Michael Hyatt has built multiple companies over the years, including a $250M book publisher as well as a leadership development consultancy called Full Focus.

This organization has grown over 60% year over year for the past 4 years. It has been featured in the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in America, and Inc.’s Best Work Places list.

He is also the author of several New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling books including Living Forward, Your Best Year Ever, Free to Focus, The Vision Driven Leader, and Win at Work and Succeed at Life.

He has been married for over 40 years to his wife Gail, has five daughters, and has nine grandchildren. In this interview he answers three questions many have been pondering:

  • How do you achieve focus?
  • What do you need to succeed in 2022?
  • How can a company change resignation to renovation?

And a special bonus question:

Can a father be happier than his least happy daughter?

If you’re a leader, want to be a leader, or a father with a daughter, this episode is for you.

Enjoy this interview with Michael Hyatt!

If you enjoyed this episode of the Remarkable People podcast, please leave a rating, write a review, and subscribe. Thank you!

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Transcript of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People podcast with Michael Hyatt:

Guy Kawasaki:
I'm Guy Kawasaki. And this is the Remarkable People podcast. I'm on a mission to make you remarkable.
Today's guest will further you along that path.
Michael Hyatt has built multiple companies over the years, including a $250-million book publisher, as well as a leadership development consultancy called Michael Hyatt & Company. This organization has grown over 60 percent year over year for the past four years.
It has been featured in the Inc. 5000 lists of the fastest growing companies in America and Inc's best workplaces list. He's also the author of several New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today best-selling books, including Living Forward, Your Best Year Ever, Free to Focus, the Vision-Driven Leader, and Win at Work and Succeed at Life.
He's been married for over forty years to his wife, Gail, has five daughters with her, and has nine grandchildren.
In this interview, he answers three questions that many have been pondering.
First, how do you achieve focus?
Second, what do you need to succeed in 2022?
Third, how can I company change resignation to renovation?
Plus, there's a special bonus question that he answers. Can a father be happier than his least happy daughter? If you're a leader, want to be a leader, or you're a father with a daughter, this episode is for you.
I'm Guy Kawasaki, and this is Remarkable People. And now, here is the remarkable Michael Hyatt.
At this point in your life, what do you consider your calling your reason to exist?
Michael Hyatt:
That's a great question. And I would say that it's to help people get what I call the double win, which is winning at work and succeeding at life.
And the history of that is that back in the early 2000s, I was a hard-charging executive in a publicly held company. And I had just been given responsibility for one of our least profitable divisions. In fact, out of fourteen divisions, it was the least profitable of all.
And so, I decided I was going to roll up my sleeves and dive in and do my very best to turn it around.
And so the CEO said, "How long is it going to take you?" And I said, "I think I can do it in three years." Of course, I was just pulling the number out of the air.
I went back with a vision that I'd put onto paper and just shared it with my team. They got excited about it.
Long story short, we were able to turn that division round ago from number fourteen to number one in about eighteen months. I got the biggest bonus check I'd ever gotten in my life. It was more than my annual salary. I went home. And by the way, I had sacrificed nights, weekends on the road constantly, wasn't eating very well, all that stuff.
So I went home. I expected my wife to be thrilled. And I bounced in. I showed her this big bonus check. Yeah. And she kind of had a little bit of a half-smile and said to me, "Oh, we need to talk." And I said, "Okay."
And I kind of knew like I was getting taken to the doghouse. But we went into the den. We sat down and she began to tear up just a little bit. And she said, "You know I love you, and I'm so grateful for all you do for our family." But I got to be honest. You are never home, and something needs to change. And she said, "Worse than that, your five daughters…" who, by the, by that time they were all teenagers. She said, "They desperately need you on the scene."
And then, she began end of crying. She said, "I feel like a single mom." That wasn't exactly what I was going for. And I realized that something had to change. And so, I really have dedicated the last twenty years of my life to figuring out how can you build a wildly successful business because I don't want to give up on that, I'm very ambitious, but not sacrificing your health or your most important relationships?
So I, more or less figured that out. Sometimes, it's three steps forward, two steps back. But my goal in life and what I do with all my clients is try to help them achieve that double win.
Guy Kawasaki:
But you're no longer CEO, right? Haven't you passed the reins on?
Michael Hyatt:
