60 Seconds Can Change Your Life! An Interview with Jon Housholder

jon housholder

26 Feb 60 Seconds Can Change Your Life! An Interview with Jon Housholder

My guest is NASCAR’s Jon Housholder. Jon is a two time Emmy awarding winning producer at NASCAR Productions. He produces, he directs, he edits, he features race open trailers, commercials, the whole thing. He’s also worked on several nationally televised sports documentaries during his time at NASCAR. One of the most recent is Unrivaled: Earnhardt versus Gordon. That was pretty good. I think I hurt my throat.

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Interview:

Mitch: Hey there and welcome to Dream, Think, Do. I’m Mitch Matthews. I’ve got an awesome interview for you today so strap in and get ready. Today we are talking to NASCAR’s own Jon Housholder. Jon is a two time Emmy awarding winning producer at NASCAR Productions. He produces, he directs, he edits, he features race open trailers, commercials, the whole thing. He’s also worked on several nationally televised sports documentaries during his time at NASCAR. One of the most recent is Unrivaled: Earnhardt versus Gordon. That was pretty good. I think I hurt my throat.

Jon: That was incredible. That’s incredible. I’m very impressed.

Mitch: All right. So I have to admit that I am a total newb when it comes to NASCAR. But even when I saw that trailer my heart rate increased, my adrenaline went up, all of that just watching the trailer one time. I was like dang it. So it’s obvious Jon and the team that he gets to work with, they do an incredible job so whether you like NASCAR or not you’re want to go check out some of his work. It’s incredible. In addition to producing documentaries, Jon also wrote and directed an award winning short film called “Withdrawn in Trepidation.” Which appeared at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival awards.

Prior to working at NASCAR Jon worked at Menards in their corporate broadcast advertising department where he developed weekly advertising plans and created television and web advertising. Jon is the proud graduate of Wartburg College. What’s up Wartburg? In Waverley, Iowa with a degree of public relations and electronics media and a leadership minor. While he was there he was also student body vice president and a two sport athlete. Football and track if you’re interested. Jon is originally from West Des Moines, Iowa. But currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife Liz. He is truly living the dream, think, do life. So it’s time to have him on the show.

Jon, welcome to Dream, think, do, buddy.

Jon: Mitch Matthews. Thank you so much for having me man.

Mitch: This is crazy cool.

Jon: This is very cool.

Mitch: I mean I love all of my guests but some I love a little bit more than others, man. And we’ve known each other for a long time.

Jon: Yes we have. Yes we have.

Mitch: Yes so your dad is Mike Housholder, the pastor of the church that we’ve been going to since 2000, I think. 2000, 2001. So we’ve been a big fan of you and your family for a very long time. I kind of got to see you grow up in production arts. I remember you doing films when you were in high school.

Jon: Oh yeah. I used to have the… I would help the production team every now and then at my dad’s church. And that was always a great learning experience.

Mitch: Oh yeah. No joke. And it’s always kind of, I would imagine with NASCAR it’s like you got to get a big project done and it’s got to be done in three hours or less, all that. I’m sure that some of the lower budget church stuff that had to be done, turned around all that stuff probably was great great ground to get to work that. So I love it. So with Dream, Think, Doers now that you’re listening in I want to give you a little road map of where we’re headed because I’m going to talk with Jon a little bit about day to day because he does some really cool stuff. Long hours, but amazing stuff. So I want to get a little taste of that. But then we’re also going to go back because he’s got this great story of getting this position. And this has been a life long dream for him. So for anybody of any age if you’ve got one of those dream jobs that maybe seems a little impossible, I want you to stay tuned for Jon’s story.

Because it’s really cool. And I think it’s going to inspire you no matter what you want to do. No matter what you want to be on the planet. But let’s talk NASCAR, my man. I mean you’ve gotten to work on some cool projects. Like what’s one of your favorite projects or experiences that you’ve had when you’ve been at NASCAR Productions?

