Jason Grill

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Recovering Politician

THEN: Member, Missouri House of Representatives (State Representative) NOW: Owner, JGrill Media, LLC Full Biography: link

Jason Grill: JGrill Media One of Kansas City’s Top Companies

From ThisisKC.com:

Superstar Service: JGrill Media

 

Whether he’s interviewing local innovators on KMBZ’s “Entrepreneur KC” radio show, writing a piece for The Huffington Post explaining why our burgeoning Midwestern tech hub is “not flyover country,” or helping a tech firm gain exposure through his PR firm JGrill Media, Jason Grill is your quintessential Kansas Citian who keeps his hometown close to his heart.

Through a unique combination of media and government relations, business consulting, and local and national commentary, JGrill Media helps establish mutually beneficial relationships among key players in the community that all want the same thing: “To make Kansas City the best to place to live and do business,” Grill says.

“Whether you need advice, are looking for capital or want to meet with someone at the Kauffman Foundation, people here have a vested interest in seeing other entrepreneurs succeed and will actually help you build your business while building their own,” he continues. “There’s a Midwestern value here that believes that strengthening the community is very important.”

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Building relationships and making introductions is one of the key ways Grill does his part. Although he “never would have guessed” he’d someday have his own company—or rather companies, plural, since he’s also one of the owners and cofounders of Sock 101—JGrill Media is basically the culmination of Grill’s illustrious career as an attorney, author, adjunct professor, entrepreneur, political advisor, media correspondent and two-term Missouri state representative.

“I’ve always liked media, politics and connecting people, and all of those things are important for what I do now,” Grill says. “I know who the players are, how to get meetings set up and how to interact with the media. Being a legislator taught me how to campaign and how to fundraise. And as a business owner and startup co-founder, I understand the needs of young companies from a relationship, media and growth perspective.”

Drawing upon his eclectic background, business savvy, legal knowledge and strategic media approach, Grill has a seemingly effortless knack for fostering partnerships that not only help his clients grow and get noticed, but solidifies his own position as a superstar in the community.

His contagious optimism and unwavering civic pride only fuel his popularity. “I just like talking to people and building relationships,” Grill admits. “It keeps you sharp and helps you grow as a person so you can build more relationships.”

It’s hard to predict what this serial entrepreneur will do next. “I don’t think I’ll ever settle into one role,” Grill says. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be a football player one year, and then the next year, I wanted to be a baseball player. I think that’s the nature of being an entrepreneur. And I think that’s what makes JGrill Media unique because it works in different verticals to provide services that no other affordable and hands-on KC company can provide.”

- Kathryn Jones

Jason Grill: 3 Common Startup Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

110901_grill_arenaGrowing up I always admired Michael Jordan. In my opinion, he is the best basketball player of all time. At the time he was playing professional basketball, I never imagined him making mistakes. But recently, I came across a quote where he said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six ties, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Air Jordan couldn’t have said it better. Even the greatest fail in some aspects of their career or business along their way to success.

Although MJ’s sentiment is spot on, here are three mistakes to avoid when building your business.

1. Assuming Growing Big Fast Is Best

Many people believe that quickly growing their company with numbers and employees is always a great thing and will make them more successful. But this isn’t always the case. Many times people learn this the hard way and fail fast after thinking that having a lot of people in-house would make them more profitable and successful. They fail financially and have smaller profits because of all the other costs involved.

As a small business owner, it often makes more sense to build strategic partnerships and mutually beneficial relationships. This allows you to keep your overhead costs lower and not have the stress of numerous employees as you begin to grow your profits. You won’t have to worry about everything else. Working with other businesses that might be bigger or offer more back-end support allows you to do what you do best, while at the same time utilizing the strengths of the other partner companies. Growing your business with key partners is often way more profitable than growing fast within.

2. Never Saying the Word “No”

As a small business owner and entrepreneur, it’s always tough to say or use the word “no.” As you begin your business, you want to be everywhere and be everything to potential clients. It’s very hard not to do this when you start out. If your business is somewhat successful, even at an early stage, you will be asked many times to coffees, lunches and events. At some point you have to say no to some people, free services and advice or meetings in order to continue to move forward with your business. On the flip side of the coin: you must say no to potential clients or projects you don’t want to really work on.

I understand as a small business it’s sometimes hard to say no to a decent paycheck and short-term reward, but if you don’t, you will regret it. Saying no to projects or clients your heart isn’t into, or your mind isn’t truly focused on, will allow you to work on those opportunities you really enjoy. This will allow you to leverage your strengths more. You will produce a much better product and your work will be stronger. Walking away from something in the short term will help you build the portfolio you want over the long term.

3. Planning Too Much

Small business owners often want to plan out every little thing, from the top to the bottom. We want to control everything and make sure it’s exactly what we had in our original plan. As a result, we find ourselves spending all our time planning out the future instead of being mindful of the present.

