John Eades is the CEO of Learn Loft, a leadership development company he designed to forward the vision of enabling business professionals to become true leaders. I’m immensely inspired by how he truly epitomizes what it means to be a leader.
Another thing about John I admire is how he has fearlessly brought his dream to life: building a company that empowers business leaders by teaching them to create healthier work environments along the way.
Even if you don’t have the opportunity to work with John directly, you can still benefit from his learnings by exploring the high-caliber resources he creates. Check out his podcast, Follow My Lead: Developing the Leaders of Tomorrow with John Eades, to learn pearls of wisdom that will help you jumpstart your journey towards professional growth.
John has also published Building the Best, an incredible book that showcases his most innovative ideas and cherished hopes. John was inspired to write this book by his genuine desire to help others. It’s carefully formulated to help burgeoning entrepreneurs refine a clearer personal sense of success. Building the Best is a must-read for anyone at the start of their entrepreneurial aspirations, or at any point along the way.
“Here’s the hard news… If you are an entrepreneur, you or anybody else that’s going to go lead a team, you’re not born with these innate skills that are going to help you be effective every single day. You might be born with some innate leadership skills, but it is tough work when you have to go lead other people.”
The Risks and Rewards of Standing Out
John Eades’ first One Away experience transpired in the unlikeliest situation: in the driveway of a company holiday party as the night drew to a close. As he and a colleague were leaving the event, hosted by their then-employer, he took a deep breath and a leap of faith. He knew he wanted to ask her to leave the safety and comfort of a stable, salaried position behind, but was equally aware of how big of an ask this was to have faith in his dream, too.
With his imminent departure to strike out on his own in mind, he summoned the courage to pitch Christina Wilder on building a new business together.
“For anybody that’s ever had to step out on a limb and have confidence and faith that things would work out in the future, you already know that sense of uncertainty. These choices feel really risky, so it’s a tough moment for anybody to face, including me.”
Filled with emotion and internal conflict, what started as a tearful departure from the soiree turned into Christina’s current role as VP of Learn Loft. They’ve worked together step-by-step ever since. Throughout the interview, John expressed his deep gratitude that she came on board to join him. He told me how fortunate he feels that Christina has believed in his nascent vision from the very start.
A Business Partnership Founded on Synergistic Skill-sets
Before John even pitched Christina Wilder on this new partnership, he had a gut feeling that their distinct skill sets and diverse perspectives would make for the start of a great team.
“We have the polar opposite mentality, almost like magnets fighting against each other.”
Consider their diametrically opposed skill sets, each of which helps fill in the other person’s corresponding gaps in knowledge or areas of weaknesses:
- Christina is creative, while John has a pragmatic and logical lens that helps keep their brainstorming sessions grounded with the scope of actionable potential.
- Christina has more of a visual, aesthetic eye for detail, which suits John’s alternative perspective.
- Where John lacked video and content capabilities, Christina was able to bring those skills to the table.
- John has a very serious and intense approach to work, life, and business, while Christina has an incredible sense of humor that melts away all sorts of tension in any meeting.
- John mirrored many traits of the incredible people Christina had in her network, noting a strong similarity to Simon Sineck, so she took a risk in joining him based on this glimpse of his future potential for greatness
If you’re in a position now or in the future where you need to select the right business partner, keep the benefits of opposing viewpoints and mentalities in mind. The glue that ultimately holds this partnership together is a shared sense of meaning and purpose:
“There’s a principle in my book that says, “People persevere because of purpose, not pay.” The decisions you’re going to make must continue to provide for your team and create new opportunities. That visual of [my VP’s] daughter is part of the purpose. It’s part of why we do it. If it was just about money, we probably would have given up a long time ago. Keep your priorities at the forefront.”
Even though John and Christina often butt heads or run into conflicting ideas, they’re fundamentally united as a purpose-driven organization. When working in synergy, their distinct approaches always lead them to the right solution.
Top Five Takeaways from John Eades
In summary, here are the five lessons you should leave with by the end of this episode with John Eades:
- Accomplishing Great Achievements Requires Taking Great Risks
- As You Prioritize, Always Put Your Product and Vision Before Profit
- Opposites Attract, Even in Business: Forge Partnerships Around Synergy
- Teams Persevere at Purpose-Driven Organizations. Keep Your “Why” at the Forefront.
- The Perfect Business Partner Won’t Magically Appear on Your Doorstep. Actively Seek Out the People You Want on Your Team.
Learn how to implement these lessons in your business and in your life in John’s book, Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success, available on Amazon here.
I’ll leave you with this parting knowledge, a direct quote from John, before you listen to his words for yourself:
“Here’s the hard news. If you are an entrepreneur, you or anybody else that’s going to go lead a team, you’re not born with these innate skills that are going to help you be effective every single day. You might be born with some innate leadership skills, but it is tough work when you have to go lead other people.”
BRYAN WISH: Welcome, John! Let’s talk about your One Away moment.
JOHN EADES: I’m probably unique in that I have two. I’m going to start by giving you the first one. This experience really started all this for me. When I left the first organization that I worked for to strike out on my own, I wanted one of my colleagues that remained at that company to come with me. Her name is Christina Wilder.
