Jason Perry is the president and CEO of Engagency, an award-winning digital transformation agency based in Austin, Texas, and Reston, Va. It has been named one of the top B2B companies in the world for its services and brand reputation. For the past six years it has been consistently named one of top Sitecore development partners in the world and a top B2B company in the US. Engagency is a Gold Sitecore and Silver Optimizely certified partner with award-winning customer service. Key clients include global investment management firm PIMCO, Interstate Batteries, Alliant, KinderCare, Unum, Legrand, Materion and more.
Perry has a Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Berkeley, Ca. He and Carla Romaine bootstrapped the business from a home basement in 2002 to a multi-million dollar venture with employees and outposts in Oregon, Romania, Texas and the Washington, D.C., metro area. Engagency’s mission is to help companies drive top-line revenue by building content and commerce solutions that engage customers and clients.
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Table of Contents
Before we begin, our readers are interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to be where you are today or was it something you were led to? Share with us your journey.
Jason Perry: I think timing has everything to do with why and how I created this company and work in digital transformation. In addition to timing, I believe destiny has a lot to do with the place and the context that we’re in as well. When I was getting out of school, the internet was just becoming a widespread, popular phenomenon. I was in the Bay Area so it was the perfect time and place to get swept up into this field.
It was a lucrative first job for a recent graduate so I dove in, not knowing anything about the field and having nothing to lose. As fate would have it, I fell deeply in love with the field and the possibilities.
Tell us a bit about your current focus. What is the most important thing that you’re working on and how do you plan on doing it?
Jason Perry: We’re currently working on responsibly scaling our business. We want to scale with integrity and not take shortcuts when responding to increasing demand, and we don’t want to make mistakes when hiring the right people with the right intentions and the right work ethic.
We’re approaching the hiring process with a lot of intention – understanding where people are coming from, learning what motivates them and making sure there’s alignment. We’re also continually responding to feedback and building the type of organization that people want to be a part of. These days, that’s about flexibility, working from home and having a work/life balance that doesn’t lead to burnout. It’s also about honoring the whole person and the friends and family time that a worker needs in order to bring freedom and connection into his or her life.
Some argue that punctuality is a strength. Others say punctuality is a weakness. How do you feel about it, please explain.
Jason Perry: Timing and punctuality are two different things. I am typically two-to-five minutes late to everything because I am trying to cram so many things into my day. Things are always bleeding from one thing to the next. Some people see punctuality as a measure of respect – respect for people’s time and respect for their presence and their punctuality. Some people see time as relative, and I sit somewhere in the middle.
How important is having good timing in your line of work and in the industry that your organization operates in?
Jason Perry: Timing is only part of the equation. It’s about recognizing when you have to make a turn in the business – when you have to introduce something transformational, grow in a certain way, or completely pivot to focus on something new because the thing that you were focused on in the beginning was about to hit a brick wall. Recognizing the need for change is the first part. Timing is not necessarily doing it immediately. Sometimes timing is pausing, holding back, and slowly planning and plotting to get the thing you want to achieve. Timing is not about being impulsive, acting hastily, or treating everything like an emergency.
Timing is about knowing exactly when and how to respond to the change that you need to make.
Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, states “Timing is everything in life, and it’s particularly crucial in entrepreneurship. People often equate success with luck, but it usually comes down to impeccable (and carefully mapped out) timing”. Do you agree with this statement? Please answer in as much detail as necessary.
Jason Perry: Yes. I learned a concept in rugby back in college that helps me to this day. It shows the importance of timing. When you’re on offense and you’re trying to score a “try” (a “touchdown” in rugby), the objective is to use all the players to lead the defense to where you want them and create a gap that you can shoot. That gap is usually small, short and only there for a moment. Putting a player with the ball in that gap means the difference between breaking away and scoring a try, or getting pummeled by the other team’s defense.
As a leader/entrepreneur/CEO, how do you decide when to put the pedal to the metal and when to take a break? How do you time the key moments in your career?
