Friday, June 13, 2008

The (I) Class July/August 2008: It's Showtime!

There is a certain group of intrepid people on earth who, with nothing more than the prowess of an idea and sheer will, take pains to reshape destiny. Every day, their actions ripple beyond their own spatial reach, impacting lives of millions. Emboldened by the promise of their own creativity, of their own ideas, or their own dreams, they circumvent circumstance and blaze trails that leave the world thunderstruck. For their efforts, this group of people is often lauded as ardent individualists, but they are more that just that. They are also known by many other names: the inventors, the innovators, the idealists, the independents, the inspirers, the initiators, the instigators, the investors, and so on. Indeed, so numerous and so riveting are those names that this consultancy finds it prudent to simply give them just one name—the I-class.

Since its inception, Axiom Strategy Advisors, LLC, has subscribed to a philosophy that went, rather simply, the best clients are educated clients. And so, over the years, the consultancy has always sought to do its part to enrich its parties of relevance, by providing them with thoughtful analyses and continuously shared knowledge. With the dissemination of third-party materials, or through its own Axiom Quarterly and the monthly AxSA Knowledge Points, the paramount goal has been to help clients build repositories of information that can be used in better understanding extraneous events and in making more informed decisions. Now the consultancy hopes to take this one step further with the launch of its new article series.

The (I) Class is intended to provide readers with a window into the minds of some of the most creative and enterprising individuals from the private, public and NFP sectors. Though many of these “destiny-shapers” reside in different professional spheres, this consultancy firmly believes there is much that disparate leaders can glean from one another. Hence, this bi-monthly series seeks to uncover such fresh perspectives and compelling insights.

In launching the series, the consultancy moved far afield from its traditional client base and landed in the world of stage and film production. This is a far cry from the loud manufacturing plants, or even the bustling oil patch, but that does not bother Dui Jarrod in the slightest way. In fact, the 28-year-old thrives in this industry built purely on imagination and the ability to captivate audiences. Mr. Jarrod is the CEO and Creative Director of Cloud Nine Productions, LLC, a company with the mission of delivering “films, television shows and stage plays meant to entertain, empower and enlighten”.* And the effort has been good so far. Alongside his business partners John Francis and Travis Phipps, the talented Mr. Jarrod and Cloud Nine Productions have churned out an impressive portfolio of products, ranging from two short films and a music video to three feature film scripts and a touring play.

Mr. Jarrod is a young and rising member of the I-class, and Axiom Strategy Advisors, LLC, took an opportunity to engage him on his newfound success, as well as to ask about his thoughts on creativity, leadership, and a host of other topics.

AxSA: Please share with us just how you got your start as a writer and theatrical director.

Jarrod: I started writing at a very early age. I loved plays and films but didn’t have access to be in them, so I wrote them myself. I would force my sister to be in them with me, and we would rehearse all week and perform it for my mother. I started to do it more actively for my Bible class in junior high and high school, but professionally started writing and directing about five years ago.

AxSA: Talk to us about the creativity that makes such productions possible. Where do you think that talent comes from? How do you think other people can cultivate it?

Jarrod: Each and every production begins with the end in mind. I visualize how I want the production to look and what I want the story to say. I also look to bring different elements that audience[s] might not normally see and dialogue that they may not necessarily expect. My mother is a visual artist, so I think a great deal of my abilities come from her.

A huge key to cultivating your skill as a writer is to WRITE! So many people speak of it, but you have to write—and write often—to get the process of imagination flowing to your fingertips a refined effort. I write everyday in some form or fashion.

AxSA: What is your biggest inspiration? What motivates you when you are sitting at your computer?

Jarrod: My biggest inspiration is the possibilities! So many doors are finally beginning to open for African-American writers, with huge incentives for film investors and more opportunities for distribution. We are finally getting several means of getting our work to more audiences as opposed to going through studios. There are so many stories floating around in my head, the hardest part of sitting at my computer is figuring out which story to tell next. My motivation comes from within.

AxSA: When it comes to delivering a quality product, it is obvious that you are really dependent on your team. So what do you do to foster a strong work environment? Are those leadership skills different when you are at the scripting table, during rehearsals, and on the stage?

Jarrod: In order to get quality, you have to work with quality people, people that understand and respect the vision that Cloud 9 has. I work extremely hard in the beginning stages to give everyone clarity on the project and work to provide positive feedback on their roles. As the head of Cloud 9, I keep in mind why I have each person working for me and allow them to bring their individual talents to the table. This provides to most healthy environment I have ever worked. Everyone is so positive and really take ownership of their roles and the company’s overall vision. Whether scripting, rehearsing, or on stage, leadership begins with a clear vision.

AxSA: As an entrepreneur, what type of significant challenges do you face?

Jarrod: Because I work in such a competitive industry, my major challenges center on the company’s capital. Getting people to believe in and love my scripts has never been a problem. However, because production costs are so expensive, I’m challenged to find the right investors in the productions. The incentive programs are a huge help; however, getting people to realize the talent that exists right here in New Orleans is key. I work to overcome those challenges by continuing to find innovative ways to showcase my film and theatrical work. Networking is key!

AxSA: What piece of advice would you give to young people who are interested in starting their own businesses?

Jarrod: The best piece of advice that I could give would be to set up a great organizational business model and plan. If you take the time and develop a sound business plan and model, it would keep you from five years down the line, asking yourself, “How am I doing this, when I really wanted to do that?” It really keeps you on track. Plus, putting a solid structure behind your business helps for others to believe in you as well. Also, don’t miss a meeting! Keeping an appointment—big or small—matters more than you know in the long run.

AxSA: So what’s ahead for your business in the next couple of years?

Jarrod: I plan to build capital for myself by traveling my new play. We have several bookings here in the South, and I plan to continue to travel over the next two years after, [from] which I would have enough to fund my film myself. Hopefully Cloud Nine will continue to entertain, empower, and enlighten audiences along the way. See you on Cloud 9!

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*For additional information on Cloud Nine Productions, LLC, please visit, as well as

The (I) Class is a bi-monthly article series from Axiom Strategy Advisors, LLC. For additional information, please write

Copyright 2008 All rights reserved; Axiom Strategy Advisors, LLC

1 comment:

mike carson said...

Excellent post! G-man, you really pull it off. Good luck to Axiom!

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