a conversation with jill martin: the jill of all trades
Jill Martin had to be the ‘Jill’ they were talking about when the phrase “Jill of all trades” was coined.
She is a multi-hyphenated, fun-loving, successful, get-it-done kind of gal that doesn’t let anyone put her in a box. Her current resume includes being an Emmy Award-winning television personality and Today Show contributor, a New York Knicks sideline reporter, a New York Times best-selling author, a QVC ambassador, and Creative Director of her own fashion line G.I.L.I.
Yet somehow, amongst all her business endeavors, she still finds time to enjoy her life: brunching with friends, tackling a paddleboard competition for a good cause, working with kids from one of her favorite charities (and even participating in a the void gathering when asked!). We’re exhausted just writing this! Jill, on the other hand, is businesswoman #goals.
We chatted with Jill about what motivates her professionally and what pushes her to make time for all of the projects and hobbies and people she holds near and dear.
the void: It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you are trying to be successful at work and have an active social life. What’s one thing you do in order to feel balanced and in-control when life is moving fast?
Jill Martin: Wow… this is a really difficult question to answer and it’s something I continue to try to master (unsuccessfully)! I work seven days-a-week some weeks and often work overnight, which is not ideal for balance. I am getting better at saying “no” though!
I think when I was growing up in this business, I was always afraid of letting other people down. I felt like if I wasn’talways working, I wasn’t being the most productive version of myself. But what I’ve learned over the years is that in order for you to be your most productive self, you need downtime to regroup. I recently met the love of my life (sounds cliché, but I actually did!) and I make a conscious effort to make sure he (and his kids) know how important they are to me—and that there is always time for them.
the void: How do you prioritize one part of your life over the other when you want both to be equal?
Jill Martin: I think this comes down to a case-by-case basis. I am trying to grow my business at QVC (we are branching into different areas to become a total lifestyle brand) and that takes up a lot of my time. At the same time, I am big into no cellphones at dinner and making sure I am present when I am with loved ones. And I also make a conscious effort to try to get eight hours of sleep a day. When I turned 40, I noticed that I actually do get tired. I used to be able to just go-go-go… I had to adjust.
the void: What's the healthiest "no" you have given someone that actually helped you move forward?
Jill Martin: I was recently asked to do a big shoot on my boyfriend’s daughter’s 12th birthday. I had a whole plan in place for her and her friends, so I didn’t hesitate saying “no” to the shoot. In the past, I would have felt guilty about it. Now, when I make a decision, I make it and move on… no lingering.
the void: Who are four women you admire that also seem to be juggling immensely full lives?
Jill Martin: My mother managed to raise two children, be a successful teacher, and grow her own business. And her business was created in our basement in Plainview, Long Island, by the way. She always had her own money and she taught me how important that was. She is my ultimate role model.
Mikyl Cordova is the creator of the void and is a total badass (I have worked with her at Madison Square Garden for over a decade!). I’m not sure how she does it all, but with two children and a major job, she always manages to treat people with the utmost respect. I admire her dedication to everything she does and how she remains a lovely person, even during the most stressful situations.
Hoda Kotb is also a really incredible woman. Hoda is a beautiful daughter, sister and friend, a tireless worker, and now the most beautiful mother. She really understands what matters and always puts family first. She is extremely smart, she asks a lot of questions and she is an amazing listener. She is one of the few women who has proven you can have it all! And on top of all that, she constantly exudes happiness… and to me, that is the ultimate goal.
I started working at QVC about eight years ago. Mary Campbell, the EVP Chief Merchandising and Interactive officer at QVC/Qurate Group (who was in another position when I started), was one of the those people that whenever I had a crazy idea, her initial answer was never “no”; it was “how can we make this work?” We have now started working together in a greater capacity and she is such a huge supporter of women, but also hard work. I always say that I will never be beaten in work ethic and that is something that Mary has always supported and rewarded.
the void: when did you know that G.I.L.I could be a success?
Jill Martin: I am not good at a lot of things, but what I am good at is knowing what women want. I think you should always look and feel your best; those are things you can control when there is so much in life that you can’t.
The beauty and the power of QVC is that I am able to reach so many people and give explanations on how to style products, incorporate them into your life, and ultimately, make your life easier. I like the format of it and I believe in every single product I put on the air. I think the QVC viewer knows authenticity and I 100% believe in everything in my line. That is how I knew it would work and why it works today.
the void: Charity work is also such a big part of your life. How do you make the time for that when you have so little of your time to give?
Jill Martin: I have been given so many opportunities and I am so grateful for what I have in my life that I feel like giving back is not an option, it is a duty. I am so lucky to be part of two unbelievable organizations: The Garden of Dreams Foundation and my brother’s charity, Kidcare. These are two charities that really work to give kids who are facing unimaginable obstacles the chance to smile and just be kids, and I love that!
the void: What's a book you recommend to women who are trying to "do it all" to help them find peace in the hustle?
Jill Martin: “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. It is a book I read and re-read. Whenever I feel like life is moving too fast, I always refer back to it.