We all want to discover our life purposes especially when we think we’re in a rut. We search for ways to turn negativity around and gain the inspiration and positivity we need to keep going with our lives. Join Rich Redmond and Jon Gordon as they delve into encouragement, motivation, and unleashing the best possible version of ourselves. Jon is an author of bestselling books and his talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. He shares his personal experience and how he found purpose through being a writer and a keynote speaker. He also explains nuggets for success that we could apply as leaders and entrepreneurs.
Usually, I’m joined by my co-host, cohort, sidekick, longtime friend, Jim McCarthy. JimMcCarthyVoiceovers.com. Our guest is so busy. I was so excited to get twenty minutes of his time to pick his brain. Our guest is an internationally acclaimed speaker and author specializing in the topics of leadership, culture, sales and teamwork. He’s worked with everyone. Big sports teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres, Fortune 500 companies like Campbell Soup, Wells Fargo, Southwest Airlines and so prolific as an author. I’m so excited to get into this conversation with my new friend, Jon Gordon. How are you?
I’m doing great, Rich. Great to see you. I appreciate you having me on here.
Thank you so much. Am I right in saying you split your time between the East and West Coast? Are you in Florida?
We live in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, near Jacksonville and then we have a place in Santa Monica. We go out there every couple of months. We’ll spend a couple of weeks there. With the lockdowns, we’re more in Florida now.
I was in Florida for the holidays. My folks are in Port Charlotte. It’s his own place. It’s special. I know why everyone retires there. It’s that vitamin D every day.
Great sunlight in LA too, but now you’re able to go outside, eat at restaurants, to live a little bit more freely. Everyone’s still wearing a mask inside and things like that but for some reason, Florida’s approaching things a little differently. Honestly, I’ve been around a lot of people here and people seem to be happy. They’re healthy. No one is getting sick. It’s been nice to be here.
You have your suntan lines on your face from your shades.
I walk every day. I take a thank you walk in the morning. I walk, I practice gratitude and say what I’m thankful for. That gives you a double dose of positive energy. You flood your brain and body with these positive emotions that uplift you rather than the stress hormones that solely drain you. Doing that every day gives me a great boost in the morning.
Learn from great teachers, and be the best you could be.
I have a similar ritual. I do my gratitude list in the shower. There’s something very meditative about the water dripping on you. You’re alone and you can commune and say what you’re thankful for. When I do the gratitude list every day, it gets that day off to an amazing start.
A thank you shower. I like that.
They say that you’re supposed to take cold showers. It’s good for so many parts of your immune system and all that, I’m a hot shower guy. I have here on the Wiki, I don’t know if this is correct but you studied Human Ecology at Cornell. These are some great institutions, Cornell and Emory.
Cornell University, I have a degree in Policy Analysis Government Economics as part of the Human Ecology school at Cornell. Cornell had a number of different schools that you applied to. It was the state-funded part of Cornell. My tuition was cheaper. I never had a lot of money, my parents were not wealthy. The lacrosse coach was able to get me into the school of Human Ecology, which made the tuition a lot cheaper because I had a scholarship offer from another college for football.
I went to Cornell, played lacrosse there, I had a great experience. I majored in Lacrosse, I like to say being a Cornell. An incredible experience and then I went to Emory and got my Master’s in Teaching and I taught school for a year. After that, I went on to go into the bar business. When I speak to educators, I said, “I taught for a year and then I opened up a bar.” They always laugh at that because I’m like, “Teaching drove me to the bar business.”
That’s funny because we have a similar background. I have my Master’s in Teaching and Education. When I moved to Nashville, I was a K through 3 substitute teacher. I would play in the clubs until 3:00 in the morning and at 7:00, I had a pair of chinos on in my briefcase and I was teaching kindergartners. I learned a lot about myself. It was a cool day job. I didn’t have to be swinging a hammer out in the hot sun. It was one more step towards my ultimate purpose, which is to affect people in a positive way and change lives through music.
I know that you do that on a daily basis. You have your Master’s. You experiment with the bar business, when does the whole motivation, Law of Attraction, positivity speaking, authoring game happened? What was the moment there? Was there a light bulb? Were you always a fan of Zig Ziglar’s and Napoleon Hill’s? How did it start?
