Alumnus Profile: Entrepreneur Chris Mason ’97 Pursues Passions Over Comfort & Stability
If you watch Shark Tank on ABC, you might have seen ICS Alumnus Chris Mason ’97 pitching Birddogs Gym Shorts in early January. Mr. Mason is currently a partner and head of content and digital marketing at the men’s athleisure company.
Mr. Mason’s path was, as he puts it, unorthodox. “I graduated with a BA from Elon University and knew I wanted to get into sales, so I applied to several different companies in Charlotte, D.C., and NYC. I landed offers in all three cities and, although nearly all of my friends moved to Charlotte or D.C. after college, something about the idea of New York City spoke to me. I took an offer from a financial firm called Capital IQ and stayed within the financial industry for seven years.” However, intrigued by the world of tech start-ups, Mr. Mason decided to pursue his passions over staying safe in the comfortable and relatively stable world of finance.
Mr. Mason believes that, “where Indian Creek separated itself (and continues today) is in its focus on helping students identify what they're passionate about or more importantly what they're good at and to help them—and in some cases push them—to explore [those passions].” He credits Mrs. Sharon Miles with pushing him to “show up,” as he puts it, and turn in all of his homework in order to improve his grade at the end of one particular semester and Mr. Jamie Cook for being “the coolest teacher at the school.” Mr. Mason’s favorite memories include pickup basketball games after school in the “indoor mini gym” (now the Evergreen Campus Cafeteria), lacrosse bus rides after a win, and his one line in his 7th grade musical, Oklahoma.
Mr. Mason has the following advice to his fellow Creekers: "I think in order to truly maximize your ability—whatever that might be, and it's very different from person to person—you have to throw yourself into the fire and really push yourself. That fire can describe a multitude of decisions in your life: Where do I live? Should I study abroad?Should I walk off the beaten path and take the road less traveled? I think each person needs to make those decisions for themselves, but I can honestly say that I am here now because I've made conscious choices to take a leap of faith. Additionally, in order to be successful, you have to put the work in. It's not an overnight type deal; it's a grind—but that's part of the beauty of it.” Mr. Mason also highly recommends the following:
Master Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop.
Learn coding: it'll add value to your life.
Stay in touch with people: it’s amazing what an FB message, email, or a (gasp) hand written note will do!
Get involved: it doesn't matter what it is, just get in there.
Listen to music
In addition to Birddogs, Mr. Mason is also a strategic advisor to Abbott, a men’s fragrance company, and Spotfund, a mobile micro-donations platform, as well as an acting board member for Operation: Heal Our Heroes.