Jason Borrevik was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon where he lived with his parents and younger brother. Growing up, he loved playing sports, reading, camping and traveling. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1994 with a BA in Economics before moving to California to attend law school at the University of California, Berkeley. Borrevik worked for the Oakland Raiders during law school as a legal intern. In 1997, he joined the pre-eminent technology company law firm in Silicon Valley, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and worked there for seven years as a senior associate in the firm’s Executive Compensation & Benefits Group. There he worked with many of the leading technology firms in the world, including Google and Yahoo. Seeking change, Jason Borrevik transitioned to management consulting work in 2005 when he joined Compensia. Compensia is the leading independent compensation consulting advisor to technology and life science companies in the country. Currently Jason is a Principal in the firm and advises many leading private and public technology firms. Jason Borrevik lives with his wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest.
Get back to your clients within 12 to 24 hours of any email or call. Be as responsive as possible even if you just tell them that you will go through their message soon to get back to them with more detailed thoughts.
Where did the idea for your company come from?In 2003, a few leading compensation specialists with both consulting and legal backgrounds developed the idea to form Compensia to address a need for qualified advisors in the management consulting space who could focus on advising Board members in the technology and life science sectors. Compensia developed as a niche firm in the consulting market with this singular business focus and has, over the last 15 years, grown significant market share to become the leading technology company advisor in the executive compensation consulting field.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?My schedule is very flexible. With my current client base, I strive to be available at all hours and often deal with urgent matters over the course of each day. I work with many clients based in Europe and the East Coast so have full days filled with meetings at unusual times. I typically start work at 7 AM. Most days are 10-12 hours and are filled with project-based work and scheduled client and firm meetings. Compensia is incredibly busy and we hold ourselves to a high standard, so being productive and using my time effectively is a necessity.
How do you bring ideas to life?The world of executive, Board, and equity compensation is by turns exciting, controversial, and always evolving. We deal with many complex technical legal, regulatory, accounting, tax and benchmarking matters. I strive to be thoughtful and creative with our clients and find solutions that are tailored to each client’s specific situation. Our motto is “Thoughtful Pay”. We are known for being strategic and targeted with the advice we develop. Having been in this business for more than 20 years, I bring ideas to life through diligence, experience, and plain old hard work—digging into the weeds of each situation to add as much value as I can for each and every client.
What’s one trend that excites you?Technology companies have evolved how they develop their pay programs for executives and employees. There is significant pressure on companies from key stakeholders (investors, Board members, corporate watchdogs) to align executive pay and company performance. Our clients generally strive to attract and retain key talent in a tough current labor environment with pay levels and structures that are performance-based and fair relative to market standards. The trend to structure executive pay so that it is specifically aligned to key company short- and longer-term performance goals is exciting. Each company’s situation is unique. Companies have a lot of flexibility to design innovative pay programs that work to achieve their compensation objectives in a balanced manner. We have the opportunity to provide meaningful input in this design process including advising on market and best practice trends and modeling outcomes which can be very satisfying.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?I am very organized. I keep a detailed calendar and multiple “to do” lists – both daily and longer-term lists tied to current projects to ensure that I effectively manage my active projects. I also write detailed emails for clients on current matters and questions and find that many appreciate getting concrete, actionable advice quickly in this way.
What advice would you give your younger self?I would tell the young and ambitious Jason Borrevik to enjoy yourself as time flies but keep sight of your long-term goals. My 20s went by so fast. Certainly strive for work and life balance and focus on your family and friends but also don’t be afraid to work your butt off.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.Company management teams in the technology and life science sectors generally care deeply for their employee bases and strive to develop competitive and balanced pay programs for all employee levels. The media and certain politicians have been focused on CEO and employee pay disparity and growth in CEO pay over the years without understanding that these companies have broad-based, competitive programs and are actively involved in developing employee pay levels and structures that are fair. Also, pickleball is truly an amazing sport!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?Get back to your clients within 12 to 24 hours of any email or call. Be as responsive as possible even if you just tell them that you will go through their message soon to get back to them with more detailed thoughts. In a business that relies on customer satisfaction in order to thrive, your clients expect you to be accountable.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.Focusing on quality. In the management consulting business, we work with a wide range of qualified senior professionals including CEOs, CFOs, GCs, top HR executives and Board members. Many Board members are Board members and CEOs or senior executives at multiple companies. If you add significant value with your strategic advice and input, you will be viewed as a trusted advisor and may be referred to assist these individuals at their other companies. Our brand at Compensia is the quality of the advice we provide. Developing quality requires hard work and experience.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?We work with a range of personality types in high-pressure, high-stakes matters. I strive to be responsive and calm but may not always “click” with those that hire me. In rare cases, I have shifted clients to other consultants at Compensia who are better matches. Although this feels like a personal failure, I have grown to understand that our goal here is to most effectively serve our clients as a firm (not as an individual) and that we are a team. I learn what I can from the situation through honest self-assessments and put my head down and get back to work.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?I advise technology clients with the most incredible, innovative ideas imaginable. I live vicariously through the minds of the world’s leading entrepreneurs in the areas of 3D printing, artificial intelligence, flying cars, robotics, satellites, high speed networks, transportation efficiencies, energy and water conversion, etc.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?A new pair of Brooks shoes for running and basketball. I try to be active every day to keep my mind fresh and get needed breaks from the demands and stress of the job.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?Excel and Powerpoint are integral to our business. We develop our compensation benchmarking analytics and summary reports with these tools and couldn’t function otherwise. Many of our clients are also using Google Docs now as a more collaborative and efficient way to develop materials so I have gotten up to speed on that as well.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?Good to Great by Jim Collins. Get the right people on your bus and dominate.
What is your favorite quote?Do or do not, there is no try. -Yoda Just win, baby. -Al Davis
Key learnings:• Our management consulting business is dynamic, evolving and fast paced • I need to be organized, responsive and thoughtful to maintain value as a trusted advisor • It helps to be honest with yourself and learn through experience to evolve to become a better consultant
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.