Jullien Gordon on What Marriage Teaches About Teamwork

In Chapter 5 of 21 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, business coach Jullien Gordon answers "What Has Marriage Taught You About Teamwork?"  Gordon learns that communication and finance are two top challenges in a marriage relationship and makes it a priority to team with his wife addressing these key issues.  He learns there is a time and place for these conversations.  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 has marriage taught you about teamwork?

Jullien Gordon: When you ask people about relationships, the two things that come up are communication and finance, in terms of the most difficult challenges in a relationship. In regards to communication, I’ve had to become a better listener. And a better question asker, which is what I am and who I am, to really try to get at the core of what’s the issue, otherwise, issues are gonna continue to come up, if you don’t address the root. And so I’ve been more diligent about trying to get at the root of situations because this is the person I’m gonna live my entire life with. And the only way to work through that is with communication. Now, there also is-- are times where you have to know when is the best time to communicate, just because I wanna answer right now doesn’t mean that she is ready to talk and vice versa. And so that’s been core. And then the financial side is really getting clear about what’s enough and what it’s gonna take to sustain the partnership from the financial standpoint. And how do both people contribute.

In a lot of ways it is like a business, it is like a business partnership, and with the exception of the unconditional love. I think some business partners can work together without it necessarily being unconditional love, but—I’ll be honest, we have room to be a better team, I mean we are the Gordons now. We got our jerseys. We got our jerseys and-- but we’re also like the Lakers, you know? We have great players on our team and we’re trying to figure out how to work together to actually move toward something amazing. And you saw it with the Miami Heat as well, we’re Lebron James fans so. You see it with any team that’s coming together, even when there are stars on the team, it takes time.

And we see the hopefully 60, 70 years ahead of us as a time to constantly grow closer and closer and closer together. We saw our marriage as an opportunity where we felt close enough to say we’re committed to this same path together. And I think and I hope that every day is just gonna bring us closer and closer and closer together. The other day she asked me, “do you really know who I am?” And I had to say no. I don’t. But I hope that through this journey together, I constantly get to know more and more of who you are.

We made a choice out of—with uncertainty. And almost every major decision that we have in our lives, whether it’s a new partnership, from a team-standpoint. Whether it’s choosing your spiritual source, or your career, some of the biggest choices in our lives or all of the biggest choices in our lives are filled with uncertainty. And so knowing that going in, knowing that nobody on the team knows the right answer, but together, you can get to the best answer for us. I like to use us. “Us” is a third entity, because there’s the individual, there’s your teammate, and then there’s “us”. And it’s helpful to talk about “us” as a third entity in the relationship, because what’s best for one individual and what’s best for the other individual may not be what’s best for “us”. And so you have to always put “us” at the forefront when you are on a team.