Mere Christians

Ron Johnson (CEO of Enjoy)

Episode Summary

The Apple Store creator on “making love visual”

Episode Notes

Jordan Raynor sits down with Ron Johnson, CEO of Enjoy, to talk about how he “made love visual” through the Apple Store, his final conversation with Steve Jobs while Jobs was on his deathbed, and why he chose to “start at the bottom” of the career ladder when he had every opportunity not to.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[00:00:05] JR: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Mere Christians Podcast. I’m Jordan Raynor. How does the gospel influence the work of mere Christians? Not those of us who are pastors or religious professionals, but those of us who work as civil engineers and janitors, and teachers. That's the question we explore every week. Today, I'm posing it to Ron Johnson, the man who Steve Jobs called up and asked to create the Apple Store.


Ron served as VP of Retail, reporting to Jobs from 2000 to 2011. Before that, he was responsible for turning Target into Targé. And today, he's running a great company called Enjoy, this innovative retail concept that brings the store through your front door and into your living room. Ron and I had a terrific conversation about how he and the team at Apple, “made love visual” through the Apple store. We talked about his final conversation with Steve Jobs while Jobs was on his deathbed talking about eternity and faith. We talked about why Ron chose to start at the bottom of the career ladder, when, as a Harvard graduate, he had every opportunity not to. I think you guys are going to love this terrific conversation with Ron Johnson.




[00:01:40] JR: Ron Johnson, welcome to the podcast.


[00:01:43] RJ: Jordan, thanks for inviting me. It's nice to be with you today.


[00:01:46] JR: Yeah. So, you started your career at Target, back in 1985, transformed this brand into Targé, this luxury experience, which, by the way, where in the world did this Targé thing come up?


[00:02:06] RJ: I did not transform Target into Targé. There were a lot of people. I got a small impact on it. But I was there during the time people kind of affectionately called Target, Targé. It's kind of when we go back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, discount stores were kind of these modern environments. Think of a Walmart store today. They all look the same. They weren’t really beautiful place to shop, but there are a lot of wealthy people who would go to the department store, but they wanted to shop at a discount store to save money. Especially kids. As Target started to elevate its in-store presentation, its merchandise. A lot of people find it really pride, kind of fun to say, I got this at Targé.


[00:02:51] JR: I remember my mom. This is the deal growing up, right? We went to Targé. Like right down where we lived.


[00:02:58] RJ: Yeah, it was wink, wink. It's okay to shop here. But that really helped us. If you look today, Target’s got to clearly cut off position as the upscale discount store. And Walmart is the store for most other folks. It's not downscale, it's just, you always want to carve a niche, and Target’s got a beautiful position in the market, and as Walmart. But that's kind of where it came from. It really came from customers.


[00:03:23] JR: Yeah. Which is the best place for it to come from. So, you spent 15 years at Target, and then you got the call to join Steve Jobs at Apple in 1999. What was the essence of that pitch for you to come to Apple?


[00:03:36] RJ: Yeah, Steve had concluded. Remember, Steve founded Apple with Woz, left the company, and Apple went through a rough patch in the ’90. He came back in ‘97, I believe. The board finally brought him back and Apple had 30 days to cash and they created the iMac which became this wonderful product. But it had like any consumer electronics product, a company that's sort of fading. And he looked at Apple and he said, “We're kind of a cult brand and one of our weaknesses is how we go to market.”


At that time Best Buy wouldn't even carry Apple products because they weren't popular enough. So, Apple was the biggest store to buy Apple. It was Sears or CompUSA. Steve wanted to open his own stores. Somehow, he called me to say, “Would you like to come think about opening stores for Apple?” We began the conversation. And for me, it was a point in my career where I'd done pretty well grown a lot, had been retail for 15 years. But I was locked into one function at Target, which was Merchandising, and I love being a merchant. I was okay at it. I was actually pretty good at it, I guess. But I always wanted to do the whole store. Because this story we haven't talked about, when I came out of Harvard Business School, I went to unload trucks at a company owned by Target Corporation, which was called Mervin's, on the west coast and that had the biggest – that year probably had the biggest impact on my career, if anything and my faith, by the way.


