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EO Spotlight: Jude Olinger

CEO, The Olinger Group  •  Market Research  •  EO Member Since 2003

Jude Olinger’s path to success began with two words: “You’re fired.”

“I was told that I wasn’t any good at market research,” Olinger said. “I told a cousin of mine about being fired, and I was trying to figure out what to do. He said, ‘Why don’t you start your own market research business? It’s what you know.’”

That was Olinger’s “Aha!” moment. He had grown up on a farm, had a small catering business and had even tried his hand at an export trading business in college, so creating his own opportunities made sense.

“It felt natural to start my own business,” he said. “I decided that I was going to prove to my previous employer that I was, indeed, very good at market research.”

And prove himself, he did. His company, The Olinger Group, is a national leader in market research, offering dynamic solutions based on custom consumer analysis. Using the most cutting-edge methodologies and techniques, The Olinger Group serves Fortune 500 clients across several industries including finance and banking, healthcare, hospitality, retail, telecommunications and more. In 2015, Olinger even served as Chairman of CASRO and initiated its merger with the Marketing Research Association to form Insights Association, the largest marketing research and data analytics organization in the world.

Olinger continued to strengthen his dedication to quality work when he joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization. He said that the once-in-a-lifetime experiences and vast support network have been invaluable to his personal and professional growth.

“EO has made me even more passionate about doing the things that I need to do now,” Olinger said. “I’ve been to several EO Universities both domestically – Chicago, Orange County, Houston, Vegas – and internationally – Tokyo, Berlin, Istanbul – and have to say that those have been my very best EO experiences.”

EO has given Olinger the opportunity to learn from notable figures all over the world, like Bob Ballard, the oceanographer who discovered the wreckage of the Titanic, and Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines. More significant than even those experiences, he said, is the incredible support system he has found with his fellow organization members.

“The relationships have been everlasting,” Olinger said. “I have a broad network of other business owners around the world who I stay in touch with regularly because I went to EO Universities and met them, had shared experiences with them and found out how much we had in common as business owners.”

Despite the fact that the members of EO all come from different backgrounds and specialize in different fields of work, Olinger said that the shared experience of starting a business from the ground up has brought them together to form an invaluable community.

“We know that there is base level of trust and respect that we afford each other,” he said, “and that extends to the way that we share experiences to help others learn.”

Learning is the key for Olinger. It’s something he said he has always been passionate about, and his thirst for new information and different kinds of thinking has only intensified as his career has gone on.

“Genuine leaders don’t ever think that they know everything there is to know, and they can always learn something and improve what they are doing,” he said. “I feel like EO offers lots of educational opportunities across all areas of my life that I can’t easily get elsewhere.”

But Olinger is not done proving himself to those who doubted him. Moving forward, he said he hopes to continue doing good for others using the talents, skills and network he has. He ultimately hopes to leave both the organization and his industry better than he found them, all with the cool approach that EO values.

“My 10-year-old doesn’t think I’m cool,” Olinger said. “But I know she’s wrong.”

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