Public relations and marketing entrepreneur Lyndon Johnson talks about collaboration, communication and the power of the people.

Lyndon Johnson has been waiting for years for Studio. As a public relations entrepreneur, offering services retail rather than retainer style, the space in downtown Toronto could not be better suited for his business needs. And as the president of his own company, he’s always on the lookout for ways to lead into the light.

Tell us about your business Comms Bar.
Lyndon Johnson: Essentially the nature of my business is public relations and marketing strategy, but delivered on-demand as a service rather than the traditional model. We help entrepreneurs with public relations and marketing challenges, in order to help them grow their businesses.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I’d worked for somebody else for most of my career and when I came to Canada, I couldn’t actually work for somebody else when I arrived. Being an entrepreneur and working for myself was really the only option and I found that I kind of enjoyed it. What excites me about being an entrepreneur really, is your opportunity to help other entrepreneurs to solve a problem and to grow their businesses.

How does Studio fit into what you do and how you do it?
So I’ve been at Studio since the beginning. I was here on day one as one of the founder members and it has become an essential part of my work day. Honestly because of the way that my business model is set up, I’ve been waiting for somebody to do what Staples has done with studio for years. Because my business revolves around retail and about being accessible for entrepreneurs to be able to walk in and get advice on public relations and marketing the way you would if you were going to Apple or Microsoft to get advice on technology, being able to be out front was key. So it’s an integral part of what I do. I come to work. I spend the first-hour doing emails and then the remainder of the day is out front, waiting for entrepreneurs to walk in and ask questions.

Have you met like-minded entrepreneurs at Studio?
One of the things about Studio is that I’ve been able to find people that can help me grow my business. A challenge that I faced was finding people that wanted to work in the same way that I do, and I’ve been lucky to find a couple of people here that are giving me the ability to help entrepreneurs in ways I couldn’t have done had I not met them.

How does the environment support you and get you close to your goals?
The space gives me the flexibility to try things that I’ve not been able to try previously. It gives me the opportunity to be front and centre for entrepreneurs to be able to walk in. It gives me a space where I can do email and I can have quiet time and it gives me also the opportunity to talk with other entrepreneurs every day.

What is the thing that drives you?
So the thing that drives me is being able to help other entrepreneurs. It was the reason I started the company — to solve a problem that I’d seen repeatedly while working in traditional agencies. The one where small and mid-sized companies startups were looking to get help and could only buy a fixed product and it cost them a lot of money. And so the thing that drives me is finding a solution to that problem that enables me to be part of other entrepreneurs building their businesses.

What do you think defines an entrepreneur?
Think about it think entrepreneurs somebody that is prepared to take a risk in order to solve a problem. People always say that being an entrepreneur is about the freedom or the lifestyle and it definitely isn’t that. I think that it’s about sacrifice. It’s what are you prepared to sacrifice in order to solve a problem that delivers value for other people. And the motivation for that will vary but I think ultimately it’s how. How prepared are you to sacrifice things in order to solve a problem.

How did you start working with Jane from Zorro Branding, another member here at Studio?
It became clear that Jane had the same view about values and about what you stand for and that’s how you connect with customers, and so we just got talking about it. I often say to people, “How do you define brand?” because it’s kind of one of the things that I look for to qualify whether somebody is gonna be able to work with me or whether I’m going to be able to work with them. And from that conversation it became clear that there was a lot of overlap in the way that we approached it. And so we’ve looked at a way to develop a tool that actually helps develop a brand in the same framework that I’ve developed for the other core disciplines of communications. As well as a couple of tools that enable entrepreneurs to see what their brand is actually… what their key relationships are between their customers, their investors and their partners. There is a lot of overlap for us, and now we work together.

For more information on Staples Studio visit studio.staples.ca.

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