The key to employee engagement? Creating micro wellness moments

Seth Adler
Posted: 12/05/2017

In this week’s podcast interview, the Chief Customer Officer of Desk Yogi discusses the importance of employee wellness and how to create this right at their desk

EPISODE OVERVIEW:

Jon Robertson is the Chief Customer Officer at Desk Yogi, and employee wellness company. He joins host Seth Adler in our podcast theatre this week to share that he woke up one morning and was experiencing numbness from the waste down.

After many tests and MRIs, doctors prognosticated that he might have MS. Now that we live in a connected world, it’s hard to turn off. And it seems that the first thing we sacrifice is our health.

We’re not going to the gym as much, we squeeze in a 15 minute lunch… in general it’s difficult to take time for yourself – and that time isn’t valuable when you’re checking all of your digital feeds.

Jon’s focus is on taking 3-5 minutes to get what you need to be productive for the rest of the day. Ultimately Jon didn’t have MS but he used the opportunity to take stock of what was important to make some personal changes, start taking care of himself and make a difference for others.

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Wellness


TRANSCRIPT:

Host Seth Adler: First some supporters to thank and thank you for listening.

This episode is supported by CX Network. CX Network provides expert commentary tools and resources, developed by customer-experienced professionals and industry insiders. With a growing membership and global portfolio of events, CX Network insures you keep your finger on the pulse, by delivering practical and strategic advice to help achieve your business goals. Wherever you are on your customer strategy journey, join the CX Network's global community today. Go to cxnetwork.com for more.

Jon Robertson joins us and shares that he woke up one morning and was experiencing numbness from the waste down.

After many tests and MRIs, doctors prognosticated that he might have MS. Now that we live in a connected world, it’s hard to turn off. And it seems that the first thing we sacrifice is our health.

We’re not going to the gym as much, we squeeze in a 15 minute lunch… in general it’s difficult to take time for yourself – and that time isn’t valuable when you’re checking all of your digital feeds.

Jon’s focus is on taking 3-5 minutes to get what you need to be productive for the rest of the day. Ultimately Jon didn’t have MS but he used the opportunity to take stock of what was important to make some personal changes, start taking care of himself and make a difference for others.

Welcome to CX Network on B2B IQ. I'm your host Seth Adler. Download episodes on cxnetwork.com or through our app in iTunes within the iTunes podcast app, in Google Play or wherever you currently get your podcasts.

This is Jon Robertson.

Jon Robertson:  You used to not find any J-O-Ns and everyone assumes it's short for Jonathan, but mom just wanted to be different.

Seth Adler:  I gotcha. So I'm the full thing for the middle name.

Jon Robertson:  Okay.

Seth Adler:  So you've truncated ...

Jon Robertson:  J-O-N on the birth certificate.

Seth Adler:  And that's what we're going with.

Desk yogi. What are we doing?

Jon Robertson:  It's an excellent question.

Seth Adler:  Yeah.

Jon Robertson:  So what we're trying to do is scout the globe for leading experts in the field of wellness. So anything having to do with mind or body. And create micro wellness moments in video that we can deliver to employees regardless of what their role is, their work environment, right at their desk.

It's all about trying to help people have a little more sanity in their life, reduce stress, fell better, be happier.

Seth Adler:  Thanks for doing that. I feel like that might be the key to this whole thing, if everybody is in a little bit of a better mood, right?

Jon Robertson:  I hope so, yeah. It seems like now that we live in a connected world, it's hard to turn off. Right?

Seth Adler:  Indeed.

Jon Robertson:  You find that the first thing we sacrifice is our health. We're not going to the gym as much, it's "I'm going to get 15 minutes for lunch so let me grab something out of the vending machine or the fast food". And so it's even more difficult to take time for yourself. You take a break, what is really a break? I'm reading my email, in between meetings, trying to catch up.

We want to, even if it is three to five minutes, take a break and actually get what you need to be more productive for the rest of the day.

Seth Adler:  And so, I have a friend that is big into yoga. And he keeps saying all you have to do is 12-13 minutes in the morning and that's all you need. And I'm like, sure, but I got to get work, I got to do this stuff.

