think I would have had the motivation. to figure it out so quickly, and in me figuring out so quickly, I don't think I would have crashed. And without me crashing, I wouldn't have taken the time to actually reflect and figure out who I was and what really inspired me and from theirs which they go into came. And then once I defined stay grounded, then the charity element was like just another, like, make a wish ended up coming into our lives. Like I wanted to help people stay grounded in the moments they love. And I looked at these kids and these kids had billionaires lining up to give them anything they wanted. But all these kids wanted 90% of the kids all they wanted was a Chucky cheese party. They wanted to go to Disney World, their family, they wanted a bedroom makeover. It was the simplest things and I just remember being and I was like, Oh my god, more people need to be reminded of the fact that joy is not something that's found outside of us. It's something that's found in these little moments. And so that's how stay grounded and inspired and make a wish that's kind of how it came to be. It just came in to be as the more clear I got on what I wanted and what I stood for The easier it became to just say yes and no to the things that were going to allow us to spread this message with more heart.
Nicole Holland 27:06
So beautiful and such a great place to put a pin in this. I wish we could talk for hours. But unfortunately not during this episode. We've already gotten quite long. And I love that we have so much value so many great nuggets and such a beautiful way to share more of who you are with the world and what your mission and messages and So, before we hop off, I would love two things. One, let my listeners know if they want to get more of this great stuff. What specifically would you like them to do? And number two final words of wisdom. And then we will say goodbye for now.
Raj Jana 27:45
I appreciate you taking the time to listen to this interview. If you're listening this far in that means that's something I was saying, or we were saying is resonated so appreciate your attention. I'm all over social, so you know i'm most active on Instagram, if you're on Instagram @raj_jana, you can listen to the “Stay Grounded” podcast, that's on iTunes, stitcher it's on Spotify it's all over the place, so you can look up ” Stay Grounded” or Raj Jana, either of those are great places to start.
And then If I had to leave one piece of advice.I think in this climate right now, I don't when this is gonna air but in this moment, in the middle of a global pandemic and everything that's happening, I think it's more important than ever to remember how powerful the human spirit is. I think that we don't give ourselves credit for being a species that have survived 60000 years and it's come through all at costs and gone through wars and plagues,..
just the amount of things that we as human species have been able to grow and emerge from is incredible and I think we forget how powerful we really are, get caught up in the nuances and pains and the suffering and problems that come from being stuck inside of crisis but crisis only exists to remind us of how powerful forces us to dig and bring out the pieces of our heart and our soul and our spirits that normally have been dormant or had been sleeping for so long, so don't be afraid of life or chaos. We are a part of nature. right, we come from nature and the carpets finally match the grip so at the end of the day,you lean into it and don't be afraid.
If you practice courage now then you can do this throughout anything.
Nicole Holland 29:40
Beautiful. Thank you so much.
And there you have it. Thanks again, for tuning in. I do realize that there are about a million other things you could have been doing over the past half hour. And the fact that you chose to spend it listening to this podcast means the world to me. I would love to know what your biggest takeaway from today's episode was. So feel free to send it on social tagging me @TheNicoleHolland on Facebook or Instagram, or send me a message from my website FascinatingFounders.com. You'll also find show notes with the transcript from this and all other past and future podcast episodes on the website. that URL once more is FascinatingFounders.com Thanks to my Podcasting Goldmine team for the production of today's episode, and a special shout out to Effy Ceruti, for composing the intro and outro music for this season. If you're looking for custom composed music for your own podcast or any other aspect of strategy, design, or production for your existing or new podcasts, the Podcasting Goldmine team can help give us a ring at 218-GET-SEEN or contact us through the website for a custom quote. And once again, if you are ready to explore effectively leveraging podcasts for business growth, visit PodcastingGoldmine.com and request a complimentary consultation to explore making podcasts work for you. Again, that URL is PodcastingGoldmine.com. Coming up on Fascinating Founders. I'm excited to introduce you to more fascinating men and women who've taken their inspired idea and against all odds have grown it into a multi-million or billion-dollar enterprise. Until next time, this is Nicole Holland, signing off.