Most entrepreneurs are so focused on executing their strategy that they don’t think much about expanding their leadership capacity. Becoming the best leader you can be is one of the most critical paths to success. The journey to be the best leader is filled with fulfillment too. Today’s guest is Jordan Passman, CEO and Founder at Score a Score. Inc Magazine ranked his company #4930 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. Score a Score, is a music company specializing in original music for global advertising, including ad campaigns and movie trailers. Jordan shares his journey to becoming the best leader he can be. We look at what gets in the way of leadership. Check out my invitation to become the best leader you can be.
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Jordan Passman: The Transcript
About: Jordan Passman is the founder & CEO of Score a Score, a Cannes Lion-winning music company specializing in original music for marketing. In 2020, Score a Score was featured on the Inc. 5000 list for its 5th consecutive year. Since 2010, Jordan has paid out millions of dollars to his roster of independent artists and has worked on thousands of music placements for global advertising clients. Additionally, Jordan was recognized on the 30 Under 30 music list and has published over 30 articles for Forbes. Score a Score’s recent work includes ad campaigns for Microsoft, Verizon, Apple, MasterCard, Facebook, Google, Taco Bell, and LinkedIn, blockbuster trailers for all of the major film studios, and music supervision for Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and more.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Jordan Passman: I find that leadership, in general, is just such an important aspect of all energy and living things. I mean, you look at even like humans, animals, like the flying V of, of birds, right. Flying together. There’s always that sort of center bird deciding what direction are we going to go? You know? And, and, and that is sort of the role that I feel like starts for us as babies with our parents. You know, , they help us feel safe, you know, discover curiosity, confidence, like that’s, that’s good leadership. And so I’ve grown so much as a leader through my journey and I’ve made, you know, obviously a lot of mistakes along the way, but it feels like something that if you can embrace that position as providing the north star for your company and get everybody aligned that even in the micro-level, we can be working together on something bigger than ourselves. Leadership is probably the most powerful way to, to do that, you know, to unite people and to energize them.
Intro: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: Today we look at leadership, not from the traditional sense of know, what do you need to do? And all this stuff we, we talk about. What does it mean to be a great leader? In fact, what we talk about is becoming the best leader you can be. When you think about that question, what does it take to be the best leader you can be? I want you to really understand that the answer that you come up with should be clear. It should be something that’s actionable and it should be something that you can actually know that you can make happen. Now being the best leader you can be. We’ll give your company a better culture, increased value, more success. More joy, less stress we could go on and on about the benefits being the best leader you can be is what this episode is about. Our guest today is the founder of Score-a-Score. There were five times Inc company and Jordan Passman talks about what he goes through and being the best leader you can be. You’ll learn some of the things that he does, that, that really align his people together. We talk about what does it take to be the best leader you can be? What do you have to let go of? What are some of the mistakes in this journey? All of that inside this episode on Growth Think Tank.
Now I asked the question of what does it take for you to be the best leader you can be? And if you don’t know the answer, let me help you. I have conversations with founders. All the time about what does it take to become an extraordinary leader? Where is the next step? What is the skill gap? What is the mindset gap? What is the things that are necessary for you to focus on so that you spend your time and the most valuable work and the company continues to grow your people grow? Your culture is really fantastic. All inside this. I want to help you just go to GeneHammett.com and schedule your call absolutely free. I’m not going to sell you anything in that first call. I’m going to help you really understand what’s getting in the way of you being an extraordinary leader. If you find that valuable reach out, I’d love to hear from you. Go to GeneHammett.com and schedule your call.
Now here’s the interview with Jordan,
Jordan, how are you?
Jordan Passman: Doing great. Thanks so much for having me, Gene.
Gene Hammett: Well, I’m excited. I can tell your energy, you know, in our warmup before we could hit on record, you’re excited about this podcast. , tell us about the company Score-a-Score.
