Interview with Ken Gosnell, Chief Servant Officer at CEO Experience (CXP)
The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.
Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!
Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.
Can you tell everyone your name, please?
Tell me about your education?
I have a double master’s degree. I have a masters in business and in divinity.
Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?
When I was ten years old growing up in the midwest, I remember having a conversation with my father. My dad always took two things to work every day. He would get his hard hat and his Bible. One day I asked dad why he took his Bible to work. He said that the Bible helped him, and he wanted to read it during his breaks. Those two items that my father introduced me to have shaped my life and my work.
A Hard Hat Philosophy:
My father was the oldest brother to 5 siblings. When he was 15 years old, his father was killed by a drunk driver. My dad quit school and went to work to help his mother provide for their family. My dad always had hard labor jobs. He wore a hard hat his entire life. His hard work taught me the value of working hard. No task is to tough to accomplish, and if we work hard enough at anything, we can become successful.
I Value The Bible and Continual Learning:
My father taught me the value of learning. I was the first in my family to go to college. I graduated with honors and then went on to receive two Master’s Degrees. The most valuable lesson one can learn in life is that they have the power to improve, grow, and develop. That is why I believe that our destiny unfolds in the future, but is shaped by the decisions and choices that we make today. Therefore, I decide to grow every day of my life. Every day I should be learning something new.
The most significant source of inspiration and instruction is the book that my father introduced me to, the Bible. The Bible has business and life principles that have been proven true for thousands of years. These principles guided Solomon to become the wisest and richest man in the world. Every successful business has learned how to apply and adapt these principles to their business.
We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.
Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?
Dale Carnegie. Dale Carnegie wrote the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I was so captivated by the book and his principles that I become a master trainer and sales leader in the Dale Carnegie organization. His people principles are still principles that I practice. I believe that they are the foundation for my success in life and business. I love the Dale Carnegie story. He started with nothing and grew his company to the most extensive training organization in the world. The company is almost 100 years old, and the company is still going strong. The ability to see people use principles to achieve breakthroughs and learn how to break out of their comfort zone. His policies have led me to develop 12 critical principles that I teach CEOs today as essential for their success.
Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.
What is the name of your company?
CEO Experience, also known as CXP.
Where is your company located?
The Washington DC area, more specifically Maryland.
What services or products does your organization provide?
We help CEOs learn faster to lead further. We do that through a CEO Executive Guide subscription, CEO Coaching, CEO Retreats or Masterminds, and CEO Excursions which are longer CEO Retreats.
What problem is your business trying to solve?
Stuck CEOs and leaders. We understand that most leaders reach a level of performance, and then they get stuck. One way this shows up is by how much revenue a CEO can lead the organization to produce. Many leaders only have the wisdom and giftedness to take a company to a certain level, and then it gets stuck. We help leaders learn from others so that they can continue to grow their company bigger than they themselves can take it.
How is your business unique against your competitors?
We provide a digital CEO executive guide that allows a leader to learn on their own and then learn in a group setting. We also highlight in the executive guide biblical principles that businesses can use to enhance their business performance.
How did the idea for your business come to fruition?
I always had a desire to bring together both business and biblical principles. I took a personal retreat day to cast a big vision for what could happen if we worked with CEOs in a new and innovative format. Almost ten years ago I scheduled a one-day session and invited business leaders together to discuss the idea of running businesses according to biblical principles. I also focused on a robust email marketing campaign to create awareness. People responded, and today we continue to work with prominent CEOs and business leaders who seek to learn faster so they can lead further.
Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?
You can go to our website at www.ceoexperience.com.
You can also connect and follow me on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kengosnell/.
I also write for Forbes which you can read at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/people/kengosnell/#69da2a139319
Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.
What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?
I believe in leadership axioms to help keep focus. Below are three axioms that I have repeated over and over as I have sought to build my business.
Clarity is essential. “When you become clear, everything becomes clear.” Leaders have to work hard to become and stay clear. Clarity can come when you know your driving values and principles. Be clear about where you would like to go and when you would like to arrive there. The more you work at the clarity, the easier it will become to make decisions and have confidence in your direction.
Develop a Team of Mentors. “Learn faster by learning from others.” No great leader ever lead alone. You need a team to be successful. Find a team of mentors to help you see new things and think bigger thoughts. Proverbs 15:22 states that “when you have many advisors, you will have much success.” Learn from everyone. Talk to people and read great books including the Bible. Learn from others mistakes and their successes. Become a learning leader, and you will become a leader who leads well. Always remember when the team around you gets better, your organization will become better.
Celebrate Your Success. “A breakthrough that is celebrated is more likely to be repeated.” Running and growing a business is hard work. Many leaders burn out because they only focus on what is not working. Successful leaders know how to celebrate the wins or breakthroughs in their life and their business. When you pause to reflect on your wins, you are more likely to repeat the wins.