It was inspired by writers like Ken Blanchard inspired me, Og Mandino and The Greatest Salesman did. My mom gave me that book when I graduated college. I was always inspired by people like that. What happened was I went to go work for dot-com. Eighty thousand shares, I thought I was going to make my gazillions, ratings were looking great, and then the dot-com bubble crashed. When it crashed, I was like, “What am I going to do?” We had moved to Jacksonville because my wife wanted to live near the water. The place was based out of Atlanta our headquarters but they allowed me to go live in Jacksonville and work from home.
I was doing that, working for dot-com, I had sold my restaurants. I had gotten involved in a bar and in some restaurants in Atlanta. Sold those back to my partners and then moved down to Jacksonville. I have this job, I have some of the money from when I sold the restaurants and the dot-com crashed. Scary time. How am I going to pay the bills? We got a nice house, a mortgage, two small children and my life is falling apart. My wife had in to my negativity. I had become negative. She said, “I love you but I’m not going to spend my life with someone who makes me so miserable. You need to change.” I hadn’t changed. I had gotten very negative and I was not a good person to be around.
Right then and there, I said, “What am I born to do? Why am I here? What is my purpose?” It was a very prayerful moment on my knees weeping like Jerry Maguire moment. “Help me, God. Help me, help you.” Writing and speaking came to me at that moment. I realized I wanted to inspire people the way I was inspired in the past. For some reason, I thought, “I’m going to do this.” I didn’t know I would write fables, 23 books, and that I would go on to speak about all the work I’ve done, all the organizations I’ve worked with.
We all have to overcome fear. It’s a battle. We all face with faith to ultimately create the future and the life that we want to live.
That’s what I knew at that moment, “I’m going to go do this.” I literally said, “I’m going to start.” That’s what I did. I started a newsletter. We had five subscribers. My mother, my brother, my best friend from college. I started this weekly positive tip that I would send out. Gradually, that list grew and grew as more and more people start to read and share it. This was way back before blogs. This was 2002.
It’s been many years from starting a pre-blog, a newsletter, sending out helpful tips to people. I’ve got to congratulate you. It’s the power, what you can accomplish with a vision, focus and determination. A laser focus and not stopping. It’s a long time when you think about what you’ve accomplished. If everyone would check out JonGordon.com, I went and checked it out. It is the most concise, well-planned out, methodically put-together website. I love the fact that for the fellow speakers or creatives that are reading out there, if you want to hire Jon, it’s so easy. Download the brochure, call this number, download this. Here are pictures of Jon. Here are all the testimonials. Do you want videos? It’s fantastic. Congratulations.
I appreciate it, Rich. That means a lot. We’re going to do a new website coming up. We incorporate the same efficiency with that. It’s something that we want to. We would try to make it simple. I have a podcast now, Positive University, which I had you on.
I love the fact that you had me right after McConaughey. It was really big bragging. I was like, “This is a cool podcast. I’m on after McConaughey.”
We needed two good-looking guys in a row. We got to go one step up after him. He can’t go down, we had to go up. We brought you on. We do that and I do a lot of leadership training and we have a lot of consultants and trainers now that work with me to do this work. I’m focused a lot on the area of positive leadership and how do we develop great leaders who then could build strong teams. I work with the Rams, the Dodgers and the Miami Heat. I work with the Seattle Seahawks. I got a chance to speak to them, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I get to work with all these incredible sports teams who learn from all these great leaders and then I also get to work with a lot of companies and school districts. I love education. You and I being former teachers, I get to go back into the schools where I started and then they get impact at the cultural level, the leadership level to make these schools better, more positive so that they could better lead these kids and help these kids become all that they’re meant to be.
My approach has been like I’m the power hour guy. Come in and hopefully, I can affect change and inspire people in that one hour. It’s very exciting and I’m curious about if you go to speak that first time for say the Rams and then you have to go back time and time again, what your systems and processes are, your methodologies to keep inspiring those people and giving them new stuff that’s very impressive?
The Rams are some of the other teams. It is just to talk like you do. You go in, you inspire and you encourage but then you have the power of positive leadership or the power of a positive team. These books I wrote about what makes a great team great, a great leader great and also The Energy Bus and these other books, which then the coaches have the players feed. When they’re reading a book, they start to embody the principles. They start to live them. That’s where you see change. With a talk, you can inspire, you can encourage, you can create a shift. Some people do shift from a talk but a lot of people, it’s the habits that need to change. It’s the implementation that needs to happen.
