Transcript: Jora Gill – global CTO (Max#27)

Welcome to the latest transcript of an inspiring interview with one of the very best CTO’s on the globe.

He is renowned for being successful in applying effective management techniques from other industries within his own departments, resulting in him achieving a highly successful Company and career.


Kevin: Welcome to Maximise Potential the podcast to educate and motivate through a range of original interviews designed to help you maximise your potential. Brought to you in association with the award winning recruitment group Jenrick.

Welcome everyone to episode 27 of Maximise your Potential. Jora Gill has developed a reputation for being one of the very best CTOs on the globe. He’s regularly featured in leading management publications and is frequently a guest speaker and panellist at conferences discussing innovative management techniques and the future of IT. He is known as a pioneer who regularly seeks to apply management techniques from other industries within his own departments normally resulting in substantial improvements that have never been witnessed before. As a person Jora is dedicated to ongoing learning and development and is quick to emphasis that he is no way near the finished article and that he learns something new every single day. Here is a wonderful insight into the approach Jora has taken throughout his highly successful career. Please enjoy.


Jora thank you very much for joining us today.

Jora: Pleasure.

Kevin: This interview today is all about your career and the approach you have taken within your career which has worked incredibly well for you and I think there is some lovely stories that we can resonate and share with our audience to do with that. I read an interview about you and what you said was be yourself. You said that was the key to your success within your career but you said then you said unfortunately however it took me years to realise that. And I just immediately thought wow what a powerful line and what an honest answer to give because I can’t imagine many people giving that answer and if it is alright with you that is where I would love to start today. What prompted you to say that and why did you say that, what did that mean to you?

Jora: What it means to me is that you know a sort of honesty to myself being able to share that honesty openly and I think if you can’t even say that then you are not really being yourself. And I think it goes back to I have forgotten the name of the book but there is a wonderful small book and I think it is written by a Spanish writer where he is trying to find, it is about a story of a boy who is trying to find you know some treasure whatever the treasure is he is looking for. So he goes on a journey and I read this book many, many years ago. I actually thought the treasure he was trying to find was something of value that you know could make him rich or enhance his life in a certain way. I probably read this probably about 15 years or maybe longer than that and recently I was sort of reflecting on books that I have read and reflecting on that one and I was thinking actually what the writer meant was the journey is actually about finding yourself and it is not actually trying to find a pot of treasure at the end of it. And what I have found over the years as my career has sort of moving up isn’t the right word I would use but moving in a different direction, what I found is that it all comes back to where you started from and that really is having a trust in yourself. So there is a lot written these days about NLP you know Neuro Linguistic Programming and really a lot of that is really trying to build confidence in yourself as a new theory or new to the main stream CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which again you are looking at yourself going why did I get angry in that meeting or why did I shout at my children you know and then you are almost writing down the reason why you did that. But the interesting thing about that theory is that you are not actually looking for the answer through a psychiatrist you are asking yourself because you have the answers inherently I believe in yourself.

Kevin: Is that something you have done more in shall we say the later years or have you always tried to be very self reflective within your life in general?

Jora: I think I have always tried to be self reflective but I have also felt that other people have known the answer. So if somebody has told me, I mean my background is technology so I started off as a technical manager so if my boss at that time had said to me ‘Oh you have done that really badly wrong you should have done it this way’ I would have gone and [inaudible 04:30] step by step going that is exactly what I need to do. As I was moving up my career I would see people who were ahead of me in terms of management where I wanted to get to so I would start picking up skills that they had and there is nothing wrong with that I think actually it is a good learning experience. Then I went to an unhealthy experience where I wanted to try to be like that you know so if I had a manager who was particularly tough and got results I thought okay that is what you need to do be tough bang a few tables and that way I will get results and I will get respect you know from my peers and from my team you know and from the people who are above me in the organisation. In my later years I figured out that doesn’t actually fit in with my personality and I was trying to be something that I am not. And I think when you try to do that people see straight through you especially the teams that you represent they can pick up in the leader that they have and his leadership style that this person is actually disjointed they are saying one thing or acting in a certain way but it is not connecting and it is not resonating with us.

Kevin: Let me just interject quickly.

Jora: Sure.

Kevin: You said that there was a certain point where you suddenly went from almost looking externally for the answers and then all of a sudden there was a click, it changed. Can you remember what that remember was?