Yeah. So in that company, I became the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, which at the time was the seventh largest publisher in the country. We sold it to HarperCollins in 2011.
And I used that opportunity to leave and to set up my own business. And so, I did.
Michael Hyatt & Company. And so, that was in the spring of 2011. And a year ago, this January, this very month, I made my oldest daughter the CEO of our company. So we have, I don't know, sixty-five employees, about 600 coaching clients.
And she took the reins, and she's doing phenomenal. So I've actually stepped down as CEO from two different companies.
Guy Kawasaki:
And are you just playing with your grandchildren now, or are you-
Michael Hyatt:
No. She put me to work. She's running the company and leading the company and doing all the visionary and organizing the executive team and doing all that kind of stuff. I get to do the fun stuff that I love, which is create content and to present it.
I was mentioning to you earlier, I just got off a webinar. I love that…interacting with the clients and creating content. But I essentially report to her now. And I'm only working six hours a day for four days a week.
Guy Kawasaki:
So here's the first question that you may say, "I don't want to answer."
Michael Hyatt:
Guy Kawasaki:
I'm curious, why does she go by the name Megan Hyatt Miller? Why doesn't she just say Megan Miller?
No one will know she's your daughter because knowing that she's your daughter, some people may react negatively, right? It's nepotism, blah, blah, blah.
Michael Hyatt:
Yeah, to be honest, I've never really thought of that. I think if you were to ask her, she'd probably say she's proud of the name. A lot of women hyphenate their name like that.
And a lot of people knew her as Megan Hyatt before she got married. But I think for anybody who's met her or interacted with her, what they say is, "You're really better than your dad."
Guy Kawasaki:
I was going to say, I got that impression. But…
Michael Hyatt:
Yeah, I get that a lot.
Guy Kawasaki:
So, do you have any recommendations for people who are trying to step out or step back at this time in their life now that you've done it twice, actually?
Michael Hyatt:
I do. And literally this was what the webinar was about that I did today. It was called Walk Away and Watch It Grow. And so, I have this theory and the theory is that you can actually achieve more by doing less. The problem is most of us have too much time.
And as a result, we spend a lot of time in low leverage, low impact activities that don't really move the business forward.
When we constrain ourselves, but all of a sudden we're forced to make decisions about priorities and what's really important.
But I would say that if you're thinking about just having more free to time or not having a business that so dependent upon you or wanting to retire, whatever it is, I think the first thing to do, and this is something I did four years ago, and that was, I got really specific about when the date of that transition was going to be.
In fact, I announced it to our entire employee workforce. But I announced it for January the first 2022. I'll come back to that in a minute.
So then I said, "Now, what has to transpire for Megan to be equipped to be able to lead the company because I've kind of gotten addicted to the cash flow." I like the income. So I want the company to continue to do well.
And so, I came up with a list of things that she needed to grow into. And she was, of course, enormously creative and collaborative and worked on that with me. But here's the thing that I had to figure out.
And I had a bad transition from my predecessor at Thomas Nelson because when he handed the baton to me and he had been my mentor, my advocate, the board voted unanimously to elect me to this position, again, we were publicly held company. And the day after, he flipped out.
He walked into our CFO's office. He'd been the CEO for forty-seven years. And he said, "If I'm not the CEO, who am I?" His work was so tied up with his identity that he couldn't differentiate the two.
And when the work went away, his identity went away, and he spent the next two years trying to unseat me and giving me all kinds of grief. He's dead now. So I can tell the story, but convenient for me.
But at any rate, it was an amazing experience. But I realized he didn't have something he was going to. And I think for anybody that wants to step away from their business or out of their business, the focus can't be totally backward like what you're leaving. You've got to create a vision for what you're going toward.
And so Dan Sullivan, a strategic coach, says, "You've got to always make your future bigger and better than your past." And so that's what I did. I had to literally go on a retreat and just say, "Okay. If I step away, what's that going to make possible and to get really clear on that?" And so that's made it easy. I haven't been tempted to meddle in the business or to give her any grief. I just stay out of it because I got other stuff that I'm doing that's really important to me.
Guy Kawasaki:
This is a second section of stuff you may say, "I don't want to answer."
Michael Hyatt:
So far so good.
Guy Kawasaki:
Clearly, with a background with Thomas Nelson, largest Christian publisher, et cetera, what's your current opinion of Christianity in America, vis-à-vis Trumpism, vaccination, stolen election, all that kind of stuff? Where are you on all that?
