This week’s guest is international best-selling author Jon Gordon. His books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. His principles have been put to the test by numerous coaches and teams in the NFL, NBA and MLB and by Fortune 500 companies, school districts, hospitals and non-profits.
He is the author of numerous books including The Wall Street Journal bestseller The Energy Bus, Soup, The No Complaining Rule, Training Camp, and The Carpenter. Jon and his tips have been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Fox and Friends, and in numerous magazines and newspapers.
His clients include The Atlanta Falcons, LA Clippers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Campbell Soup, Wells Fargo, Northwestern Mutual, Publix, Southwest Airlines, Bayer, West Point Academy and more.
Jon is a graduate of Cornell University and holds a Masters in Teaching from Emory University. He and his training/consulting company are passionate about developing positive leaders, organizations and teams.
When he’s not running through airports or speaking, you can find him playing tennis or lacrosse with his wife and two teenage children.
Connect with Jon on Twitter @JonGordon11, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Cain: Hey everybody, how are you doing? It’s Brian Cain with the Brian Cain Peak Performance Podcast. Today we’ve got a very special guest. He is one of the best authors in the world, one of my personal favorite authors, the author of the #1 bestselling book The Energy Bus and other great titles such as The Hard Hat, The Carpenter, Training Camp, The No Complaining Rule, Soup, One Word, The Positive Dog, The Shark and The Goldfish, and The Seed. If you don’t know him by now we’re talking about Jon Gordon. Jon is also one of the top speakers in the world and works with a lot of college athletic programs about developing that right mindset for success. Jon, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us here on the podcast.
Gordon: Thanks Brian. It’s an honor to be with you. I remember a couple years ago being at an event speaking and you were doing an event there as well. I got a chance to watch you speak, to do your thing. I think it was a softball conference or something like that. You were awesome. I really enjoyed watching you and thought you were incredible so this is an honor to be with you on this.
Cain: I appreciate that. I remember exactly when that was. It was December of 2009 down in San Diego at the NFCA Softball Convention. I had read The Energy Bus before that. It was given to me by Ryan Brownlee who is a baseball coach out at the University of Iowa. I read it (I think) on the plane on the ride home and loved it. I remember being in the middle of my seminar and seeing this guy in the back kind of taking notes, not dressed like a softball coach but dressed more like a speaker. I went back and I met you and I said “wait a minute that is The Energy Bus guy.” Since then I’ve been a huge fan and been following you and your work.
Just this past August I had a chance to work with the same team. I’ve been working with the SMU football team. Head coach Chad Morris in doing some of their sports psychology. You came in and really rocked the house. The guys are still talking about the day that they got with you.
Jon, could you give us your background in terms of where you grew up and then playing lacrosse at Cornell kind of all the way to where you got today and sitting in the chair that you are in.
Gordon: Sure. I was a high school athlete in Long Island, New York. I grew up in Smithtown, New York, a Jewish-Italian family, a lot of food, a lot of guilt, a lot of wine, a lot of whining, but a big emphasis on sports and athletics.
I just loved playing sports. I played football. I played lacrosse. I played basketball. I was a point guard for my basketball team junior year. Senior year I said “am I going to play basketball in college” and the answer was “no” so it was either football or lacrosse. I was recruited for football mostly but I wanted to get better at lacrosse. I decided I was just going to practice all winter on lacrosse with a desire to play in college.
Then somehow Richie Moran, the Cornell lacrosse coach, the legendary coach at Cornell, he had read about me as a football player. I had a big game one year and he read about me and wound up calling my coaching asking if I was a lacrosse player too and the coach said I was. He liked athletes so he recruited me to Cornell which was just an incredible honor and experience. I look back and I’m like “how did I end up at Cornell, there is no way I should have been there.” I think it was definitely fate. That experience as a student athlete would definitely change my life and lead years later to now doing the work that I do speaking with a lot of sports teams, a lot of businesses, and a lot of professional and college teams. So that experience of being an athlete has always been in the back of my mind and it’s just part of who I am as a person.
