We got to interview Gordon Jenkins, an inspirational leader, mentor, speaker, and well-known consultant. He aims to help people get the best regarding motivation and personal development.
Gordon had his ups and downs throughout his career, but one thing was always there with him – his positivity. After discussing his journey, we understand how much he values people and being a good human. He provides mentorship that accelerates and enhances the achievement of your goals. Our interview below let’s learn more about Gordon Jenkins and his journey.
How did you start your entrepreneurial journey? Do you have some advice for beginners?
I think the journey began at a very young age, but it’s only now – 30-40 years later – that you realize the power of collective knowledge rather than individual experiences. My journey as an entrepreneur provided space to learn, but today’s entrepreneurship lacks this due to a ‘do it’ environment.
I started working in the family business. We had retail car accessory shops. It was a highly competitive business with around 7 shops competing with us within a 1 km radius of our major outlet. Whenever we opened another outlet, a competitor popped up, cutting prices.
We had to create value beyond price, so people kept coming back and never questioned the price. They didn’t even know what they were coming into the shop for sometimes, but they always walked out with something, even if it was just a smile.
A simple example was a customer looking for a car wash and wax. They left with a bucket, wash, wax, sponges, and air fresheners. Instead of a $4 sale and 10% net profit, it became a $40 sale and a 40% net profit. It had nothing to do with the price. The real value add was ‘the customer coming back with their clean car.’ We even took a picture of it and put it on the board. The customer brought their friends and said – ‘you should take a bucket of washing stuff and get your car on the wall.’
Another example is 30 years later, I took an idea I used to apply for jobs at the age of 16-18 on green paper (because everyone uses white paper) and transformed it into 5 fast facts being used on the sales desk of an international bank. Within three weeks, the idea was global amongst the sales desks. Information started being shared globally, revenue increased, and client returns increased.
Perhaps the biggest change for me occurred in December 2006. My high-flying corporate career was cut short when my wife Wendy underwent a double lung transplant and was told that she had less than a year to live. Overnight, I transitioned from CEO to a full-time caretaker.
The experience made me realize how critical it is to make every day count. Because no matter how successful, influential and wealthy you are, if life isn’t filled with doing what you love with the people you love, it doesn’t matter.
All my life experiences have influenced the unconventional strategies I adopt to fuel my growth and that of my clients. The adversity I have faced has made me a champion of the underdog and a strong advocate for celebrating diversity and individuality.
Out of a corporate job, the phone just started to ring – I was free of the corporate structure (some would say restrictions), and people wanted me to support them.
I wasn’t (and still aren’t) the most educated person in terms of degree. What I am awesome at (yes, I am) is thinking outside the box, unshackling past ways of thinking, being highly accountable, and making every day count.
What advice do I have for beginners?
Three pieces of knowledge:
- You were not put on this earth just to pay bills and die. You have a purpose. Accept that 4 billion people won’t get you. That’s fine. Of the 4 billion left, you only need a small percentage to be on your plane for your journey.
- The pressure today to do something and be someone quickly is immense. Remember, it’s your journey, your passion, your purpose. It’s perfectly okay (in fact, I applaud you) to shout NO at the top of your voice to your parents, friends, teachers, and partners who have a predetermined ideology of what is your best career. Your most successful career will be where you can be your best version daily.
- Along the way, you will create your ecosystem. It will develop as you grow. Some people will be in your ecosystem for a short period of time, others for a long time. Don’t force the growth of your ecosystem; trust the process.
What do you believe is the most crucial part of executing business seamlessly?
I haven’t done a business plan for over 15 years (including 1-page plans). They are static, focusing on how to get to today as a means of how to move forward and resist culture and innovation change. And they fall apart when the unexpected happens.
With my clients, we plan ahead (to 7 years) and implement a process to achieve that. It sounds simple. It is. The framework leaves no room to hide (accountability), and we operate in short 21, 30, 60, and 90-day cycles. It connects the individual’s intrinsic motivation to firm strategy and client goals.
We saw that you are active as a leader in multiple companies. What are your goals through your companies, and how do you plan to help individuals with them?
Growth – it’s fairly simple. Growth as a person and as a company. I only work with good humans who demonstrate good behaviour continuously. Growth both financially and non-financially.
Whether it be personally, professionally, or for the people in my life, my aim is to make every day count.
This means that within a company, no single template is used across the group. They state what they plan to do to achieve the goals, the reward, and their own accountability. This may sound crazy, but if you provide the dimensions of the playing field, people will decide what position they will play.
Oh yes, there are no teams, no employers or employees – just great humans.
Describe yourself in one word.
Maestro (I am a conductor, inspirer, advocate, and promoter of all things good) Everyone can be a maestro for their own ecosystem.
Do employees’ energy and enthusiasm have a hand in business success? How do you plan to motivate your team to go the extra mile?
I do not agree with highlighting this among everything else that is going on in the organization. It relates back to an earlier question. If you are differentiating between employer and employee, then the mindset is already creating a “us and them” mentality.