Michael Hyatt:
This is one I should take a pass on, but I won't.
Guy Kawasaki:
Oh, okay. I was ready to say, "Okay."
Michael Hyatt:
And I'll probably get into trouble.
I have a unique vantage point because if you take the three major branches of Christianity, would be Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism. So I started out as a Protestant. But I became Eastern Orthodox about thirty-seven years ago.
So I'm a little bit in it, but a little bit on the sidelines. I think I have a unique perspective to it.
I would say that today people are more spiritually motivated, more spiritually interested than ever before. However, that doesn't always manifests itself in traditional frameworks like we're used to. I think churches that have exclusively tried to cater to the culture and just adopt what Neil Postman saw the entertainment metaphor, everything is valued for its entertainment value.
I think when Christianity gets evaluated in that framework where its only value is if it's entertaining, I think it goes in bad places.
And I also think when Christianity gets wrapped up in politics, it's never a good thing.
Certainly, like anybody else, I have my opinions and get wrapped up in it. But I don't think I really serve anybody else. I've never convinced anybody by debating with them on politics or even on religion.
So for me, it's just I want to do my best to live the life I know I'm supposed to live and speak what I need to speak. But if every other people find that attractive, great.
I would say too that it might work in the content. I write business books, and they're hardcore business books. I might mention my faith occasionally. But I never want anyone that reads it to feel like they're on the outside looking in.
I never want to exclude anyone. So I want to make it something that might help clarify something or help people think through something, but never something that would become an obstacle. Does that make sense?
Guy Kawasaki:
Absolutely. I have a similar attitude. I don't hold myself out as, "Oh, look at Guy. He's a Christian and a business person. Isn't that a wonderful thing?" He's like hit the bullseye twice.
I'm more of the Charles Barkley theory of, I'm not a role model. Go look at Michael Hyatt. I mean-
Michael Hyatt:
No. I'm not either. But I just hate it when people's charisma gets ahead of their character. And I think one of the things that we've seen in American Christianity is a lot of stellar falls from grace, big megachurch pastors and others.
But because of these wonderful tools on the internet and what platforms make possible, they rose to unbelievable heights.
But oftentimes, they didn't have the character to support that. And the whole thing collapsed upon itself. And I think that ends up leaving a lot of people disillusioned and God forbid that I would ever do that. I'd hate to be in that position.
Guy Kawasaki:
When you start believing that, as a pastor, you need a private jet, I would say that's a pretty good sign that things are going off the rail there.
Michael Hyatt:
It's clues to look for.
Guy Kawasaki:
Yes. Back on track here. So I see a lot of your work is about adequate sleep and rest and restoration. So I want to know your bedtime routine.
Do you sleep with the iPhone in the room? Do you turn it off? What do you do?
Michael Hyatt:
First of all, I sleep great. And I track it like a hawk because I know that when I'm really well rested, I'm much more productive. I'm much more focused. I'm much more energetic. And I think that the energy that I bring to my team is like one of the most important things that I can bring to the team is not fair to them for me to show up tired.
To quote Dan Sullivan again, he says, "You notice that the more tired you are, the dumber everybody else gets." Yeah. But it might be you. I do wear an aura ring.
And so, I look at my stats, literally, first thing I do. I'm kind of an achiever on the strength finder. So I like getting a score. So I get a score. And I sleep great. But it's intentional. So a couple things I do. Number one, I typically go to bed at the same time each night.
So I aim for 8:45a.m. And usually, I'm in bed and I can go to sleep really fast. I'm usually asleep by nine o'clock. I get up at 4:45a.m.
But part of that evening routine is my iPhone is in the room. And I don't know if those cell phone waves are scrambling my brain. They probably are.
But it's in the room with me. But I've got blackout curtains. There's no light in the room whatsoever. I have a noise maker. I turn the temperature down to where it's pretty chilly and I have to have a weighted blanket on top of me. But that's pretty much it.
I try to get eight hour-sleep a night. I read. After last year's Super Bowl, I was doing some research on Tom Brady and he said the number one thing he tries to do for his health and for his performances is he sleeps nine hours a night. I couldn't do that much. But I could do eight.
Guy Kawasaki:
And do you wake up in the middle of the night and ever check your phone?
Michael Hyatt:
Never. But I do wake up in the middle of the night. I usually wake up once in the middle of the night, and I can usually go back to sleep pretty quickly. Not always if there's something on my mind.
But I don't get up and do any work.
Guy Kawasaki:
Next question. So everybody's anticipating the great… or more than anticipating it's happening, the great resignation. So here's a softball question for you. How do we change resignation to renovation?