Jora: I won’t go into details of what actually clicked because it wasn’t a particularly nice incident but what happened once I had an argument with you know a peer who felt that my team weren’t performing to the best of their abilities and I felt that actually it was his teams fault and the argument sort of started off very professionally and then went downhill you know I was sort of beating him into submission but it got very personal. And I sort of walked out of that argument and I went yes you know beat him you know and told my team and we all had high fives, this was working in investment bank so all of us were being particularly macho at having beaten this person into submission. And then I went home and sort of went to my wife ‘Oh had a great day at work’ and she went ‘why’ and I said ‘oh this chap you know he really came at me and I sort of destroyed him’ and she went ‘okay you broke down his argument you know you put your forward argument’ and I went ‘yeah but then I went and sort of got, we really got personal and I sort of broke down his personality.’ And my wife turned round and went ‘but that is awful you know in the real world outside of banking this isn’t how people act’. That was the trigger that actually I asked myself why did I think this was such a good thing. And I think when you start working within an environment whatever that environment is be it you know as a school teacher or somebody in investment bank or in the army you take up that culture of the organisation that you are actually in. And I think the real trick and you can’t help it the culture will sway you along, the real trick then is to actually start saying is this right you know does this actually you know what I am doing here does it actually work for me for my principals you know could I look at my children and say you know this is what I did and would they be proud of me. You know would this be something that if you ever wrote a biography that you would want to include and they are not. And I think once you start forming principals and the principals don’t have to be something huge you know they can be just very simple like can I look at myself in the mirror after that meeting and sort of say I did a good job there. It was my wife, I will give credit to my wife was the trigger for me actually changing my mindset. Hopefully she will never listen to this podcast.

Kevin: But I would say touching upon the point that you bought up about fitting in with the culture of an organisation for you to buck that culture that takes a lot of inner strength.

Jora: I think it takes a lot of soul searching. When you try to buck a culture especially if you think the culture is wrong you then decide that the teachers that are teaching you within in the culture are the wrong teachers so then you start searching for new teachers.

So I started you know searching for NLP for example. I found a really good coach in NLP and you know worked with the coach who taught me that well what do you think? What is your opinion, what is your view? Then I started learning communication skills because if you are going to buck the trend you have got to buck it in a professional way especially if you are working in a professional organisation. So I thought how can I communicate at best I will have to find a teacher who doesn’t go around banging tables that can still put their point of view across so I started looking at people outside of our industry. I know politics has got a particularly bad name at the moment when you looked at really good politicians they could put their answer across really well without actually banging any tables or shouting. So I looked at Clinton and I thought well there is somebody who’s really cool but you know has got a sort of southern drawl, you know he is not your sort of typical politician he doesn’t wave his arms around but he has respect and people listen to him. You know how does he do that, how does he actually manage to get that done.

So I started studying people like Clinton. I started studying CEOs who I think have got really good integrity like Branson. I think he really cares about his organisation. I heard once that in the 80s he had to let a lot of people go and when I read his autobiography he sort of made the announcement in front of a podium and then ran outside of his organisation and cried outside where he couldn’t be seen because he felt you know that he had let people down and he said you know this wasn’t sort of a business decision with him it was a personal decision. So I think you know what I went searching for next was to find the right teachers who could sort of resonate with my thinking and could teach me in a way that you know I could understand or I could comprehend. I could comprehend what they were saying rather than teachers that you know I thought they were right, they sounded really good but I couldn’t really comprehend what they were saying.

Kevin: And I think you touched on two points there. First of all you actually went completely outside your environment, your working environment and I think that is one point I would like to explore. Second point there was I am interested to know whereabouts you started looking for this, you said you came across NLP, you said you suddenly went looking for inspirational people that you wanted to learn about. Where did you find all this information because again self development and taking those initial steps is I think probably the hardest because people are so caught up in their bubble of their working environment it consumes them and to make those first steps of actually saying, extracting yourself from the environment and finding some space in your own mind where you can actually go and learn I think is quite important to discuss a bit more.

Jora: I think it goes back to sort of the journey that the book that I read sort of earlier. I went outside looking for coaches in NLP, looking for communication coaches, going to toast masters, all very credible organisations. But then what I did was I bought that learning back into the organisation and I wasn’t afraid to sort of discuss it with sort of peers or my team. And then what I found was that there is actually a community within all organisations even the organisation I said earlier has a culture there is a community that actually disagree if the culture is wrong. And what you have to do within your organisation is go find that community. You know there is lots of people within your organisation you will find who think like you who want to make a change, who want to do the right things without high principals and if you can find those people and seek them out they actually start, rather you start learning from them. So what I found was that a person who actually worked for me was an NLP coach, his name is Gary Sage, and he was actually trained by Richard Bandler who is one of the inventors of NLP.

