Interview: Eric Jackson on Resigning from Jackson Kayak
Eric Jackson stunned the world yesterday announcing he resigned from his position as president of Jackson Kayak… We caught up EJ to know more about this rather surprising decision, or maybe not that surprising…
“You have to trust that somehow the dots will connect in your future … [That] will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path and that will make all the difference,” Steve Jobs.
KS: Eric, like many we got quite surprised at your announcement yesterday. What can you tell us about it?
EJ: While I am somebody who can make decisions quickly and act immediately, I pondered over my position at Jackson Kayak, where it was going, where it was, and if I was doing the right thing for some time. It took me a while to figure out that perhaps I should take a step back and let others take the reins for a while. There is such a strong team at JK in every department that I think I may have replaced my job a long time ago. It was not an easy decision to make as you can imagine. JK is my baby.
KS: Will you still somehow be involved with the company? If so in what way?
EJ: I love the products, Team, Staff, and Dealers, not to mention my family still works there. I intend to paddle the boats I designed with David, but I have no official role at the business.
« I like to have control over my life and the business was complex enough that I didn’t feel like I did. It was time to simplify. »
KS: What about the Jackson clan, Dane, Emily, Nick, and the close circle Clay, Stephen and so many more… Are they staying with JK?
EJ: Our depth of field at JK is awesome; we have a ton of great management to make everything happen.
KS: Given the outcome there are possibly some things you would do differently. If so what?
EJ: I have made many mistakes in my business life. This was my first time around the block as President and CEO of a complex and challenging business. I don’t have enough space here to write down everything I would do differently. However, most of what I did, I would do the same. I like to have control over my life and the business was complex enough that I didn’t feel like I did. It was time to simplify.
KS: As a chess player you are always a trick ahead, I imagine that you took that kind of decision knowing where you are heading. Are you in a position to share the next EJ master plan?
EJ: I didn’t leave JK with a plan. I just knew that it was time to step away and let the new people in charge, be in charge, without me getting in their way. I am not retired, if that helps you better understand. I am always making new plans, and I am sure I’ll find something to make me too busy again soon!
« I certainly am planning on being on the USA Freestyle Kayak Team in 2021 at Nottingham, England. »
KS: Did you have a chance to say thank to the whole JK family (workers, dealers, distributors, athletes, followers)?…
EJ: I sent a letter to my staff, Team JK whitewater and fishing, and many dealers. We had extensive family meetings over the Thanksgiving holidays. I have so many wonderful friends and family that are “all in” in the kayaking world. There would be no way to have one-on-one conversations with each of them in less than few months! However, what is most important for people to know is that I am not abandoning them. What I am doing, I believe, will be best for everyone in the long run.
KS: So lot less time behind the computer means more training time… does that mean EJ will be making the us team for freestyle world cups this year? Or winning the big bucks Bass fishing Championship? Or both…?
EJ: I certainly am planning on being on the USA Freestyle Kayak Team in 2021 at Nottingham, England. I am captain of the USA Kayak Fishing Team and am competing in the Pan Am Championships in 2020 in Panama and will be competing in the Inaugural World Bass Kayak Fishing Championships in 2021 as well. I am also invited to compete on the FLW Pro Tour in 2020- where I had a good end of the last season getting 2nd in my final event. As far as computer time goes…. If you stop asking me questions, I can go kayaking sooner! J Brave Wave is back at Rock Island and I am Fired up!!
(Cover photo: Peter Holcombe)