Publication: Madison Magazine
Date: April 2006
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Cartoonist looks like Clark Kent, makes people laugh in a single bound
By Christopher Hollenback
He gets paid to fly to all over the country, to places like Seattle and Boston, to give funny talks to hundreds of people. Afterwards, he signs copies of his book. Then he goes to Starbucks to write more jokes.
It’s all in a day’s work for Madison cartoonist, author and professional speaker Jason Kotecki, whose company, JBiRD iNK, distributes his cartoon “Kim & Jason” to a dozen newspapers and fifty publications throughout the United States. The strip, which grew out of comics Kotecki once drew to woo the heart of his wife Kim, garners a global fan base at www.KimandJason.com. Perhaps most impressive, Kotecki, 30, leads a financially successful enterprise that has a Lombardi-esque work ethic – but a decidedly childlike sense of fun.
“When people ask where I get ideas for jokes,” Kotecki says, “I tell them, ‘On eBay.'”
While his formula isn’t for sale on eBay, he is selling it through a successful professional speaking service. His clients include nonprofit organizations and businesses. The YMCA hired him to show employees how to be successful without falling prey to stress, infighting and burnout — things he boils down to “adultitis.” His potion?
“Delight in the little things. Details. It’s something we used to do as kids. But now as adults we only delight in going to bed. As kids, we built forts, noticed the beauty in butterflies and dreamed about the future.”
Kotecki says that attitude is the key to just about any business strategy. Take customer service: “When we screwed up as kids, we’d say, ‘What can I do to fix it?’ Okay, we said that after we got caught. But those seven words can cure any customer service problem. For example, my dad works in a lumberyard. He asks angry customers, ‘What can I do to fix it?’ That disarms them because they’re expecting a fight — and you don’t want a fight in a lumberyard! So, instead of assuming you know what they want, it opens communication to find a solution.”
Sara Jenny, child-care director at the East YMCA, says Kotecki helped her staff appreciate their jobs “and realize life is about having fun and making the best of each day.”
During speeches, Kotecki tells audiences he dreamed of becoming a superhero — then rips open his dress shirt to reveal a Superman T-shirt. “It wasn’t so much that I wanted X-ray vision,” he says. “Although that’d be pretty cool. What I really wanted was to help people. Now, when I get letters from fans who say I made them laugh and made their day, I know I have.”
Kotecki’s new book, Escape Adulthood: 8 Secrets from Childhood for the Stressed-Out Grown-Up, is one of four available in stores and on Amazon or BarnesandNoble.com. So far, the book has received good reviews and caught the attention of at least one of his esteemed colleagues.
“I wasn’t prepared for Escape Adulthood to be so good,” says Lynn Johnston, creator of the famous comic strip “For Better or For Worse.”
“He has tremendous potential.”
Christopher Hollenback is a contributing writer for Madison Magazine.
©2006 Madison Magazine