It was great talking to the lovely Elizabeth Jarosz about things after the show.
Murtz Jaffer: Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
Elizabeth Jarosz: Well, that’s pretty broad! I grew up in Deerborn Heights, Michigan. I went to the University of Michigan. Got a B.B.A. (Bachelor’s of Business Administration) in marketing and finance. Went straight to Proctor & Gamble to work in brand management (which typically you aren’t allowed to do as an undergraduate). I had to weasel my way in…
MJ: I used to go to all the MBA recruiting sessions in Michigan, because the undergrad program is in the same building as the grad program. It’s in the same building with the same professors and stuff. But the recruiting programs were different. They used to go to theirs and I would schmooze with all the bigwigs at all the brand management companies and stuff and I would impress them. Then they would find out that I was an undergrad and they would tell me to come back when I got my MBA, and I would just stay there and be persistent and say ‘well, here’s why I am different than any undergrad that you have ever met’ and ultimately they would give me interviews. I ended up getting multiple brand management offers. That was pretty cool. I chose Proctor & Gamble because they were the best in the world. They invented brand management. A headhunter told me that if I went with P & G, that I could go anywhere in the world that I wanted to with that and still to this day, I am really glad that I made that decision. I was just in a consulting meeting today and one of the things that impressed the clients the most was my background and the fact that I had been a brand manager at Proctor & Gamble.
MJ: When did you decide to do the Pulse40 deal?
EJ: In 2000, I moved to Los Angeles because I have always had two sides to my personality. There’s my business side (which I just talked about) and the…
MJ: The ‘Salsa’ side…
EJ: And then there’s the salsa/creative/artist side. I was acting in community theater even when I was working for Proctor & Gamble. I would work in the day and do theater at night. I moved to LA to pursue creative endeavors and I ultimately went there to direct a short film that was going to be the first project. I did that and it won Best Short Drama at the New York International Film & Video Festival and then I said ‘okay, I guess I can direct and I love that, but now it’s time to go and see what other great things I can do.’ Just to sort of find my niche. So I decided to find a career that could really support my creative habits in the best way possible, so I came up with consulting because you can make a lot of money and work very few days. So I started doing that first, and then after a few years of that, clients loved me…
MJ: Look at that ego! ‘Clients loved me…’
EJ: Well, it’s true! That’s what happened. I was turning down about 80 or 90% of the jobs that were being offered to me as an independent consultant. So I decided to create my own business. Because before, I was working for a company and they would take 40% of my gross but if I owned my own business I could keep it all.
MJ: Sounds good.
EJ: So I could work less and keep more, which sounded good to me. So I created Pulse40 and so now I do market research and market consulting for pretty much top Fortune 500 companies. I pick and choose my projects and my clients because I like to work with people who are highly innovative.
MJ: And I guess it’s this need to pick and choose your own clients instead of just doing the same old thing which is why you’re still single. In terms of being too picky, not only in business but in love as well.
EJ: I am pretty picky in general. I am a selective individual! (Laughs). That is probably why I am still single unfortunately…
MJ: That’s what I am saying!… So tell me about the Apprentice.
EJ: The Apprentice was a life-changing experience. It was sort of larger-than-life. I went into it thinking that it was going to be a win/win no matter what happened. First, I have a pretty big ego like everybody else on the show. I thought I was going to win it all and I was actually the odds-on favorite to win (in all the betting, polls) mostly because of my degree and my experience and all of that stuff. Even to this day, I seriously think I should have won the whole thing! And most people laugh when they hear that because they were shown what was shown on TV and that really isn’t an accurate reflection of who I am as an individual. In hindsight, I understand all of that. I know that it’s television and they create storylines and characters. They do what they need to do to get great ratings and that’s why Mark Burnett and Donald Trump have the #1 show because they do what they do best. I understand that as a filmmaker. If I was in their shoes, I would be doing the exact same thing and that’s what I signed up for.
MJ: Did you send in a tape or go to an open casting call?
EJ: I created the tape and I dropped it off at the PO Box in LA (which is where everybody was sending in their tapes all across the nation). The day I dropped it off, the guy said that he had received 20,000 and I stood there and I thought they never were going to watch this thing. I went home and I checked online. There were three more cities where they were doing open call auditions. It was Miami, Cleveland and Austin. So I looked at it and I said, ‘well, I am not going to stand out in Miami because I just don’t have the boobs or the blonde hair’ so that’s out (even though I wanted to go to Miami the most)! (Laughs) I happened to have a business meeting in Dallas on a Monday and Austin’s casting call was on the Saturday before. I booked my business trip through Austin, put myself up and I stood in line at the open call and I did it very differently than other people. I wore jeans and a shirt and I was very much myself. Everybody else was in like a three-piece suit and they slept there over night and I showed up at like 9:30 pm. I was like, ‘I’m ready to go!.’
MJ: Did they say ‘howdy’ to you when you got there?
EJ: They did not say howdy.
MJ: Did you?
EJ: I didn’t either! (Laughs) I picked kind of a little market research approach for the audition. I interviewed everybody who came out and I found what they did and what went well and what didn’t go well. It turns out that you had to in (in groups of 20) and debate. When I got in there, I listened and everybody was just trying to talk over everybody else and it really wasn’t an effective way…
MJ: That’s kind of what happened on the show as well.