That’s why I’ve moved my work in that direction where I’m still the guy to come in and to speak but now I have a team that goes in and does workshops after. They do follow-up training after, where we could create more change within the organization and teams. For me, I just love to go in like you do my talk and then the books are great reinforcements. We also have videos that they use but I find if the coach embodies these principles, then the coach can implement, bring them to light and reinforce them. If a coach is reinforcing them, you see a successful season. If the coach doesn’t, it doesn’t happen. It always comes down to the leader. If the leader is not driving the bus, the bus doesn’t move.
A lot of your talks and your books deal with the ideas of living your life with a vision, drive, focus, purpose, and approaching your life with joy, happiness, enthusiasm, gratitude, passion and excitement. I downloaded The Energy Bus. I love that you can get your books in all forms. Have you ever done the Audible books where you read them or something?
They’re on Audible. I’ve read every one except The Seed. That was my 5th or 6th book and then I got some complaints that I didn’t read them. I didn’t read that one. I had to start reading everyone after that. The funny thing is I don’t really love my voice but for some reason, people want the author to read the book. I’ve read all the books. I don’t know about you but I know you’ve read a book and the audio part of it is not my favorite part to have to go in and read the book. It takes about 8, 9 hours to produce an audiobook and you’re in that studio a long time reading it. A lot of people more and more are doing the audio versions of the books, I’m finding out.
It’s a great thing because people are multitasking these days and they’re on the way. They used to be on the way to the gym and you could learn and grow. I love the podcast, I love continuing education but what I love about these books is The Energy Bus, a lot of these books are highly motivational. There are positive educational takeaways that you can apply to your life but it’s like Aesop’s Fables. It’s in a fictionalized form, which is very brave and is inspiring for me because I’ve read so much fiction as a young man. I was into dragons and monsters and sci-fi. Then when I got into personal development, I started going all nonfiction. I love that angle.
What I learned from The Energy Bus, and this is one of the subjects of your talks and the speakers that you have that you will send out, that they can speak about the concepts in The Energy Bus. You have ten rules. These are some of them. You’re the driver of your bus, desire, vision, focus, move your bus, fueling the ride with positive energy, inviting people on the bus to share your vision and the list goes on. It was such an easy read. I enjoyed it. Was that early on for you, The Energy Bus? What was the first book?
Energy Bus was my first book. It took five years to be the bestseller. It was rejected by over 30 publishers. To this day, it’s my most popular book. I hit the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. We’re talking many years later now. Pretty wild that a book like that would be that old and yet still be relevant to this day. My favorite part is where you have to feed the positive, fuel the ride with positive energy because if you don’t have it, you can’t share it. Every day, the concept is you got to feed yourself with positivity so that you can feed others. The more you do that, the more positivity will grow. We have so much negativity and adversity. How do we overcome all the negativity and all the challenges out there?
This is not about Pollyanna’s positive. This is not about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. This is knowing that you have the power to overcome the thorns. It’s not about ignoring reality, this is not about toxic positivity, where you ignore it. You see the adversity, you see the challenge, but you maintain optimism, faith, and belief to create a better reality in the future. To me, that’s what The Energy Bus is all about. Giving hope, purpose and vision but ultimately, it’s about this guy who was miserable and negative.
Based on me from years ago and how he had to overcome and become more positive to get his team on the bus and moving in the right direction with a shared vision, focus and purpose. How does he lead his team with optimism and belief? It’s funny because that book is the basis for my work with The Power of Positive Leadership and The Power of a Positive Team. I took the general principles and then started to provide a lot of applications on how do we lead? What does it look like to create the vision and to ignite your team towards that vision?
I love that the bus driver’s name was Joy. She reminds me of Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life. She was like an angel on Earth.
It’s our habits that need to change.
People say that often. She is full of energy, full of life but very real. She’s the mother of Martin in my book Training Camp. All my fables are connected through a character. Each book connects to another character in their book. People don’t know that but in all my fables, for some reason, I decided to start doing that. It’s a lot of fun. Martin in Training Camp, which is my favorite book I’ve written. It’s about an undrafted rookie trying to make it in the NFL. He gets injured and then a special coach, Coach Ken takes him under his wing and starts teaching them the winning habits that separate the best from the rest.
