Chances are very high that you’ve heard John Murray’s voice before. As the public address announcer for the University Of Colorado Football and countless other athletic and live events, John’s voice is a familiar one to thousands of people.
On this episode of Rocky Mountain Marketing, John shares an incredible journey that led him from growing up as a self-professed “trailer park kid” to reaching the highest levels of his profession while also building a thriving Small Business (Jammin DJs) that operates throughout the Denver area.
Lots of great tips, tactics, strategies & inspiration on this episode – don’t miss it!
Visit John’s website: https://www.myjammindjs.com
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hey there. This is Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Okay, welcome back to the podcast. My guest today is John Murray. John is the CEO of GM and DJs, Denver. He’s been announcing for more than 100 in 100 different arenas and in several countries. So you’ve probably heard his voice before. For all the listeners here in Denver, you will probably recognize his voice because John is the voice of the University of Colorado men’s basketball and football programs. He also does the announcing for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and volleyball programs. John has a show must go on mentality and a passion for creating memorable events that have definitely elevated Jama DJs to an industry leader in multiple states. John, welcome to the show. I am so excited to have you on today.
John Murray 1:04
Thanks for having me.
Katie Brinkley 1:05
Well, let’s start back at the beginning. You know, tell us where you grew up, what your life was, like growing up, and how did that impact our eventual career and professional journey?
John Murray 1:14
You know, growing up, I was born and raised in California. I was there for quite some time. And I was actually a lot of people actually don’t know this. But I actually grew up in a kind of poverty stricken household. I kind of joke around about it with some of my friends, but I think I’d make Eminem look good. You know, I was that that trailer park kid who didn’t have a lot of money, and there’s a lot of just crazy circumstances. But and it’s really funny, because a lot of people, you know, when they first seen it, they’re like, Oh, this must have been handed to you by like mom and dad. And you know, you must be a trust fund kid, whatever. And I’m like, Oh, actually, you would actually be very surprised. But you know, growing up in that, I guess I had kind of always had the mindset that, you know, when it’s time for me to start a family, I don’t want my kids to ever go through what I went through. So it always made me kind of grittier tougher, kind of a No BS, no drama kind of guy on work to get what I want. And so, you know, over the past 20 years, we’ve just grinded and really tried to do what we can to make things successful for us.
Katie Brinkley 2:17
Can you take us through your career journey? Like where you started out the different professional stops you’ve had along the way?
John Murray 2:23
Sure, absolutely. So one of the funny things is, when I was in California, my mom and dad for whatever reason, they thought it would be a good idea to move to Cheyenne, Wyoming, which is actually kind of what brought how to, to the western area of like Wyoming, Colorado ish. And, man, I had no idea what they were thinking. But so what’s crazy is I think it was in middle school, I got tasked to help put together a fundraiser because you know, the schools there couldn’t really afford to do like school dances and stuff like that. So, you know, I put together this fundraiser, carwash, literally completely by myself. And one of the things I did is I went to a local radio stations, like, hey, we really need to try to get some people to come do this, because we really want to have this full dance. And they were actually so impressed with me wanting to do this. And the fact that I went there on my own with like not even an adult present. They’re like, Hey, would you like to do like an internship and do some fun stuff. And so actually, like middle school, and through high school, is when I actually started doing radio. And I started off kind of doing like an internship, like being the little morning show sidekick. And then it turned into, you know, helping do my own shows and, and all that craziness so, so I did that. And at the same time, I was doing the the radio station, I also started working for a mobile DJ company up in Cheyenne. And that’s kind of where I kind of started learning the business. I was like, okay, there might be something more to this. And what was crazy in high school, too. When I was doing radio in the mobile DJ stuff, I had a guidance counselor in high school said John, you got to quit this DJ stuff. You’re never gonna go anywhere in life. It was like, challenge accepted. Cool. We got this.
