Elevated Interview – Jason Canales

How did you find out about Elevated Apparel? Was it one of our colorful posts or an inspirational quote? Whatever it may have been, you were brought here by one of the biggest markets in the business right now: Digital Marketing. Everyday millions of brands use digital marketing to reach out to potential customers, and in the process develop strategies to help other brands boost sales.

Jason Canales wasn’t prepared to wait around and start at company later. At just 19 years old, Jason and his team run SonderMedia, a digital marketing agency that assists multiple brands and helps them spread their word across the web. We talked with Jason about the challenges he faced founding SonderMedia, and how someone as young as 19 can run a fully operational agency.


Name: Jason Canales

Age: 19

Current Occupation: Founder of SonderMedia

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living.

I currently own and operate a 7 person digital marketing agency based out of Hempstead, New York along with a satellite office based out of Silver Spring, Maryland. Although I run a digital agency, it’s actually not what makes me my money — which is I think surprising to most people. I still don’t take a salary from my company. On a day to day basis, I function off of what I make from personal real estate investments. What we do at SonderMedia ties in closely with what I do for myself personally in real estate, and we take a lot of the same marketing priciples and core beliefs and apply them to the work that we do for other real estate companies, as well as businesses in other industries ranging from retail to education.


What inspired you to chase your dreams?

I don’t think that there was any singular moment or even a series of events which “inspired” me to “chase my dreams”. I don’t think I really process it that way. My dreams are what make me happy, so I just try to follow a path that maximizes happiness while still maintaining the right amount of resistance to make it equally fulfilling as it is satisfying. Meaning I’m always as happy as one can be after working a 15 hour day, but I’m equally as fulfilled personally in the work I’m doing. That’s what makes me even happier. As for the inspiration — I have none. It’s just my nature. Most people wouldn’t say that they’re inspired to wake up every morning, or to blink… it’s just what makes sense and feels right to me. I can’t imagine any other life where I’m not an entrepreneur, and doing what I’m doing, or some form of it.


So far, what would you say your greatest achievement is?

Personally, I would say that it’s having some sort of understanding within myself of my purpose and the direction that I want to move in with my life. Especially around my age, you see a lot of people still wandering and settling for more immediate satisfaction rather than long-term fulfillment. I can honestly say that I feel a true sense of happiness within myself. Just so that it’s clear, also, this has nothing to do with entrepreneurship and I don’t want to make it sound as though the key to self-acceptance is to start a business. I think it’s important to truly understand yourself when you’re isolated from all external influences. For me, that’s come from working long hours into the night. For you, the reader, that could come from reading a book. Or on the bus ride to work. Or playing sports. It’s all a matter of personal context.
Professionally, I would have to say that it was the moment that I recieved a check from our first big project — a Madison Avenue agency hired us to do work for the largest summer camp in the northeastern United States run out of the largest private university in Long Island. Lots of superlatives, but it’s exactly how it felt.

When faced with a challenge or setback, how do you motivate yourself to keep going?

Challenges and setbacks are what motivates me. If you look around and really pay attention, the majority of us go through life with relative ease. Not too much grinding or pushing, for the most part. I live for that resistance. I joke often about how the SonderMedia Instagram page isn’t a motivational page, even though it kind of is. There’s one quote of mine on there that comes to mind pretty often, “Why do you need motivation? Is the goal not motivating enough?” and I think it proves a major point for most people. Too many people are doing things for the wrong reasons. There’s a reason why I’m not currently pursuing a law degree — I just have zero interest in that sort of thing. I’m sure on some level I could be motivated superficially, but ultimately I’d be on a slow and steady track to failure. There’s a lot of people that are doing exactly that. Sure, from time to time I might turn on some Kanye to get me through a rut, but there’s virtually nothing that I could imagine stopping me from pushing forward. In business, or in life, there’s just no other option.


Any advice to give our followers?

Listen to those in positions of authority, but also understand that a majority of them are probably a few decades older than you and likely grew up in a world vastly different from the one you’re in right now. Your parents and your teachers and most other authorities in your life have incredible amounts of practical real world knowledge and wisdom that they can pass on to you. Those are the fundamentals of life, and there’s nothing that you can do about that. Where you do have some freedom, however, is when it comes to the execution. Education is important, 100%. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn just as much online as you can in school (disclaimer: no, I’m not telling you to drop out. I’ll talk more about that in the future). I can guarantee you that your parents would have never believed that people would be making five and six figures playing video games online. Ten years ago, Instagram didn’t even exist. Now you have people making a living for themselves through influencer marketing. And keep in mind, you and I have zero clue what’s coming in the next ten! My point is, don’t just brush off any advice given to you. Likewise, don’t take any of it to heart, either. You forge your own path, and continiously evolve along with it.

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