Spotlight — Jeb Ory

Welcome to Spotlight, our weekly series featuring the team behind Phone2Action. This week, meet Jeb Ory, our Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer.


Hometown: Washington, DC. Grew up in Dallas, Texas

Ideal vacation: Snowboarding in Lake Tahoe.

Favorite food: Frutti de Mare — Italian seafood pasta, in Italy, with a side of crisp white wine

1 item you can’t live without: Neighborhood restaurant with a great happy hour

All time hero: My dad.

1. What is your hidden talent and how is it related to your work?

I’m a swimmer. I’ve had the opportunity to swim in dozens of pools across the country and even some throughout the world. Recently, I have focused more on open water swimming — which means swimming across bodies of water: like across Lake George, or from Alcatraz to Aquatic Park in San Francisco.

To get in shape to swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco, you have to adhere to a regular workout schedule — at least three workouts a week for 3–6 months. When you are training in a pool, you have to clear you mind of everything else. You have to focus on the present — the next stroke, the next breath, the next set — but also how it relates to the next set and the next big challenge (like swimming across the Bay). You have to marshal your energy and deploy it in the right places. I find this relates to entrepreneurship, too. It’s critical to have a clear focus on what you are doing and to tune out the noise, while relating your tasks at hand with the broader company vision.

2. Growing up, who was your biggest hero besides your dad?

I really wanted to be a professional baseball player growing up. I played 3rd base, so my hero was Steve Buchelle — a Texas Ranger known for his amazing defense. He set the record for the best fielding percentage in the American League in 1991 by only missing three balls hit to him the entire year. I had tremendous respect for him, and for fielding in general. He wasn’t the flashiest player, but he was the best third basemen when I was growing up.

3. What’s the biggest risk you have ever taken? (what did you learn from it that can be applied to other entrepreneurs?)

In 2003, I ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Running with the bulls is exhilarating, but it can also be extremely dangerous for foreigners who don’t know how to do it. I arrived a day early to observe the event, and talked with dozens of Spaniards who gave me tips on how to run successfully. The next morning, I applied what I had learned and I ran with the bulls. At times, I was just a few feet from them. It was an amazing experience; incredibly risky, made safer by planning ahead and talking to people who had been there before. Entrepreneurship is similar. It’s inherently risky. You can go years without earning a salary as you build your business, forgoing a higher salary and more stable employment for a dream. But it’s also incredibly invigorating; you have the chance to change lives in new ways. The most successful entrepreneurs do their homework first; they cultivate a network to help them succeed, and they run as fast, and as smartly, as they can.

Jeb and his daughter, Sybil

4. As a new parent how do you balance work and family? What is the single-most important piece of advice for new parents who are also entrepreneurs?

Balancing a new child and a job is difficult, and with a startup, it’s even harder. Having a child is an incredible joy, and it helps frame how you look at your work. You have to learn how to find ways to get things done quickly, how to delegate, and how to leverage your time in new ways. The only way I can fit everything in is to wake up very early in the morning, and stay up late. Finally, a supportive partner is key. You can’t do this alone, and I know I wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of my wife, Lea.

5. What do you like the most about working at Phone2Action?

Knowing that we are giving people a way to get involved in making the world a better place.