Why do these small business plans fail? They fail because too much time is spent on process and plan and not on execution. The Harvard Business School says 90 percent of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution. Fortune Magazine says 70 percent of CEO failures come not as a result of poor strategy, but from poor execution. As small business owners, it’s always good to remember to iterate and to not ever hesitate. Execution trumps devising another elaborate, time-consuming process or plan every time.

Life is a journey, not a destination. Mistakes are going to happen along the way. Always remember: if you don’t experience mistakes you will never learn what success can be. Don’t dwell on your business failures; instead, learn from your mistakes, be resilient and persevere.

A version of this article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

@JasonGrill is the founder of JGrill Media where he consults on media relations, public affairs and strategies and government relations. Under same umbrella, he works in the media as a local and national writer/contributor, radio host and television analyst/commentator. He is the co-founder of Sock 101.

Jason Grill on Live with Rink and Laura

Rink-Laura-logoIn this full hour interview, RP Jason Grill discusses JGrill Media, Sock 101, and his political past.

Enjoy.

 

Jason Grill – Idea Mensch

From Idea Mensch:

Jason Grill has extensive experience in media relations, public affairs, public relations, government affairs, law and the media. He is the principal and founder of JGrill Media, LLC. A Kansas City based, but national consulting firm that specializes in media relations/pr, public affairs, government relations, relationship building and development and strategic partnerships. Jason has worked with and consulted with numerous startups, entrepreneurs, businesses, accelerators, foundations, non-profits, cities, associations, lifestyle brands, marketing and digital agencies, corporations, c-suite executives, government entities and technology companies. Jason works in the media as a local and national writer/contributor, radio host and television analyst/commentator. Jason writes for the Huffington Post, Yahoo! and the RecoveringPolitician.com. He has written for Politico and KC Business Magazine and also been a contributor to the Wall Street Journal Radio Network and the Mitch Albom Show. He is a TV analyst for WDAF Fox 4 and is the producer and host of the Entrepreneur KC Radio Show on KMBZ Business Channel (Entercom Station). He is an licensed attorney and a published national co-author of a best selling book, “The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis.

In addition to JGrill Media and his consulting work, Jason’s entrepreneurial spirit also led him to start an innovative sock company. Jason is the Co-Founder of Sock 101, a growing national business which produces colorful high quality and professional socks and sells them for an affordable price. Sock 101 has a unique Sock of the Month Club and does custom logo and branded socks as well for organizations, events and corporations. Sock 101 has been featured in many media outlets, including Forbes. He is very excited about growing Sock 101 into a household name and worldwide brand.

Jason is a former two-term member of the Missouri House of Representatives, where he passed historic legislation to help families of children with autism access life changing therapies and treatments. He passed meaningful legislation during both Governor Matt Blunt and Governor Jay Nixon’s administrations.

Jason has served as an adjunct professor at Park University. He has worked in the White House for a senior advisor to Former Vice President Al Gore and an advisor to Former President Bill Clinton, as well as at the CNN Washington DC bureau with a senior political correspondent.

Jason earned a JD and Advanced Certificate in Dispute Resolution from the University of Missouri. He earned a BS in Business Administration, Summa Cum Laude, majoring in economics and minoring in political science from Saint Louis University. Jason also studied at Loyola of Chicago Rome Center in Rome, Italy.

Jason is an avid Missouri Tigers, Kansas City Royals/Chiefs, Sporting KC and Liverpool fan. He enjoys traveling throughout the US and around the world, anything sports and hopes to one day complete a marathon and go to a World Cup. He is still waiting for a Kansas City Royals v. Chicago Cubs World Series.

Can you expand on how JGrill Media is not only focused on strategic consulting across various industries but how it also encompasses your very own personal media work with radio, TV and writing?

I started the company with the intent to focus on my own writing, TV work and radio hosting. Through my work and the relationships I begin to build I found that many individuals, entities and agencies wanted to hire me as a consultant to help them with their own media/pr, public affairs and government/public policy related issues. Through this evolution I have been able to continue to grow my own personal media brand, as well as consulting work with some incredible people and clients. I truly enjoy doing my radio show, TV analyst work and contributing writing with some great media outlets and hope to continue to move forward on both fronts of the company in the future with some strategic partnerships.

What advice would you pass onto someone looking to build credibility through thought leadership?

Quality content and thought leadership are king these days. Building yourself as a true opinion leader, expert and thought leader in your industry is one of the best ways to build your business and credibility. This is so important especially if you’re a startup or small business. You need to get high quality content out in the marketplace to establish your brand. It’s ok to start slow on this endeavor, but make sure if you’re a CEO or a co-founder to be doing this and talking to your customers’ pain points. Give them information that they might have never thought about and ways to make their lives easier. Be willing to do this for free and make sure to highlight your community with quality content. Don’t be selfish. Give back to your city or your customers through your writing or contributing. Thought leadership is not an ego play.

