After a decade of working at Apple, Jonathan Yeo desired to help smaller organizations and individuals discover and unleash their potentials. To do this he created The Potential Space, which works closely with clients to develop strategies, design programs, and deliver experiences that build inclusion, enable teams, and develop leaders.
GGBA: Tell us more about The Potential Space.
Jonathan Yeo: The Potential Space is a learning, development, and inclusion-focused consultancy that provides strategy, program design, and content delivery to organizations looking to build or improve inclusive cultures, develop leadership skills, improve team collaboration, and individual growth.
GGBA: How did your past work experience, especially at Apple, inspire you to create your business?
Jonathan Yeo: After ten years working at Apple in the fields of leadership development and inclusion and diversity, I wanted to engage with and support organizations that don’t have the resources or experience in-house in these areas. I loved working for Apple, but let’s face it, they’re going to be ok without me; there are so many great people there to support that work. Starting my own business gives me the ability to work across the spectrum of my passions—helping organizations design their learning and DEI strategies, designing programs and content to support those strategies, and delivering workshops that enable individual and organizational growth.
GGBA: Who are some of your role models, and especially those who helped to influence your business?
Jonathan Yeo: Firstly, there are those who’ve really elevated some key conversations into public and organizational discourse—people like Brené Brown (vulnerability), Amy Edmondson (psychological safety), Daniel Kahneman (decision psychology), and Ibram X Kendi (anti-racism). But equally influential to me are the individuals I’ve had the privilege of working beside and supporting, people whose journeys are real world testaments to how potential can be activated and realized.
GGBA: Why did you decide to join the GGBA, and how long have you been a member?
Jonathan Yeo: One of the areas of my work I am most passionate about is identity—the complexities of all the aspects of our identities and how they influence and impact our work lives. Being gay is a key part of my identity, one that I am proud of, and a journey that has significantly shaped me, but there have been many times in work contexts where I’ve consciously or unconsciously downplayed that. Often it was from a fear of being stereotyped or pigeon-holed. For me, joining the GGBA and certifying The Potential Space as part of the NGLCC (National LGBT Chamber of Commerce) was therefore a way of making sure I wasn’t downplaying that identity, showing that it’s important to who I am, and it’s a big driver of my passion to help others achieve their potential. I joined the GGBA earlier this year so I feel like a newbie, but, unsurprisingly, I’ve already felt incredibly welcome.
GGBA: Although you have not been a GGBA member for very long at this point, has being a member helped your business?
Jonathan Yeo: Practically, being a member has helped me refine how I describe and pitch my business. But when you start your own business, one of the toughest parts is that at the end of the day it’s just you. Connecting with others through the GGBA gives you that reassurance that you’re actually not alone, that there are others who can sympathize, advise, and support in all sorts of ways. It also helps satisfy my insatiable curiosity—it’s such a unique opportunity to connect with and learn about people with all sorts of jobs and interests. I love the wide sense of possibilities that it reinforces.
GGBA: Do you go to the GGBA monthly Make Contact networking events (now virtual)? Have they benefited you and your business, and would you recommend them to others?
Jonathan Yeo: I haven’t, and I didn’t realize these exist!
GGBA: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
Jonathan Yeo: I’m a strong believer that the right ideas are the ones that gnaw at you, that keep coming back to you, that seem more and more insistent as time goes on. People will tell you that starting a business is tough, but the more you have a sense of certainty that it’s your path, the more the challenges just become obstacles to overcome rather than things to derail you. So, if you’re not sure that you’re ready, then you’re probably not. But what you can do is start laying the foundations and see if they gain momentum. For me, it was important that I create a list of contacts and connections that I could leverage if and when I took the plunge. The more I added to that list over time, the more that list helped me feel that I was ready.
GGBA: Is there anything else that you would like to share?
Jonathan Yeo: If there’s a consistent theme in the work I do with clients—whether it’s a workshop on people leadership skills, a seminar on identity, or an individual coaching session—it’s curiosity. Staying curious, or challenging yourself to be curious, is at the heart of learning and growth.