Podcast #11: An Interview with Jason Russell

Today’s post is the latest episode of our Growing Leaders podcast. In the previous episode, Jeremy Affeldt shared the greatest secret to developing resilience in a young person and challenged us to apply that principle as well.

In today’s podcast, I interview Jason Russell. Jason is the co-founder of Invisible Children, and the Director of Kony 2012, which produced a campaign and video that has gone viral around the globe. Jason is a long time friend who’s passion for changing the world has led to a magnetic life and life lessons we can all benefit from.  Enjoy this recent conversation with Jason…and the update on his thinking, his leadership and his life and times.


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Episode Summary

What is it about Invisible Children that has engaged so many Gen Y’ers?

  • We level with Gen Y’ers because they want to be leveled with and told the truth. (Not sugar-coated)
  • Making sure the movement actually moves them. That engagement leads to action and allows them to see that their voices have legs and makes them want to continue doing that.

As a leader, you’ve faced intense pressure – both external and internal – physical, emotional, spiritual. What lessons have you learned about dealing with pressure? Are there any guardrails you’ve put in place to guide and protect you?

  • The big lesson I learned was to “Be Still” and slow down. What got me into trouble was that I wouldn’t stop doing things and I never slept. That pattern led me to the breakdown.
  • I don’t come to work on Monday’s now and use it as a day of rest.
  • I listen to the people who care about me the most (family/friends) and use them as guardrails. 

You started Invisible Children as a next generation leader in your 20’s. Now you are leading the next generation. What have you learned from this experience? What advice would you give to others who lead the next gen?

  • These kids want to work, but they really want to work for things that truly matter.
  • Biggest piece of advice is to “finish what you start”. We live in a world where there are so many options. Look at the commitments you’ve made and finish. 

At this point, you are 9 years into your leadership journey with Invisible Children. What insights would you give to the young leader who’s just getting started?

  • “Follow your passion and the money will follow you”
  • “Don’t ask the world what it needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that. Because what the world needs is for people to come alive.”
  •  Know the dream you have for your life. 

 What drives you? Take a moment to talk about what keeps you pushing forward (your values, faith, vision, etc).

  • What drives me is creating stories and being a part of a story.
  • Nothing changes the world like story does. Story moves things forward, changes paradigms, and gets people to act.
  • I’m always looking at the story I’m telling with my life, but also looking for other stories to be a part of.

What is your “Next Step”? 

  • Basically, asking this generation to prevent another Kony.


1. National Leadership Forum – Sign up today at nationalleadershipforum.org. This year’s theme is Marching Off the Map: Charting the Course for the Next Decade of Student Development. We would love for you to join us, as we discuss the future of education.

2. Check out Growing Leaders. If you’re new to the podcast or blog, visit our website to learn more about the resources Growing Leaders offers to equip those who lead the next generation.

What topic would you like for us to address on the next episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast? Leave a comment.

Podcast #11: An Interview with Jason Russell