Interview with Jon Gordon

The following is a Q & A exchange between Jon Gordon and me.

Jon Gordon, Author/Consultant

The first time I heard Jon Gordon speak was at a principal’s conference in Oklahoma City. A year later, he came and addressed our school district’s opening meeting.

Jon has the uncanny ability of connecting with any crowd, and his message resonates well with anyone interested in personal growth. I love how his ideas motivate teamwork and optimism. His books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world.

My goal in posting interviews with leaders like Jon Gordon is to inspire each of us to reflect on how our own choices, goals, and actions can affect our lives, our leadership, and our teams. I must also give credit to John Lee Dumas whose great podcast interview questions I have modified for the Q & A’s I have with my guests.

Jon’s Bio:
Jon Gordon is the author of many books including, The Wall Street Journal bestseller The Energy Bus, The No Complaining Rule, Training Camp, The Shark and The Goldfish, Soup, The Seed, and his latest, The Positive Dog. He has been invited to address numerous NFL, NBA, and college coaches and teams, Fortune 500 companies, school districts, hospitals and non-profits. Jon and his ideas have been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Fox and Friends as well as numerous magazines and newspapers. In addition to motivating and consulting, he is just as motivated about being a great husband and the father of two “high energy” boys.

WDP: Thanks so much for sharing with us! Can you start off by sharing your favorite success quote?
Jon: One of my favorite quotes is: Being positive not only makes you better. It makes everyone around you better.

WDP: How have you used the idea contained in your favorite quote to affect your organization’s leadership?
Jon: Developing positive leaders, organizations and teams is my life’s work. I have found that positive leaders transform organizations. They not only impact all the people they lead but also their families and communities. Positive energy is contagious, and it is the key to building a great school and winning team.

WDP: Take us back to a failure or obstacle you overcame and how you did it.
Jon: When I wrote the Energy Bus, it was rejected by the first 30+ publishers. I overcame it with faith and a belief that somehow, some way, it would happen. I’ve also realized that if your purpose is greater than your challenges, you will find a way to navigate the obstacles in your life to reach your destination.

WDP: Can you give one quick example of something you have done that required risk but created great results?
Jon: My wife and I took a risk by moving to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida from Atlanta 12 years ago. It was a scary time, but it was one of the best decisions we ever made. It has been a wonderful place to raise a family, and the schools are great.

WDP: Have you had an “aha!” moment where you realized a key truth that you turned into a success?
Jon: I realized that people love and relate to stories. I started writing stories after I had an “aha” moment while I was walking and praying. The Energy Bus came to me that day, and my life has never been the same.

WDP: Have you had an “I’ve made it” moment?
Jon: I never think I’ve made it. My goal is to continue to improve and get better every day. But when I was speaking to the Atlanta Falcon’s football team, I thought it was pretty cool!

WDP: What was holding you back from seeing the high levels of success you are seeing now?
Jon: I didn’t feel worthy. I believe most of us don’t feel worthy. We wonder why people should or would listen to us. But one day I realized that it’s not about being worthy; it’s about making a difference. Once I took the focus off me and focused on making a difference in the lives of others, everything changed.

WDP: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Jon: I have learned so many great lessons working with many great leaders. It’s hard to say what the best is, but one of my favorite lessons is that great leaders succeed not because they are great but because they bring out the greatness in others.

WDP: What is something that is working for you or your team right now?
Jon: We have all chosen our one word for the year at It’s a great way to stay focused on what matters most.

WDP: Do you have a resource that you just love that you would recommend to other leaders?
Jon: My weekly free newsletter is great resource. Every week for the past 10 years, I’ve written a weekly tip to encourage, inspire and develop positive leaders. You can sign up for it at where it says “Sign Up For Jon’s Free Tips”.

WDP: What book would recommend for school leaders?
Jon: The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

WDP: If you could speak to the 20 year-old version of yourself, what advice would you give him or her?
Jon: Have fun and enjoy the ride! Life is short. Make the most of it.

WDP: Final thoughts?
Jon: I’m thrilled you are following your passion and purpose. Keep up the great work!

WDP: Thanks so much for your awesome insights, Jon!

You can find even more about Jon Gordon at Or connect with Jon on Twitter & Facebook.

Questions for readers:
Think about these incredible quotes from Jon…1. “I’ve also realized that if your purpose is greater than your challenges, you will find a way to navigate the obstacles in your life to reach your destination.” 2.”…one of my favorite lessons is that great leaders succeed not because they are great but because they bring out the greatness in others.”

What are some ways you have found to stay positive in the midst of tough times? What are some steps you can take to be a change agent no matter what your situation? What stories can you be telling to help teach others the principles you want them to embrace?

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker