Roots of Success: Jourdan Block
We continue our Roots of Success series with Jourdan Block, COO, and Principal, Equiliem. As Chief Operating Officer, Jourdan ensures the business runs daily while steering the executive team’s strategic direction. He focuses on implementing initiatives that keep the firm delivering quality solutions. We recently caught up with him to delve into his perspective on how doing what you love leads to greater success.
Drawing from a Well of Wisdom
Jourdan’s interest in how to be successful was sparked in his preteens when he came across a book by Harvey Mackay. It was the story of how Mackay, at age 27, took a failing envelope company and turned it into a $100 million dollar business by leaning on his motto, “Do what you love, love what you do, and deliver more than you promise.”
The concept of focusing on what you can give others and overdelivering out of passion and enthusiasm has become interwoven with Jourdan’s energetic persona. He believes success arises by treating people from a core value of putting the relationship before the transaction, “Think first about what you can give. Ask what can I do for you?”
Jourdan’s many mentors, including his father and grandfather, industry pioneers Monte and Jerry Block, provided him with firsthand evidence of how investing in relationships builds a reservoir of future providence. For Jourdan, his colleagues and his team are as vital as the firm’s clients and field employees, and he’ll gladly extend his day to squeeze in a session to help someone master technology or grasp a new procedure. “It’s especially rewarding when someone you work with surprises you,” Jourdan said. “I love seeing others achieve things they didn’t think possible, whether that’s exceeding expectations, completing tasks sooner, or knocking an initiative out of the ballpark. It’s extremely gratifying to play a part in helping someone else be successful.”
Learning at the School of Hard Knocks
Jourdan appreciates that his mentor Monte Block was willing to let him learn some lessons the hard way. He recalls a particular case when he ignored Monte’s advice. “I thought I knew more than he did,” he said with a sheepish grin. “It was a pricing scenario on a bid. He let me follow my way. When we lost the deal and uncovered the winning bid, the pricing was right where he said it would be. That was an opportunity for me to learn to hear other people out without thinking I knew everything.” Jourdan admitted that the school of hard knocks provided him with a hands-on tutorial in keeping the ego at bay.
The most frequently asked questions Jourdan gets in his day are about how to connect the dots: who the right people are to bring into conversations, how to accomplish things for clients within the confines of their contract, and how to navigate the space between x and y to get things done. While this is likely a common scenario for most rapidly growing companies, it’s an issue that Equiliem was conscious of surfacing and solving as the business moves to the next level. Over the past two years, the firm has been strategically building out its leadership team and distributing responsibilities across an evolving organization.
As the value of sharing decision-making and responsibilities has become more evident to Jourdan, he said he only wishes they’d started that migration sooner. He considers himself the wiser for learning how to lean into other experts. “In a family-owned business, it’s easy to be very hands-on. Now that we’re adding people who are very experienced at what they do, I realize the potential.” Jourdan said he sees now how the increased leadership strength has expanded the company’s ability to scale. “It’s incredible how we can level up with the right people doing things the right way.”
A Fresh Start at the End of Each Day
Jourdan said one of the habits he incorporates to stay mentally sharp is making his bed every morning. Having a fresh bed to get into each night gives him the clean slate he needs to review his day and bring a higher perspective. “I end my day with reflection and gratitude,” Jourdan said. “That includes thinking about what didn’t go right and how it could be improved for next time.”
Being accountable for mistakes is one of the company’s core values. Jourdan gives himself a permission slip to admit when things aren’t working so that he can make a new decision. “Decisions, even when backed by data, are rarely black-and-white. There are always different perspectives and impacts. But you must make the tough calls because indecision is not a decision.” He added, “If it turns out that a decision is not working, fix it.”
Travel for Perspective
Jourdan loves to travel to gain perspective on his place in the world. He’s traversed 80 countries personally and professionally, including studying abroad in Barcelona, a six-week solo journey across Europe, a humanitarian medical mission in Africa, and business trips to multiple countries, including meetings in the factories of China. Experiencing other cultures with different challenges and work environments fills his bucket. However, he has three hot spots left on that bucket list, New Zealand and Australia, the Nordic Region and Antarctica.
Is travel his prescription for work-life balance? Not quite. He said, “It’s interesting…I never really take off my business hat. “I’ve written an RFP on the beach of Copacabana before remote work was a thing!”
If you catch Jourdan on an early morning or late afternoon call, his son might jump in his lap and say hello. To make family life succeed, Jourdan attempts to wrap things up around five-ish daily, then circles back after the children are in bed to check emails and take care of loose ends. With the business in his blood, he’s driven by the family’s shared belief that true luck is the fruition of hard work. What makes his world feel like “success” is that Jourdan Block is doing what he loves.
Equiliem (www.equiliem.com) believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive.
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