When I started writing I wasn’t an overnight success. The Energy Bus was rejected by over 30 publishers. I had a lot of ups and downs. I had a lot of rejection. I had a lot of failure. But it was really that grit that I learned in sports of just continuing to work hard, continue to share the message, continue to get out there every day and do the work and make a difference that ultimately led me to being here with you right now.
Cain: That is awesome. Jon, your experience as an athlete at Cornell and playing lacrosse there, one of your more recent books, The Hard Hat, is a story about a Cornell lacrosse player. Could you talk just a little bit about maybe some of the motivation behind that book? It’s a little bit different than some of the other stories that you’ve written.
Gordon: It is. This is a true story. In 2007 I was watching Cornell lacrosse play Duke. It was the semifinals I believe. During that game Cornell was down by like 10 goals and they stormed back. They played with such passion and relentless, fierce determination like I have never seen before. I was blown away. I said “what is up with this team, there is something about this team.” They would wind up losing that game but the way they came back just stuck in my mind.
I went to visit the head coach, Jeff Tambroni, and I just asked him “what is this all about.” He told me about the hard hat and he told me about George Boiardi. George Boiardi played for Cornell lacrosse in 2004 as a senior. He played 11 years after I did; same position, defensive midfielder. In 2004, as a senior, he jumped in front of a shot and got hit in the chest and died on the field. He was the most passionate, hard working, loyal, selfless teammate that I believe ever existed. The stories that his teammates tell about him were incredible.
I had known about George from that time on. I would go to his fundraising dinner that they would have for his foundation in New York City. I went a couple times. I even spoke at it one year. I got a chance to meet his parents. I just felt like I was meant to write about him and tell his story. I wanted to tell his story and share the kind of teammate he was and the impact that he had on his teammates and that program. 11 years later his teammates still talk about how he impacts their lives to this day. They think about him every day. They ask themselves are they being a good person, are they being a good leader, are they being like George. They literally live their lives that way. George would come to define the Cornell lacrosse program. Ever since his death they have embodied his characteristics and become a powerhouse as a result. So I wanted to tell that story, the impact he had.
Speaking to so many schools and sports teams I wanted to be able to share how you could be a great teammate as well. So I translated George’s life and his lessons into 21 ways to be a great teammate that could then help other people be a great teammate as well.
The response to that book has just been incredible and I just felt honored to write it. All the proceeds go to his foundation. It’s interesting, Brian; as I was writing that book I knew I couldn’t profit from his life. He sacrificed his life for his team. He was so selfless. How could I not be selfless? So I decided as I’m writing it “I can’t make money from this” and I decided to donate the proceeds to his foundation. So it was amazing writing that book. This 22 year old who died in 2004 made me a better teammate and a better person.
Cain: It’s an amazing story. I love the selfless act of you doing that to help his foundation and help his legacy live on forever. In The Hard Hat it’s a true story. Some of your other books (The Energy Bus, The Carpenter, Training Camp) those other books are fictional stories. Could you talk a little bit about your passion for writing those storybooks and why you chose to go down that path versus maybe writing books that were not story-based?
Gordon: Well my first two books that I wrote were more “how to” books. I know you talk about The Energy Addict sometimes. I don’t really talk about those books because that is not really what I am about. I really am about these fables because I realized – when I first wrote The Energy Bus – that that is a great way to share a message. That is a great way to empower others and to share a story with them that as they read it it becomes their story. We learn best through parables.
But to be honest it wasn’t my idea. I just had the idea for the story one day. Spiritually God gave me this story. I wrote it in 3 ½ weeks, Brian. I had never written a fable before but I just sat down and I just started writing it. It was wild. It came out. It was rejected by all these publishers. Finally it got published by John Wiley & Sons. Bookstores wouldn’t even carry it. Then after a 28 city tour by me slowly but surely this book is getting out there, and now it’s had almost a million copies in sales. I’m not saying that in a bragging way. I’m saying that because it’s been an incredible miraculous journey that I know really is beyond me.
