Don Johnston’s Many Gratitudes

Headshot of Don sitting in a cockpit wearing a NASA hat and a communication headset.

“What are you grateful for this year, Don?”

I recently caught up with Don Johnston Incoporated’s founder, Don Johnston himself.

We talked about his gratitudes, what it was like to work with his sons Ben and Kevin Johnston, and why he feels so good about our work with Texthelp so far.

See what he had to say in our conversation below:

Don: To start with, I’m grateful for the people working to have a positive impact on their students on a day to day basis.

They’re changing students’ lives and shaping the future of our country, through students’ education.

I’m grateful for all the Don Johnston employees who have been loyal and faithful.

I’m grateful for my family and my grandkids.

I’m especially grateful for the time I was able to spend working with my sons Ben and Kevin [who both joined Don in working for Don Johnston Incorporated].

To be able to see your kids start off in the business and really grow up and be effective in their work, in their job and in their families.

I’m reminded of how gratifying that is. Most people don’t have the opportunity to see that.

Kids go off to work or they go off to school, but to be able to be a part of their work life and see their contributions is really special.

And, you know, the people at Texthelp have surpassed my expectations. I’ve really enjoyed becoming friends with them.

It’s more than a working relationship. We’re in this together.

We’re solving a big problem and to be part of that with a team that’s so skilled and committed is really incredible.

Mary: I’ve definitely experienced that myself.

And you mentioned the people who’ve been with Don Johnston Incorporated for a long time. I recently had the opportunity to meet some of those people in person for the first time and to really experience that loyalty, camaraderie, and dedication was powerful.

Don: You haven’t really worked in the office.

Mary: No, I’ve been fully remote since I started working with the company [Don Johnston] in 2021.

November was my first opportunity to meet anybody in person.

It was very interesting to meet people I’ve been working with for almost two years along with some folks from Texthelper. I came away very heartened by the people I met.

Even Martin McKay (founder and CEO at Texthelp) was just very accessible and deeply kind and genuine and thoughtful. It was very heartwarming to see that in a CEO of a company.

Don: He’s a really good guy.

You know, the DJI staff, we used to spend our time competing with Texthelp.

To come together and put our minds together to go after the same vision hasn’t been the easiest challenge, but it’s really a good challenge to work with a team that’s so dedicated, and to see how this is their personal mission too. We’re doing this together.

Mary: It’s been a year of such change for DJI staff, especially people who’ve been here for a long time. And I didn’t really think about all those years of competition, but that emotional pivot must’ve been challenging.

I think that also shows the dedication and kind of emotional intelligence of the people who work here.

Don: I’m very confident that joining forces was a great move. And it’s because of the people, it’s because of the shared passion, it’s because of the shared mission.

Mary: Yes. The mission is very meaningful and we have a lot of people personally invested and very passionate about it. I think that translates to motivation.

Don: We went into this looking at how we can grow, have a common vision, and be strong together as opposed to fighting each other.

I think as we started to get to know each other, it became apparent that this really could not only work, but really thrive, as a whole that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts.

So, by coming together, it’s one plus one equals four or five, not two.

Mary: What a wonderful way to put that.

From there, Don and I talked about the challenges educators are facing, and how grateful we both are for the work they’re doing in the face of those challenges.

We also agreed that we’re excited about continuing to work with Texthelp to help more people understand and to be understood.