[00:05:10] JR: Park there for a minute. What happened in that year?


[00:05:14] JR: Well, what happened is I bet, you know, Harvard Business School, one of these elite environments. Stanford, Harvard, typical. I was a middle-class kid from Edina, Minnesota, went to public high school, got into Stanford, met all these pretty wealthy people, got into Harvard Business School, did that. But then I made the decision not to go to Wall Street. I had this offering Goldman’s M&A group. But I said, I'm making a decision for a lifetime. I love people. I love living. For some reason I love retailing. And I said, “I want to pick a career I could do for a lifetime.”


So, I said, if I'm making a lifetime decision, it's kind of like an eternal decision, and not quite as long, but at that time, it felt like it. Start at the bottom. So, I left Harvard Business School and I went to a Hispanic store in Glendale, California, largely Hispanic employee population, and unloaded trucks. I did that for the first, probably three months and then they promoted me to the sales to straighten merchandise. And eventually, I got to check people out, get to use the cash register. But I'm a Harvard Business School student working with minimum wage employees. I wasn't paid – so I was paid a little more, but not a lot more, just learning retail.


What I mean by transformative is, the people I met in that job, they became my family. I played on softball teams with them, went to the park on the weekends, dressed up for Halloween, celebrated all the birthdays with their family. Because it turns out that people that aren't trying to focus on making a living, they're living a life. That's what I found. I found such joy in the people I worked with, in that retail store, that you realize kind of what life is about. A lot of people there were people of faith.


So then, I thought, wow, what I see in this is love. I see love through these employees. And then throughout my career, what I've tried to do is make love visual through work. That's the thread that kind of probably ties my career together more than anything, but that to me is what I think of the Bible. If there's one word describe it, it's love. Right? So, how do you do that through work? That was kind of the impact from that first job out of Harvard Business School if that's right.


[00:07:36] JR: This is fascinating. Did you grow up in the church? Or was this your first encounter with Christianity?


[00:07:42] RJ: Oh, no, I grew up – remember back in the day, I grew up, I was born in ‘58, grew up in the ‘60s. Most people back then went to church or would say they go to church, and we went to a big Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. It had 17,000 members at that time was huge. But they had the seven minutes sermon and the great youth programs and a big campus. So, it was very popular because you didn't have to make a big commitment, but it was a great church, Lutheran church.


My mom was the nurse. She'd volunteer at camp. We'd go to camp. So I grew up in a very, very strong Christian family with just a loving environment. I've always had a faith. I was president of my confirmation class. I got to give my first speech to the whole confirmation class in church at age 13. So, I've always had a faith. But in my 20s, I don't think I walked into church in Boston, when I was at Harvard Business School. When I got back to California, I started to go to church, but it's pretty infrequent. Once a month, I felt like I should go to church. But my faith wasn't a huge part of my life at that time. I was deep in my bones would say I'm a Christian, but I was not practicing it in any way, shape, or form at that time. But knowing I had that deep inside of me, being at that general store with those people, you saw love in action. So, I connected that to my faith, even though I wasn't super active at that time. I can tell you later when I got deep in my faith, but you can go whenever. I'm talking too long. So, go ahead.


[00:09:20] JR: No. This is fascinating. Just keep talking. I do want to go back, you touched on this term that I love and I've heard you say it in other interviews before, but this idea of making love visual. It sounds like that was part of the draw to leave Target and go to Apple. By the way, that wasn't an obvious choice, I would imagine.


[00:09:41] RJ: People thought it was absolutely crazy.


[00:09:43] JR: Because Apple, this is 1999, they had what, 5% of the computer market, maybe?


