D. Gary Young: Maverick, Shokunin, Pioneer

4 November 20, 2014 - Sharing the Lifestyle, Young Living Leaders, Young Living Team

Young Living Founder and CEO D. Gary Young has dedicated his life and countless personal sacrifices to creating essential oils that surpass every quality standard. His motivation? The belief that pure essential oils have the power to touch and change lives. Young Living Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Jared Turner shares his thoughts below on what sets Gary and his approach apart:



Gary Young is currently building a new Young Living farm up in cold British Columbia, Canada. As I think about this great personal sacrifice, I’ve been considering all the things people say about him, both good and bad. Some call him “crazy.” Others call him the “maverick” or “guru” of the modern essential oil movement. As with most leaders of movements that change the world, Gary Young seems to elicit a variety of opinions.


One title I love that describes the spirit of what D. Gary Young represents is that of “shokunin.” A traditional Japanese title, “shokunin” (or “craftsman”) could well encapsulate all the best of Gary. Shokunin are individuals who care deeply about their craft; however, even this literal description doesn’t fully express the full meaning of the word. Shokunin care passionately, even spiritually, about their work—to the point of utmost personal sacrifice. They don’t care for money; they care only to improve the world through the perfection of their craft. In this way, the world is better because of them. They see what they do as an art form that must be perfected every day, faithfully. They never rest and are rarely tired because they are doing what they were meant to do: living their purpose through their work.


Japanese artist Tasio Odate elaborates further:

“The shokunin has a social obligation to work his best for the general welfare of the people. This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.”


Gary Young is the true craftsman of the art of the cultivation, distillation, and quality testing of essential oils. He is comparable to none. He excels at his craft not only because he’s done if for decades but also because it is as natural to him as flying is to an eagle or swimming is to a fish. It is what he is meant to do.


Recent demonstrations of his shokunin spirit include the personal physical sacrifices he is experiencing in Canada. Gary recently told us that he is never warm. The only time he’s able to “thaw out” is a couple of hours after he tucks in his bed late at night after a long, arduous day at the farm. And it’s not just the brutal cold: he has cuts and bruises all over his body as a result of his drive to beat the deep winter clock and get people the oils they love.


I tell you this only to show you what we have in D. Gary Young; his dedication to his craft is immeasurably valuable to all of us. Remember: he loves what he’s doing and is meant to do it.


As recipients of this shokunin gift, it’s incumbent upon us to tell the story, to connect others to the Young Living “why” and continue the revolution in wellness that Gary Young started decades ago. We strive to help you tell this story through our emphasis on Young Living’s Seed to Seal® promise, as evidenced in our farm-centric events, the ongoing rebrand, and our marketing materials (check out SeedtoSeal.com).


Our detractors, including competitors, are attacking on all sides. They know that they are shadows of what we are and what we stand for—and they don’t like it. They know that they can’t compete with our original, authentic and rich narrative, so they attack the source of that narrative: Gary Young. We continue to tell our story despite this, and will defend our virtue as the originator and leader of the essential oil movement. Gary Young created a culture and ethos of wellness and empowerment that has lasted for decades—and it will last for decades more.


The bottom line is that whatever our competitors want to call Gary, they can’t call him a copycat. They can’t call him an imitator. At a minimum they can hopefully acknowledge that he’s the real deal and has taught them everything they know about essential oils. Maybe instead of attacking, it’s time that they give credit where credit is due. But guess what? Gary won’t be listening to any apologies; he’s too busy working in Canada to make the world a better place, one drop at a time.


And in case you still want to call Gary Young “crazy,” well, that may not be so bad either. Just ask Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently—they’re not fond of rules…You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things…they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.”


We are grateful for the pioneering vision and tireless dedication of our founder. How has Gary’s work touched your life? Let us know in the comments!

  • Anastasia

    Thank you gary, 25 yrs later, with yl oils, i am alive happy and helping others, everyday…
    peace is

  • Mark Beach

    I consider it an honor and a privilege to work for a company and people with such a high commitment to quality and integrity. Thank you!

  • Mary Ann Hunter

    I’ve been using and sharing YLEOils for 16 years. It just makes my day when I have shared with someone who comes back to me and says they feel so much better and love the oils. It makes me feel good to be able to help others. Thank you Gary and Mary Young. The two of you are inspirations to many.

  • Elizabeth Skala

    Next month, it will be 20 years since Mary introduced her new husband, Gary to us in Okla. When he heard of the bombing of our federal building, he sent a box of oils for us to use for the traumatized folks in our area. This is Gary Young !

