Jono Rowe is an experienced financial professional, passionate husband to Kirsty Rowe, and father of 4, speaker, director, and mentor. Founder and CEO of the TJKR Group which includes a host of successful companies.
Jono is considered a financial wizard amongst his peers. His unique ability to think strategically while also leading as a visionary has made a lasting impact on many. With a strong foundation as a Chartered Accountant, Big 4 external and internal audit experience, as well as establishing and growing a demanding CFO role with a large New Zealand construction Company, his skills have expanded to include a breadth of wisdom applied to both grassroots family finances as well as large corporate transactions and global economics.
Jono is the first to remind you that he wasn’t a straight A student, no Dux or Valedictorian awards here, but understanding that expert financial literacy is not just about testing book theory, but more about a real-world acumen that is both practical and relatable.
A High School memorial award for Character and Diligence was an early recognition for what would end up being a life of service to others through various avenues. Starting out in the fast-paced corporate rat race with the Big 4 Accounting Firm Ernst & Young provided the training ground for understanding business. Networking with a wide range of professionals, forming life-long friendships before moving on to an industry role for a global cinema exhibitor and then into the role of CFO at a large preeminent New Zealand Construction Company before signing off in style at his world-famous retirement party.
Where did the idea for TJKR Group come from?
Our group of companies has grown over the years as a result of various ventures we have explored. Our values have always driven the names and purpose behind it all though. ‘Freedom’, ‘Legacy’, ‘Leadership’, all feature in our group of entities. At the end of the day, at the end of this life, it’s not the names that will last, it’s what they stood for that will make the difference.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
These days my day is structured around the kids’ schedule and quality family time. During my corporate career, I often got caught up in the hustle and grind of working excessive hours and feeling the pressure to deliver on tasks and assignments often set by someone else. I now set my own schedule. Being a free family was the dream I worked so hard for and associated with the right people to counsel and guide me to achieve that dream. Now, being financially independent but still as hungry as ever to grow and help others, I find it imperative to carve out time every week for at least 60-90 minutes to plan the week ahead.
I am a fan of “The 5 A.M. Club” by Robin Sharma. “OWN YOUR MORNING ELEVATE YOUR LIFE”. Starting the day well is important for anyone, but especially as a husband, father, and entrepreneur. How you start your day sets the tone for the rest of the day. Most days I will start with some form of exercise followed by some reading before the kids wake up. Then it’s quality family time at breakfast with my little rascals including piano practice and everything else that goes into getting them ready for school. Next is school drop-off, coffee from my local coffee cart, then either gym or a walk with my wife Kirsty Rowe. Typically during the day, I’m either reading, studying financial markets or real estate, or the odd coaching call before picking the kids up from school. After school, it’s more quality time amongst their extracurricular activities before family dinner and bedtime stories. During the weekdays my evenings are filled with leadership training, mentoring individuals, couples, and families, or speaking at local or online leadership events. I absolutely love having the flexibility and control over my time. I find a healthy rhythm of being productive with purpose-driven activity balanced with regular margin time helps me stay focused and living for something worth living for.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Ideas come when I give myself space. Life can get so full at times with a young family of 4 children along with everything else I do. Whenever I turn my phone off, get into a quiet space in the house with a note pad and pen, the ideas can start flowing. It’s forcing myself to have some thinking space which has been key for me. When I come up with strategy, or an idea for podcast episode, or even something a bit bigger like a leadership module, its often born in this creative quiet slowed down space.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that gets me out of bed and excited is more and more people are open to the idea of being in business or starting their own venture outside of their 9 to 5 job. For decades we have been conditioned as a society to think, talk, and walk like an employee after going to school, getting some kind of degree or post-graduate qualification and then trade away the best years of our life working a job because that’s what everyone expects. In most cases the statistics highlight that this results in a life of regret, not pursuing what they really wanted, and often broken financially with only a small handful of people to call real friends. I’m excited about the change in the next generation being unsatisfied with the status quo and being open-minded about the entrepreneurial pursuit.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Reading every day! Over the years I’ve developed the habit of reading every day, either a quality personal development book on the likes of leadership, mindset, and investing, as well as various business articles, entrepreneurial journals, and thought leadership which keeps my mind fresh and always learning. I believe it’s critical to always be learning and discovering new content.