This is very limiting to entrepreneurial success.
Of course, there needs to be some differentiation because of legal responsibilities, governance, etc. Get the basics right at the beginning – who are we, and what do we expect of each other?
If we don’t start as good humans with good behaviours, we can’t expect anything other than excuses and mediocrity.
I don’t want to sound egotistic in this response. I’ve never had to motivate a group of people to go the extra mile. It happens because of the 7-year framework and the micro-ambitious targets. It brings people together in a contagious way. They see success daily. I simply duplicate the process every 21, 30, 60, and 90 days.
One of the greatest positive fallouts of this approach is that you build a high level of tolerance for uncertainty. So much so that you ride the wave of uncertainty without even knowing it. Uncertainty is the biggest push for growth – no textbook can constrain your creativity.
I learned early in my career that thank you is the best motivational tool. Daily gratitude is free and extremely powerful. It must be a daily habit, and it must be authentic.
How would you describe your leadership style?
This has changed over the years, or should I say how I articulate it today, and is different from the last 30-plus years of my career. Why? I’ve invested heavily in understanding more about my emotional intelligence and spiritual awareness (discovering my true self).
I have a strong sense of self-understanding. I maintain an active, regular awareness of my feelings, which means I invest heavily in myself. I’m optimistic and focused, which often means I focus on what counts. From a leadership perspective, I don’t tolerate fluff greyness. Instead, I say it as if it is black and white so we can focus on what is possible every day and channel our efforts to meaningful, measurable results.
I’m constantly connecting cause and effect, allowing the positive to fuel even higher-level initiatives, and positive spirals while limiting the drain of negatives.
My leadership message today is that success is a decision, not a gift. So get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable because that is when the magic will start to happen.
Did you face any challenges during your career span? If so, how were you able to overcome them?
I’m dyslexic, and despite being a maths genius, I was constantly bullied and called dumb at school. The system has one way of thinking; if you don’t fit the system, you are the problem.
I came to Australia in 1996 – I didn’t know anyone, and even my family wasn’t here. It was then a closed economy – jobs based on your school and education. I had to find my niche quickly. There was not another Gordon to compare me to – there still isn’t.
I’ve always had confidence in myself. I know what I’m good at – people. Enabling people to get the best out of themselves before they know what is possible.
I built a network based on who people were, not what they were. I’ve always had people in my corner, from the speech pathologist to my sports coach and business mentor. I think this is critical for everyone: have the right people in your corner and know when to call upon them.
The biggest challenge in my career was not actually work-related. It was dealing with Wendy’s health as a carer (I’m still learning what that means 20 years on).
What can I do to balance my career and care for Wendy simultaneously?
The Corporate System simply could not, and still today, can’t handle such a demand. That was the realization I needed to embark on my own journey, build my own flexibility and be the best version I could be for my wife and me. Whatever that meant in terms of work, it would find itself. At that moment, I opened the floodgates to find out exactly what an entrepreneurial life could be.
It sounds easy to write it down here. It wasn’t, and it isn’t today. There are far too many challenges to address. I say my life is like a snake and ladder board game – it’s been up and down. But I’m still in the game today and higher up the ladder than ever before.
Today I don’t think the biggest problem in business is business related. It’s actually social pressures – the cost of living, energy prices, food prices, climate change impact, and keeping up with the neighbours. We have become a society of want, and we want it now.
Are you adapting to digital transformation? How is it helping your business?
Digital – we have a love-hate relationship! Digital is the enabler, not the driver of my business – I ensure it’s always like this – there is only 1 driver, and it’s me.
I’ll be honest I don’t always understand the digital world. I’ve taken a digital incubator from its first $5,000 raise to a public listing. However, I came off the board because I did not understand the companies within the organization.
Trust the process. I have a growing digital team to support me. Investing in them and their time is priceless to me and allows me to invest my time in more productive tasks (or, as I say, do things I enjoy doing).
Do you use innovative ideas to be unique?
I think I am unique as a person – I’m not sure how many people carry yellow rubber ducks in their pockets 24/7, always wear blue, and wear odd shoes. This prompts people to start a conversation with me.
My ROIs speak for themselves (20x +).
My clients will say that I create the gap for them to go through – I just do what is needed.
In recent years with my foundation (www.lungitude.com.au), the innovative ideas have not been how we ask for donations but demonstrating the difference that will (not can) happen. I think this in itself is a very valuable lesson – sell the vision becoming a reality, not the money to make it happen.
Where is your leadership going? What benefits do your clients receive from your company in this competitive world?
I don’t know where my leadership is headed. It’s quite exciting not to know. I have a 7-year plan for myself – of which I’m in year 2 of the 7 years and about 10 months ahead of schedule.
I ask prospects (before they become clients) do you want to live this day for the next 7 years, or do you want to live the next 7 years?
If it’s the second option, they get me, my network, and our collective intelligence without any conditions, and they become clients. Then the magic happens.