You're saying it could be even three to five minutes.

Jon Robertson:  Yeah, because one of the things that we show and people like you, what you do, one of the first videos we show, because everybody can benefit from it, is an eye strainer exercise. Since most people are looking at a computer the majority of the day, it's a very short, three to five minutes, and it's simply doing things like rubbing your hands together, building heat and cupping over your eyes.

And we'll have people do that and follow along. "I feel amazing! Just from that, I feel amazing." And that's what we're trying to do, it's just give them a way ... Maybe it's back pain, they've been sitting wrong, ergonomics are not right, to be able to do a simple stretch that provides that relief, now you're more productive, you're reengaged.

So that's what it's all about, is making people being able to self-help.

Seth Adler:  I'm in! I like this. So we're in this small room, which is next to a bigger room where they're obviously doing stuff like calling people, "I'm not taking a break, Jon."

So obviously it feels like you know what you're talking about. You've convinced me, who I've been very resistant to the whole thing, even though I know it's good for me. And I wonder how you came to be who you are? Where are you from?

Jon Robertson:  Born and raised in California.

Seth Adler:  That makes sense, right? In what you're trading in, Southern California I'm guessing.

Jon Robertson:  Yeap, Southern California.

Seth Adler:  Right. Where?

Jon Robertson:  Just below Santa Barbara, in a city called Ventura, a sleepy beach town. And Desk Yogi is based in Ojai, California, which is even a smaller town that no one has heard of nor can they spell.

Seth Adler:  With a J, it's the key.

Jon Robertson:  That's right. It's not Ojai. Both the founder and CEO and my business partner and I both worked at Lynda.com.

Seth Adler:  Which is what? For those that don't know.

Jon Robertson:  Yes. Lynda.com-

Seth Adler:  With a Y, by the way.

Jon Robertson:  ... L-Y-N-D-A. It's one of those Cinderella stories. For those that don't know, it's worth googling 'cause it's a pretty phenomenal story. Founded in 1995, privately funded, not kind of your traditional VC funded type startup, but they created a software training platform. But what they did that was different, 'cause we've had online training and we all hate online training, so what Lynda did that was so different, is they found those experts in the world that maybe five people knew what they knew.

They're the people that actually worked for the software company, wrote the program, they're the ones that authored the books that you can go and buy in Barnes & Noble. And they actually brought them into a studio, did incredibly high-quality video content of these individuals and it felt like you had access to that individual, they can pull up a chair and walk you through it.

Seth Adler:  Okay.

Jon Robertson:  And it took off. Now, it didn't take off initially. From about 1995 to 2007 it struggled.

Seth Adler:  Right, it was a 12-year overnight sensation.

Jon Robertson:  That's right. And I joined in 2007 and I think I was employee number 35, and eight years later, LinkedIn acquired it for 1.5 billion, with a B.

Seth Adler:  Sure, which is pocket change compared to Whole Foods, since we're in that moment in time, on this day when we're speaking.

Jon Robertson:  But for an online training company that was a pretty, it was hyper growth over those eight years.

Seth Adler:  Yeah, it a gargantuan amount of money. C'mon.

Jon Robertson:  It is unbelievable. What they were able to do considering I don't think they even took VC money until the year before the acquisition, so it was all self-funded, organic growth.

Seth Adler:  We call that bootstrap.

Jon Robertson:  That's right. So different if you've got huge venture capital to really invest in growing the business, much different when you bootstrap it.

So we have now taken essentially that same DNA and have brought to the wellness world. And we're doing exactly the same model. So it's finding that talent, bringing them into our production facility, we film it, we do all the post production, building a library with that amazing A-list talent.

Seth Adler:  Perfect. Okay. So let's just make sure here, we got this Southern California bonafides, right? When were you turned on, if you will, to yoga? When did that happen for you?

Jon Robertson:  I'm actually not what I would consider a yoga expert at all.

Seth Adler:  Fine.

Jon Robertson:  My business partner has been teaching yoga for over 25 years.

Seth Adler:  Okay, he or she?

Jon Robertson:  She.