Jon: You know I think one of my favorite experiences was probably the recent documentary I worked on, the Unrivaled Earnhardt versus Gordon for Fox Sports just because that was a show that I think really stuck out to me because I was such a fan of that rivalry as a kid growing up. And it was really fun just to kind of dig into that and.

Mitch: And you get to dig into old footage but you also you were just out completing interviews with none other than Jeff Gordon, right?

Jon: Yes. We had a final shoot with him just a couple days ago and it was kind more of an artsy type shoot but yeah it was wrapping up. So it’s really exciting.

Mitch: I mean what is that like? I mean Jeff Gordon I know you’re a big fan of many of the drivers but I can remember you being a fan of his.

Jon: Oh yeah.

Mitch: It’s got to be crazy to be able to do that.

Jon: It really is. I mean it’s kind of surreal because I was such, it’s kind of out there, but I was such a big NASCAR fan. And being from the Midwest that wasn’t such a common thing all the time. But I was such a big NASCAR fan. It was kind of my dad and I’s thing that we got into. My brother was into it as well. And so just to kind of meet these guys has been so awesome. And it’s really cool to kind of reflect on it sometimes. I’m very blessed.

Mitch: Yeah. Well I’m sure when you’re in the middle of it it’s probably just kind of got to give yourself a little time to actually grasp some of this stuff.

Jon: Yes, the first few times I was… I remember back in 2014 spring time when I first got over to NASCAR I was meeting all these drivers for the first time and it really it took me a while to get used to it. Because it’s just like oh I have to go up and talk to this guy and interview him. What are you talking about?

Mitch: Play it cool. Play it cool.

Jon: Yeah. But months prior I was watching them on TV back in the apartment I was in in Wisconsin. So weird.

Mitch: Right. And you literally I mean that’s your thing. You produce these amazing documentaries and all of that now, but you are literally in the trenches interviewing drivers. I mean you’re doing it all. You’re on track side sometimes. You’re all over the place.

Jon: Yeah, a lot of us have a lot of different tasks. It’s kind of crazy how my job has kind of evolved over the years. But I feel like I’ve done a little bit of everything. It’s been great. I’ve had the full NASCAR experience in production side I feel.

Mitch: Yeah, what would say, when you think back especially growing up respecting these drivers, probably love hate relationships with some of them, all that stuff, what’s been one of your favorite interactions with one of the drivers?

Jon: You know I think for me it was, so the first race I went to I was assigned to go to the Kansas Speedway back in 2014. And I was super excited just to go because they gave me like a pass and I was able to kind of hang out in the garage area and interview drivers. I was just on cloud nine. It didn’t feel like work at all. And I remember Jeff Gordon won the race. And he was my favorite driver as a kid. And I was ecstatic because I was in the media center after and I got to ask him a couple questions about it. And I just, to me I know it was kind of a simple thing at that time, but just the feeling that I had in that moment and that interaction it was so surreal. It really was. And I’ve done a lot of other things with drivers like him and other projects since and documentaries, but for me just that first moment of oh my gosh this is happening. It was so cool. And it’s something I really I don’t think I’ll ever forget to be honest with you. It was really memorable.

Mitch: Well I love that. I love that you kind of that treasured memory. Because a lot of people that I’ve talked with that have gone after life long dreams. Some people say gosh I almost missed it. The dream was happening and they had to almost catch themselves.

Jon: Oh it’s crazy.

Mitch: I’m actually in it.

Jon: Yeah, it’s something I feel like I have to force myself sometimes just to realize how I’m doing things that I wanted to do when I was a kid and I just have to stop sometimes and smell the roses. It’s hard to do that. But the dream when you’re in those moments you’re like oh my gosh it’s happening. And you’re like should I be feeling a different way. But when you reflect on it it’s awesome. It’s moments like that that you just don’t forget.

Mitch: Absolutely. I love it. Well and you and I have talked about dream jobs in the past. And I think Dream, Think, Doers you know we always shoot straight. So you’re not just sitting around watching races and eating popcorn.

Jon: No. Oh god.

