June 13, 2022

E330: The Power of Positive with Jon Gordon | CPTSD and Mental Health Podcast

In this episode, today's guest – Jon Gordon. He's a best-selling author and international speaker. He's written twenty-four books, one of them which is called the “Energy Bus,” sold over two million copies, he's a graduate from Cornell...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e330-the-power-of-positive-with-jon-gordon-cptsd-and-mental-health-podcast/#show-notes

In this episode, today's guest – Jon Gordon. He's a best-selling author and international speaker. He's written twenty-four books, one of them which is called the “Energy Bus,” sold over two million copies, he's a graduate from Cornell, he's a master and teaching from emery, and he is just a powerhouse of a human being. His story and journey are like ones, not just all of these really incredible cool accouterments to the human experience but a lot of struggle and scary long nights and being dramatically in debt and losing it all but the willingness to figure it out and keep going.

I felt so inspired after this conversation with Jon because it was just such a reminder when I was kind of in this little bit of a dark place a few months ago, where it was like keep going, just keep going, just keep going, like I tell you guys all the time there's always light, there's always light at the end of the tunnel. It holds true in my life; I see a whole truth in people's lives every day, and it holds true here for Jon and his story.

I hope you'll take out of the conversation I have with Jon here today that self-belief is everything. I know that can be difficult to navigate sometimes, especially when life feels hard, daunting, meticulous, difficult, and sad. We suffer and go through the throws of all of the things that are the human experience. Still, if you're willing to hold on to the truth that betting on yourself and following through and doing whatever it takes will create a massive change in your life, that is exactly what will happen, and that's the conversation I have with Jon today. It was really beautiful timing for me because a few months ago, I felt well like, you know what is the point of Think Unbroken, what is the point of killing myself over building this, what is the point of everything? And it was just being in the crux of a lot of transition in my life and filling not necessarily depressed but just kind of a little blue and feeling like, okay, get back into the tools, get back into the habits into the routines and the beliefs and keep just executing and going forward and then I look at the kind of the last four months and it's been absolutely incredible.

You know, sitting here in the new studio with you, having just spoken to New York City, having a billboard of me there, which is really crazy, working on the next book, the Men's Coaching Group Program it's about to launch. So, many really, really cool things are happening, and it's just again a testament to executing against the tools and recognizing that we will all have bad days still, there's always light; if you're willing to bet yourself and keep going then that's a lot of what Jon and I discussed in today's conversation on the podcast.

I would read an excerpt of the book, but I don't think I would do justice because Jon's energy is unbelievable, his thought about life is unbelievable, and it was an honor to sit down with him and have this conversation.

Learn more about Jon Gordon at: https://jongordon.com/

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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. Very excited to be back with you with another episode with my good friend, Jon Gordon. Jon, my friend what is happening in your world today?

Jon: Today Michael, I am talking to you, yesterday was my birthday I turned fifty-one, so, a lot of life left when I turned fifty, I said, okay, what's a big goal that I could have right now? I said, I'm going for a hundred and so in the words of the great American philosopher Jon Bon Jovi, I'm halfway there living on a prayer. And so, now at fifty-one it's more than halfway there but every day is a new opportunity. My wife and I are executive producers of a movie that just came out today called Tiger Rising and Queen Latifah and Dennis Quaid and it's just really cool movie that hits involved with that so we're very excited about that movie coming out, so, that's what's happening in my world right now.

Michael: Man, that's beautiful and congratulations and happy birthday and Bon Jovi will always have a place in my heart. So, for those who don't know you, tell us a little bit about your back story, your amazing TED talk, your books, your businesses, your life and how you got to where you are today?