Seth Adler:  She is the expert.

Jon Robertson:  She is the expert.

Seth Adler:  We understand that you're not the expert.

Jon Robertson:  I'm not the expert.

Seth Adler:  Even still, I want to know when your relationship with yoga began?

Jon Robertson:  It really is a personal story for me and it happened when I was at Lynda.com. Because we were in that hyper growth phase, you had no life. It is everything you can do to just keep your head above water. So guess what? I wasn't taking care of myself.

I'm a former athlete. I've always been very active, I wasn't doing that. And I woke up one morning and was experiencing numbness from the waist down.

Seth Adler:  Oh, that's not good.

Jon Robertson:  No. And so, kind of long story short, after a lot of tests and MRIs later, they thought that I might have MS. And so I had to go see a specialist. And finally, discovered that while there are some things, legions in the brain that they can't explain, it's not MS.

Seth Adler:  Okay. Even though they're signs of that, essentially.

Jon Robertson:  And they basically said, no one really goes and gets an MRI in the brain until something's wrong. So we may all be walking around with some form of abnormal-

Seth Adler:  Who knows.

Jon Robertson:  So they said, unless you really are looking for brain surgery, I'd just wait and see what happens.

Seth Adler:  Okay, fair enough.

Jon Robertson:  So we're doing that. But it was definitely a wake-up call. So it's actually what led me to leave Lynda.com. I had to just completely take stock in what was important, make some personal changes and I needed to start taking care of myself. Wanted to be around for my kids. And so when Jacqui came to me with the idea-

Seth Adler:  This is your partner?

Jon Robertson:  This is my partner. When she came to me with the idea, it spoke to me in a way that was very personal and I could immediately see how other people are probably in a similar situation, maybe not have the scare I had, but we had an opportunity to make a difference.

Seth Adler:  You had to stop and start all over again.

Jon Robertson:  Yeah.

Seth Adler:  How did yoga play into that?

Jon Robertson:  For me it was really trying to figure out, it wasn't just the exercise. There was a needing to find an inner peace. I've had several individuals in my life that have always told me yoga would be great. Just as you said. You should try yoga, it will change your world. It will change your life. And I've never done it.

So it was at that point where I said "You know what? It's time to give this a try." And so I did. I'm still in that process of exploring and learning, and like I said, not an expert at all. But immediately saw the benefit of that.

Seth Adler:  You immediately saw the benefit and what was the internal dialogue? Was it "This is nice and it's kind of a gradual improvement"? Or was it "Oh my god, I can't believe I haven't been doing this forever"?

Jon Robertson:  It was more of the latter. And it's been difficult for me because a lot of what is incorporated into yoga besides the mental benefits, is a lot of flexibility. I am naturally not very flexible.

Seth Adler:  Oh, that's you and me. Same thing.

Jon Robertson:  So one of the very first things I discovered is that I could not get my body into many of those poses. And yet, going through that process of trying and struggling, to be able to see that improvement and then the after effects of how much easier it was for me to move my body.

Just getting up, moving around, less pain, lees stiffness. And that where I was like "Okay, there might be something to this whole yoga thing."

Seth Adler:  Yeah, we're on to something here. So you were an old athlete, what did you play? I'm guessing soccer.

Jon Robertson:  Actually, I did not do well with team sports.

Seth Adler:  Tennis then?

Jon Robertson:  I'm very competitive, so I raced bicycles.

Seth Adler:  Raced bicycles? So BMX.

Jon Robertson:  Yes, back in the hayday.

Seth Adler:  Yeah, I would imagine. So this is like a dirt bike thing and you're doing the jumps and that whole deal?

Jon Robertson:  Yeap, traveled all over the country.

Seth Adler:  You have to be flexible to do that. You know what I mean?

Jon Robertson:  Yeah, it's interesting because if you think about the movement of the bicycle, your leg go through about straight to 45 degrees at the most. It's really not that much of a bend to it, it's more power and endurance but not really a lot of flexibility.

Seth Adler:  I gotcha. You said you traveled all over the country.

Jon Robertson:  All over the country racing BMX.

Seth Adler:  For how, how was this something that ... Were you sponsored? How did that work?

Jon Robertson:  This is where we get into the embarrassing side of the story. So most people if you are under the age of 45 will probably not remember the television show CHiPs.

Seth Adler:  Oh my God, okay, and I do remember the television show CHiPs, with Ponch and Jon.

Jon Robertson:  That's right. My father, his whole career was in law enforcement. So-

Seth Adler:  Part of the California Highway Patrol?

Jon Robertson:  No, sheriff's department. But anything law enforcement, I was all about it.

Seth Adler:  Got it.

Jon Robertson:  And so I was a huge fan of CHiPs as a child and the individual that played Jon was Larry Wilcox. He was also an avid motorcycle rider.

Seth Adler:  Okay, makes sense.

Jon Robertson:  And he started a clothing line after CHiPs. And the when the BMX craze started, he also created a clothing line for BMX. Now at the time I was racing motorcycles and we approached him about a sponsorship. And he said, "I'm kinda getting out of that, it's really competitive. Have you ever raced BMX?"

"No."

"Well, we're holding a race why don't you come and try it."

Seth Adler:  Sure, Jon from CHiPs.

Jon Robertson:  So gave me all the stuff and told me where to be on what day and I show up at this race and it was unbelievable how many people were there. I'd never done it before and this is like a big national event. All kinds of sponsored racers are there. Everybody knows the names, I don't know anything. And I ended up getting second in my first race.

Seth Adler:  Look at that, how did you know ... 'Cause the motorcycle, that's not the same thing?

Jon Robertson:  No, but-

Seth Adler:  Pedaling is ... How did you know how to do it?

Jon Robertson:  This was ... What it was like growing up in the '80s, you were on your bike 24/7.

Seth Adler:  I gotcha.

Jon Robertson:  Right.

Seth Adler:  It's built in.

Jon Robertson:  If you've watched the show Stranger Things, you know as kids we lived on our bicycles.

Seth Adler:  Absolutely.

Jon Robertson:  And so because I love motorcycles I'm always building jumps and I rode all over town. You don't have any speed, any gears, it's one speed. And I'd ride 15 miles, and to school and then 15 miles home on a one speed bike.

Seth Adler:  We call that a fixie now don't we?

Jon Robertson:  Yes we do. I knew how to ride the bike. I had the endurance and the power and it ended up that it just took.

Seth Adler:  Second place does not sound embarrassing Jon?

Jon Robertson:  No, but now as an adult you talk about how you were sponsored by the guy that was on CHiPs, not a lot of street cred there.

Seth Adler:  I don't know, I think it's cool. I'm just one guy but I kinda like it.

So how long where you going around the country doing that stuff?

Jon Robertson:  About four or five years.

Seth Adler:  Do you know a guy named gOrk?

Jon Robertson:  gOrk? No, that doesn't ring a bell.

Seth Adler:  He's like an executive in BMX but was touring, I would imagine roughly around the same time.

Craig Barrette I think was his real name or something like that.

Jon Robertson:  Okay.

Seth Adler:  All right, so you said, "Six or seven years."

Jon Robertson:  Four or five years.

Seth Adler:  So four of five years. What did you learn from, right? If this is not a lot of street cred, what about the mind bread? What did you learn from competing?

Jon Robertson:  My dad definitely played some mean Jedi tricks on me.

Seth Adler:  He being your Darth Vader to your Luke Skywalker?

Jon Robertson:  You know it was interesting, because I kinda fell into it. I discovered that I was pretty good at it and I did enjoy it, but I don't think I ever really had a sense for whether I could really be on the same level as these other kids that were sponsored.

Seth Adler:  But second place first time, why did you have that inside of you?

Jon Robertson:  It almost felt like ... It's hard to explain. Because I didn't come up in that BMX culture and kinda have to earn the sponsorship.

Seth Adler:  You felt like an impostor?

Jon Robertson:  A little bit. And so there's a big national point space championship, you do all these different races, you earn points, you go all the way to the finals and then you get ranked for the following year. And I remember being at the last race, and I think I was like fifth in the point standings. But you go into the last race and every single race is triple points. So there's a pretty big swing, you could fall out, you could go up pretty substantially.

