5 Entrepreneurship & Life Lessons from Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg

Bonus Episode

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg Quotes:

“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.” — Interview with Nina Totenberg

“I tell law students… if you are going to be a lawyer and just practice your profession, you have a skill—very much like a plumber. But if you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself… something that makes life a little better for people less fortunate than you.” — Stanford Memorial Church, 2012

“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” — Makers interview, 2012

“I just read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s book. She talked about ‘we don’t have it all.’ Who does? I’ve had it all in the course of my life, but at different times.” — Conversation with Gloria Steinem in The New York Times, 2015

“I wish there was a way I could wave a magic wand and put back when people were respectful of each other and the Congress was working for the good of the country and not just along party lines. Someday there will be great people, great elected representatives who will say, ‘enough of this nonsense, let’s be the kind of legislature the United States should have.’ I hope that day will come when I’m still alive.” —Stanford Law School, 2017

I wish there was a way I could wave a magic wand and put back when people were respectful of each other…

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg

Life lessons from Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg : 

  • Break free from the cage in your entrepreneurial journey and life [3:30]
  • Find your “why” and how you can help the world [5:00]
  • Converting failure/obstacles into achievements [6:50]
  • Defining your goals for each chapter of your life [11:45]
  • How to navigate competition while being respectful of your competition [14:25] 


Read Episode Transcript

Hello Business Bites friends, as you can tell, this is not my normal excited introduction. In fact, this episode has been something that’s been in my mind for a while, but I’m impromptu recording it on an off recording day. As you all know, RBG did pass away. Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I wanted to share some of the top quotes and lessons that I learned from her and how that applies in business. I think this is extremely timely and important to recognize that whether you align with her politically or not many, especially women, are reaping the benefits of her struggles dealing in the Supreme Court and her opinions, and so just recognize that this is not going to be politically based episode. I really am taking quotes from her and lessons from her and letting y’all know how I’ve applied it or how I would recommend you apply it in your business.

I think it is important that we do have politics and we do have discussions, but I also think we can learn from people that we oppose from, or like in this case you may not. And I think this is true for anybody. You may not necessarily align with everybody politically, but you still can learn something from people, even those that you disagree with. And you obviously definitely can learn from people who you agree with. And I encourage you all before we dig into this. Just take a moment and sit back and think about some of the trailblazers in different industries or different capacities in our world, whether in politics or not without whether on the Court or not to see how it has impacted you and how it may have changed your view and how you implement your life and your business. So I am going to dig right in, in this impromptu episode, thrown off the whole recording schedule, but it is what it is. And as y’all know what the very first quote that I’m going to share, obviously, female identify with female and I speak to a lot of female type entrepreneurs, even though there are many others that listen to me and partake in my resources, I welcome everyone.

I identify most with are put out what I identify with most, like, for example, as a mom, as a female, as a working mother and all that sort of thing. So the, the first quote from RBG, the notorious RBG that I want to share with is, “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her that meant be your own person. Be independent.” Y’all know that I have shared extensively over the years in Business Bytes and all over social media that I never really felt like internally, that I fit into the structure of nine to five or fit into the structure of a cubicle farm or any of that. And that’s not to say that that’s not appropriate for some other people. Other people don’t find joy in that. I just have always kind of felt caged and that being pushed and that sort of stuff was not helpful.

And as you all know, like I’m in my mid thirties. And so you can, you can count back and do the time and see how much growth we’ve had, especially for gender equality. We still have a ways to go, but the way things have evolved and how it’s more accepting now for working women and especially for entrepreneurs. And so this quote resonates with me because I was kind of told to grow up and to be a lady. And so I love that RBG says for her mother, that meant to be your own person and be independent. And I definitely encourage that in all areas of business. We want to be our own person. We want to set ourselves apart.