Kevin: Yeah and you never knew this before?

Jora: I didn’t know this because I had never talked to him at a personal level. Ours was a business conversation you know he was running systems for me, he was a Project Manager running systems for me. It was only when I started talking more openly that he said oh actually you see I know a bit about NLP. And when we started talking he said yeah I know Richard Bandler, Paul McKenna is a good friend of mine we learnt together. And I went hang on I have just spent all this time searching outside and again the answer is right there. And the guy sat next to me and the person sat next to you was the person who actually had all the experience and all the knowledge.

Kevin: And what a lesson to learn.

Jora: It is and it keeps going back. My story keeps going back to you know we are surrounded by people who are inspirational you don’t have to go and seek Bill Clinton out. The peers who are sat with you when you start listening to their life stories, the things they do for work outside and there are a lot of guys here within my organisation who do a lot of charitable work, just give up their weekends to work in an Oxfam shop and give up their holidays you know to go and work in Africa. That is there summer holiday and I had these people working for me. So I am surrounded by inspirational people we’ve created a society where people have put up barriers around them. For some reason those barriers are very easy to knock down. I mean there is a lady you know I just started talking to recently on the train, I catch the same train for six years, she has been catching the same train for six years and one day I just sat next to her and I said oh it is terrible isn’t it you know the snow and trains are always late. I found out so much about her and actually it was somebody now I wish I had employed many years ago she is such a smart person that I was thinking what a waste of six years I could have just gone up to you. And I think that for some reason these barriers have been created with the society that we live in and I think the real risk and the real guts is actually just to walk up to people.

I used to read books about mentoring, sorry not mentoring networking and I used to be the shy guy in the corner because I was going I don’t know what to say, what is the first thing you say. What I hadn’t realised is that everybody is shy and all you have to do is walk up to somebody and say ‘hi my name is Jora’ you know ‘my name is Kevin I am here to do this what are you here to do?’ and all of a sudden you suddenly start getting a crowd around you because you are the two talking and then there is three of you and then four of you. And then people start going well that is a leader you know. And a leader isn’t actually about sort of leading people it is actually about bringing people together. People just begin to collaborate together. Even my stance on what leadership was has changed over the years.

Kevin: Go on talk to me more about that and also if you can touch upon the impact that when you started breaking down those barriers and just asking questions and just telling people about yourself a bit more what did that do for the motivation, for the productivity for the cohesiveness of the teams you were managing?

Jora: I think on the leadership aspect leadership over the years has got confused that the leader has all the answers. And it took me years to figure out that actually the leader has very little answers but what the leader can do is give you a direction they can give you a vision and a mission of what we are trying, and a set of principles. We have a team charter in our organisation that we live by. We have things around turning up on time at meetings, being respectful for somebody else’s point of view, letting them finish. It all sounds pretty childish but we said this is our team charter and we live by this charter. I think that is what leadership is and I think had you, how did I go about moving away from being my old style of management to this new open style of management. What I found was when I started talking openly about things that I really care about and I care about my teams and I care about the outcomes and I care about how well we do. This is going to sound cocky but every time I walk into an organisation I generally believe it the first question or one of the first questions I ask people is how many of you actually feel that you have ever worked in an A team? And usually I get, I am lucky to get 2% put their hands up. And I have worked in a few of these and the experience is unbelievable. And I want everybody to experience working in an A team. So as I sort of get passionate about certain topics in leadership or management what I found is as I get passionate that passion sort of manifests itself in the next person and I think that is the quality of leadership how to motivate people up to a point. Because if they can buy your passion and it is there’s then they are going to start delivering on that passion and pass it around.

I used to be a developer many, many years ago and you know there was a room near me where the Head of Technology sat and all the power meetings would happen in this room. My goal was to get into that room by hook or crook one day I was going to make it into that room. And it took me 10 years to get into that room so I was there with the head honchos and we were making really important decisions and the strange thing and another turning point when I got in the room I said actually you know I really want to be out on the floor. You know because it really is not fun in here it is a bit dull and it is a bit stale all the fun is actually happening out there.

