For this installment of Creative Corner, we have Jeremy Grunin, Executive Director of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation. The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation was founded to improve the Toms River community in three main areas: the arts, education, and healthcare.
An investor, developer, philanthropist, radio show host, and crazy sock aficionado – Jeremy Grunin is undoubtedly a jack of all trades. We spoke with Jeremy about his involvement in the Toms River community, his dream radio show guests, and yes – even those socks.
What is a normal day at the office like for you?
A normal day is NOT in the office! Most of my time is spent out in the community at planning meetings, visiting our Impact Toms River partners, meeting with leaders, and making things happen. Did I mention the 4:15 alarm buzzer so I can get on the radio at 5:30 am Monday through Friday?
What motivated you to get so involved with the Toms River Community?
My dad told me I had to, so I did. But seriously, my parents, Jay and Linda Grunin, built a very successful law practice in Toms River starting back in the early 1970s. Over time, they expanded their interests to include real estate and other investments. They wanted to give back to the community that afforded them all of these opportunities and they created the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation. After moving up north to start my career and family, I came back to Toms River to help my parents run the Foundation.
What inspired you to take such an interest in the arts?
We believe we can play an integral part in increasing tourism and economic development through Toms River’s arts and culture. We developed the Engage Toms River Program to demonstrate our commitment to sustained engagement and participation of all of Toms River’s residents in the arts. This is becoming the hub of our community’s creative ingenuity.
What can you tell me about Lemonade Day?
Lemonade Day is the biggest entrepreneurial event for kids in Toms River. They have the opportunity to not only create a lemonade stand but also their own business plan encompassing the “spend, save, share” model. They will learn about our local businesses (spend), banks (save), and non-profit organizations (share). This year, the Foundation has added a $10,000 Engage Toms River Video Challenge. All rules and eligibility can be found HERE.
How do you get your creative juices flowing?
Collaboration. Sitting down and talking with other change-makers, business people, non-profits and community leaders is how we get our best ideas that we ultimately put into action.
What three traits would someone need to be able to do your job?
You have to be passionate, action-oriented, and have thick skin.
What were your best and worst subjects in school?
My best subject was math. The worst was phys ed. I couldn’t do one pull-up or climb even the knotted rope!
Do you think you’re a born leader or have you learned to be a leader?
I think anyone can learn a skill and leadership is no exception. However, personality can’t be taught and it takes a balance of strength and compassion to be a leader in addition to the learned skills. I always knew I wanted to be in a leadership position. With those three traits I mentioned earlier and a lot of hard work, I was able to become a successful leader first in the private sector where I led teams of over 1000 at a time and now, ultimately, in the non-profit sector.
Name a recent example of a time when you felt like your hard work had paid off:
Anytime I see one of our Impact partners (or anyone we worked with, even if it wasn’t through direct funding) succeed, I know I’ve done my job.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I always wanted to be a business owner, I just wasn’t sure of the exact type of business.
You host a morning radio show on WOBM: living, dead, real, or fictional – name three people you would love to interview and why?
Donald Trump – I have so many questions. I mentioned him during my first Wake Up With Jeremy Grunin show and quickly was nicknamed a RINO (Republican in Name Only) by my first caller. I’d love to see how many ridiculous things he could say in a 45-minute segment.
Mark Zuckerberg – he challenges all conventions and I think that is a big part of what made him so successful.
Jackie Robinson – overcame extreme adversity and displayed incredible internal fortitude. I admire that. I also admire that he was a great athlete, something I clearly am not!
If someone were to make a movie about your life, what genre would it be? (Drama, Comedy, Thriller, Horror, Musical, etc.)
All of the above but mostly comedy. We’d laugh, we’d cry…we’d change the channel pretty quickly.
Relating to your job or not, what is one talent you wish you had?
It would be cool if I was handy. I can’t even hang a picture without adult supervision. I’m envious of people who can create things. I’d be the guy in all of those Pinterest fail pictures. Nailed it!
Just like Mark Zuckerberg has his trademark hoodie and Steve Jobs had his black turtleneck, you have your crazy sock collection. How does your morning sock selection impact the rest of your day?
The crazier the socks, the crazier the day. Honestly, some days I don’t even notice the socks I’ve put on until someone points them out. In that way, they become a conversation starter and another way to help someone let their defenses down a bit. It’s so much easier to deal with people when they’re smiling and in a good mood, don’t you think? These ones even have a cape!
What is one piece of advice you would pass on to your 18-year-old self?
Eat less, shower more. That piece of advice is worth more than gold. But really, don’t force yourself to take a path just because it’s the direction society thinks you should go. Do what’s best for you and what will get you to your goals. And help others – no matter what stage you’re at in life.
For more information about the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, please visit jayandlindagruninfoundation.org. Tune into Wake Up With Jeremy Grunin each weekday from 5:30 AM to 8 AM on 92.7 WOBM-FM.