Jordan Passman: So I started Score-a-Score by myself in 2010 when I was 23 years old. And the whole purpose was to help connect music composers with film projects. At the time I saw that people were actually looking for composers on places like Craigslist, and it inspired me to want to create a dedicated marketplace for that connection to happen. And before I sort of knew it, we were doing advertising agency brand work and film trailer work, and sort of honing in on the marketing space as the best platform for us to really be able to provide value. And so today we have a roster of a few hundred independent musicians across the world and we help them find the right homes for their music on ads, trailers, film and TV projects. And really anything that can need music. We try, we try to be a solution for, and it’s really a lot of fun because we get to play that, that sort of matchmaker still, in the process.
Gene Hammett: Well, interesting business, you know, I don’t have the genius of any kind of musical. Do you have a musical background?
Jordan Passman: You know, I started off as just a fan of music. I also do play music for fun and it’s become actually during the pandemic, songwriting has become a new hobby for me. So I’ll just like sit at the piano and start writing. But usually, the genre that I’m writing is, is different than the music that we represent. I’m like, I’m kind of into the whole chill, a solo piano vibe of how do I relax and unwind while writing. And so that’s the music that I’ve been writing, but it’s, it’s totally a hobby.
Gene Hammett: Beautiful. I love to see the connection with people have it. I mean, I, I became a coach, not because I, wanted to be an advisor to the business. But I became a coach and ended up loving this process of understanding people and understanding how behavior works and how do we get people to shift behaviors. And so there’s always an overlap in the work we do, and kind of our interest outside of the work Jordan, you and I have had some conversations. We’ve done some research on why your company should be included in this podcast. We really kind of centered on, on one thing that plays in your mind a lot, which is becoming the best leader you can be. What does that mean to you?
Jordan Passman: You know, I find that leadership, in general, is just such an important aspect of all energy and living things. I mean, you look at even like humans, animals, like the flying V of, of birds, right. Flying together. There’s always that sort of center bird deciding what direction are we going to go? You know? And, and, and that. The role that I feel like starts for us as babies with our parents, you know, they help us feel safe, you know, discover curiosity, confidence, like that’s, that’s good leadership. And so I’ve grown so much as a leader through my journey and I’ve made, you know, obviously a lot of mistakes along the way, but it feels like something that if you can embrace that position as Providing the north star for your company and get everybody aligned that even in the micro-level, we can be working together on something bigger than ourselves. Leadership is probably the most powerful way to do that, you know, to unite people and to energize them. So I feel like that’s what leadership means to me. As far as in a business setting.
Gene Hammett: You said something in there that I want to put a spotlight on for a second, get everyone aligned. I, in my job as an executive coach, I see a lot of out of alignment. Across organizations. And my job is to help the leader be the guide to back to alignment. What are you doing on a day-to-day basis? To keep alignment across the company?
Jordan Passman: It’s a good question. I mean, it, for me, it starts with having sort of the right people. So I think. Our hiring process has become so much more careful over the years. And I mean, careful within a very intentional way that, like we know that there’s some people that are going to be not right for this business are not right for this company. And then there are people that will thrive in our environment. And so I think reflecting on what makes us who we are, you know, and, and calling it sort of the more traditional core values that a company can sort of embody and in the result as our individual selves embody those core values that that’s really crystallized. Like you’re going to be a great addition to our team. You’re going to have a great success for, or you’re going to have a great chance for success and happiness here. So I think kind of creating that environment of like opportunities to be contributing, you know, ideas, criticisms issues like make it safe.
That’s what helps create that sort of environment. , we, we do a lot of structured sort of check-ins, we’re definitely big fans of like the 90 days at a minimum sort of deeper dive into, Hey, what’s going on? Are we on the right path for you to be continuing to grow and do the things that you want to do here and make it a two-way street of, of really expressing things that may contribute to like a less than ideal work experience? You can’t really ensure that everybody’s happy though. I mean, that’s a dangerous slope, as you can imagine. , but for us, it’s, it’s asking the right questions and, and again, like creating a safe enough environment where real discussion can we had.