Why do you think that Kansas City has seen such a big surge in entrepreneurship over the last few years and how do you predict that growth will play out in the coming years?

Kansas City is an amazing city and has a rich entrepreneurial history. We have the best foundation for entrepreneurship and education in the world with the Kauffman Foundation being here. We have an abundance of resources, Google fiber, corporate innovation and some of the best accelerators in the US. However, the real reason for Kansas City’s surge the last few years has been the community. The entrepreneurial community in KC is ultra supportive of each other in all facets. People and businesses work together and are willing to introduce you to just about anyone to help your startup or entrepreneurial endeavor succeed. In a competitive world, KC entrepreneurs are about bringing the entire ecosystem up, rather than just their own business. Kansas City is a sleeping giant on a national and international level when it comes to entrepreneurship. With a great standard of living and numerous first-class amenities as well the sky is the limit for Kansas City. KC is not flyover country.

Can you talk us through the inspiration behind your other business, Sock 101?

Sock 101’s mission is to provide high quality cotton based socks that are professional and affordable to individuals throughout the country. I have always been a fan of men’s fashion and classic style. As an individual who always was in a suit and tie, I got tired of paying $15-$25 for a nice, colorful pair of socks. There had to be a better way. The solution to that problem is Sock 101. In year one we sold thousands of pairs of socks at a price point of $7 at Sock 101. We also built a Sock of the Month Club that delivers a new pair of Sock 101’s to your door or your client, friend or loved one’s door every month. By the end of year two we will have over a thousand members in this club. Lastly, we are very excited to offer custom logo and branded socks for organizations, businesses, events and groups. We have seen a tremendous response both locally and nationally to this new service and have made socks for organizations such as the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Veterans United and Influence & Co. I believe custom socks are a major part of future marketing budgets and separating yourself or your brand from the typical gifts or ideas. Whether it’s the bright colors, a custom logo, a dot or a stripe, socks truly are a statement piece that don’t have to be and shouldn’t be boring gold toes anymore. In a world dominated by blue jeans and dark suits, socks show an individual’s personality and style almost more than any other men’s accessory. Socks are the new tie.

How did you come up with the concept behind the book you Co-Authored, “The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis” and what do you hope that the average reader walks away with?

Jonathan Miller, the Former State Treasurer of Kentucky, actually contacted me about writing a chapter in this book. Jonathan is a friend and an exceptional writer and businessperson. This book offers individuals in any business or vertical really great advice on crisis management and public relations from experiences in the brightest of lights. It gives the reader some incredible stories on how to survive a crisis in any aspect of their life or business, as well as how to move forward if you do experience what you think is the worst thing that can happen. The former head of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele also has written a chapter in the book. Out of this book and the relationships it formed a national speaking group has evolved called Second Act Strategies. This exciting new service involves leadership, teamwork, integrity and reinvention seminars, as well as crisis simulations from esteemed, qualified experts who’ve earned their stripes in the arena’s spotlight.

Who is your hero?

Without a doubt my father, Brad Grill. Hardest working and most genuine individual I have ever know.

What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?

One of the greatest things I have learned in life and in business is how important relationships and partnerships are to your success. If you treat other people like you would want to be treated, are willing to help out others and give yourself to your community even when you don’t want to, it will be beneficial both personally and in business. Mutually beneficial relationships are everywhere. They only come to fruition when you put yourself out there, listen, learn and leave the office.

Always remember this quote by C.S. Lewis – “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?

As every year goes by I continue to learn more and more from the people I interact with, work with and meet. One of the lessons that is still hard for me to grasp completely at times is that you have to be willing to say the word “no.” Many entrepreneurs and new businesses say yes to everything. You can’t do everything. I can’t tell you how many times I have said yes to projects, work engagements, media opportunities, new clients and endeavors with JGrill Media that I really didn’t want to be involved with and work on.

Or on the flip side with Sock 101 trying to do too many things with the product or the brand just because someone sees a fit, a need, has an idea or wants you to do something else. Having the ability to say no to some of these things give you the ability to really focus on what types of things you want to work on and what types of things will take you, your brand and your business to the next level.

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?

One of the things that always helps me is getting in a morning run. If I am able to do this it really helps the general flow of my day and allows me to work later.

During the early part of my business day I usually try to get through all of my emails and if need be set up my meetings so I can really get more work done throughout the day.

I usually try to post any relevant business related social media posts in the morning as well via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

However, as we all know as business owners and entrepreneurs many days are not like the others!

What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?