[00:09:49] RJ: That was an exaggeration. It was probably closer to three. But on the other hand, if you take the auto industry, BMW at that time had 5% share. You can make a nice business with low shares. But that wasn't the – people thought was crazy because Target was just booming. If you get in the stock, it had gone up 12 times in the last decade. Really good position. But even more importantly, if I was going to leave Target, people go, “The dot com revolution is happening. Why are you going to one of these dot com? Why are you going to a money-losing computer maker?”


So, love visual. What does that mean? I think love is the essence of being a great Christian. If you can practice love every day. I think you're honoring your faith. Very simple. I see love in so many things. I see love in beauty, like nature. God created this beautiful world. We all know that. Most of you on the call here I know are Christians. I see love in beautiful things. That's a visual experience. When I think of an Apple Store, when I used to see the genius in the employee, getting the customer getting help, and they’re interacting their heads are close to each other across that bar and smiling, “Hi, I understand.” That's loving made visual, right? A beautiful store is a creation, right? That's love made visual. I look at the world as everything we do, everything that you see, started in someone's imagination.


[00:11:25] JR: The first creation, right? The first creation and second creation, Stephen Covey framework.


[00:11:30] RJ: Probably. So, everything started in someone's imagination. I believe our imaginations are a gift from God. I believe I'm prompted, most of the ideas I have, you always wonder, where did that come from? So, I view it that way. I just view part of my job is to make love visual that's through people, through customer experiences, through store environments, through everything I do. But that's the product of that very simple thought. How do you make love visual through a retail experience?


[00:12:03] JR: I may be misremembering this, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought I heard you say that part of the strategy of the Apple Store, this is a pretty radical design concept at the time. There were no big displays blocking your line of sight. It's a pretty open concept and I think I remember you saying that was intentional — it's part of cultivating human connection.


[00:12:26] RJ: Very simple. So, we forget how quickly retail changes. But back in 2000, we open the Apple Store, Target didn't even use corporate email. I didn't have an email account. Steve said, “Can I send you an email?” I said, “I don't have one.”


[00:12:43] JR: This is amazing. You didn’t in 2000?


[00:12:46] RJ: Wi-Fi wasn't named. The world was different and they were PCs and Macs, and the internet was just kind of coming out. Amazon was a tiny company losing money. I remember sitting down with Steve and I said, “Well, if we're going to do retail stores, the first big decision you have to make is where would you locate them and how big should they be?” He said, “Okay, so how did we think about that?” I said, “Well, do you want to advertise the stores?” He said, “No. I don't want advertise stores, I want to advertise products.” I said, “Great.” Then we had a locator stores in the middle of where people live their lives most popular place in town. I said, “Because someone's not going to drive 10 miles to an Apple Store, but they might walk 10 feet down.” He goes, “Okay, I buy that. I hate shopping malls. But I buy that.”


So now, we're going to put a computer store in a shopping mall, which is really expensive and nobody did that back then for things that were bought once every three years. Think of an auto dealership. You're out at some remote parking lot, where it's inexpensive, because you'll go there when you need to buy a car, but you don't stop by every day. But the second thing, how big and Steve joined the GAP where to learn about retail, which was kind of interesting. I said, the Apple brand is big as the GAP. He said bigger. I said, “Well, then why don't we build a store the same size as the GAP?” He said, “That sounds logical.” Because if your store is too tiny, they'll think you don't have it – you’re a tiny brand. People are very visual and emotional.


So, we agreed to do that. While the GAP store at the time was 6,000 square feet. So, I said, “Well, Steve how big is the product line?” And we're literally sitting in a little conference room. He goes, “Well, there it is on the wall, those four computers.” I looked and I said, so we can fix those on a 32, 8 by 4, 32-foot square table. Now, our store is three – 3 times 10 is 30. It's 300 times bigger than we need, what are we going to do?” But that was actually the best decision because it allowed us to create a store that wasn't about the products. It was about the customer.