Katie Brinkley 4:01
That’s awesome. I mean, it’s um, sometimes someone’s saying that you can’t do something is always going to go motivation Oh bit more motivation to be like, Well,
John Murray 4:10
I’m gonna absolutely without question
Katie Brinkley 4:13
on that track. You know, if someone is listening right now, who wants to be an aspiring or? Or is a new business owner? What’s the biggest piece of advice that you would want to give him or her?
John Murray 4:23
What are the things that and and I’m talking a lot to, to colleagues in the industry now, especially with all everything that we’re going through right now. And one of the things that I would strongly recommend is one don’t ever give up. Chase your dreams, go for it. Don’t take no for an answer. But more importantly, learn your trade learn. You know, if you want to open up a coffee shop, look at what all the other competitors are doing. And learn from what they’re doing. Learn from their successes, learn from their mistakes, and try to think the best of all worlds and come up with something that’s your own, and make it better than everybody else. CES and not to say we’re like the best thing out there. Because you know, we’re always growing and learning and trying to do new things also. But one of the things that that I’ve really prided myself on over the last three weeks is man, I think I’ve watched about 40 or 50 webinars, and you know, they actually had a mobile conference, like, Zoom has been making a killer amount of money right now. But it’s a, it’s crazy, the amount of knowledge, if you actually just take the time and focus and how much you can even take something like a financial seminar, and implement that into your business where you’ve got the tools and resources, and do it. The other thing too, is do it and do it right. Don’t cut corners. I’ve learned along the way that you know, you could try to cut corners here and here, but it’s actually gonna cost you like 30 times more down but down the line. So it’s a fix those areas that you cut corners in?
Katie Brinkley 5:49
Exactly, it’s the time you’re gonna have to spend fixing the mistakes from cutting them. Yes, definitely not worth it. So it’s something that I keep in my back of my mind, too. And I’m working on a project. Absolutely. If you could go back and do anything differently, and your journey to where you are now. What would you what would you change, if anything,
John Murray 6:12
I’m a very a type personality. So part of that is, is that I’m very passionate about everything that I do. So I think part of it too, is in some areas, slow down. Don’t feel like I have to have everything right now all at once. And be more patient with people. I, there’s there’s a lot of stuff, especially when you’re dealing with people and in the industry, you just you got to take time to realize, hey, there are people too, and you’ve got you’ve got to really figure out how to communicate with people how to work with people, and how to treat people. Nice. And that’s I was I was like this mean arrogant life. But it’s just something that, you know, as I grow, and I learn more, I’m like, Okay, well, next time, I could probably do that a little differently. And, and I can do this and this. So
Katie Brinkley 6:57
absolutely. Do you think that that’s one of the biggest mistake business owners do make when they’re trying to grow and sustain a business?
John Murray 7:03
I think there’s that. And I would say our other biggest thing is just making sure you know all the rules and regulations of, of just everything in general. Like one of the things I strongly, strongly recommend, and this is a good time to do it. Because the SBA has been super resourceful for a lot of small businesses read through their website. I kind of wish I did that before. I was like, oh, okay, great. Um, us as a company, shockingly, we’ve actually never taken a loan, we have zero credit card debt. So everything that we’ve built has been from the ground up and being cashflow positive, we’ve never gone into debt. And what was crazy about that is all the resources that are actually out there. So go through and look at the resources and try to get help where you can and don’t think that you have to do it all on your own because you don’t.
Katie Brinkley 7:49
Absolutely and especially right now with all these, as you were saying webinars and podcasts and everything out there, too, there’s a abundance of free knowledge out there, right now if you absolutely have time to look for it. So looking at your business, what is your your model look like for finding and engaging and selling to your ideal clients and customers these days? What type of marketing Have you found that works best for your business,
John Murray 8:14
we met with you just about everything. We do everything from Google, LinkedIn, every social media platform, except for tick tock I still haven’t seen but the value of that I’m sure that one will hit me on the head someday. But you know, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, growing all of those and growing them organically. You know, doing doing the right kind of stuff with Google doing the right kind of websites for like weddings and trying to find, you know, basically kind of what your niche clients are that I say about what we do is that we we do every kind of event that that’s out there, everything from small bar events to super mitzvah clothes, school dances, corporate, we do stuff for the Broncos on game day. So yeah, we got we we cover every, every end of the spectrum, but we have to not put all of our eggs in one basket too.
