Jarrod Oram is a creative with many talents and doesn’t like to be labeled as any one thing. In this episode, we’re talking about the importance of surrender, self-care, authenticity, enjoying the journey, and saying yes to opportunities along the way.
Amanda: I know we have this in common. When someone asks, “What do you do?” it’s not an easy answer. Because you do a lot of things, but you don’t define yourself by any of them. You’ve done a lot of work in production, media, content creation, branding, and marketing. You’ve recently focused more on your photography, and you surround yourself with music always. We find that those labels that limit you to a role are too restricting, right?
Jarrod: I think, just in society as a whole, labels are safe because they give us identification and they can provide us with a sense of who we are. But what I’ve learned about labels is that all a label is is just a title that you’ve given yourself, and it’s easy to hide the shield behind it. Yeah, for years, it was “Oh, Jarrod’s the producer,” and I’m like, I’m kind of shitty at being a producer, people. I enjoyed it, and I love aspects of it. And I kept trying to fit my life and role as to what a producer should be, as opposed to bring myself to the table. And that’s been a journey to bring my most authentic, true self to whatever role that comes up. And that kind of plays into a role of surrendering.
Amanda: For me, it was actually kind of the opposite in the producer role. I was told by somebody else that you had to be super creative to be a producer. And, silly me, I trusted that person. And I thought, oh, okay, well, I’m creative in different ways, but I’m not the one with the vision. I can execute somebody else’s vision very well in terms of production, but I didn’t know that that was the job I had been doing all along until I got away and started doing the producer role as what it is, and realized, “Oh.” So in that case, the limitation of the label kept me away from something that I’d actually been doing and enjoyed doing.
We place these artificial terms around what we’re “supposed to” be doing
Jarrod: We place these artificial terms around what we’re “supposed to” be doing, and that kind of limits us. And it keeps us kind of in this tunnel vision mode of staying this path. And I think one of the biggest things that’s happened for me over the last few years has been a lot of self-growth, and a lot of taking those blinders off and really kind of surrendering to this world. There’s a great book called “The Surrender Experiment” by Michael Singer, and it’s his life memoir. And it really is about how he decided that anything that came into his life, if he didn’t want to do it, and the only reason why was his personal preference, he had no business saying no. Because the universe has been doing this thing for about 14 billion years. It has kind of a little better idea than what I know. Of course, when my therapist brought that up to me, I was like, “What’s gonna happen when a drug dealer comes up to my front door with a brick of cocaine, and I got to sell that. I just remember that?” She’s like, “No, Jarrod, it’s usually more than likely those things aren’t going to happen.” She’s like, “You’ll kind of have an intuitive way of knowing those areas.” But think of all the different areas that we’ve had in life, that you’ve had in life maybe, and you were like, “No. I’m doing this,” but the universe is bringing you other things and it’s like, maybe you might want to look into this. And we’re given those opportunities so many times, myself included, like there have been many times and I still will today because I’m human. But there have been so many times where I’m like, “No, I can’t do that, because I’m supposed to do this.” And that kind of left my world in a square peg round hole for a long time, or just a place of safety. And just stagnation.
Amanda: I don’t like the words “supposed to.” I don’t like the words themselves and what they mean because who says? It’s very easy to get stuck in that mindset of “I’m on this path, and I put so much time into going on this path, so if I go try to do something over here, it means I’ve just wasted all this time.” Which you didn’t. You learned a whole lot along the way. And maybe you learned that you don’t want to be on this path anymore, and it’s okay to pivot and go in a different direction. I think you have to be very open to those signs. And I know some people get weird about talk of the universe, but to me, that’s exactly what it is. It’s a connection to your intuition, your instinct, where if something comes your way, okay, well, does it feel right? It might be a little bit scary because of the security angle that we talked about. But it could be a bigger and better thing than you could have imagined. So why not take a chance on it?
Jarrod: Yeah, you know, words like “supposed to,” “I should,” “I can’t.” Those are absolutes and we just don’t realize how damaging they are to put those on ourselves. Because what happens if you don’t do that? Then it almost becomes like this shame cycle. And in a professional world, in a personal world, you start layering those on top of yourself and it gets to a place where you’re just kicking your own butt time and time and time again. And leaving it open in a way of… and absolutely setting goals and looking at the direction of like, this is what’s best for me right now. And it’s in my best interest to look in this way. And also being open.
It cracks me up when people are like, oh, all new agey with universe and everything. I’m like, look, if you think that that just happened by coincidence, or that there isn’t an absolute physical energy, which by science is defined a physical energy that runs through all of us. Like I said, this universe has been doing this thing for 14 billion years, and I’ve been on this planet for 44. And for the longest time, you know, I was in a place of fear and abandonment and shame and all that stuff giving a 21 gun salute of “No, I know better.” And then to pause, and to really embrace the journey of this thing, because there’s really no end goal. It is living in each moment, and being open to what it was. This time a year ago, I was let go by an agency here in Dallas. And it was this odd, beautiful eye opener in the fact that I tended to attract very, very toxic bosses.
Amanda: I don’t know anything about that.