Two things:

1. Find a solution to a problem. Consumers and companies seek these things out whether they’re product or technology based and are willing to pay or help you if there is a need. 2. Build partnerships and relationships with those who have bigger teams and support. This will allow you to stay lean, but still be profitable early on.

What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?

Success is making a true difference and having a positive impact on people, your community and in business. I have been lucky enough to have a hand in passing laws that have helped and impacted lives as a legislator, offered needed assistance as a lawyer, built a company to allow entities of all different types to get their message out into the community and connect them to mutually beneficial relationships at JGrill Media, as well as be a part of a growing company that turned a profit in its first year and is bringing smiles to people’s faces and stepping up their style at Sock 101. I strive to always evolve and become a better individual. I try to succeed day-by-day little by little.

What’s one thing you recommend all aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?

Be a good listener and get involved in your community!

What are some trends that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?

Socks. Socks. Socks. In all seriousness though, I think the rising trend of entrepreneurship and startups that are solving problems in this country is exciting. I am very excited that the mainstream media is covering these stories and individuals more often. If policymakers can realize that young companies are the engine of our economy good things will continue to happen!

Jason Grill: Have You Joined the Content Marketing Movement?

Content marketing is the new black for savvy business owners. Are you on board?

In the last few years, the words “content marketing” have become buzzwords in the corporate business, marketing, digital and media space. But what is it really? Content marketing as defined by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI):

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Content marketing is becoming the new black from both a quantity and quality standpoint for individuals throughout the world. Some have stumbled into this world. Businesses both large and small are realizing that in order to compete, they must embrace this new era of interaction and develop true content marketing programs. Content marketing is becoming a disruptive force. In the past, marketing pros relied on production, publishing and promotional amplification tools. Content is the fuel that makes all of those platforms run. However, a few blog posts or an email campaign won’t suffice anymore.

Provide Value With Content

Relevant content coming from a business through a thought leadership perspective has a considerable effect on attracting and retaining customers. It’s not hokey, it’s not a pitch and it’s not everyday sales — it truly has become an educational and informative way to deliver knowledge and content to build brand loyalty and awareness.

A study by Roper Public Affairs shows that 80 percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information in article form rather than in an advertisement. Seventy percent say content marketing makes them feel closer to a company, while 60 percent say that company content helps them make better product decisions. “Content marketing works because it delivers relevant proof of value,” says interactive content marketing strategist Mark O’Renick. Quality content marketing engages consumers to look at a business differently.

Many C-suite, advertising and marketing executives believe their company has great content to shoot out and share in the public arena, but they don’t feel they can do this quickly enough or keep it moving through a streamlined process. Spreadsheets, emails and project management systems have all been used by marketing teams in recent times to churn out content on a routine basis. This has led to a whole new industry of technology solutions that make your typical marketing editorial calendar look like a thing of the Stone Age.

Work Smarter

A Kansas City, Missouri-based startup, DivvyHQ, realized that content marketing is the present and the future of marketing. Their founders, both from the digital agency world, developed an ideation, planning and production workflow specialty tool to help businesses and online publishers embrace content marketing and collaboration, but in a manner that allows the user or users to do so in a more efficient way without all the headaches. Simply put, DivvyHQ aims to take content marketers out of spreadsheet, email, storage and organizational hell and alleviate the challenging manual and laborious process. Corporations such as Intel, Toyota, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Sprint, H & R Block, Travelocity and Adobe have all worked with DivvyHQ. PR and media giants Ogilvy, Edelman and the National Geographic Channel have also used the product to streamline their content needs.

“Despite the traditional publishing industry taking a beating over the last decade, companies can learn a lot from the day-to-day planning methods, scheduling tools and production processes that help publishers hit deadlines and crank out great content every day,” says content marketing expert Brody Dorland.

Turn to the Cloud

Companies and enterprise level organizations who handle multiple individuals and tasks are finding out they need a way to plan, divide and conquer their content marketing and editorial needs on the cloud. They have discovered they also need ways to break down the internal silos in the workplace. Some have used the old fashioned approach and tried breaking down physical walls in their office to get their employees and content producers to talk. There is an easier way. Virtual, real-time sharing and collaboration significantly improves these situations and breaks down silo walls.

Dorland believes, “Simplifying things and leveraging the cloud to help global, decentralized content teams collaborate, share assets and increase the quantity and quality of their content output is huge right now.”

The content marketing phenomenon isn’t going away. Content collaboration and team calendaring is on the upswing. The spreadsheet free editorial calendar is the new king of the castle. Companies both large and small are yearning and will continue to yearn for high-powered, specific content marketing tools to help take their business to the next level.

Content marketing is the new black.