Katie Brinkley 9:05
You know, and I think you said something that’s really important is you guys have been trying to do things organically the right way. Because I see a lot of companies out there is you know, posting very sparingly, posting a lot of just one type of pose like, which is directing back to their website or not really a ton of other content or value for the people following the page if, unless they’re trying to buy something right then. So it’s great to hear that you guys are are now trying to implement the best practices for your
John Murray 9:35
well and I encourage businesses to is that you have to figure out who you really want as your target audience. I know a lot of people a lot of business owners like anybody who spends money. That’s you know, I’ll take anybody’s money but that’s actually not the right answer. was a good friend of mine who who does a lot of stuff. They’ve always had a ABC policy or I think that was what it was like, like basically Don’t MVC, no bad customers. So so they figured it out very quickly that you know what, just because they have money doesn’t mean that probably the best client for you. And that’s something we’ve kind of had to adopt to is that, you know, we’re we like to help out as many people as we can, but we’re not the right fit for everybody.
Katie Brinkley 10:19
Yeah. And that’s as an entrepreneur I’ve I’ve learned, you know, there. There’s people out there that are, it’s always hard saying no to money, but oh, yeah, it’s a lot better to try and find the right customer, the right client, where you guys have a good understanding of each other and you guys can put out the best product available. Absolutely. So I know that you said you spend your time both here in Colorado and in Georgia still, when you are here in Colorado, but what is your favorite thing about living and working here? What’s What’s the appeal to having a business in life hearing in our great state of Colorado?
John Murray 10:54
You got that jersey right behind you for John Elway. I can tell you I’ve been a diehard Broncos fan since like the mid 80s. Back in the Sammy Winder days. Karl Mecklenburg John Elway, like so so a lot of people who say you’re bandwagon I was like, I was actually probably one of the few and I hope I don’t get get bombarded for saying this. But I was actually one of the few who saw Peyton Manning come in. I was like, What the heck is this guy doing here? And I was actually very reserved about it. I was not a TiVo maniac either, but I was I was a little cautious. I was like, okay, like, I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens. But now I love the Denver Broncos. You know, aside for the Braves. I do like going to Rockies games to know and it’s such a cool, fun clean city. And there’s a lot to do. I’m a big outdoors guy too. So I love going up on hikes. Hanging like up in Glenwood Springs is one of my favorite hikes in the whole world. But no, it’s just it’s a great place to get out and a great place to go do stuff. So again, hopefully all this passes where we can kind of get back to normal.
Katie Brinkley 11:55
Exactly. It’s had a lot of great weather here. So it’s definitely hard to stay inside and not go take advantage of hikes and bike rides. Absolutely. What so I guess you’ve mentioned you enjoyed hiking hanging like what do you like to do away from the office what what is a fun day look like for you
John Murray 12:14
anything physical, again, I’m such an A type personality that I love traveling. One of the things I was blessed to do is actually go on tour with the Harlem Globetrotters announcing their games. So So with them, I got to see the world twice over and do a lot of fun and get paid to travel. So I’m very big into traveling I’m very big into trying to do something I’ve never done before so and there’s so many different places to explore in Colorado A lot of people don’t realize that that everything from like the caves to like the sand dunes. There’s so much fun stuff. You just got to get out there and go do it.
Katie Brinkley 12:50
Now you were saying that you enjoyed traveling with the Harlem Globetrotters. What are your favorite places that you have been able to travel to professionally,
John Murray 13:00
craziest places? I I’ve always loved London. In fact, I’ve been back there a couple times. Since then. London was awesome. Trying to think of internationally or or local, internationally, probably like London, Greece was kind of cool. And then obviously Rome was was absolutely amazing. So being able to go to like, like Rome, Venice, and all that was was pretty awesome. And not having to pay for it.