And I remember the night before the race, my dad said, "What are your expectations, what do you want to get out of this?" I had never even thought about what I'd wanted to get ... I just show up, I race, I go home.

Seth Adler:  I was just doing the thing.

Jon Robertson:  Just doing the thing.

And so I thought about it and I said, "Well, it would be really cool to have a single digit number next year."

Seth Adler:  Got it.

Jon Robertson:  And he looked at me and he kinda went okay. Then I just have one question, "Why not number one?"

Seth Adler:  Which digit? Exactly.

Jon Robertson:  And I'll never forget, it was literally like the wind had been knocked out of me.

Seth Adler:  Knocked out of you? Why was this not inspirational?

Jon Robertson:  It was, but at the time, it was this feeling of ... That realization that you had not set your sights high enough. You were selling yourself short, you're compromising on what you're capable of. And you know, I kinda grew up in that All-American household where my dad was my hero, right? And I felt like he was almost disappointed in me.

Seth Adler:  He wasn't saying, "Why not number one?" He was saying, "Why hasn't it been number one?" Is that fair?

Jon Robertson:  It was that ... The way that he said it, it communicated to me ... At least I don't think he meant it this way. But the way I interpreted it was, he was disappointed that I hadn't put myself in the mindset of it being possible.

Seth Adler:  Got it.

Jon Robertson:  And it just sucked the air out of the room. And I didn't really have a response to that. And so I went out the next day, won ever single race.

Seth Adler:  Oh you did?

Jon Robertson:  And got number one.

Seth Adler:  I was not expecting that. I'm giving you a high five.

I thought you were gonna be 300. So you got everything?

Jon Robertson:  And because I had come from fifth, protests were filed, they didn't think it was mathematically possible and we were there till almost 10 o'clock at night, waiting for them to figure it out.

Seth Adler:  Which was not a good anecdote for your impostor syndrome, right? You know what I mean?

Jon Robertson:  No, but it was for something that was a relatively mundane kinda childhood experience, right? This was something that wasn't necessarily going to change my adult life and how I was going to provide for my family.

Seth Adler:  This is just for now.

Jon Robertson:  But it did change the way I looked at things from there on out. And I do believe it's defined who I am and why I've been able to be successful in my career.

Seth Adler:  I think I said anecdote when I meant to say antidote. I digress. So now, is there a constant search for number one?

Jon Robertson:  Yes. That and there is no second place.

Seth Adler:  You're either first or last. I think that's Ricky Bobby, right?

Jon Robertson:  And second place is the first loser.

Seth Adler:  Right, but you're saying these things seriously. We're talking about the comedy Talladega Nights, right?

Jon Robertson:  And it's not to say that if I don't, that the world ends.

Seth Adler:  I gotcha.

Jon Robertson:  But I always set my sights on "I want to crush it."

Seth Adler:  I don't want to consider number two.

Jon Robertson:  That's right.

Seth Adler:  Nowhere near mindset.

Jon Robertson:  And we can probably quote other movies as well, "Failure's not an option."

But yes, that is the way I approach everything now. And I think that's one of the reasons I've spent a lot of my career on the sales side, is I'm very competitive and I want to see things succeed.

Seth Adler:  And you can be ranked, which is another helpful thing for a personality like yours.

Jon Robertson:  Yes.

Seth Adler:  It's so interesting fathers and sons, it's such an interesting dynamic, right? 'Cause I was following along with you, and it's just a strange thing 'cause you always want to impress dad. And you always think that you're disappointing dad, somehow. And I don't know, I can't explain it, right?

Jon Robertson:  Yeah.

Seth Adler:  You said you have kids?

Jon Robertson:  I do.

Seth Adler:  Do you have a boy?

Jon Robertson:  One boy, one girl.

Seth Adler:  And the boy is older or younger?

Jon Robertson:  Boy's older.

Seth Adler:  Okay, and the girl is older or younger? Just want to make sure you're paying attention.

Jon Robertson:  Younger. I think I got the math right on that.

