CEO & Co-founder
Location: Boulder, CO
*Second Year Honoree*
“Above all, love the question, ‘what is it time for now?’”
Jason Cormier asks himself this question often - and always has a plan.
Cormier, CEO & Co-Founder of Room 214, a multi-million-dollar marketing firm, holds the keys to unlock success. He said that the toughest lock he has recently opened, leading through change, made him take notice of himself.
“The first person I strive to lead well is myself, knowing that if I’m healthy in my mind, body and spirit -- the empathy and humility needed for being present to all more naturally follows,” he said. “Leading through change starts with the practice of being present.”
He explained that transitioning to a remote work environment due to the pandemic, the pursuit of company growth manifested in two ways. First, he decided to pursue new hires outside the state of Colorado.
“Although we’ve talked about the need for more diversity in our company for years, there have been many challenges related to our industry and geography that have kept us from realizing a true change,” he said.
Now that this change was within reach, he grasped the opportunity with both hands. Choosing to invest in a formal diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program, he hired a consulting company for a 6-month term to build team awareness around unconscious bias, diversity and the development of employee recruitment/hiring practices that are more aligned with hiring a diverse workforce. The pursuit of growth also came through a one-year investment in a certified EOS implementer to guide the leadership team in establishing the Entrepreneurial Operating System developed by Gino Wickman (Traction).
Still, as the pandemic gained momentum, there was a sudden shift from comfort to fear. That period of fear evolved into one of learning.
“A leader’s communication must evolve with the cycles and circumstances of the business,” he said. “Closely related to my greatest leadership lesson learned last year, my support role during the pandemic was one of Chief Communicator. Of course, that is already a natural role for both me and my co-founding business partner. But it was different in 2020, and something that became especially significant in the early, March-May, stages of the pandemic.”
As expected from a Titan, Cormier handled the situation to ensure the company did not fall apart.
Needing a new anchor point of communication to help the company feel together and encouraged at such a strange time, Cormier said in addition to transparency, it was the little things that made the biggest difference. He said that instead of just sending a weekly email update that was absent of tone, he started going to the office to create a weekly video update to better connect.
“I did this from mid-March up to May, and it helped us all adjust to the ‘new normal’ of that time,” Cormier said.
But his leadership went well further than that. He said he knew 2020 would be a year to invest in the future out of necessity, and this investment began with an evaluation of technology and processes. This led to investing in two new video conference devices, along with new Apple computers with faster video processing capabilities for every employee, in addition to other pertinent software choices. Cormier said this altered our most important, bi-weekly company-wide meeting, The Huddle, to be more virtual-friendly, keeping the company connected on this new level.
Cormier said that while giving up early is common, maintaining a high level of ‘stick-to-it-tiveness’, a term he coined, is pertinent.
“Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. Simply that will place you far ahead of the masses,” he said. “Keep the fire of your curiosity stoked, and seek a higher, more inclusive way of being.”
Cormier’s joy of his work is the best self measurement for his success and recognizes collective efforts are greater than individual ones.
“Summing it up, the pandemic disrupted our business more than anything we’ve experienced since we started in 2004,” Cormier said. “It took us all working together to stay together.”
And under Cormier’s leadership, they made things happen when the question was asked,
“What is it time for now?”
"Leading through change starts with the practice of being present."