IAM1693 – Founder Manages Technology Companies

Podcast Interview with James Jensen

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: James has a really cool organization and technology that he's building. It was also powerful to hear how his background and varied experience have helped him as a leader. The technology he's built brings together technology, virtual reality, and communications. He talked a little too about the opportunities that have come about in virtual reality.

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Previous Episode: https://iamceo.co/2021/10/18/iam1162-founder-manages-technology-companies/


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James Jensen Teaser 00:00

Being CEO to me, I think what the CEO position is, is changing and morphing. A CEO is, currently defined as somebody that structures the business and makes sure that shareholders are happy and all of that stuff, which is a good thing. That's a thing that you need to focus on.

Intro 00:15

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, And founders without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless00:42

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. And if you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes. And we're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call the CB Nation architects, who are looking to love, love their organizations.

This month is around technology. We're a technology company that does dot, dot, dot, and technology is no longer an afterthought or something that you might do. It's actually a core part of your business. And if you're a real estate investor, you're using it. If you're a financial firm, you're using it, cleaning company, author, speaker, you are using technology, and if you are in any type of business, you are using technology. And if you're not, then you're probably gonna be disrupted by this.

So this month we're gonna look into repurposing episodes that are around technology. Whether that be firms or organizations that are actually investing in technology and have that as a core part of their mission and vision of what they're doing, or people that just might be using them as CEO hacks and CEO nuggets in ways that you can leverage them. So remember that we're all a technology company that does dot, dot, dot or technology organization that does dot, dot dot. So sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I am CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have James Jensen of JUMP. James, great to have you on the show.

James Jensen 02:08

Hey, thanks for having me on. Hello everybody.

Gresham Harkless 02:11

Super excited to have you on and super excited about all the awesome things that you're doing. And what I wanted to do was just read a little bit more about James before we jumped into the interview from there. And James is an entrepreneur committed to working with leading-edge technology and eager to solve problems surrounding how we interact and engage with each other and physical and virtual worlds.

He is the previous creator and co-founder of the world-renowned virtual reality company, The VOID. And within the last 25 years, James founded and managed several technology companies in video streaming, social networks, mobile games, and creative services. He partnered with Disney, Sony Entertainment, Fox, MGM Intel, Microsoft SyFy, Dreamworks, and MTV, through those ventures. And he is now launching a new form of virtual reality called hyperreality in the form of the multisensory entertainment company JUMP. JUMP will allow people to come as close to jumping and flying as the real thing, but without all of the risk.

James, super excited to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

James Jensen 03:03

Yes. I love it. Let's do it.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:05

Let's do it then.

James Jensen 03:05

Thanks for the intro. That was a great intro.

Gresham Harkless 03:07

Well, definitely, it always helps when you're doing great things. It makes the intro a little bit easier. I just had to read the part, I didn't have to do all the awesome work that you were doing. So, to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock. I know I touched on it a little bit when I read your bio and hear a little bit more on what I like to call your CEO story. We'll let you start to get all the awesome work.

James Jensen 03:23

My background actually I was in fine arts. I actually started as an oil painter. My dad was an oil painter and he taught me how to oil paint. And then I got into oil painting. He was doing a lot of landscape stuff. And so my landscapes were as great as his, but ended up getting into airbrushing. Then I did photo-realism and started doing portraits and things like that. And then went to design school, commercial art and design, and I got into computers and fell in love with the undue button, which is really nice.

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That spun off into doing computer animation, visual effects, and video game programming. So over my career, I've gone from, a creative to owning my own creative agencies and then to then, finding my real passion, which was bringing things into a reality that don't exist as an entrepreneur. And a lot of that started with software development, things like that. But I quickly got to a point where I wanted to use all my creative skills and the amazing people around me to build virtual reality worlds and stuff like that. And that's where the VOID came from.

But through those processes and the amazing relationships I created over so many years they've really enabled me and my team to be able to be able to pull off some stuff that's just the leading edge. And so, that the roles that have gone through the whole process, right? I was a creative and then changed over time as I own businesses and, I've been a CFO, I've been a CEO. I've been, a creative director. And so, it's almost to a point now where it's like, well, I need to move past the CEO title and go to something like a chief vision officer or something like that. I feel like that's probably where my end goal lane is, finding something that's just maintaining the vision of whatever project is or what we're doing. So, yeah, that's maybe a quick version.

Gresham Harkless 04:54

Nice. I love that. And I can imagine, and I don't wanna put words in your mouth, but do you feel like being able to have that kind of foundation in the creative services, that kind of creative industry allows you to create these new realities that you're doing now?

