by Rebecca Heaton
Jan Frolic is a globally engaged advertising executive, sponsorship director, entrepreneur, and media consultant. She is also a mom, a mentor to young women, an advocate for young people and a community-builder. One thing you would notice about Jan if you met her is that she is magnetic. Jan is currently the VP at Women of Influence, where she creates new partnerships and builds a community of vibrant women and men who are invested in diversity and inclusion. And there is a lot more on the horizon for her — this year she is launching boypro-ject to take a new approach to the discourse around masculinity by creating an archetype based in-school curriculum and corporate learning called “Captains & Poets”.
Q: A lot of your work is very people-focused. What is it about building community, connecting people and uplifting others that inspires you so much?
A: I have learned that people just want to connect with each other. You can build an army of the most incredible people if you are open to having a conversation. I get to meet an amazing number of people through Women of Influence that have so many gifts and are willing to share them. There is a lot of passion out there. A lot of people who want to make an impact in the best possible way. They are using their positions and their voices to do great things. I am incredibly fortunate to have these people in my life. To be able to have both business and personal relationships with them. They inspire me.
Q: To what extent has being a mother impacted the work you do?
A: Almost entirely. I used to own an advertising sales company. I made my money selling cigarettes, alcohol and fast cars to youth. Now, I have youth, I built youth of my own and I need to do something that makes me feel better about getting out of bed. I needed to get back to being happy about my work and doing something that I felt good talking about around the dinner table.
Q: We hear a lot about the business case for change and it is often used as the central pillar for the D&I argument. Do you think invoking kindness and integrity as an argument can be just as effective?
A: Kindness and integrity should be the central pillar of business. Period. If you are kind and you have integrity, inclusion should be natural, obvious and easy. Inclusion is the gateway to diversity. Be a good person, open doors for all people, and you will have a great, diverse and healthy working environment. Why is this so confusing? We need to do better. Be kinder.
Q: You’ve said that boypro-ject is about building minds, not changing minds. Can you elaborate on this?
A: Well, I started boypro-ject because I wanted to figure out how best we could solve bigger issues around understanding masculinity, tackle some of the confusion our kids are faced with in media every day, take the blame off our children, give them access to better role models, and just be a part of building confident, empathetic, socially responsible children who will be committed to equitable home, social and work environments as adults. I truly believe it would be so much easier if people grow up focused on self-awareness around these issues, where it’s not even a question; rather than going in and doing corporate consulting in D&I, making adults understand inclusive work space and teaching adults how to operate in a co-gender space responsibly. I cannot change all of the social constructs people have grown up with, but I can try to provide opportunities to create a new paradigm to a whole new generation. Boys and girls have everything within them to be fabulous human beings and wonderful, compassionate adults. Giving ourselves and others permission to activate those qualities is what needs to happen. Earlier rather than later.
Q: As an entrepreneurially-minded business executive, what is one piece of advice you would give to young female entrepreneurs?
A: Find your people and build a network. Be open and be kind. Don’t burn your bridges. Just be a good person and allow other people to engage with you. You will always be learning something. It all comes back to kindness. Inhibiting the success of others for our own benefit hurts all of us. We should be lifting. Find your people and lift them up and ask them to do the same.