Jason Grill: 3 Ways Failure Can Help Build a Business and Mistakes to Avoid

110901_grill_arenaGrowing up I always admired the play of Michael Jordan. In my opinion, he is the best basketball player of all-time. However, at the time he was playing professional basketball I never imagined him to ever be a failure or make mistakes. Recently, I came across this quote from Michael Jordan. He said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Air Jordan couldn’t have said it better. Even the greatest fail in some aspects of their career or business along the way.

Echoing MJ’s sentiment here are 3 ways failure can help build a business and some mistakes to avoid.

1.  Always Thinking Growing Big Fast Is Best

Many people believe growing your company with numbers and employees quick is always a great thing and will make you more successful. This isn’t always the case. Many times people learn this the hard way and fail fast with the impression that having a lot of people around you in-house will make you more profitable and successful. They fail financially and have smaller profits because of all the other costs involved. As a small business owner many times it makes much more sense to build strategic partnerships and mutual beneficial relationships. This allows you to keep your overhead costs lower and not have the stress of numerous employees as you begin to grow your profits. You won’t have to worry about everything else. Working with other businesses that might be bigger or offer more backend support allows you to do what you do best, while at the same time utilizing the strengths of the other partner companies. Growing your business with key partners is often times way more profitable then growing fast within.

Read the rest of…
Jason Grill: 3 Ways Failure Can Help Build a Business and Mistakes to Avoid

Jason Grill: KC’s Sock 101 Stepping Up Its Game

From This is KC:

3 reasons why Kansas City’s “Sockpreneurs” started off on the right foot

By Kathryn Jones

It’s been the general rule for centuries that a gentleman can’t go wrong with a well-cut suit. But for those who like to spice up the monotony of their 9-to-5 uniform, the options are fairly limited. Ties are the obvious choice (particularly the retro skinnies popularized by the characters on “Mad Men” and the beautiful bowties sported by Mayor Sly James), and you can add a little flare with a pocket square. But that’s pretty much it, right?

Wrong. According to Jason Grill, there is one accessory often overlooked: socks. As far as he and his fellow “sockpreneurs” at Sock 101 are concerned, a dresser drawer full of nothing but black GoldToes is better left to Grandpa. “Men who like to dress well and are looking for ways to step up their style can wear colorful socks—it’s OK,” Grill assures. “In fact, it’s very trendy right now.”

Sock-101-Jason-KCShareTweetPin+Add to MyKC

Sock 101 presented at 1 Million Cups during Kauffman Foundation’s 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Week and made a splash right out of the gate. In less than two years, the company has generated quite a bit of buzz both locally and nationally. In addition to making the rounds of the KC media circuit, it’s been featured in Forbes, Accessories, Modern Fellows and Killerstartups.com. The always fashionable Mayor James, UMB President and CEO Peter deSilva and former U.S. President and self-described “sock man” George H.W. Bush are alleged fans of the brand.

It should also be noted that Sock 101 is 100 percent self-funded. “We have investors come up to us after [1 Million Cups], but we have not taken on any outside equity investors,” Grill says. “We don’t feel the need to at this point.” So what’s the secret behind this local startup’s success? Well, there are a number of factors that come into play.

1. Sock 101 founders were already rock stars in the business community.

Grill, the visionary and “face” of the company, is an attorney, former member of the Missouri House of Representatives, owner of JGrill Media & Consulting, a political analyst for Fox 4 WDAF and host of the Entrepreneur KC radio show on KMBZ.

Dave Feyerabend is co-founder and managing member of startup incubator D&K Ventures and CEO of Renuva Back & Pain Centers. He handles company operations and logistics and co-presented the concept with Grill at 1 Million Cups.

Lea Bailes is an attorney and marketing specialist who’s worked in and/or owned businesses in the areas of law, construction real estate, consumer products, fitness, fashion healthcare and technology. He’s responsible for general marketing and legal work for Sock 101.

Kelly Yarborough built his career in wireless and is now business partners with Feyerabend for both D&K Ventures and Renuva Back & Pain Centers. He’s involved in day-to-day operations at Sock 101, including customer service and sales.

WantBuySock-101-KC-DesignShareTweetPin

2. Sock 101’s concept, product and business model are solid.

As Grill mentioned, colorful (but not cartoonish) socks in high-quality fabrics are a growing trend among fashion-savvy professionals. They appeal to men and women of all ages but are especially popular with the Millennials currently making waves in the creative and tech realms. “If you want to buy a nice pair of colorful socks at places like J.Crew or Banana Republic, you’re going to spend $12 to $15,” Grill says. “We wanted to make socks more affordable for the 20 to 40-something young professional.” Sock 101’s maintain the same caliber of quality, he says, but are sold at a lower price point: $7.

