Jonathan Kniss grew up in a small community in Northwestern, Illinois. With a desire to further his education, he enrolled in a local Electronics Technology Program hoping to learn more about the industry. Recognizing his passion for technology, Jonathan went on to obtain an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Illinois.
After completing his post-secondary education, Jonathan accepted a position with Boeing in Seattle, where he spent the next sixteen years harnessing his unique skill set. With Boeing’s reach worldwide, he was given the opportunity to work with a wide range of personnel. This also provided him the chance to help lead a new joint venture, Flight Safety Boeing International, where he was one of the top executives.
Jonathan went on to work in other industries before returning to the technology sector. He now works for a company that manufactures laser-based inspection equipment for the oil, gas, and automotive industries.
Can you share a little bit about what brought you to this company, and about your early start as a business developer.
Looking back on my Boeing days, I enjoyed working with technical people – engineers and the like. Even though my roles were almost all in managerial leadership, I was most at home on the technical side of things. When I moved on to less technical companies, I found that I didn’t enjoy that work environment. I realized that I really wanted to get back to working with technical people. That desire set things in motion, and I found a good fit in my current company. I started here as the Director of Business Development, and today I’m Vice President of one of our business units.
How have you achieved success?
To sell stuff in our business you need strong relationships. I enjoy working with our customers – traveling, meeting them, seeing and understanding their problems, and figuring out how we can come up with productive solutions. To that end, my job involves travel. Prior to the pandemic, I was traveling as often as once a month. Because we serve the oil and gas industry, I was and still am in Houston fairly often. I have also traveled to other countries that have oil-based industries, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Canada. So, to succinctly answer your question, it’s all about an emphasis on customer relationships.
What obstacles have you overcome in the process
Our products are expensive, which can be an obstacle. Often, that means our customers have to work through a long capital expenditure approval process. One of the solutions we’ve found is to work with a third party leasing company, so that companies have the option of making smaller monthly lease payments. By providing a lease option to our customers, we give them an alternative route that doesn’t require a lengthy capital approval process, instead simply expensing their monthly payments. That was an important obstacle for us to overcome, especially in the early months of the pandemic, when people just couldn’t afford to be buying expensive things outright.
What drives you to succeed?
Something I’ve learned over the years is that there are people who just kind of have drive, and people who don’t. I do have drive, but I don’t think it’s anything that I created for myself. I was just born that way. I like to work, so that’s very helpful, but I’ve got an inner drive that keeps me getting up in the morning and thinking about all the things that I want to try and get done that day. Again, though, I don’t think I can take any credit for creating that. It’s just something I was born with.
How has your definition of success changed over the years?
I think when you’re younger, it’s easy to get focused on wealth. As you get older and you gain more wisdom , you realize that wealth alone is an empty goal to pursue. It’s not a fulfilling way to work or to live. Success, to me, is more about enjoying what you do and being good at it.
What has success meant to you?
I think that goes back to what I was talking about before. If you can make that transition I spoke about earlier to simply enjoying what you do, you end up being happier and less stressed. That helps you to become a better person all around, and I think people notice that.
Do you have advice for others on how to be successful?
Never take ‘no’ for an answer. Keep trying. You’re going to get beaten down, and you’re going to have failures. Get back up. Keep fighting the fight. Keep looking for the win, and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
How do you feel achieving success affects a person’s outlook, either on business or on life?
I think, if you can get more focused on the right things, that’s what it’s all about. If you’re able to do the sort of work you like and are good at it, I think it affects your outlook. You’re happier, you’re more fulfilled, and you’re less stressed.
Medium – https://medium.com/@jonathankniss