Seth Adler:  How did you go from BMX to Lynda? Was there a stop in between?

Jon Robertson:  Yes, there were several stops in between. Another little interesting story. In high-school I decided that I'd start my own business. When I told people that, most of the time they think I'm doing something out of my garage. That would have been the smart way to go.

Seth Adler:  Got it.

Jon Robertson:  That's not what I did.

Seth Adler:  Interesting.

Jon Robertson:  My best friend, who actually was one of the individuals that protested my race, 'cause we raced in the same class, we knew of one another but we were not friends. We became best friends after we stopped racing. I was best man at his wedding, he was best man at my wedding. Interesting story from the standpoint of we become good friends in high-school because you walk into a new high-school you don't know anyone. I know you-

Seth Adler:  That guy. We're buddies now.

Jon Robertson:  So we're buddies now. So we, in our junior year of high-school, we started a window tinting business.

Seth Adler:  Okay, for cars?

Jon Robertson:  Cars, homes and commercial buildings. And we rented a 1,800 Sq Ft industrial building and put up shop. Now I was on a work experience program where I got out early to go work. I had to have my employee pretend to be my boss and grade me for my work experience program because the high-school didn't know I owned my own business.

Seth Adler:  Because they couldn't.

Jon Robertson:  Did that. That's where I got my first taste of sales. And ended up selling the business and use the money to go to college.

Seth Adler:  Wait a second. The way that you tell anecdotes is very interesting because we're all set up for this epic failure and you're like "Then I sold the business, which gave me enough money where I can go to school." It would have been easier to do it in the garage but it turns out you did the right way.

Jon Robertson:  Well, so a tint company's bread and butter are car dealerships.

Seth Adler:  Oh sure, yeah.

Jon Robertson:  But the car dealerships that are going to pay that are going to be your Mercedes, Porsche, your more brands.

Seth Adler:  Folks that can afford it.

Jon Robertson:  That's right. So being all of 16, imagine going to the Porsche dealership and saying "Give me the keys and I'll bring it back in a couple of hours."

Seth Adler:  Sure, I'll just tint the windows here.

Jon Robertson:  That's right. We couldn't get the time of day, not surprising. We also didn't have the money to hire trained, experienced sales professionals. So I had to go to the library, read as many sales books as I can, hire whoever I could afford, train them tinting lingo, pricing and sales. They would then go to the dealership, get the deal and we tint the windows.

Seth Adler:  Sure, so you come in as the young schlock.

Jon Robertson:  That's right. So I had all of these adults that I had trained to go out and do business development for me. And then we were the ones actually doing the tinting. We would take our classmates that wanted their windows tinted but couldn't afford it, we'd give them a stack of flyers with their initials on it-

Seth Adler:  Get out there.

Jon Robertson:  ... and if they got 10 flyers redeemed, we tint their windows for free. So it's guerilla marketing and it took off. And we prided ourselves on doing amazing work, where our goal was if you could look at the window and tell that it had been tinted, we failed. So we wanted it to look like the glass came that way.

Seth Adler:  So explain to me, Jon, how you are in high-school and you say to yourself and your buddy "Okay, we're just going to go ahead and do this. I'm going to learn everything that I need to learn. I'm going to hire whoever will say yes. And this is going to be a success."

I guess young guys have cojones, is that one of the answers?

Jon Robertson:  Well, and we were so naïve-

Seth Adler:  You have cojones coming at you because you didn't even know what possibly could go wrong.

Jon Robertson:  That's right.

Seth Adler:  So you sell the business. Why did you make the decision to sell the business?

Jon Robertson:  The promised that I made to my parents when I went to them and said "Hey, I decided I'm going to start my own business." Is that I would still go to college. So I said I'm going to do this for two years, if it even lasts two years. And then I graduated high-school, I'm committing to go to college. And so that was always the deal.

And we looked at it as "Hey, we're trying to make a couple of extra bucks for the weekend. And why don't work for ourselves and not have to answer to anyone? And we can kind of call our own shots? This sounds great. Why doesn't everybody do this?"

Seth Adler:  Why doesn't everybody do this. Because it can go horribly wrong, Jon, that's why.