For $9 a month or $108 annually (shipping included), customers can sign up for the Sock of the Month Club at sock101.com and have a pair delivered to their doors. “Of the Month” clubs are growing more popular by the day because consumers love receiving a “surprise” gift in the mail in the sense that they already know what it is but aren’t quite sure when it will come or what exactly it will look like. “It’s a good feeling having a sock shipped to your house every month. We want to make sure our Sock of the Month Club members feel special in that they get a new design each month before our other customers,” Grill remarks.

Sock 101 also has a corporate sock offering whereby it will custom-design 50+ socks with a company’s logo. The KC Convention Center & Visitors Association, for instance, ordered custom socks featuring its trademark blue logo. “It makes for a unique marketing gift or a giveaway for an event or a celebration item for their clients and employees,” Grill says. “We hope more businesses will make custom socks with us.”

Sock-101-KC-StyleShareTweetPin+Add to MyKC

3. The company knows how to market its brand.

Socks are a relatively simple and straightforward product to push because they’re a universal necessity. Everybody buys them. Customers want the best quality at the lowest price point, and successful companies deliver on that promise.

But quality and price aside, the companies most successful at marketing their brands are the ones that ultimately dominate the marketplace.

Lesson #1 at Sock 101 was to build a campaign on Kickstarter.com in order to raise funds and school the competition. “It really opened my eyes to how the whole crowdfunding process works; it takes a lot of dedication,” Grill says. “We included custom socks in our Kickstarter campaign, which helped us reach our fundraising goals.”

When it comes to spreading the word, “you really have to work your network hard,” he says, “whether it’s through your email list, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. You have to continuously post content. With socks, it’s all about the photos. A lot of people share their photos, which makes marketing and social media easier for us.”

Sock 101 initially targeted male professionals in the Gen X and Y age range, playing up the idea that purchasing a pair in a particular color pattern would demonstrate pride for their alma mater or favorite sports team, and that the sock can be paired with a suit or a more casual outfit.

“Each sock tells its own story,” Grill says. But consumers decide what the story will be. The black-and-gold striped “Truman” sock, for instance, can be a tribute to Truman the Tiger if you’re a Mizzou fan. Or if you’re a KU fan, the same sock can be an homage to Harry Truman instead.

When photos of ladies wearing their boyfriends’ Sock 101s spread throughout the company’s social media network, it became apparent to the sockpreneurs that “women were stealing our socks from their boyfriends, so we might have to do a marketing campaign about that at some point,” Grill muses.

 

Jason Grill in Missouri.com

“Kansas City is a sleeping giant on a national and international level when it comes to entrepreneurship.”

February 18, 2014 – Written by
Jason Grill

Jason Grill is the principal and founder of JGrill Media, LLC, where he focuses and consults on media relations, public relations and strategies, communications, digital media, marketing strategies and branding, thought leadership, public/civic affairs and government relations. He also works as a local, state and national contributor, commentator and analyst. He has worked with businesses from small to large, major foundations, accelerators, associations, startups and entrepreneurs.

Jason writes for the Huffington Post, Yahoo! and the RecoveringPolitician.com. He has written for Politico and KC Business Magazine. He is a TV political analyst for WDAF Fox 4, a regular contributor to Wall Street Journal Radio, and host and producer of the Entrepreneur KC Radio Show on KMBZ (Entercom).

Jason is a former two-term member of the Missouri House of Representatives, and has worked in The White House and at CNN. Jason is the Co-Founder of Sock 101, which produces colorful high quality and professional socks and sells them for an affordable price. Sock 101 has a unique Sock of the Month Club and does custom logo and branded socks as well for organizations, events and corporations.

Jason Grill Media Missouri.com: Can you expand on how JGrill Media is not only focused on strategic consulting across various industries but how it also encompasses your very own personal media work with radio, TV and writing?

Jason: I started the company with the intent to focus on my own writing, TV work and radio hosting. Through my work and the relationships I begin to build I found that many individuals, entities and agencies wanted to hire me as a consultant to help them with their own media/pr, public affairs and government/public policy related issues. Through this evolution I have been able to continue to grow my own personal media brand, as well as consulting work with some incredible people and clients. I truly enjoy doing my radio show, TV analyst work and contributing writing with some great media outlets and hope to continue to move forward on both fronts of the company in the future with some strategic partnerships.

Missouri.com: What advice would you pass onto someone looking to build credibility through thought leadership?

Jason: Quality content and thought leadership are king these days. Building yourself as a true opinion leader, expert and thought leader in your industry is one of the best ways to build your business and credibility. This is so important especially if you’re a startup or small business. You need to get high quality content out in the marketplace to establish your brand. It’s ok to start slow on this endeavor, but make sure if you’re a CEO or a co-founder to be doing this and talking to your customers’ pain points. Give them information that they might have never thought about and ways to make their lives easier. Be willing to do this for free and make sure to highlight your community with quality content. Don’t be selfish. Give back to your city or your customers through your writing or contributing. Thought leadership is not an ego play.