Commentary: Jordan, you said our job as leaders is to make it a safe place to work. What does that mean to you? Well, a safe place to work is something that is without judgment and provides an environment where people can share their ideas. Without fear of failure and fear that they’re going to be fired, creating a safe place for a workplace. Not only gets the most creative people, but innovation starts to thrive when you are the leader that can make it a safe place to have something powerful. Are you that leader get back to Jordan and we’ll find more about how to become the best leader you can be.
Gene Hammett: What does it look like in those 90 days deeper dives you do with employees. Beyond what you’ve already said.
Jordan Passman: Yeah. You know, we, we’ve sort of siloed it in our, our team is, is 13 people. And so we have like different layers of, of whoever you’re sort of reporting to is going to basically just check-in and say, Hey, how, how are you doing? How am I doing for you? , is what’s working, what’s not working. What, what do you want to, what do you want to do in the next 90 days? What did you feel like you learned from the last 90 days? What was the success? I think it’s really just like, you can keep it super casual, and extract the right information. But I think the point is, is like, you’re not afraid to ask the questions. I mean, I feel like I spent a lot of years feeling afraid of what answers might be, and I think that’s, that’s dangerous. Cause it just, it’s like a pressure cooker, you know? It’s like, it’s gonna come out at some point, but why not? Why not learn from those answers before they become bigger issues and, and try to address them and work together to address them.
So that’s sort of the concept for us, at least on the, on the every, every few months we do that. And then every year I think it does need to be, you know, trying to get more critical with like, this is how we feel like you could go to the next level if you want to do that. , and, and just be aligned in that way.
Gene Hammett: I don’t know if this really fits with this best leader, but how do you know when someone’s ready for a promotion and not necessarily you’re going to give them the title, but you’re going to give them more responsibilities, more training, more investment, just kind of curious where you are.
Jordan Passman: It’s a great question. I think I, I’m a big fan of the sort of self-starter mentality and, and somebody who is willing to put in the work before asking for it. And I’m a big fan of being a kind of leader that can be ahead of your doing awesome. Like I want to take care of you. I’m going to take care of you. And if you can stay ahead of that kind of person. It’s, it’s a pretty beautiful way to see them grow. , because it’s really nourishing. I think it, it gets tougher when people are super demanding, you know, before they’ve shown it. And I think that becomes a tougher, it becomes a tougher, like a ropes course for a boss, I think because it is, it becomes more of a gamble. Like I just love reward great work, you know, and it’s hard to find like we’ll just the great work come first or does the great work come after. And I think sometimes you have to do both. Sometimes you invest in somebody to say, Hey, I think you’re ready for this leadership position and put them in that seat, you know, and then see how it goes and then continue to nourish it from there.
Gene Hammett: What has been rest of our time together, really looking at how you’re evolving as a leader. Since we’re talking about becoming the best leader, you can be. What, what would we see in your week to week or month to month activities about you evolve as a leader?
Jordan Passman: You know, I think like one thing that I shifted to is a much more transparent way of operating, and not being so close to the chest on everything. And so our team, for example, is actually very aware of the pulse of the business on a weekly basis. We’re, we’re tracking our progress. On a ton of different indicators, that everybody has access to on a weekly, quarterly and annual basis. You know, we have these goals that are set, that everybody knows about and everybody cares about. And so I want them to be a part of that pulse. , but that was a transition for me, you know, that wasn’t, that wasn’t something that started off in the beginning just because I didn’t know. What that can mean. , but again, in the spirit of rowing the same direction with laser-focused like, that’s something that I believe pays off and it creates a great environment of like working together with a very harmonious, something that we do, that’s kind of special to us.
So we call them happy scoring moments. So the company’s called score scores. So how do we create happy scoring moments, which is a way that we motivate each other to do the best we can for our clients, for our composers. And our team is like actually creating those wow moments. So like if a, if a client wrote back and be like, oh my God, this is like perfectly what I wanted. I can’t believe you guys delivered it so quickly and nailed it. Like, this is amazing. Somebody on our team, the first one to flag it, won’t be like HSM. And then that’s actually counted every week and we celebrate them every week at our weekly team bonding session on Friday. We go through all the happy score moments of the week. And it’s just, it’s a cool way to, to have fun, celebrating like the little wins that maybe no one else is paying attention to. But our team is actually like going out of our way to create them.
Gene Hammett: I just shared a concept like this with one of my clients. And they looked at me going, that seems like. And I, it’s not about an essence. It probably is a lot of work, but here’s the benefit behind it. And it really will give everyone, I mean, you can speak for yourself, but when people are sharing this, it’s more than just a job. They know that they’re providing, a purpose and living a purpose. Would you agree to that?
Jordan Passman: I think that’s on the person. I feel like there’s definitely people that live to work and there’s people that work to live, you know? And, but I think in this day and age, more than. People, even if they’re working that live, want to be inspired by what they do, they want to know that they’re working for good people. They want to be a part of a team that they respect. They want to feel empowered, not belittled and, and being aligned with the major mission or purpose of a company is a great start. I mean, I think more people are just intolerable. Of companies that they don’t feel aligned with anything. And there’s a lot of options out there of just such beautifully run compassionate leaders and companies that they don’t have to tolerate it anymore. It’s just, it’s not, it’s not forced. , so I think it depends on the industry and the business. I work in such a great creative, fun, vibrant music ads, , trailer industry, where genuinely people just like each other, you know, because there’s kind of that common denominator of like, we all kind of live and breathe this passion for creativity and music and man, that is just such a fun, common ground, you know? So I, I feel lucky that like the majority of our business and clients are people that, you know, we genuinely would, would hang out with, you know, and, and have. So that’s a bonus for sure.
Commentary: Now hold on Jordan just had a little bit of a rant there about people feeling inspired about the work that they have about what’s really going on a sense of belonging, feeling empowered. All of these things are critical for your culture to thrive for you to create something that goes beyond you. Create at a very valuable company. I may repeat myself a little bit because these are the things that I really hear the most, that people want more. They want a company where people love to come to work. They want a sense of belonging. You want to feel inspired. They want to mission-driven company. They want inclusion. They want a leader that listens. They want to feel like they’re not being micromanaged. They want to feel a sense of transparency. All of this wraps up into you being the best leader you can be. I put the spotlight today on this because I want you to understand there’s a lot of complexities to you being this leader, but I can help you figure out the path forward. If you’ll let me, all you have to do is reach out, just go to gene hammett.com and schedule your call. Now back to Jordan.
Gene Hammett: Jordan you slipped in there, the word empowered, and you kind of went through it very quickly, but I don’t want to leave this moment without understanding as a better leader. You you’re continuously empowering others, trusting in them and giving them, letting them make decisions. How do you actually get yourself to do that?
Jordan Passman: I think going back to that bigger purpose, you know, I do believe that. Micro-managing is not the answer. , and it’s hard to let go of the vine. It, it really is. But I think if you set people up with expectations of what success looks like, and you give them the right goals and they help you work together to create those goals for themselves, that’s empowerment right there. You know, it’s putting the care in the right. It’s creating the carrot period. I mean, there’s so many people that don’t know what success looks like in their business. I mean for, Hey, how do you know if you did a great job this quarter? You know, I think everybody on my team could answer that and, and I feel really proud of that. Cause I, I don’t know. I don’t think that’s like every single business, you know, in our, in our industry.
Gene Hammett: Not in sister industry, it’s not in every business for sure.
Jordan Passman: Exactly. Exactly. It’s not just like common practice.
Gene Hammett: Best leader. We talked about a few things. What are we left out on you becoming the best leader that you can be? How are you really challenging yourself? ,
Jordan Passman: I’m like somebody who is always working to be my best. It doesn’t stop with the business for me. I think I want to be the best husband I can be. I want to be the best dad I can be. I have two little boys. , I want to be the best brother. I have three brothers, a son to my parents, and an in-law’s friend. It starts with just being vulnerable enough to admit that like you always have room to grow. I like to stay curious. I like to stay informed by reading. I like to stay creative, writing music, staying active, you know, working out, getting a good night’s sleep as much as I can, although I have a seven-week-old baby. So that’s easier said than done, but I think in general, I want to take care of myself so that I can do a better job of taking care of other people. And so it starts with me doing that, making the investment in myself.