Every fable I’ve written the idea comes to me, I get a vision for the story, I get a framework, and then I sit down and start writing it and literally the story starts to write itself. The lessons appear. When I wrote Training Camp I didn’t have the 11 ways to be a great teammate. Those just came to me as I was writing the story. They unfolded as I wrote it. The Energy Bus, I didn’t have all 10 rules. Those unfolded as I wrote the book. Literally these ideas just came about as I was writing. I may have had 2-3 for each one of these books.
The Carpenter was initially about love but then love, serving, care came to me and *boom* I had the framework for the story with that. As I’m writing I’m thinking “well you also have to be a craftsman instead of a carpenter, you have to make your work a work of art, it’s about being a craftsman, putting your heart and soul and passion into it.” So that became a bit part of the book. Then belief became a big part of it about you have to believe in what you are building. You have to design your masterpiece as a craftsman. So that unfolded as I wrote that book as well.
To me it has been about a journey. As I sit down and write the ideas just come. I walk and pray every day, I get back, I get more ideas, and I just start writing the book. Every book I’ve written takes about 3 ½ weeks to write so you know I can’t take credit. I am not that smart. Often when people meet me they say “hey do you have a ghostwriter, Jon.” I must not look smart enough to write a book. It happens all the time. But I say “no I have a holy ghost writer, that is who writes the books for me.”
Cain: I love it. And you’ve got that Ivy League education.
Gordon: That had nothing to do with it. I majored in lacrosse, let’s put it that way.
Cain: I love it. Jon, as you’re talking about the 10 rules for the ride of your life and 11 ways to be a great teammate with Training Camp or the 21 ways to be a great teammate with The Hard Hat it seems like all of your books now have a really, really simple and powerful framework for people to follow. When did you come across that gem to say that you want to write that way?
Gordon: People often say to me “it’s amazing how you are like a genius, you take these complex ideas and make them simple.” I say “no I’m really not smart, I’m just simple.” I just think that way. That is how I think. My brain doesn’t work complicated. It actually works simple. So to be honest I just write how I like to learn and how I do learn so I’m pretty simple and I keep things simple and that’s just how I do it.
Cain: One of the most simple ones I think you’ve ever written – and actually it might be the shortest one and it may be the one that I see – as I’ve traveled around the country about 280 days a year on the road working in sports psychology, I would say, Jon, that every single coach’s office that I go into (no doubt), every school I go into, I see a copy of one of your books. It’s unbelievable.
The one that I think I see the most besides The Energy Bus is probably The One Word. When I read The One Word I used that in my life. My One Word focus right now is the word “no.” I’ve got to learn to say “no” because every time you’re saying “yes” to something you are saying “no” to something else – which has usually been my family. Where did the genius for the book The One Word come from and could you talk a little bit about how the listeners to this could apply a One Word in their life?
Gordon: Sure. Well One Word came actually not from my idea but came from Dan Britton and Jimmy Page. They have been doing One Word for over 17 years together. Every year they would come up with a word, share it with each other, and then do it with their families where each member of their family would come up with their word. Then they would make a painting of their words and put it in their kitchen or the living room as a reminder to live their words for the year.
So they told me this a few years ago. I started doing it with my family and loved it. I started sharing it with businesses and sports teams. When they saw how powerful it was they decided they want to do a book. They said “hey you want to write the foreword for it, Jon” and I said “I’d love to.” They said “actually we want you to write the book with us.” I said “no I’ll just write the forward.” They said “no, we want you to write with us.” I said “no it’s your idea you guys go for it and I’ll just support it, I’ll help get it out there.” But they were like “no, Jon, we want you to work with us.” They are such great guys so we decided to work together. It was the first time I collaborated with other people on a book.
They were such amazing guys who had no ego and we all went into it saying “let’s just make this book be as simple and as powerful as it can be and let’s just put it together.” They edited some of my stuff and took some stuff out and I took some of their stuff out and we just really made a book that was so simple but a great idea. Just living that year with a word that drives you to be your best. There is a word that is meant for you and if you are open to it it will find you. When it does you’ll be like “alright, that is my word.” Like your word is “no.”