We’ve talked in other episodes from a more academic type structure of the USP, your unique selling proposition and the client avatar of who you’re speaking to, but definitely being independent is going to fulfill you and what you want to do, because if you’re an entrepreneur and listened to this, you probably subscribe and feel the same, same way that I did; that I just did not fit in the box, and I wanted to be independent and carve my own way. And so this is a good encouragement in your personal life, as well as your business life. And even if you want to apply it to marketing, look at it like you want to be independent from other people, cause you don’t want to be lumped into the same category. And you can see, this can have major impact on all areas of your life.

Another one is a quote it’s really more intended for lawyers, but just stick with me as I get through it. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg gave this at the Stanford Memorial church in 2012 and this is what she said. Quote, “I tell law students, if you’re going to be a lawyer and just practice your profession, you have a skill very much like a plumber, but if you want to be a true professional, you’ll do something outside yourself. Something that makes a life a little better for people less fortunate than you,” end quote. One of the reasons I got into law was because I wanted to help others. In fact, I really wanted to go into criminal law. Maybe I’ll do that eventually. I still work with advocacy in the courts, on the criminal side, but working with civil and business stuff. My goal and my why of how I even got into all this, besides the fact that I didn’t feel like I fit into the nine to five, besides the fact that I wanted flexible to be here for my family. My major why for doing all the things that I do is so that I can try to make the life a little better for other people.

She specifically said less fortunate than you, but I think we can look at that not just what life has handed them or it’s also what others want to achieve. So for me, I’m really on the ground floor. Like I mentioned, I really primarily talk to those that identify female and women, especially working mothers that are much like me, who are wanting to have the flexibility and wanting to have their own piece of the entrepreneurial pie and to be able to balance all that and be successful. And so I definitely encourage you with this quote is try to look through the lens of everything that I’m doing. Does my why in entrepreneurship allow for me to make life a little better for other people, people that may not have had the advantages and privileges that I had to be where I’m at now, what are things that I can do to meet them and serve them so that they can have life a little bit better because they’re not as fortunate.

The third quote that I really love, cause y’all know if you know my story, I run head-on for the most part into challenges. And I think a lot of that revolves back around to what I shared with under number one, where I kind of was raised to say, “You’re going to go to college, you’re going to get an office job. You’re going to do this.” And I really have flipped that on its head. You know? So the third quote that we had from a Maker’s interview in 2012, and this is it, quote, “So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune,” end quote. I love this.

We hear all the time about failing forward. You have to fail. Dare Greatly like from Renee Brown, she talks about you’re going to encounter failure also in there as well. But I love that the way that Justice Ginsburg said this, she goes things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune. Because for me, I’ve looked back at some very traumatic events in my life. And obviously I had a choice of like sink or swim and I had my, I had my own effects and consequences of behavior then in response, and now what I’m still dealing with now. But what I find interesting is that at the time, these things that were impediments to me, they have turned out to be this quote, “Great, good fortune,” end quote, because I’m able to connect, going back to the why of what I talked about.

You know, I want to make life a little better for people, less fortunate than me. People that may have the desire, but not the capabilities yet, or the resources to be able to do better. I’m able to take the impediments that I’ve had in my life and spin that so that it’s great, good fortune for myself and for others. And that’s why I’m fairly transparent and putting out about myself and about the life lessons that I’ve learned. I mean, if you’re new to this, maybe this is your first time listening. I’m normally a lot more bubbly than this, but I’m definitely feeling very reflective today. Just the state of everything that’s going on and also the loss of a great woman and great Supreme Court justice. Cause I kind of have a personal connection there in that I was sworn in to the Supreme Court a couple of years ago and she was sitting on the bench and it was incredible to be standing in the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. To be sworn in that is a great honor to know that I could bring a case before the Supreme Court and she was sitting there and it just was incredible.