This is happening for my greatest good
Jarrod: No, we don’t have anything in common with that. And not only that, but I learned not only attracting those, but then staying in those relationships. And they did me the best favor on the planet in letting me go the day before Thanksgiving. I was driving home with all my stuff in my car and I was like, blank canvas. This is happening for my greatest good. And you know, to fast forward now, I took a job with a former CEO to launch his personal brand, two weeks before COVID hit, that saw me move back out to Las Vegas and launching this brand in two weeks from my kitchen island, while my stuff still wasn’t moved back, and finding square pegs round holes all around. Building out the brand, building out the content strategy, doing this really just on my own with a couple of third-party vendors. But you know, now we’re sitting here today and where that shift is.
And this is something for people that work for themselves. I’m stepping out of doing the content creation and now 2021 is all about growing this business. And I think that’s one thing that can kind of happen a lot of times when we work for ourselves, or even when we’re working for someone else, we get into the minutiae of just doing the work. And there’s a difference between being a great producer and running a great production business, and how you define those shifts. And a lot of that is unknown. And a lot of that are those little areas that we get thrown at us, like you were saying, that can kind of feel like happenstance, and can we take the unknown in the dip?
I mean, for me, it was really this mind shift in the last month of like, oh, wow, I just put together projection statements for something that could really target some high grossing revenue with a pretty damn good profit margin here in the next three years. And that’s exciting. And I mean, look, me from the days of when we worked together, that was not the case at all. It gets down to just the place of embracing the unknown, shedding away labels and what I’m supposed to be doing and where I’m supposed to be in this world right now, and really just enjoying this moment right here. Which is, like, I get to chat with one of my more kick ass people that I know on this planet.
Amanda: That’s the thing about growth is some people think of it as such a singular thing, like growth means I’ve made more money, or I’ve been promoted in a position. And sometimes it’s easy to forget about all those other things like well, my thinking is different now, or I’m not going to put up with the toxic bosses ever again, or different things like that where it’s not necessarily a tangible statistic of how that growth has happened. But you know it’s happened.
This pandemic has been interesting for pretty much everyone, I believe, to say the least. I know you were kind of contemplating whether you wanted to come to Vegas for that job or not. You weren’t entirely sure because it was kind of coming back here and working on something that you had sort of left behind in a way. And then you got here, and we were all excited that Jarrod is coming back. And then it was, oh, just kidding, nobody can leave their houses. That doesn’t normally happen, but that is now a very significant piece of your journey, and for a lot of people’s journeys through 2020. So when you got here, and everything shut down, you kind of use that as an opportunity to do the work that you needed to do, but also, okay, well, what can I do? And you like to go on road trips, and you like to take pictures and listen to some tunes. And you did that. And by doing that… and I don’t know if that was just to fill the time or just to get out of the house or what that was… but it kind of inspired that love of photography that you have, but in a different way.
I’m damn sure always in a space of what can I do to fill those little sparks of joy inside?
Jarrod: It 100% difd, because what I truly feel this pandemic has offered us is a chance to slow down, stop, and maybe reevaluate things and really find ways of finding true inner abundance for ourselves inside. I’m grateful enough that I’ve been doing that kind of work for a really long time, and it’s always growing, and there’s not a finish line to it. And so, to move back to a place that I hadn’t lived for seven years, and then to just be confined to a place that I found to live online, which was like the most God awful energy of any place that I’ve ever lived. I am one where it is okay, what can I do to cultivate that inner happiness? Because I think we’ve seen this year that like, all the money, all the job, all the busyness, it can’t fill the hole inside. That can only be filled within, and it is finding different things to do that.
I remember the first true way when… I bring up my therapist a lot because we talked about growth, and it’s an ongoing thing. I’ve been seeing my therapist for seven years, because there’s always something for me to grow on. And when she was talking about filling this tank, this inner abundance tank, I was like, “How do you do that?” She was like, “You’ll find out.” And I mean, it was a Wednesday afternoon… this was four years ago… in May. It was May of 2016 and Sturgill Simpson was playing up in Oklahoma City, and I got a ticket online for 25 bucks. And I was like, you know what? This is a total Jarrod thing – let’s get in the car for three hours to go see a show. I took my camera and I went to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial before. And then food was incorporated, because of course food was, and had an awesome meal. And then I walked into the venue, and there was no one there, and I just walked straight up to the front of the stage, and I was like, “What the hell is happening?” And I remember during that show, just feeling that warmth inside of doing the things for me that offer that inner joy that nothing on the outside can create. And I just think of that time and time again, because that was the thing. I was like, oh, got it. This makes sense. And so having had some reps and some experiences in that, and I’d say I don’t like to use absolutes, but I’m damn sure always in a space of what can I do to fill those little sparks of joy inside? And you’re right – getting in the car with a camera and music.
I mean, when I lived in Las Vegas the last time, I didn’t really explore outside of the area. But over these few years since I’d left, my curiosity and the things that I like to shoot are usually abandoned, graffitied and isolated, kind of shedding all the shit that I held on to for a really long time. I’m sure that there’s definitely some type of comparison there. I got in my car and I would just drive, and sometimes leave at eight in the morning and wouldn’t come home until midnight. I would drive in these funky Nevada little towns, and I think I went through like eight national parks this summer. And I listened to Miles Davis the entire time, and it was just the soundtrack of it. It was all the process of it.
