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Ardre Orie of 13th & Joan Publishing: “I want to bring goodness to the world so desperately that it wakes me at night; I walk into every room and I’m smiling from cheek to cheek because I want to bring the light”

Goodness is all I seek. I want to bring goodness to the world so desperately that it wakes me at night. I walk into every room and I’m smiling from cheek to cheek because I want to bring the light. There is enough trouble and hardship that each of us will be forced to encounter […]

Goodness is all I seek. I want to bring goodness to the world so desperately that it wakes me at night. I walk into every room and I’m smiling from cheek to cheek because I want to bring the light. There is enough trouble and hardship that each of us will be forced to encounter in our lives. We’re talking about it and seeing it daily. We are living amidst tumultuous times. We need something to hold on to and something that lets us know that we will be ok and that we are stronger together. There is great power to bring about goodness and change through writing and so I use it as a tool to gift the world moments that we won’t soon forget. As the owner of a publishing house, I use it as a tool to bring stories that feed our souls and ones that help us to remember our power, stories that encourage us to fight for better lives and to not accept less than from anyone. We are making the world a better place by changing the narratives and chronicling the human experience in spirit and in truth. And even though I don’t advertise it, I still on occasions go into someone’s inbox and gift them a publishing package because I see them trying or believe that I’ve been called to sow seeds as they have been sown for me.


As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ardre Orie CEO of 13th & Joan Publishing.

Ardre Orie is an entrepreneur, a social activist, publisher, philanthropist, and author on a mission to give marginalized voices a platform to speak. She is the CEO of 13th & Joan Publishing, an agency that has helped thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs and young creatives succeed in business. Ardre is also the founder of 100 Seeds of Promise, a literary initiative that empowers men of color to document their narratives. As a Celebrity Ghostwriter, Orie has written for a host of clients including Grammy Award-winning artists, A-list Hollywood actors, professional athletes, and a bevy of entrepreneurs and everyday heroes. Orie’s work has been featured on VH1, MTV, WETV, Bravo, BET, Centric, and more.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I wrote and published my first book at the age of 10. The book was a result of me being a student who loved to talk in class. I was that girl that had much to say and many people to talk to. If I finished my work early, then that meant it was time for conversations and connections, although my teachers did not always agree. One day, another staff member by the name of Dr. Harris was standing at the front door of my classroom waiting for me. I’ll never forget her saying, “Ms. Adams (that was my maiden name), please come with me. I didn’t realize what was happening. I didn’t know if I was in trouble or what the situation might be but, I went with her anyway.

When we got to her classroom, she told me that she was the Gifted instructor and that I had been selected to do a special project. I waited patiently for her to tell me what my assignment would be and she went on to inform me that I could choose anything that I wanted to as long as I created it on my own. She offered, painting, capturing photos, writing, speaking, etc. I chose writing because it was what I knew I could do successfully. I decided to write about women in my community because I felt like there were not enough examples of role models that girls my age had been informed about.

That year, I wrote and published the book, hosted a book signing, and invited the entire school. I even invited the press and media and for what felt like a significant moment in time, the school stopped in the name of a story. When I got home, my mother came into my room to give me the money that had been made from the signing. I asked her what I was to do with it? She responded that it was my choice. That day, at the age of ten, I learned that stories had the power to make the world stop and that they could be monetized. Those two invaluable lessons would later allow me to create 13th & Joan Publishing House and this same realm of possibilities for authors around the world.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Before having a team of writers, I can remember cranking almost a book a month as a celebrity ghostwriter. I was a machine. Although I don’t recommend this, I had a system that truly worked and I was working from pure ambition, blood, sweat and tears. To this day, I still think that I was absolutely insane. I had a husband and children to attend to, but when they went to work and school, I wrote like crazy. I would also wake up at 3 am to write. Those days are behind me and I do not wish to return to them. I have since empowered an amazing team who brings forth an array of ideas and extra sets of hands too!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It is my belief that we don’t always speak about the developmental moments of our lives or the paths that we have taken to get to our intended destinations. We don’t talk about the failures that helped us to fall forward. We don’t talk about the hard lessons, but these moments are indeed the jewels that comprise our genius. And when we reflect upon some of our most trying moments, we can also identify a hint of humor. One of the hardest and now most comical moments of my journey as an entrepreneur was an era that I define as The Oprah Effect. In my heart, I have always wanted everyone to have the opportunity to write a book. It gives me goosebumps thinking about it, but I sincerely believe that every person should experience the opportunity to tell their story. This is so important to me, because I recognize the immense freedom from releasing a story that has been stuck inside of your soul.