Kevin: So you spent your whole time trying to get in there and then once you are there it is like yeah okay fine.

Jora: It goes back to that journey, it goes back to it was there all along I just hadn’t realised it. It took a paradon shift for me to actually realise where the original paradon was where all the action was. So I think I take management leadership really seriously. I think there is a lot of people want to get into management for the wrong reasons. They want to get into management because they think they can boss people around or they want to get into management because they think they are going to be sort of looked at as somebody really important. Or they want to get into management because they think they are going to earn more money. The trouble is if you get into management for any of those reasons you are not going to last a very long time or if you do you are not really going to progress because to get into management A you have to study it both management and leadership, B you have to be passionate about it and C you have to figure out that the only people who are going to move you up the next level are the people who are working for you not actually the people who are above you.

Kevin: That is interesting. Okay talk to me more about that because I think people just think all the time that the only people they need to impress is the people above them.

Jora: It is simple it is only organisations who think it is more complex but if you take it sort of simple example of football, a football manager survives weekly basis on how well his team performs. For some reason we think when we come into the organisation that it is the Chairman that is going to decide our career I don’t really need to care about my striker or my defender or my star developer or my best business analyst because the Chairman is going to move me up. But they are not because they are only going to move you up if you deliver on results. And to deliver on results you really need to have a really good team, the A team because if you haven’t got the A team you are not going to move anywhere. But then you have got to go and create the A team. The trick is actually learning how do you create an A team and after that everything happens automatically. I mean the chap I talked about and I thought he was mad at the time Gary Sage, this is a great plug for him, the NLP coach but he just said to me a couple of things I really, really remember, he said when you let go things just come to you and the more you try the harder it is to actually attain what you are trying to get to. And I thought that was mad at the time but actually you know one of the things that I did do when I took on a new style of leadership was I let go. I said look I am not interested anymore about being promoted you know what I am really interested in is building a really strong team. And making sure that the team has fun, making sure we build something of value and being proud of ourselves you know when we build it. And low and behold as I let go because I said I am no longer interested to get promoted on the back of the passion I got promoted so he was right. You know if you let go and stop focussing on the next goal in your career and start focussing on where you are now that is when you actually achieve something.

Kevin: And how much happier were you inside when you actually came to that conclusion?

Jora: It is a strange one because human beings naturally, I think we feed off each other and given that my team seemed so much happier and they were having fun I was so much happier. So there isn’t something inside that actually happened it was something outside that came in because I could see wow look I am working in this team. I mean I also say to my teams and I go back to football because you know when you have watched a sort of Arsenal or Man U play at their height just the way they were passing the ball and as a neutral I support neither or those teams but as a neutral just to watch it, it was a beautiful game. And then when I started watching my teams actually you know the way they were working together and collaborating and each one of them wanted the other one to succeed because they realised that if my colleague here fails and then we fail as a team. And then when you watch that and if you have ever been in an A team or witnessed that or felt it, it is something that you can’t actually say in words you just know it when you are there, you just know you are in an unbelievable team.

Kevin: I am just going to rest everybody, put their minds at rest who are listening to this podcast because we are going to be talking about the specifics of the A team, creating an A team and managing that actually in an interview that is going to follow this current one. So please don’t be concerned if you are all sitting there going wow I want to know about this A team thing don’t worry we are going to come on to that. But we are just going to try and keep Jora focussed on himself although I can tell straight away that Jora feels far more comfortable and is far more interested about talking about the people around him and that is a very interesting side to you and I think comes back and really reinforces everything you have saying on this story so far actually. It is all about the people around you. That seems to be driving your passion actually because I can hear it in your voice that you are just enthused but you are enthused about this collective enthusiasm that surrounds you and you just seem to be happy sitting in the middle of it and fuelling that.

Jora: Leadership in my eyes is very simple you have to create a vision you know the map where are we headed and why are we headed there. And the second part is you have to assemble really good people and put them in the right roles and then once you have assembled them and put them in the right roles you need to remove all the barriers for those people to succeed and that is why I am so passionate about the team because as a leader my job isn’t actually to in a sense lead them every single day my job is actually to make sure that they perform at optimum level every single day.

