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7 Questions with Jamie Prince
7 Questions with Jamie Prince
Name: Jamie Prince
Current title: Founder
Current organisation: flourish
In the pit of the 2009 Great Recession, Jamie Prince took a leap of faith and started flourish, a consultancy for small- and family-owned businesses located in Greenville, South Carolina. Nearly twelve years later, flourish includes more than a dozen subject-matter experts in marketing, public relations, strategic communications, and corporate and non-profit fundraising event production, each averaging 19 years of experience.
Jamie's gift is seeing what others may miss, and identifying ways for businesses to grow, through a blend of best practices and unique, customized strategy. She and her team have served more than 125 brands and have been honored with more than 60 awards at the international, national, and local levels.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
Wearing all the hats when your gifts lay in only a few specific areas. For example, no one ever taught me the ins and outs of HR. As we've grown, of course, I've been able to delegate most of the things I'm not as skilled at, but as the leader of the company, I'm still expected to "know everything," at least at a level to be dangerous. That's a huge challenge.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
When my first child was born in 2007, I was working 70-80 hour weeks with a two-hour commute everyday for an international real estate company as its director of corporate communications. My daughter was the first to be dropped off at daycare and the last to be picked up each day. It wasn't sustainable. So, after about a year of convincing my husband that I could break out on my own, we finally did it. He provided the seed funding to flourish, and I made the leap when our daughter was about 18 months old. I assumed flourish would be a one-woman show, and that I'd serve as a strategic communications consultant, but when word got out that I was on my own, my former employer's competitors came calling immediately. It was the summer of 2009, and everyone - especially those in real estate - were struggling. They couldn't afford a big agency, but they needed senior-level guidance. I became the answer. Before long, I was hiring support staff ,and the rest is history.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Let me preface this by saying that I have three children: a 13-year old daughter and 10 year-old twins. So, my day reflects more of a three-ring circus act some weeks, and a master juggling act other times.
I wake up around 6:30, help get the kids off to school, and then spend the next hour or two reading, writing, or some days, using the quiet time to refine processes or develop new business avenues for flourish.
I go into the office, usually, three days a week, getting there around 10 am. We have an after-school nanny who helps our family, so on in-office days, I typically stay until it's time to pick up one of the children from their activities - 7 or 8 o'clock.
My in-office days are filled with meetings, calls, and a lot of work in the business and on the business. After work, I am a full-time mom. I usually wind down around 10 pm and go to sleep between 10:30 and midnight.
I usually work remotely, from my home office, one to two days a week. Those days are more flexible, naturally, but I typically use them for catching up on emails, fleshing out ideas, and professional development.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
That, as a leader, you walk a tightrope between being someone's boss and being someone's friend. And that no matter how great I believe a team member to be, they have their own agenda for their own life, and I shouldn't be surprised if they don't "live and breathe" the things I do related to our work.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Books about the Enneagram. Two years ago, I discovered Enneagram, and on a whim, decided to add a book about it to our quarterly book club at flourish. In the team meeting when we discussed it, we each revealed our Enneagram number and wing (I'm a 9 with a 1 wing), and we reviewed relationship dynamics based on our Enneagram types. It was fascinating and a real game-changer in allowing us to feel as if we knew more about how each other ticked, our strengths, weaknesses, and team chemistry.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
Whether fair or not, my tendency is to push our team members into the deep end, while promising them that I have their back. Many things in business and in life you cannot teach until you experience them. That's how I feel about this business.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
In the winter of 2015, I began having what I thought was burnout. By April of 2016, a mere four months later, I had taken medical leave and was at the Mayo Clinic. No one knew what was going on with me, but I was completely disabled and bedridden.
As it turns out, I had hemi-plegia, which boiled down means that I was having mini-strokes all the time, but it left no imprint on my brain that a traditional scan like a CT or MRI could pick up. Once we discovered this, a treatment plan was established, and I began feeling back to myself almost immediately mentally, but physically, my body had atrophied, and I had to work my way back to my baseline over the course of months.
I was out of the office - and I mean, 100% out - for six months. During that time, other than firing one client for being toxic to our team, we retained every client. The team stepped up in a way that I could never repay them for. It showed me that I wasn't nearly as important as I thought I was, and that they were much more capable of leading than I'd previously given them credit for.