I was in awe of the history and of the power of the court and also the power and amazingness of the people. One thing I do want to say before I continue on this quote, kind of circling back to what we talked about at the very beginning of the episode that you can learn from people that you don’t necessarily politically align with. And I have always much enjoyed Justice Ginsburg’s modeling and her, I guess, a role model that she was really good friends with Justice Scalia before he passed. But they were completely politically opposed from one another. And I just find that… I just find that so honoring and I would hope that that’s one of the lessons that we also take away. So it applying it to this quote about an impediment, you’re going to run into people in life where you’re going to, it’s going to feel like you have an impediment, maybe it’s a business opportunity and you feel like it’s an impediment.

See how you can turn it out to be great, good fortune. So circling back to what I was trying to get at that the impediments I’ve had in my life I’ve had cancer. We had our dog murdered on our whole sense of personal security shattered. I’ve had my own personal life tragedies this year that have really greatly impacted. I also ended up with being diagnosed pulmonary issues last year, which has its own host of issues during COVID and also had this mysterious chronic illness for about two years that we are unsure where it comes from and I’ve taken those impediments in life and turned them out to be great, good fortune because it allows for me to connect with many people that have may have had a piece of that in their life, something that they want to identify with, because it also allows for me to be truly authentic and connect with each and every one of you so that we can develop this rapport and develop this connection even through social media or when I meet you at conferences or when we work one-on-one whether at the law firm or through business consulting, it helps to take the impediments that we have had and turn them into quote, great, good fortune in our businesses and in our personal lives, because I don’t feel like they can be separated from one another.

Another quote that I really love that kind of embodies a lot of what we were just talking about. It was a conversation that Justice Ginsburg had with Gloria Steinem and the New York times in 2015, quote, “I just read Anne Marie Slaughter’s book. She talked about we don’t have it all. Who does? I’ve had it all in the course of my life, but at different times,” end quote. And this is why I kind of chuckled. I don’t know if you heard earlier, when I was talking about helping balance life, I don’t believe in balance. And I also believe that we don’t have it all. I caution many times on the podcast, to be wary when you look at those that are successful and have a lot going on to make sure that you’re realizing you’re looking at chapter 20 and not chapter one, especially for myself, I have developed some very successful, and I say that humbly, very successful with a lot of hard work in different industries and different niches, but they did not all come at one time. I was very vigilant and building the silos, learning lessons, and then doing it again. So when Justice Ginsburg says, “Who does? I’ve had it all in the course of my life, but at different times,” that is so true at different times, and also the definition of having it all is going to change at different times.

I encourage you to, when you make your goals. And I feel like we’re coming up on the beginning of the year and a lot of people really get forward-thinking and really motivated for their goals, but then they kind of fall off. I really want y’all to commit to thinking, “All right, I want to quote unquote, ‘have it all.'” And I’m not saying like this whole scarcity mentality, like Renee Brown talks about in Daring Greatly, or this keeping up with the Joneses. I’m talking about you looking inward and seeing what is my all, what do I truly want to have? And actually one of the reasons that Business Bites podcast started and with episode number one, you guys can check out, talks about, it talks about me. I talk about I’m the host of it, but I talk about filling the rocks first and how your life is a vase and you putting these big rocks in first.

And then the sand is everything else. The big rocks are what is most important. And I would relate that here to this quote of, I want to have it all. So what is in this period of your life that is core and important and recognize that every year that vase and those rocks are going to change. And that is okay, but that is the way that you can have it all. You just have to temper it. Like Justice Ginsburg said I’ve had it all in the course of my life, but at different times. So be encouraged with that. She’s an amazing woman, but for her, all the accolades and things that she’s done in trailblazer, didn’t all happen in the same chapter of life. So give yourself a little grace, if you’re feeling the stress of, “Man, I wish I had all of that, but I don’t.”

