Jullien Gordon on Why to Use Alcoholic Anonymous Model for Personal Development

In Chapter 2 of 14 of his 2010 Capture Your Flag interview, motivation teacher Jullien Gordon shares why Alcoholics Anonymous and its flat, sustainable, results-oriented, and empowering personal development model defines his own leadership style. Not only does the model promote accountability at the individual level, but also Gordon finds that personal development is most transformational in group settings. Gordon looks past the one-time personal development experience provided in conference settings to group settings that provide sustainable guidance and monitoring. This has led Gordon, who graduated from Stanford with an MBA and Masters in Education and earned a BA at UCLA, to start his "Career Change Challenge".


Erik Michielsen: What defines your leadership style and how would you like to evolve it?

Jullien Gordon: Alcoholics Anonymous defines my leadership style in terms of wanting to build a very flat, flat organization where everybody feels like a leader. I think AA from a personal development standpoint is transforming more lives than any other personal development organization out there today. When you look at the personal development usually there’s a guru on stage speaking to the masses and AA just flips that entire model on it’s head. It’s more sustainable, I think it’s more empowering and leads to more long term results than the traditional models of personal development and that’s where the Thirty Day Do It Movement comes in.

You have a group of people who care about you and you step into that group and you set a goal.  But, when you set that goal you also create a cost. So, that cost might be, ‘I’m going to give everybody in this group $50 if I don’t accomplish that goal.  I’m going to wash everybody’s car with a toothbrush if I don’t accomplish this goal.”  Whatever it is that is going to be embarrassing but bearable, right?  So, when you create that cost your likelihood of you achieving that goal increases and now you have people that care about you holding you accountable.

Erik Michielsen: How have you applied the Alcoholics Anonymous model to help others plan careers?

Jullien Gordon: One notion that I have is that personal development isn’t personal, right? And we have this idea of personal development being ‘I get this book, I read it, go in the corner of a room, I read it, then I’m transformed’ but then if the world around you doesn’t change then the likelihood of regressing is a lot easier and when you have a powerful group of people moving forward together I think you just have a better outcome rather than people trying to do it on their own.

Again with the personal development industry you go to this conference and then you meet all these great people there, but then you fly back to home or you back to your own world and you step into your family, your work environment and nobody knows the language and things that you’re talking about and therefore it’s so easy to go backwards and so when you have a group of people who is there to support you and understands the language you’re talking and understands the systems and processes that are behind you I think that that’s where you actually can have the most power results.

And so the next thing on the plate for me is actually something call the Career Change Challenge and it’s going to be a seventy-day tele-seminar where groups of people are being guided through a process to change their careers and so again… again it’s groups not individuals because I just feel like I can have more impact by empowering groups of people than I can by empowering one person. Now, every life is equally valuable but I think that there’s a collective wisdom that you tap into when you are actually moving in a group.