Join Yukon Entrepreneur Jayden Soroka, CEO of Outpost31, a media production company based in Whitehorse as we discuss what has been happening since we last spoke in November of 2020.
(00:53) Jayden shares how the work they do has evolved over the last few years, specifically due to the pandemic. They are a classically trained animator; however, they have moved to focus on developing XR content which is a different and more immersive way to tell a story.
(4:35) With the pandemic forcing everyone to physically distance and isolate, the digital sector saw a moment of flourish due to everyone needing to shift to working virtually. Their business saw an increase in demand, both old clients requiring new products, and new customers finding them.
(10:42) Jayden shares their first memory of the pandemic. They had just taken some risks in their business, playing with acquiring some very expensive things when everything started shutting down. Everything was quiet in their home, and they had a moment of questioning whether it was the right time to be making these risky financial and business decisions. They reveal feeling quite scared of what the future would bring which was not something they had faced before.
(13:16) Jayden discusses the public health measures that have been the most challenging for them. Functioning as a small team, they were able to be safe, adapt and work together during the pandemic, even when they had to shut down their office, employees were able to move to remote work easily. Jayden shares the internal struggle of not being able to experience the world as much which is a big part of being a storyteller, and this led to missing a strong sense of a community. On a global scale, the disruptions to supply chain caused issues sourcing the equipment they needed so there were times they had to play a waiting game to be able to move forward with projects.
(18:45) Jayden contemplates the adaptations they are most proud of. Internally, Jayden has found that focusing on the user experience of the partnerships they’ve been building; approaching their partners with meaningful projects that engage and support their product, story, vision and needs versus thinking about the money has made their work way more fun.
(24:26) Looking at their business model, Jayden has learned that to go far in their industry they need to be willing to take some risks, and that failure is often education.
(27:00) Jayden discusses the Pivot program and how this pandemic-related support helped them realize that they needed to either grow or shrink their business. It was also catalyst for them to realize they needed a singular leader at the helm to help guide the vision and direction of the company.
(30:18) Thinking about their business differently, Jayden sees opportunity in everywhere -- specifically in XR as it is such an adaptable technology for storytelling, and you can convert any space into an opportunity. They are now going to museums to build virtual infrastructure, bringing their assets to life instead of having to create more physical spaces.
(36:23) Reflecting on what leadership is, Jayden has learned a lot about empathy as a leader. As a leader, Jayden recognizes that they are not doing the critical work, instead they oversee supporting the team and being adaptable to their needs. They acknowledge the youth today are experiencing things that Jayden has never experienced when they were younger.
(40:40) As the Yukon economy works to rebuild, Kari highlights many of the different opportunities and challenges she's observed as we move forward. Jayden shares they have always had an abundance of support from their family growing up, which has always made them more of a risk taker. They recognize that despite the Yukon wanting to get back quickly to normal (pre-covid) times, we currently do not have the capacity to do so. Jayden sees the need to be a focus on building real capacity in a sustainable way moving forward, especially in communities where there are a lot of barriers.
(48:40) What wellness practices keep Jayden grounded? Jayden shares their partner and communities around them that help them know when to slow down or take a break. They recently had a back injury which they had originally thought was purely physical but discovered through lessening their workload that much of the pain they were carrying was stress-related. They now have a morning ritual that prepares them for the rest of the day, which they notice a negative difference when they are unable to complete it.
(51:39) Jayden shares their final thoughts. The next gold rush is the youth in the Yukon territory. They have learned that we need to give youth opportunity, mentorship, access to the infrastructure, technology, and assets that they need to develop their own careers so that they can be leaders and stewards in the world.