Missouri.com: Why do you think that Kansas City has seen such a big surge in entrepreneurship over the last few years and how do you predict that growth will play out in the coming years?

Jason: Kansas City is an amazing city and has a rich entrepreneurial history. We have the best foundation for entrepreneurship and education in the world with the Kauffman Foundation being here. We have an abundance of resources, Google fiber, corporate innovation and some of the best accelerators in the US. However, the real reason for Kansas City’s surge the last few years has been the community. The entrepreneurial community in KC is ultra supportive of each other in all facets. People and businesses work together and are willing to introduce you to just about anyone to help your startup or entrepreneurial endeavor succeed. In a competitive world, KC entrepreneurs are about bringing the entire ecosystem up, rather than just their own business. Kansas City is a sleeping giant on a national and international level when it comes to entrepreneurship. With a great standard of living and numerous first-class amenities as well the sky is the limit for Kansas City. KC is not flyover country.

Missouri.com: Can you talk us through the inspiration behind your other business, Sock 101?

Jason: Sock 101’s mission is to provide high quality cotton based socks that are professional and affordable to individuals throughout the country. I have always been a fan of men’s fashion and classic style. As an individual who always was in a suit and tie, I got tired of paying $15-$25 for a nice, colorful pair of socks. There had to be a better way. The solution to that problem is Sock 101. In year one we sold thousands of pairs of socks at a price point of $7 at Sock 101. We also built a Sock of the Month Club that delivers a new pair of Sock 101’s to your door or your client, friend or loved one’s door every month. By the end of year two we will have over a thousand members in this club. Lastly, we are very excited to offer custom logo and branded socks for organizations, businesses, events and groups. We have seen a tremendous response both locally and nationally to this new service and have made socks for organizations such as the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Veterans United and Influence & Co. I believe custom socks are a major part of future marketing budgets and separating yourself or your brand from the typical gifts or ideas. Whether it’s the bright colors, a custom logo, a dot or a stripe, socks truly are a statement piece that don’t have to be and shouldn’t be boring gold toes anymore. In a world dominated by blue jeans and dark suits, socks show an individual’s personality and style almost more than any other men’s accessory. Socks are the new tie.

Missouri.com: How did you come up with the concept behind the book you Co-Authored, “The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis” and what do you hope that the average reader walks away with?

Jason: Jonathan Miller, the Former State Treasurer of Kentucky, actually contacted me about writing a chapter in this book. Jonathan is a friend and an exceptional writer and businessperson. This book offers individuals in any business or vertical really great advice on crisis management and public relations from experiences in the brightest of lights. It gives the reader some incredible stories on how to survive a crisis in any aspect of their life or business, as well as how to move forward if you do experience what you think is the worst thing that can happen. The former head of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele also has written a chapter in the book. Out of this book and the relationships it formed a national speaking group has evolved called Second Act Strategies. This exciting new service involves leadership, teamwork, integrity and reinvention seminars, as well as crisis simulations from esteemed, qualified experts who’ve earned their stripes in the arena’s spotlight.

Missouri.com: What are some trends that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?

Jason: Socks. Socks. Socks. In all seriousness though, I think the rising trend of entrepreneurship and startups that are solving problems in this country is exciting. I am very excited that the mainstream media is covering these stories and individuals more often. If policymakers can realize that young companies are the engine of our economy good things will continue to happen!

Always remember this quote from C.S. Lewis and try to live it out everyday, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream…”

Jason Grill in BusinessInterviews.com

“Building yourself as a true opinion leader, expert and thought leader in your industry is one of the best ways to build your business and credibility.”

Written by B.I.
JasonGrill

Jason Grill is the principal and founder of JGrill Media, LLC, where he focuses and consults on media relations, public relations and strategies, communications, digital media, marketing strategies and branding, thought leadership, public/civic affairs and government relations. He also works as a local, state and national contributor, commentator and analyst. He has worked with businesses from small to large, major foundations, accelerators, associations, startups and entrepreneurs.Jason writes for the Huffington Post, Yahoo! and the RecoveringPolitician.com. He has written for Politico and KC Business Magazine. He is a TV political analyst for WDAF Fox 4, a regular contributor to Wall Street Journal Radio, and host and producer of the Entrepreneur KC Radio Show on KMBZ (Entercom).

Jason is a former two-term member of the Missouri House of Representatives, and has worked in The White House and at CNN. Jason is the Co-Founder of Sock 101, which produces colorful high quality and professional socks and sells them for an affordable price. Sock 101 has a unique Sock of the Month Club and does custom logo and branded socks as well for organizations, events and corporations.

