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“I looked in the mirror and made a decision to change for the better.” with author Jon Gordon and Chaya Weiner

My wife almost left me because I was so negative and miserable. She said ‘I love you, but I’m not going to spend my life with someone who makes me miserable.’ I was allowing the fear and stress of life and providing for a wife and two small children get the best of me. After […]


My wife almost left me because I was so negative and miserable. She said ‘I love you, but I’m not going to spend my life with someone who makes me miserable.’ I was allowing the fear and stress of life and providing for a wife and two small children get the best of me. After her ultimatum telling me I had to change, I looked in the mirror and made a decision to change for the better. I started to research ways I could be more positive, and that began this journey of doing things to be more positive and then writing and sharing what I learned.


Jon Gordon is a worldwide six-time bestselling author, keynote speaker and leadership expert whose powerful speaking skills have played key roles in fostering significant results for numerous Fortune 500 companies including Southwest Airlines, Campbell Soup, Publix Supermarkets, and West Point Academy; sports organizations such as the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Rams, Miami Heat, Atlanta Falcons, Clemson Football, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers; and school districts, hospitals and non-profits across the country. Gordon’s impactful speeches at annual leadership conferences for educators have resulted more than 150 schools across the country adapting programs based on his “Energy Bus” principles to create a positive school culture and develop future positive leaders. In his latest book, “The Power of a Positive Team,” Gordon shares the proven principles and practices that build great teams — and provides practical tools to help them overcome negativity and enhance their culture, communication, connection.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

My wife almost left me because I was so negative and miserable. She said ‘I love you, but I’m not going to spend my life with someone who makes me miserable.’ I was allowing the fear and stress of life and providing for a wife and two small children get the best of me. After her ultimatum telling me I had to change, I looked in the mirror and made a decision to change for the better. I started to research ways I could be more positive, and that began this journey of doing things to be more positive and then writing and sharing what I learned.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

It’s hard to share just one because I have had many. But I think the most interesting is the story of my journey and the fact that my first and most popular book, “The Energy Bus,” was rejected by more than 30 publishers, and my agent said I should give up or self publish. I knew I couldn’t give up because I had a vision to inspire and encourage as many people as possible one person at a time. So I kept hoping, dreaming, and praying. Thankfully, John Wiley & Sons called out of the blue and offered to publish the book. When the book came out it was a huge hit in South Korea, but not one book store in the United States would carry the book. I was big in Korea, but unknown in my own country. I went on a 28-city book tour paid for by myself to promote the book, and only about 5–20 people showed up at each event. The most we had were 100 people in Des Moines, Iowa. I kept sharing the message, and eventually book stores started to carry the book. It started to spread, and it became a best seller after about five years. It still frequently hits the WSJ best seller list, 12 years after it was first published. It has sold about two million copies so far worldwide and continues to spread. It’s been an unexpected journey and I’m very grateful.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was first starting out, I talked about the president of the company on stage but got his first name wrong. The audience yelled his real name to me and I was very embarrassed, but I used it as humor throughout the talk. I learned to really prepare for every talk, which I do, and to make sure I have every name and detail right. I do a lot of homework before my talks now, and it makes me a lot better speaker.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

We just launched “The Power of Positive Leadership” training where we are training leaders — it’s a model filled with principles and practices to help become a great leader. We do public training events as well as train onsite at a client’s location. If a client has 100 leaders, for example, in their company we would do a full day training with them to improve their leadership. We also have a “train the trainer” program where we train trainers to deliver this program. It’s been a great start so far. We also launched a consulting program based on the “Power of a Positive Team” where my consultants work with teams to become more positive, cohesive, and committed. I’m excited about both initiatives because I know my purpose is to develop positive leaders and stronger teams. We’ve also been growing our Positive University podcast, and it’s been a lot of fun doing that — listening to various business leaders, celebrities, athletes, etc. share how they have stayed positive through the challenges they faced and the lessons they have learned.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

I don’t think I’m a great writer. I’m still improving with every book. I write a book every December. I have a vision for it and a general outline in my head. I sit down and start writing. Every morning I write for a few hours. I can’t check my phone or social media or else I’ll get distracted. I then take a walk and pray during the walk. I get more ideas and write some more. I’m usually done by noon. I’m done for the day. At night I read what I wrote and do some editing. If I have any new ideas, I write them down and then I start again the next morning. I believe the discipline of writing each morning and praying during the process has been the key to my success.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

It’s hard to pick just one, but I loved learning from Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor — and how they became the greatest beach volleyball team of all time. They truly wanted to become great TOGETHER, and were willing to do the physical, mental and emotional work to come together as a true team. When you want to be great together, you don’t let egos get in the way.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

With each book, I want readers to take something different. For “The Power of a Positive Team,” I want them to understand the principles and practices that make great teams great, and to know what they can do to build a great team and be a great teammate. I want them to feel empowered that the more positive and connected they are as a team, the more committed they will be. The more committed they are the stronger and more successful they will become.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

I shared how the biggest challenge was definitely getting published. Hopefully authors will learn that your vision and purpose must be greater than your challenges.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I read a lot of different books. Some of my favorite authors are John Ortberg and Donald Miller. My favorite books are usually written by pastors. The principles and stories they share are incredibly inspiring, and as my faith grows, I grow. As I love deeper, serve greater and care more, I make a greater impact on the world.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

From the emails and messages I receive I know it helps people get out of a negative rut. It shifts their perspective and causes them to think and act differently. People have said that my books have helped them in their careers, marriages, and in some cases, saved their lives. Many decided not to quit. Many received promotions. Many have changed the course of their lives. It’s humbling and powerful to hear these stories from people, and I don’t take the credit. I believe I’m just sharing what I’m meant to share and to see lives changes and teams become stronger together, and seeing leaders make a greater impact are the great rewards of this work.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

Write your first draft for you. Don’t worry about getting published or what people will think. Just write the book. Then you can edit it after that. Also, a lot of people have five books in their head and they try to write them as one book. Instead, just focus on the core message of the first book you want to write. If you died at the end of the year what message would you want to share with the world before you left? That’s your first book. That’s the core message. Write that book, and if it goes well, then write the next one.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

I don’t wish someone would have told me because everything I have learned has been part of my journey and growth as a person. I’ve learned to love, serve and care every day, and not to worry about the outcome. I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself. I’ve learned that if I love it, love the reader, and love writing, then fear will have no power over me because love is more powerful than fear. I’ve learned being a big name in my household is more important than being a household name.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe I’m already doing what I’m here to do, and that’s to create a movement of positive leadership. Without leadership, we can’t create positive change and make the world better. It all starts with leadership, and those who lead in a positive way with vision, optimism and belief, love and accountability have the greatest impact. It is this style of leadership that will make any movement possible.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@jongordon11 on twitter and instagram

Facebook.com/jongordonpage for FB

Website www.JonGordon.com

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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