EJ: Yeah. In the audition at least, I was able to make friends with the 15 people in front of me and the 15 people behind me. I knew their names, what they were about. I kind of said ‘let’s not do that.’ Let’s kind of talk at a normal pace and debate it out like real people and we’ll stand out as a group. Ultimately we walked in, and everybody was waiting for me to start the meeting. I’d call everybody by name and I just ran the whole thing. I didn’t even get out the door and they already called me and said, ‘you’re the best thing we’ve seen all day’ and ‘we need to see you again, can you come in on Monday’ and of course my answer was no.
MJ: Because you had the business meeting…
EJ: Yeah. So they scheduled a special meeting with me on Sunday before I left and that was another 3-hour interview on camera. After that there was a big long final audition and that was it.
MJ: I always joke with you about the many sides of your personality, like the girl-next-door. You claim that you’re this major bad-ass, and then there’s the whole way they portrayed you on the show, as a victim. So which one is it?
EJ: I don’t identify a lot with the victim. I think they showed me as indecisive and tried to make me look weak. I don’t know if they necessarily showed that I had a victim mentality, but I was the victim of the show. That’s a little different. I don’t really identify with that side as much. I am very sweet. I like to be polite and nice to people. I don’t really like hurting people’s feelings. That kind of came out on the show. I was the one that never really said bad things about people. I don’t believe in tearing people down to bring yourself up. I have always been able to just use my skills to speak for themselves and have a positive attitude about things. That’s kind of more my style. When push comes to shove in real life, you don’t want to be in my way if you’re trying to screw me over. It’s not going to happen. You’re not going to have a pleasant day. When I need to be strong, I am strong. I think that creates a dynamic personality that can go both ways depending on which way I have to go.
MJ: Was it difficult being in a situation where everybody was trying to kill the other person for a person like you who didn’t like to get their hands dirty?
EJ: I hated it more than anything else that I have ever done. It was not what I thought it would be. That’s my own naÃƒÂ¯ve attitude. I thought that I really could go in there and just prove myself. I wanted it to be a competition about business. It really ended up being kind of a competition about manipulation and backstabbing and all that other stuff, which quite frankly, I am not the best at. (Laughs)
MJ: You told me, that if you could go back you would win the whole thing…
EJ: I would adapt and I would try to do it in a way that would be congruent with my values and principles. I don’t think I would lie about people.
MJ: Would you have ever pulled ‘an Ivana’ to win?
EJ: (Laughs) No
MJ: There are certain lines that you won’t cross?
EJ: Yeah. Ivana and I have actually blatantly disagreed with that exact issue in public. I think she regrets it as well. There is a misunderstanding in her mind about the whole situation. She feels like she was wearing shorts…
MJ: Could you tell me about the person that you liked the most, the person that you hated the most, and the person that you would hire?
EJ: Person I like the most is probably Rob. He was fired first. He had the most positive attitude. He had been in the crazy camp thing longer than anybody else. He had two children and missed when his youngest started to walk while he was there. If you can imagine being there and having so many expectations for yourself and then being kicked off first and missing really important things in your life. He still had just an amazing attitude, and I will respect him forever because of it. I don’t have someone that I hate…
MJ: I knew you were going to say that!
EJ: I don’t. I don’t. I mean there were things that people did that I didn’t appreciate. But I mean I was with them for a few weeks…
MJ: What about dislike greatly?
EJ: I dislike greatly…
MJ: Okay, okay. I’ll even give you dislike menially.
EJ: It’s just not my personality to even deal with that. I feel like the more that I focus on stuff like that, I just go downhill. I just don’t even focus on that. The girls, Ivana and Jennifer turned on me when I went in my episode when I got fired. They had both said blatantly that I was one of the strongest candidates. That’s why Jennifer kept me on her team. Even Ivana had said that all along. Then when we got to the boardroom they were talking about me as if I was the worst thing that ever happened to the planet. Ivana is a very good friend of mine and Jennifer and I don’t have any hard feelings ’cause I don’t believe in holding a grudge over this show. That kind of behavior certainly did not feel good at the time.
MJ: Who would you hire?
EJ: Well I would hire me (laughs) but after that, I would hire Kelly. I was a huge Kelly fan.
MJ: Are you serious? He came off on TV as being this like militant dictator.
EJ: I don’t see him that way. My first boss was a military guy. Very structured and rigid. I think there’s a great place for that. I work well with that actually. I don’t mind it. I worked very well with Kelly and I think he’s strong. I would work with him in a heartbeat.
MJ: Tell me about you and Inside Pulse.
EJ: Inside Pulse is going to be my creative outlet for Season 3. I plan on sort of giving an insider’s perspective on the show.
MJ: Are you going to be the girl-next-door or are you going to be the female version of Nick Warnock?
EJ: I’m the kind of person who has to see what happens before I react to it. I am not going to plan to be one way and then write completely that way. If somebody does something outrageously stupid, I am going to say that was outrageously stupid and here’s why. If someone does something great, and I love it, I am going to probably be like ‘this person is amazing.’ It all just depends on what they do and what they show. I think the key is that I am going to be honest.
MJ: You’re always honest. We want you to be more opinionated! We want you to be E-Ja!
EJ: You can be opinionated and be honest. That doesn’t mean people will agree with me.
MJ: I know you’re going to be the voice of reason.
EJ: I am just going to do my thing. Now the pressure is on!
Look for Elizabeth Jarosz’s first column this week and make sure to check out ElizabethJarosz.com!