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Associate with people who are where you want to be and give yourself time to succeed. Growing up I had some great men in my life, several key ones in fact, who played a significant role in shaping my character and equipping me with principles and values that have formed the foundation of the person I’ve become. If I could go back and talk to myself as a 19-year-old, I would tell him to think long-term and ACT NOW with a sense of urgency to make the next few years really count. I was so hungry to grow and be ‘successful’ and wanted to see results quickly. What I learned to appreciate though is the person I needed to become in order to lead those I wasn’t yet leading. It takes time to succeed, it takes time to grow. Over time with consistent effort, with focused daily habits shaped by your identity (see Atomic Habits by James Clear), the compounding effect of these seemingly insignificant small steps will produce a significant change. It was allowing that time to work through myself as a person that was so important. Fast success doesn’t help someone grow emotional resilience. Early results won’t allow the setbacks and upsets to teach the principles that would ultimately serve me in the long run and allow me to speak from experience coupled with results. It’s only looking back now and reflecting on the importance of quality mentorship in my life that I can encourage others to be patient with their growth and keep moving forward with daily consistent action.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Potentially the greatest tragedy of our generation is one where both Mum and Dad are working jobs, pursuing what they believe to be providing for their family when in fact it’s the very thing that will destroy it.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be open to embracing change, always. What got you to where you are, is unlikely to get you to where you want to be. The world is always changing, society is constantly adapting to new technology and different leadership as the world enters a new era. As an entrepreneur, one must be constantly innovating with new ideas and strategies. There is always more opportunity to add new value to a market.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Emphasis on working with the right people. A lot of strategy I think a lot about is how to ensure that I select and identify the right people to work with. Whether it’s a new business partner or someone joining my professional board of advisors I am always working hard to vet and qualify based on values and principles. As part of this strategy, I am always thinking about culture. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Gilbert Enoka. So, it’s more about the character and integrity of an individual than it is their ambition that develops the right culture for a strategy to thrive.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Firstly, the key to success is failure. So many mistakes I made and any setbacks I will have in the future are all important to shaping the skills and maturity required for even greater success. Perhaps the greatest failure in my business journey has been my reluctance to focus on just one thing. ‘A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways, even while he goes about his business’. A single-minded focus is what is required to achieve greatness in any one area. I got caught up in wanting to have a finger in every pie. I wanted to be great at lots of things. I wanted to be an athlete, a property tycoon, a successful CFO, and a serial business owner all at the same time. It was the frustration of a lack of progress combined with the perspective of mentors that helped me channel my focus. This changed all the momentum of my business and our financial position as a result started to radically change.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Everyone has ideas. Few implement them. How many times have you had a friend that said that they thought about the idea of ‘Uber’ or some other business that exploded with growth. The difference is ideas are worthless if no action is taken from them. The best idea is the one you take action on. Having 1 idea which you decide to do something about is better than 1,000 ideas no one ever hears about.
Whatever your idea is, do something about it!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best investments I have always made have been the money I’ve spent on my own personal development. You can’t add value to others unless you first add value to yourself. Recently I was invited to attend a leadership conference with my wife Kirsty Rowe. The best $100 I have spent has been on events like this which have created the opportunity for me to associate with like-minded people who are hungry to grow. The event was a 2-day leadership conference that included a range of speakers, all of whom had significant experience and value to share. Included amongst the incredible lineup was Ultramarathon runner and a well-known mentally resilient kiwi Lisa Tamati who was amazing! We also heard from Jamie Fitzgerald who holds the world record for rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. Seriously inspirational stuff. On top of the fact that these stories were inspiring and unique, they also provided practical steps and applicable principles to take away from the weekend. This made that $100 so invaluable. I would highly recommend anyone invest a portion of their income towards their personal development on a regular basis.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
There are a few good ones. ‘Calendly’ is an excellent way to control my calendar by dictating when others can book time with me. Google Calendar works super well with this also. When it comes to eliminating distractions I find the ‘Flipd’ app great for shutting down my 3rd party apps on my phone to prevent me from endlessly scrolling and checking notifications when I need to be focused, or spend quality time with my beautiful wife Kirsty Rowe.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. This was one of the first personal development books I read and it made a big impact on my understanding of small daily habits. Kirsty Rowe also read this at the same time and it helped us discuss our vision as a couple and to dream more about where we wanted to be in the future. The Slight Edge is always working for you or against you. There is no in-between. Your daily habits are exponentially working to help you or to harm you. Make every day count!
What is your favorite quote?
“Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” – Galatians 6:9
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.