James Jensen 05:06

Absolutely. Going through that process, I think it's helped me be actually be a lot better of a business owner and a leader is being in the trenches for so long. I understand. When I talk to an engineer or I talk to a developer, I ask them to do things. I know what it's like, I know roughly now what it takes to do those types of things. And so I can relate to, the timelines and the pressures that are being put on them. And so I can relate to that and I think that helps me be a better leader. And so absolutely that's been part of my path. And that's why I think there are a lot of creatives and engineers around me that trust me when I ask them to do things, because I've been there before and, it's been a while since I'm actually written any code for a video game. But I remember that and I know what it's like.

Gresham Harkless 05:45

Yeah. I know I touched a little bit about, JUMP you did as well too. Could you take us through a little bit more on what you're doing there and how you're making an impact there.

James Jensen 05:52

On JUMP. Yeah. JUMP is an accumulation of everything that I've done to date, right? But it's very focused on several things, for where we're at on the technology side of things, we're on the very leading edge of everything that we're doing for virtual and what I like to call hyperreal simulations, where we're including a lot of physical effects for the end user to believe what's going on.

But the technology side of things has been a challenge because we're trying to map. We're trying to match reality as closely as possible, so we're using real-time physics and dynamics in the simulation that allow you to fly wherever you want to. We're really taking the real-time physics from when you jump and then extending that into the virtual world and then providing effects that do that.

So the engineering side of things and putting all those pieces together is pretty wild because we have different software engineers. We have hardware guys, and all of these components have to talk to each other dynamically and automatically. And rallying the teams together to be able to have a central vision of what that is I think is one of the most important things you can do.

If everybody can believe in that vision and they know what part they play, then it makes a project run really smoothly.

Gresham Harkless 06:54

Yeah, absolutely. How does it work, for people that are potentially listening to this? I wanna hear a little bit more about that. Do you just show up to one of the locations that you have and do a simulation?

James Jensen 07:01

Yeah. If you don't mind, I'd love to talk about that. The customer experiences.

Gresham Harkless 07:04


James Jensen 07:05

It's something that nobody's ever done before in virtual reality on several levels. Because it's a complete sensory overload and you don't really get to see how you fly. It's a mix between a suspension system and a wind system that you don't see. So you really put on a full-wing suit. You go through a tutorial on how to actually wingsuit, and jump off of a cliff. And then you put on a parachute, well, it looks like a parachute. And you go into a room and the only thing that's in the room is this headset and you put on the headset and then you know, the room kind of modifies after that, but you don't see any of that.

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And you end up stepping up to the edge. And this is one of the reasons why we focused on calling the company JUMP because flying is amazing, but the decision to actually toss yourself off of something is a big decision. And  there's a lot of psychology that's built behind that decision. So we're really trying to highlight that moment. And I think that's what differentiates us from a lot of other things that are out there, that people are trying to fly is the decision that I have to jump past my comfort. And trust that I'm gonna make it. And that parallel's super cool to think about, how that could be for the end user to have potentially a pivotal moment in their life. So you get up to the edge, and you can feel like a breeze coming over the edge. You can smell the pine trees. Everything feels very photorealistic. And feels very real to you.

The way that we're capturing locations too is really unique and it's, nobody has done it at this level. We're capturing like 20-plus square miles of a location through a process called photogrammetry and LIDAR scans. So it. Basically makes a replica of the location as a 3D asset model. And we bring that into the game engine so it looks completely photorealistic and we don't have any hardware limitations, so we can make it look awesome. You step up to the edge, you're filling all of this, and then you have to basically trust fall. You jump out like you're jumping into a swimming pool and you start flying, and the first part of it, you're flying down. The face of the cliff and a real wing suit actually has to get to terminal velocity. And we do the same, the same physics. And so you have to actually fall for a while before the wingsuit feels full of air.

And then you pull out and then you're just flying and you can make decisions. The whole simulator, it's really cool and maybe one day will show what it looks like, but it's awesome to look at it looks completely sci-fi because this thing is just watching what the end user does and then making decisions. And so it looks wild but you're in complete control. Your body's the controller just like it is in reality, and you fly wherever you want to in the experience. And then at the end, if you get too low, we'll pull your parachute or you can pull your parachute and you go into a parachute position and you fly down and land back onto the land.

Gresham Harkless 09:35

Would you consider that to be what I like to call your secret sauce? This could be for the business, for yourself personally, or a combination of both, but is that ability to see the technology, understand it, on a deeper level it sounds like, and be able to see how it can be applicable to, I guess the overall human experience.

Do you think that makes you unique?

