Loyola Magazine

From car designer to youth ministry to YouTube celebrity

Jon Barnes, M.A. ’10, shares insights from latest book

Jon Barnes has held many different titles, including youth ministry coordinator, marketing CEO, and law firm consultant

He currently works as director of content strategy at ADG Creative in Columbia, Md., where he develops social media and content strategies, technology innovation, and video content.

Barnes is also a YouTube celebrity, with more than 15,000 subscribers and millions of views of his videos. He provides content on car design, filmmaking, and other “how-to videos.” What drives him to produce videos is feedback from viewers from around the world; one of his followers saw his car design video and is now attending automotive design school.

He received a Bachelor of Art in Bible and Theology from Washington Bible College and a Master of Art in Liberal Studies from Loyola University Maryland (2010).

Once Barnes discovered Loyola’s master’s program, he knew he’d found the perfect fit: “The real magic of an education at Loyola is that it provides you with a world of opportunity and you can get as much out of it as you want,” Barnes said.

Barnes most recently added author to his growing list of titles with his upcoming book, Creative Threads: Think Like an Entrepreneur. Discover Your Calling. The book, which is aimed at college-aged students and young professionals who may be wondering what to do next in their career journeys, tells the story of Barnes’ journey as he finds his true passion. It also serves as a handbook to help readers develop their own personal brands and take proactive action when it comes to taking the next step in their career.

Perseverance, reinvention, and ownership are three themes in the book, which are meant to help readers answer life’s toughest question.

“The hardest question to ask yourself is ‘Who am I and what do I do?’,” said Barnes.

What is “Creative Threads?”

“The idea with ‘creative threads’ is it’s meant to provide a framework to think about your future and help you know the right questions to ask to take the next steps,” Barnes explained. The concept was actually developed when Barnes was attending car design school.

Barnes knew he wanted to be creative in all facets of life, but he wasn’t sure car design school was the right fit, even though it was the only career he had ever desired to pursue up until that point. Barnes changed his educational path and is now a successful entrepreneur. He used “creative threads” as a guide to achieve success, a path that wasn’t always clear at the time but that makes sense as part of his understanding of what really drives him.

How to develop your personal brand

Barnes feels that developing your personal brand is important for two reasons: First, to distinguish and set yourself apart from the competition and second, to help give you a framework for weighing important decisions in your future. Important questions to ask when developing your brand are “What makes me unique?”, “Where can I serve?”, “Who do I care about?”, “What am I interested in?”, and “When do I feel most satisfied?”

“It’s really about the story that surrounds you,” he said. “Find the creative thread between all the different hats that you wear. Ask yourself what really makes you tick and want to get up in the morning.”

The main message

Barnes’ main message is to work hard, find your passions, and weave them together through “creative threads,” to tie all aspects of your life together.

“Understand the common thread between many of your past experiences so you can be confident in your next steps,” said Barnes.

If Barnes were to give advice to current Loyola students, he would encourage them to take advantage of all the relationships they make during their time at Loyola and beyond: “Try everything, don’t hold back, say yes to everything, and meet everyone you can.”

Barnes considers one of his greatest achievements his role as husband to his wife, Robin, and as father to four boys under age 9. When asked how he balances work and family, Barnes said it’s about being in the moment.

“The way I think about it is, ‘How do I totally be in the moment I’m in?’ How do I deliver constant value? I have to be 100% on as a dad and 100% on when it comes to my full-time job. It’s a constant balance.”

Barnes’ book, Creative Threads: Think Like an Entrepreneur. Discover Your Calling. is on sale and was published by Apprentice House Press.