JGrill Media

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you expand on how JGrill Media is not only focused on strategic consulting across various industries but how it also encompasses your very own personal media work with radio, TV and writing?

Jason: I started the company with the intent to focus on my own writing, TV work and radio hosting. Through my work and the relationships I begin to build I found that many individuals, entities and agencies wanted to hire me as a consultant to help them with their own media/pr, public affairs and government/public policy related issues. Through this evolution I have been able to continue to grow my own personal media brand, as well as consulting work with some incredible people and clients. I truly enjoy doing my radio show, TV analyst work and contributing writing with some great media outlets and hope to continue to move forward on both fronts of the company in the future with some strategic partnerships.

BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you pass onto someone looking to build credibility through thought leadership?

Jason: Quality content and thought leadership are king these days. Building yourself as a true opinion leader, expert and thought leader in your industry is one of the best ways to build your business and credibility. This is so important especially if you’re a startup or small business. You need to get high quality content out in the marketplace to establish your brand. It’s ok to start slow on this endeavor, but make sure if you’re a CEO or a co-founder to be doing this and talking to your customers’ pain points. Give them information that they might have never thought about and ways to make their lives easier. Be willing to do this for free and make sure to highlight your community with quality content. Don’t be selfish. Give back to your city or your customers through your writing or contributing. Thought leadership is not an ego play.

BusinessInterviews.com: Why do you think that Kansas City has seen such a big surge in entrepreneurship over the last few years and how do you predict that growth will play out in the coming years?

Jason: Kansas City is an amazing city and has a rich entrepreneurial history. We have the best foundation for entrepreneurship and education in the world with the Kauffman Foundation being here. We have an abundance of resources, Google fiber, corporate innovation and some of the best accelerators in the US. However, the real reason for Kansas City’s surge the last few years has been the community. The entrepreneurial community in KC is ultra supportive of each other in all facets. People and businesses work together and are willing to introduce you to just about anyone to help your startup or entrepreneurial endeavor succeed. In a competitive world, KC entrepreneurs are about bringing the entire ecosystem up, rather than just their own business. Kansas City is a sleeping giant on a national and international level when it comes to entrepreneurship. With a great standard of living and numerous first-class amenities as well the sky is the limit for Kansas City. KC is not flyover country.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk us through the inspiration behind your other business, Sock 101?

Jason: Sock 101’s mission is to provide high quality cotton based socks that are professional and affordable to individuals throughout the country. I have always been a fan of men’s fashion and classic style. As an individual who always was in a suit and tie, I got tired of paying $15-$25 for a nice, colorful pair of socks. There had to be a better way. The solution to that problem is Sock 101. In year one we sold thousands of pairs of socks at a price point of $7 at Sock 101. We also built a Sock of the Month Club that delivers a new pair of Sock 101’s to your door or your client, friend or loved one’s door every month. By the end of year two we will have over a thousand members in this club. Lastly, we are very excited to offer custom logo and branded socks for organizations, businesses, events and groups. We have seen a tremendous response both locally and nationally to this new service and have made socks for organizations such as the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Veterans United and Influence & Co. I believe custom socks are a major part of future marketing budgets and separating yourself or your brand from the typical gifts or ideas. Whether it’s the bright colors, a custom logo, a dot or a stripe, socks truly are a statement piece that don’t have to be and shouldn’t be boring gold toes anymore. In a world dominated by blue jeans and dark suits, socks show an individual’s personality and style almost more than any other men’s accessory. Socks are the new tie.

BusinessInterviews.com: How did you come up with the concept behind the book you Co-Authored, “The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis” and what do you hope that the average reader walks away with?

Jason: Jonathan Miller, the Former State Treasurer of Kentucky, actually contacted me about writing a chapter in this book. Jonathan is a friend and an exceptional writer and businessperson. This book offers individuals in any business or vertical really great advice on crisis management and public relations from experiences in the brightest of lights. It gives the reader some incredible stories on how to survive a crisis in any aspect of their life or business, as well as how to move forward if you do experience what you think is the worst thing that can happen. The former head of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele also has written a chapter in the book. Out of this book and the relationships it formed a national speaking group has evolved called Second Act Strategies. This exciting new service involves leadership, teamwork, integrity and reinvention seminars, as well as crisis simulations from esteemed, qualified experts who’ve earned their stripes in the arena’s spotlight.

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?

Jason: Socks. Socks. Socks. In all seriousness though, I think the rising trend of entrepreneurship and startups that are solving problems in this country is exciting. I am very excited that the mainstream media is covering these stories and individuals more often. If policymakers can realize that young companies are the engine of our economy good things will continue to happen!

Always remember this quote from C.S. Lewis and try to live it out everyday, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream…”

Jason Grill Interviews Jeff Smith on Entrepreneur KC Radio

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