  • Veronica Carter-Macchione

    I’ve been using YL Essential Oils for 10 yrs. now. I started using them in my massage business and noticed how they enhanced my work. I started using them personally and all I can say is, I have my doctor stumped, I am probably the healthiest 53 yr. old he has ever seen. Thank you Gary Young, for being you, and doing what you do, so well.

  • Raymond

    God has given Gary a vision and a mission that few can fathom. Each of of us who are part of YL know of Gary; some have had the pleasure of conversation and of working with him. Those who attack Gary or YL are simply exposing their ignorance, stupidity, and evil intention. May his example be our inspiration, that we too live in integrity and love others as ourselves.

  • Anita L S

    Been reading a lot about the company and it’s products; and noted that this company is different. I don’t see any marketing hype that would obscure a true vision. That’s refreshing especially in a media-filled world like today. I appreciate a good role model and I am motivated by a hard worker, having a positive view, and a humble disposition. I see all that and more with the founder of this company and no doubt others that are involved can see that too.

  • Heather Milln

    Thank you Gary & Mary. I’m a new woman since using Young Living oils, supplements & other products!!! Because of you I now have a diploma in aromatherapy [working on one for reflexology also] And I just love to be equipped to bring wellness to other people too – such a blessing! You have shown me the continuation of my destiny. Richest blessings on you both.LOL

  • Mari S.

    I’ve been using Young Living Essential oils only for half a year. Since I started to use Young Living Essential Oils, my health seems to get stronger than I had expected!
    I’m a Japanese and I know what the word ‘SHOKUNIN'(職人) really means.
    Yes, Gary Young is a real SHOKUNIN!!

  • Thank you to all of you at young living. This has been such an amazing journey for me thus far and has truly brought me back to my spiritual awareness and journey with God. I am thankful to be able to have them in my life.

  • It’s nearly Thanksgiving and a perfect time to say Thank you! I am so grateful to Gary and Mary for all the love and integrity they embody. Thank you to the amazing staff who help us year round at the company. I am so grateful that we can visit our farms to learn and participate in the farming and distillation of our oils. I am grateful for how Gary, Mary and the staff constantly raise the bar, in terms of showing us how much they value our efforts and going the extra mile to improve everything. I am also grateful for the many sacrifices Gary and Mary have made to bring us these amazing products. Happy Thanksgiving and massive gratitude.

  • Katie Iverson

    Fourteen years ago I was introduced to Young Living. I knew it would change my sons life who is Autistic but little did I know how much it would change my life through sharing with others. Thank you Gary and Mary Young for this slice of heaven you have shared with us and for showing us how to share with others!

  • The most amazing company I have ever worked with! To have this level of quality takes dedication! Thank You Gary and Mary for your sacrifices to bring us the best essential oils in the world!

  • Gayle Moss

    Grateful for this man, his vision, his integrity, his drive. So many are benefitting. Thank you, Gary Young.

  • deb hoadley

    Truly the best products available…I have been delighted with the integrity of YL products and Gary Young!

  • Gail Cuthbert

    Everything this article resonated with me as true. I had the privilege of attending the YL convention last June. Everything about Gary (and his family) communicates this passion to provide every human with these precious oils. It is their sacred calling. They are the real deal. You can’t fake authenticity.

  • Gary is the Young Living company.

    I feel privileged we have therapeutic grade essential oils to support health in people!

    I dedicate my life to sharing my knowledge and experience with others.

    Thank you so much, Gary!!!

  • Diane Carr

    I have been richly blessed by Young Living company and all that encompasses, as well as the wonderful and not taken for granted, leadership of Gary and Mary. It is exciting and fun to follow people so designed and dedicated to help the many masses. I’m so thankful God has led me to Young Living.

  • Heidi McGinnis

    Thank you Christina Campbell for your wonderful story about your adventure to the winter harvest and Gary chopping wood for the stove, Yup, that’s our Gary. He’s truly is one kind and I am so blessed to know him

  • Brenda Stutz

    Absolutely LOVE Young Living Essential Oils! Thank you Gary Young! You are one of a kind!

  • Gwen Robertson

    I love this company. We are so blessed by God & by Gary & Mary Young. The integrity of this company is beyond and above all other companies.

  • Rob Karnuth

    Mr.Gary Young is definitely ahead of his time. He is a smart man.Proud of his accomplished events. Amazing.Thanks Gary Young.

  • I love Gary Young stories, especially when he tells them himself. I heard him speak at the Young Living convention last summer, and I also read his blog posts. He’s generous as well as genius.

    • Michele

      I’d like to add genuine to that as well.

  • Terrie

    Beautifully and well stated. Thank you!

    • We are lifted everyday with natures living energy of pure oils, and we are inspired by the sacrifice and dedication of a true leader and visionary at a time when the world needs examples of selflessness and courage.

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