Anniversaries are always cause for celebration around the JB Media office. From birthdays to work anniversaries, we make a point to recognize the milestones that define who we are as individuals and as a company. We recently celebrated JB Media Group’s fifth birthday (including a team outing to the local pinball museum because that’s how we roll). We thought this would be a great time to ask Founder and Director of Strategy Justin Belleme a few questions about the early days of the company, what he’s learned along the way and what he sees in the company’s future.
What it was like the first few days of the company’s official start at Mojo Coworking?
The first few days working at Mojo were very intense. The company had expanded from one part-time person to three part-time team members and had a few new clients including the Grove Park Inn which needed a lot of attention. While that was great, I knew that we did not have enough work to be in business very long, so I was stressing about sales and business development.
We were operating out of a brand new coworking space, Mojo, that was the volunteer headquarters for Hatch Festival that year. So in addition to running my own business, I was volunteering with the festival as the VIP Transportation Coordinator for the event, which meant a lot of driving around in rental cars picking up people at the airport and at the various hotels that were being used for the event all around town. Overall it was a fairly stressful and hectic start!
If We Were to Create a Highlights Reel from the Last 5 Years, It Would Have to Include:
- Moving our first contractors to employee status (one of whom was Leah Quintal).
- Opening the office in West Asheville
- Being named Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
- Working with the Grove Park Inn, Visit Cherokee NC and the SOCAP Conference
- Leading the first JB Media Institute in-person class (where Rose Jenkins and Adrianne Gordon were students) in 2013
- Graduating from Leadership Asheville, Leadership North Carolina and the Hive Global Leaders programs
- Launching the online Institute program in 2015
What Are the Most Important Lessons You’ve Learned in the Last 5 Years?
I feel like I’ve learned so many lessons and many of them are cumulative. Over the last five years there have been lots of small lessons that have built up to give me more confidence as a business person and a leader.
A few that stand out:
- Very few business challenges are new; talking to people who have solved the same problem or been through the same tough decision before is always helpful in making decisions and in working through difficult situations.
- Trust your instincts. It can be hard to always remain clear headed enough to follow your intuition and trust your instincts, but I have found that in most cases my intuition has served me well.
- Taking time for personal and professional development is really important.
It is possible to learn leadership via practice, however staying ahead of the responsibility of running a growing business requires time dedicated to leadership development. Also having a strong toolkit for stress management, time management, and self confidence which can come from personal development is also important as well.
Tools and Practices for Time Management, Organization and Self-care That Have Saved the Day:
- Taming Email: Boomerang for Gmail has probably been my #1 life saver. The level of clutter in my inbox is directly tied to my level of stress and ability to focus on my most important tasks. Using Boomerang to return emails to my inbox when I want to work on them has been so helpful in spreading out my tasks and helping me to prioritize.
- Meditating: Meditation has helped me since the beginning. For the last year or so, I’ve been using an app called Headspace to help add some structure and consistency to my meditation practice. Getting more consistent with it over the last year has helped me balance out my level of stress. I found it so helpful for myself that I offered to buy a copy for anyone on the team interested in exploring meditation.
- Old School Tools: It would be really hard for me to function without my written planner book. I am so very reliant on having a written calendar to keep up with my meeting schedule and my most important to-do list items organized in a format that is related to time, including time of day, day of the week, etc.
- Working Smarter: I’ve had some really busy weeks in the last year, and I’ve found that sometimes if I’m working late at night it can be hard to do even fairly basic tasks, but if I get some rest that it’s a lot easier in the morning to be really efficient and to get a lot done quickly. This reminds me that sometimes it’s more about how you work vs. how much and that taking breaks and creating balance actually leads to a better outcome in a lot of cases.
- Becoming a Morning Person: I’ve had to start working earlier and have had to become more of a morning person in order to get more done during the time of day when I’m fresh but not overwhelmed by too many emails and distractions. I know that many successful people are morning people, even more so than I am, but I’ve certainly made a lot of changes to get up earlier and to be more consistent with my morning routine.
What’s Ahead in the Next 5 years for JB Media:
- Expand the reach of the online JB Media Institute program
- Add workshops around the country as part of the Institute offerings
- Continue evolving the offerings of the agency to better engage and support our clients for their long term needs
- Continue developing and defining the culture and value of the agency so that we have a better guidepost for client selection and team building as we grow
- Improve our internal processes so that workflow is streamlined and we consistently deliver high value to our clients while achieving personal balance
- On-going professional and leadership development for myself and the team
- Ensuring that our roles are clearly defined within the team and the work is fairly balanced, so that I have time to focus on the big picture and we all have time for travel, family and friends.
- Expand the Institute business model to become a social enterprise by offering scholarships to reduce the cost of attendance for specific communities including veterans, former inmates, and others.
The first five years has been fun, full of surprises and kept us on our toes. We’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds.