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