This month, we have a special feature on our CEO and Founder, Jim James, who just celebrated his 50th birthday. Based in Beijing with his family, Jim also has a diversified portfolio as the founder of four other organisations. Read on to find out more about Jim’s journey since he started EASTWEST 22 years ago.
Did you think that you would be a founder of a 22-year old PR firm with businesses across Asia?
I wanted to be a movie producer in Los Angeles when I was young, briefly considered law when I was older, then discovered marketing and Asia in my early 20’s. My middle-class family in England is comprised of teachers, lawyers and social workers, and entrepreneurship was the last vocation on my mind as I grew up.
I saw opportunities in Asia and coupled with a rather headstrong desire to create something in my own vision, EASTWEST was formed in Singapore in 1995. We have been in business for such a long time purely because of our fundamental vision to add value with every communication. Through the years, it still stands true to what clients want. Entrepreneurship has been the best way to safeguard that vision.
What kind of CEO did you want to be and how closely have you stuck to it?
A CEO creates a culture, rules, and direction for a staff, suppliers and clients, and that is very challenging as one tries to mature as a person at the same time while growing a business. I have always tried to follow the simple rule of ‘doing to others as you would have them do unto you’. It hasn’t always worked well, but I retain my integrity and loyalty from my employees that last beyond the pay packet. As the saying goes, it profits no one to earn a fortune at the expense of one’s soul.
What are your three biggest accomplishments?
EASTWEST is still in business.
I have transitioned from being the business to owning a business.
My work life balance ensures that I have a wonderful relationship with my children.
Aside from EASTWEST, you also own equity in Eggplant Digital, WAKE Energy Drinks, Morgan Cars China & the British Motorsport Festival (BMF). They are all from diverse industries. What are the motivations behind your entrepreneurship ventures?
Entrepreneurship is about seeing value that is not being added to a group of customers, and building a business to exploit that opportunity. The common elements in my businesses are that they all involve brand building with high value products and that many of them are British. EASTWEST & Eggplant are service companies, WAKE & Morgan are products, and the BMF is an event to showcase these and other products.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I don’t look back. I feel extremely blessed to be in the position that I am in.
What other CEOs do you look up to?
Bill Gates for his foresight, relaxed demeanour, solid family and contribution to humanity.
Richard Branson for breaking so many taboo’s about how a leader should act and behave.
Verne Harnish, author of Rockefeller Habits, for changing my life with his knowledge, friendship and encouragement.
What was the proudest moment in your career?
It is yet to come.
When you’re not working, what will you be doing, aside from spending time with the family?
Working on my ‘Fit @ 50’ regime to stave off the effects of the various sweet things that my daughters are starting to cook.