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Talk about daring to be deliberate! Jim Olson took the bold step to reach out to the Founder of African Leadership University after reading about the organization in Fast Company magazine’s issue on most innovative companies. Now he’s in Mauritius heading up communications.

In this episode, Jim tells the story of how he landed in a very unexpected place — an African island in the Indian Ocean. As the chief communications officer and executive in residence, Jim is leading communications and teaching story telling courses at an innovative educational institution that believes in missions not majors.

Listen in to Jim’s analogy of how careers are like mountain climbing. His inspirational tale reminds us to be open to opportunities, take risks and notice that while the highest peaks are awesome, sometimes the vistas are even more amazing on the lesser known peaks.

Jim Olson

Jim OlsonFor 25 years, Jim Olson has been at the forefront of telling some of the most defining business and social impact stories of our time. Along the way, he has led global brands — including Starbucks, United Airlines, Nissan, Yahoo! and US Airways — through periods of immense growth, transformation and disruption.

Jim currently resides on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, where he is helping empower a new generation of African leaders as an Executive in Residence and Chief Communications Officer with the African Leadership Group — the latest calling in his purpose-inspired career that spans 50 countries across six continents. His work and travels have taken him from the halls of government in China to an orphanage in Kenya, and from Korea’s Demilitarized Zone to Costa Rica’s coffee farms.

An Accomplished Storyteller

In addition to his reputation as one of the world’s most accomplished strategic storytellers, Jim’s “in the foxhole” experience spans virtually every category of crisis, from the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s icy Hudson River to the terrorist suicide bombing of a Starbucks store in Jakarta. Over the years, he has served as the chief communications officer at United Airlines and led global corporate communications for Starbucks, US Airways and paid Web search pioneer Overture (now Yahoo!). Jim devoted the first decade of his career to the auto industry — starting with J.D. Power followed by seven years as a trusted adviser to Nissan North America.

Jim graduated from Syracuse University with a BS in Public Relations and an MBA from the University of Southern California (USC). He was also awarded a Certification in Airline Disaster Communications Management by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

In 2016, Jim was recognized by The Holmes Report as one of the “100 Most Influential In-House Communicators in the World.” He is a member of the Arthur Page Society and serves on the advisory board of the Center for Public Relations at the University of Southern California.


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Dare to be Deliberate: Level Up Your Communication Career is available here on Amazon