Jason Perry: It’s something you feel intuitively. Again, it’s about recognizing when you’re about to create a gap that you need to sprint through – that’s when you give it your all and leave it all on the field. It’s about having your eyes and ears wide open so you can recognize the signals and see the opportunity before you. The rest of the time, for the most part, should be spent resting and reflecting. Being an entrepreneur, in many respects, is like a series of sprints. When you see that opportunity, go after it. Energy and focus are not unlimited so rest and reflection are equally important – it’s the other part of the equation. Sustained sprints just lead to nothing but burnout and a fuzzy mind. Unfortunately, I learned that the hard way in my early years.
Branson also states “If you’re starting to feel like you’re just going through the motions and losing sight of why you started, it might be time to take a break”. But how do you decide when to take a break?
Jason Perry: Hitting that wall when you feel a sense of monotony, a lack of excitement or a lack of purpose in is definitely one reason to take a break. It’s important because taking a break allows you to rest, reflect and rejuvenate. That often brings you back to a motivated state. I once operated in this type of reactive manner. Early in my career I reacted to those moments of burnout, and those happened frequently.
As I’ve matured as a leader, breaks have become a matter of habit. It’s just a basic part of my mental hygiene. Before I would go, go, go until I hit a wall, and then I would realize I needed to take a vacation. Now, I am continually planning breaks throughout the year and planning the work in between them. This proactive approach has led to a much more intentional, controlled, game plan. I don’t feel like a victim to required demands.
“Timing can be everything when starting up. It can be the difference between building a thriving business and not” How has good timing helped you achieve success in your career or business? Are there any particular examples from your career that you would like to share?
Jason Perry: Timing was everything when starting this business. Ten years before, there would have been no market opportunity. I happened to begin when lots of money and demand were going into this burgeoning field. Again, it’s about recognizing that opportunity, recognizing the right timing and shooting that gap when you see it.
“When you’re thinking of starting up, ask yourself: ‘Is the community I want to serve ready for this idea?’ It could make all the difference!” Would you like to add anything to this piece of advice for all the aspiring entrepreneurs?
Jason Perry: As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly thinking of ideas that are far out in front of what the mainstream considers a need. Unless you are just planning to do something that already exists better, your audience is almost never fully ready for something. Some amount of education will be required to create an enormous amount of demand. The question is – do you have the influence and the financial backing to sustain you through that educational PR push that gets you through that startup period and into a viable, profitable business?
COVID forced many businesses to adapt fast, some did so successfully, others failed, it was a lot due to good or poor timing. What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned during the pandemic?
Jason Perry: The biggest lesson that I learned was that despite having a healthy and collaborative in-office culture, once people became accustomed to working from home, we all decided – including myself – that there was no going back. Working from home provided our team with a freedom that allowed them to spend time with friends and family, to attend to their own personal needs and to change their own work schedule. This was a surprise – we took great care to create a first-class in-person office experience, and were determined to make that a major driver of our success. But after a year of working remotely during the pandemic, it became clear this new paradigm was healthier for everyone’s work/life balance. That work/life balance is the key to a sustainable life. Ultimately, that’s what matters.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Jason Perry: The biggest challenge in our industry right now is finding qualified people with the right attitude to help get all the work done – on time and on budget – the right way, the first time.
Your insight has been incredibly valuable and our readers thank you for your generosity. We do have a couple of other bold questions to ask. What fictional world would you want to start a business in and what would you sell?
Jason Perry: I would start a company manufacturing a baby product that I invented after my first daughter was born. I love the idea of manufacturing, and the product would probably sell like hotcakes, but after doing an extensive amount of research and interviews in the space, I decided to invest in other work for now.
Before we finish things off, we would love to know, when you have some time away from business, what is one hobby that you wish you could spend more time on?
Jason Perry: Well, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time during the past year exploring the country and camping in my camper van. One day, I would like to do that for an extended time. I haven’t worked out the logistics, and, like any fun activity, you can have too much of a good thing. That type of adventure and minimalistic living helps me to put into perspective what’s important in life, and it gives me a sense of humility that I don’t get otherwise.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jason Perry for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Jason Perry or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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