Paul L. Gunn, Jr. has built a career around procurement, logistics, and supply chain. His impressive track record in this domain is evidenced by the firms he has owned and their flawless delivery performance records. Some of his noteworthy capabilities include: Consulting, Training, and Project Management, implementing quality management systems, and technology solutions for global organizations leading cross-functional teams in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and America. He is also a proven leader in lifecycle and business process management.
Paul Gunn has taken an active role in all the firms he has owned, and as such, he leverages his preferred servant leadership style and SME to drive all project phases from proposal generation to planning and execution. Notably, Mr. Gunn previously led one of his firm’s largest Quality Management System implementation projects for highly visible DoD end-users.
His previous firm was listed as one of Inc’s Fastest Growing Privately held firms at #67. Mr. Gunn holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Georgia State University and a Master of Science in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. He is also a Founder of Watertusk Corporation.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Paul L. Gunn Jr.: My younger brother and I grew up watching our father run his accounting & training company. We often saw him work diligently from an early age and yet be a hands-on father and husband. We were never made aware of him running a business because he was always front and center at home. Early on he would let me come into his office and see what he was doing and it sparked interest from then. Whenever our mother took us to the grocery stores I would go into the isles to read the business magazines and say one day I want to run my own company. The path that led me to this point was a role in a firm that was a distributor for IT equipment. When my brother returned from war we started the previous firm we co-owned together before selling it once it reached the Inc 500. I started this firm to continue the passion for this work helping our Warfighters get home safely and it drives me every day.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Paul L. Gunn Jr.: This is fairly easy. It is my parents. The way we were brought up was a heavy focus on the moral character traits that money could not bend. There was a relentless focus on the education of these matters and opportunities to learn by trial and error how to become better humans. Our father showed first hand what the path would be should choose entrepreneurship. Our mother focused on communication. It was a training ground that best prepared me. What stuck out most on this path was when my father suggested to me if we want to start a business we should consider this area. That’s it. He backed off but was there in the background if we had questions. In hindsight, it was the very thing that pushed me to go because it’s difficult to teach drive and alignment to purpose. Once this was done they were there as guides for us.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Paul L. Gunn Jr.: One of the biggest ones I see are companies marketing and branding timing to align that tells the story that will have customers focus on your specific offerings and why. The simple generalized recommendation I would give is to seek a proven branding agency as early as you can afford one. We found one that worked wonders for us. They led with empathy and those initial interactions proved to be the skill needed to capture our story and brand. Marketing we focused on more strategically once the branding was done by them. Keep branding on your radar once revenue allows for it.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Paul L. Gunn Jr.: This is certainly something we can all relate to. Being in business often places you in positions to deal with situations that are far from favorable. To go through what we are all going through I wouldn’t veer too far from the standard definition for it. That is the capacity to quickly recover from difficulties. This recovery has been slow and tough. For me I define this for those who are able to endure these times and are doing this with joy making connections, sharing goodwill on social media, giving to others when they themselves don’t have much. These are those whom I see as resilient and eventually will make connections to those who can help them. This was and still a trying time for many. To endure this and still have joy are those who I see as resilient. They impress me and tell me this may be the new definition for resilience.
What is most important to your organization—mission, vision, or values?
Paul L. Gunn Jr.:To us this is something we are passionate about ensuring we provide our Warfighter’s the materials they need to get home safely. Being a company of moral value and leveraging it to make an impact for others is something that means a great deal to us. Leading with empathy and ensuring our team members share this outlook is important. Coming out of the pandemic it is our hope that more firms put a major focus on leading with empathy and being more focused on supporting others in sustaining initiatives.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Paul L. Gunn Jr.: The core character traits that I feel are not just reserved to me. Empathy, Determination, and Resilience were critical for me. Business is done with people. Empathy in all 3 domains was critical in understanding others to connect deeply with them. Being determined ran almost parallel with resilience as giving up wasn’t an option. There was no fail-safe switch the way I saw it. There were extreme low points but giving up was worse than keeping going.
How important do you think it is for a leader to be mindful of his own brand?
Paul L. Gunn Jr.: I personally feel this is extremely important and even more so now. The digital era has been here and what is seen in leaders should best reflect values that are impactful to others. Leading with empathy, showing kindness, and being one of value may touch those in ways that go well beyond the board rooms and virtual settings. It is my personal opinion a proven branding agency should be engaged to pull out the actual qualities that exist so that the branding is most impactful. Some may try to get agencies to show them in this manner when they are not and makes it difficult for them to match those qualities in media if they are not living or seeking to do so.
How would you define “leadership”?
Paul L. Gunn Jr.: To me, leadership is about making those around you better by inspiring them to go beyond what they feel are their limitations and allow them to be impactful. Leadership to me is being impactful to and for others for their betterment.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Paul L. Gunn Jr.: It would be my recommendation that they work to be humans of value and determined to build companies with their core values intact. Focus on empathy and learn the three domains well so that their connections to others are real and deep. Spend time researching gaps in industries that are not being serviced and why. Collaborate to build something together that fresh ideas may solve the gaps that were identified. Understand naysayers are going to be there as there is no shortage of them. Align with those who believe in you and get behind you.
What’s your favorite “leadership” quote and how has it affected the way you implement your leadership style?
Paul L. Gunn Jr.: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ― John Bunyan
This one is dear to me because for a leader to impact someone past where they see themselves, to get to the next level, they usually are going to have to give them something that may never be repaid. It could be resources, time, etc. Giving someone an opportunity may be enough to forever change them.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Paul L. Gunn Jr. for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Paul L. Gunn Jr. or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.