Break­ing the mold: From cor­po­rate em­ployee to CEO

Lab Mon­key Com­mu­ni­ca­tions CEO and AGLCC Pres­i­dent Jack Kin­ley is about his busi­ness

GA Voice - - Work It -

“I never re­ally fit the form of a cor­po­rate em­ployee. I never re­ally fit the mold of the ‘fol­low the tem­plate’ ap­proach to work. I like to solve prob­lems and not just re­peat pro­cesses. I re­ally like to dig in when­ever I see a prob­lem…”



Most peo­ple are con­tent with play­ing by the rules while work­ing to ex­e­cute some­one else’s vision, and then there’s Jack Kin­ley— Lab Mon­key Com­mu­ni­ca­tions CEO and newly ap­pointed pres­i­dent of the At­lanta Gay and Les­bian Cham­ber of Com­merce (AGLCC).

Kin­ley fol­lowed the blue­print for suc­cess. He earned a bach­e­lors de­gree in graphic de­sign from Winthrop Univer­sity, landed an internship that turned into a per­ma­nent po­si­tion with in­vest­ment and fi­nan­cial man­age­ment firm North­ern Trust, es­tab­lished At­lanta res­i­dency and was well on his way into fit­ting neatly into the cor­po­rate box. But there was just one prob­lem—he needed to break free.

Free­dom came in 2007 with the launch of Lab Mon­key Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Kin­ley’s busi­ness so­lu­tion for global em­ploy­ers in search of cre­at­ing a more prof­itable work­place and en­gaged em­ployee cul­ture.

Ge­or­gia Voice caught up with Kin­ley on the heels of re­ceiv­ing the LGBT Busi­ness Ad­vo­cate of the Year award from the U.S. Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Ge­or­gia Dis­trict Of­fice—to find out more about the hard work he does and how he makes it look so easy.

What were you do­ing prior to launch­ing Lab Mon­key Com­mu­ni­ca­tions?

Right be­fore I started Lab Mon­key, I’d reached a cre­ative di­rec­tor po­si­tion with a small en­tre­pre­neur­ial com­pany here in At­lanta, and through that ex­pe­ri­ence re­al­ized I had every­thing I needed to know to be able to run my own busi­ness.

May 27, 2016

What motivated you to create your own busi­ness, and was fear a fac­tor?

I was ab­so­lutely afraid. I think some peo­ple are meant to own their own busi­nesses. I never re­ally fit the form of a cor­po­rate em­ployee. I never re­ally fit the mold of the “fol­low the tem­plate” ap­proach to work. I like to solve prob­lems and not just re­peat pro­cesses. I re­ally like to dig in when­ever I see a prob­lem and I didn’t al­ways have that op­por­tu­nity within the struc­ture of cor­po­rate set­tings or even at other small busi­nesses that I worked for.

Tell us about the ser­vices Lab Mon­key Com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­vides.

We work with busi­nesses that have about three thou­sand em­ploy­ees or more. We help these com­pa­nies create the em­ployee ex­pe­ri­ence. Any­thing an em­ployee would need to know at any stage along their ca­reer, whether that’s pre-em­ploy­ment for a new em­ployee to an em­ployee that’s been there for years.

Are you in­volved in day-to day op­er­a­tions as CEO?

I’m very in­volved. My role is fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing my team, set­ting the stan­dards, iden­ti­fy­ing new chal­lenges and op­por­tuni- Jack Kin­ley is the 2016 LGBT Busi­ness Ad­vo­cate of The Year re­cip­i­ent, U.S. Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Ge­or­gia Dis­trict Of­fice. (Cour­tesy photo) ties; to un­der­stand what our clients are go­ing through and create prod­ucts and op­por­tu­ni­ties for us to re­solve those prob­lems and sit­u­a­tions for our clients.

What would you say sets you apart from your com­peti­tors?

The big dif­fer­ence for us is that we bring a deeper cre­ative per­spec­tive. This com­pany started from me as a graphic de­signer and sto­ry­teller tak­ing the lead ver­sus a ben­e­fits con­sul­tant who is a lit­tle more data driven. The other dif­fer­ence is price point. As a small busi­ness we hire se­nior level ex­ec­u­tives from the top three con­sult­ing firms and we’re able to de­liver that level of con­ve­nience at a third of the cost. We’re able to do a lot more for a lot less.

As the pres­i­dent of the AGLCC, what ben­e­fits does mem­ber­ship pro­vide to LGBT en­trepreneurs?

One of my own per­sonal fa­vorite as­pects of AGLCC is our on­line mem­ber busi­ness di­rec­tory. As a gay man, it’s im­por­tant for me to know where my money is go­ing. I don’t want to sup­port anti-gay causes by ac­ci­dent. And I think that money is a form of power and en­ergy. Our on­line di­rec­tory is sort of a lit­mus test. If I’m looking for a house­keeper, I’m not gonna have to ex­plain this is mine and my hus­band’s house and worry about any ad­verse re­ac­tion to that. They’ve been vet­ted al­ready as LGBT-friendly com­pa­nies that I can do busi­ness with.

What did it mean to you to be rec­og­nized by the U.S Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion?

The recog­ni­tion from the SBA is a nice val­i­da­tion of the roles that di­ver­sity at large, and our LGBT small busi­nesses in par­tic­u­lar, play in making Ge­or­gia a vi­brant place to work and live. When­ever the dis­en­fran­chised—and that still in­cludes our LGBT com­mu­nity—has equal ac­cess to eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties and long-term sta­bil­ity, then our whole com­mu­nity is stronger.

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