My word is “rise” this year. I am going to rise to a new level of health and well being. I am not feeling well right now as you can tell from the voice. But all year I was so healthy, I was so strong, and only now did I get sick. It’s crazy. But I’ve been strong with that word making all the difference. Other years it was “serve,” another year it was “pray,” another year it was “purpose,” another year it was “surrender.” So you remember your words and they mold you and shape you to be who you are meant to be.
Cain: And you set that word for one year? Or does it change on a quarterly or half-year basis? When does your word change, Jon?
Gordon: Every year. You pick that word for the year. A great time to do it is as we’re approaching New Year’s. In December pick your word. You’ll know what it is. Give it time. Sometimes my word doesn’t come until New Year’s Eve. But when it comes you are like “alright that is my word for the year” and you live that word for the year. The whole year. If it doesn’t go well or you don’t do well with it – if it’s “commitment” and you are not really as committed as you need to be it’s not like at the end of the year you say “okay I’ve got to do it again.” No. You then pick a new word for the next year.
It’s not about failing. It’s about becoming. It’s not about succeeding with your word. It’s about being molded and shaped into who you are meant to be that year. Every year a new word will come to you based on what is meant for you this year, what you need to focus on, or perhaps what is in the way. In that book we just take you through a three step simple process on finding and living your word for the year. Again, every year you pick a new word.
Cain: It’s not about failing. It’s becoming. I love that. Love that. Let’s take that concept that you just shared – that it’s not about failing, it’s becoming – and let’s tie that back to the SMU football program. Right now as we are doing this call they are sitting at 1-9 with two games left to go. But that is not a 1-9 culture. It’s not a 1-9 football team and staff. They are much better than that. They just haven’t seen the fruits of their labor yet, which they are going to turn the corner here soon I believe.
When you came in to talk with them – as I know you speak with countless numbers of football teams and athletic programs around the country – you had them talk about a One Word focus and one person in their life. Could you talk a little about those two concepts and why they are so critical for athletic teams?
Gordon: First off you’ve done incredible work with them and I know that you had an amazing impact. I know that their culture is so strong and a lot of it is things you helped them with. Chad Morris is doing an incredible job. It’s a great example of your win-loss record does not define you in this world. We think it does. But you watch this culture. This team is going to get stronger and stronger and next year they are going to be much better.
They’ve been in almost every game they’ve played and you just see in the second half how they seem to not be able to withstand the other team. What happens (I think) is they have so little depth because of the years of struggle they’ve had in the past that now with all these new recruits coming in, with the culture, you watch. Next year they are going to be better. The year after that they are going to be better. I think by year three-year four if they stay with it they’re going to be a powerhouse program with the recruits that they are getting. They are just going to need more depth. That’s all. The first half they are with every team they play. Am I right?
Cain: No doubt. They’ve been in every game even late except for the Navy game.
Gordon: Right. So they’re battling, they’re fighting. Again the win-loss record doesn’t always show the effort or the culture. But if you stick to the culture eventually you will see the fruit of your labor and definitely of your effort. No doubt about it.
Cain: So when you came and spoke to them there were two activities that you had them do around their One Word and around their one person. Coach Morris puts up an easel. I don’t know if you knew this but he puts up an easel in the locker room before every game that has a poster of the SMU pony. One of the ponies has all their One Words in it and the other pony has all of their one picture of their person in there. I don’t know if you knew that but that is something that they talk about every day. The seniors get up and talk about their one person on Friday night before they play. It’s been a really powerful experience that they’ve been able to build off of just that one day of you being in there and talking to them for that day.
Gordon: What’s your word, what is going to drive you to be your best, to focus on your work for that game, and then who are you playing for. You are playing for a bigger purpose knowing that you are playing for others besides yourself. That one person is your driving force to want to play for that person, to be your best for that person. It’s not just about you. It’s about we. It’s about us. It’s about our family.
Cain: That is awesome. I love it. Jon, if we could I’d like to maybe shift away from some of the books and shift really into you and what do you think makes you so successful? Are there any routines or things that are a part of your life? You mentioned walking and praying every day. Are there any routines that you hold that you feel like are a critical part of the success that you’ve had?
