Think fast. You are about to graduate college and must decide between a job offer with a stable, decades-old company offering a base salary plus commission and benefits, and an unproven start-up that can’t guarantee immediate income. The answer is easy, right? It turned out to be for Jason Hietbrink, but he didn’t choose the “safe” route.
Jason was one day away from joining said “safe” company. If he did, and remained loyal for years, he’d likely have risen through the corporate ranks and would be doing well professionally. But how much time would he be able to spend with his wife and kids? Would he have any work-life balance? Today, he will tell you gladly that the leap of faith he took when joining N2 Publishing was worth it, even if just for the quality of life he has achieved.
Jason Hietbrink is now a well-known name around N2. He became one of the first Area Directors, joining in 2006. But his accolades go well beyond length of tenure. He was our top-selling AD for six years in a row, a natural segue for a position in leadership.
But deciding to go all-in on N2 wasn’t without its challenges in the beginning. As with many fresh-out-of-college graduates, money was an issue – particularly not having enough to afford the gas to drive to ADC (Area Director Candidate) training. Luckily, someone pitched in. And again, after the conference, he wasn’t sure he’d financially survive ramp-up, but he and his wife unexpectedly received a check in the mail for the exact amount needed to get them through that tough season – an answer to a prayer, he calls it.
N2 has grown a lot since Jason started in 2006. The blueprint outlined for ADs to follow has been fleshed out with tried and tested manuals and resources, N2 University, and tech updates throughout the years. But at least two things remain consistent: the unique company culture and the trusted direction from leadership.
“Since the time I started, I’ve been able to take up to 10-12 weeks of vacation a year with our family, which has been huge,” said Jason. “I’m able to take my son and daughter on separate trips each year, and take trips with my wife.”
These are adventures that turn into lasting memories for the Hietbrinks. But he finds work-life balance day-to-day, as well. Jason makes his kids breakfast in the mornings before dropping them off at school. He’s even able to pick them up and be involved in their sports and after-school activities. Of course, he works very hard when he needs to, and this flexibility in his personal life is the direct result of that. Sure, he might have reached some flexibility if he’d opted for the corporate route, but only after working himself to death or sacrificing dreams for many years, he says.
“N2 isn’t the right place for everyone,” said Jason, “but ask yourself what you want in life. ‘Am I willing to put in the work every day to get where I want to go and make short-term sacrifices to get what I want long-term?’”
As a leader, Jason now delivers the same care and generosity for his team that he was shown when starting out and ramping up his publications. As a Region Director, he holds weekly coaching calls that, at their core, are meant to build trust and connection, and to gauge how his team members are feeling.
“It means a lot to me to help them believe in themselves and tap into what’s already there,” said Jason.
Having made it through the challenging time of ramp-up on a new graduate’s budget (or lack thereof) and worked his way to being a top-seller with flexibility most parents only dream of, he’s well-suited to offer inspiration for his team – and for anyone contemplating a life change, for that matter.
“Success isn’t easy. It shouldn’t be easy. But it’s worth it,” Jason said. “So what do you want, and how bad do you want it?”
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