Welcome, Sarah

"It’s about enjoying what you do and, you know, being happy."

Earlier in 2022, we went through something of a rebrand. James & Matthew became JXM, we launched an eclectic new website, and we made a few behind-the-scenes changes as well. It was a chance for us to be equal parts introspective and creative… which, for us, can also mean being equal parts thoughtful and absurdist. 

In short: we may have lost the ampersand, but we’re still the same familiar team. And, in fact, our odd little group is getting bigger! We’re excited to welcome Sarah Johnson to our team as the newest member of the X in JXM.

Sarah joins the company as our new Brand Ambassador. At least, that’s what we’ve stuck on her offer letter.  In reality? Sarah’s role is… undefined. Or rather, yet to be discovered. Yet to be dreamt? Open to interpretation. You know what? We’ll let her explain. 

Q. Ice breaker time. Do you have any musical experience?

Sarah: This is kind of lame, but I used to play the hand bells. It’s this little bell thing that I used to play; I don’t even think it’s a real instrument. I used to sing too, but, you know, stage fright’s a thing. But I still sing in the car. I was belting out on the way here.

Q. What’s your jam?

Sarah: I was singing Rush on the way here, but I’m all over the place—as long as it’s not country or like, so rap-y that I don’t really know what’s happening. I like the classic rock genre, but I also like EDM, so I kind of flip-flop. My playlist is basically just all over the place. It can go from, like, showtunes all the way up to, you know, screamo.

It depends on my mood, and I can totally change my mind depending on the day. One day I really want X, Y, and Z, and another day, I want A, B, and C.

Q. During the interview process, you asked a bunch of good questions. You basically interviewed us. How did you develop that skill?

Sarah: I think if you’re genuinely interested, you tend to ask questions. And, you know, your website doesn’t really tell me anything, so I had to ask questions to figure out what was going on!

I don’t think I’ve ever been through an interview process like JXM’s, where I talked to three different people and had the same conversation from three different perspectives. Part of it was me, wanting to see if the answers that all three people gave were on the same page. I wanted to see where everybody linked up and where the company was, and if it was a good fit.

I wouldn’t have applied to this job if I wasn’t genuinely interested or curious, or wanted to know more. So I went on your website, I read some of the articles, and I was like, “Great, I still have no idea! They do some kind of marketing.” That’s kind of what I appreciated about the job posting. 

Q. Let’s talk more about the job posting. What got you interested in potentially coming aboard at JXM?

Sarah: Right after I applied, Jim messaged me and was like, “what made you apply,” which made me do a little bit of soul searching. I looked at the post and realized that I appreciated that it wasn’t about experience. It was about giving someone a chance based on the attitude-slash-personality that they brought to the table. I think anyone is teachable. You can pretty much teach anybody anything, but if their personality sucks, that’s not teachable. So, I appreciated that it was more about giving someone a chance and molding them versus, “I want you to have a master’s in marketing and you need to have 35 years’ experience.”

In this day and age, everyone is like “you have to have a degree or you’re useless” and it’s like, “okay, well, what about my useless degree?” I have a degree in Exercise Physiology. Did that make sense at 18? Probably? Does it make sense now? No. It’s about enjoying what you do and, you know, being happy. I was interested in that perspective. 

I also kind of liked the fact that when I talked to Jim, he was kind of like, “we’re going to figure out what this person is good at and run with it.” I also appreciated that it wasn’t just, “we’re going to give you this list of stuff, you’re going to do it, and that’s it.” I like the idea that we’re creating this position together.

Q. Time for one of those hard-hitting interview questions. Tell us what you’re good at. Where do you excel?

Sarah: I can multitask and I’m good at switching from one thing to another. I’m good at doing that and keeping things separate, and being able to adapt quickly. Today, I’m calling someone who lives in Australia for this place; then, I’m going to turn around and deliver this information to someone completely different. I can switch focuses and move quickly. 

I also talk with my hands a lot; I’m Italian.

Q. You got to talk to the partners here at JXM. What was your impression of us as a group and as a company?

Sarah: When I first talked to Jim, I really loved the energy because I felt like it matched my energy. I’m loud. Obnoxious. I talk a lot. I’m kind of nervous in new settings, but once I start to know people, I don’t shut up. Yeah. So, it was a good match in that direction. Not to mention he was entertaining! The conversation was organic. It wasn’t like, “why do you want this job,” it was, “what did you do today?

Q. We’ve hit on personality and authenticity a lot here. In your opinion, why are these so important when it comes to the interview process?

Sarah: Well, it’s like, when places want three references. Who’s going to give you someone that’s going to talk badly about them? And if they do, it’s its own sign! I think a lot of the things that places look for are arbitrary. No one’s going to submit a résumé that makes them look bad. If you’re hiring based on someone’s resume and their references, you’re hiring blind. Yeah, it might be true… but it might also NOT be true. 

It also doesn’t necessarily tell you who they are. What if their personality sucks? If they come in with a master’s degree from this fancy school and 10 years’ experience, and their references said they were great, you might say “let’s just hire them.” But then, two months later, you might be like, “wow, they’re experienced, but they’re difficult to work with. What do we do now?

It’s easy to check the boxes. But what about outside the box? How many movies have we seen of the woman looking for the perfect guy that checks all the boxes? It’s NEVER the guy that checks all the boxes! It’s always the random person in the corner that no one expected. That turns out to be the best option. So, why do we still have checkboxes?

Q. What are you looking to get out of this? What are you hoping for? How are you going to make this position yours?

Sarah: I like to learn, which is already happening—maybe a lot more than I’m absorbing at the moment. I would also love to grow and become more a part of the company. I mean, it’s day two, so I can’t really push myself that far out there. But everything we talked about during the interview process aligned with what I’m about, and all the personalities that I came into contact with also aligned with me. I just felt that it would be a good fit! And here I am!