Gini Dietrich

Survive and Thrive: How Jon-Mikel Bailey Is Doing Both

By: Gini Dietrich | September 25, 2020 | 
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Survive and Thrive: JMB

Every Friday in Survive and Thrive, we talk to communicators who are not just surviving, but thriving. Between COVID-19, reopenings and then rolling back, kids home from school…maybe forever (?), working from home, and not touching another human being for months, most of us are surviving, at best.

But what about those who are surviving AND thriving?

Perhaps they added a new revenue source or followed a passion or are taking a sabbatical or discovered they actually love homeschooling or completely changed careers. Today we talk to Jon-Mikel Bailey, the CDMO at Wellspring Digital, about how he’s making the best of the worst crisis in a century.

2020 was going to be a fresh start for me. In the first week of January this year I sold my shares in the company I founded 17 years prior and started as the CDMO at Wellspring Digital.

This was my chance to be part of a full-service digital marketing agency. No more website project management. Now I could write, speak, and work with clients on their complete digital marketing strategy.

All was going swimmingly. I was having a great time working with this whole new team. Things felt fresh, new, and wide open for all sorts of opportunities.

Then, the shutdown. 

How I Chose to Survive and Thrive

At first, I just assumed that this would be a brief interruption and then we’d be back at it. We all know that was naïve. 

Within a two-week period, we lost about 80% of our monthly revenue. Companies were hitting the brakes on all spending and you know what always comes first… marketing! (Why is that? So stupid! Jeez!)

Our team rallied. We are led by a slightly crazy but completely passionate and awesome British guy. He’s a fighter. He used to jump out of airplanes and get shot at for his Queen. So, COVID-19 was something he could handle.

We’ve worked our tails off and built back up to close to pre-COVID levels and we suspect we’ll be over that before the end of the year.

Do I regret my decision to leave the relative safety of an established 17-year-old firm? Surprisingly, no. I love a challenge! And I love this team!

Speaking Stopped But New Opportunities Arose

Part of the reason I wanted to move to Wellspring Digital was the opportunity to speak more. I had a few dates lined up for spring and summer. I was super stoked, brah!

Well, we all know about that little pivot. Not to sound super cheesy but when one door closes, another opens!

Not only was I sidelined for speaking gigs but so were the big names. You see, I am a marketer fanboy. I read tons of marketing blogs and books, and always tried to catch the big-name keynotes at conferences where I spoke.

Well, all my marketing idols were also stuck at home trying to PIVOT… 

So, having no shame, I reached out to some of my favorite marketers (Gini was voluntold) and asked if I could do some interviews with them. And a bunch said yes!

I also want to mention that I’ve wanted to do this type of interview for years, but it just wasn’t possible until I got into this new company. 

So, the Wellspring Digital Chat was born! I’ve been lucky enough to interview people like David Meerman Scott, Ann Handley, Gini Dietrich (of course), Scott Monty, Neal Schaffer, and many more.

I’m interviewing Adele Revella later today! It’s been a blast so far, we’ve gotten great content for our blog, and I’ve learned a ton. Plus, I feel like I’ve made some new marketing buddies along the way.

Networking In Person Has Moved to LinkedIn

I used to go to networking events at least once a week. I won’t say that I love networking because I’m not a psycho, but I do miss seeing real people and making real connections.

So, like a lot of people in this mess, I’ve had to find new ways to stay in touch with my network and meet new people.

I’ve never used LinkedIn this much in my life! I know I’m not alone here. 

While Facebook seems to be where everyone is collectively losing their minds, LinkedIn is the place where optimism is everywhere. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but I don’t feel the need to shower like I do from time spent on Facebook.

People want to thrive and want to help others do the same. 

I’ve made deeper connections with people I would normally only know on a superficial LinkedIn level. I use LinkedIn messenger now more than ever (actually getting some sales from it too). I spend more time scrolling through my LinkedIn feed than ever before. 

And I’m helping people. I’m helping get the word out about job opportunities. I’m also helping people find jobs.  

Zoom!

I know people are getting serious Zoom fatigue, but I am actually enjoying all the video calls. I am technically an introvert and really hate talking on the phone.

I miss that unspoken body language. Zoom for me, now that everyone is comfortable with it, is a much easier way for me to communicate with people. 

I can see them laugh. They get my dry sense of humor because they can see my facial expressions. It makes for a more real conversation and a better connection is made. 

Plus, everyone cuts through the BS now as we’re all in the same mess. No sense sugar coating it. We can all get to the real a lot quicker. And for this introvert, that is AMAZING!!!

So, long live Zoom!

Walking and Push-ups Are My Reset

I was a gym rat before the pandemic. So, I had to figure something else out when my local gym closed. 

I miss my gym buddies, but I have found something that provides an extra benefit. 

Walking was never my thing. And I hate pushups. But this pandemic has forced me to get outside my comfort zone. Now, I love both. 

I walk for the cardio. I do pushups because I am incredibly vain (this joke would work better on video). 

My little 40-minute daily exercise routine has given me a much-needed reset. All the stress seems to melt away as I focus on my breathing, my steps, and my form. 

Plus, I’m under 200 lbs. for the first time in years! See, I’m ridiculously vain!

Quality Time with My Family

Just kidding, we’re about to kill each other. 😉

Seriously though, all this time at home has given me more time with my wife, daughter, two geriatric dogs (Budrow Wilson and Stanley Tucci), and myriad of indoor and outdoor cats (I really hate cats but they never seem to get the message).

My daughter is still homeschooling, which is stressful, but we get a better look into her learning process and a better understanding of how she thinks and processes information. It’s fascinating and scary all at the same time. 

Now if I could just get my 12-year-old boxer to stop farting in my office all the time. #fartoverandout

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.