Pilot and explorer, SOLAR IMPULSE Personal friend
I remember our first meeting as if it were yesterday. He came to present his project of LE CLIP as an investment opportunity in the mid-80s. I was immediately struck by his conviction, energy and joy to share his vision. Even though we did not invest in his project, I kept a vivid memory of our first meeting. Was it his energy, his malicious look or his determination or his moustache? I can’t tell, but it stayed with me.
A few years later, we met at a Forum of YPO in Geneva which is a small group of entrepreneurs who meet monthly to share business and life experiences. That is where our friendship developed. I admired the way he built his career through vision, passion and perseverance. But most of all I appreciated his sense for family and friendship. Like me, he married a girl from the Asian continent and his wife Ki, from South Korea, has always been there to support him in his endeavours.
Michel is a real “Force de la nature », always in movement with a strong sense of exploration. Together we discovered Bhoutan in the 90s and we are trying to add new adventures to our lives. Michel has also a remarkable lough and when in a group, his imposing voice makes you feel his presence.
Marketing & Verkaufsleiter, CEO von Carl F. Bucherer AG, Luzern, seit 2010
My time with Michel Jordi and his company has been very educational and has left its mark in me. I would not have missed a single day. I still have a very vivid memory of our first meeting. When I asked him about his vision for the future of his company, he took a blank sheet of paper and within a few minutes drew me his complete vision with passion and farsightedness. His enthusiasm inspired me and I accepted the job to assist him in his endeavours.
His skill to sense new trends, to create new and innovative products are remarkable. Further, he considered it as his mission to educate and empower young talents. As a young adult he entrusted me to become his assistant and gave me the freedom to grow into the job and taking up important responsibilities. I shall never forget his creativity for “Event marketing” which set us apart from our competitors. It was a great way of catching the attention of the media and fostering our relationship with retailers.
Our weekly Monday morning management meetings were stimulating and very motivating. Week by week he succeeded in inspiring his whole team and sales force to go out and galloping like Arabian horses to bring home positive news from the market. He did not satisfy for simple answers, no he was always looking for new challenges, beyond established frontiers. What I appreciated was his respect for his team, for example he always wanted to have my personal view and opinion before taking important strategic decisions or for new product development. His understanding was that if the team has to sell the companies products, they must be involved in the development process.
Michel Jordi is a true entrepreneur and visionary who does his job with passion, challenging his team daily with “You set your own limits”. My time with him has impacted my life and accompanies me still today when taking certain important decisions.
The Dentsu Professor and former President of IMD, Lausanne
Michel Jordi has always been a model of : «The Resilient Entrepreneur ».
Today, there are very few independent watch makers left in Switzerland. The industry has been increasingly captured and dominated by major luxury groups with very deep pockets. The financial and marketing means needed to compete globally in the industry keep growing day by day. Despite the challenges from big global players such as the Swatch Group, Richemont and LVMH, Michel has been fighting with his guts, passion, creativity and a remarkable sense of resilience, all qualities that are the hallmark of great entrepreneurs.
Revolutions are the produce of passion and vision, not of sober and tranquil reason. Michel’s passion and vision for making a positive difference in the industry and for the consumers have always been the key drivers of his entrepreneurial spirit. However, what I found unusual in this great entrepreneur is the superb balance between persistence, humility and learning! Usually, these qualities do not mix well together. For example, strong persistence does not always mix well with humility. However, in Michel’s case this balance seems to be very much in his genes. Some may argue that his humility is inherent to the Swiss people!? Well maybe, but few entrepreneurs I know also have the wisdom to regularly step back and think.
I have been amazed to see Michel take time away from his very busy life to attend executive programs at IMD or mingle with other entrepreneurs in very diverse industries. Michel takes “quality time“ to learn from and with others, to think and to reflect. His learning goes together with curiosity. Michel is one of the most curious persons I know. Not only is he interested in others but he is always ready to discover new horizons, new cultures, new industries, new frontiers. Curiosity is certainly one of the most critical assets that entrepreneurs and executives need today in order to learn, adapt and survive.
Finally, I’d like to stress Michel’s generosity. The best example is this new book that exemplifies his will to share with others what he has learnt, experienced and lives with his guts and his heart!
MERCI MICHEL !
MANAGING DIRECTOR ROLEX AUSTRALIA Worked with me in the 90s
Michel Jordi changed my life. He pulled me out from a jewellery store in Zurich where I was working as a watchmaker. He trained me to become a sales representative, first on the Swiss market, then internationally. He sent me to Hong Kong to open his Far East subsidiary. He taught me how to make a business plan and cash flow projection. But most of all he ignited the spark in me to and to thick big. And to follow my dream.