Mitch: There’s some long hours. Give us a little snap shot of even this week some of the stuff you’ve been doing just to kind of give an idea of some of the work that goes into a dream job as well.

Jon: Yeah. So there’s plenty of stuff on the schedule. I’m working on a series right now that I’m helping out with the promotional material for, an Austin Dillon series as it kind of leads up to the Daytona 500. My friend who I work with as a producer he’s Jeff Schaeffer he’s making it so check it out. It’s called, “Defending Daytona.” And I’m doing the trailer for that. So I had to do that earlier this week. I had to do some of the graphics for the show. And then I had to do the hall of fame open for NBC Sports Network and then I also had to work on the documentary Unrivaled Earnhardt versus Gordon. And I mean it’s a lot of stuff. That’s a lot of time in the edit bay. It’s funny how much time you spend in the edit bay in comparison to being on set or shooting at a racetrack. It’s insane. But you spend hours and hours in those edit bays depending on how long each thing is.

Trailers take a lot of time. I mean they’re sometimes they’re shorter than a lot of things you make, but sometimes they take longer then.

Mitch: Oh for sure.

Jon: It’s crazy.

Mitch: Yeah I can only imagine because the emotions that you need to elicit in a minute or in two minutes it’s just one of those. And to be able to do that and compress time. I always say it’s easier to do a 30 minute talk than it is a three minute talk. So I can imagine those rules have to be you have to have all the more for a trailer. There’s such art to that. So I love it man. I love it. It’s just great to hear your passion on this too. So let’s back it up just a little bit. Now I also want to let people know if I remember right there was an experience you had early on as a kid where you kind of declared to your parents this is where I want to work. If I remember right you went to a track or something and it just hit you. Someday.

Jon: Yeah. So I remember when I was a kid, I was probably about 11 or 12 and I had gone to NASCAR races before. I wanted to be a driver but didn’t really have that opportunity. So I remember we came to Charlotte and we came here for the Coca Cola 600. And I remember they have this event here in Charlotte called Speed Weeks when the all star race and the Coca Cola 600 are back to back weeks. And the whole city of Charlotte basically has a giant festival leading up to the race. And we were here and I remember just thinking man this is so cool and I was like I don’t know what I can do but I really want to find a way to get involved in racing some day. And I remember talking to my parents about it. And I didn’t really know how to go about it but I remember my dad kind of saying something like, “Well if that happens you’ll probably end up in Charlotte.”

Mitch: That’s pretty pathetic, right?

Jon: It’s something I kind of remember him just saying because I’m like it’s funny how I live in Charlotte, North Carolina now. For people that don’t know, Charlotte, North Carolina is kind of the hub for NASCAR teams. And for the NASCAR media this is kind of where everything is located. I mean Daytona is kind of where the competition side of things are run. But this is where the teams and the media and everything are.

Mitch: Yeah. That’s crazy. And I think that’s awesome testament to your family as well. Because there’s a lot of people as you know, there’s a lot of people who achieve dreams and it’s in some ways despite.

Jon: Yeah. Honestly I feel bad for people like that.

Mitch: I know. It breaks my heart. And where especially dream, think, doers that are parents your kids, right? They’re thinking about their dreams. They’re talking about their dreams. And how we react to those dreams, it might seem so insignificant but just that, just stop and listen. And talk and not to say oh come on. Let’s get a real job or whatever. But to say, that’s awesome. And hey you should think about it. You’d probably live out here. Or all those things it just all of a sudden, instead of dismissing it to be able to… you never know those subtle quiet little comments sometimes can make all the difference.

Jon: Exactly.

Mitch: I love it. So I love that story. But let’s talk about it because here you are, you go to school at Wartburg. We have a love for Wartburg. We’ve done multiple dream gatherings at Wartburg and it’s beautiful little campus in Waverley, Iowa. Not necessarily known for its direct connections to NASCAR. So you’re going to school at Wartburg and the NASCAR dreams probably maybe not in the fore front but probably always there in the back of your mind. Tell us because the road to NASCAR really did start there though. So I know we’ve talked about this a little bit but it really has connections to your senior year. So talk with us a little bit about that experience and kind of the road getting started.

