Next Up Columbus 2024: Johna Charles

Johna Charles
Johna Charles

Photo courtesy of Johna Charles

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Johna Charles
Age: 31
Profession: Co-Founder & CEO at Orbit Media Group
Neighborhood: New Albany
Education: Ohio State University
Community Involvement: Emerging Leaders Board – Make-A-Wish Foundation, Leadership Council Member – Columbus Young Professionals Club
Motto: “Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.” – Elon Musk
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram

Give us a snapshot of your path
My career began as a web engineer at JP Morgan, where I focused on development tasks primarily for the marketing departments. Driven by curiosity, I delved deeper into the marketing strategies behind these tasks. This exploration led me to transition into a marketing role, where I managed hundreds of franchises and oversaw substantial ad spend.

My interest in marketing grew as I discovered innovative ways to optimize and gamify systems. After gaining experience with several large home services providers, I started offering my web development services independently. The increasing demand for my expertise, along with requests for additional services, prompted me to co-found Orbit Media Group with my partner, Evan Pandell.

Our agency’s growth allowed me to leave my corporate position and build a team of over 20 professionals, providing comprehensive services to businesses nationwide. The success of Orbit Media Group has also opened doors to numerous opportunities, enabling me to acquire and manage other businesses.

What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
What gets me up in the morning? Well, aside from a strong cup of coffee, it’s the drive to make a meaningful impact within the limited time we have. I’m motivated by the desire to succeed and to leave a positive mark on the world.

What gets me through the workweek is the combination of this drive and the excitement of tackling new challenges. Each day presents an opportunity to innovate, grow, and contribute to something bigger than myself. The support and collaboration of my team, along with the dynamic environment of our industry, keep me energized and focused. In essence, it’s the blend of ambition, purpose, and a bit of caffeine that fuels my passion and perseverance throughout the week.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
Automate and Delegate. Plan but be flexible. Limit your distractions.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
To unwind, I enjoy playing guitar on my patio while savoring a fine cigar and a glass of whiskey. This combination of music and relaxation provides a perfect escape from the daily grind. Additionally, I have a passion for working on cars, which allows me to immerse myself in a hands-on, creative process that is both fulfilling and therapeutic. Above all, I value spending quality time with my friends and family. These moments enable me to disconnect from work, recharge, and enjoy meaningful connections with loved ones.

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
Some of my favorite local spots in Columbus and central Ohio include Valter’s at the Maennerchor, a German restaurant that combines great food with a authentic atmosphere. I am a member at IYKYK a private venue. I spend a lot of time there working and networking. I also enjoy dining at Hudson 29 in New Albany, which offers a delightful menu and a welcoming ambiance.

I frequently attend networking events through various local organizations such as the local chambers of commerce, Columbus Young Professionals (CYP), and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Additionally, I spend a significant amount of time with a member-only networking group I co-founded called ‘Alpha Dawgs.’ These engagements not only allow me to connect with like-minded professionals but also contribute to the growth and development of our local community.

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
As a child, my dreams for the future were diverse and ever-changing. At various points, I aspired to be a chef, captivated by the creativity and artistry involved in crafting delicious meals. I also wanted to be an engineer, drawn by the problem-solving aspects and the idea of building and designing innovative solutions.

The allure of the skies made me dream of becoming a pilot, imagining the freedom and adventure of flying. My fascination with the natural world sparked an interest in becoming a biologist, exploring the intricacies of life and contributing to scientific discoveries. The vastness of space inspired me to consider a career as an astronaut, aiming for the stars and the ultimate frontier of human exploration.

Lastly, the thrill and precision of high-speed competition made me want to be a race car driver, experiencing the adrenaline and excitement of the racetrack. Each of these dreams, though varied, reflected my curiosity, passion for discovery, and desire to explore different realms of knowledge and experience.

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
Currently, I stay up-to-date with the latest episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience and the Tucker Carlson Show, both of which offer diverse perspectives on current events and engaging discussions with a wide range of guests. I am also re-reading “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene, a thought-provoking book that delves into the dynamics of power and influence.

Additionally, I have been immersing myself in a wealth of videos focused on the operations and best practices of home services businesses. This interest stems from a long-standing fascination with the construction industry and a desire to deepen my understanding of its various facets. These resources provide valuable insights that are both informative and relevant to my professional endeavors.

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
Being chosen for the Next Up Columbus award is an incredible honor and a testament to the dedication and hard work I’ve invested in both my professional and community endeavors.

To be included among such an esteemed group of individuals is both humbling and inspiring. It acknowledges the impact of my efforts and fuels my commitment to continue driving positive change within our community. This recognition is not just a personal achievement but a reflection of the collaborative spirit and support of those around me, including my colleagues, mentors, friends, and family.

Receiving this award motivates me to keep pushing boundaries, fostering innovation, and contributing to the growth and development of Columbus. I am proud to be part of a community that values courage, creativity, and impactful leadership, and I look forward to continuing this journey alongside fellow young professionals who are shaping the future of our city.

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
If someone asked me about the “pulse” of Columbus, I would say it’s a vibrant mix of innovation, community spirit, and cultural diversity. Columbus is a city that thrives on the energy and creativity of its people, driven by a strong sense of collaboration and progress.

Innovation is at the heart of Columbus, with a growing tech scene, startups, and top-notch educational institutions fostering new ideas. The community spirit is strong, with residents and businesses supporting each other through local events, volunteer opportunities, and neighborhood initiatives.

The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2024 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Edison Brewing Co. for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2024” »


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