My first contact with Michel Jordi was at Juwelier Kurz in Zurich at the occasion of a launch event for new chronograph named “Spinach”. I was working there as a young watchmaker.
He approached me in his typical straight forward way asking what I was doing as a watchmaker there and whether I was not getting bored sitting at the workbench day in and out. His comment impressed me.
A few weeks later Michel invited me for lunch and offered me a job as a sales representative which was the beginning of a great career at Michel Jordi. From a simple sales rep for the Swiss market to become Managing Director of the Michel Jordi subsidiary in Hong Kong 1996 at the young age of 26.
I remember on one occasion I was driving through the Swiss Alps by car I was in a rush for my next appointment. The roads where snow covered and in a split of a second and lack of concentration I hit the car right in front of me. My car was seriously damaged, I couldn’t drive it anymore and missing my next appointment to reach my monthly sales target. Very frustrated and nervous I called Michel to report what happened. Typical of him his reaction was to tell me to take the train home and make sure that the watch collections were safe. What a relief. He told me further to go to the Spa near my hometown to relax as it was Friday. He would expect me at our headquarters in Nyon the following Monday for a detailed report and where another car would be waiting for me.
Following my initiation on the Swiss Market I joined the Export department, my markets included Germany and the Middle-East. This enabled me to make my first steps into international territory, which was a great learning process. I was given the opportunity to discover new countries and cultures, which at times was very challenging with a Swiss Ethno product. But Michel’s creativity had an answer to it with the launch of the Pharaoh collection for the Middle East. Again, another success story.
With the move to the Export Department I was asked to move to the headquarters in the French part of Switzerland, where I met my future wife Claudia who was working as receptionist of the company. More than 20 years later we are still happily married and have two children.
In 1996 Michel Jordi decided to open a subsidiary in Hong Kong and I was offered the position of managing director at the age of 26. In June 1996 I made the big move to Hong Kong where Michel taught me how to make a business plan, cashflow projections and reporting.
I can say without hesitation that thanks to Michel I am who I am today because he had trust in me and believed in my ability at my very young age. He taught me to follow my convictions and never give up, no matter the situation. I shall always be grateful that I had such a great mentor to pave my way. Thank you!
YPO & Heliski friend Former CEO Deeley Harley Davidson Canada Former board member of Harley Davidson USA
When I think about my friendship with Michel Jordi over the past two decades my mind keeps going back to the subject of leadership. Indeed, in observing Michel in action leadership as best described by D. Reginald Thomas shines a light on Michel’s character and professionalism.
In reading “Ignite the spark” and his fascinating biography, I urge you to think about the lessons in the context of leadership. With innovative products Michel truly had to see what other people did not yet see. He had to believe in his insights often to the detriment of himself until others were ready to appreciate that vision that was so clear to him.
“To be a leader you have to be one of those whom you would lead and at the same time in a very real sense you have to be apart from those you lead. You have to live in their world and yet be separate from their world. Leadership demands that you see things which other people do not see. Leadership demands that you apprehend truth as one day those whom you are leading will understand it. But, and this is the important point, at the same time a true leader is sympathetic to the truth as those whom he leads now think it to be, and that’s the difficulty.”
I have witnessed this phenomenon in other aspects of Michels’ life. Standing at the top of a mountain in the Canadian Rockies, ready to ski in some 50 cm of virgin powder snow down a steep slope through tight trees, Michel never needed the guide. He had an uncanny ability to find the line down the slope, to avoid the crevasses and tree wells to get us safely to the waiting helicopter at the bottom of the mountain. Learning from these lessons is paramount to success. This was all done with such enthusiasm for life and experiencing true “Joie de vivre”! When you are with four other guys with type “A” personalities this is not an easy task.
Of course, in business and in life there are successes and failures. Admitting a weakness and learning from mistakes are key character builders that he thrived on. Learning from these lessons is crucial to success. It is my view anyone that has an entrepreneurial instinct can learn valuable lessons from his books and shorten their personal rise to success. A marvellous read-goes, right to the heart of the entrepreneur!
Vice-president at Carl F. Bucherer Lucerne assistant to Sascha Moeri
Pour la première fois j’entendais le discours sincère d’un entrepreneur qui expliquait ses succès et ses échecs, sa « traversée » du désert et le rôle que sa famille et le sport avaient joué dans sa « reconstruction ». Il y mentionnait également son projet de lancement d’une nouvelle marque dans le domaine du luxe.
