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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

The Jason Lucash Manifesto

Things we learned from him, Mike Szymczak, and Origaudio

The promotional products industry felt different last Wednesday when I woke up. It’s not because I changed up my morning routine or drank bourbon instead of hot cocoa; it was because it was the first day over a decade that one half of the dynamic team from Origaudio showed the industry what it could be. It was the first-day AJL – After Jason Lucash.

A bit of background is likely in order. Back in my consulting days in 2014, I was introduced to Origaudio and the dynamic duo that founded the company: Mike Szymczak and Jason Lucash. At the time, the company was on the verge of the wild growth that we all witnessed in the past eight years. Wandering the streets of downtown Las Vegas, we became fast friends as our three sarcastic personalities melded into a single sardonic missile that targeted anything we collectively thought was wrong or needed to change.

Shortly after we became friends, Mike and Jason hired me to help them navigate their continued penetration into the promotional products industry. Trust me when I tell you that I got the better end of that deal as I got PAID to learn from two of the most innovative people I’ve ever met, but I digress. When I consulted for them, Origaudio was on the precipice of blowing up the industry with their innovative products, amazing packaging, and one-piece minimums. Over the next fourteen months, I worked with them every week, developed sales plans and policies, trained their staff, sat in on and contributed to creative product meetings, exhibited at trade shows with them, and spent time sharing my knowledge of the industry to help them grow responsibly.

Truth be told, they didn’t need my help at all. Sure, I made a good point here and there, but Jason and Mike knew what they were doing even when they felt they didn’t. Watching those two work at such an insane pace was intoxicating to me – and I still miss their energy. They taught me (and the rest of us) to look at the industry differently.

The word “disruptor” is causally and thoughtlessly thrown around a lot – usually by people placing that moniker on themselves. However, in the case of Origaudio, they completely disrupted and challenged an industry in dire need of an enema. I always imagined that if Jason were to write a manifesto for the rest of us to follow, it would read something like this:

  • Do the opposite of what everyone else is doing in the industry

  • Don’t put a ton of stock in the opinions of others – they are based on their fear of the unknown

  • Screw the competition – they are on a different path

  • Trends are for followers, not leaders

  • Be proud of your brand and others will adapt

  • Everything that you do has to have some element of danger in it; if you’re not scared, you’re not pushing yourself enough

  • Make a mess every day

  • Understand the rules so you know exactly how best to break them

  • Travel extensively as it expands and shifts your view of the world

  • Stay true to your roots – there’s something elegant about staying in the Excalibur to remind you where you came from

  • Trust your gut

  • Question everything

I want to be clear here: I could just as easily write something very similar about Mike Szymczak as his manifesto is identical. While Jason was more public facing, that doesn't mean Mike has been a second banana. Just because Mike hasn't been as visible, doesn't make his role and impact less valuable. Thankfully, Mike is still in the industry, challenging the status quo, questioning everything, and helping create a better promotional future for all of us. I, for one, am thankful for that.

Like most of you, I will miss having Jason in the industry – it was a bit of a security blanket that kept me warm in the knowledge that he was helping us all be more intelligent, more purposeful, more innovative, and even disruptive.

Godspeed, Jason. Next time you’re in Vegas, perhaps consider upgrading to the Circus Circus.

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