Katie Brinkley 13:28
You can’t beat that. Absolutely. That one passion so many business owners and entrepreneurs have is to build a business around their lifestyle and not the other way around. How has that your story and approach in running your business?
John Murray 13:42
It’s, it’s exhausting. I’ll tell you that. But because again, going back to the thing, I’m a very active person. I’m the person who like, when we were on tour, I was the guy who would always like drop my bags to the hotel and go, like, like, I don’t sit still. But I think that that having that mentality nowadays is what actually makes you successful. Because there’s a lot of people and hopefully I don’t get shot in the foot for this one too. But with some of the millennial mindset that you know you you want stuff but you don’t want to work for it as much. You’ve got to you’ve actually have to put in the work. And the more you you focus something that is around your lifestyle, I think that you’re happier. You know, it’s the age old mindset that if you really love what you do, you’re really not working. While this has become a job because you know, we actually have I think over 40 employees now. It is something where it does turn into a little bit more of a job but you know, when we get a chance to actually like go on and do events and we get to do these high fun production events. It’s it’s very gratifying. And then on top of it too, we get to do a lot of great stuff for the community. Like we try to help out as much as we can for Children’s Hospital. We do a bunch of stuff for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. So it’s also very good gratifying to be able to give back to a community to that that has done so much for us.
Katie Brinkley 15:05
Absolutely. Yeah, it’s um, you know, as, as an entrepreneur, I think that if you’re sitting, if you are just sitting and waiting for things to come to you, you’re never going to be able to take your company to the next to the next step. What is the biggest piece of advice that you’ve ever received? And how has that impacted your business or your life? Even?
John Murray 15:25
biggest piece of advice? What is it like never give up and just keep moving? Don’t don’t rely on others to do what you need to do. And that being said, again, you just you got to keep moving.
Katie Brinkley 15:40
Awesome. Well, John, before we finish up, is there anything that I didn’t ask you during today’s session that you think is important to share for other small business owners?
John Murray 15:48
Yeah, in the time that we’re going through right now, I know, it’s very trying, especially for small businesses. Don’t give up. Don’t, don’t get stuck in a ruts and find projects, too. If you’re one of those people where this kind of thing is easily distracting, find a project to do. One of the things that we did right away. As soon as I got down to my office was like, Okay, I got to clean and I got to decorate, I’ve got to do all this other stuff. One of the things that is I pulled up our website. And the craziest thing about this is I had to laugh. We actually found references on our website. Last week. We haven’t updated since then, but actually referenced Blockbuster Video $11 movie tickets and a teen dance club. So we were like, Okay, well, I am going to go through every single tab, every single link, every single picture, every single video, and we are revamping this whole site. So started with that. And then we went to all of our social media stuff, make sure all the content was anyway, long story short, we did a bunch of work. And we’re still doing probably for the next two weeks, but we are cleaning house, and we are making sure that everything is perfect. So that way, all the stuff that obviously we’ve been avoiding for the past two years, because we have been busy is all done. And I’m not going to have to worry about it. So when this clears, we’re going back into show mode, and we’re gonna make sure that we’re good going forward. So I encourage other people to if if you’re struggling with the current situation, give yourself some projects and some work. So you don’t have to do it later. And when it is time to get back to work. You can you can hit it full throttle.
Katie Brinkley 17:21
Awesome. John, this has been such a great conversation. Where can I send the listeners to learn more about you and your business online? Sure.
John Murray 17:31
We have our website, my jam and djs.com. Again, just freshly updated, so that’s good. They can also email me John at my jam and DJ is calm if they if they want to chat.
Katie Brinkley 17:42
Awesome. Well, thank you so, so much again for coming on to the show today. My pleasure. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com or connect with me on LinkedIn. Just look for Katie Brinkley. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.