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Jonathan Mildenhall of TwentyFirst Century Brand

By Board Member: Magdalena Rodriguez.

The GGBA Member Spotlight for this issue focuses on Jonathan Mildenhall and TwentyFirstCenturyBrand (21CB). Mildenhall, former CMO of Airbnb, co-founded the company, which helps businesses to use marketing to drive their financial, consumer, cultural and employee growth and value. As Joe Gebbia, Airbnb co-founder says, “The 21CB team brings brands to life with unlimited humanity. Be prepared for an explosion of creativity.”

Magdalena Rodriguez: Please describe your business and its mission and values.

Jonathan Mildenhall: 21CB is a marketing consultancy, founded in May 2018. Our mission is to work with founders and CEOs to help build the world’s most influential brands. We believe in building purpose-driven businesses that have values and integrity at their core. We hold ourselves accountable to high standards of excellence and use the following values to guide us:

  • Ambush with Humanity – We go out of our way to create a safe space for people to be vulnerable, creative and challenging. To be themselves, and not who they think they “should” be.
  • Diversity & Harmony – We embrace all forms of diversity from ethnicity to experience. The process of building harmony can be messy, but the results are powerful and more than worth it.
  • Commercial Creativity – We see creativity as a mindset and not a discipline. The art is in using it to create real value, with the entire company as our canvas.
  • Purposeful Growth – Commerce is predicated on growth, but not all that grows is good. We pursue growth that is sustainable for people, the planet and profit.

Magdalena Rodriguez: Why did you decide to create your business?

Jonathan Mildenhall: 21st century companies desperately need clearer brand strategies that can act on a purposeful North Star that can guide strategic decisions across a number of company-wide initiatives including corporate culture, product development & innovation, community management, employee engagement, and marketing strategy and execution.

The collective experience of the team at 21CB means that we can unlock the strategic and creative potential with our client companies, and in so doing accelerate growth and reputation in a clear and purposeful way. Our clients include Pinterest, WeWork, Harklinikken, Thrive Global, Airtime, GoDaddy, Peloton, UberEats, Uber and TurboTax.

Magdalena Rodriguez: Do you have any specific policies in place that benefit the LGBT community?

Jonathan Mildenhall: First and foremost, we pride ourselves on creating a work environment that is fair and inclusive to all regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Everyone gets the same benefits, including parental leave for LGBTQ moms and dads. In addition, we are proud to say we received our LGBT certification with NGLCC (National LGBT Chamber of Commerce) in our first year in business and look forward to continuing finding other ways to support and partner with the LGBT community as a whole.

 Magdalena Rodriguez: Do you have any specific policies in place regarding workplace equality?

Jonathan Mildenhall: As mentioned, all of our employee benefits have been built around fairness and equality.

Magdalena Rodriguez: Why did you decide to join the GGBA?

Jonathan Mildenhall: We joined GGBA because a number of our employees and clients are proud members of the LGBTQ community and as our business grows, so too will our involvement in the Bay Area communities that we are part of. GGBA is the first of several organizations we hope to partner with.

Magdalena Rodriguez: What has been your biggest reward and satisfaction during your journey as an entrepreneur?

Jonathan Mildenhall: Candidly speaking, the most rewarding aspect of my journey as an entrepreneur is that I get to build a company and culture that reflects the real human values I care passionately about. I have had to fire a client that compromised my company values and therefore my employee experience. 21CB is a company built without compromise.

Magdalena Rodriguez: And your biggest disappointment/nerve-wracking situation?

Jonathan Mildenhall: Firing a client is never easy, but it was necessary to protect our company culture. Even though it costs my company $225k in lost revenue—which hurt—it was without question the right thing to do.

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