Jullien Gordon on How to Personalize a Leadership Lifestyle

In Chapter 4 of 16 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, motivation teacher Jullien Gordon answers "What Does It Mean to Be a Leader in What You Do?"  Gordon shares the stages of his own leadership journey and how experiences have shaped his approach to being a leader in his actions and ambitions.  Gordon is the founder of the Department of Motivated Vehicles, a personal and professional development company that helps clients identify purpose and map it to successful outcomes. Gordon has written five books and speaks regularly to college students across America.  He earned masters degrees in education and business from Stanford University and an undergraduate degree from UCLA.


Erik Michielsen:  What does it mean to be a leader in what you do?

Jullien Gordon:  Wow!  What does it mean to be a leader?  For me leadership has always been defined as creating more leaders and if you’re not creating more leaders then -- well actually that’s the external version of leadership.  I think leadership actually starts with self leadership and actually directing your life in the way that you want it to go and then from there, by that example, you actually inspire others to take control and full responsibility for the decisions and the choices that they’re making. 

So I definitely think leadership actually comes back to are you taking full responsibility for your choices, or are you letting life and other external factors actually influence your choice and therefore your choice being inauthentic.  Leadership is I think this space where you are actually continually making authentic choices based on what you think is best for you and those around you.

Erik Michielsen:  And how have you learned about leadership as your career has developed?

Jullien Gordon:  In undergrad I actually was a student leader of various organizations.  When I graduated I actually became executive director of a program called the Shake program where I was managing 32 part-time undergrads plus a team of volunteers and so that was my first real experience of full time leadership, then I went to business school and then I worked with MLT for quite some time. I developed a team there at MLT and from there I’ve been building my business on my own for the past few years now.  I would say that it’s all been about self-leadership for me. 

I haven’t figured out how I’m gonna take full responsibility for a team of people and still have the balance that I want in my life so I haven’t really committed to that responsibility.  I have part time people who work with me on various things. I have administrators, assistants, legal team, sales team etcetera but they’re all part-time so in terms of leading other people I haven’t been in that space for quite some time where I feel fully responsible for the life of someone else or for the economic future of someone else and so I’m still exploring that and do I actually want to have a big building out like the ones out here in New York is that ultimately my goal or is my goal actually time freedom. 

As I’ve navigated my journey over the past three years I’ve realized that it’s not about financial freedom for me it’s actually about time freedom which gives me the freedom to make choices and spend my time the way I want to spend it and that means that my business also isn’t necessarily about profit maximization. 

I’m actually using entrepreneurship as a vehicle to create a lifestyle that aligns with who I am and what I want and so as I think about my leadership it’s really been about time freedom and so a lot of leadership has been with self and not necessarily leading hordes of people or teams.  Of course when I’m speaking, at my speaking engagements, I’m leading people for that given time or if I’m doing a training for a corporation or a college, I’m leading people in that moment but I haven’t – it hasn’t been – it’s been a while since I’ve actually been responsible for leading people on a daily basis.