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From Boy Band To Business Leader: What C-suite Executives Can Learn From Kevin Jonas

03/02/2015 05:47 pm ET | Updated May 02, 2015

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't give much thought to the idea of Kevin Jonas as a businessman.

He's a musician. An actor. But a business mogul?

Is that what former boy band heartthrobs and guys who have appeared on People's list of Sexiest Men Alive are calling themselves these days?

Well, if you're Kevin Jonas, I have to say, he is on his way and here's why.

Jonas might be best known for being the oldest of the Jonas Brothers, the pop rock band he created with his younger brothers. They released their first album in 2006 and were at the center of the pop music universe, cranking out Top 40 hits while touring the world and living the dream - in 3D, no less - at the local multiplex before breaking up in 2013.

These days, Jonas has mostly left his musical background behind. Instead, he's focused on his tech ventures - he's launched a food app called Yood and he's working on the startup Flashopp, a brand management/analytics tool for Snapchat - and his real estate endeavors.

So forget about the time he guest starred on "Hannah Montana." Jonas is a real business guy - and people don't often see that side of him. In a recent interview on All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett, I had the opportunity to talk with Jonas to learn more about what he's doing.
C-Suite leaders don't have to have thousands of girls clamoring for their autographs like Jonas did to be a success. But they can learn a lot from the one-time musician about building a business.

Be passionate - and strategic - about what you do

When Jonas starts to talk about flipping houses, it's easy to assume that he means just financing the entire operation.

Not true. Jonas loves to get his hands dirty. He's on site working, and he's not afraid to swing a hammer. It's a thrill, he says, to transform something old into something new. (And, of course, to turn a profit.) Real estate, he says, is more fun than it is work. Same goes for coming up with the next big tech idea. For the record, he says, that's Yood, Flashopp and another social media project he's cooking up that would be targeted to millennials.

Finding something you're passionate about makes the work worthwhile. So Jonas doesn't like to take on a project if it's not going to be fun and fulfilling. That's a philosophy I can definitely agree with. When you love what you do, it's not work. It's your life.

Make bold choices

Jonas was just 18 when he started taking an active role in the business side of the band. The behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing was eye-opening - and exhilarating. "There were more than 100 employees on our payroll, and I was the one writing the checks," he says.

That's a lot of responsibility for someone who, until then, only worried about learning new guitar riffs. But Jonas quickly realized he loved taking such an active role in the band's business success, and he wasn't afraid to think big - or take big risks.

It's why, after millions in sales and releasing three albums on the Disney-owned label, they left Hollywood Records and bought back the rights to their songs. They wanted to take back control - something that doesn't work for every artist. But Jonas wanted to give it a shot.

"You have to have the courage to throw things at the wall to see what sticks. If it doesn't, you move on," he says.

Nurture relationships

Jonas likes to dream big. But in order to make those dreams a reality, you have to work with the right people.

But never burn a bridge. "When you're at the top, the people who you stepped on along the way to get there will remember you on the way down," he says.

Business is business, of course. But it's also about relationships. The right partnerships can make or break a project. Know each other's roles, respect them and respect each other and you'll have an unstoppable team.

Harness the power of your brand

For a musician, radio is often the key to success. But for quite some time, radio ignored the Jonas Brothers.

So they decided to build their audience online. Then radio had to play the Jonas Brothers because their audience was asking for it. That success drove even more sales.

Over the years, Jonas nurtured the community that he grew with the band. Today, he's not afraid to activate the power of that community to drive revenue to his growing business ventures.
Would he push a product he didn't like? Probably not, Jonas says. He has to believe in what he's putting out there. His audience trusts him, after all. To continue to build his brand, Jonas has to keep that trust and grow those connections.

Always keep working

Some people are satisfied with sitting still. Jonas is not one of those people.

It's why he'll never say never to a reunion show with his brothers. Or to doing another reality TV show. (Next time, maybe it'll be a show centered on his business ventures.)

Jonas has plenty of ideas of what could come next - and he's not going to let anything stop him.

Kevin Jonas is more than a pop star. When he is talking commerce, he's ALL BUSINESS!