Jason Kint

Position: Chief executive of the Online Publishers Association, a trade association representing the digital content industry with offices in the District.

Jason Kint gravitated to computers early on. By his sophomore year in college, while studying computer science, he was creating Web sites for his university, student groups and the city of St. Louis. After graduation, he landed a job building the Web site for Sporting News magazine. That experience opened another opportunity in New York to build the Web business for parent company Times Mirror. The company won a People’s Choice Webby Award for best sports Web site. He then moved to CBS to build the sports interactive division. He now will have a hand in shaping digital media policy as he takes the helm of the industry’s Online Publishers Association.

The majority of your career has been on the operating side of the Web. Now you will be working on the policy side. What sealed the deal for you to make that transition?

It seemed exciting to affect change that would be positive and helpful to all these great media companies and all the future great digital content companies that haven’t been imagined yet. I did ask a lot of people if I could be helpful in these policy discussions. There definitely seems to be a need for someone with a lot of operating experience to get engaged in these discussions on the policy side. There’s not a lot of people like that.

You climbed the ladder fairly early in your career. What do you attribute to your success?

Timing. Also, it’s knowing what you don’t know and knowing who to learn from.

Which mentors made an indelible mark on you?

One gentleman became a mentor during my first six years in the business. I was a Midwestern kid and he was a New Yorker. He had been in the business for 30 years when I met him. I had been in the businesses for all of a year. He was extremely well-liked and candid, one of those people who was really humble and at the same time everyone wants to be around him. I learned a lot about how to work on teams and how to get stuff done and be effective as a business while at the same time treating everyone right.

How did he show you how to do that?

He let me go do my thing. I’ve tried to reflect that same attitude. There are some really smart 23-year-olds who are capable of great things. There’s always another version of you coming alongthe way.

What does it take to be a successful leader in the digital media space?

It takes a willingness to make mistakes, being a strong communicator and having confidence. Innovation is accelerating. It’s important to have the confidence to make decisions really quickly because otherwise opportunities get missed. You have to be strong at communications because we live in a world that rightly values transparency and trust. Being a strong communicator helps people understand the vision so they can align around it and right the ship when you’re not going the right direction. Having a willingness to make mistakes is important because it’s going to happen. In digital media, innovation is one of the most valued characteristics. The cost to entry is so low. There’s so many people building new products. Whether you’ve been around for a century or starting in your garage, to be successful around innovation, you have to be willing to be comfortable making mistakes.

How have you grown most as a leader since your early days as a director?

Now I have more perspective and appreciation for the moment of what’s happening in the digital media world. The idea of putting a Web page on the Internet to now getting any kind of information through a device in your hand, even on an airplane — I don’t think I realized how special it was going to be. Ironically, with that comes patience. I’ve become more patient. I have a hunger for change, but I also have the patience to stop and enjoy the moment, the people, the team. It’s so much more than just the product. It’s the people you meet.

What business books are you reading?

“The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser. I heard about it and a couple people recommended it. It’s about the good and bad that comes with personalization on a Web site that knows everything about you. It’s about the constant struggle with getting news that interests you versus news that surprises.

— Interview with Vanessa Small