Kevin: Let me ask you about that because when I was researching your career prior to this interview something I noticed was you actually turned round and said your biggest ever mistake was trying to actually please senior management over and above the performance or the internal performance of your team and you said if there was anything that was what you really wish you could go back and actually change. And I think you just touched on it then. So was it before, was this all part of in that earlier managerial career where you felt that it was actually keeping the people above you happy that that was how it was all going to work for you?

Jora: Yeah I mean that was I mean as simple as that. I thought if I could please the people above me they would promote me. You know that sort of sounds childish or naive now but you know I thought you know if you could keep the people above you really satisfied and thinking that you are on their side and you agree with them all the time that would be reason to get promoted. And now you know I am sort of at a senior level really what I want my managers to do is challenge me because I may have an idea but if I put my managers together I know it is going to be 10 times better by the time we have finished our brainstorming or thinking about that idea. And if my managers all just agree with me then we are going to have an idea that is 10 times worse. You know it took me a while to figure that out. But now I hire people who are actually challenging. I think early on in my career probably why, I wouldn’t use the word stalled because I will come back to that but why I felt I wasn’t moving up the ladder I couldn’t understand because I was saying I am doing all the right things, I am saying the right words you know I am sort of grovelling when I am supposed to grovel and you know capping my hat at the right time so why are they not promoting me. So I think then sort of realising actually because I am not actually adding any value I am just doing my job to move to the next level you have to go beyond your job. So I think to move to the next level you have to add additional value. People have this sort of performance review often in lots of organisations and some people wonder why they score average or target or whatever the scale is because you are doing your job, you are doing a good job but you are not doing anything beyond what your job asks for.

Kevin: But beyond is not working harder is it, it is adding something different to the mix?

Jora: It is a horrible phrase but it is working smarter. I think it is challenging yourself, challenging your team but also challenging your business partners. I will go back to technology for year’s technology people have been in the back office. You know we used to data processing, we used to do excel calculations and then since the turn of 2000 we are suddenly at the front office because the internet has come along. The mindset of technology leaders, some technology leaders is still the mindset of the back office. So they are still going to the business going what project would you like us to do and the business going well we want you to do X, Y and Z. And they deliver the project on time and on budget. But they are not actually moving the needle in the business. So the way I approach it is you know what are your business goals, did you want to increase your revenue? You know do you want to be more efficient? And in priority order what are your goals? And then when the business comes with the project I will go okay you want me to do this project so where does it fit in your goals? If it is low down I will go sorry we are not doing the project and the reply may come ‘you are IT you know we are the customer’ and I will go ‘no my customer is sat outside who actually pay my salary you are a peer. If you pick the wrong project or force me to go to the wrong project our organisation isn’t going to realise any value. Given that we are peers and we are both working in a business outcome and value mindset I am not doing your project because I have got another project that is going to provide more value based on this criteria.’ And I think it takes IT management it takes courage to actually turn around. Don’t forget that a lot of IT managers are similar to me in the background of always being told what to do, through a developer, your business analyst, project manager you know you have always been told what to do and now all of a sudden you know we are saying no you are not supposed to do that anymore you are actually supposed to question why you are doing that.

Kevin: That comes, sorry to interrupt, that comes through actually taking the time to gain a more lateral awareness of the bigger business objectives. I think that’s what you were really touching on there.

Jora: I think it is lateral but also stepping back from your day to day job. One of the things again going back to the team and myself I will say you need 10% space thinking time because if you don’t do that you are doing things, maybe the wrong things but you are constantly on the go. So you have to question yourself and your team why are we doing this? Sometimes I see sort of IT projects and sort of go in and I go so what is the objective of this project and there is a hush in the room – we don’t know we have just been told to develop some code. It is almost like telling someone okay just run round the block 20 times you know would you do it? I mean god no you would say well why do you want me to run round the block 20 times. But you know in IT projects we just go ahead and we run round the block 20 times. The one good thing my previous organisation actually did was hold me back because when they held me back I had to go on a learning, I had to learn as I said NLP, communication, project management and that was the best learning I ever had and now when people come to me for advise on general things in my organisation I can give advice. And people going ‘how do you know all this?’ and I am going because I was held back because the best thing my organisation did was hold me back. Because you know I see a lot of managers who have just moved up very quickly but they just haven’t got the knowledge so when they are asked questions you know we are in trouble, we have got a crisis we have got a credit crunch, you know there is a massive crisis what should we do. With my managers the one thing that I do is when they ask me a question I never give them an answer I give them options because I think if you give people options they will grow. And also if I give them the answer I haven’t got the full picture so by asking lots of good questions I get a better picture and I find by asking lots of good questions they actually get the answer and actually they grow as people. And I think the other thing I have actually learnt is that and this is corny but we are all CEOs but we are all CEOs of ourselves, we are all products of ourselves you know with you Kevin you know people will say describe Kevin to me and it is the top three answers how they will describe you that actually says what is Kevin like as a product. You know what is Jora like as a product. And I think you have to look at yourself and go what sort of product am I what would people say about me. I think it is two things. I think one is how would people describe you and two is how would you want people to describe you and then do a gap analysis between the two. I sort of set myself certain principals that I want to live by and I decided I have to emanate those principals all the time.

