How to Reach for the Stars While Maintaining Your Sanity
Dragon Army is a purpose-driven digital experience agency based out of Atlanta, GA. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the company’s CEO and co-founder, Jeff Hilimire, in its brand new 12,000+ square foot location on the Atlanta Beltline to learn more about how he’s managing to lead this phenomenal growth while staying sane. Here are just a few highlights from that conversation.
Last year, Dragon Army tripled in size and was recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in Atlanta. Tell us more about the company.
We have great clients. We get to work with Turner and Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and some other awesome brands in town. I’m particularly proud of the culture. I feel like we’ve got something special here, and I think it’s because it’s purpose-driven. We have a true purpose that inspires us and keeps us moving towards a common goal. Our purpose is to inspire happiness. We think of it through three lenses: positive relationships, impactful work, and doing good.
You’re a business owner, a thought leader, a father of five—how do you do it all?
I think it’s all about prioritizing your time and really understanding where you want to spend your time. As I get older, I start to realize that time really is the most precious commodity. If I can’t make sure I’m focused in the right areas, I’m never going to achieve the things I want to achieve. For me, that means reading more and watching tv less, less networking events and more one-on-ones to help people. I look at things, and if they can hit two or three of the big items, then they’re worthwhile for me to do.
How do you stay inspired? You’re feeding a lot of people, but who feeds you?
The biggest influence on me over the last several years has been reading and learning about Bobby Kennedy. I hadn’t known much about his life, but I read a book about him about two-and-a-half years ago and realized that he’s probably the best model for me to think about how I want to do good and have a positive impact on the world. I also read a ton in general, so that helps as well.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Why We Sleep, and I’m now convinced that good sleep is one of the most important things you can have. The science behind every part of your life that it impacts is mind-boggling.
With great power comes great responsibility. How do you deal with all the responsibility?
That’s Spiderman’s phrase, and growing up, Spiderman was my guy. When I went through Leadership Atlanta in 2013, that’s when my eyes were opened to this privilege bubble that I lived in. I remember thinking, Gosh, I’ve worked hard, I’ve built my companies, I’m out of my mom’s basement and credit card debt and it was tough. Then I realized, Yeah, but I’ve had every advantage. All this lead me to my personal purpose, which is to have an outsized positive impact on the world. Now, I feel like I have to find ways to make sure I’m living toward that. But it’s really that phrase that sticks with me to realize what a waste it would be if I’m not using that power for good.
Speaking of giving back, let’s talk about 48in48.
I co-founded 48in48 with Adam Walker in 2015. It’s a hackathon where we bring several hundred people together to build 48 nonprofit websites in 48 hours. It’s been growing really quickly and opening peoples’ eyes to volunteerism, which is really the goal. The reason I wanted to start it is because I’d met all these great, amazing people over my career in marketing, creativity, and technology that could never figure out how to use their skills (their power) to do good. That was the impetus behind it, and what we want to do is unlock that globally. The big goal is that by 2025 I want to have 48 events happening around the world on the same weekend all at once.
Connect, follow, and learn more: JeffHilimire.com, 48in48.com, DragonArmy.com.
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