When I tell people from a photo side, I probably show 5% of the things that I ever shoot. Because for me, a lot of it isn’t about the end photo. I can look at a photo and remember, like, what the temperature was at that time, what I was listening to at that time, what kind of traffic was around, because it is this wonderful practice of just being in the moment. And you’re right. I appreciate you saying that because, yeah, my photography took a big turn this year in a really great way, and to a point now where it’s… Yes, I have this amazing full-time job, and it’s something that I’m building on the side because it gives me joy, and I actually sold a decent chunk of photography during Christmas. The surrender side, and just the enjoyment of being in moments, so many opportunities come up from it. Far more than left to my own magnifying mind and to what I think I “should.”
Amanda: And you did it not because you wanted to find a new career path, or that you were looking to make any money. Again, you did that because of the joy of it. And I know a lot of times people will say, “Do what you love and that’s how you find out what you’re supposed to do.” And then there are some that don’t want to do what they love to do for work, because then it feels like work. But I very much believe that you can do both.
You used the word busyness, and a lot of times people are trying to fill that void with busyness. That pride in “Look, I’m so busy,” and “Oh, I just don’t have time to do anything because I’m so busy.” And that somehow equates to success. And I don’t agree with that at all. I left the corporate world so I could work less and make more. There was a kind of a win-win for me. But there’s so much talk about the hustle, and this and that, and people trying to throw themselves into how much work can I possibly do, and completely forgetting the self-care part, which is very important, and the general idea of joy. And you have to be able to find those things. I know for me, I’ve mentioned it a lot of times, the pandemic took away all my hobbies, which were travel and concerts and things like that. But I found different ways to fill that time, and that’s helping me shape what I want to do, say in 2021 versus 2020, or any year. I’m always open to that. I never think oh, well, this is what I’m going to do indefinitely, because who knows? But I think that self-care is so important. And I don’t want to be that person that prides myself on how busy I am, unless I’m busy doing things that I love.
Jarrod: You nailed it. The speaker/author that I brand for, he always talks about the hustle and grind is the new stupid.
Amanda: I like that.
Authenticity is, am I bringing my true inner self?
Jarrod: Work smarter, not harder. I think between that and finding things outside my professional world that shape the things that become me, that then blends into the professional world. So that when I come to the table, now, I’m not playing a different role. I talk to you the same way I would talk to my board, that I would talk to anyone else. There are many words that have been brought up this year, but everyone talks about authenticity, whether it’s authentic content, or storytelling or anything, whatever. It to me is, I mean authenticity is, am I bringing my true inner self? My true inner self curses a lot. It just does. My true inner self buys too many shoes. It just does. You know, I mean, and those aren’t things that define me at all, and it becomes parts of my traits. And I don’t bring the work side to Amanda or my boss, I don’t bring the professional side to that. I bring Jarrod. Because if I can be my true place anywhere I go, I’m staying true to myself, I’m staying true to people, and that ends up showing. It ends up showing in my photography. It ends up showing in my content strategy. Even though I’m messaging for an individual brand, I’m able to take his words but use my empathy, and my emotion, and my verbiage into it, that becomes the company’s. And that’s a really cool thing to do.
And if anything is freeing as hell, I’m not having to show up and play a role with you. I’m not having to show up and play a role in this relationship over here with my family. No, I just get to be Jarrod, everywhere I go. And that, in 2020, has been in the middle of the desert, or in this place with my 22-pound cat. But it’s like, you know what? That’s what I get to do, and I can just breathe. I can exhale and not try to live in Instagrammable world or trying to be on a platform. You and I talk about it, Amanda. There’s a reason why you and I are behind the camera, and a lot of things, you know? Because at the end of the day, I don’t need my words to do the talking. Everybody can say whatever. What are my feet doing? And are my feet moving with where my words are going? I care about action with people. You can tell me all the things in the world, but until I see steps of action, it’s just words. And self-care and identity and joy and empathy, all those areas go hand in hand. And when you just bring those every single place, I mean, that’s true serenity, right?
Amanda: It takes way too much energy to try to be somebody else.
Amanda: We’re in this perfectly curated world because of social media and all of that, and I think that people see through it. But sometimes it’s very easy to fall into that comparison trap of, oh, this person is doing this. And, oh, they’re so happy, and they have so much success, and they’re working so much. And they forget that piece of it where you don’t know that. You have no idea what’s going on behind the surface. I’ve had marketing people tell me that I need to up my social media game and post more, and do this, and do that. This was even pre-pandemic, but especially in the last year, I’m home. I can only post so many photos of my cat, because I’m kind of already put in that crazy cat lady territory and I want to try to avoid that a little bit. But also, my work is not visually shareable, if that makes any sense. I’m not going to take 100 selfies, because that’s not me. I’m not into “Look at me. Show me.” It just doesn’t feel right, and so I won’t do that.