Gordon: I think one of the most important things that I’ve done over the years is to take a walk of gratitude. While I’m walking I just say what I’m thankful for. I’ve done this now for about 13 years and it’s been a powerful exercise to really just focus on what I am thankful for in my life, to appreciate my life, and to feel blessed instead of stressed. The research shows you can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time. I think that has been really important.
I also believe what has made me successful is that I do first things first. I focus on priorities. My wife says when I am ready to do something I have a really incredible zoom focus and I just get it done. Then I’ll do other things. Distractions are the enemy of greatness. I find that if I allow distractions to get to me I am not as productive and I don’t do what is meaningful. C.S. Lewis said “when you do first things first, second things” — actually they don’t decrease they expand. So when you do first things first the other things grow in your life. It’s about focusing on your priorities. I think that is a big part of it.
Finally, I can’t escape without saying my faith. I really believe my faith is who I am. It has made me who I am today. It continues to help me become who I am and to grow as a person to want to make a difference in the lives of others. My faith is about loving other people, not judging others. My faith is about living with optimism, belief for the future. It’s about bringing out the best in others. My faith is about not focusing on where I am but focusing on where I am going. It’s about making sure that I become all that I’m meant to be to help others become all that they’re meant to be.
Cain: That faith that you hold, Jon, is that something you got into when you were real young? Or was that something you caught on to after college? When did all that begin?
Gordon: That was later on in life. That was after years of struggling and being negative and miserable in my late 20s/early 30s. My wife came up to me and she is like “I love you but you are always so miserable, you are unhappy, you are always making me miserable, I love you but I am not going to spend that life with someone who is making me so miserable.” That was a huge wake up call. I remember just saying “alright God why am I so miserable, why am I here, I know I’m here for a reason.” That began the spiritual journey that I’ve been on. Writing and speaking came to me during that time and it continues to influence everything that I do to this day. It was a huge wake up call for me. A lot of struggle and a lot of adversity. But I look back and I see how that faith carried me.
Cain: Jon, a lot of the people listening to this podcast are going to be college coaches that are on the road a ton recruiting, away from home, away from their families – which I imagine you are on the road probably close to as many days a year as you want to be. What is your road schedule like and how do you keep yourself and your health sharp and keep your relationship with your family sharp while you are traveling so much?
Gordon: I don’t travel as much as you – thank god – but I do travel quite a bit. I travel a lot. It makes it hard. It’s difficult. Coaches recruiting and being on the road a lot is really difficult. For me I keep it simple. I read on the planes. I’ll do social media when I’m on the road. I keep in touch with my family via FaceTime. I love that application. It’s awesome. We do a lot of FaceTiming with my wife and with my daughter and son. My son is actually at IMG. My son is at a tennis academy there so I am always FaceTiming with him anyway.
It’s about when I come home to make sure that I am engaged with the family when I come home. To make time for them and with them. When I’m on the road it’s about doing the work I’m meant to do on the road. I believe if you are wishing you are at home when you are on the road and when you are at home you are feeling guilty you are not on the road that is a double dose of guilt which equals a double dose of misery. For me it’s about being engaged with where you are, knowing that you are living with passion and purpose. For me it’s about making sure I get enough sleep. I don’t drink so that makes it easy to stay healthy on the road.
I’ve stayed healthy all year until this point. On my last trip I got home from Chicago and then *bam* I got sick. Other than that I stayed healthy and strong by eating healthy. I don’t eat a lot of airport food. I have a lot of food allergies so that make it harder to do so. I drink a lot of water. I exercise on the road as much as I can. I do a lot of pushups, crunches, sit ups, walking or running when I can. That is important. And making sure that I do a lot of vitamin C and a lot of vitamin B and some great supplements.
Cain: Awesome. Jon, which book do you gift the most (other than any of your own) to other people that are friends of yours or people that you want give the gift of a book that is something that you’ve read that has had a positive impact in your life? What is the book that you gift the most?