Jon Robertson:  And it can be an utter failure and you can lose every cent you put into it. But again, we didn't know any better. So for us, it was a more fun way to earn a little bit of extra money and it actually ended up becoming a real business in the process.

Seth Adler:  So you sell it, go to ASU.

Jon Robertson:  No, actually I went to California State University, Chico.

Seth Adler:  Okay, so you sell it and where did you go?

Jon Robertson:  California State University, Chico.

Seth Adler:  So, everyone knows California State University, Chico. No.

Jon Robertson:  No. It's in the California State school system. Right before I went, literally the year before I went, it was ranked number one on Playboy's list of party schools.

Seth Adler:  There you go.

Jon Robertson:  That is no why I chose it.

Seth Adler:  Oh it isn't?

Jon Robertson:  It is actually not, I didn't even know it was on the list at the time. But it has, it was known for that because of something called Pioneer Days, which was essentially the equivalent of Mardi Gras. And then it went horribly wrong one year, they outlawed Pioneer Days and off the list we went.

But the reason I selected it is, it is in a beautiful part of Northern California, tons of outdoor, hiking, biking, which is what I wanted to do. And it has the lowest cost of living in the state school system. So the best teachers want to go there for quality of life and they can make their dollar stretch further.

So the teaching was actually incredibly good. And since then, it's now one of the top ten schools in the system.

Seth Adler:  Interesting, and not for partying.

Jon Robertson:  And not for partying.

Seth Adler:  For actual academics.

Jon Robertson:  Interesting that they've completely gone the other way now.

Seth Adler:  What you studied?

Jon Robertson:  Economics.

Seth Adler:  Okay, and you came out, and who was kind enough to say Jon, you can have a job.

Jon Robertson:  I started with a company called New Horizons Computer Learning Centers. And they were, they essentially had classrooms and they would sell to businesses and businesses would send their employees to learn how to use software. Microsoft Word, Excel, that type of thing.

Seth Adler:  Sounds like a first iteration of Lynda.

Jon Robertson:  In a lot of ways, yes. Now, while I was in school I was a double major, Economics and Computer Science. I wanted to teach, that was kind of where I was headed. I ultimately had to make decision to drop the Computer Science major 'cause I needed to graduate quickly. So I finished with the Economics but I did have this itch to teach and I loved computers. So my mom sent me, this is back when you actually had newspaper ads that you look up for jobs, she sent me a cutout and it says "Can you teach? Do you love computers?"

That's me.

Seth Adler:  Yes, it is.

Jon Robertson:  So I actually started teaching computer software and it was a pretty incredible experience because they would hand you a software that you never used before and they said "You teach it next week."

Seth Adler:  Yeah, figure it out. Teach it next week.

Jon Robertson:  So you had one week to figure it out and be the smartest one in the room.

Seth Adler:  Which plays right into your personality. "I'm going to be number one at this in the room."

Jon Robertson:  Yes. Which I put an immense amount of pressure on myself, and it was very grueling. But the CEO at the time came to me and said "I'm looking at your resume and I see that you owned your own business, and you've done some sales. You're a great teacher. What do you think about hiring and training all of our sales folks?"

And so that's where I kind of moved from front of the house to back of the house. And I started doing all of the hiring and training and eventually from there, ran all of sales and marketing for a few locations. And they sold the company.

Seth Adler:  Okay. And when did you pick up with Lynda?

Jon Robertson:  So from there I went to a medical device manufacturer, almost did the exact same thing. Built the sales team, company sold and the head of HR at that company went to Lynda and the rest, as they say, it's history.

Seth Adler:  What's the key? And I'm asking Jon from high-school, and I'm also asking Jon who's done this now a few times, in building a sales team.

Jon Robertson:  Hire right the first time. When I first started and I kind of had to execute somebody else's system, 60 to 70% wouldn't make it past nine months. And so you're hiring every single month, and that's why they literally pay me to do nothing but hire and train. And I went "This is ridiculous." Costs a fortune, frustrating for me, cleaning out a cubicle, putting another body in, it vacates. I say "How about we hire the right people that will stay?" What a noble concept.