But I also, a few years ago, never would have thought that I would do a podcast, especially one where I’m trying to embrace being in front of a camera. And it’s not because I want to be the star of anything, or be seen. And most of the people that listen to the podcast are only listening to the audio anyway. I haven’t really posted the full video of any episodes, because that’s not the medium for it. People don’t generally sit down to watch an hour-long interview. I will repurpose those eventually, when I have more time, which is always part of the plan. But what I have found is this is the best platform for me because I do want to share what I’ve learned with everybody, because I’ve been through all those toxic bosses and bad situations, and I’ve learned so much along the way. And I feel like if I can prevent anyone else from having to go through the struggle side of it, which everybody has to go through to some degree, but if I can help, that’s what I want to do.
But my favorite part of this is being able to have conversations with people who are like-minded and have done it themselves also, and this is where I find a lot of joy. This does not make me any money. I have not monetized it. It’s more about the love of doing it and having these conversations that can help other people who are going through the same thing, or maybe something that’s different. And the best part of it for me, besides just getting to talk to everyone, is showing that if you can embrace the differences of you, what makes you unique, and things that other people might find as flaws – like being terribly introverted, or really awkward on camera, all of those things. I don’t apologize for it. I’m embracing that because all of that is me. I’m a little bit weird. I’m a little bit quirky. And I’m happy being me. So that’s who I am.
Change doesn’t happen when you’re skipping on sunshine with Jesus
Jarrod: And don’t you find… trying to walk people through their struggles when you’re in the middle of them, it can feel so defeating and so relentless, and so never ending. But don’t you look back on those now and you’re like, I am so grateful for those because change doesn’t happen when you’re skipping on sunshine with Jesus. It just doesn’t happen then. And change sucks. And it is really gnarly when you’re in the middle of it, because you don’t see the outcome of it. And it shapes you to a place to feel, from a level of awareness, to spot those things and to understand your self-worth. And then to be able to take chances like this to really step in unknowns – to allow yourself to find a platform that you wouldn’t have necessarily, from the very beginning said, “You know what? I need to do a podcast.” But then what comes next with it? Yeah, it’s to not have an outcome to it. Okay, so it’s not monetized right now. Alright, something totally different may come of this. And that’s where the surrender place comes of… something comes along the way, say yes. What’s the worst that can happen? Literally, what is the worst that can happen? It may not work out. Okay.
When it comes to branding with individuals, it’s interesting because I do it for an individual and then I watch individuals do it. And I see the side now, and I’m sure you have as well, now it’s showing like the flawed side. “Oh, well, I messed this up and everything,” but it’s still so curated in a way that’s just like… Vulnerability in a creative world, wherever your creative is – whether it’s accounting, whether it’s photography, whether it’s podcasting – there’s the level of vulnerability in these things because you’re showing your work to other people. And stepping into relationships, that requires vulnerability of knowing that you’re gonna walk into something, and there’s potential that person could hurt you, and still showing up for it. And what happens within that vulnerability, especially for ourselves, of giving yourself the reps to do it and embracing who you are. Yeah, it’s super rad. Would we have had this conversation when we were working together seven years ago? I mean, maybe some ideals of it. But we were both stuck.
Amanda: We were definitely stuck.
Jarrod: I mean, that was the perception.
Amanda: And you mentioned gratitude. And that’s a huge, huge part of that. There are times when people have made comments to me along the lines of, “Well, you wouldn’t understand because everything always goes right for you.” No, no, no. It takes a lot of work to make everything go right for me. And that’s because, typically, I don’t share the bad part. And it’s not from a place of hiding – I’m just very much an internal creature. I process things a bit differently than most people. Most of my “struggles” were a long time ago, before I knew any of this. I’m the type that I take a problem and I think on it, and I find a solution, and I move on. And I don’t really hold on to negativity. That’s not an easy thing to do. It’s become habit because I’ve done it so much. I’ve trained for it, and I know how to do it. But it’s not that nothing bad has ever happened. It’s what happens is something bad comes along, and I look at it, and I find the good in it. One thing. It doesn’t matter how big or small, there’s always something good in all of it. And then I take that and move on. And so I can look back and think, okay, well, this was horrible, but this is what I learned from it. And all of those bad work situations and environments, relationships, everything else, that all crafts who you become. I think that’s a good thing. So I don’t know that anybody should try to have a perfect life.
Jarrod: It doesn’t exist!
Amanda: Exactly. If that’s the goal, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And we don’t want to do that.
People are dying for vulnerability and authenticity
Jarrod: No. We’re human. We’re flawed. There’s so much beauty in our flaws. As opposed to crafting what we should be, it’s embracing all of it. The relationships that I have in my life today that I’m super close with, it is because there is a vulnerability in showing those flaws to the other people. And them showing up and doing it back. And being loving and kind regardless, and that’s in a professional world, too. That’s not just a romantic relationship, because that’s pretty nonexistent these days. But, you know, from a friendship to professional world, and that is attractive to people. People are dying for vulnerability and authenticity. And yet, it requires a lot of courage, and a lot of bravery, and a lot of getting dropped on your ass and getting back up and dusting it off lovingly and kindly to ourselves and saying, “You know what? I choose to do it again. Even though I just got my ass kicked with it, I’m going to do it again.” Why? Because I’m going to keep showing up. I want to choose courage over comfort today, because that’s where the change is gonna happen.
