Poppy Barley

Magazine  v

The Conversation

In His Shoes: Jared Smith

Day Job:

Partner/CMO of The Luxus Group

What I’m Reading:

The Art of Travel by Alain De Botton

What I’m Listening To:

Arcade Fire

Workout of Choice:

Right now I am obsessed with boxing at Panther Gym. I have a 3rd-degree black belt in karate and a long history in martial arts, but recently, I have really been into boxing.

What I’m doing when I’m not at work:

Anything outdoors, anything adventurous, and anything that is really, really hard.
(Editor’s note: including a 5-day intensive training camp with navy seals).

What I’m doing outside of work:

I have two kids, a son (9) and a daughter (12). They are awesome and that is what my wife and I do outside of work. I am either training for something, hanging out with my family, or working.

Unpopular Opinion:

I really love Donald Trump….I am kidding. I don’t like green shakes and my wife always makes them for me and my son, Kai. It is a very unpopular opinion in my house, especially with my wife.

Jared Smith in Poppy Barley's Toronto Brogue

Wearing The Toronto Brogue in Tan

Have you always known you wanted to own your own business?

Yeah. I went to the U of A to learn how to take over our family business. I come from a long line of entrepreneurship. My great grandfather started his business in Edmonton in 1917. He was coming across from Canada on horseback from Halifax and tried to make it to Vancouver. His horse died and he was stuck in Edmonton.

Wait, are you serious??

I am not sure if that actually happened but if you ask my dad, he still swears by it.

Jared Smith in Poppy Barley's Toronto Bargue

Wearing The Toronto Brogue in Tan

Sorry, go back to what you were saying.

My grandfather was an incredible mentor and friend to me. We spent countless hours in the summers out at Pigeon Lake. He always had great advice and shared it with a rum and coke in one hand and a pellet gun in the other.

One of his most favourite lines was, ‘If you want to be incredible, surround yourself with incredible people.’ He taught me that when I was about 13, and at the time, I had this friend named, Mike. I literally called him the next day and broke up with him. I said, ‘Mike you are really not that incredible and we can’t hang out anymore.’

Honestly, though, those little gems that my grandfather shared with me have formed the basis of everything that is successful in my life. My grandfather told me that at the end of the day you are not going to care about your accomplishments or about your awards or accolades. It is all going to be about the experiences you’ve had with others.

Jared Smith in Poppy Barley's Vancouver Chukka

Wearing The Vancouver Chukka in Navy

Where do you think you got your entrepreneurial spark from?

Having this incredible support system and a family background in business, I felt very entrepreneurial. I started a few small businesses when I was in high school but things started to take off in university. I was teamed up with a good friend of mine, who had incredible connections in China and I had awesome connections in Edmonton through my father’s business. Together, we decided to find Edmonton based businesses that wanted to expand into China.

Where did you find that confidence at such a young age?

In hindsight, I don’t know what gave me the confidence to tell people that we could actually help them. I hadn’t even graduated yet, I didn’t know anything. It may have been this girl named Donna, who told me that I couldn’t do it. That’s what made me do it.

So, you have Donna to thank?

Yeah, I definitely do. You know, my dad and my grandfather always had this philosophy that if there were awesome people involved, it was going to be an amazing experience. They also told me to ask myself, ‘is my contribution going to make an impact?’ If the answer is yes, then there is no negotiation. You have to do it. It has been a guiding force in my life and what lead me to start my own marketing firm.

Jared Smith in Poppy Barley's Vancouver Chukka

Wearing The Vancouver Chukka in Navy

Tell me about starting your own firm.

I started INCITE with my good friend Ted Kouri because I thought it would be a really fun adventure. I had just returned from China with this new found understanding of what I thought was needed from a marketing perspective. I also liked the thought of building and growing a company. I didn’t have something like a Poppy Barley idea, but I thought that I could apply marketing in a way that could really serve a business. There was so much low hanging fruit out there that I identified and wanted to solve.

If you’re consulting someone else’s business, I would think it would be so important to exude that confidence to build trust.

Yeah, it’s very important. What was successful for me was the balance between humility and confidence. I would go in and knowing that they know their business way better than I do. There was no way that I could walk in there and tell them how to run their company, but I know marketing. By combining their knowledge of the business with my marketing expertise, we can do something special.

You’re now no longer with INCITE. What spurred the change?

My plan was to run INCITE for five years and then go back to my family business, but then it took off. We had this great model and we just kept seeing more and more success. Fast forward 15 to 17 years, and there were some major cracks in our industry. The ability to sit in a cafe, download a free piece of software and build your own website – that didn’t exist seven years ago. If you have a marketing mind, you can quite easily set up your business, website, marketing materials and say you are a marketing consultant.

There was that piece, but then when my sister passed away, I had some massively forced self-reflection. I asked myself if this was something I could see myself doing for the rest of my life, and it wasn’t. There wasn’t that same sense of passion or adventure I once had. So I started to look at other opportunities.

Jared Smith in Poppy Barley's Vancouver Chukka

Wearing The Vancouver Chukka in Navy

What happened next?

Everyone should have criteria for what they are looking for in the work they do. You should start by asking yourself what makes an incredible work environment from a career perspective? Not everyone needs equity but my assumption is that everyone should have the opportunity to work with great people, to feel like they have a growing opportunity in front of them, and feel that deep seeded passion for what they do. If you are not feeling that, you owe it to yourself to make a change.

I started to feel like my work was an obligation and that almost turned into a type of resentment towards it. I owed it to my grandfather to do something about it.

I would assume that feeling of resentment towards your work would eventually trickle into the work you are producing?

It bleeds into everything you do. You can’t fake it.

So what is exactly is Luxus?

It is shared ownership of luxury vacation properties. I love it because there is a massive amount of waste in vacation properties around the world. Families will buy one or two vacation properties that they use for maybe 4-6 weeks a year and they are left empty for the remainder of the year. Renting them out is a hassle and so the concept of shared ownership for vacation property makes a lot of sense.

The second part of what we do is in the real estate development side. Where we are actually going out with smaller groups and restoring 15th-century farmhouses in Tuscany. We want to connect people’s passions with their investments and their lifestyles.

What is the future of Luxus?

I think there are a lot of opportunities. We are trying to be really clear on what can we be world class at. For us, it is combing the concept of doing this shared ownership structure with partnerships and connecting that with passion, lifestyle, and investment.

Jared Smith in Poppy Barley's Vancouver Chukka

Wearing The Vancouver Chukka in Navy

How do you think you’ve created so many opportunities for yourself?

Well, Richard Branson said I was an extrovert…

Would you say you are?

Many people say that I am. My advice would be that once in a while, someone will invite you to lunch and you should always go. I was this close to not going to lunch with Richard Branson out of fear of it being awkward or uncomfortable but I am so glad that I went.

Always say yes to lunches, got it. What is something people would be surprised to hear about you?

That I actually love to be by myself. I will go road biking alone, or hiking or paddleboarding. I love being in nature by myself. I think one of the things that we are in danger of right now is that we spend a lot of time in action and with distraction. We don’t spend enough time thinking and planning with a pen, paper, computer whatever you need.

For me, disconnecting and being in nature or with my family allows my head to think about all the other shit I have going on in my life. Pausing feels really good and we have a need for it.

Jane Sevick

Marketing Manager, Poppy Barley
Jane handles building and connecting the Poppy Barley community. From collaborations, partnerships and press plans, to photoshoots and events. Outside of Poppy Barley, you will find her teaching at Hive Fit Co or running around the river valley.