James Benham is no stranger to entrepreneurship. By the time he was 21, he had created two businesses and gained customer service experience bussing tables at a restaurant. Now, Benham is co-founder and CEO of JBKnowledge, the “insurance industry’s leading specialty technology solutions provider,” according to its website.
Benham’s father was an integral part of his journey—having never let his son work for him or take over his company, Benham was forced to strike out on his own if he wanted to get involved in business. Later, when Benham created his first company, his father served as a mentor, adviser and credit line. But he never got involved in his son’s business, just as he never let his son get involved in his. This professional distance allowed them to avoid any animosity.
Today, he talks with Brilliant Thoughts host Tristan Ahumada about the importance of asking for people’s opinions—both mentors who won’t lie to you to spare your feelings and customers who will tell you what problems they need solved. Benham doesn’t understand why some executives are so unwilling to talk to customers themselves. “If you want to innovate, you’ve got to be using the existing tools and you’ve got to be talking to people who aren’t using them yet who are telling you where their pain points are,” he says.
Benham also discusses how you can achieve that innovation without burning out, the importance of sticking to your values, and how he utilizes Entrepreneurial Operating Systems’ (EOS) “Delegate and Elevate” exercise in his company.
James M. Benham is the co-founder and CEO of JBKnowledge, a multinational technology and consulting company he’s bootstrapped for over 20 years. His book, Be Your Own VC, was published in November 2022, and you can find him on LinkedIn at James M. Benham.
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Tristan Ahumada is the People Editor for SUCCESS, operates Lab Coat Agents as its CEO, consults Fortune 500 companies, runs a successful Real Estate team in California, expansion teams in the U.S. (in different brokerages), owner in one Brokerage, currently sits on different boards for tech companies, and is also an international speaker. His love for technology and systems pushes him to test and use the latest products for growth for all businesses around the world including Real Estate Agents/Brokers. Tristan is from Southern California where he currently lives with his wife and two kids.