It’s about the same characteristics that a musician has, a football player, a doctor, an educator, a nurse, an engineer. The best of the best. All have the same and similar characteristics that help them rise to the top of their profession. I share those characteristics as Coach Ken teaches Martin to help him be his best. He also has to overcome fear along the way. We all have to overcome fear. It’s the battle we all face with faith to ultimately create the future and the life that we want to live. That’s my favorite book I’ve written. Joy is Martin’s mom from Training Camp. It’s pretty fun.
It’s like The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s all interconnected or something. That’s awesome. Now I’m hooked. I’ve read the one book and I’ve got 22 to go. Even on Amazon, you can get the Jon Gordon collection. I like that very much. I learned a lot from it and I’m super inspired. If you had to give five positive nuggets that someone who’s looking to start a business or make changes in their life or become more positive, what are five global takeaways that someone can use no matter what their age or career path?
The best advice I’ve ever heard by Dr. James Gills. The only person on the planet to complete six Double Ironman Triathlons. That’s a double iron man, which means you do an iron man a day later do another one. The last time he did it, he was 59 years old. He was asked how he did it and he said, “I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listening to myself.” Talk to yourself instead of listening.
He said, “If I listen, I hear all the fear, all the negativity and all the doubt but if I talk to myself, I get to feed myself with the words and the encouragement that I need to keep on moving forward.” We’re talking about here is talking to yourself with words of encouragement to listen to the negative voices. That would be one tip. The other tip from The Energy Bus is, “No energy vampires allowed.” Gandhi said, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” That’s another key tip because we’re always dealing with energy vampires. Another key is, “Don’t be negative about negativity.”
Sometimes, we see someone being negative and we become negative in response to that. We’re leading someone negative. As a leader, we wound up getting negative and dealing with the person who has negativity. We’re actually contributing to the problem, not helping it. We have to rise above it and call that person up to our level instead of coming down to their level. That’s another key.
Another big part of my work is about relationships and building winning teams. To build a great team, you have to have great relationships. How do you do that? Four simple Cs, Communicate, connect, Commit and Care. Communication, you begin the process of building trust. Connection, you get to know each other, you develop a bond. Commitment, you serve and sacrifice for that person. If they know you’re committed to them, guess what? You get commitment back. We before me, you don’t have to be great to serve but you have to serve to be great.
Finally, care. That’s the key to being great at anything you do. You care more. If you’re a musician, you care about your work. You can see who cares when they’re playing. I know you care. I know you can see it in others. You look at somebody like, “That guy cares.” That person wants to be a craftsman. A person does not show up to be a carpenter or craftsman, they’re here to create a masterpiece and there’s a difference in how they approach their work. What is it? They care more.
To me, that’s another key principle. Finally, I would say we don’t create a world from the outside in. We create it from the inside out. Grit is all driven by being inside out, positive leadership, inside out. Knowing who you are on the inside ultimately determines and creates what you experience on the outside. The more you lead that way from the inside out, circumstances do not define you. You define your circumstances.
When put into a pot of boiling hot water, the carrot gets weakened and the egg gets hardened but the coffee bean transforms the water. You want to be a coffee bean. You don’t want to be the egg and get bitter and angry. You don’t want to be the carrot and get soft and weakened by what’s going on. You want to be the coffee bean, which transforms the water into coffee. Instead of being impacted by its environment, it transforms its environment. That’s one of my main principles. I wrote a book, The Coffee Bean, with a guy named Damon West. That’s a big part of our leadership model as well to lead from the inside out.
Those are five massive global takeaways and anyone from any walk of life can apply them to their lives and see better results. I love the coffee thing. I see you speaking as a massive culinary institute. That’s the next thing.
They always ask, “Do you drink coffee?” I don’t even drink coffee.
Have you ever tried it?
I’ve tried it. I’m just not a coffee drinker. I find my energy elsewhere. I take that walk in the morning, I get energized. I’ve never drunk coffee. I do drink good turmeric and ginger tea, which is anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory. I’ll do that but I’m not big on coffee for some reason. My wife every morning, has to have her coffee.
I love to have that ritual in my life with the smell and you hear it percolating, and then it’s done and you’re excited. You get to do that thing every day. It’s just very ritualistic.