Jon: Yeah. It's an interesting story you know, I went to Cornell University, I graduated from there, I've never thought I would go to an id league school like came from a very blue-collar family, my parents never made more than thirty thousand dollars combined, I graduate I go down to Texas to be with a girlfriend, we break up, I am devastated my heart is broken, I'm driving home and I am just crying on the drive home. I go home to live with my parents, I start waiting tables and I feel like a failure because all my friends went to go work on wall street, they're making fortunes and I am making nothing living with my parents. I decided to move to Atlanta to go create my life, it was an upcoming city, it was rising up everyone said check it out, lot of things are happening there, a lot of young people, so said, I'm gonna quit my life there. I went down there, I started waiting tables next to, I started bartender because I got a job a bartender bar, it was a happening spot, never bought to it before but I got the job because I said, I had bartender headed and they give me a try out that night at the end of the try out they said, it's clear you have no idea to bartender but we love your energy, so we're gonna give you shot. So, now I'm bartending, I'm getting my master's and teaching at Emory, I was gonna teach a bartending teaching, right? And I'm going through that process and then eventually, I met the owner next door who owned the restaurant next to the bar where I was working, I said, hey would you ever sell this place? He said, everything is for sale. And so, got some investors together. My grandparents had died and they left me a little money when they died, I took that money, I invested it, got partners to invest and opened up a bar bucket. So, now I'm bartending and alone in this bar, three weeks later after opening it this woman's walking down the street and I saw and a got I admit, it was love first sight, for her it took a few years that woman would eventually become my wife. And we got married, we had some kids, I started a non-profit that raised money and volunteered for youth focus charities called the phoenix organization. So, we would raise all this money and I would meet people in the bar say, hey, you gotta get involved the community here I'm in my early twenties, I'm a young guy but I'm getting people involved, they would make a difference and move it in shaken and then eventually I ran for city council and I walk a door to door to seven thousand houses, I lost the election though. But sometimes you have to lose a goal to find your destiny today and so in losing that election that was actually the best thing that ever happened to make this I would probably be a city council or maybe mayor deal with certain things that probably was not my calling, I eventually I would find my calling in writing and speaking but in that moment, I have to admit, I was devastated, I really was devastated and I thought my life was over but I moved through that time, moved past that time went to law school for a year and a half – year and a half those are the hardest times of law school and I didn't stick with it.

I actually quit after a year and a half, I said this is not for me. And I went to go workfor.com, I thought I was gonna make my gazillion, I had like a hundred thousand shares.com, this is wireless technology, everyone's excited about this, we're talking about nineteen ninety-nine, two thousand and twenty-nine thirty years old and the dotcom crashes.