Gordon: I only give my books, Brian. No, I’m just kidding. I love The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. That is an awesome book. I’ll give that book out. Then the new one that I’m gifting is Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. It is so powerful. It is amazing. The word “psyche” actually means “soul.” The psyche means soul. The original study of psychology was actually meant to be about the soul, not about our behavior. It’s meant to be about the soul. That book is incredible. A person who has a healthy soul will perform at a higher level and be all that they’re meant to be.
We deal with athletes and I give a talk on the four stages of greatness. Every person, every soul, is on a journey. Every soul has wounds in it. If you know an athlete who has wounds those wounds play out in their lives. An athlete needs to heal their soul and their wound to be their best. I believe that is a big part of coaching is to help your players heal to be all that they’re meant to be. Everyone come to your program and to your school with challenges and issues. I believe the future of coaching is healing. Soul Keeping is a great read for coaches to understand the soul, how it works, how it needs to be nurtured, and what the soul needs.
Cain: The Circle Maker, the author of that is?
Gordon: It’s Mark Batterson.
Cain: And Soul Keeping, the author is?
Gordon: John Ortberg.
Cain: Thank you. Fabulous. A lot of your books are all about growth. Who are the people that you really follow? I follow you. Who are the people that you follow to help you to continue to grow and sharpen your axe?
Gordon: Ken Blanchard, the author of The One Minute Manager, has always been someone who has inspired me. Erwin McManus, who is a pastor out of L.A., a church called “Mosaic.” It’s a very hip church in L.A. It’s all with athletes and artists and actors in it. It’s a very modern kind of church. It’s all about faith and love and hope. Erwin is one of the best speakers on the planet. He has had a huge impact on my life. Erwin McManus. Everyone should listen to some of his talks. He is the most powerful speaker I have ever heard.
Cain: Wow. Awesome. Jon, thank you so much for all that. Last question. If you could remove the skull cap of everybody listening to this podcast – coach, athlete, parent, athletic director, corporate warrior – if you could remove their skull cap and plant one seed (maybe it’s your book The Seed) in their mind that would take over, germinate, and grow, what would that one seed be?
Gordon: So many. What just came to me is that you don’t get burned out because of what you do. You get burned out because you forget why you do it. As a coach, as a leader, as an athlete, remember your why. Why are you playing? Why do you do what you do? We don’t create our world from the outside in. Circumstances do not define you. We always create our worlds from the inside out. That inside is your purpose, it’s your passion, it’s who you are and why you do it. You do it when you live from that purpose, from that core. That is the ultimate core. It’s not your ab muscles. It’s your purpose and spirit and why. When you live from that you will be a more powerful coach, you will be a difference maker, and you will be a legacy leaver that will leave a legacy in the lives of others.
Cain: The ultimate core. It’s not your abs. It’s your reason why. Love that.
Gordon: That just came to me. I’ve never said that.
Cain: It’s genius. I love it. If you would, Jon, what is your reason why? Why do you do what you do?
Gordon: To inspire, empower, and encourage as many people as possible, one person at a time. I know that my purpose is to help other people live theirs. I know that positivity and helping people be more positive and overcome the negative is my life’s calling. I don’t know why, I just know that that is what I am here to do and my job is just to live that purpose every day.
Cain: Awesome. Jon, unbelievable. I think I have taken more notes in this podcast probably than any other one I’ve done – and I take a lot of notes. Really good stuff man. I appreciate you. For our listeners to follow you, to pick up all of you great books, is there a handle on Twitter that they can follow and then a website that they can go to?
Gordon: @JonGordon11 is the Twitter address. The website is JonGordon.com. Tons of resources online and on Twitter.
Cain: Awesome. For the listeners, make sure that you go to JonGordon.com and sign up for Jon’s newsletter. I believe it comes out every Monday, correct?
Gordon: Every Monday I write a weekly positive tip. I’ve been doing it since 2002 now. Every week writing a positive tip. I initially started just to share information. My mother, my brother, my best friend from college got it initially. They were getting it whether they liked it or not. I’ve just stayed the course every week over the years. It has been a great journey. The best thing I’ve ever done – to be honest – is that newsletter.