At the time, I knew this would be a hard sell. She had a really stable job and a solid income, but I just had this feeling that she had the exact right skills that would transfer seamlessly to what we were going to go try to do.
I really wanted her to join me in starting my new business, so I knew I had to get out the sales pitch. I decided to take a shot at convincing her to join me while we were at a Christmas party one year for the company that I was going to be leaving, the same one she would ultimately be leaving, too.
At the end of the night, we walked out in the driveway together and I asked her to join my new endeavor while she was getting in her car. She just started bawling. She had really been mulling over this decision a lot. She said, “I want to do it. I want to take the risk and I’m going to go with you. Whether it works or not, I want to take the risk right now.” Long story short, she’s still with me to this day, almost five years later.
I’m so appreciative of this moment in our professional journey. We didn’t know what products we were going to create. We didn’t know how we were going to be successful. I just really appreciated her taking that leap in that moment. That’s my big One Away moment.
BRYAN WISH: You mentioned you were crying in your driveway when she made that decision.
JOHN EADES: She was crying. She was really overcome with emotion about making this really difficult decision. For anybody that’s ever had to step out on a limb and have confidence and faith that things would work out in the future, you already know that sense of uncertainty. These choices feel really risky, so it’s a tough moment for anybody to face, including me. I know that was a tough moment for her. I’m so appreciative that she decided to make that choice.
BRYAN WISH: What about Christina is so special? What did you see in her to say, “I want you to come on my team? I want to build something with you.” What helped her to make that decision to actually take that leap with you?
JOHN EADES: She’s the polar opposite of me, much like my wife. We’re polar opposites. We barely agree on anything. We don’t like many of the same things.
Our strengths are the opposite, which is one reason I really wanted her:
- Christina is creative; I’m not as creative.
- She’s got an eye for visual things. I don’t.
- She can create video and content and workbooks. I couldn’t.
We have the polar opposite mentality, almost like magnets fighting against each other, but I think that’s really what makes it work so well. We can battle in a meeting about an idea or about a model or about how a new product should look or feel. It can get a little contentious and uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, she knows that I want nothing but the best for her and our company and she wants the same for me. There’s a really high level of trust that we’ve developed over those years working together.
What attracted me originally was her skillset. I think what attracted, the other way around, is she had been around some other people in the content business and worked with some fantastic names, Simon Sinek, and others. She had a feel for what that might look like. I think she saw some of that in me even though it was really early and really raw and we still have a long way to go. It worked both ways.
BRYAN WISH: You mentioned that she has a daughter and it gives you a reason to persevere when things may not look as bright. Can you dive into that and that feeling of trying to make sure that she’s supported and her daughter?
JOHN EADES: She’s married and has a daughter of similar age as my oldest. We’ve been walking through the same season of life together as we’ve built the business. It’s been really hard. To be really candid, it’s not a whole lot easier right now.
There’s always a new hurdle whether it be revenue or products or clients or there’s always something new that you have to overcome. An employee leaves or anything that comes up.
Anytime it gets really challenging, I can’t help but think that the responsibility that I have to her and her daughter to say, “Here’s this mom that is going to work every single day, dropping her daughter off at school, picking her up at an after school program, working her tail off, didn’t come from a lot,” and I just feel an immense responsibility to try to provide her and her family the life that she ultimately really wants.
I keep her daughter’s face in my visual memory when things get hard because I’m like, “I want to do it for her.” I want to do it for my kids and I want to do it for our clients and the impact we’re trying to have. It’s a powerful bridge that we have.
There’s a principle in my book that says, “People persevere because of purpose, not pay.” As you just reflected on that decision that your colleague made and the decision you’re going to have make to continue to provide and create opportunity for them, that visual of her daughter is part of the purpose. It’s part of why we do it. If it was just about money, we probably would have given up a long time ago.
Keep your priorities in the forefront. We strive to be a purpose-drive organization. Being driven by a real purpose behind the work will help you and your team persevere through the more difficult moments.
I love the quote, “The only thing that’s guaranteed is the struggle.” Think about that. I don’t care if you’re Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods; you name the greatest athletes in the world that have hoisted the greatest trophies in the world, there’s been struggle there. It’s the only thing guaranteed. The results are not. That’s a tough pill to swallow when you’re starting a business or you’re a year or two years in because the results aren’t guaranteed.
BRYAN WISH: Let’s go back to Christina for a bit. You’ve been at this for five years now. What you built is really incredible. You do it the right way which is something else I really admire about you. What has Christina brought to the table?
JOHN EADES: Easiest answer I’ll ever give. Humor. I bring a very serious, intense side to work and life and business. She has this incredible sense of humor. She loves to laugh. She loves to tell jokes. Some of them are dirty. It’s just a fantastic person to come to work with.
Particularly, when in the next meeting you know it might get a little bit of butting heads. We’ve always been able to use that humor as a way to get a laugh during a tough day. One of our favorite lines is, “Boy, we needed that today.” Meaning that laugh. She’s got this incredible sense of humor.
