A Power Chat With Jodi Kovitz: A Multi-Role CEO From The Kahuso Community
"Having a portfolio of “things I do, enables me to constantly broaden and deepen my network. This constant expansion and deepening of my network, enables me to deliver the highest possible value to the people in my life. And that gives me GREAT joy"
Jodi - thanks for talking to us. To start, can you please describe your current career set up?
My career journey was a long winding road to my present portfolio of roles - but I have to say I'm the happiest I've ever been professionally, and feel blessed to be able to do (at least) 3 “jobs” that I love to do!
First, my day job: this September I became the CEO of AceTech Ontario with a significant growth mandate.
AceTech helps tech executives scale through fostering peer to peer learning, mentoring, and being a connector and vibrant community for them.
It is an exciting time in the thriving and growing eco-system of over 4,000 technology startups in the Toronto/Waterloo area.
I recently returned from Mayor John Tory's trade mission to Israel and it has felt incredible to be able to help tell Toronto's story on the global stage and help promote multinational corporations to set up shop here.
I'm also the Founder of Just Say Hello, where I speak, write, and coach on building authentic, meaningful, high-value relationships that can transform your life in business.
As an active member of their Innovators Program, I also spend significant energy raising money and recruiting new donors for the SickKids Foundation advisory board and now working on a significant national strategic project.
My daughter was quite ill when she was young, and what she taught me about resilience and the gift of her life inspired me to give my time, money and energy back. This is a very significant part of my life, and being appointed to the board of this group is my greatest professional (and personal) achievement.
What does being a multi-role CEO actually look like?
My days are crazy and often start at 4AM. This is just the reality of the pursuit of excellence, and particularly in multi-roles.
I like to start early and get a few hours in of “thinking” and “working” time. Often I use this time to send my “connecting” e-mails before anyone needs me or is pulling at me (including my incredible 7.5 year-old daughter).
This way of living comes from my mother who taught me that it was very important to be “well rounded”. She always encouraged me to get involved in many activities at once, ones that linked to each other through passion and interests, and I think that way of living just stuck. She modeled a tireless work ethic, and bringing as zealous a commitment to her remarkable entrepreneurial community projects that equaled her commitment to her work as a psychologist.
Her way of living in the world rubbed off on me and there has never been another way for me - I have never been able to do one thing at a time, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing!
The traditional view is still that being a CEO is a full-time role, why are you combining dual (or really triple!) leadership roles like this. What are the benefits that you see?
I'm constantly linking my three “roles” as CEO, Founder, and active philanthropist, and am always wearing all of my hats.
One of the principles I shout from the rooftops as part of my Just Say Hello passion project is to act as a “connector” at all times.
Having a portfolio of “things I do", enables me to constantly broaden and deepen my network. This constant expansion and deepening of my network, enables me to deliver the highest possible value to the people in my life. And that gives me GREAT joy.
For instance, part of my approach with our AceTech community is to drive value to our members through helping them source talent, capital, and customers – and connect to others in Toronto and beyond that can help them achieve their business and personal goals.
Often, I draw on connections I have made through my work with the Sick Kids Foundation to deliver this value.
Or at times I will connect my speaking coach and manager to an AceTech member or someone that heard me speak as part of Just Say Hello, so that they can develop their own “Ted” style talk on a topic that they are passionate about.
Your organization AceTech represents 175 rapidly growing tech startups - what would you advise them on building or engaging contract or project based talent? And why?
Absolutely. Many of our companies would benefit significantly from engaging experienced talent whether advisory or in respect of specific projects, but can’t afford to (or don’t need to) take on “full-time” employees.
Also, often their needs evolve so quickly, that contract or project based talent is ideal! I also am finding that we have a shortage of certain types of talent in the tech ecosystem (sales is an example), so having someone seasoned with the right set of expertise, join temporarily to create a strategy and teach more junior members – is highly valuable.
What is your advice for someone looking to structure their career like this?
Structure your life in a way that is authentic to you. Passion is key. It is not easy to wear many hats, as it takes lots of extra time/work/attention.
But if you are authentically passionate about what you are doing, it won’t feel like work and it will be joyful. And, make sure you carve out time for YOU.
I make time to exercise, spend time with my daughter, and what I call “red space” in my calendar that cannot be booked and is only for coming back to my goals.
Advice my incredible inspiring mentor gave me – if you don’t focus on your goals, you will go off the target. So I have a list of my goals for each of my “roles” and make time once a week to ensure I am working towards them and not going off course.
Espresso, latte, filter....or how do you keep it all going?
Water! Lots of it. Used to be coffee, but now it is water. My incredible personal trainer has told me three litres a day! I put lemon in it – and make sure I drink it all day long!