Jon: Yeah, well I was extremely blessed to have such good professors at Wartburg College. I look back on it and nothing that I’m doing now would be possible without them. They always encouraged me to go after my dreams and to stick with my gut and be myself. And I had conversations with them on multiple occasions. They knew I was very passionate about video production and along with being a NASCAR fan as a kid, I always was playing around with the video camera making little movies with my brother. Stop motion type stuff. And it was all a huge passion of mine and I remember talking to my advisor, Dr. Bill Withers, and having a conversation going into my senior year. I think video production is really the route I want to go. I was a double major in public relations and electronic media with an emphasis in news. So I was actually studying to be a news anchor, reporter, what have you. And yeah, I just kind of going into my senior year having a couple internships I figured this is, video production is what I want to do.

And I want to get to NASCAR. So I started having conversations with a couple of my professors, Dr. Bill Withers, Professor Cliff Brockman, Dr. Penny Pier, and they were very supportive of me. And they always kind of kept an eye out for me. And I had conversations with them about how I wanted to get there and they would kind of tell me you know you might have to do a few things prior to getting to your goal of working in film production for NASCAR. It’s just it’s not going to just happen overnight. You’re going to have to do some steps. So they kind of were keeping their eye out for me. And in the mean time I was going on, when I was on break I kind of was interning at a PR firm in Des Moines, really good PR firm. And I had gone back and done an internship with them over winter break since winter breaks are kind of long in college.

And they had mentioned something to me about interviewing for a job with them. And I accepted because I didn’t have any jobs really set up. And I ended up actually getting that job. But I had time to think about it. And I remember my professors really coming through for me on that because I remember them having conversations with me about, “You know Jon, what is it you want to do because all your senior year you’ve been telling us you want to go into video production. Ultimately this decision is up to you. But you need to go with your gut.” And I remember I was kind of hitting the deadline of getting back to these guys and I was walking across campus. I remember I was literally just praying. I don’t know what I’m going to say. Because the job paid well. And I didn’t have a back up at the time. And I went into my dorm room. I remember I was in my room and I was calling them and I didn’t know what I was going to say.

I had no idea what I was going to say. And I’m just like do I take it. Do I not? What do I do? And I remember suddenly I remember my prospective boss he picked up the phone and he’s like, “Hey did you make a decision yet?” And it just hit me like I mean I remember this overwhelming feeling like this isn’t what you’re supposed to do. There’s nothing wrong with going into that field but for me just that’s not what I’m supposed to do. I felt it.

Mitch: It would’ve been easy. It would’ve been a given. But no.

Jon: And I politely declined. And so then I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I was kind of nervous. But I talked to my professor and he’s like it’s going to be fine. Just stay the course. Stay with what you know and keep putting your name out there. Well, I was in a capstone class with Doctor Penny Pier who I mentioned a little earlier. And in her class we had to make a mini short documentary about a certain topic that she had assigned us. And I remember we had kind of a mini film festival if you will. It’s called Rice Day at Wartburg. It’s this really cool event. It’s kind of where the different departments get to showcase their talents. Science department does their thing. The common arts department, we did our thing. And so we debut in the [inaudible 00:19:51] area. And which is kind of our auditorium at Wartburg. And there would be judges and all that and we get a grade on it. Nd low and behold, there were two alumni there, Andrew and Amy Salaterra who are dear friends to me to this day.

Amy is the lead photographer at Menards in Wisconsin and Andrew Salaterra was a manager in the broadcasting department at Menards. And they had seen my film and then one thing led to another and I remember I got an email from Bill Withers saying Andrew was looking for applicants for a new production role in making those Menards commercials everyone loves.

Mitch: And if you’re not from the Midwest Menards is an amazing company but they do have a distinct vibe. You wouldn’t think adrenaline rush, heart pounding kind of advertisements. They are far from that.