My wife and I had just moved to Jacksonville Florida, she wanted to move to the beach. So, I'm working from Florida the company's base in the Atlanta, I'm going back and forth, my boss let me do that and then all of a sudden it crashes, I lose my job. What am I gonna do? How many I pay the bills? How way to support my family? My wife and I are fighting all the time and I am being really negative and she said, you know what, I love you but if you don't change like we're over. I'm not gonna spend my life with someone who makes me so miserable, you need to change and I was being beaten down by stress, I had so much fear, I was crumbling from the inside out like, I was falling apart, I was being negative, I was blaming her for why my life was so bad you know, I was blaming and complaining and I was not being a good husband, I was not being a good father, I was looking outside my marriage to try to find some happiness and some validation for being such a failure. And when she gave me that wakeup call, it was a huge wakeup call and I remember say okay, what am I born to do? Like, why am I here? Why am I so miserable? Like everything's falling apart like, fresh start, new beginning, what do you wanna do? And writing and speaking came to me in that moment, I'll never forget it came to me, I said, okay, I 'm gonna do this, somehow some way but I can't just go right and speak now, I gotta pay the bills,I gotta support my family. So, second mortgage our home twenty thousand dollars credit cards and opened up a modes southwest grill franchise, we were the fifth modes in the entire country, there's now over three hundred modes around the country, we were the fifth we were the first one in Florida. And so, we were basically hanging by a threat, I mean it was scary like, we thought we're were gonna go bankrupt, we had no money in our savings account, we were basically depending on every week like week by week like, how we're gonna pay the bills? How we're gonna eat? We were eating at the restaurant all the time because we had no money to buy other food it was like that bad. And then I gotta call out of the blue from a friend it was actually acquaintance he said, hey, I got a company, they wanna learn about wireless technology and I know that you we're involved with that, can you teach them how to do it? I said, I don't know about it technically, I just know how to sell it he said, yes, they just wanna learn how to sell it, so them how to sell, they agreed to pay me thirteen thousand dollars for six weeks of consulting, are you kidding me? That money carried us, as we were trying to make the restaurant successful, we broke even the first week, broke even the second, we never lost money but we weren't making any money that I put a little money into the advertising and I did one week of advertising all of a sudden business grew, did it again, business grew, take the profits put it more into radio and it grew, next you know we were thriving money coming in. I remember as that last dime read out of our account from the consulting, we made our first profit, it was like God was carrying me and my family because there was a moment I should back up, when we were really struggling what I thought we're gonna go bankrupt, when everything was falling apart, I say, God please provide for me and my family and I will do your work like, I will help others, I will serve others, I will do your work, I'll make a difference, up to that point it was always about me, it was always about like being a success, it was about very narcissistic in many ways but it was about me. And in that moment as I became broken, I was filled up with God's presence and peace and I realized it's not about me, it's about serving others, it's not making a difference, I changed my lens, the world looks very different, I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to make an impact and it truly became others so, in your words, I became unbroken during that time where everything changed and from that moment on I've never been the same. And so, now the restaurant makes its first profit and we started making some money like just got carried and there was a woman who was in my restaurant and she was sitting there and I'm wiping tables down, she didn't know I was the owner, no one because I was like twenty nine, thirty years old, I look young and I'm wiping tables down and I started talking to her, next thing I told her I was the owner, she's oh, I'm the manager partner of New York life she said, you know I forget she said something else and I said well, I'm also a motivational speaker and I had never given a talk but I said, I was a most motivational speaker and she said, you should come speak to my company sometime. And so, she invited me to speak to a company, I did give a talk and I love it, I'm like okay, I can do this like, I could do and next thing you know, I was like alright I'm gonna go do this, I'm make this my life and career. And since that moment I've written twenty-five books, I've given thousands of talks, my books have sold over five million copies, I'm most known for the energy bus which I wrote in two thousand and six came out in two thousand seven. And this is where everything changed, see, I sold my most restaurants, I eventually opened three of them, I sold them and took that money and said okay, I'm not gonna write and speak full time. And as I made that decision everything started to dissipate, everything started to fade away, all of a sudden speaking dried up, nothing was happening, I wasn't doing a lot but everything I even had was dry been and the money is running out of the account, we're living off this morning, I'm thinking how long could this possibly go on? And I'm taking a walk and I'm praying and I'm just trying to figure it all out, I'll never forget the idea for the energy bus just came to me and I wrote it in three and a half weeks of divine inspiration, it was rejected by over with thirty publishers, I was told to give up but I couldn't give up because I had this vision and mission and it was to encourage it inspire, millions of people one person at a time. So, I kept on hoping, kept on dreaming, kept on putting it out there and finally John Walley and Son agreed the publish the book, I'll never forget main character's named George and the publisher the editor Shannon had a best friend with a husband named George and so she thought, I wanna do this book, I wanna give this guy a shot and the main publisher said, if it doesn't go well, it could be a career she said, I wanna do this book and comes out no books as we carry it, I went on a twenty eight city tour paid for myself, I went from city to city sharing the message in the book, we had five people one city, ten people another twenty in another, the most we ever were a hundred people in the Moines Iowa, they thought Jeff Gordon was coming that's why they showed up the race car driver. I remember, I got home and by the way that's a true story, it wasn't you know meant to be a joke but it is funny and I got home I didn't know what the future held, I knew that I just had this vision of mission and I had to live in and breathe it every single day and that's what I've done, that's what began this journey, that's what I been doing every single day, just sharing the message and the mission took five years for that book to become a best seller. But I started writing other books like the carpenter, training cab book is my favorite about an undrafted rookie trying to make in the NFL and a special coach takes mother's wing, teaches them the winning habits that separate the best from the rest and it's all about the fact that he has to overcome his fear, find his faith to the all that he's mean to be. I wrote the garden which is about a recent book about dealing with fear, stress and anxiety and overcoming all the anxiety that we have and talking about identity which I know you do a lot of work around and it's about understanding what your identity is who you are. I truly believe you are a child of God, if you understand you’re child of God that you are special, there's greatness within you you're here to do great things, then you can stop listening to the voices that say you're not great, you're not enough, your future is hopeless and those are just negative voices and those voices do not come from you, how do I know? Who would ever choose to have a negative thought? Would you ever choose a negative thought? I would never choose one, right? Those thoughts are always coming in maybe from patterns of the past but they're not necessarily coming from you they're coming from you know what I believe is a spiritual battle from consciousness, when you have a dream or a nightmare are you choosing those thoughts, no, they're just coming in. And so, these thoughts always tell you you're not enough, they tell you things about yourself and your future that just aren't true so the keys is don't believe the lies instead you wanna speak truth to the lies and the truth is you are here to do great things, the truth is as you talk about with identity, your identity ultimately who you are and who you decide to become and once you have an understanding of that in your vision and your purpose everything changes from there. And so, there's so much power in understanding that and I teach people how to win the battle. you know of their mind through the book the garden and then I read a number of children's books as well where teaching kids how to be positive and so forth and wrote the power of positive leadership which my mission is to develop positive leaders around the world and then the power of a positive team which is about making great teams great. So now, I get the work with like the dodgers, I work with the rams, the Miami heat, the Tampa bay lightning football for the past ten years, get the work with a lot and a NFL teams a lot of college teams, a lot of sports of all types and it's really fun to work with these teams and share these principles because I've seen firsthand what works and it's just something that's been a part of my journey like, I didn't choose it; it just started finding me as I wrote these books, coaches start reading my books, reaching out asking you to speak to their teams or work with them or help them as a coach and that's led to now the work that I do.