James Jensen 09:50

Absolutely. Completely, makes us unique. People will come in for x game, hyper-reality, crazy wing suit jumping experience. And most people will leave with something a lot deeper than they thought they were coming in the door for. It's like, it's all the good movies that you go into for entertainment. You come out and you're like, man, that's actually a great concept and I wanna apply that to my life. It's like that on steroids, so I think that what I hope to share with people is at least a glimpse behind something that's a lot more meaningful than what exists out there right now. So yeah, that's the motivation for sure.

Gresham Harkless 10:19

Awesome. Absolutely love that. And so, I wanna just switch gears a little bit and I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

James Jensen 10:31

The CEO hack. I think treating people like adults, honestly, like what it boils down to it's like butts and seats and hours on the clock don't mean anything. Like, honestly, like for my career it's about having mutual respect for people and having your employees or personnel that are working with you or your buddies, whatever it is, like agree to their timelines and then hold them accountable to it. Like it's very simple. And if they wanna party for the whole week and knock it out on a Friday, but they complete what they said they're gonna do, who cares? Like, let them go do their thing.

And that's even more relevant now with the whole thing that's going on in reality. It's like you got to just trust that your people are gonna do what they're gonna do. And honestly, if you go down that path, I've seen that, I've always said when people come back from like a vacation or something, like, my guys are working on it, come back from a vacation or even just over the weekend more over the weekend. They come back on a Monday and like, I had this thing in my mind I was thinking about and I couldn't help it, and I just built it. And here it is. It's like, what? You didn't ask them to do that.

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They just came back on a Monday because they believe in the project, they believe in the vision, and you treated them like an adult, and you allow them to create their own deadlines, and you just got to hold everybody accountable, but if they're creating their own deadlines and you're holding them accountable, then you have mutual respect for each other. And it actually sorts out people that can't operate like that. Some people don't wanna operate like that. They just want a nine-to-five and check in and sit in their seat. And honestly, I don't wanna work with those people.

Gresham Harkless 11:54

I love that. And so I wanted to ask you now for what I call CEO Nugget. So this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something that you would tell your younger business self if you were to hop into a time machine.

James Jensen 12:03

The nugget that I've had my whole life is, it's in parallel with what we were just talking about, but When I was 12 or 13, I started airbrushing. I've told this story before, but I started airbrushing t-shirts and I got about halfway through them. It was like my first job, it was fun. It was airbrushing t-shirts for this movie theater. And I got through half of them and they paid me 50 bucks up front and it was gonna be a hundred bucks, like to do all of the t-shirts. I think it was like 12, 15, or 12 shirts.

I got halfway done and I showed my dad, I'm like, dad, check this out. This is awesome. Like, I got 50 bucks, but it's really hard and I don't know if I can finish all of 'em. And he said, you know what James? your reputation will be worth more to you than any amount of money you'll ever make in your life. And I took that to heart. And so that's how I've lived. I've always, over-delivered on what I promised and always do my best work no matter what.

Gresham Harkless 12:48

Yeah, absolutely. And so I wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. You might have already touched on this a little bit but we're hoping to have different quote CEOs. And James, I wanted to ask you, what does being a CEO mean to you?

James Jensen 13:00

Being CEO to me, I think what the CEO position is, is changing morphing, a CEO is, currently defined as somebody that like structures the business and makes sure the shareholders are happy and all of that stuff, and which is a good thing. If that's the thing that you need to focus on. Most of the stuff that I'm doing right now is having conversations and talking to people and relationships, and it's not really creative. It's about bringing in money and selling the vision and the dream.

But, I think for me I might move away from that CEO title and move to something like chief Vision Officer because, the CEO's responsibility or the leader of the company is to maintain the vision of the company, the direction, the North Star, whatever you want to call it. It's creating the culture and maintaining the vision for the company as well as doing all of those other utilitarian things, and making sure that the funding is there for everybody to do their jobs. But the most important thing is that culture and vision. If you can, continue to sell the culture and vision, you'll get an army of people behind you that believe in it and want to execute it.

Gresham Harkless 13:59

James, truly appreciate that definition and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do was just pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course how best they can get ahold of you. Find out about all the things you and your team are working on.

James Jensen 14:11

So I would say out there's a ton of opportunity in this space. I love to have you come out and experience JUMP. You can follow us on or look at limitlessflight.com and follow us on our social media channels. Our TikTok channel has really been set up to do like live updates, so I'm just gonna be filming stuff as they start installing things and watching people do jumps.

Gresham Harkless 14:30

Awesome, awesome, awesome, James, truly appreciate that. To make it even easier, we'll have the links and information in the show notes as well too, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 14:37

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation at blue16media.com. This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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