At the same time, I’ve seen her really sprout as a professional. Her own confidence has grown in her work and in her ability to execute big projects and little projects and write on her own and start her own podcast.
While she might not want to be in front of the camera all the time, I’ve seen tremendous growth in her and that makes me excited. If this ends up not working out for some reason or another, I know she’s better prepared today to go add value to any company or any other leader than she was when we started. That fills me up.
BRYAN WISH: If 15, 20, 30 years down the road, what do you think she’d say about you?
JOHN EADES: We have a very candid and honest relationship. I think she’d be honest about my commitment, my perseverance through hard times, my passion for the subject that we work on and the clients that we try to help. I think she’d definitely say all those things. I think she also might say, “Well, some days he was hard to work with and for.” I think anybody that’s really intense and wants it bad and cares a lot, those people can be difficult to work with every single day and I respect that.
Just a couple weeks ago, with this whole book launch event, we were getting ready the night before the actual launch event, and I just had to tell her. I said, “Christine, I’m really sorry.” I was like, “I know I’ve been more intense and more controlling than I normally am. I know that’s difficult to work with someone like that all the time. I just want to tell you I’m sorry.”
She said, “I get it. It’s been a lot. There’s been a lot going on. I felt the same pressure you felt.” It was like this moment for us to kind of take a deep breath and apologize to each other. I think I’ll always remember that too.
Everybody needs a Christina Wilder. Every entrepreneur, every leader of a business, every daughter, every husband. She’s overcome a ton in her life and she’s made a commitment to get healthy herself. She’s worked really hard. She’s persevered. I know with 100% certainty that the book that we might talk about here in a second would not have happened without her. The models in it wouldn’t have happened without her.
Everybody needs somebody like that in their life. The key is that you’ve got to seek it out. It might just come to you. It might just happen. She might just walk on your doorstep one day or he might show up in your LinkedIn messages. That would be great. I proactively sought her out to go with me.
There’s a lesson there for any leader or any entrepreneur. It’s great when these people just show up but don’t be scared to seek out the people that you want; that you think can be complementary. It’s amazing where it might go.
BRYAN WISH: From what I see on Instagram, you’re great on the home front as well, which is also admirable. Let’s transition and talk about the book. Tell us about the book, why you wrote it, and what your hopes and dreams ae for it. This author path you’re down is inspiring to watch from the sidelines.
JOHN EADES: Any time you’re trying to share ideas and inspire others, you look for the best possible ways that you can do that. If it’s a parent, it’s probably going to be through relationships with your kids. As an entrepreneur, it might be through mediums such as video or writing or audio. Some way to share ideas and spread your message and get more people to get involved in it.
I never thought of myself as a writer, but I quickly figured out that writing was a good way for us to share ideas and to get them to spread. Once we got on this path of leadership and wanting to share what the best leaders did, I knew in my heart that I always wanted to have a book. I thought it was the very best way I could share ideas. Since then, we’ve grown to now speak and share ideas that way too. It’s just another medium. I always thought the book was the first way to do it.
When we got the opportunity with McGraw-Hill, to put some of these ideas into the world, I just jumped on it. The way it happened to me is I had to let one of my team members go that joined with Christina. Things were not going well in that first year. I decided to call her into my office at the end of a Thursday night. I looked her in the eyes and I let her go.
She looked me at me without batting an eye and said, “ John Eades , I didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t know what we were doing and I certainly didn’t know how I was helping us get there.” If anybody has ever sat in that chair and had to let somebody go, they know it is a difficult thing to do.
It’s even more difficult when you have to be the one receiving the message of saying, “The problem wasn’t me. The problem was you, man.” Jocko Willink famously said, “There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.” I was living proof of that.
I put my own head in my own hands after she left. I cried like a baby knowing that I had failed her and Christina and other team members that we had. That’s what helped create this mission of turning managers into leaders and creating healthier places to work. I knew I was going to do everything in my power to not let that happen to other people.
Here’s the hard news. If you are an entrepreneur, you or anybody else that’s going to go lead a team, you’re not born with these innate skills that are going to help you be effective every single day. You might be born with some innate leadership skills, but it is tough work when you have to go lead other people. The book you were a part of and the book that’s in your hands is a way to help someone get some of that education and most importantly, turn it into wisdom so you can go apply it with your people.
There’s a guy named Dr. Myles Munroe. He’s passed away, but a phenomenal communicator. He said, “There’s a big difference in knowledge, comprehension, and wisdom.” Knowledge is at the bottom level. It’s like table stakes and with the internet today, it’s there if you want it.
Once you can go read that book, can you go comprehend what’s in it? Sometimes we might need a teacher or a mentor or a coach to help us really, truly comprehend it. What we’re ultimately after getting to some level of wisdom which would be being able to apply these things in the way that we lead. That’s what I’ve tried to get to in the essence of this book.
BRYAN WISH: Where can people buy the book and where can they find you?
JOHN EADES: LinkedIn is the best place. We’re trying to do more on Instagram. Instagram is @JohnGEades. LinkedIn is just my name, John Eades. You can get Building the Best wherever you get your books from; Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible. It would mean the world to me if your audience went and got it.