Jason Smith | Fighting Gangs in East LA, Driving Tom Cruise, Chasing Bin Laden, and More
Smart Business Revolution

Jason Smith is the Founder and CEO of Spotlight Social Advertising, which he founded in 2016. Before that, he spent 14 years in uniform with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). He later started a side gig helping people with online traffic advertising and Facebook ads, which became his core line of work. He left the police department permanently to concentrate on Spotlight Social Advertising. He now lives in Colorado with his wife and children.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran sits down with Jason Smith, the Founder and CEO of Spotlight Social Advertising, to talk about Jason’s life as an LAPD police officer and how he transitioned to become a Facebook ads expert. Jason also shares his experience being targeted by LA gangs, how he foiled their plans, and how leaving the force has impacted his personal life.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Jason Smith’s work pursuing gangs in Los Angeles as an LAPD officer
  • How being a police officer affected Jason’s personal life and how he was able to spare time for his family
  • Jason shares an experience being targeted and confronted by an LA gang 
  • How Jason got into doing Facebook ads, how he resigned from the LAPD, how he has adjusted to working outside the LAPD, and what he does to remain motivated in his current line of work
  • The story of Jason’s divorce and how he got back together with his wife
  • How family reacted to Jason’s decisions and how his father, a former FBI agent, impacted his life
  • How Jason’s father led the investigation and arrest of The Falcon and the Snowman bank robbers — and how he got to chase Osama Bin Laden
  • The peers Jason respects and those he acknowledges for his achievements
  • Where to learn more and get in touch with Jason Smith

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

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Rise25 was co-founded by Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran who have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14 

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right. Welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. Every week I get to talk to such interesting CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs, a range of companies from, go take a look at my backlog, my back catalogue, got all kinds of interesting interviews with the former CEO and co-founder of Netflix to YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, Lending Tree, OpenTable, check out the back catalogue, lots of great content there. I’m also the Co-founder Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And this week, we’ve got a great guest. His name is Jason Smith. He is the Founder of Spotlight Social, which he founded about five years ago in 2016. Before that, he spent 14 years in a uniform with the Los Angeles Police Department, LAPD police officer, and he’s got some crazy stories that he’s going to share about getting embedded into gang life there in Los Angeles and kind of some of the threats, so stay tuned for that. He now lives in Colorado with his wife and his children. And he, interestingly enough, kind of had a side gig helping people with online traffic advertising and Facebook ads, and that became his core thing. And that’s how he ended up leaving the police department.

But first, before we get into that, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media, where we help b2b businesses to get clients, referrals and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcasts and content marketing. If you have a b2b business and you’ve ever been curious about starting a podcast, give us a call, shoot us an email, contact us at rise25media.com or email us at [email protected]. Alright, Jason, such a pleasure to have you here. And you know, it’s a little bit of a disconnect because you don’t look like a gang member. But now you’ve got the Colorado look, you got to get the fleece on and all that kind of stuff. And I know you and I both grew up kind of in the same neck of the woods. You were in Newbury Park, I grew up in Calabasas. Yep. You grew up on the main streets in Newbury Park. On the edge of Ventura County, I joke because it’s not really known as gangland. No. But you go into the LAPD and you’re going around chasing gang members. What do you think? What was it? Maybe your personality enabled you to do what you did for many years? You know, investigating gang life and in the heart of LA?

Jason Smith 3:07

Yes. So I think, first of all, I think whatever I do, I put in, you know, 110% effort in everything I do. So I’m one of those guys that just dives in with both feet. And I want to learn as much as I can. And my job at the time was, you know, LAPD working in the worst neighborhoods of Los Angeles, you know, South LA, Boyle Heights, East LA, all those areas. And, gosh, I just, I love to be out there. I love cleaning up neighborhoods. And, you know, again, I just dove in with both feet and said, Okay, if I’m gonna do this, then I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna, you know, go out there and look for the bad guys. It’s not too often in life where we actually look for bad things to happen. But that’s what I was doing every night. And in LA, there’s no shortage of bad guys. So I mean, my personality is just go, go-go. I’m kind of, you know, I can’t sit still for 20 minutes. So you know, it’s just one of those things. I just, I love doing it. At the time. It was great. But it also came with certain, you know, certain drawbacks as a gang cop for so many years in Los Angeles, and what happens when you work too hard in the neighborhood and try to put these guys away. So how did it affect your family? Oh, man. It’s tough on your personal life. I mean, you see things and you just kind of keep them inside because like, do you really want to talk about the 10 homicide scenes you were at that night where guys heads are blown off and or car accidents where cars are ripped in half and you know bodies are decapitated, all that kind of stuff. Like it’s not stuff you really want to talk about. When you get home. You actually kind of want to put it away and not Talk about it and not really think about it. So, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s tough. I mean, I was never home. On my days off, I was either testifying as a gang expert testifying as a weapons expert. You know, once the DA knows that you’re, you’re great on the stand, they call you in for all kinds of gang cases, and, you know, all this stuff. And, you know, I had my own cases, too. I was chasing guys every night with weapons and, you know, getting shootings and doing all kinds of stuff. So I had, you know, all kinds of things going on. I mean, I would stay at the station for two or three days straight, you know, and I couldn’t go to my kids soccer games or football games or whatever, my, you know, my wife had to have to do all that. So it’s, it’s tough. I mean, when you work in a place like that, if you’re a good cop, I mean, that’s just what that’s the territory It comes with, you know. 

John Corcoran 5:51

So you know, everyone has trouble sometimes switching between, you know, work life and home life and separating the two disconnects. Yeah. How did you disconnect from everything you’ve seen or experienced or gone through and work and then be, you know, present with your family?

Jason Smith 6:10

I mean, a lot, a lot of extra curricular activities, I guess. I used to race professional motocross. So I still ride motorcycles, you know, wakeboard, wakesurf, all that stuff. And, you know, that was one way to be able to cope and just get out and do things and not think about work. You know, and really, it takes a certain type of person to be like that, and to do that, and you just learn after years and years of doing it, that you just put it in the back of your mind. And you’re a different person at home than you are, you know, on the streets of Los Angeles as a policeman wearing a badge, you know, and everybody hating you. So yeah, because really, that’s how it is in LA. Everybody hates you. He hates the cops. Oh, yeah. Yeah, everybody. You got five year old kids flipping you off when you drive by and you’re like, Whoa, all right. Cool. Glad your parents taught you good, you know? Yeah, kind of crazy. What?