Jon: Yes, and I remember I got an email from Bill. I got an email from Dr. Pier. Just encourage me, you need to apply for this. This is what you want to do. And so I did and then a few months later I’m moving to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to save big money if you will. It’s crazy and just backing up a little bit with Wartburg. Like I said I was going into news prior to my senior year. And if it weren’t for people like Dr. Withers, Dr. Pier, and people like Professor Cliff Brockman who I had, Cliff taught me how to use a real camera for the first time. And I remember my sophomore year, this is before cell phone were really, you didn’t have a good camera on your phone.

Mitch: Right.

Jon: But the only way you were going to film something is if you had a camera. And if you did have a cell phone camera it wasn’t 4K. I can tell you that much.

Mitch: For sure.

Jon: It was really cool to kind of do that stuff and Cliff taught me all the ropes of editing and everything like that. And I just took a liking to it. And it took me a while until my senior year to realize production is what I want to do. This is what I wanted to do when I was a kid. And I kind of returned to it and it was because my professors kind of helped guide me to that. And realize that dig deep and realize that’s what you want to do and yeah, it’s kind of a risk. But you should go for it. That’s my story with that. I’m sorry that was so long.

Mitch: It’s all right. I love it. There’s so many nuances to that. I do love though and appreciate the fact that those professors saw you. They saw you. And it’s so easy to get missed. It’s so easy to kind of bury things. It’s so easy to go the easy route. And it could’ve been very easy for you to just say I’m going to take the safe job. And that’s not always a bad thing. But in your case, your professors are like no, that’s not where you’re meant to go. You know at least they let you still make the decision obviously.

Jon: They said decisions up to you.

Mitch: All right. Exactly. But also I love the fact that you know it’s through experimenting and trying new things that you really did in your case in some ways reinforce your passions. We’re a huge fan of encouraging people to experiment. Go out and stretch yourself. Try that. And I love that you went all in on that capstone because I know sometimes those classes or especially it’s your senior year. It’d be kind of easy to coast. It’s all those things. But you’re like nope I’m going all in. And that then led you to Menards.

Now, again, Menards. It was not necessarily the most glamorous and it was definitely not NASCAR yet but it really was a connection. It was a road because it helped you to build those skills. It helped you to build that credibility. But one of the things we talk about when you go after a bridge job, that’s one of the things we talk about. There’s plenty of bridge jobs on your way to dream jobs. And bridge jobs aren’t throw away jobs. They’re important and you learn specific skills. But we always say look at the meal plan. What’s the meal plan? And the meal plan is who can you meet, what can you earn, what can it make you available to do, and what can you learn?

And I think that that for you with the bridge job, I know you did a fantastic job for them. But that really did allow you to do all of those things. But it also allowed you to start going to NASCAR races.

Jon: Yeah, yeah, and that was kind of the big perk of working at Menards. So when I was there, I knew this before because I was a NASCAR fan. But Menards is heavily involved in auto racing from everything from Indie car to the Arca series, but also NASCAR racing. And they happened to sponsor a driver. So me being the die hard NASCAR fan I am I’m like I want to do those commercials.

Mitch: Can I get in on that?

Jon: How do I do those commercials? That’s just exciting and you know I almost just… it wasn’t just wanting to do it to get to NASCAR. It was oh my gosh I get to do NASCAR. Like this is cool. I want to do this. And it was great. I had such good people at Menards. I mean I’m serious. It’s those bridge jobs. It’s not something… I know on the outside looking in it’s like oh man I have to go to this place. I’m telling you, those bridge jobs are incredible and you’ll never forget them. I had the best people around me when I was at Menards and I still consider them some of my best friends to this day because they took me under their wing and I learned the ropes from those guys. I didn’t know how to build a set. I didn’t know how to do lighting. I didn’t really know how to edit that well. I knew the fundamentals thanks to my college professors, but I feel like Menards was really a grad school for me.

