In the fourth episode of To The Point, we get the opportunity to sit down with the mastermind himself, James Orsini, and learn how to use out-of-the-box thinking to achieve our goals. James is president of The Sasha Group, and works closely with Gary Vaynerchuk as former VaynerMedia COO.
No matter what you’re going through in business, James has been through at every level imaginable, and we pick his brain to gain some insight into what made him so successful.
As some may know from his twitter handle, James has the nickname “Jimmy the Pencil”. What might surprise you is, despite his background in accounting and as a New York State CPA, the “pencil” part of the nickname actually comes from Orsini having a pencil-thin mustache when he was in high school and college. Although he comes from 3 generations of plumbers, after a quick stint as a teenager working for his father’s plumbing business, his father told James to go to school and that his brother would take over the family company. While plumbing wasn’t his forte, James certainly found his calling in the end.
From Wall Street and Super Bowl commercials to overseeing operations at VaynerMedia and consulting with SMBs to help them grow at The Sasha Group, James Orsini’s experience and unique talent for unorthodox solutions to conventional problems has made him sought out by some of the brightest minds in multiple industries.
Recognizing the utility of avoiding the “it’s always been done this way” approach, James encourages fostering an outside-the-box spirit in your employees. This all starts with empowering your employees, and finding ways to grow that spirit by giving them a voice. James isn’t afraid to hire people smarter than him, either. In fact, that’s precisely what he aims for! To those intimidated or afraid to take on smarter employees, James reminds us that wisdom and experience are invaluable, and can’t simply be brainstormed. His confidence stems from the years of learning what works and what doesn’t, and complimenting that with the smartest employees he can find is a formula for success.
Still, someone has to set the vision for execution. Brainpower without direction won’t go anywhere, so in addition to fostering the out-of-the-box thinking, it’s vital to keep steering the ship. Once you have some great ideas, the next step is to use that wisdom from experience to formulate a winning strategy for success. Your employees may have a fresh new approach to an old problem, but understanding the potential pitfalls is something that only experience can teach.
What does the president of a highly influential and successful business do when he shows up to the office first? He makes the first batch of coffee. James hammers home the point that being a leader isn’t just about directing your followers, it’s about setting the tone and an example for how to act. Even though he has many, many people working underneath him, James doesn’t shy away from changing the trash cans, making a new pot of coffee, or any of the other simple tasks that still need to get done. He shows up on time, isn’t late for meetings, and because he holds himself to such high standards, he can subsequently hold his employees to high standards—resulting in success.
Parting Words of Wisdom
We ask James if there was one thing, one piece of advice that our listeners could take away to set themselves apart from the pack. His answer—take the time to understand the digital landscape. The internet has leveled the playing field, and its reach extends beyond what we ever imagined. It can elect presidents, start and destroy companies, and make or break your career. Understanding this tool and how to utilize it for successful advertising by integrating into your business model is crucial. After all, if you aren’t doing it—your competitor likely is.
As we know, time is our most valuable asset, and we truly thank James for taking this moment out of his busy life to lend us some valuable insight into what makes him so successful. Follow James on Twitter, or learn more about his work with The Sasha Group here.