So, how do you create a place that people will want to belong, that they'll discover the brand? They'll launch a relationship with Apple through buying a product, they'll deepen a relationship, through coming back. And we created all these experiences, genius bars, and theatres and kids’ tables, and set up products like — what you’re going to do with like photography and movies and music, because we have the luxury of space, right?


Then, I came back to your question of design, why was it so uncluttered? Part, we didn't have to clutter with all these products. There weren't many products. But the more big idea, I said, the purpose of the store is to make love visual. To do that, you've got to engage people. I want whoever walks in the Apple store to get their hands on a Mac and spend some time on a Mac and I want them to connect with a human being, one of our great people. I said the only way to do it, you will walk in, there's nothing else to do, get your hands on a product or talk to a person. There was no place to hide, right? So, you walk in the Apple Store, everyone's on computers and it worked.


What was unforeseen, but one of the big blessings is we had about typical store, 45 computers in the front of the store. Well, this was now the beginning of when people were getting into the internet and buying computers, so the Apple Store became a big free internet cafe. If you go back to 2000 to 2005, there was no iPhone. So, you're going to meet someone at the mall, you'd say, “Let's just meet at the Apple Store. I'll just get on the computer and check my email like you would do an internet cafe for free, and just come whenever you want”, because I couldn't text them on my phone or look at their location. There was no way to communicate that. People didn't carry cell phones back then. I mean, people did, but Steve didn't carry a cell phone. He runs Apple. He invented the iPhone. He never had a cell phone.


[00:16:45] JR: He never had a Blackberry?


[00:16:46] RJ: No. No. A Blackberry, no. I’m just kidding. But when we launched the iPhone, Steve and his assistant say, “Ron, make sure you have your phone ready. Steve might get a call.” He did not think the products were good enough. But that's the world we're in. But the Apple Store became this gathering place. It's an outcome of a fundamental faith-based foundation in a person or people that designed the store and that's this thing for your listeners. We might think of bringing our faith to work as being an evangelist. I don't see it that way. I think it's practicing your faith through your vocation, through your interactions. How do you apply that to every decision you make? The outcome will be you've made the world a little better place, a place of love, of human connection, where people get help. It's agape love, if you will. That's how I look at it.


[00:17:53] JR: Yes, so much of this faith at work conversation focuses solely, or at least primarily on the instrumental value of our work, right? I go to work in corporate America so that I could share the gospel of Jesus Christ. But what you're talking about is what I love so much. It's the intrinsic value, right? The working in of itself matters because it's a way to make love visual. So, Ron, for our listeners who don't design retail stores who are carpenters or entrepreneurs building a software product, how do they make love visual?


[00:18:29] RJ: Oh, they do it –I wish I could show you this video, Jordan. We built the Apple store in Fifth Avenue. That was a real – that is an architectural icon. In a city like New York, it's really hard for anything to stand out. The Statue of Liberty stands out. The Empire State Building used to stand out. The Apple Store stands out. We did it in a glass cube, 32 feet high piece of glass. That is the power of architecture. But that had to be constructed, right?


I remember building that store, I would fly to New York, at that time, probably once a month. It's easy to go in overnight, check on the store, fly back. I was there once a month with the teams and we have people from all over the world. I remember there's this gentleman named Otto who assembled the glass stair in that store. And I remember we took a video, he just walked down, he was so proud that he had created that beautiful object of art, which is really what a stairway is an Apple store. He's a construction, assembler of specialist glass fabric. Not fabrication, just assembly. We did this video, there was a part, “Hi, I'm Otto from Munich, Germany and I'm assembling the stair for the Apple store.” He was so proud. And then the next one, “I'm Mark from Staten Island and I'm doing this.”