And I just kind of had to mention that because I feel like it was extremely beneficial to me but back to what your point of me going to NASCAR races. I volunteered to do those NASCAR ads. And it was cool because I got to start doing stuff with Paul Menards, who was a NASCAR driver. And I did a Daytona 500 commercial and it was incredible. And being 23 years old doing that and writing and directing a Daytona 500 commercial it was insane.

Mitch: Right? That’s nuts. And it’s that whole thing, I remember that era for you. I mean that first job out of college again for a lot of people, especially if it’s in the bridge job category. It’s easy for people to kind of check out. It’s not the dream job. You’re probably not getting paid top industry top offerings all of those things. And so it feels like a bit of a sacrifice. And it’s also I think easier for some people to go I’m not going to give it my all. I’m not going to give extra time. I’m not going to show up early. But you really did double down and say I’ll take as many projects as we can do. You really got a lot of experience. Some of those commercials aren’t necessarily again the highest end commercials but it’s still you’re learning the core of what you need to do. And I love that. That was a grad school you got paid to attend.

Jon: Exactly. And with those bridge jobs you really do, you have to go all in at those. I mean it’s not like oh I’m just going to kind of lay back here and then something will come that’s bigger and better. You’re the master of your domain. You have to go and get it. How hard are you willing to go. And if you’re in an environment that you don’t like what are you doing to make it better? What are you doing to better yourself? And your craft? And I was so lucky I had coworkers around me that even when times got hard they reminded me of that. And it was cool. And they always supported me. When I wanted to do the NASCAR ads. They’re like yeah man let’s help you. We’ll help you do it. It was great environment. And we got cold passes too.

Which cold passes are pit passes to the races.

Mitch: Come on.

Jon: So any time that the NASCAR races were coming to either Chicago or Kansas I was the first to sign up. And my girlfriend who’s now my wife, I mean poor thing didn’t even like NASCAR before I started working there. Here I am just taking her to all these NASCAR races and stuff like that.

Mitch: You are going to love this baby. You are going to love this. I love it.

Jon: But she was such a good sport about it. Going to those NASCAR races and being in the pit area, it was really cool. That was the first moment, I mean I’d gone to races before but I’d never been in a garage previous.

Mitch: Right.

Jon: And just walking around I’m like oh my gosh this is cool. And I’m seeing drivers walk by. And one thing I noticed when I was in the garage was I noticed Mike Helton. Mike Helton for people who aren’t NASCAR fans he was the president of NASCAR for a number of years. And I always knew who he was because he was on TV every now and then talking with broadcasters about plans for NASCAR. And since I was a big fan I recognized him immediately. And so we went to a race and I saw him sitting over kind of by the driver meeting area. And I remember kind of telling myself okay like I don’t have it with me now but since I’m always getting pit passes and I’m coming to these races I think I’m going to maybe write a resume and give it to him and maybe a video. Like a resume video of my work. And I mentioned it to Liz and she’s like yeah do it.

Mitch: What could it hurt?

Jon: Yeah she completely supported me. So I ended up reaching out to my.. and the cool thing about my professors is from college I’m still in touch with them to even this day. And ask them for advice all the time. And so I reached out to Bill Withers again, my advisor from college, and I told him hey I’m thinking about doing this. It’s kind of crazy. But I think I’m going to do it. And he’s like, “Absolutely do that.” And he even told me to go as far as to writing a cover letter written out to him. So I did it. And I wrote a cover letter out to him and got a resume and had my work on there with a video reel. And I was there. I remember I was at Chicago Land Speedway. It was the fall race. And I’m like yeah all right cool. I’m going to go talk to him. I saw him.

I’m like okay this is my moment. Start walking towards him and I completely chicken out. I’m like I can’t. What am I doing? I can’t do this.

Mitch: Avert. Avert.

