innovationENTREPRENEUR of the Year: Jeff Reed

Jeff Reed is known as a serial entrepreneur and a supporter of innovation at local organizations and in the community. This year, he is the Business Record’s innovationENTREPRENEUR award winner.

Reed started a new venture, Momentum Studios, in May. The strategy and innovation consulting company offers services such as developing strategies for organizationwide goals, helping teams understand their stakeholders and experimenting to de-risk big investment decisions. He also owns a business with his wife — an art studio in Ankeny called AR Workshop.

Reed grew up in Ankeny and boomeranged back to the metro after living in South Dakota. He said coming back showed him the importance of supporting the community. He has been an active mentor and has gotten involved with Orbis, a work-based learning program in the Ankeny school district. 

“It is rewarding to see the positive outcomes of our efforts and know that we are making a difference, specifically through empowering them to leverage curiosity, resilience, problem-solving, critical thinking and having a fail-forward mindset,” Reed said.

Reed has also helped train teachers and staff on design thinking concepts. Chad Brooks, an Orbis project mentor, said Reed’s insights have “caused us to think differently about the problems we encounter in education and how to approach them with a focus on the people involved and their true needs.”

Reed shares more below about his journey as an entrepreneur and leader.

What drives you as an entrepreneur? 

As an entrepreneur, I believe that success is not just about financial gain, but also about making a positive impact in people’s lives. This belief is rooted in my deep empathy for others and my desire to use my skills and resources to make the world a better place. I am fueled by a sense of responsibility to use my skills and resources to make a difference in the world. I believe that entrepreneurs have a unique role to play in addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems, and I am committed to using my entrepreneurial spirit to make a positive impact.

This sense of responsibility drives me to seek out opportunities to collaborate with others who share my passion for social impact and to leverage my skills and resources to make a meaningful difference. It also motivates me to take calculated risks and to think creatively about how I can use my talents to create value for others.

How do you define innovation in your career?

Innovation is often associated with being a lone genius or a visionary who has a unique idea that no one else has thought of before. However, the reality is that innovation is a collaborative process that requires openness, curiosity and a willingness to learn from others. Recognizing that you don’t have all the answers is the first step towards being open to new ideas and perspectives. Being humble and acknowledging that others may have insights or experiences that you don’t can help you approach innovation with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to learn.

Being open to feedback and collaboration are also crucial for innovation. It’s important to seek out diverse perspectives and ideas, and to be willing to engage in constructive dialogue and debate to refine and improve your ideas. Innovation is not just about coming up with new ideas, but also about bringing those ideas to life in a way that creates value for others. Collaboration with others is key to bringing innovation to fruition, as it requires a range of skills and expertise that may not be available to any one individual. It is a journey of discovery that requires humility, curiosity and a willingness to learn from others. By recognizing that innovation is a collaborative process, we can approach it with an open mind and a sense of curiosity that can lead to truly remarkable outcomes.

How do leaders effectively guide a team through times of uncertainty?

Involving the team in decision-making and problem-solving during times of uncertainty is a powerful way to build trust and create a sense of ownership and accountability among team members. When people feel like they have a voice and a stake in the outcome, they are more likely to be committed to the team’s success and feel a sense of pride in their work. 

Collaboration also brings a diversity of perspectives and ideas to the table, which can lead to more creative and effective solutions. In uncertain times, it’s especially important to be open to new ideas and approaches, and involving the team can help surface these fresh perspectives.

Additionally, involving the team in decision-making and problem-solving can have positive long-term effects on the team’s culture and performance. By giving team members opportunities to develop their skills and contribute to the team’s success, leaders can foster a sense of motivation and engagement that can lead to higher levels of productivity and retention. 

Where are the opportunities for growth in your industry?

Innovation consulting is a field that is constantly evolving, and the opportunities for growth are vast. However, in order to achieve sustained growth, collaboration and partnership are essential. By working closely with clients to understand their needs and challenges, we can identify opportunities for growth and create value for all stakeholders involved. Collaborating with other industry leaders is also critical to driving growth and innovation in the industry. By sharing knowledge and insights, innovation consultants can stay ahead of the curve and identify emerging trends and best practices. 

What is one lesson from your career that you would share with new entrepreneurs?

Throughout my career, I have learned that one of the most valuable traits an entrepreneur can possess is a beginner’s mindset. This mindset is characterized by curiosity, humility, and a willingness to learn and adapt. By embracing these qualities, entrepreneurs can stay agile and responsive in a rapidly changing world, and continually identify opportunities for growth and innovation.

One of the key benefits of maintaining a beginner’s mindset is that it allows you to stay open to new ideas and perspectives. As a new entrepreneur, it’s crucial to recognize that you don’t have all the answers and to be willing to seek out and learn from others who may have different experiences and perspectives. By fostering a culture of collaboration, experimentation and learning, you can build a resilient and innovative organization that thrives in the face of uncertainty.

Another benefit of a beginner’s mindset is that it allows you to approach challenges with a sense of curiosity and creativity. Instead of being constrained by existing assumptions or beliefs, you can explore new possibilities and identify novel solutions to complex problems. This can be particularly valuable in a rapidly changing business environment, where new challenges and opportunities may emerge on a regular basis.