[quote style=”boxed”]”By letting yourself be vulnerable, you invite failure, but success trails closely behind.”[/quote]
As president and CEO of The Gordon Group, a holding company that primarily manages GraduationSource and Avanti Systems USA, Matthew Gordon strives to foster positive corporate culture. Additionally, his passion for empowering young minds carries over into all aspects of the company’s management. Gordon began his career as a teacher before taking over his father’s business. Under his leadership, the company’s sales increased exponentially, eventually reaching more than $46 million. He resides in the greater New York City area with his lovely wife.
What are you working on right now?
I’m always working on a number of things across our diverse companies, but a particularly exciting project I’m involved with right now is our innovative intern class program. Basically, we have tasked an entire high school class of interns with running the launch promotion of our new company, Wyckedwares.com. These students are responsible for initiating creative ways to engage customers. We gave them full permission to take the project and run with it, which is in keeping with the theme of empowerment that I have always stressed at The Gordon Group.
And these kids did not disappoint! They not only developed the social media promotion from the ground up, but in just two weeks, they had already socially engaged a large community of potential customers. The project has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, teachers, and new customers. Plans are already underway for a year-round program!
Where did the idea for Wyckedwares.com come from?
A huge part of a successful enterprise is recognizing a market need and filling it. The concept for Wyckedwares.com originated when we noticed a void of supply in response to the demand for high-quality costumes and women’s apparel in the online market. The company was formed from that single, simple observation.
What does your typical day look like?
After I wake up, I usually answer emails and troubleshoot any daily issues. Usually, I kick off the day with a morning workout before heading to the office. One of my favorite workouts is Mysore Ashtanga Yoga; I find it brings balance and a deeper meaning to the day. If I’m lucky, I end the day out on my boat or spending time with my wife.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I do it as quickly as possible! I am grateful to have an amazing team of what I call “CEO multipliers,” who collaborate to turn my vision into reality at near-inhuman speeds. Thanks to their extraordinary efforts, I can focus my energy on new concepts and ventures.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Younger generations bring unique energy and creativity to the workplace. My younger employees offer fresh viewpoints and innovative suggestions for better ways to connect with our audience.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I started working in the fourth grade and haven’t stopped since, so I’ve held quite a few diverse positions. The first that comes to mind was the time I spent selling seeds door-to-door in the hopes of winning a contest I’d spotted on the back of a comic book. One particularly snowy winter, I lined up shoveling shifts. Regardless of the job, I have been able to see positives and negatives in every position I’ve held. In particularly dismal situations, I taught myself to turn the negatives into a game to make the best of those situations.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Fail early and often. Ideally, you should fail in your teens or early 20s. Many fundamental lessons can be learned only through failure. Successful entrepreneurship will be difficult, if not impossible, for someone who hasn’t learned how to get up and get back to work on a new idea, even after a brutal setback.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Focusing on daily tasks in your organization will not grow your company. While these general maintenance items may be necessary for day-to-day upkeep, you need to make time every single day to work toward your overall business strategy.
What are your three favorite online tools and what do you love about them?
Wrike is a simple, intuitive way to manage multiple projects and teams online. It has been an instrumental management tool as my business has grown. TripIt is another favorite, which I use to keep all my travel information in a central place. And, of course, there’s Yelp. Whenever I’m on the road, this lifesaving site keeps me in the know with helpful tips about local establishments.
Tell us a secret.
I am an avid, high-performance boat racer.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d recommend “Outthink the Competition” by Kaihan Krippendorff. Whether you are an entrepreneur, in business, or just getting into business, this book provides essential strategies and ideas on the creative process that will help you stay ahead of the competition. We have successfully incorporated key concepts from the book into our annual strategic planning at The Gordon Group.
What’s on your playlist?
I listen to Top 40 pop music.
Name three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@DanSchawbel will tell you everything you want to know about the Millennial generation, while entrepreneur extraordinaire @YanikSilver adds weight to the conversation about the value of empowering today’s youth. Lastly, I recently saw @AlGore present at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, and he really changed my mind on a number of subjects. We all need that different perspective in order to grow.
If you weren’t working on The Gordon Group, what would you be doing?
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a common theme throughout my work, so this answer shouldn’t come as a surprise. If I wasn’t heading up The Gordon Group, I would be developing startup incubators for young entrepreneurs, which is exactly what I plan on doing after we launch this brand. We are always looking for partners, startups, and great team members, so email us if you are interested; we promise not to bite!
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
During a recent trip to northern Sweden, a group of us emerged from a very hot sauna into subzero temperatures. For some reason, my companions decided that rolling in the snow — while wearing next to nothing — would be an efficient way to cool down. I thought it was hysterical…until it was my turn.
Who is your hero?
I am not a fan of idolization. Everyone is human: I try to find the value in each individual. I do admire Richard Branson and Steve Jobs for their creative success, as well as how they both overcame adversity to achieve greatness.
Tell me about a time you failed. What did you learn?
Failures are proportional to success, and I’ve had my fair share of failures. By letting yourself be vulnerable, you invite failure, but success trails closely behind. A strange thing happens when you’re faced with failure and crisis: Creativity emerges. To that end, I think of failure as my friend.
What would you have done differently in your personal life?
So far, I am content with my life’s journey. I choose not to focus my energy on “what ifs” and “What could have been?” Instead, I look toward what I can do every single day to be the best possible version of myself.
Matthew Gordon on LinkedIn:
Matthew Gordon on Twitter: @Graduate_Source
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.