Jon: What am I doing? This is so stupid. And so I start walking back and thank god my wife was with me, who again my girlfriend at the time and she’s just like just go back there. Just do it. I remember her saying, “What do you have to lose?” And I’m like you know what she’s so right. And so I turn back and at this point Mike Helton’s about to run, not run, he’s about to walk into a driver meeting. So I’m running. I’m like I got to get him. This is my chance. And so I go and I’m just like, “Mr. Helton. Mr. Helton.” And I tried to sound as contained as I could. I probably sounded like a lunatic.

Mitch: Play it cool. Play it cool.

Jon: Exactly. I have a lot of energy. Sometimes gets a little out of control. But I’m just like, “Mr. Helton.” And I told him a quick recap of who I was, what I did, what I wanted to do, how I’ve always wanted to work for NASCAR. And I said, “I appreciate your time. Here’s my resume. Here’s a little video reel. Here’s a cover letter. Please let me know if there’s anything that ever opens up. I would love to hear from you.” And I remember he took my stuff and he put it in his coat pocket. And to me that was like hitting a home run.

Mitch: Right? Didn’t go in the trash.

Jon: And I’m like even if it doesn’t work out, this is the coolest thing ever. A guy I’ve always known and it’s Mike Helton, the president of NASCAR. And he just put my stuff in his coat pocket. And so I’m like he’s probably going to have it with him. Probably at least come back to it. So I remember we went and watched the race in the stands later and I couldn’t even. It was the first race ever I went to where I wasn’t totally in tune with the race. You go to a NASCAR race in person I highly encourage it. It is so awesome. It’s so thrilling. And I can’t believe I was in the stands and I was just completely like the whole time I was just running through my head what just happened. What’s going to happen? And I’m like okay either way I’m not going to let it get to me. This was just cool.

Mitch: I did my part. Now I got to let it ride.

Jon: And I remember telling my dad. I told my professors, my friends. I don’t know if they all believed me. But I was like it happened. It’s so cool. And I remember like is this going to just be a quirky story. But I remember about like four to five weeks later, I get a message on my email from the NASCAR HR department asking me to do an interview for a production assistant position in Charlotte, North Carolina. And I think I stared at that thing for like five minutes. I mean I just stared at it. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I mean it was just like how in the world. Like what? It felt like I just blinked because you spend all this time doing these things and it’s such a process but you’re like, in that moment you realize wow this is happening.

Oh my gosh. And you know, I realized it was an interview. It wasn’t a job offer.

Mitch: But at the same time it was a step. A very important step.

Jon: It was a step. And I had connections with NASCAR at the time because part of the reason I was going to get my resume to Mike Helton is because other than doing commercials for Menards I knew no one at NASCAR. Had no connections and if I didn’t put myself out there, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I tell people all the time, 60 seconds can change your life. And it did for me. Ti really did. Career wise I wouldn’t know the friends I know now. Liz and I wouldn’t be where we are. I mean in Charlotte and we might be you never know. But I don’t think we would be. And it’s crazy. And so yeah, and long story short I was lucky and I ended up getting a job at NASCAR and I remember it was about three feet of snow in Wisconsin and I moved to sixty degree weather in Charlotte.

Mitch: Thank the lord. Thank the lord that NASCAR is based in the south.

Jon: Yes, yes, yes. So that was another perk.

Mitch: I still appreciate that story. I just think and again I love that you bailed initially. But Liz said get back there. You have nothing to lose. And really 60 seconds can make all the difference. And I’ll also say I think one of the other things to reinforce here though is that it was 60 seconds in that moment. It’s the 60 second risk. But at the same time if you would’ve just walked up and tried to give him a hug and say someday I want to work for you. Like that would have been a little weird.

Jon: Yeah, it probably wouldn’t have worked out.

Mitch: Exactly right. Security could we get security over here? But instead what you were able to show them was a lot of hard work. You showed them that you have the chops. And you’ve been working hard to get that. It was all those things coming together. What do they say? Luck is when preparation meets with opportunity. You’ve been working hard to get to that point. So I love that you pushed yourself to do that. But it’s also you. That risk was built on a foundation of a lot of hours and a lot of time and a lot of heart. And so I just love that story. Can you see dream, think, doers why I wanted to have him on? I love it.