Amanda: It’s so interesting to me how much of the mindset stuff… and I again, I try to find a different word for that because sometimes people hear mindset and they cringe… but in doing this podcast, that’s what I’ve taken from it so much. If you want to run a business, or you are running a business, or you want to organize your personal life or whatever, there are so many people who just want that quick solution. They want “well, give me the step-by-step blueprint for how I go from point A to point B.” And there are elements of business that work that way. I can tell you how to set up a bookkeeping system from point A to point B. I can’t get you to maintain it. I can’t get you to look at the numbers in a way… I guess to some degree I can get you to look at the numbers a certain way… but to embrace the parts of it that aren’t straightforward. So many of the people that I’ve talked to have mentioned the mindset. And as I’m doing these different episodes and the topics, that always comes into that, where I might be looking for those concrete, “Okay, here’s an actionable item that you can do.” If you take all those steps, but your mind is still not in it, or you’re still focusing on what you don’t have, and what you can’t do, in those absolutes, you aren’t going to get to that place that you want. Because as much as some people don’t want to hear it. a lot of that successful running of a business or personal life has to do with how you think about things.
Jarrod: No, and it’s not just that book “The Secret.” You’re not just gonna ohm your way to a Ferrari. And yes, things start with dreams. And then it starts with goals. And then what can I learn to create a plan with it? And then I have to act. I have to take a series of steps of actions, and sometimes they’re just small actions. The next step, just doing the next one and then seeing what shows up. Jim Rohn has a great line. He says, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” Because if I’m putting in the work, that marketing plan is not going to change. The finances aren’t going to change. What I can truly change is bringing my best self. That is going to create the most value any place that I go. And that’s what I’ve learned over these years. And it’s really taken… you know, I’m 44 now, and it’s really been within the last year of kind of understanding and seeing that value and what it is that I can work on each day to make myself a valuable asset. And I don’t mean just from the monetary side. That part’s great, don’t get me wrong. And what it really does from a personal side, and a self-worth side, because here’s the thing – I can’t give away what I don’t have. So if my self-worth is, my mindset is, whatever, then what are my results going to be? What am I bringing to the table? People can say universe, mindset, all that. Okay, burn your incense, hang your crystals. Or you can just have an awesome attitude about yourself, and start projecting that, and start doing little things to find little victories in life, to build these capable reps there, to keep moving forward. And then doing something and falling on your ass – because you’re human and you’re not going to do it perfectly – and seeing where you can change it a little bit better. And then going about it the next time.
Amanda: There’s this generational difference with all of this, too.
Jarrod: Oh, yeah. 100%.
Amanda: You think about our parents. The goal back then was to get one job and work at that job until you retire. We don’t have that, and we’re kind of in the middle. We grew up with that being shown to us, but we also got the internet, and we got to start thinking about things in a different way. And I really like that because I think we’ve got one foot in a couple different doors. Say what you want about the Millennials, but what they do have is that openness to try a lot of different things. I think about 2007-ish and before, you needed to learn one skill. You should focus on one thing. You do not want to be a jack of all trades because that’s going to hurt you. You’ve got to be an expert in one thing. 2008, the economy tanks. There’s no more money. The budgets are shrunk, or nonexistent, and we still have to do the work. So how do we do that? We find people who have multiple talents. So you can get one person, in our case, who can shoot, edit and do some different things instead of this person who can only cut, but he can’t do little title graphics or anything like that. We needed people who had many skills, and that shifted things quite a bit.
And I saw the people who weren’t really willing to embrace that because they were very stuck in “Well, no, this is how it’s supposed to be” and “I went through all this training to learn this one thing, and these kids are coming in and taking our jobs.” No, they’re just willing to do things differently. And we have to keep learning from the people who are younger than us, just as much as the people who have been around for longer. Because people now, they don’t want to work at one job for their entire lives. That sounds like the most dreadful thing in the world. They want to try a lot of different things, figure out what they like to do, what they want to do, and maybe they do something for a few years and think, I don’t want to do that anymore. And that’s okay.
People hire me because they want a story told
Jarrod: No, it is. And I mean, you nailed it. You know, that book “Range,” where it talks about being a generalist in so many areas. And I kind of look at that progression in my world of having started in film production in New York City, and working on high six-figure rap videos in my mid 20s. Then how it progressed into live television. And then I came into the agency world. But then I came in-house. And then when I went in-house, I started understanding more about marketing. I started understanding about what a conversion rate was, what leads were, and how the creative affects that, and how to create that messaging to make that scene. And then having dipped in and out of the agency world and the in-house world, I’ve picked up all these little areas over the years.
