What every entrepreneur needs to learn in order to become the CEO with Jason Harris of Mekanism
By Mary Maxey
October 24, 2019
In today’s episode, our guest is Jason Harris. He is the co-founder and CEO of the award-winning creative advertising agency- Mekanism and the co-founder of the creative alliance. He is also the author of a National best-seller, the Soulful Art of Persuasion, and today we will be unraveling how he has been able to make aww shifts happen for himself.
[3:13] Why should I listen to you?
I think I have a read on people and give quality sound-based advice based on each individual’s experience.
[4:05] What made you comfortable about giving quality advice to others?
I’ve gone through a lot of personal and professional experience. I have done a lot of therapy and love mentoring people. One belief I discussed in my book is that every interaction with someone is meaningful. That’s my mindset when interacting with anyone.
[5:15] What were the lessons that taught you that?
When I started as an entrepreneur, I hoarded my contacts. The way you network with people, the way you connect with people, and the way you look out for people. Everyone wants to succeed. It should not be about your success only but your network’s success. It’s about your community’s success. That idea boomerangs effect of giving things freely to others, whether it’s advice, counsel, connections, or mentoring. You’re giving something to someone but getting something back when you do that. You’re getting the power of influence and giving, which is good for your soul and spirit. It was a learned skill for me. I had to practice generosity until it became a habit, which has done so much for me.
[8:15] How did Jason develop as a human to eventually become a CEO in life?
Many still struggle with figuring out their passion and what they want to do. I was fortunate because I was a high school kid and knew I wanted to go into advertising. I knew my passion, enabling me to work in other companies. I’d carry a notebook and learn from the people who managed the company and me. I knew I was an entrepreneur at heart. I was eager to learn from other entrepreneurs before starting my company. When I set up my company 17 years ago, I set up values that the company would uphold. I didn’t know I would become the world’s best CEO, but I see how you treat people and how they feel at your company is essential. That was the culture.
It’s about talent and culture, which served me well. I also believe that the other most important thing in leadership is transparency. When things are good and evil, changes you have to make, where you want to go, and what the vision is-the more, you talk to the company along the way, bring them up to speed, not taking decisions with people beyond closed doors. That’s transparency.
[10:55] How did you get to the point where you feel comfortable opening up to others in your company?
I think you have to get over your ego. There is an old-school leadership style where you always feel like you’re totally in control, but I don’t think that resonates today. I think what resonates today is being honest about problems you’re going through in the company. You can have a plan on how to get through it, but everybody responds to being in the know. I think that’s a foundational way of being transparent. You don’t have all the answers; you need help as a leader too, which allows other people to be true to themselves even when communicating with a client.
[14:18] Why is taking care of people beyond work important to you as a CEO?
I’m a big proponent of leading with vulnerability and transparency. I want each of our foundational values to be weird. Weird in that we want people to show up as who they are. We do not want a work persona and an outwork person. We want them to come in with their point of view. But in terms of mental health, I think it’s essential for leadership to show the importance of healthcare. Mental healthcare is as important as physical healthcare. We’re at a time when we went through a pandemic. A lot is going on out there. I schedule my mental health and encourage my leaders to do the same. I have two slots weekly to take care of my mental health through meditation or therapy, which helps flex my emotional muscles.
[18:10] Have you seen the company grow since this was infused?
It has created a more collaborative open environment with a feeling of togetherness. There is enough hardship in the world. There shouldn’t be battles inside you. We hire professionals, but we fire them if we find out they are working against the company culture.
[20:30] What led to choosing values for your company?
There wasn’t a sort of one key catalyst that I could point to. I just got to a point in my career where I know what I’m doing and asked myself if I’m genuinely fulfilled. I started figuring out through therapy what success means to me and how I can balance my personal and professional life. I did group therapy with nine people once a week. It’s about learning how to deal with yourself and people’s notions about you.
[26:40] What prompted you to write a book?
The idea came from starting a business. I’m an avid reader who loves self-help and business books, and I didn’t think there was a book out there that talked about how important creating your character is in being successful in the business world. So that’s why the soulful persuasion was written. You are selling or persuading in any business, and you’ve got to do that to build any business. I talked about principles, playing the long game, being successful with character, and so on. For me, it is based on personality, and if you have a good feeling and follow some principles, I think you, too will have success, and that’s what prompted me to write a book.
[43:28] How do blindspots show up, and how do you approach them?
Blindspots come up at different points in our life but giving yourself space to reflect is not the first thing to do. Someone afraid of getting help could be avoiding difficult conversations. It could be pointing fingers at other people. I think giving yourself space to reflect is not number one. I think jotting down situations that you wish may be handled differently during or at the end of the day is good. You can examine those things and see how you reacted to certain things and situations. Embracing challenges is another one if you are avoiding hard conversations. If you’re letting your ego into the way, try to move outside yourself and look at those challenges as growth opportunities. That is where growth comes from because we all have blind spots but learn to overcome them.
[46:09] What promise did God make to the world when he created you?
Treating everyone in the world as if we are all equal because we are all equal on this earth.
[43:18-43:25] If you feel helpless and that there is no one listening to you, this could be opening a blind spot of opening up to someone.
[44:40-44:42] Taking time for self-reflection will help uncover and overcome your blind spots.
How to connect with Jason Harris