Michael: Jon, that's such an incredible story and I'm sitting here like in awe and also like marker, marker, marker like, thinking about the trajectory for my future. One of the things, I wanna be conscious of your time and I appreciate you being here greatly but I have to ask this question because I'd be remiss not to, what does it mean to you to like commit first because I hear so much of that in your journey and in your experience and I think people fail to really truly understand what happens when they make a decision and commit to their life, what does that mean to you?

Jon: That's so good, that you just said commit first like leaders go first they commit, they lead the way, if we want commitment from others, we have to demonstrate commitment ourselves. So, to me it's about committing to the life that you want, it's the grit to say this is my vision, this is my purpose, this is where I'm going and why I'm going there. When you know your why, you will know the way and you won't let obstacles get in the way and we don't get burned out because of what we do we get burned out because we forget why we do it. And so, we have our vision, we have our purpose and that drives us to move us forward. We stay positive on the journey, we love of what we do there's a devotion to it, there's a love of devotion and I always say love drives grit because if you don't love it, you'll never be great at it. But when you love something, you're not gonna give up, you're not gonna quit, you gonna to keep on moving forward.

And for me, it was a commitment that said you know what, let's go for it, life is short, we have nothing to lose even with the restaurant second mortgage in our home gotta, I get my wife a lot of credit, she said, let's go for it, let's do it and you commit it's almost like what Les Brown he says you jump and you grow your wings on the way down, you've gotta commit. And I believe, God will move heaven and earth when you're on the right path to support you. And so, you do commit and it's in that commitment where you activate somehow you activate the forces some called the universe others called it God but you activate the forces in the power to start to move through your life because you're committing, you're sacrificing, you're serving, you're making a difference so to me it means that commitment that trust, that faith, you're not living in fear. Fear holds so many people back, it's the faith the key moving forward.

I can look back and say, everything I have in my life was because I took a step into it and said you know what, no fear courage, boldness, faith and yes, a commitment. I believe you need the courage to have commitment like there's courage that creates the commitment that allows you to be successful and so, I do have a lot of courage and some in some ways stupidity and almost like not even enough to be successful like, I put that money down the restaurant, it could've gone south, I could've have lost all this money. My partners did steal for me years later and then I left and said by me out. I first asked to see the books they said we're not showing them to you, I said well, if you don't show them to be send the demand letter from my attorney so you have to show them after that they said okay we're buying you out like again, I'm twenty eight, twenty nine years old don't know a whole lot about business but they agreed to buy me out they offered me a hundred thousand dollars, it was probably worth four hundred to five hundred thousand but I took the money, I said fine, I'm not gonna argue, I'm not gonna go to court and I’m not gonna waste my energy on that, I'm taking the money and I'm moving forward and I did.