So that gets back to what we were saying earlier. When someone refers to me as a producer in a day, I’m like, I haven’t produced something in that world, like a commercial or any sorts, in probably like five years. Because that is not what I do. What I do is I connect people. What I do is I inspire people. I have a good sense of design and direction, and the messaging that comes behind it. People hire me because they want a story told. Yes, everyone talks about stories, but I come in to really have people understand that it’s not about just checking the boxes of what you do. There are 200 other companies that do what you do. Let’s really look at your why. And that gets back to what we’ve been talking about. It’s surrendering, and who is it behind the brick and mortar? Who is it behind the shingle out front? People aren’t buying the commodity. You know this, Amanda. They’re not coming for bookkeeping services. They’re coming because they think Amanda’s pretty kick-ass, and there’s a connection there. Yes, and she does the job really well. But I can go many other places to get that. I go to certain people, and I go to certain places, why? Because of what the company is and who they are. And I think those people, especially today, like you said, that they’re able to absolutely look at it from a generalist side and take on more roles. Look, with your company that you’ve created, if you just kept it in the singular world of, “I’m just going to be a production company,” you know this about a company. That is not a company. That is find the work, do the work. The thing with a company is, what can I do to systemize things so that it makes money without me having to do all the work? You’re starting to do that, and that’s amazing. And that takes a lot of work. And it takes little dips and dives into places that you probably, on this journey, you were like, “I’m not going to get into that. I’m just gonna do this.”
Amanda: What you’re talking about is exactly why I started doing what I do. You mentioned how you started doing projections and things that you never did as a producer. And that’s the part that I find a lot of creatives don’t want anything to do with because that sounds business-y. That sounds too detailed. But getting control over those things, those details, the business side of your business… and I’ve said it a lot of times, I hate it when people say “oh, I’m just a freelancer.” I’m like, no, no, you’re running a business! It’s a one-person business.
Jarrod: Yeah, you are a solo brand.
Amanda: Even that, with being a solo brand… because that was another piece of advice I did not take when I started this company… is a lot of people told me “Oh, so you’re going to start a production company?” No. I spent more than a decade managing production companies. I don’t want to be a company anymore. “Oh, yeah. But you should make your website, and all your copy should say ‘we’ and you make yourself sound like you’re a bigger company.” No! I just want to be me! I don’t want to be responsible for anybody else, especially their income. I don’t want to have employees and deal with overhead and do all of that. I want to scale back, where everybody else is trying to scale up and do this. I don’t want to be an agency; I don’t want to be a team. I have a team, and there are people who I work with, whether it’s my clients or vendors that I outsource certain things to. There are still people in my circle, but I’m responsible for me. I get to make the call of what I need to do. And that’s how I connect with my clients because I’m very much a one-on-one person.
And that has shifted quite a bit. It used to be, make yourself look like a company, or make yourself look like an agency. But this personal branding, which some people were hesitant about in the beginning, that has taken a big shift. And I keep saying the word shift, but that’s what it is. Now people want to know who they’re working with. They want to connect on a much bigger level. Like you said before, I want to work with Jarrod. I don’t want to work with professional producer guy, or the one that’s going to say all the lip service and not do what I need them to do. I want the guy who is authentic, and who is telling me who he is, and I know that we have the same values. And things that might not seem like it’s connected to the project, but it very much is, because we’re all people and we’re working with people. And I don’t want to do my business with some company where it could be any one of 20 people doing what I need them to do. I want to know that I have that connection with my vendors, the same way that my clients do with me, where they can call me. And yes, I might do your bookkeeping, but they still call me when they need bigger business advice. Normally they can handle their own thing, but there might be something and they’re like, “I need a second set of eyes on this” or “What’s your opinion on that?” And I value that so much because if they had just hired some bookkeeping company, you don’t really get that. And I don’t even like doing bookkeeping, necessarily. The reason I do it for some, and not for all, is because it keeps that connection going. When I know what the numbers are doing, I can make better recommendations for the bigger picture. The numbers are very important, whether people like it or not.
What it comes down to is, do they see you for you?
Jarrod: No, I mean, and with creative people, look. I had to look at it myself from a creative side, from a truly creative side, you get capped in how much and where you can really go with things. I’ve known several that, like, they get stuck in this world of their value is on project per project. I went in-house again to create a business for someone else that could run without him. And my backend on that is the percentage that is going to happen in the next 18 months that kind of does the same thing for me, too. And it’s leveraging my strengths. The thing that you were talking about with your clients, now I look at it from this way. If I can bring experience, understanding, and empathy to people, and humility. I bring those things to the table time and time again. I get told, and I see different things in life. I mean, there’s just a level of coming to someone and looking them eye to eye, as opposed to, well, these are the things that we can do. Nobody gives a shit about that. They just don’t. What it comes down to is, do they see you for you? And also, can you do the work, obviously. But you’ve given yourself this wonderful platform to show up in those areas, and to bring value, and to charge extra services to people as you see them, not to just throw something else on there. But that is a true business of offering services that, from a consulting side or whatever, that you can add different levels of value to people.
