Personal Development

Jason Lavin: Paying it forward through knowledge

Jason Lavin speaking in front of a Vistage group

Editor’s Note: This profile is part of a series highlighting Vistage members who also contribute to the community as speakers, sharing years of experience and thought leadership with their peers.

In 2010, Jason Lavin was widely known for SEO strategy workshops he delivered to business owners in Newport, California. After a presentation at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, an attendee approached Lavin and invited him to “a really good meeting.”

Lavin agreed to attend what he later learned was a Vistage meeting, and by the end of the gathering, he was invited to join the group of CEO peers.
“At the meeting, everyone was interviewing me, and then they asked me to leave the room,” he says. “When I came back in, they said, ‘You’re in.’ I liked the experience and joined right then.”

Jason Lavin headshot
Vistage member and speaker Jason Lavin at his podcast studio in Newport Beach, California.

When Lavin joined Vistage that August, his company, GoldenComm, a website development and digital marketing firm, employed about 20 people and generated $3 million in annual revenue. While living with his parents and working for a public utilities company, Lavin launched the company after a college roommate asked if he could build a website for a client.

“I went to the Vistage meetings with a Franklin planner, invoices, checks and all this stuff,” he says. “The group asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I told them I took care of all these things, and they went to work on me right away.”

Fellow member Don Steiner, who had a strong accounting background, introduced Lavin to the concept of EBITDA, balance accounts and other accounting best practices.

“I’m a good salesperson, and I understand the internet, but I was doing my own accounting,” Lavin recalls. “Right away, they had me stop doing that, and it freed me up to sell more. That was the best thing I’d ever done.”

The group also pushed him to form a trust and an LLC to protect the company’s assets from lawsuits. His peers warned that “one day, I would be sued.” Following their guidance paid off; Lavin faced down a large lawsuit two years after implementing their advice.

“There’s no way I would have survived without their help,” he says. “It was a bad lawsuit, but thanks to the really smart people in my group who had been through this before, I knew which bumps I would hit.”

Just a few years into his CEO membership, Lavin’s peers encouraged him to become a Vistage speaker. His program, “Master Your Webmaster,” became a big hit. Within three years, Lavin had presented his program more than 100 times, with 58 presentations in 2014 alone, while maintaining a near-perfect average score of 4.9 across the board in content, delivery and applicability. It earned him recognition as the 2014 Fast Track Speaker Award, an award given to the next rising star on the Vistage speaker circuit.

jason lavin speaking to a vistage group

Lavin (top left) speaking with his Vistage group in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“Every time a Vistage Chair introduces me, it’s a little embarrassing because they say, ‘Jason’s done this and Jason’s done that,’” Lavin says. “But when I start my program, I always say, ‘You forgot the most important part. I sit where you sit the second Thursday of every month and know what my job is because I’m one of you.’”

Acknowledging the transformational power of Vistage membership always captures the audience’s attention. While Lavin estimates that a good chunk of his annual revenue comes from Vistage speaking events, he does not see them as part of his sales and marketing ecosystem.

Jason Lavin coaching a little league team
Lavin (top) coaching a PONY league team in Newport Beach, California.

Lavin says that helping others is what drives all his work because it pays forward the help he has received. He credits Vistage membership with tripling his revenues and employees and expansion to four offices worldwide.

Signing on as a Vistage speaker contributed to his ongoing success, but he says the value of being a Vistage member and speaker is more profound — it’s about continual growth and community.

“Vistage is about community and learning,” he says. “I want my peers to know I’m a learner, too, and that Vistage is a great source of community.”

If Jason’s story interests you and you’d like to know more, explore our membership options and take your success to a new level.

Category : Personal Development

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About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 45,000 high-caliber execu

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