Our guest today: Jason Smith
Jason Smith (@jason_smith) is the Managing Director and Founder at OHO Interactive, a thriving, curious team of 30 strategists, creatives, and developers solving business problems in the digital space. Jason and I connected via LinkedIn in 2012. Over the years, we exchanged ideas on project management, digital strategy and growing talent. In May 2016, together with the VP of Operations at OHO, Stephanie Krol, we found just the perfect project for us to work on together.
Over the past three months, I grew closer to the entire OHO team and had the opportunity to speak with everyone in the company. I also developed a tremendous appreciation for founders and understanding for the decisions they have to make, the challenges they have to overcome on a regular basis. I welcomed Jason to open up about his philosophy in running his organization, demystify the startup process and share some of the most important lessons learned.
With a degree in English from Brown University and a degree in Design from RISD, Jason can brand, construct and market an experience, or a product that enables him to quickly engage with clients and understand their business objectives. He believes that “Every project brings a myriad of possibilities” and our podcast also speaks to a much related belief which is that Jason alsobelieves “Every person brings a unique set of skills and values to the team.”
Jason Smith is known to be “the beacon of clarity”. To me, clarity isn’t only an ability, but a choice. Clarity, combined with confidence, knowledge, perhaps timing, is a crucial ingredient in any business setting, yet it’s often missing.
Last but not least, I invited Jason to talk about his family, his three children who are completely different from one another, and the most important things he wants to pass on.
- [06:00] Can you tell us a bit about OHO? Client base, philosophy and strategy?
- [07:00] What was it like to be among the first people to focus on interactive and digital media more than 15 years ago, when the context was much different?
- [13:00] There is something called ‘Friday lunch’ at OHO, can you tell us more about that? How did it start?
- [17:00] Has the environment and culture at OHO always been what it is today?
- [21:00] How do you manage to keep an environment where everyone feels safe so that they keep delivering: accepting errors and failure?
- [23:00] What are some of the transitions you experienced, both in your personal life and professional life?
- [24:00] Where (or who) do you seek advice from?
- [27:00] What would you recommend to new entrepreneurs? What are some of the misconceptions behind starting your own company?
- [33:00] Communications at OHO are very transparent and direct. Have you always been that way or did you change your approach over the years?
- [37:00] How has parenthood influenced in the way you run your company? Did you learn anything from it?
- [40:00] What would you like to leave for your children?
[14:00] In the past year I’ve seen more people having more to offer and contributing as a team in a way that it feels really unique, it feels new and the team has better ideas… We should take those things that people are excited about and encourage it.
[17:00] When I was a kid and I worked with my father, I liked that experience of working really hard and long hours, in a small team during an intense period of time. I kind of wanted that experience [for OHO]. I like being helpful, being useful, thinking deeply about a problem…
[22:30] In running your own business, you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t have a boss […], there are lots of questions all the time.
[27:00] At some level, the actual work is not the hard part. Whatever you are making or service you are providing, usually you have some competency […] and that’s not the hard part. The hard part is, how do you grow that business? What do people want? How do you get people to know about you? All the other stuff around the business that you have to figure out and that feels hard.
[34:00] Part of my realm is that I have a mid-level explore capacity and a high-level excite capacity. A lot of what I do is getting people excited about stuff, and if it’s not clear and not connecting with people, it drives me crazy.
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