I have been Facebook friend with Olga Kostrova, serial entrepreneur, marketer and wife of Jan Hutchins for years now. Since Olga and Jan married and started SocialAgenda Media, a thought leadership marketing company that they run together, I’ve had a chance to observe the palpable joy in their social shares and photos that represent their life adventure. They exude love and radiate a sense of fulfillment.
Jan’s career had interesting twists and turns. Emmy award winning TV producer, 20 years as a sports and news anchor on television and loved by the SF Bay Area audience, 4 years in politics serving on the town council and as a Mayor of Los Gatos, he now travels the world speaking, coaching executives, consulting on thought leadership marketing and helping to launch other remarkable people. I interviewed Olga a while back when she ran another company. This time I ask Jan a few questions:
Deepak: Is it easy to be a celebrity? Fame is promoted by media, but is fame something for us to strive for?
Jan Hutchins: It was easy for me to become a celebrity. I broke into major market TV when I was just 23. Living the life of celebrity, at least the modest kind I experienced, was seductively confusing for someone still forming an adult ego structure and produced distortions I eventually had to recognize and reframe. I can recommend striving for accomplishment, but not fame and the loss of privacy and increase in ego that come with it.
Deepak: How is what you’ve learned during your political career now applied in practices of your thought leadership marketing agency?
Jan Hutchins: As a “politician”, and I put that in quotes because I consistently refused to do anything political when running for or serving in office, I practiced “seek first to understand, and only then attempt to be understood”. The art of marketing is done best on a canvas that can absorb the message and reflect it into the world in a way that enhances the message, so giving is necessary to receive, learning is required before teaching, hearing should be practiced prior to speaking. I also discovered John Gardner’s “learning communities” modality teaches a modern truth, that people today come to most situations unprepared to learn, so ideally one must consciously create a learning environment for constituencies before seeking to communicate with them.
Deepak: You have also recently launched a speaker’s bureau? What inspired you to represent other speakers?
Jan Hutchins: We were often asked by existing clients to help them evangelize their message. Public speaking is a powerful means of doing that and forces our clients creatively craft and clearly express their ideas. Speaking also provides immediate, visceral feedback that is almost impossible to produce otherwise.
Deepak: As a speaker, what are the messages you advocate in your speeches?
Jan Hutchins: I speak to businesses, non-profits, associations, and institutions and offer messages about the inner challenges necessary to face in order to meet the outer demands being experienced by individuals or organizations. By living as a Black man in a White world, journalist trained to have perspective on issues, political servant charged with representing and being responsible for a community, community builder and fundraiser or elder, yogi and teacher to individuals in intense somatic settings, I’ve developed practices and understandings that empower and inform my audiences whether I speak, coach or consult. The insights serve in discussions about leadership, teamwork, health and fitness, community service, and handling the pressures of modern life. I expect people hearing my talks to leave having remembered who they really are, recognized themselves and having seen new perspectives for themselves from my stories and able to relate to their world in a way that feels more infused with love, power and possibility.
Deepak: You run your company together with you wife? Is it difficult to mix work with pleasure?
Jan Hutchins: Yes, and yet, it’s a challenge we profoundly enjoy and appreciate. We both thrive on the inevitable tension of co-creating. It forces us to consciously choose to stay “inside the circle of love” in our relationship, and we get to experience the joy of sharing our blessing with clients and the world. I’m surrendering into new ways of being. I’m learning what it’s like to love and be loved unconditionally, and what it’s like to interact adult to adult to create win-win relationships.
Deepak: People seem fundamentally afraid of aging and you in your soon to be 65 represent something we all want to believe in – love, vitality and success. What words of encouragement can you offer?
Jan Hutchins: Make every day a new beginning. A commitment to fitness and health is the best investment anyone can make. Realizing life is dynamic rather than static and developing the physical and emotional flexibility to ride the inevitable waves of change is essential to aging gracefully. Because I’ve done this, I’m able to fully receive the blessing of this most wonderful adventure of my life.