Member of the Month: James Olson, Catalyst Missions Group

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New year, new member of the month! Meet James Olson, President and Co-founder of Catalyst Resource & Missions Group. James is a family man, passionate social justice advocate, and has never met a stranger. You can see how those personality traits have translated into such a successful business and partnership. The thought of blending ministry through business started in conversations between James and his business partner, Kyle Thompson, while in college. After graduating, Kyle went to work in media and movie ministry for churches, and James went into church missions, eventually moving to Oaxaca, Mexico. It wasn’t until years later, in January 2014, that those conversations turned into what has now become Catalyst Resource & Missions Group. 

 

What do you do? Tell us a little bit about your company.

Catalyst Resource Group is a marketing and strategic consulting company. The focus of my current work is to develop and test marketing & fundraising strategies for two multinational NGOs, one is JAM International and the other is Compassion International. Uniquely, my specialty is how these and other organizations can best engage Black churches and audiences to engage in their cause or mission. 

What is your typical weekday routine?

When I am working at The Root, I usually begin by day with a bowl of Trader Joe’s Apple Spice Instant Oatmeal and a cup of fresh brewed coffee. I spend way too much time on Zoom calls and phone calls. Then I usually eat lunch and talk with Jessica and sometimes Nichole and Ben. Then I drink Pomegranate sparkling water and run to the restroom all afternoon.   

What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?

I don’t know if proud is the best word to describe how I feel about this, but I am rather amazed at where life has taken me. In the past 5 years I have been given the opportunity to be the main Sunday morning speaker in about 50 predominantly Black churches from Compton, CA to Brooklyn, NY. 

What could you give a 30-minute presentation about with no advance preparation? 

I could easily speak for 30 minutes about issues related to racism. I am quite passionate about issues related to social justice and DEI. 

What was the most important chance encounter you’ve had?

My business partner Kyle Thompson and I knew each other but had lost contact. Then, in November of 2013 we sat by each other at a funeral of a mutual friend’s Father in-law. This providential re-connect turned into the launch of Catalyst.

What’s one thing you’re learning now, and why is it important?

I am working hard at being fully present with my family every time we are together. I always heard that kids grow up fast and now I understand!

What is your favorite restaurant in Tulsa and what do you get there?

Tulsa has a lot of great restaurants. Lately, we have been enjoying In The Raw atop Vast Bank. We enjoyed the Chef’s Choice sushi. 

What is the plot of your favorite movie or book?

In this movie there is a young orphan in Oaxaca, Mexico who grows up in a Monastery. He dreams of becoming rich and famous by becoming a champion luchador (wrestler). He is frustrated because he has to cook for all of the orphans but he never has fresh ingredients. So he puts on his mask and secretly becomes a wrestler in order to win money and buy nice things for the children and of course to win the heart of a special nun friend. A lot of ups and downs but the movie has a beautiful and inspiring ending. It’s Jack Black in Nacho Libre.

Given unlimited resources, how would you go about making the world a better place?

In recent years I have been volunteering in areas of social justice. I am very passionate about providing better defense representation for the poor. I am also big on paying teachers and resourcing schools in areas where there is poverty. These would be two areas I would focus my vast wealth on making a difference. 

If you could only eat one item for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

If I didn’t need nutrition, I would eat homemade chocolate-covered toffee. 

What trend do you hope makes a comeback?

I hope that civility in politics makes a big comeback! People can have different opinions without becoming enemies. 

What’s one song or artist that you’re embarrassed to admit you like?

A couple of totally random old songs that I love but could never allow my kids to know I love. I always stop to listen to Willie Nelson. I love this song “Always on my mind.” Also, really random but Elton John has this duet with some lady.  The song is called “Don’t go Breaking my Heart.” For some reason that song comes up in my mind way too often. 

Would you survive a zombie apocalypse? How?

I would convert a large old building and make it into small offices where various Zombies could come each day to work. I would give them lots of coffee and occasional free beer and goodies to keep them happy. 

What is one of your favorite things about being a member of The Root Coworking?  

I enjoy The Root’s overall atmosphere. It is a great place to get work done and yet be connected with other people.

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The Root Coworking is not affiliated with Root, Tulsa (www.roottulsa.com)

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