It must be good. Coffee drinkers are set on their ritual, their pattern and their love of coffee. I don’t want to disappoint anyone that I don’t like coffee. I think coffee drinkers are awesome. For some reason, it’s never been a part of my routine.
I can relate to all of this man. As a drummer, I’ve tried time and time again. You could totally experience this experiment, which is enthusiasm is contagious. If I go out there, I got a smile on my face. I’m sweating. I’m giving 150%, even if my band is having a bad day or the singer doesn’t want to sing, if I’m driving the bus, they’re going to come back, fuel up and get that energy they need. You could have an amazing show if I’m in the driver’s seat, positively leading. I could relate to all this.
I got to ask you. If they’re not energized, they’re not as into it and you’re having to drive it and give them energy at that point, do you get more tired of having to do that?
I love what I do so much that like, “If I got to go another 10% here and smile wider and sweat more, I’m going to do it.” I miss it so much. We haven’t played since March 13th 2020. I’m hoping that things will change and that people are ravenous for entertainment. Hopefully, we’re going to experience something. With your virtual speeches, do you enjoy those as much, or do you love the visceralness of seeing that person in the front row?
I do enjoy the virtual. I have enjoyed it but I also do miss the in-person events. I did one in Florida. A group of realtors got together nice to socially distance of them. They’re in the audience, I’m looking at people. I said, “Would you mind playing on your iPad and turn on Zoom so I can look at your faces through the iPads? That would make me feel more comfortable.” I’ve been doing so many virtual events, and now for the first time, I was in real life with people. I enjoyed it.
It was nice to see people interact. I do love the in-person but the virtuals have been great too because you can reach more people in a quicker amount of time. You’re not having to travel as much. I’ve had a lot of people say because you’re right there and they’re looking right at you, if you’re a good communicator, you can connect with people.
I get a nice response. I worked with a school district and spoke to all the teachers and they said, “Somehow, Jon was able to come right through the screen with his positive energy and I was able to feel connected to him by the way he presented.” I do enjoy it because I’m still able to connect with people doing this. However, I have to. I’ll do it.
That was my motto in March when COVID hit. I’m like, “I’m not going to be able to do this. I’ll still do this mission and encourage to inspire as many people as possible one person at a time. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow but I’m here to help people and I’m going to win this mission.” That became my focus. I did over 280 Zoom’s, podcast and virtual keynotes since March. At the end of the year, I thought, “I accomplished my mission.”
It was a perfect time to do a podcast. It felt like I was on someone’s podcast two times a day in 2020. It was great.
Didn’t you feel busier than ever this year?
Totally. There is something about that little green light on your Macintosh computer and you can pour your heart, your soul, your essence, your energy into that thing. It does work. It’s very direct. I’ll have to experience a Jon Gordon event in person or through the camera one day. Very inspiring. You’ve inspired me. I want to maybe write some fiction.
I think you should. That would be powerful. I know you’ve got one in you. No doubt.
Thank you so much for your time.
Thanks, Rich. I appreciate you and the great work that you do.
Thank you so much. Folks, check out JonGordon.com and go onto Amazon and buy all 23 of his books. He worked very hard on them and he’s got a ton of great life-impacting messages. For those folks out there that are enjoying the show, thank you. I’ve got an email address for you, TheRichRedmondShow@Gmail.com. Be sure to subscribe, share, rate and review. Keep coming back for the good stuff and we’ll see you next time. Thanks, Jon.
Thanks, Rich. I appreciate it.
Jon Gordon’s best-selling books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. His principles have been put to the test by numerous Fortune 500 companies, professional and college sports teams, school districts, hospitals, and non-profits. He is the author of 23 books including 10 best sellers and 5 children’s books. His books include the timeless classic The Energy Bus which has sold over 2 million copies, The Carpenter which was a top 5 business book of the year, Training Camp, The Power of Positive Leadership, The Power of a Positive Team, The Coffee Bean, Stay Positive, and The Garden. Jon and his tips have been featured on The Today Show, CNN, CNBC, The Golf Channel, Fox and Friends and in numerous magazines and newspapers. His clients include The Los Angeles Dodgers, Campbell’s Soup, Dell, Publix, Southwest Airlines, Miami Heat, The Los Angeles Rams, Snapchat, Truist Bank, Clemson Football, Northwestern Mutual, West Point Academy and more.
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