Cain: Wow. Why would you say that is the best thing you’ve ever done?
Gordon: Because it was from there that I started writing it and started sharing it where people started to follow me. This was before blogs. People started to share that newsletter with others. Then I’d get calls when I was just beginning as a speaker. People would bring me in to speak from the newsletter they read and coaches started reading it, started sharing it, business people started reading it, school districts started sharing it. Here I was just writing it to write it to share but then it lead me to do all this great stuff. Initially the desire was just to share positive impact. I’ve never done advertising with it. I’ve never sold advertising. It was always about just providing value. I look back and it was just the best thing I’ve ever done because it’s like that value has come back tenfold.
People always call me and say “hey I want to build my business, I want to be a writer, I want to be a speaker.” I’m like “alright then provide value.” Everyone wants to be a big time name. No. Start by providing value where you are. Make a difference. That newsletter for me has been that. I’ve always written it. No one else ever writes it. I do it every week. It has to be part of your why, who you are. You asked earlier a big reason for my success; that would be one of the reasons. The best thing I’ve ever done and I still love doing it.
Cain: Awesome. Provide value where you are. I was going to ask for the advice for the young aspiring authors and speakers that are out there, your advice. You said provide value where you are. Any other advice that you would give to Jon Gordon when he was 30 years old trying to crack in and be a bestselling author and speaker who can have a positive impact on others?
Gordon: Definitely. I did a free webinar. People can go online and just Google “everything I know about getting published, Jon Gordon.” I did a one hour free webinar. Anyone can listen to it. It’s about everything I know and it’s advice for writers and speakers. I get asked to lunch or dinner a couple of times a week. “Hey I just want to pick your brain about writing and speaking.” I obviously can’t do that. So I said let me do this for all the people who want to pick my brain and have it right there. It’s everything I would tell them if we went to dinner or had lunch.
The key is to provide value where you are and – it’s what I wrote in The Carpenter – to love, serve, and care. If you focus on loving what you do you’re there to serve people and you care more. You care about your work. You care about your customers. You care about your players. You care about the people you want to impact. If you do those three things your business will exponentially grow. Not all at once but over time. Just do great work. Just make a difference where you are.
I spoke to audiences of 5 people, 10 people, 20 people, 30 people for years. I went on this book tour and there were 5 people in one city and 10 people in another. The most people we had were 100 people in Des Moines, Iowa, because they thought Jeff Gordon was coming. That is why they showed up. I’m not kidding. That is true. So I’ve been on that journey. But it made me who I am because it became about just making a difference. I remember telling myself “just impact the people in this room and that is all you can do.”
I see that with you, Brian. I remember you started years ago doing these workshops and now you are doing these big events. Now you are having a global impact. You are reaching more and more people. You see people’s path and you can see how that grows. Start by serving where you are. When you serve in small ways you get more opportunities to serve in bigger ways. That is from The Seed.
Cain: Got it. When you serve in small ways you get more opportunities to serve in bigger ways.
Gordon: You don’t focus on the harvest. You just plant yourself every day – like a seed – where you are. The seed surrenders to the ground so that it can grow to be all that it’s meant to be. You just plant yourself where you are. Decide to serve and make a difference. When you do that you will grow into the leader that you are meant to be. Your job is just to plant yourself every day. Too many people want success now. They want to be an overnight success. That is why in The Carpenter I wrote about being a craftsman and about the 10 years that it takes to become an overnight success. Just do the work every day, show up, get better, improve, put your heart and soul into it, and over time people will want to work with you.
Cain: Awesome. Jon, I could sit here and interview you all day my friend. I know you are busy and have a lot of things to do so I really appreciate you taking time. I’d love to get you back on here when you come out with another book and maybe even just have that become part of a routine where you talk about the next book that is coming out. I know with our listeners they are going to be big fans of yours and go out and invest in the Jon Gordon library and pick up all of your books because they make such a positive impact on the leaders that are listening to this podcast.
Gordon: Thanks Brian. It was an honor to be with you and I think the world of you.
Cain: Thank you very much. I appreciate you.