Michael Hyatt:
Boom, just did a podcast on that as you probably know. If you think it's about money, if you're a business owner or a business leader, just say we just got to pay more. If we pay people more money, they'll stick around. I don't think that's true.
And I think the research bears that out. I think what people are desperate for especially with collapse or at least the downturn of the American family for the loss of sense of community and particularly for the isolation that we've all gone through for the last two years, I think what people are desperate for is a sense of meaning.
They want to know that they're contributing to something that matters, that they're not just wasting their life on a hamster wheel that doesn't go anywhere.
And so, I think as business owners, as business leaders, it's imperative that we have a very clear purpose for why our business exists. It can't be about us. It's got to be about other people. And in some way, we got to be adding value to other people's lives.
If you can do that and if you can bring that message back to your team over and over again, whether it's taking those customer support letters for people right in and talk about how you transform their life or whatever and share that with the team, I can tell you, we have very low turnover.
We've been on the Inc list of the best places to work last couple of years.
And I really think it has to do with people having a sense of meaning and purpose. And the good news is if you're a business owner, that doesn't cost you anything. It costs you some mental work. It costs you some time spent and reflection. But it's free otherwise.
Guy Kawasaki:
You sound like Daniel Pink.
Michael Hyatt:
He's good.
Guy Kawasaki:
He is good. Yes. I just had them on. So what if somebody out there is thinking, "Yeah, sure. Michael. For sixty-fie people, I can help them have purpose. But what happens if you have 6,000 or 60,000 people?"
Michael Hyatt:
I think it goes back. And you know this guy, because you wrote a book on it. But it goes back to vision. And I think that it's imperative that you sell the vision.
First of all, most leaders spend too much time on strategy and too little time on vision, even for great big companies. And I think that vision is the thing that's compelling. That's what pulls us into the future. And I remember back in the great recession, I was the CEO of Thomas Nelson.
And that hit our industry in a hard way, the publishing business, because we had not only the Great Recession. But we had the whole shift from traditional print media to electronic media.
There was also the marketing shift from traditional marketing, which we knew and understood, to social media.
And so, we hit these kind of three tsunamis that upended our business, and it was really tough.
And my executive coach at the time, she said, "Michael, you have got to preach the vision. You've just got to camp on that and talk about it until you're sick and tired." And I said, "Well, I am sick and tired. I'm tired of talking about the vision. I feel like I'm repeating myself." And she said, "Good. You're half done. Now, keep doing it."
And the problem is, it's like Andy Stanley, who's a pastor in Atlanta, he says, "Vision leaks." And I think that's true. It's like people were walking around at the bucket and you fill it up with vision. But it leaks. So you got to keep refilling it. So in our company, we're actually doing this on Friday of this week.
We start off the year with vision casting. So we will share our newly revised three-year vision, our annual goals, all the new product introductions we're doing this year, all that stuff.
So it'll be infused with vision. But it's not a one and done thing. Then, every quarter, we get together for a full day of reviewing the previous quarter previewing what's coming. And then, we do team training. But we always read through what I call our vision script.
I wrote a book on this too called The Vision Driven Leader. So we read through the vision script. We do that every quarter. And then, every time we have an opportunity and the more successful you are, the more opportunities show up at your doorstep.
The problem is most of those are distractions masquerading as opportunities. But the only way is to compare them against the vision, and, obviously, you've got the choice to say, "Oh, well, we didn't consider that. Let's add that to the vision."
But more often than not, you go, "Hey, that's outside the scope of what we really feel called to do."
Guy Kawasaki:
What is the vision of your company?
Michael Hyatt:
Well, it's three to five pages. And so, it's broken into four parts. And one of the problems I have with recommendations on vision is people recommend a vision statement which functions more like a motto.
And it's not robust enough to really direct the work because once you get a vision in place and I'll come back to your question here in a second, but vision's the first part. Then, you got to get the team aligned around the vision.
So once you know the destination, you've got to get everybody rowing in the same direction so that there's not sideways energy. Then, you're in a position to really execute and to execute with a minimum of resources because you're not wasted resources through misalignment or through people heading toward different destinations.
