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Introducing Shawn King

He is the Don Draper of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  He is a partner, president and chief creative officer for the Extreme Group.  In the next few months, Canadians will see him and his wife, Jen, race across their television screens on the Amazing Race Canada.  This “mad man” is Shawn King, and boy, does if have nuggets to share about creativity in business and work/life balance.

Shawn got a job in advertising after taking communication arts (graphic design) in school.   He went to work with the mantra that it didn’t matter what job he was given, he was compelled to be the best at doing it.  This attitude allowed him to rise through the ranks of being a designer to art director to senior art director to creative director at the Extreme Group about 12 years ago.  Even during the times when he felt that he didn’t know what the hell he was doing, Shawn made a point to prove he was meant to be where he was and strive for success.   This allowed him to grow with Extreme from creative director to VP to his current position.

At Extreme, Shawn balances the use of his left and right brain.  He has learned the art of knowing when to use his creative side and when the process driven side must emerge.  This was an essential part of how he grew in the advertising business.   He describes Extreme as a creative agency that seeks to solve business problems creatively.  The agency has done this through the creation of items for traditional media, as well as stunts, events, and digital and social media.  Being unique or edgy can be a hard sell to more traditional corporate types, but Shawn quells the fear of risk with his “why not” attitude.  Many entrepreneurs believe that it is important to find your niche in business.  However, as Shawn admits, it’s difficult to stay within a niche in an area with a smaller business community and you have to be an opportunity seeker.  If you want to be a player in a small business community you have to be able to help out in a lot of different ways.  One example of this was an anecdote of a client Shawn was working with needing packaging for his product.  Extreme isn’t a packaging company, but they are design experts, so they were open to the challenge and weren’t going to allow an opportunity to evaporate.


So how does a busy businessperson, who is also a father, and a musician, find the time to do something like compete on a reality television show?  For Shawn it is all about a work/life balance.   He needs to find the time for his personal passions to be in the right headspace for work.  Shawn used to feel guilty about the things he needed to do for himself in order to be better at work.  Extreme Group have a gym within their offices and at one point Shawn was feeling guilty about going to the gym while others were working around him and so he stopped working out at work.  He discussed this guilt with his executive coach, who asked what does the business need from him most.  Shawn’s answer was clarity.  The coach then asked, “What gives you clarity?” For Shawn, it was going to the gym.  This answer gave him the personal freedom to do the things he needed to do for himself in order to be better for others and at work.


In this episode

Shawn gives us insight into what it is like to compete on the Amazing Race and what he and his wife learned from the experience.  Dave tells an anecdote about a coincidence between left and right brain thinkers.  Greg sees parallels between Shawn and himself including trying out for the Amazing Race Canada.  Shawn tells us about the experience, how he had to drop off the grid to be on the show, and how some of his employees thought he was in rehab instead.  Dave makes a great point about taking care of yourself first, in order to take care of others by comparing it to having oxygen masks drop during an airplane ride. Greg is validated for his own lifestyle and describes how Dave helped him come up with a personal and business vision statement and how this allows him to live an integrated lifestyle.



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