There was such pride in their work and that store became a place that everyone had to bring their families and friends to show them what they did through their work. So, I think we all bring our faith to work and it's not just people like doctors who are saving lives, most of your faith is through little interactions every day with the people that come in your path. If you focus on every little interaction, the sum of the parts will be a good outcome, but it comes from just every little choice you make.


[00:20:38] JR: Yeah, we are so – in the West, we're so utilitarian-minded. We're so purpose-obsessed, right? And thus, we elevate the callings of doctors and attorneys fighting sex trafficking and evangelists and all those good things. It's all fixing the world. We got to remember that our God creates with both utility and totally purposeless beauty, and that's enough. Ron, tell us about the company you co-founded and are leading now. I've been a huge fan of Enjoy since near the beginning. For listeners who don't know, what is Enjoy?


[00:21:17] RJ: It's very simple. I just like doing what I call the next thing, one thing. I love Target, helped make it Targé. Apple, how do you make Apple go from a cult to a club, to a community to the world’s beloved brand? That was not an easy thing. I tried to turn on JCPenney, that's a long story. But that was a hard thing. And starting a company is a hard thing. But what we're trying to do is basically in the world that's going to the home, going online, and more and more people buying online, people working remotely, how do you bring the entire store through the door of someone's home? Because if you're a premium brand, you want engagement.


So, in a world where people are just buying online, that's very transactional. Could you deliver the retail experience in the home? So, Enjoy does that. We operate stores for Apple, AT&T in United States. We're in the UK, Canada, and we're trying to figure out how to deliver a mobile retail experience. It's like everything I've done, it's really hard. We're in the middle of a rough patch. We're very short on cash, we're working through that, and my faith has really helped me through it. That's what we're trying to do.


[00:22:25] JR: Yeah. So, give a little bit more concrete detail to the listener if you can about how this works. So, I'm sitting at home, by the way Enjoy is a dream come true for parents with young kids, right? I'm sitting at home, I need a new iPhone, instead of going to the Apple Store, how does Enjoy help me buy and I start using that product at home?


[00:22:45] RJ: Yeah, so a lot of people go online, and maybe 30% of people today will just go online, they reached out and they buy online. Historically, they've had a choice, ship it to me, do I want to ship fast? I might pay more for it than to ship it slow, and it drops off, you get that brown box at the door and you open up and you're on your own.


Now, with an omnichannel. I can pick it up from the store. I can pick it up in the store and get help. That's kind of nice. Well, wouldn't it be nice if I could choose in the cart, I wanted to deliver to me and have that help at my kitchen table. Yeah, that's what Enjoy lets you do. So, when you're in the shopping cart, you'll pick an at-home experience, it's free and you'll pick the two-hour timeframe you want it and we'll have one of our trained, full-time experts who is going to make love visual at your kitchen table. But they will come through and provide a great experience for you. And we can do everything you can do in a store. You can buy additional products — if you need accessories, we can activate your device, we can connect it to your life, we can – everything you do in the store, we do in the home. So, it's a choice in the shopping cart. If you're buying from AT&T or Apple, and it's becoming very popular.


[00:23:56] JR: Andy Crouch just published a really good book called The Life We're Looking For about how technology is making everything less personalized in the world and taking out the human interaction. You're a great example of fighting against that. And I got to imagine your faith shapes the perspective of this a little bit in this age of depersonalization. You're fostering human interaction throughout that retail experience. Are those two things connected through your faith?


[00:24:26] RJ: The way the way I look at it, and I didn't go to Apple because of this. But ultimately, as a Christian, you have to understand technology is going to be a part of the world. So, we have to learn how do we use technology for good? How do we use technology to help us become who God intended us to be, right? So, I think if you're in the middle of that, you have a chance to have some impact on that. If we're in the home, we can do settings for parents, a lot of parents care about how much time their kids spend on technology. What websites they go to. Well, we can help with that. We can just teach them how to set the phone, so the kids can't do the wrong stuff. There are all kinds of things you do, but if technology is here forever, we got to make sure it's a force for good. Right now, it's got super big challenges, we all know that in so many ways. But I believe that over time, good wins.