Before I had a full understanding of how to generate profit from books, I was offering to publish people’s work at no charge. I was so happy and so free and my soul was so full because I saw dreams being realized right before my eyes. After a brief period of time, I remember reviewing our financials and thinking to myself, wow, if I keep doing this, we won’t be in business for very long. I call it the Oprah Effect because as I engaged with hopeful authors, I was silently proclaiming…You get a book, and you get a book, and you! It’s laughable today, but the truth is that when I began to see the business account not moving forward as I knew it needed to, I turned it around very quickly. My intentions were good but my heart was in the clouds and to run a business, you must also have your feet on the ground.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

13th & Joan Publishing House is literally the people’s champion! Prior to launching this venture, I conducted extensive research on the publishing industry, and I have been telling stories for over 30 years. Not only do we teach authors to publish their books, but we are equally concerned with teaching them to be entrepreneurs. Many fail to realize that writing a book is the same as launching a business venture. To this end, we work very hard to help our authors to understand the business of books and the ebbs and flows of the industry. We also work very hard to empower each author to compose a compelling story or body of work. There are many companies who assist authors with the publishing process but take very little interest in what happens thereafter. We are in it for the long haul with our authors. We want them to make a career from having had the audacity to tell a story.

On a weekly basis, I receive tons of books in the mail from self-published authors who feel like they need a do over because they were not satisfied with the quality of the end-result of their book. In many instances, I move forward with scheduling the authors with our team for a consultation. I will sit with the book and analyze it to discover what updates and changes I believe will make it a more compelling read or to enhance the quality of what they have created. I believe it to be a beautiful process to see the glow that someone has from feeling overwhelmed by the process to feel relieved that they have managed to locate the help that they need to publish their best work.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Ardre Orie Retreats! (www.ardreorieretreats.com) This venture is a joy of my heart! I launched this company in 2019 after I returned from Japan. I traveled to Japan for my first international speaking opportunity. While there, I wanted to see if my writing experience was different. I was moved by how my creativity took flight. I found myself immersed in the culture, the climate was different and I channeled everything around me to begin writing a new book in a genre that I had not previously written. I resolved to build that opportunity for other people. Here I go again with a quest for freedom, but that’s all I want is to be free. I want everyone to be free. I recognized that wanderlust is as much of a high as words atop pages. Our first scheduled trip was to Paris, although we had to reschedule it due to Covid-19 and our writers are still as excited as ever. Today, we are on the heels of announcing our second trek, which will be to Capetown, South Africa. I’m so passionate about giving writers the opportunity to travel abroad and to construct their books and to tap into their inner inner selves and creativity abroad that I look forward to the world reopening. Our luxury destination writers’ excursions will be just what we all need to venture out and to tell our stories unapologetically.

We are also launching the first international imprint of 13th & Joan Publishing House in South Africa, which means that the writers who venture out with us will be in for the time of their lives. Although we have already begun publishing and acquiring titles for this arm, the retreat will earmark the official ribbon cutting on the ground in South Africa. My goal is to create something that outlives me for sure.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

If you are not excited about your ability to bring about major impact in the world and in the endeavor that you have been called to lead, then don’t expect to see magic in the eyes of others. I have been told by several team members that they work so hard on our team because they see how much I believe in the vision and they too are believers. What you manifest as a leader is exactly what will manifest in those with whom you work. I also believe it to be imperative to create leaders. If you teach people how to efficiently carry out their designated task and then give them the tools to do so, while encouraging them to be their best at it, then they can see results. The wins are not happenstance, yet a result of the hard work and dedication to consistency. A building is constructed one brick at a time. Likewise, the shelter of a thriving team is constructed by cultivating leader by leader.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