For my sins I have just finished the Blair book and I think the thing, it is actually a really good book, the snippets of it are fascinating. One thing that he said about leadership is that you are on show all the time you know you slip once; you make that one mistake that breaks all the trust that you have spent years making. I really believe that you know that sort of one mistake where you sort of, one huge mistake certainly we all make small mistakes all the time but that one sort of one mistake that really goes against your principals it is going to break down you know your whole image and how people perceive you. And whether they trust you.

Kevin: And so again that goes back to if you are true to yourself in the first place and true to your values then of course those mistakes are going to be few and far between because you are living and breathing yourself as a true person anyway aren’t you.

Jora: You do and I think with that consistency what I am trying to say is you don’t have to be sort of the same, behave the same way all the time in terms of you have to know your audience. So if I am going to have a chat with one of my team members you know we may have that chat over a beer and it will be very casual you know we will talk in a certain way. If I am going to have a chat with our CEO you know it may be very formal. That doesn’t mean you are actually breaking any of your principals you know all it means is that you are in front of a different audience you need to put a different face on. But internally you are exactly the same person it is just your communication, your external communication that is actually changed. There is a wonderful quote by Mohammad Ali who obviously called himself the greatest and what he said was I would have been the greatest whatever I did and if I was a trash collector I would have been the best trash collector in the world I would have picked up more bins then any other trash collector on my block. There is something inherent about him being sort of true to his profession but true to himself that whatever he is going to do, whatever he is going to work out you know he is going to give it 100% and be the best.

Kevin: Yeah the mindset.

Jora: It is the mindset yeah. And I think the trick actually is and it is a tough one, it is tough one for me to do, to actually tell people that I am the best IT Manager or CIO or CTO that you are ever going to meet. And I tell people straight faced I tell my people I go I am probably the best CTO that you are ever going to meet. You know if you believe it then they will believe it. But then to actually live up to it you are going to have to start learning and you are going to have to prove yourself and then you are going to live on that pedestal because if you fall then it is a mighty big crash.

Kevin: And I have to enquire more how the heck did you feel inside when you first said that out loud?

Jora: I felt really good.

Kevin: Did you? Because I was thinking were you quaking inside nervous as hell but.

Jora: No I think I felt really good. I didn’t feel that I had achieved it, I felt slightly embarrassed but I wasn’t quaking. But then I thought well now I have said it now I have got to live up to it and now I have got to start reading about it, learning from you know really good CIOs, CTOs and studying harder. I mean saying it sounds quite cocky but it also brings in a humility because you have got to learn. And I think people who learn constantly, reading books, looking at this, listening to podcasts they have a certain humility about them you know the lifelong learners. I like talking to those people because there is always something; they never think they are the finished article. So they are constantly trying to learn something new, trying to improve themselves all the time. So when I say that I actually, in my head I don’t actually mean that I am the best it is just that I am putting myself in a position that forces me to continue learning. So it doesn’t matter what you do but if you sort of said this is my goal, to be that goal I am going to be the best at whatever I do if you are in marketing I am going to be the best marketing director you have ever met then you have to go and figure out what is the best marketing director you have ever met do and what do they look like and what is their product. It goes back to being the CEO of yourself. You are a product at the end of the day you know how you dress, how you talk, the knowledge that you have it is all a product what people say about you it is all a product. You know you have got to really decide what you want that product to be.

Kevin: How did your team react when you said that to them?