Amanda: It goes back to the social media thing and why I don’t stay with that. I don’t feel that engagement there. I’m not big on just looking for a number of followers. I want the right ones. The podcast helps me provide that value in a different way. If somebody is going to work with me, or anybody from… we know I don’t like the word “coach”… but from that kind of angle, you want to know that person first. You want to know what their personality is like, what they’ve done in their own career, how they feel about things. You can’t always get that from the curated Instagram feed, because you don’t always know what’s behind that. People can listen to the podcast. They can see I don’t speak perfectly. I make all kinds of mistakes with this, but the content, the value, my thoughts on things, and what I’ve done, and how I’ve done it, and being honest enough to say, “My way might not work for you. You have to find the one that is right for you, or the different ways, because we’re all very different.”
And I’m not out there promising that you can make multi six-figure incomes if you just do this, this and that. No, because I don’t believe in that. And I’m not going to inundate somebody’s inbox with all these messages, and these motivational pieces, and this and that. And I do know that my marketing game could be improved, and it should be in a number of ways. I’m not there yet, but it’s a constant evolution of what I do. This is that first step. I don’t think that you should work with a coach or a consultant or a mentor of any kind, if you don’t resonate with who they are as a person. So you need to be able to find that. It’s not just copy on a website, and it’s not just photos and little tweets and things. It’s like having a conversation with somebody. In this case, they’re not in on this conversation with us, but they can get a sense of who we both are and think, “Oh, I want to work with them.”
Amanda: Because you should.
Amanda: They should want to work with Jarrod Oram.
I want to be in a place to create content that helps people
Jarrod: Well, I mean, I think between the two of us, it’s like, come on. You know, it’s interesting. Last year when I was let go of that job, and what I was really putting my intention to, is that I want to be in a place to create content that helps people. Now, in my own limiting thoughts with that, it was creating some channels wrapped around male vulnerability and mental wellness on that side. And lo and behold, my boss today reaches out, and he wants to build his personal brand. And it was about a month into it that I was like, I’m creating content for people that need help in the business world. And in that same way of, if he was selling house flipping seminars or some things like that, I’d be out. But he’s created systems that have worked for decades. And I’ve been in conferences and conventions, 5000 plus people, where they have an awards night, and it’s this couple that owns a car repair shop in Wisconsin, and they’ve turned around their profit margin by 300% in two years. And they get up and they have tears of gratitude, literal tears, thanking him for his strategies and services. Because you and I are in the same boat. If I was working for, like, some Grant Cardone bullshit or something like that, I would be out. Because, yeah, that’s a fine line. I understand your side of, like, I don’t really want to offer this motivational side and everything. I think there’s a space for that, especially with your messaging. I also know, Amanda, the hardest person to market is ourselves, even when it’s our own business. But I mean, there’s absolutely people out there in the world that connect with you.
Look, sometimes we just need someone to see us and say, “You know what? I see you. You can do it today.” And it’s something as simple as that. “You got this.” And I’ll tell you what, as taking over someone’s brand and putting that type of messaging out, but in a more authentic way as opposed to just “rah rah” and “go crush this” and trying to throw in Millennial language to seem younger and everything. People resonate with it. I started a series of Sunday affirmations that I post on his social media channels, and the engagement on those is through the roof in that. Because sometimes people just want, they need, to find something to see that says, “You know what? I can do this” when it is inside all of us. And sometimes we’re the last one to see in ourselves. So we need, like you said, we need that coach, we need that consultant, we need that mentor, that won’t just give us fluff, that will sit there and hold accountability, and make you do the work, but then also be there and say, “Hey, you got this. You can do this.”
Humans were put on this planet to engage with other humans. It’s why we’re here. Even as an extroverted introvert that I can be, it is… Pandemic, I’m like, this is great. I could sit in my place, I get to listen to records, and it’s awesome. I think you and I were joking and it was like… and I’m probably my over/under on the first concert that I’m going to spend money on pandemic-wise is probably about $3000, might be more, and I’m probably just going to sit there and cry tears of joy to be around that energy again. And so, from a collective side, it’s so needed, and especially from an individual side. Relationships are meant to be vulnerable, because in that vulnerability, there’s trust. And where there’s trust, there’s intimacy. And when Intimacy happens, then that’s the thing that people can really grow with. And that happens in the professional side as well. That’s what really can happen in the coach/mentor side, especially when people start seeing results from it.
Amanda: I think that part about being seen is really important to mention, because so many of us don’t feel that way. You just work, work work, and you don’t do it for any kind of acknowledgement, but you kind of need it to be there
Jarrod: You absolutely need it though.
Amanda: Sometimes when you’re the one that seems like you have it all together, nobody pays attention. Because you don’t worry about the person that’s doing fine. You worry about the people who are struggling, which is okay. But I had this very strange thing happen at the end of 2020. In the holiday season, normally the custom is that you get gifts for your clients as a thank you for all the work and this and that. It was a weird year. But my clients got me gifts. I had this whole week of cookies, and gift baskets, and random bonus checks, and calls saying, “Hey, we don’t want you to work the next two weeks, but we’re going to pay you for it.” All of these weird things that shouldn’t be weird, but they are weird, that just kind of came all at once. And I thought, well, this is why you work with the people that you connect with, and you don’t just take any job with anybody for any reason. These people value what I have to offer just as much as I value what they offer me. It’s a very reciprocal relationship, and that’s what’s important to me. I develop those relationships with other individuals, not with companies.
