2×4 With Dan Gordon

2×4: One series that examines two topics, creativity and productivity, by asking those who make things on the web the same four questions on both subjects.

I’ve been fortunate to call Daniel Gordon both a friend and colleague for some time now. We have a lot in common. We come from and work in our family jewelry businesses, we both are avid techies with a passion for social media and are family men who strive to juggle all of these elephants in our daily lives. In other words, we don’t lack for common interest.

Beyond being an all-around great guy, Dan has this infectious way about him. He is unfailingly genuine and lives a impressive and/or scary amount of his life in public. Yet he manages to do so in a way that makes people want to engage more. Dan’s the kind of guy who isn’t afraid to try radically new things with his family’s 100+ year-old business and has a hilarious blog that chronicles some of the crazier things that come from the jewelry industry.

Without further ado, here is a look into the wild world of Daniel Gordon:

Creativity

Have you always considered yourself to be a creative person?

I can’t say that I have always considered myself creative, but I’ve always been aware of being very curious person. It took a long time to realize that combining my penchant for daydreaming with a vigor for understanding had lead me to take action. I’ve even managed to turn some of my far-fetched ideas into realities along the way. The more success I’ve had, the more confident I become and the more I find my creative juices start flowing. It tends to be a self-perpetuating cycle, oftentimes a fleeting thought or a long forgotten memory will spark the evolution of an entirely new idea.

What mediums and inspirations do you gravitate towards to realize your creative goals?

I truly get inspired by the little things. It could be the lyrics of a song, a sentence I read, some words of wisdom from a friend, or even a tiny discovery from observing everyday life. I’ve reached a point where the dots are starting to connect and they tend to forge a clear path forward. I don’t expect anything to happen on its own; I still need to show up and do the work. But life offers up a multitude of circumstances that often lead me to where I need to go. In the end, I get what I need through listening, observing and taking in all I can that is around me.

If you had to point to one thing, what specific posts or creation are you most proud of and why?

It may not be a creation, but I pride myself on knowing the right questions to ask. I have always believed if I know the right questions, I’ll be able to learn the answers needed to make the best possible decisions. I think the key to creation is the realizing what we know, figuring out what we have to learn and using that information to make something tangible.

Any suggestions for those who feel they may not be creative take to unlock their inner artist?

Play pretend. Go back to when you were a child and remember those innocent times when anything and everything was possible. When we finally grow up, we seem to inherit all these silly rules, strict policies, overly complicated politics and guidelines we feel we must abide by. Throw them away! I’m not suggesting you go and get yourself arrested, but take more chances and let go of your inhibitions. Take chances and apply what you’ve learned to what you make. If you believe it can happen, you take the first and most important step to making something happen. It’s easier said than done, but go back to that place where you could imagine the untraditional. There’s magic there.

Productivity

Can you describe your current personal and professional responsibilities?

Professionally speaking as President of Samuel Gordon Jewelers, I’m responsible for our on and offline marketing campaigns, our buying, inventory management and merchandising, sales, advertising, staff management and customer-service policies. Personally I am responsible to my wife, Aimee, and our three children, Braden, Zachary and our newest addition, Hadley. I am also involved in many local philanthropic and business community events including the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and the American Marketing Association. I’m a community activist; I help organize or participate an average of 15 local events annually for myself or for Samuel Gordon Jewelers.

How do you go about balancing the personal, professional and digital?

I schedule my time as if it were currency. My morning is spent preparing for the day and I prioritize what tasks need to be handled by level of urgency. The evenings are family time until the children are in bed and then I play catch up answering any emails and tending to the items that time got the best of earlier in the day. I usually spend a solid 3 hours, usually from 9pm to Midnight connecting online, catching up on current events as well as industry news and working on an array of future business initiatives.

What tools and techniques do you find yourself counting on to get through your workload?

I try my best to set time limits. I kick out emails in the morning and mid afternoon. I bookmark almost all of my content through Instapaper and catch up on reading by listening to audio books during drive time. If a current project is frustrating me and I feel as if I cannot move any further, I shelve it for later or bring someone in for some fresh perspective. I always feel that time is better spent moving to an entirely different project rather than trying to force one forward when I feel as if I’m spinning my wheels. I use an array of Google apps to have my information with me wherever I happen to be.

What is the best starting point for the unproductive amongst us, who are looking to get more organized?

Take all your responsibilities and list them on a piece of paper. When I see things in writing they become more tangible and it helps me focus on accomplishing my goals more diligently. Treat it like a game; for every item accomplished, you level up. Sure, it’s a never-ending process, but once you start looking at it this way, it really gets the ball rolling. If you choose wisely, all the little tasks can lead up to some very impressive projects.

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  • http://dangordon.me/ Dan Gordon

    Thanks, Michael. Appreciate you having me on ’2×4′ to share my thoughts. & I must agree 100%, it does get rather scary at times :)

  • http://www.bobbylehew.typepad.com/ Bobby Lehew

    In short: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” Seems I’ve heard this somewhere before. Great interview, rich responses. Thanks for keeping your finger on the share button, Dan!

    • http://dangordon.me/ Dan Gordon

      Appreciate very much, Bobby! When we did the podcast recently, something you said in the intro really stuck in my head which mirrors what Michael refers to here, as well. Risk Taking. The funny thing is, I don’t think I take enough & I truly hope I never ever do :) Thanks for taking the time. Hopefully catch up with you & Brian again soon.

  • Todd R Chandler

    I love the concept of “asking the right questions” as a creation. One of the best ways to know you’ve created something of great value is when you see others “borrow” it. Anyone who has interacted with Dan knows he loves to ask questions, and one he asks several times a day is “Anything I need to know?” I’ve borrowed that question many times and often end my emails with it. Thanks for that helpful creation.