by “Ghost Writer”
Marketing and Public Relations firm MindZoo began in the basement of founder Randall Kenneth Jones’s home in Leesburg, Virginia, in April of 2001. His background included 10 years with Gannett selling everything from advertising to database marketing services.
“I was recently speaking to a group of college students and was asked if ‘a clear focus and strategic planning’ played a key role in MindZoo’s early success,” recalls Jones. “My response: ‘I wish I could tell you that was the case. I never aspired to run a business. I didn’t understand what was involved.'”
Jones continued, “‘Basically, I am the business world’s version of (the film) Field of Dreams. My existing network of vendors, consultants and clients essentially told me, if you build it, we will come. And they all did. You are looking at the luckiest man on the planet.’”
While he was under pressure to establish a business name, early collaborator Chris Butterfield asked, “Why do people buy from you?” Jones, knowing he had always been credited with having a bold and madcap creative mind, immediately knew the answer and, within two minutes, the new company had a name—MindZoo.
Later headquartered in a pre-Civil War Virginia building, “Mind” and “Zoo” took on new meaning. According to Jones: “We were on the official Leesburg Ghost Tour. Doors slammed, things flew off the shelves and a confederate soldier was often seen patrolling the halls. We actually got used to it–and we had Blackie the office cat to protect us. I used to say, the day we come to the office and have to peel Blackie off the ceiling is the day we know we have to move. After all, creative thinking is the ultimate mind game.”
Always one to answer when opportunity called, Jones would also put this ghoulish experiences to work in a cameo appearance in the 2010 independent feature film Ninjas vs. Zombies.
In late 2009, MindZoo relocated to Collier County, Florida. “When your job is inextricably linked to your imagination, environment plays an even more important role. Plus, technology enabled me to easily communicate with clients around the country,” explains Jones.
Jones also shifted a significant amount of his personal focus. Already recognized for his award-winning direct marketing work for national retailers, newspapers and consumer product and service providers, Jones “followed the need” and began to offer more services revolving around content development and public relations.
In 2012, 50-year-old Jones embarked on a mission to improve himself. Over the next four years, he interviewed 100+ professionals from a variety of workplace trenches. Subjects included Pat Benatar, Brian Boitano, Erin Brockovich, James Carville, Barbara Corcoran, Kassie DePaiva, Carl Edwards, Janet Evanovich, Kathy Griffin, Vicki Gunvalson, Jack Hanna, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Shirley Jones, Sonny Jurgensen, Sue Monk Kidd, Hoda Kotb, Rob Marciano, Mary Matalin, Tyler Mathisen, General Barry McCaffrey, Suze Orman, Vanessa Williams and many more.
He chronicled his experiences–the good, the bad, the ugly and the funny–in his 2016 book, SHOW ME.
“Having interviewed more than one hundred people – jacks of all trades – Randy has created a literary Dancing with the Stars. Wickedly Funny, yet profoundly touching! SHOW ME is Shark Tank meets NASCAR meets Broadway meets The Partridge Family.”
Barbara Corcoran, Star of ABC’s Shark Tank
Drawing upon these life-changing experiences and his (now) proven success “at making life the ultimate classroom,” Jones’ fearless presentations and classes are customized to each audience (Corporate America, small business, education, nonprofit, government) and/or job focus (management, sales & marketing, customer service, etc.).
Equal parts oration, tutorial and stand-up routine, Jones often challenges his attendees to become participants in his “act.”
“It’s simple, really. I’m a storyteller. Every organization has a story to tell and an audience they wish to hear that story. Sure, there are a huge number of media channels available today, but if you don’t get the ‘story’ right, nothing else matters.”
Photos: TOP — MindZoo Animals (photo by Peter Berec); Photo 2 — Randall Kenneth Jones and Abbie (photo by Virginia Canard) ; Photo 3 — Randall Kenneth Jones, Claudia Cook and Blackie; Photo 4 — SHOW ME book cover