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Say Anything: Joel Gandara, CEO, Underwear Station

Dec 16, 2019 12:00:00 PM

Tell us about yourself and your business.

Joel Gandara, CEO of Underwear Station. Underwear Station is a leader on all aspects of the men’s underwear industry such as initial brand concept, manufacturing, logistics, sales and distribution.

In addition, I also specialize in priority fulfillment, e-commerce software development, and strategic planning to support businesses in achieving their goals.

What inspired you to start this business?

Poverty. Not wanting to be poor anymore. I grew up in a household where it was a struggle just to get by. So when I was in grade school, I would save up to buy toys then resell them. I always had that growth mindset, even when I was young.

Since high school, I’ve been financially independent. At 19, I was saving up to buy a house to which I accomplished when I was 22, working two jobs and saving every penny I could along the way. I worked as hard as I could in my late teens and early 20s so I could now reap the fruits of my labor.

Ultimately, my dad never seemed to like his job and I remember thinking, “I don’t want to be like that”. So I focused on doing what I loved (and what I was good at), helping people.

What has been your proudest moment in business?

Prioritizing a work-life balance. Earlier on in my career, I was working 12-16 hours a day and it was all I ever did, all I ever spoke about--it was my life.

Eventually, I realized that I should start working smarter, not harder. Things didn’t have to flow through me. This allowed me to focus more on my health and happiness, which in turn, improved the quality of work I could do.

Name one thing you've struggled with in your line of work?

I would say marketing and reaching the right customers. Whether it’s for fulfillment/warehousing or consulting/coaching, reaching new customers can be a challenge because it’s not just about finding the right profile, but the right frames of mind as well.

For example, in consulting/coaching, we have to find people that are truly committed to evolving (professionally and personally) so they can see results. We prefer to work with people who are not just open to change, but embrace it.

What is the one thing you wish you could change about your industry?

It’s hard to say, I don’t like to think about “changing the industry”. You control what you can control and the rest is out of your hands.

If anything, I like that there are flaws in the system because they enable me to shine by going above and beyond. They present an opportunity for me to stand out because often, the bar can be set so low, even doing what you promised to do is considered impressive.

What’s one life lesson you’ve experienced that has translated into the work you do?

You’ll have to sacrifice at some point in your life if you really want to be successful. In my case, it was early on but everyone has to figure out what they’re willing to give up to get to their goals.

When I was working multiple jobs at 19, for years, I couldn’t go out with my friends as much as I’d have liked to. I was committed to the finish line I set, which in this case was buying a house. Once I bought that house, I was able to rent out the bedrooms and live for free. Hard work pays off, you just have to be consistent.

Switching gears: You’re on a deserted island, what three things would you have with you and why?

Assuming there’s Wi-Fi on this deserted island (big assumption!):

  1. Audible, audiobooks to still learn and keep the mind sharp
  2. YouTube, similar to audiobooks, to keep the mind sharp
  3. Machete, for starting fires, self-defense weapon, hunting, etc.

Bonus question: If you could impart one piece of wisdom to your peers, what would it be?

The teacher shows himself when the student is ready. The best advice in the world won’t make any impact to someone who isn’t ready to receive it.

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Topics: Q+A

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