Jason Womack is a speaker, executive coach and consultant to leaders and executives in the business and education sectors. Jason works with companies to create systems to increase productivity and create tools to help them achieve greater results. He is also the co-author of The Promise Doctrine. You can find out more about Jason and his work on his blog at www.JasonWomackBlog.com
1. You earned degrees in US history and Spanish literature. Then a Masters in Education, before going back to get a Masters in Psychology. You’ve said your goal was to study how people “effectively implement what they learn”. How did you feel this knowledge would help you in your work? Did you see an opportunity in the marketplace to apply this knowledge?
Earning a MEd (from the University of California) gave me insight into the teaching process. For over 5 years, I focused on building “portfolio assessment” programs where high school students tracked learning over time. Traditional teaching focuses on someone in the room distributing information to a group of people.
Later, I went back to school to earn a MA in Psychology (from the University of Santa Monica) because I wanted to understand more about the implementation process. When someone hears, or sees or does something once, what happens? And then, when someone KNOWS they need to make changes, what can they do to make those changes easier to address, implement and adopt?
As an executive coach, clients look to me to better understand areas of management and leadership. To delegate effectively and lead efficiently people need to understand people; they need to understand motivations, they need to understand distractions. My study of these two topics give me tools and information I use every day to be a significant influence for leaders and their teams.
The marketplace (in my case leaders within companies) are engaged in looking out over a talent pool of unbelievable potential. Organizations who have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to build intact teams need to lead, manage and coach those individuals effectively.
2. Many consultants wonder whether they should go back to school to get additional certifications and more education or are they better off ‘learning as they go along’. You’ve got a lot of education under your belt, what’s your take on this?
Certifications, more education and networking are all significant aspects of an effective consultant. The more we know, the more we have seen and the more we have done all comes together when we are in a client engagement. I consider myself an “eternal learner.” I’m always reading, always looking, always seeking something else to learn.
My advice is always to take something you’re interested in learning more about, this month, and do a one-month experiment. Buy a couple of books, subscribe to all the magazines you can, and attend a 2-3 day conference. At the end of that experiment, ask yourself, “Was it worth it?”
3. You speak, consult and coach, and sell your own information products. How do you split your time between these activities? Which is the biggest part of your business?
Biggest part of the business? The travel…Living in Ojai, CA, most of my client work is on the East Coast of the USA and in Western Europe. Next, is building relationships…That takes time, and energy and focus. I attribute my networking and client development success to the work I have done with Keith Ferrazzi. He has been someone I have learned a lot from over the past several years.
The challenge as I see it for people who are wanting to build their consultancy and step in to new and bigger markets will always be to surround themselves by the people who care for and are willing to encourage their success. Creating a content base that people want, and then letting them know that exists is a full-time job.
4. You are booked pretty solid each month with speaking events and client engagements. What were the biggest factors in getting to this level of success? A specific marketing strategy or set of actions you took that worked especially well?
Here is my strategy:
- Show up
- Do good work
I know it sounds simple, but sounding simple and being simple are two different things. There are three things I look to hear from a client through our working relationship:
- “Jason, you’re always on time, and you’re always prepared.”
- “Jason, the feedback from participants is positive, and…”
- “…we’d like you to come back and work with another person/group.”
When those three things happen, we are now in a working partnership. We no longer see each other as vendors or clients, but as leadership partners building a community.
5. When you work with consultants and independent professionals, are there any common mistakes or challenges you often see these people making, and how can they best avoid them?
Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of advising and mentoring time working with people to identify two specific areas critical to their advancement and success:
- Their own “So that…”
- The inventory of their “I’m at my best when…”
I won’t say it’s a common mistake because many people don’t know they need to do it, but not updating your “So that…” every 6 months or so is very important. We need to stop, think and actually write down the WHY for it all. Why am I working this hard? Why am I attracted this kind of client? Why do I care if my material helps people?
I say to update this every 6 months because life is messy. Shift happens, and we need to stay up-to-date with the reasons we have for following along, participating in the market and building the materials we’re building.
Next, complete your own “I’m at my best when…” inventory. I know there are things that I can do at the end of a day, and at the beginning of the next day and mid-way through the day that will increase the chances of me being effective and efficient. By having this inventory ready to go, I get to engage at more of my 100% in everything I do.
6. You’ve completed six ½ ironman races. Most people have trouble just getting to the gym a couple times a week. What’s your secret for staying healthy and keeping this up for so many years?
As a mentor of mine Kevin Carroll says, “You’ve got to have your ‘want to’ set high.” When I got into the “coaching” game, back in 2000, I knew I was going to be busy. This year along I slept in hotels over 200 nights, was on 140 airplane flights and spoke to over 100 audiences worldwide. Oh, and I ate out in restaurants over 600 times.
Having a goal to complete an event, whether it was the Avon 3-day Breast Cancer Walk or a ½ Ironman triathlon, I’ve always got my “So that…” at the ready. Sure it’s easier to sleep in, or go out for that night cap after a long day of work. But, crossing the finish line of an event “I didn’t think I could do…” now THAT’S rewarding!
7. Do you usually work in a fixed location or do you work on the road a lot (cafes, other cities, etc?) and why do you do so?
The nature of my work is this:
- Leave my house, drive 90 miles to Los Angeles International Airport.
- Spend a day on the plane, flying to another city.
- Renting a car, driving to the hotel.
- Speaking or advising the entire next day.
- Spending one more night at the hotel.
- Flying back to Los Angeles, driving the 90 miles to Ojai.
I’ve found that I have 4 distinct “work areas.”
- Café/Coffee Shop
- Home office
Oh, and I’m most productive in that order… I get “most” of my catch up work done on the airplane and hotel. I do a lot of easy tasks at cafes or coffee shops. My office time is dedicated to writing, research and content development.
8. What are your favourite gadgets or apps that help you stay productive and organized?
Wouldn’t go anywhere without a pen and paper. The majority of the time, I’ve got my notebook (a small journal I can write in) for my ideas and notes.
I always (yes, always) have a digital camera. I can take a picture of something much faster than I can write it down. This is probably my most “productive tool.” If I need to remember something, I’ll even take a short video of me talking into the video camera. Because I’m a photo fan, I know that I will see, process and organize all of that information within 24-48 hours or so.
As far as apps, I use GoogleAlerts to do a lot of my research for me, ReQall.com to transcribe short notes and Hootsuite to manage my status updates on Social media.