We all know there's evil in the world and there's love in the world. Right now, there's a lot of evil to have an impact in technology, and we see that on websites, we see that in Twitter feeds, we see it in all kinds of ways. But I just believe love wins.


[00:25:41] JR: As Christians, we ought to be engaging in those dark places as a means of making light more visible. You mentioned, Enjoy is currently in a tough cash position, hard season for the business. What's God teaching you in this season?


[00:25:56] RJ: Well, it's amazing. So much. So much. I read a lot, but one of the things I do, Jordan, maybe everyone does this, but a lot of us have favorite passages in the Bible. I've always loved the 23rd Psalm, for example. But on my little You version app on the Bible, I get 38 versions of it. I like to read different versions, because every translation has different words.


But I was reading the 23rd Psalm lately, and that's become a couple times a day, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.” I like that so much better than “I shall not want”. But then it says, “He gives me new strength.” It doesn't say “He restores my soul”. That's the translation. If I was reading, “He restores my soul”, I'd kind of look at that. Well, I'm at peace. No, this transition, he gives me strength. Well, when you're in a rough patch, and you're leading a team at work, you need resilience. You got to get back up and figure out another way to win.


So, the 23rd Psalm, reading a different version gives me strength. Now it says, “He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised.” Alright, so I need a path here to navigate. I told you before, it's serendipity. Where do ideas come from? I believe they come, in part influenced by my faith. Now, I'm getting guided in the right paths. Even if I go through the deepest darkness, that's what I'm going through at work. I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. And then finally, you prepare a banquet for me where all my enemies can see me. So, it's not saying a banquet at a table somewhere. The idea is, I've been a pretty visible guy, my pen is saying, that was a banquet everyone could see me, a lot of enemies. But you welcome me as an honored guest.


So, I'm now struggling, but I'm an honored guest in front of my enemies, and fill my cup to the brim because goodness and love with me, all my life. And your house is my home, as long as I live. Well, look at how those words through that translation apply precisely to what I'm going through. Isn't that fascinating? I mean, to me, it's kind of fascinating.


[00:28:14] JR: Beautiful.


[00:28:15] RJ: I just find when you – how does faith work? It's reading the Bible. It's using different translations, whatever works for you, but I just find such obvious direct connection, guidance from my faith through everything I do and I'm not making that up. I mean, it's kind of, that's why I read that for you. I hope you don't mind.


[00:28:36] JR: No, this is terrific. That was the best-case study.


[00:28:40] RJ: Yeah. It's like a case study, just saying a faith is real. It works. That's my sense.


[00:28:45] JR: I was talking with Mark Batterson about this. He has started reading a different version of the Bible cover to cover every year, so it not to get rote in switch it up. But I love what you're talking about, same passage, lots of different versions at the same time to draw out the nuances of it. I really love that. It's a great example.


[00:29:05] RJ: If I read a book, I'm always looking for one thought. I learned this from Steve. Steve Jobs was such a great mentor, and boss, and friend, and all that. I remember he told me once, he says, “Ron, if you think about a problem hard enough, you'll be able to get to its essence in four words or less. You could understand any complex problem in four words or less.” So, when we launched the iPad, it was a thousand songs in your pocket. The phone, we're going to reinvent the phone. Because you got to get things down to their essence. Well, that's what I thought does. It's like the 23rd song. I have all that I need. That thought I should carry with me every day of my life, because I have been blessed. But you're looking for little thoughts and I think when you read a different version of the same thing, you're going to pick up a different thought. And that's really what I think influences us more than anything, is these life-changing thoughts.


[00:30:08] JR: Yeah, it's good. You mentioned Steve is a great mentor. You left Apple the same month he died. What was the last conversation you guys had?