So let’s wrap this bad boy up. We could talk for another three hours but.

Jon: I know. Anytime I talk with you Mitch, I could just go.

Mitch: It’s true. I’m the same way. And now I just want to watch NASCAR for crying out loud. So I love it. So you’ve given so much great wisdom. 60 seconds can change your life. Going after those bridge jobs. Just so much great wisdom. But what’s one last piece of wisdom that you want to offer somebody, especially maybe they’re like I know they’re inspired. They’re listening. They’re believing. But maybe they’re thinking for themselves, well it might work for Jon. But I don’t know for me. What’s that last piece of wisdom you want to offer as we’re wrapping this bad boy up to keep people moving towards their dreams?

Jon: I would just say just I remember I had a professor in college again, I keep talking about Wartburg, but it was such a great place to me. Doctor Penny Pier who I had, I remember in our capstone class I think it was one of our last days. She just told us to just be yourself. It’s such a simple thing, but be yourself in this industry and you will be happy and you will find joy in whatever it is you do.

Mitch: Yeah.

Jon: And I really, that line I don’t know why but it just resonates with me because if I wasn’t staying true to myself, I wouldn’t be at NASCAR. I think it’s so important in this industry no matter what you do just stay true to yourself because if you’re true to yourself the right path, you’ll get on the right one. Especially career wise. Because don’t make it about money. Don’t make it about any of that stuff because if you make it about money, you’re not going to want to do your dream job because the path to get there it’s not always pretty.

Mitch: Certainly not always easy.

Jon: You might be making $11 an hour at a job. I mean and it’s hard to financially pay for things. But if you push through it and you stay true to yourself your dream can really come true and I just think being true to yourself is the most important thing because you’ll be surprised how far you can push yourself and don’t try to ever be anyone else that you’re not. Because if you do you’ll lose yourself and then you’ll lose track of what your actual dream is.

Mitch: Yeah. And if you’ve lost yourself, there’s folks that maybe took that safe job and they’re here in this and going ugh, I knew I shouldn’t have done this. So it’s that whole thing of like maybe you’ve lost touch with that person just start doing some of those experiments like Jon’s been talking about. Like go and learn something new. Or go back to something that maybe excited you and maybe it’s not quitting your job immediately because I love that part about your story too. You wanted to work for NASCAR but it wasn’t like I’m just going to throw caution to the wind and move to Charlotte. It’s like no, you put in the work. You network, you connected, you took some risks, made you look like a fool. You could’ve looked like a fool walking up to him, but at the same time you backed it up and it made all the difference. So I love that, man, be yourself. That’s so true.

Well, Jon, keep bringing the awesome. Keep us in the loop on all the projects, man. And I just can’t wait to see what the next five year brings.

Jon: Oh thank you so much, Mitch. It’s been a pleasure.

Mitch: All right dream, think, doer, what did you think? I want to hear from you. Head over to mitchmatthews.com/216. Leave a comment. What stood out to you? What story stood out to you? What strategy? What concept? All of that. I know for me man that 60 seconds could change your life. I think we’re going to wind up naming this episode after that theme. Because I love the story of him walking up to that president. And obviously there was a lot of history there. He had to work hard to get there. He had to work hard to have something to hand him. Had to work hard to be at Menards to have the access. All of those things, but I just think it’s fantastic he took the risk and obviously it’s paying off.

Again, leave a comment over at mitchmatthews.com/216. But also swing over there. We’ll try to have at least one or two of Jon’s NASCAR projects up there, videos you can check out as well. He does some amazing stuff. But obviously he’s living the dream, think, do life. That’s what I want for you as well. We want you dreaming bigger, thinking better, and doing more of what you were put on the planet to do. So, get out there and do it. I tell you what, I got some awesome interviews coming your way. You got another deep dive coming your way here in about two weeks. So stand by for those. But until next time. Hey, keep bringing your awesome because the world needs more of it.

Okay, talk soon.

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