I think so often we get caught up in the past, we allow that energy of the past and the fighting and the bitterness to hold us back, I said, no, I'm moving forward and that's why did take that hundred thousand, moved down you know we moved down to Florida that's what I used to open up the most plus second mortgage my home and twenty thousand dollars of credit cards, it’s about two hundred and twenty thousand total to open up that place. And next year you know, I turned that two twenty when I stole my restaurants, I holding for about a million dollars, you know had to pay some of my investors because we opened up several others but took that money and then said okay, I'm not gonna write and speak and now that I could see is the foundation for everything I've been doing and have done. So, it was all about commitment, jumping in with the restaurant, jumping in with the most, jump beginning as a writer and speaker and say, I don't know what the future holds but I know this is my mission, this is my call, I did say, I'm gonna go for this. I realize this is what I'm meant to do even if it takes me ten to fifteen years, I'll be forty, I'll be forty-five even if it takes me that long at least I'm doing what I love and I'm passionate about it and I love getting up every day doing this work because doing the other work where I was working for someone. I felt like my soul was dying every day, I felt like I was little of living, I was dying and I knew I was made for more, I knew I was made to serve others and make a difference and clearly this was the calling that I was been for because I wake up every day, excited about what I'm doing, thankfully like it to do it. And I don't really don't need to go get a lot of talks every year but I do, I give over fifty to sixty talks sometimes eighty talks every year, I did a hundred and thirty-seven last year between virtual and live, fifty-five in person and I still do it because this is my calling. People say, what are you do you know ten years from now, twenty years or now what's your five year plan, ten year plan to continue to do this work to serve others, to make a difference, to write maybe more children's books, to encourage more kids and because you have an impact to get to interview people like you who are teaching about trauma and overcoming trauma childhood trauma which is so important again, I'm learning things along the way I never heard of trauma until about a year ago, two years ago now, I've been hearing about it all the time. So, now this is something that's new for me but it's something I realize how important is and it's amazing you're doing this work. And so, again I'm always curious, what's next, where is God gonna lead me and I'm open see that's the thing. God doesn't pick the best, he picks the most willing and you gotta be willing, he doesn't beat the best, he pick you, he picked me like you know who are we? But he picked us to do this work and we're just willing and we're obedient. I always say pray and you beg, you pray and then when you get that word, when you get that calling, when you get the message obey and go. A lot of people get it, they get the impulse, they get the desire, they get the thought that says you should do this and they say, oh no, no, no I can't do that; oh no, no that won't work, I don't have what it takes to do that or I don't feel worthy, I don't feel worth, I don't feel of a value like who might to be doing that and so what happens is they retreat instead of stepping forward with faith and boldness and courage they retreat and so they God can't use them to do what he wants them to do to be who they're meant to be and so they never become who their meant to become. Our job is to say use me, I'm open commit and say let's go and believe that it's possible, believe that it's possible for God because God is a lot bigger than you and believe that it's possible for you because you are worthy and you're here to do great things.

Michael: Man, beautifully said Jon and I totally resonate with that. I also believe like the life I'm creating is thirty-seven years away and but every every day I show up. Man, this is incredible conversation, I'm blown away standing here with goosebumps before I ask you my last question Jon, can you tell everyone where they can find you?

Jon: Sure, and first Michael, I had you on my podcast, I gotta admit you blew me away as well so, I appreciate you so much jongordon.com or Twitter, Instagram @jongordon11 we'd love for free to find me there so, I can continue to encourage you along the way. And also, have a podcast Positive University please listen my interview with Michael because man as you know since you listening to me, he was awesome.

Michael: Thank you bro, I appreciate that. My last question for you my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Jon: It means you're not phased, you're not living in the past it means that you know there's greatness inside of you, there are power inside of you that is greater than all the forces against you and that you will face adversity, you will face challenges, you will have setbacks, they'll be pain, they'll be suffering but you have the power to rise above to move through it, to heal, to overcome and ultimately you have the power to change the world and so we all get broken at times but I believe ultimately what happens in the healing process then we become unbroken and then from that healing we then heal others and that's what I see you do Michael. Keep up the great work.

Michael: Appreciate you my friend and beautifully said.

Unbroken Nation, thank you so much for listening as always.

Please like, subscribe, comment, share.

Tell a friend.

And Until Next Time.

My friends, Be Unbroken.

I'll see you.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Jon GordonProfile Photo

Jon Gordon


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 24 books including 12 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.

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.