Jullien Gordon on How a Hard Work Lifestyle Can Help or Hinder a Family

In Chapter 1 of 21 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, business coach Jullien Gordon answers "What Childhood Experiences Have Been Most Fundamental in Shaping Who You Are Today?"  Growing up with two busy working parents, an anesthesiologist and an oral surgeon, Gordon sees the downside of working a lot, namely having parents miss important events.  Conversely, he watches his 86-year old Godmother keep a family together by employing family at her Carmela and Family Bar-B-Q restaurants in Hayward, California.  Jullien Gordon is a high performance coach and consultant to organizations, individuals and teams who want to increase employee performance, motivation, engagement and retention.  He earned a BA from UCLA, an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a Masters of Education from Stanford University.


Erik Michielsen: What childhood experiences have been most fundamental in shaping who you are today?

Jullien Gordon: There’s a couple of them. One, I’m the son of two doctors. So I grew up the son of an anesthesiologist and an oral surgeon, and I saw the way my parents worked. They woke up at the crack of dawn, and even on weekends they’d be on call, and so they had to miss some very important events in my life as a child. On the other side, I saw my godmother who—her name is Carmen Kelly and she has a barbecue restaurant in Hayward, California called Carmen & Family Bar-B-Q. And even at the age of 86 today, she still works six days a week. And that restaurant has employed the entire family, and it’s even expanded to three restaurants, run by the two sons. And so, I’ve seen this way of entrepreneurship helping a family stay together as opposed to a career keeping a family apart, and I think that’s a tension that a lot of people deal with growing up. As I think about their careers and think about how their parents manage their careers, how much their dad and mom had to travel, what kind of events they missed. I saw two different models, I didn’t just see one way of doing it.

Erik Michielsen: And how has that reform your own approach?

Jullien Gordon: Well, obviously, I’m an entrepreneur today and I’m trying to think about my life, not just my career, my life, from a lifestyle-design standpoint. So how can I find my unique balance between my career, my family, myself, and my community, and really that’s really been the focus. It hasn’t just been how can I maximize my career and make the most income. I’m not playing a game of income maximization. I’m playing a game of satisfaction maximization. And so it requires me to find my unique balance and designing my life according to that.