Très touché par son discours et encouragé par ma compagne, suissesse admiratrice de Michel Jordi, j’ai décidé de prendre ma plume et de rédiger un courrier de plusieurs pages à l’attention de Michel. Cette lettre était bien loin des lettres classiques. J’y exposais plutôt ma vision de la vie, ma croyance dans le sport et les valeurs familiales et le fait que je souhaitais travailler uniquement avec des personnes partageant ces valeurs…48 heures après l’envoi de ma lettre je reçus un appel de Ki Jordi, la femme de Michel, pour une rencontre à leur domicile.
Cette rencontre reste encore gravée dans mon esprit. Nous avons passé plusieurs heures à discuter de sport, de dépassement de soi, de motivation, d’entrepreneuriat. J’ai immédiatement su que c’est avec Michel que je voulais travailler. Et Michel m’a proposé de le rejoindre pour le lancement de sa nouvelle marque horlogère positionnée dans le luxe. Tout un défi !
Imaginez un homme qui avait précédemment développé deux sociétés à succès, avec comme produits forts LE CLIP et la très célèbre SWISS ETHNO WATCH, soit des produits entrée et moyen de gamme…et qui souhaite se lancer au fin 2004 dans le très haut de gamme avec des montres au prix moyen de CHF 70’000.— !!
Journalistes, fournisseurs, détaillants…la plupart pensaient impossible de sauter d’une catégorie à l’autre sans y perdre ses ailes…mais pas Michel. Et c’est ce qui m’a plu en lui. Il a écouté son cœur et son instinct et a décidé de passer outre les recommandations et avertissements que lui prodiguait la foule l’entourant. Michel m’avait d’ailleurs confié qu’il n’aurait jamais lancé son CLIP et sa SWISS ETHNO WATCH s’il avait dû écouter les prodiges du marketing, agences et conseillers qui avaient prédit le non succès de ses produits alors même que c’est l’inverse qui a eu lieu. Le CLIP a été l’un des produits les plus innovants en horlogerie à la fin des années 80…même Andy Warhol les portait ! Quant à la SWISS ETHNO WATCH, que dire si ce n’est tout de même que ce produit – véritable icône suisse de l’époque – a été l’un des plus vendus en Suisse au milieu des années 90.
A quoi bon écouter ceux qui ont comme référent uniquement ce qui existe alors que l’entrepreneur crée ce qui sera un nouveau changement. L’entrepreneur a le nez, le goût du risque et il a confiance en lui. Michel m’a toujours dit qu’il fallait savoir écouter la voix intérieure, celle qui sait mais que l’on fait taire bien trop souvent sous l’influence de groupes oppressants qui nous dictent les règles du « ce qu’il faut faire et ce qu’il ne faut pas faire ». La première année de lancement, soit en 2004, nous avons atteint au sein de la nouvelle structure horlogère de Michel 4 millions de CHF de chiffre d’affaires, en étant seulement deux, alors que les perroquets répétaient à l’envie que nous ne dépasserions jamais le million. Je me souviens d’ailleurs de cette année 2004 avec d’autant plus de force que je commençais mon activité chez Michel directement à son domicile, sans bureaux officiels les premiers mois. Un début d’histoire propre à de nombreux indépendants. Un début d’histoire qui en rappelle d’autres, à succès.
Aux côtés de Michel, qui m’a pris sous son aile, j’ai appris à découvrir le métier horloger de façon très « brutale » dans le bon sens du terme. J’étais directement en contact avec les fournisseurs, je voyageais dans le monde entier, et chaque minute de disponible était dédiée au travail et à cette passion pour l’horlogerie que Michel avait su faire naître en moi.
D’ailleurs, quelques années plus tard, j’allais créer ma propre marque horlogère avec laquelle j’allais remporter de nombreux prix (meilleure marque indépendante, prix du design et de la créativité,…), des récompenses acquises en partie grâce à l’expérience « Jordi ». Une expérience gravée en moi à tout jamais.
Michel a toujours eu un esprit différent doué d’une très forte personnalité et cela a été sa force. Et j’aurai toujours un profond respect pour lui. C’est un véritable entrepreneur qui a toujours su continuer à avancer par beau temps comme par tempête.
Dans mon dernier livre dédié au monde du luxe indépendant (Independent Luxury), j’ai consacré de nombreuses pages à Michel. A ceux qui continuent à m’en demander la raison, je réponds inlassablement et tout naturellement qu’il a su me montrer la voie de l’entrepreneuriat et qu’il m’a enseigné que quelle que soit la traversée du désert, il y a toujours un début et une fin.