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?
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!