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CEO Q&A: A Conversation with Jens Gamperl

CEO Q&A: A Conversation with Jens Gamperl

A photo of Sourceability founder and CEO Jens Gamperl.

At Souceability, we are inspired by our CEO, Jens Gamperl, on a daily basis. And while we all know him as a leader and entrepreneur, we often don’t get to learn about him on a personal level. This week, we got to sit down and ask him a few questions that don’t often come up in work meetings. From our interview, we learned what Jens finds most important about business, his favorite weekend hobbies, and even how he finds business inspiration from sports. Here are a few things we learned from our interview with Jens.

What do you remember as the most important moment of creating Sourceability?

“I came from a competitor, and I had issues there with the shareholders, so I came back from the World Cup in 2014 in Brazil and got fired. There were balloons in my office because Germany played against the US, and then I got fired.

In the following six months, and I never felt that there was a set up that would allow me to do what is right for the business. Most of the shareholders have been in the business for 25+ plus years and are stuck in traditional ways of working.

Around Christmas in 2014, I decided I wanted to start my own business. I knew that would require major funding. I finally found a company that was ready to do it together. In January, we started contacting potential targets. Everything started taking shape in early 2015. I sold my house in California and moved to Florida.

As for the most important moment, even after you have the funding, you still need the infrastructure. The most important moment was buying SND and when I developed my plans. Between March and July 2015, I was able to go back and talk to people who had committed to working with me in the past. That is when I knew that when we opened our doors, we would have a good foundation. It wasn’t just a moment, it was the development.”

What skills, knowledge, or experiences from your previous jobs or education do you find most valuable now?

“The reason there are so many people who work in this company who used to work for me before is the commitment of people who work for you. The highest priority is human capital and the connections I made at other companies. The most important and exciting part of the last 20 years is that I met people when they were young and single, and now they are grown and dedicated to family life.

When you are responsible for the company, you are suddenly responsible for so many people. And as a global company, people from all over the world are dealing with different challenges. A colleague had a bad accident on a work trip, and that really takes a toll on you as an owner who hired that person. Your level of responsibility for your people increases significantly.”

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

“I needed to innovate the business and overcome an old mentality. The number one challenge is to stop people from thinking the way they did 10 or 15 years ago. People still want to get quotes over the phone or email when it can be done online.”

How do you spend your off days? What are your outside interests?

“Yesterday, I spent all day on the beach. I took a 7k run and did a BBQ, and in Florida, we live on the water and enjoy boating. Early this year, I was able to travel to St. Martin and Tulum. I watch a lot of sports. Saturday morning, I’m watching Bundesliga. On the weekends, I try to just check my emails, but mostly I try to be off and enjoy my rest time. I enjoy traveling.  Traveling is in my DNA. I’m sad I haven’t been able to travel to Asia in the last one and a half years.”

What would you like our employees to know?

“In 1983, I started doing business, most of the time as an employee. What I found out is that, besides sleeping, you would spend most of your time in office. I would try to get the best out of those 8-10 hours. If you are committed to something, you should do it all the time to your best ability.

However, when you know you’re very efficient, and you maximize those 8 hours, you should then get to enjoy your time off. When you’re in you should be in, and when you’re off, you should be off. If you have a job, you should have a job you like, so you can be all in. And when you’re off, you should be regenerating or rejuvenating.

When you take off, you’re more excited when you get back to work. If you are struggling to do it right, then it is probably not the right job for you.

When my daughter was born, I was in the office, and I caught myself idling. If you’re at work, don’t idle. Do your best. If you go to bed every night and you say, ‘I did my best.’ If you do that, you will see the results. Satisfy your own expectations. Whatever you do, do it as hard as you can.”

What does TEAM mean to you, especially in the work-from-home era?

“Team means mutual respect, and a unification of different ideas into one goal. You are all different. My very first boss said, you are in sales, these are the numbers, I don’t care if you do it in 1 hour or 100 hours, and I don’t care if you do it from the office, beach, or home. No micromanaging.

We set goals, we agree, and then we try to achieve the goals. And if everyone tries their best every day, then whatever happens is fine. As long as everyone agrees with the goals, then we are good. Even if we don’t meet the goals.

Before COVID, it is always easier to sit together and discuss issues. Somehow, the human element gets a little lost on Zoom, so I miss the office. We were one of the first companies to shut down the offices. I didn’t want to take a risk. And maybe we will never be fully back. But if it works for the team, it works for me.”

Do you take a lot of ideas or strategies from sports and apply it to business?

“Yes. One year, in hockey, the coach from the U.S. team was not allowed to nominate professionals for the Olympics. He had to nominate players from college. He ended up nominating two guys who had already signed contracts in the NHL but were not professionals yet. Because they had already signed million-dollar contracts, they had a different mentality, and the coach had to fire them.

After taking those guys out, they ended up beating Russia and winning the Gold medal at the Olympic games. When the team is committed, they can do much more than a team that doesn’t have the mentality.

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Something you want your peers to know

“My peers who are running companies know it’s not just about the business-related part, it’s the human-related part. And this is something we share as CEOs.

I wish in years like this when the industry is doing quite well, people would be more open to investing in new things, instead of the industry using the money out of the company and investing in reaI estate business. I wish they would reinvest in the industry and tech instead of logistics and warehouses.

My old bosses took the profits and invested in private real estate. Nothing the company generated went back into the business. I wish we would take a bigger portion of that money and try new things. Digitalization is all about building communities. I wish more people had that mindset.”

We would like to thank Jens again for taking the time to share his thoughts and answer our questions!

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