Catalyst for Thought is a local nonprofit organization with a goal to advance the community by educating and motivating individuals to create, develop and act on their entrepreneurial ideas. Through its MINDS series, Catalyst for Thought seeks to create a unique synergy between featured speakers and a small group of local entrepreneurs to empower each individual to help create solutions that affect society and inspire others.
Jason Womack wants things to be better. As a small business entrepreneur, adviser and investor, he has built his career upon his desire to help others realize and utilize their full potential. This focus became the premise behind starting his productivity blog in 2004 called Your Best Just Got Better, and ultimately this became the foundation of his new book due out in January: Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More.
Womack recently spoke to an intimate group at the University Club of Santa Barbara about the three areas of focus that leaders need, and his enthusiasm and passion were infectious.
As a lifelong learner, Womack has an innate curiosity and a “passion-for-the-problem” mindset that has driven his career. He earned his A.A. in Spanish from SBCC, his bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and history, and his master’s degree in education from UCSB. He later added a master’s in psychology from the University of Santa Monica.
For six years, he taught at both Nordhoff High School in Ojai and Santa Barbara High School, and every day he would call five of his students and their parents, and acknowledge the good things they’ve done. By the end of the year he had spoken with each student and their parents three to five times, and he found that by focusing on each student’s potential and using positive reinforcement, he in turn received positive results.
“I’m inspired by possibility,” Womack said when asked about what most inspires him.
But unable to limit himself to just one, he added that he also draws inspiration from “the learning process, curiosity and people who ask questions and are fundamentally curious. Also people who love their work.” Womack feeds his own curiosity and passion for possibility by spending time daily watching videos on both www.ted.com and www.poptech.com.
After a successful career as an educator, Womack and his wife, Jody Womack, decided to start The Womack Co. in 2007, and over the years he has worked with clients in 43 of the 50 United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Guatemala, Switzerland and Venezuela. The Womack Co. focuses on working with executives and companies to build organizational systems and implement strategic best-practice behaviors to focus on priorities, manage change and successfully plan for the future.
At the heart of his company’s message as well as his University Club talk, Womack emphasized the three areas of focus that leaders need: show up, do good work and stay in touch.
“Time exists so that everything doesn’t happen at once,” said Womack. He then went on to talk about how, once he accepted the fact that there’s just too much to do, he was able to move forward. One of the techniques he uses to help his clients learn how to better prioritize their To Do List is MIT: Most Important Things. Womack suggests making a list of the things you hope to accomplish each day and week, and then picking four or fewer things to accomplish with true excellence. The MIT list can and should change on a daily basis.
The other part of having an MIT list is having the time to be able to accomplish the items on that list. One of the things Womack does when he works with his clients is to help them understand how to better use their time to accomplish their goals.
Do Good Work
“Think about what you have to do and do something you’re thinking about,” he explained. This is Womack’s favorite quote because to him it embodies his belief in the yin-yang relationship between Thinking and Doing. A lot of people are thinking, and plenty of people are doing a lot of things that keep them busy, but what truly makes a difference is this idea of the ability for people to elevate their thinking, then practice implementation and experimentation of those ideas.
“People love people who do the things they say they’re going to do,” said Womack, who co-wrote a book called The Promise Doctrine with his father, Craig P. Womack, who was CEO of The Sharper Image. This book came from their mutual desire to create a guidebook to help people create systems for consistently delivering on their promises. As Marshall Goldsmith notes in his foreword, “ethical behavior is a key characteristic of successful leaders. If people are going to willingly follow a leader, they need to trust that their leaders are going to bring them to a place where they want to be.”
Stay In Touch
At one point, Womack was speaking at the same conference as one of his mentors, one of the world’s leading motivational speakers, and afterward he told Womack: “You’ve got to know who to count on and who to count out.” That saying has stuck with him ever since.
“I send out one handwritten thank-you card each day,” said Womack. “I’ve found that if I’m tuned to find someone I’m grateful for, someone grateful will show up.”
Womack certainly has a passion for meeting people. Once a week he uses one of his Twitter handles, @coffeechat, to bring people together — depending on where in the world he happens to be. The idea came from his interest in meeting people and other people’s interest in coffee, and so far he’s said that these meetings have been “a wild kick in the pants.”
Womack is also involved in professional organizations such as the American Society of Training and Development, the National Speakers Association and the World Future Society, and is a minority investor in two technology companies and several other startups in retail and service-oriented industries. He also serves on the board of Sprigeo.com and the SBCC Alumni Foundation and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Ventura Ventures Technology Center.
“We are smarter together,” said Womack. “I will partner with anyone who wants to do something big because I know I can go fast by myself, but together we can go farther.”
Suggested Reading List
» The Promise Doctrine by Craig P. Womack and Jason W. Womack
» Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis
Catalyst For Thought’s next MINDS event will be 5:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at the University Club of Santa Barbara, 1332 Santa Barbara St. The event features Klaus Schauser and Jim Semick speaking about “Market Validation: Getting it Right the First Time.”