And then part of it was rather than being what I would call the stereotypical sales manager, where you're just managing activity and what have you done for me lately-

Seth Adler:  Tell me what's out, tell me what do you think it's coming in.

Jon Robertson:  I really subscribe to the coach mentality. And not the Bobby Knight coaching mentality-

Seth Adler:  Of throwing chairs.

Jon Robertson:  But investing in making a sales person successful. So hiring somebody who wants to succeed, that is a good cultural fit, believes in what you're going. And then invest in the time and effort to ensure that they succeed. So as I started to do that ... New Horizons when I joined was in the, out of 325 locations, this particular location that I was at, was at the bottom ten least profitable locations.

Seth Adler:  Okay, they were terrible at what they do.

Jon Robertson:  One year later, we were in the top 10 most profitable.

Seth Adler:  There we go.

Jon Robertson:  And it wasn't necessarily that I or anyone else did anything that was amazing.

Seth Adler:  You just found the right people.

Jon Robertson:  Just found the right people and supported them and helped them.

Seth Adler:  I love it. I've got three final questions for you.

Jon Robertson:  Okay, shoot.

Seth Adler:  I'll tell you what they are and then I'll ask you them in order.

What's most surprised you at work along the way?

What's most surprised you in life?

And then on the soundtrack of your life, Jon Robertson, one track, one song that's gonna be on there?

First things first. So what's most surprised you at work?

Jon Robertson:  I think what is surprised me most is how hard it is to consistently bring your A-game.

Seth Adler:  How hard it is to consistently ... You just got to be on, a lot.

Jon Robertson:  And I think partly it's because I've happened to end up at high-growth businesses. And so keeping up with that is exhausting. It hasn't ... I have yet to work at a, what I call, quality of life company, right? They're all high-growth. As soon as you've find that you've achieved something, they move the line.

Seth Adler:  Sure.

Jon Robertson:  It's that type of thing.

Seth Adler:  But also, and I'm learning who you are, that you love it. You know what I'm saying, come on?

Jon Robertson:  I would get bored very quickly otherwise.

Seth Adler:  Exactly.

Jon Robertson:  So it's a love hate.

Seth Adler:  What's most surprised you in life?

Jon Robertson:  That as much as I've tried to plan a path, life is full of surprises, and it takes odd turns along the way. And I never would've guessed that I would've taken the path that I have. And I've made a lot of decisions that I'm thankful for. And there are a lot decisions that maybe on paper didn't pan out, you could argue they weren't good decisions.

But I think what is most surprising is that I look back on all of that, I wouldn't change a one.

Seth Adler:  There you go. 'Cause you learn from the bad decisions, right? The good decisions are helpful. So you I'll keep what I've already done as opposed would I change it? Na, I'll just be here today, right?

Jon Robertson:  That's right.

Seth Adler:  On the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song. What's gotta be on there?

Jon Robertson:  Boy, that's a good question. As I think about it, I'm like do I go with a song that I really like? Do I go with a song that describes who I am as a person? How do I interpret that question?

I think I'm gonna have to go with the Eagles, Hotel California.

Seth Adler:  Interesting. Is it because you can check out, but you can never leave?

Jon Robertson:  So legend has it that that song is actually written about Camarillo State Hospital, which is about 15 minutes from where I live. So there's always been kind of a connection to that song. But being born and raised in California and having traveled, certainly all over the country, and to some degree internationally, I am in every sense of the word a Californian.

And there have been many a road trips with that song playing through the radio, and it just always brings me kind of an inner return back to that adolescent road trip.

Seth Adler:  Sure, it's home. You literally have a home.

Jon Robertson:  It is, it's Americana for me.

Seth Adler:  You literally have a home in Hotel California.

Jon Robertson, thank you so much, appreciate it.

Jon Robertson:  Thank you.

Seth Adler:  And there you have Jon Robertson. I went out the next day. Won every single race and got number one. And I always set my sights on "I want to crush it."

Very much appreciate Jon's time, very much appreciate yours. Stay tuned.

 

Seth Adler
Posted: 12/05/2017