At The Fearey Group, we believe everyone has a story to tell. As a firm that has been around for more than 36 years, we understand where we came from has strong bearing on where we are. So, what stories currently make The Fearey Group a leading independent public relations and public affairs firms in the Pacific Northwest?
Each Friday we shine the spotlight on one person at The Fearey Group. We ask them the questions to help share their stories and give insight into what makes our firm truly “fearless.”
For this week’s installment of Fearless Friday, we shine the spotlight on our CEO and owner, Aaron Blank.
How do you keep your employees motivated?
Aaron Blank: Ever since taking over The Fearey Group back in 2012, I have been on a path toward making this my number one priority. The identifiable recipe is focusing and prioritizing employees and clients as every leaders number one task in the firm. It starts with a clearly defined vision and focus. Then it gets into how you give staff what they want and need to be successful. Asking them where they want to be in five years and helping them get down that path. It is then making sure that we communicate well and often while getting everyone on the team engaged with the business. Following that all up with a philosophy of coaching versus managing. There is a clear difference that not everyone gets and it is super important to everyone on my team that they understand this. You have to create a fun working environment that is different and unique. You need to offer incentive programs. And lastly, we have a “no jerks allowed” philosophy that we put into place this past year. That means we just do not tolerate people who do not treat others well. You must act fairly, offer respect and create trust 24/7.
Motivation is about creating that entrepreneurial spirit for all employees to be able to do and think out-of-the-box and create, to keep their motivation top mind. This mindset is a big part of our fearless attitude.
If you could be in the TV sitcom of your choice, what show would you choose and what character would you play?
AB: I would choose West Wing. When I was younger, I always thought I would end up in the White House doing something with the press. So I would likely want to play CJ Cregg’s role as a press secretary to the president. The role is so well defined where nothing startles or rattles the character and they always have some fun one-liners for the media.
Who was your favorite teacher growing up, and why?
AB: My favorite teacher growing up was my ninth-grade earth science teacher, Chris Visco. He was so motivational and just made everything very interesting and cool. I remember one day he was trying to demonstrate what an earthquake feels like so he stood on top of a table, took a large boulder and just dropped it on the floor. It shook the entire building. He did things that were out of the box that really made learning exciting and interesting.
Another thing he did that was very cool was he had us write a note to ourselves in the future. So, in ninth-grade, I wrote a letter to myself in the future and I recently got it in the mail.
What’s the most out-of-the-box thing you’ve ever done in your life?
AB: I do not know if you would define it as out-of-the-box, but probably adopting my son Ermias from Ethiopia, as well as managing the carepoint site that we have there and going back every two years with my family. You can read more about this online at our blog here.
What would you most like to be remembered for when you are reminiscing about your life in your old age?
AB: I always work hard to make a difference in the community. The work is important but it is more about the impact you make on people’s lives and every person you inspire.
What’s the greatest bit of advice a parent or mentor has given you?
AB: My father-in-law, Michael Yantis, gave me this piece of advice about the role we play in our client’s lives and business: “We get to ‘love our neighbor’ primarily through family, friends and business. We have contact with more people through business than we do in any other part of our life. If we create a business that loves our clients, in business terms that means giving them a service that is very helpful to them, focusing on their needs rather than our own, we will be successful. Life will expose our clients’ needs to us if we are truly interested in helping them. With any luck, we will perceive the exposure that life reveals and can thereby act on it.”
Describe one experience you’ve had where you took a huge leap of faith.
AB: Before moving to Seattle in 2003, I was living and working in Connecticut. My girlfriend, at the time, was from Seattle. So one day, after slogging through a six-day work week on the radio, I looked to her and said: “Let’s move back to Seattle, so that I can experience the West Coast.” Now, some 14 years later, that girlfriend is now my wife and Seattle is my permanent home.
If you could host a talk show, who would be your first guest? And why?
AB: I would interview Barack Obama because I would like to know where his mind is at now that Donald Trump is president. I would like to be the first to interview him after his presidency.