Jora: It is strange again you know well it is a mixed reaction you know some people look away embarrassed for you and other people will just believe it. And most people actually do believe it. If you believe it then people will believe in you. If you don’t really believe it, it goes back to what I was saying earlier, then people just won’t believe you. You know if you say you know I am probably the best CTO you are ever going to meet then people will think no he is not you know but if you go look I am the best at what I do and you are going to be the best team, none of my teams have failed, every team I have worked have always ended up back to my A team, I have never failed you know in creating an A team you could be the first team that are going to let me down and that is not going to happen. And that builds a tremendous amount of confidence in the team. And then people actually want to work for you.

Kevin: Definitely and expectation.

Jora: And expectation and people who wouldn’t work in such a team. So people are going well here is somebody who could actually lead us there and show me what it is like to really fulfil my career and maximise my potential. There is a free plug.

Kevin: That is what I like.

Jora: But I think you know that is what you know everybody is looking for a teacher. It goes back to that teaching first. But I do actually build the best teams you know the best IT teams ever and every team I have had has always been the best team and the team I currently have in S&P we get written about in magazines we get podcasts, we get videoed they are talking of panels and [inaudible 35:10] are talking to them and this is a team that four years ago used to say to me you know that we are just a blip in the S&P organisation. Nobody really knows we are a little IT team that is sort of hidden away. To turn that around was an achievement for this team to actually do and all I had to do was give them the confidence. The trick was actually just giving the people the confidence. Everything about NLP or cognitive behavioural therapy all it is doing really is just removing the layers of unconfidence that you have actually had from the day that you walked into school and somebody told you your trousers were too baggy to the day your manager told you you know that you were pretty useless at what you do. All these therapies all they are really doing is removing those layers.

Kevin: Taking away the baggage.

Jora: Taking away the baggage and then once you discover the inner soul at the end of the baggage that is when you discover the person. And my job you know as a leader really is to remove the baggage and start showing people actually really you guys are pretty terrific we need to remove the baggage and I am here to help you, we will work together remove the baggage. So that is leadership.

Kevin: Now as tough as this I am going to start winding down this interview. The final thing I am going to ask you is what do you do to maximise your own potential? And I know I have thrown you on the spot with this one.

Jora: I think it is actually it is to challenge myself. Because when you challenge yourself to do better I mean I am in a vocation that I love doing, I enjoy what I am doing and I really do want to be the best at it. I know I said I am the best but I even want to be even better. I think when you start challenging yourself again it goes back to if you challenge yourself you have to read, or you have to meet people, you have to go and seek people out who have got knowledge that you haven’t got or you have to look at webcasts or listen to podcasts. Actually it goes back to the two things one is you are going to go out and find it and two it is it brings in humility you know because you know you are not quite the finished article. And I think when you stop learning then you stop being. So challenge is probably the one. And I think people who are listening into this podcast are like minded people because why would you be listening to a podcast called maximising your potential.

Kevin: Exactly.

Jora: Because you know you want to learn because you are challenging yourself so I think you know the folks that are listening in to this are probably similarly minded people in that sense. They want to better themselves and there is nothing wrong you shouldn’t be ashamed of doing that. So constant learning.

Kevin: Jora thank you very much.


Kevin: Well that was an incredible insight into the career approach of one of the most respected CTOs in the world so thank you Jora for sharing so much with us and to the IT recruitment division of Jenrick for setting up this interview opportunity we really appreciate it. I think Jora’s underlying message of being true to yourself and never considering you are the finished product are two messages that I personally will take away from this interview. And as I mentioned we were fortunate to record a second interview with Jora where he is going to discuss his complete devotion to the development of the A team concept which I am sure I will release in the very near future.

For those of you who are regular listeners to the podcast I have an apology to make I did mention that this episode was going to be the final interview from Morgan Cars with the CEO Charles Morgan unfortunately I really wasn’t happy with the sound quality of the interview so I am afraid I am not going to release it on this occasion so apologies for that and I will ensure I try to record another interview with Charles sometime in the near future.

Recently I had the opportunity to meet two very energetic entrepreneurs and businessman Nick and Giles English who are the co founders of a very innovative company and brand called Bremont Watches, Bremont itself is rapidly becoming a global success story and we are very pleased that we will be sitting down with Nick English to record our first interview with the company within the next month. I have put a link to Bremont’s website on the show notes to feel free to go and learn more about this brand which in my opinion is truly maximising his potential.

That is me done for this episode so thank you as always for tuning in and our Xerxes track that we are going to finish on today is called ‘The Inlands’ thanks and tune in soon bye bye.


We hope you enjoyed this very motivating interview with Jora as he explains how on-going learning for career development is so important.

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!