[00:30:18] RJ: Yeah, it was in his – his wife was in the same house, I was over visiting him probably two weekends before he passed away. It wasn't like the last, last days. I was in his bedroom and we were having this wonderful conversation. I remember crawling into bed with him to give him a hug, because he was pretty frail and we just had this lovely conversation. We talked about faith many times. The most interesting thing is, Steve was a very – I might guess he is a super spiritual person, and we know that there's a time when he's young, he went to India and spent a lot of time there, was exploring different types of things.


One time he was in Hawaii, he had discovered cancer, he was over there while we were on the phone. He said, “Ron, you teach Sunday school, right?” I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “Tell me about your faith.” And I kind of told him about it. He says, “There probably is a God.” He goes, “I just haven't spent a lot of time.” I remember saying, “Well, for someone as smart as you are, Steve, who goes deep on everything, I would think you'd start thinking about eternal things.” That's all I said.


He said, “No, I don't disagree with that.” He didn't want to say much. Well, I get to the office the next day, I got this video he had sent me. He said, “This is my favorite movie.” It was Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Have you ever heard of that?


[00:31:44] JR: No.


[00:31:45] RJ: It's about Francis of Assisi. Isn't that kind of interesting. So, Steve, out of the blue sends me this movie that he had watched probably 30 years before about Francis of Assisi. So, you realize we're all on a spiritual journey and we're getting nudges. I'm sure Steve's nudge, part of it was watching that movie, part of it was this moment when he's got a health crisis.


[00:32:13] JR: Steve was one of those exceptionally rare founders, obviously. This is without saying, whose work going to outlive him for a very long time, it appears. I'm curious how his example of mentorship coupled with what you believe about eternity as a Christian, how does that shape how you think about the legacy of your work after you're gone, Ron?


[00:32:37] RJ: Honestly, I don't think about legacy. I've become quite humble. I think I went through a real challenge with pride when I was young. You go to Harvard Business School, we all want to be successful, you get confidence from being successful, and I had kind of top of the world experiences, leaving the Apple store as the Apple executive team, but I went to Penny's and had a really hard time. I realized, in the world, if you're looking at how the world's going to look at you, you're going to have ups and downs. We all do, right? But if you look at eternity, none of that matters, right?


So, I don't honestly think all about legacy. I just think about every day, how can I be the best person I can be and who am I becoming? One of the blessings I have, a good friend of John Ortberg. So, you probably know John?


[00:33:28] JR: Yeah, sure.


[00:33:29] RJ: And John's got a great new podcast. I'm on a board with Pat Gelsinger. Pat and I are on his board. But John went through a rough patch and he's now got a ministry, it's called No, He does a daily 12-minute little talk that matters, maybe 100 followers, and amazingly 2,000 watch it every day. Yeah, that's pretty good attention. It's like going to church every day and I do that every morning.


But the reason I bring it up is all I care about is doing the little things every day to make life better. I know might sound –it's all about become new. Who are you becoming? That to me, is sanctification. We're always trying to become a little better person and that's going to prepare us so when we get to heaven, it's in a place we really belong and we want to be. Because you wouldn't want to be in heaven, and if you didn't want to be in a place like heaven is supposed to be. So, you got to kind of get ready for it. Honestly, legacy that's – legacy is history. I don't look back. We look forward. It's always about next.


[00:34:40] JR: To the legacy in the next life.


[00:34:41] RJ: It's the legacy in the next life. Honestly, legacy is not a deal for me.


[00:34:46] JR: Yeah, I love it. Ron, three questions we wrap up every conversation with. Number one, which books do you find yourself recommending or gifting most frequently to others? I know you mentioned the Churchill one, Never Give In.


[00:34:59] RJ: I only read books that have some spiritual connect. When I find myself reading just a novel, I feel like my soul is not being filled. It’s like I'm watching a TV show. But I think any book by Dallas Willard, I'll give. Divine Conspiracy, Allure of Greatness, Renovation of the Heart, those are awesome.