And so it kind of ties back in with being your personal brand. You can still have a company and be a personal brand. But that individualized service, for a lot of people is pretty important. Especially when you’re a single person running a business – a freelancer, a solopreneur, a single person business, whatever you want to call it – sometimes because you don’t have that team, you need other people to talk to, and to see you, and say, “Hey, we’re all doing this. We’re all doing it our own way.” If nothing else, if I can be a testament to the fact that you can grow up without money, you can grow up without any type of handout, and you can work really hard… because that’s what I’ve been doing since I was 16… and you can pave your own way by doing the work and trying different things. And it can work out. I’m proof of that. And I want to inspire other people to try. If you’re tired of that corporate life and you don’t want it anymore, and you think you can make a go at this other thing that you really want to do, do it.
Who you are today, what you do today, does not define you
Jarrod: There’s no better time than to do it right now. People are always like, “Well, I’ve been doing this for so long, and I’m in my 40s.” And look, I’m saying that because I’ve said that to myself so many times. And, you know, you’ll see memes of Stan Lee didn’t start Spider Man until he was 40, and Vera Wang did her first… you know, all that, but it’s true. We can put those labels on like, “Well, I’m so far into my career that this is what I’m destined to do.” I have a really, really good paying job right now. And I really enjoy what I’m doing. And on the flip side of really making my photography a business this year, and seeing what happens with it, because I’ve had it validated through a number of sales. And if that could end up being the thing, I mean, holy smokes. Then y’all are just paying me to travel to places to shoot abandoned graffiti stuff in the desert, which is like my holy trinity. Yeah, and if you had told me that four years ago, I’d have been like, “No, I just I gotta find a producer job. Because that’s what I do.” And that’s just not who I am today. And that’s taken a lot of work to shed that stuff away and to get to a place of comfortability with that.
Amanda: If you had one piece of advice for other self-employed creatives out there, what would it be?
Jarrod: I hope you can find and see the difference between a mind F and a gut punch. Because a mind F is never right, and a gut punch is never wrong. And trusting. Trusting your gut and trusting yourself, and that who you are today, what you do today, does not define you. You are your own entity. There is not another entity, there is not another brand, like you today. There’s not another one on this planet. You are your own unique selling proposition. And you can pivot, you can shift, you can do any other stupid 2020 words that we’ve overused, but there’s that capacity inside you. And you’re worth it, and you have it and you can do it. It gets back to that belief of what are you doing to take care of yourself in order to then take that to the world? Because I cannot give away what I don’t possess inside.
Amanda: I couldn’t have said it any better. So where can people find you if they want to see the work of Jarrod Oram
Jarrod: Let’s see, photography website coming soon. It’s an awful portfolio page right now. But you can just go to Instagram, and it’s @jarrodoram. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s what the best to promote at this time. And yeah, just super grateful, Amanda. Super grateful for your relationship and how it’s grown over the years. It’s so wonderful to find people along the journey, and then you’re still aligned in that journey. That’s what this thing is all about is finding people that it’s like, alright, cool. We’re still a part of it. And if there was a time that it didn’t, that’s alright, too, because we had a badass time on the journey together.
Amanda: Apparently, we were destined to be friends at some point.
Amanda: We both worked for the same company at different times. I had left, and then you came in, and I think I met you because I still used to have lunch with my old coworkers who were your current coworkers. So, I met you there, and then you had gone into some business with another friend of ours who used to work at that company, too, who had also left. You went into the advertising world, where I did not work at any time, except for they were a client at the company where I worked. And then, eventually, you showed up and you walked in the door, and we worked at the same place at the same time.
Amanda: And it was, I don’t think a very good time for either of us in that specific moment. There were just some different issues. I think I was getting towards that point of burnout with the busyness of working for somebody else.
Amanda: That shifted away, but then it was able to maintain in a better way, I think, because then there wasn’t any work related to it. We could just have these conversations, and you might call for one thing and then we end up on the phone for an hour.
Jarrod: Oh, yeah.
Amanda: You and I just think so much alike. And so I’m glad that, even though it was a nontraditional path that brought us together, that it eventually happened.
Jarrod: Would it be anything other than nontraditional between you and me though? I mean, come on.
Amanda: No. It all starts with a music, really.
Amanda: Because anybody with your taste in music, who understands, those are the things… Music has nothing to do with my work, but it’s probably my biggest passion in life. I can’t not listen to music, and there’s something about it that makes me feel in a way that nothing else does. You get that. I like photography. That’s another unexplored hobby of mine. But the way that you take the pictures – the abandoned and the broken down – it ties in with the way I like to find the beauty in the places you wouldn’t expect it.
Amanda: It all works.
Jarrod: It all works. I would just say this to anyone as well. You want to get in the car and just drive somewhere. Put Miles Davis’ “In a Silent Way” on, and happy 2021 on that one, because you’re welcome.
Amanda: Well, thank you for your time today, Jarrod. I’ve enjoyed this very much.
Jarrod: Awesome. Thank you so much, Amanda. Talk soon.
Connect with Jarrod @jarrodoram