And I think the last one that I want to bring for y’all she, this is a quote at Stanford Law School in 2017. And it’s quote, “I wish there was a way I could wave a magic wand and put back when people were respectful of each other and the Congress was working for the good of the country and not just along party lines,” end quote. Really, it’s not about politics why I pulled this quote, it’s about waving a magic wand and putting them back when people were respectful of each other. I find this is especially important in entrepreneurship, in a lot of what we were just talking about, you’re looking at other people who have it all, and you start to feel resentful. You start to feel jealous and you kind of lose respect for your fellow entrepreneur, but this, because it’s your own internal issues, other issues that we can see when people are disrespectful to each other in business, when they’re fighting for the same opportunities, recognize this is not a limited sandbox that we’re in.

It’s an endless sandbox of opportunities. So being respectful and actually working with others in your industry is amazing. Especially if you’ve nailed down your USP, especially if you’ve nailed down your client avatar, which that’s in episode 12, you will be able to work and respect, along with others in entrepreneurship. And you guys are still, there’s plenty of consumers out there to buy into you. It’s just about like, we talked about being independent and setting yourself apart. We can still be respectful of one another. There’s no reason for the cut throat mentality, because I tell you what there’s many times in business where I’ll inadvertently. And I say, inadvertently because I try to be very specific on my messaging, but I’ll inadvertently attract maybe a consumer that we’re just not a good fit. And by developing respect and rapport with other entrepreneurs, I can help them by referring that person that may not suit my ideal client avatar referred over to them.

And likewise, the same, a lot of my businesses are simply word of mouth referrals. I mean, yeah, we’ve got all the strategy of funnels, flows, ads, and that kind of stuff, and obviously great product and customer service. But one of the big cornerstones is referral. And that comes with having respect for one another. So I definitely love the way that Justice Ginsburg, a lot of her quotes while they may have been packaged in other contexts, they can be pulled and be applied. And she was the embodiment of a lot of, like I mentioned, she had great respect and friendship with Justice Scalia, but they were on different ends of the political spectrum, you know? And so we just look and see how we can carry on the torch and being respectful to one another in entrepreneurship, how we can seek to be independent. And it say thing, especially for females.

And that was under quote, number one, be your own person. Be independent. I think for females, oftentimes independence sometimes has a negative connotation in society, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about positive, as positively independent. And that wraps into all of this, of you looking, doing something outside yourself of you taking impediments and turning them out to be great, good fortune, and also respecting your competition. So I hope you guys enjoy these quotes and kind of my own application and how I have perceived them. And I definitely would love for y’all to join the Business Bites Facebook group we’ll have a thread like every week with this episode, I’m also going to get a show notes page up, but it’s going to be probably not today, even though I’m going to publish this today, to get this out into y’all’s podcasts, it will be at rachelbrenke.com/RBG.

And that way you guys can go there. I’m looking at getting some free downloads, like little social media graphics that you can use to put on your social media. That’s related with her quotes. And I’ll have all of these quotes put into that page and also linked for resources. So you can maybe go see since these are just tidbits out of context of a larger speech or a larger interview, you can go read into those, give me a little grace. It’s going to be a couple of days to get it up since I just threw this together on a Saturday and I’m not going to make my poor team helped me to figure it out. As always, I hope you all have a wonderful week. And if you enjoyed me taking quotes from prominent figures like this, definitely please give me some feedback.

I’m not interested in hearing your political oppositions here. I’m talking from a very like academic standpoint of us taking someone who sat in one of the highest positions you can in law that has great impact on our country and has done great things, for gender equality, even if you don’t agree with everything. So please, if you enjoy this type of format, let me know. Because I would love to do this with CEOs and you know, all sorts of other prominent figures that have impact in our society and that directly impact entrepreneurship and hope you guys have a wonderful weekend.

Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke

Rachel Brenke

As a mom, team USA athlete and cancer-survivor, I want a real life while I have a real business.  This is why my resources don’t promote hustle-culture, rather tough-love and no-holds-barred tips to achieving both.  In addition to this website, I have a top-ranked business podcast, been featured in places like Forbes and work 1:1 with so many of you.

Enough about me though. I am proud of you for pursuing entrepreneurship. It is rewarding and amazing.  Keep at it!

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