Michael Hyatt is one of the best leaders I know. I have had the privilege of getting to know Michael personally over the last couple of years, having met him first through Twitter. What I have come to understand is that Michael is the same online as he is in person. When I first published this, Michael was the C.E.O. of (Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher. He has since retired as C.E.O, but remains the company’s Chairman. He is extremely accessible and transparent through his online involvement, and he is a model husband and father. In addition, Michael is a true Kingdom-builder and loves Jesus passionately. When I think of a well-balanced leader, I think of Michael Hyatt.
Here are 10 questions with leader Michael Hyatt:
When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?
When I was in elementary school, I thought I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer. I was fascinated by space flight and science fiction. In the 9th grade, I started playing guitar. In fact, I majored in music for my first two years of college. I thought I would be a professional musician. However, when I become a Christian, I wanted to serve in full-time Christian ministry. In fact, I was planning to go to seminary, until I discovered the world of book publishing.
What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?
I have worked in book publishing for my entire career, so I have to go back to high school to find a job that was really different. I sold cable television subscriptions door-to-door for a while. The challenge of making cold calls has served me well. In my job, I spend a lot of time doing things that I have never done before. Selling door-to-door taught me to overcome my fear and just step out in faith.
Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?
I actually blogged about this recently. I would have to say Robert Wolgemuth, my former boss, business partner, and now close friend. He was such a consistent example to me. He really walked his talk in every area of his life. In particular, he modeled integrity, responsiveness, and gratitude. I find myself coming back to these character qualities again and again as the core of my own success.
Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?
This is a tough question for a book publisher to answer. I love so many different kinds of books. If I had to pick one, it would be For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann, an Eastern Orthodox seminary professor and priest. The premise of the book is that everything is sacramental. Every person you meet, every experience you have, manifests the presence of God—if you have the eyes to see it. This book shaped my worldview more than any other.
What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?
Energetic, prolific, and polished. (It feels awkward to say this, but I am trying to be objective.)
What is your greatest strength in leadership?
My ability to make complex ideas simple. I am obsessed with making things easier to understand and communicating them in ways that people can grasp and remember.
What is your greatest weakness in leadership?
Boredom. I love to build things. I hate to maintain them. I’m like a shark; I have to keep moving or I drown. This means I have a short attention span. My focus drifts if projects or meetings take too long.
What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?
Meet people and be sociable. Many people are surprised to learn that I am an extreme introvert. I love being with my family and close friends. But attending social functions where I don’t know people and have to be “on” is challenging. It depletes my energy and takes a toll emotionally. I have to be intentional about building space into my schedule to recharge.
What is one misconception about your position you think people in your organization may have?
That it must be great to be the CEO and call all the shots. My position is mostly about solving very difficult problems. The easy problems get solved before they get to me. Often times, I am having to chose between two bad options. This is where the stress comes in.
If you could give one piece of advise to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?
You are not as smart as you think you are. Therefore, stay humble. You have more potential than you can possibly imagine. Therefore, remain faithful. Keep growing, and be patient. Your time will come.
Have you been impacted by the online presence of Michael Hyatt? Tell me about it.
Do you understand what Michael means when he talks about his Introversion?