Gene Hammett: Yeah. You say this you’re young, you know, I’m looking at you on the camera and I see the smile on yours. You haven’t been really worn down by life that much, but it’s such a wise thing to say, to take care of yourself first, because I see a lot of leaders that put in more and more hours, they feel overwhelmed. There’s so many projects that are just absolutely important and I get it, but they’re not taking care of themselves specifically. One of the. I said, you know, it was a woman. I said, when’s the last time you got your nails done or got a facial or got a massage or anything you did for yourself. And she’s like, I don’t know, six months a year, like way she couldn’t even think about it. She goes, I don’t have time for that. Weekends are for my catching up on work. That just doesn’t work in today’s world. I think of building a team, empowering people, you putting in all these hours and not taking care of yourself. Take it a little bit further from what you’ve seen about really taking care of yourself, what that means to, to leadership?
Jordan Passman: Well, something that I actually like to think about it. Is, I was by myself when I started the company, as I mentioned. And I don’t, I don’t feel like I definitely made mistakes. I’m not somebody who lives with a ton of regret. If I’m being completely honest, I just like to learn from my mistakes and move on. But I feel like if I could go back, I would want to connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs to share and learn. From that collective experience that we’ve all had because understanding who to ask for what advice is actually a skill in itself. Like to know that like I should call Gene for coaching, or I should call my friend, Alex, who has an HR company. So he’ll know about these legal issues I’m dealing with, or, you know, those are just like random examples, but the point is, is like using your tool was using your resources. I feel like once I discovered like sort of the peer group model of like getting together with like-minded entrepreneurs, that was a game-changer for me. , it really changed the feeling of like, you’re not alone at all. , and not only that but like we’ve all been through similar things. And here’s what I learned from them in my experience and vice versa.
I can share that with other people and that makes me feel good. It makes me feel good to help other people that can help me. And so it works both ways. I think, to be a really powerful mental personal health and, and by the way, and it doesn’t stop with business stuff. It could be personal issues too, just to connect with people and never feel alone is such an important thing. You know, big believer in therapy, always working on yourself, from the mental health angle as well.
Gene Hammett: Jordan, this a beautiful place to wind this down, and really appreciate you being here, sharing your wisdom, sharing your thoughts on being the best leader you can be.
Jordan Passman: Thank you. ,
Gene Hammett: I know Jordan’s listening in here, but I want to give you my takeaway from today’s message so that he says how it lined with me being the best leader. You can be as a never-ending job. It’s not something you can put on your calendar and you’re done with it. It is constant. It could be daily as it relates to communicating better listening, better delegating, empowering people, all of those things, having a daily. You also want to make sure that you have a company where people do feel aligned. Inspired and you’re the leader that, that makes all that happen, hiring the right people, critical and important. But also this last part we’re talking about taking care of yourself. It really is important to, as a leader who probably feels a lot of overwhelm and frustration with our job to take care of themselves, whether it be just sleeping and exercise and eating right to, to even the things that really feel you, whatever that may be for Jordan, it’s playing the piano and composing one last thing and this whole concept.
He talked about being afraid to ask for help. I think a lot of leaders think that they’re supposed to have the answers to everything I can tell you right now, I’m a coach to really successful leaders in the companies. I don’t have the answer for everything, but I can be there for my clients and what they’re struggling with with a question for what they’re struggling with. And you’ve gotta be willing to ask for help. I, wasn’t always willing to ask for help. I will tell you to be honest, and it hurt me those times when I’ve faced that fear and asked for help and get out there, beyond myself. It really was different. And I would encourage you. If you’re struggling with anything in your, your leadership, your culture, the growth of your company.
Ask for help. I’d love to offer myself to you free no charge. I promise not to sell you anything at first conversation is really is about you getting more clear about what’s going on. I’m a master of this. If you want to take me up on it, just go to GeneHammett.com and schedule your call. I love to talk to you about what’s next for you and get you really clear about that.
When you think of leadership and you think of growth, think of Growth Think Tank as always lead with courage. Will see you next time.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
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