Jonathan Johnson, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Overstock, visited USU Thursday as part of the Partners in Business program.
Johnson, who is also planning to run for Governor in 2016, spoke on topics of leadership.
“After you analyze a problem, you have to allocate scarce resources and not let them go to waste,” Johnson said. “Then the leader aligns disparate factions and groups to get them behind a single unified goal and execute on it.”
During Johnson’s tenure at Overstock, the company has grown from a small start-up to a publicly-traded company with $1.3 billion in sales.
“I think [leadership] is crucial in building a business, I think it’s crucial if you’re part of a community organization, and I’ve seen and applied it in my family,” Johnson said. “You go on a vacation, not everyone wants to do the same thing. When you do Saturday chores, not everyone wants to do them. It’s the same kind of thing.”
Johnson’s ideas, particularly regarding the idea of ordering things according to efficiency, were received well by students.
“I think that’s pretty cool because it helps the individual or whoever reach their maximum potential,” said Brian Christensen, a sophomore majoring in environmental engineering. “It should help them learn and grow I think.”
Johnson hopes that Utahans will see his experiences and worldview favorably in the 2016 gubernatorial elections. A registered Republican, Johnson believes that he can elevate Utah the same way he’s elevated Overstock, through fresh ideas and effective leadership.
“I think I’m good at aligning people and I think I’m good at recognizing talent and people to run things,” Johnson said. “We have very great people at Overstock who have made my job easier over the years, to a place now where I’m not involved in the day-to-day operations.”
It’s yet to be seen how Johnson’s ideas will go over with the general public, as he hasn’t yet officially launched his campaign. Early reviews from students vary.
“I think [his ideas] could help in government,” said Camylle Wood, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering. “I don’t think you can just magically make the process work though. I think some things just have to be scrapped.”