If you are called to lead, then lead. While I don’t subscribe to the notion that you have to be unkind to lead a group of people, I do believe that you are responsible for the vision that was given only to you. Never allow anyone to water down your vision, even if that means you have to stand tall in your stilettos. The vision that I have for the work that I do was given directly to me by the most high, which means that I will get it done by any means necessary. I will not hurt anyone, act in a way that is malicious, or step on anyone to get the job done, but I will get it done with relentless will and determination. I will not compromise the end goal. I do not need cheerleaders and I am my biggest encourager because I am always in competition with myself. I just believe that good leadership begins within and is transferred outwards. If you are not willing to go the distance to achieve a goal, how then can you expect for anyone else to be willing to do so?

It is true that teamwork makes the dream work and the invitation for the opinions and input from others is invaluable, but the vision is the vision and that most often belongs to the leader. In my opinion, honoring the vision is simple obedience to your calling.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Well over a decade ago, I can recall a conversion that I had a conversation with my husband. I was an assistant principal at an elementary school at the time and I had a newborn baby and two older children. I was so happy as a mother and unhappy in a job that I once loved with my entire being. I had a new boss and I really felt like she wanted to stifle my growth. The previous principles that I had worked for believed in me and did everything possible to help me advance in the role. With the new boss, things were different. You can tell when someone is not an advocate of your forward progression and that’s kind of the situation that I was in. The conversation with my husband led to me confiding in him that I was not happy. “I just want to take care of our babies and make a living by writing”, I said. At the time, I honestly didn’t know the power of my words. I don’t think that I had made the life connection that the things we speak and the energy that we give to those words will manifest. My husband responded by saying “You should do it.” Who knew we were speaking our destiny into existence? My husband was so matter of fact. He went on to tell me that I should have been writing long ago, as he knew it to be my gift. That day, we left the conversation on the table, and a little under a month later, I had submitted my letter of resignation. There was no specific plan, I just knew that I was free to pursue my purpose. It took me another five years to discover and own it. Although we had talked about writing, I began constructing what I thought would be the next big thing for me, which was an entrepreneur in the no-profit arena. I tried my hand at several other business ventures until I returned to writing and my heart became full again. My husband has always been a tremendous supporter of my quest to discover purpose. He’s listened to everything I had to say, he’s been there through the ups and downs and he’s seen my moments where I have questioned if I was on the right track and the victories that serve as sweet confirmation.

My mother with whom I share a birthday has never caused me to believe anything other than the fact that I had the power to achieve whatever I set my mind towards achieving. She has encouraged me constantly and is my biggest cheerleader. She literally follows my social media posts and shares them all to her page. She even calls me to tell me what she was moved by and to tell me to keep going. She’s the sweetest reminder of who I will one day become and for her infinite love, I am eternally grateful. She has also taught me to never be fearful of anything, a trait that I hope that I have passed on to my children. She does not speak anything other than positive affirming words, which in turn result in power.

I am also thankful for my children. It is not easy to have a mother that is so driven. This means that you share her with her divine purpose and the rest of the world and they do so graciously. It gives me comfort to know that they have parents who demonstrate through actions and spoken word the pursuit of a dream and higher calling.

