“ Look for employees who are better at you at what they do, and then let them do their jobs. Get interested in what you can do to further your employees’ lives and careers. Make sure those employees are invested in your vision for the company, and make them feel like a part of the company’s success. Hire slow, fire fast. Take references with a grain of salt.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jillian Ezra. Jillian is the founder of the award-winning creative agency and video production company, Ezra Productions. Jillian graduated cum laude with a degree in economics from NYU and left a career in finance to start Ezra Productions in 2013. Since then, Ezra Productions has opened offices in Los Angeles and New York, and their work has been featured on CNBC and in Advertising Age, Mashable, GQ, and Refinery 29.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
It’s my pleasure! I started my career in finance in New York, but I discovered video editing when I bought my first Mac and fell in love with storytelling through film. I started a production company to make Day-in-the-Life Videos and Legacy Videos for families. Over the years Ezra Productions has grown into a creative agency and video production company that works with purpose-driven and visionary brands from all over the world.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
There are too many to list. It’s funny when I take a step back and look at the situations I find myself in while working with such different kinds of businesses in such different stages of development. In one moment I’ll be on a call reviewing an animated Mother’s Day video we’re doing for a large healthcare company and the next moment I can be on another call about a video we’re doing with Stormy Daniels, and five minutes later I’m pitching branding and content strategy to a fabric distributor. But that’s what I love about my job — it’s never boring.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We focus on creating content and strategy thal fulfill our clients’ business and creative goals — not one or the other. We lack the ego and inefficiencies that can be found in creative, marketing, and advertising agencies, and we have the creativity and know-how that business consultancies can sometimes lack.
We are a high-touch business, so we operate as partners and trusted advisors to our clients, and our clients love the personalized attention they receive from us. On top of offering impeccable client service, we approach the companies we work with holistically while paying special attention to details. We use new technologies and work with often-looked-over talent in order to give our clients the best value for their money.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
2018 has been an explosive year, but the most exciting one at this very moment is a video we’re working on with Lowe’s to empower women and to inspire them to sign up for Build Week with Habitat for Humanity.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Look for employees who are better at you at what they do, and then let them do their jobs. Get interested in what you can do to further your employees’ lives and careers. Make sure those employees are invested in your vision for the company, and make them feel like a part of the company’s success. Hire slow, fire fast. Take references with a grain of salt.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
There are too many people to list, but my mom has always been my biggest inspiration and my strongest support. Other amazing women who fan my sparks into flames include Robyn Ward, Melinda Moore, Sashee Chandran, and Farrah Azizi.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Working on social justice/passion projects that empower women and minorities and lending production services to amazing organizations like Cancer Shmancer and The Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
When times get tough, don’t give up — success might be just around the corner.
You will fail at many things. You will succeed at some things. Focus on the wins.
Be a student of the game and let your intuition guide you.
Choose the people around you wisely, and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
HR and accounting are no joke — hire experts.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” — Golda Meir
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
I think Arianna Huffington and I could have a good laugh together. She’s powerful, smart, but gets what’s important in life.