[00:35:19] JR: Well, as a Nordberg fan, I expect that answer.


[00:35:22] RJ: Yeah, but it is. But those books I read, Renovation of the Heart like I read the Bible. I mean, I know which chapters I've got to read over. I probably read some of those chapters 50 times.


[00:35:32] JR: Yeah. Did I notice you say a couple of seconds ago, TV feeds your soul, because I've uttered those examples –


[00:35:37] RJ: No, I said the opposite. What I said is, if I read a novel, it's kind of sometimes it's just dark and you're reading – it’s like entertainment, you go to bed. When I read a book, like Churchill's book, or Dallas’ book, it's filling my soul –


[00:35:51] JR: It makes you come alive.


[00:35:53] RJ: Yeah. If I watch a movie or a TV show, typically, those things aren't feeding your soul. They're entertainment. There's a good purpose for them. But I find myself I want to go to bed – for me my day starts the night before. I go to bed early. But it's really, my day ends when I go to bed is when I look at it. So, that's what I do for books. Next question.


[00:36:15] JR: I love it. Who do you want to hear on this podcast talking about how the gospel shapes the work they do in the world?


[00:36:21] RJ: I think at the top of the work about Apple, Tim Cook could be kind of interesting. I don't know where Tim is on. I think we all want to hear from people that we recognize, that's where I'm not as good a guest as others you’ll have. But someone you're familiar with, who you want to kind of understand how think about that. So, someone like Tim Pat Gelsinger would be great if you haven't had Pat on.


[00:36:45] JR: Yeah, I have a couple connections to Pat. I haven't reached out but I need to reach out to Pat.


[00:36:51] RJ: I’ll introduce you. Pat and I are acquainted. We live nearby and he's got a big job.


[00:36:54] JR: Yeah, he's doing a great job at Intel. Alright, Ron, last question. You're talking to an audience of Christians across a very diverse variety of vocations. What they share is a commitment to Christ and doing great work that reveals His glory. What do you want to leave them with before we sign off?


[00:37:10] RJ: It's all about every moment, right? Every moment is a chance to impact your faith for good. And you got to find a way to be prepared for that. We can't control what's happening in the future. We can't change the past. We can live in the moment and have an extraordinary impact. It's all the time. I stopped by a convenience store today and the gentleman behind the counter just looked at me said, “You haven’t been here before.” I said, “No.” I said, “How have you been?” This was like four in the morning, by the way. And he said, “I'm okay.” I said, “You don't sound great.” He said, “I'm a little tired. My six-year-old, I pick her up at school every day after school. I work overnight. I pick her up at 2:30 and summer’s coming in three days, and a lot of her friends are doing the summer camps. But because of my job, I can't take her and I'm feeling really bad.” I said, “Oh, that's really tough.” He goes, “Yeah, but we'll figure it out somehow.”


We had this lovely conversation, and this is four in the morning, with some person checking me out at a store. but I know we had this great connection time and I was able to express empathy for what he's going through. I couldn't do anything about it. But I can at least express empathy. That made me recognize back to the 23rd Psalm, I have everything I need and I see that every moment. So, therefore, live in the moments. That's where you impact the world and that's my advice.


[00:38:46] JR: That’s great. Ron, I want to commend you for the exceptional Kingdom work you do every day, for creating incredible retail experiences that focus on love, and bringing people together and just serving teams and customers and shareholders through the ministry of excellence. Guys, if you want to learn more about Ron and Enjoy, you can do so at Ron, thanks again for joining me.


[00:39:10] RJ: My pleasure. Have a great day.




[00:39:12] JR: Man, I hope you guys enjoyed that episode as much as I did. Hey, if you've got somebody who you think could be a great guest for the Mere Christians Podcast, I want to know. Go to, fill out the form right there and we'd love to hear about who you have in mind. Guys, thank you so much for tuning into today's episode. I'll see you next week.