Lastly, the team at 13th & Joan is a group of phenomenal women who won the fact that we are making history together. What we do on a daily basis has not been done the way that we are doing it and the authors that we seek to serve will be the better for it. Although we don’t speak about it, my team is composed of women who are bosses in their own right and know how to create one heck of a book! I’m very proud of this aspect of our company!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Goodness is all I seek. I want to bring goodness to the world so desperately that it wakes me at night. I walk into every room and I’m smiling from cheek to cheek because I want to bring the light. There is enough trouble and hardship that each of us will be forced to encounter in our lives. We’re talking about it and seeing it daily. We are living amidst tumultuous times. We need something to hold on to and something that lets us know that we will be ok and that we are stronger together. There is great power to bring about goodness and change through writing and so I use it as a tool to gift the world moments that we won’t soon forget. As the owner of a publishing house, I use it as a tool to bring stories that feed our souls and ones that help us to remember our power, stories that encourage us to fight for better lives and to not accept less than from anyone. We are making the world a better place by changing the narratives and chronicling the human experience in spirit and in truth. And even though I don’t advertise it, I still on occasions go into someone’s inbox and gift them a publishing package because I see them trying or believe that I’ve been called to sow seeds as they have been sown for me.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Always give more than what is expected. I just believe that when you do so, people will always seek you out for what they need.
  2. Be intentional. It is important to figure out what it is that you want and how to align that with your divine assignment. There will always be people who have opinions about what you should be doing, how you should be doing it, when you should be doing it, and who you should be doing it for. Listen with a filter and then navigate your journey for yourself. With intentionality, it is possible that you can save yourself from having to venture some of the alleys and forks in the road that don’t maximize your time. To the contrary, never forget that it is also ok to wander. If you know where you want to go, intention will serve as your GPS.
  3. Skip the quest for perfection. The more I believed that perfection was the goal, the more I put off very impactful actions. We must always allow ourselves room to grow and evolve. Some of the best entrepreneurs have launched products that needed more market research in an attempt to gather more information about the offering and to improve it over time. When you recognize what you have to offer that is of value, and you ensure that you are giving people exactly what you say you are giving, then you also allow yourself to grow and improve. In this space, you are always striving for better but you don’t hold yourself accountable to a standard that can not be achieved.
  4. Tell your story. Whether you are a business owner, a nine to fiver, a mother, a corporate administrator or any other space that you can exist in, your story is the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else. Taking time to share your story amidst people who are open to listen can be a gamechanger. Imagine if we all knew each other’s backstories. How different would our response be to those we don’t understand?
  5. Write at least one book in your lifetime. No person should leave this earth without adding the title author to their names. The feeling is quite possibly equivalent to jumping out of a plane. Becoming an author is a cocktail of superpowers with a hint of nostalgia. We all need a shot of that. The written documentation that you were here is also what the world needs.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

At this point in time, injustice is not something that we can deny in America. We have to accept the ugly truth that black men are targets in this country. Anyone who disputes this information is not operating in truth. Unfortunately, I watched the video of Philando Castile, an unarmed man who was murdered by the police after a traffic stop. I read his bio and learned about his quest to cover the cost of lunch for children who could not afford to eat at a local school in which he worked. I saw the horor just before he was shot and his life was taken sensellesy. To add to the terror, there are countless more stories like Philando’s that have not yet surfaced and many that will go untold. Watching the video left me speechless. Although I knew that this was too pandemic in our country, his video sent me into an abyss. And in those moments, I searched for how I could get involved on a deeper level. For days on end, my mind wandered, until I received another divine assignment and that was to ensure that black men became published authors. I began to research the publishing industry to find a great deficit in the titles published by black men and couldn’t help but acknowledge the same disparity that we see on a daily basis being a part of an industry that I love so much. TO this end, I decided to establish a publishing initiative, exclusively for black men that would give them the tools to publish their books and to become familiar with the business of authorship. The initiative 100 Seeds of Promise (www.100seedsofpromise.com) was launched in February of 2019 and we accept members on a rolling basis. We are currently on target to honor our commitment of publishing 100 black men and we will triple our numbers in years to come.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.

This African proverb speaks to the way in which I live my life on a daily basis. I love to see people empowered to speak their truths even if their voices shake. When we walk with boldness for what we know how to do versus feeling inferior for what we don’t know how to do, life and the prospects available to us change. Moreover, it is more important to see ourselves as the narrators of our own stories as opposed to a spectator to a book written about us by someone else.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Jay Z would be my confab of choice. He has always been an entrepreneur but also a talent. Over the course of his career, his entrepreneurial status has transcended such that he can operate in either role at the height of genius. This is my definition of prosperity. He is using all of the gifts that he has been divinely appointed to use. He did not begin with seed funding or venture capital, a narrative that is much like my own. Furthermore, he solidified his legacy with a powerhouse Queen in Beyonce that will seal their legacy infinitely. And if granted this confab, I would ask a simple question…What is the single moment that changed your life? It is from this point of discussion that the best stories are told!

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