So when we talk about coming up with a vision script, we talk about, first of all, what's the three to five-year vision for your team who's going to be on the team? In other words, what kinds of people, in our case and we added this last couple of years, a diversity, a component of that.
What's really our vision for diversity in our company? Right now, 30 percent of our company, people of color, we like to get that to about 50 percent.
Again for no other reason, I think you can make a total argument that companies that are more diverse are more innovative, that they have better ideas, that they have a better return on earnings.
But you can also argue that diversity has a lot of other benefits. It needs to reflect the complexity of the market you're trying to serve. And for a lot of companies, that doesn't happen. So the team is important.
Then, to be the second part of the vision script, what are the products or the services that we envision three to five years from now? What is our marketing and our sales look like? How do we acquire customer and move them through the funnel three to five years from now? And then finally, what's the impact? What are our operating results or any other metrics that are important? And we put those in there as well.
Guy Kawasaki:
Going back to this resignation to renovation, it looks like we're going to be in a hybrid world. And first of all, do you think that's a good thing or a bad thing or just a necessary evil?
And obviously, I want to know why for whatever reason, or I want to know why for whatever answer you give. So what do you think of this upcoming hybrid world?
Michael Hyatt:
I think it's all good. I've worked in the world like you have where I had a corporate job, and I had a forty-minute commute each way. And I had to be there every single day. And a lot of times, I was there till late in the evening.
And then, all of a sudden, I started this business where initially it was all remote. So we were way ahead of our time like a lot of scrappy, young entrepreneurial online companies do. And we were remote, and I loved it.
I kept thinking, "What's the downside of this? What's the downside of this?" We did discover downside as we grew. There's also huge value in face to face.
There's just something that is as much as it helps to be able to see your smiling face on the other end of the screen and be able to interact with you and catch the nuances that aren't communicated verbally like your expressions and the tone of your voice and all that. It's still not the same as being in the same room with guy and having this interaction face to face.
It's probably 80 percent of it. But that last 20 percent is important. So I think for hybrid companies, for companies that want to do hybrid, I think you got to look at the upside. But you also got to look a downside. And you got to mitigate the downside.
So the upside is obviously you don't have to have these big old office spaces. Before the pandemic hit, we decided we were going to build a much bigger office, 20,000 square foot office. And we were literally set to ink the deal.
Then, the pandemic hit. And we said, "We better wait and see what happens." Now, we're not on that track anymore. We don't need that kind of office space. But we still want to get together because there's a missing component.
There's that water cooler chatter, the ideas that are passed in the hallway, that unless you make time and opportunity for that, in some way, I do think you miss some innovation. You miss some communication. You have to be just more deliberate when you're doing that in a remote environment.
Guy Kawasaki:
No. I understand the theory that people are spending two hours less commuting, let's say, at a maximum, two hours less commuting. And you would think so now they have two hours back in their lives.
They can be with their kids. They can be with their family. They can let the contractor in, all that good stuff. But I think that one of the things that has come with virtual meetings and virtual existence in a hybrid is that the expectation for an international company is that you are on far more meetings. So you may have gained two hours in commuting. But you may have given back two hours.
And now, you're on the Hong Kong sales call, the deli sales call, the Munich sales call, and the New York sales call, and the California sales call. So what do we do about that?
We have too many meetings. I wrote a book on this too called No Fail Meetings. But I feel like one of the things that a lot of weak leaders do is they default to meetings. And I'm not opposed to meetings. I think meetings are a wonderful opportunity for collaboration.
But I think when leaders are afraid to make a decision and they're outsourcing their thinking as cover for having to make the decision themselves, that's not a good use of a meeting.
For disseminating information that could have been disseminated on Slack or via email or some other way, that's not good either. So I think you've got to be really clear, really intentional about the meetings that we're having.
And we got to constantly asking ourselves and I think this question will never become obsolete because the future's changing so fast, is “Do we need to rethink this? How we're doing this? Do we need to completely rethink this?”
I can tell you another story back in March of 2020, when the pandemic first hit, we had a lot of young families in our company, young kids. Suddenly, they had no childcare. They had no school.
Mom and dad were trying to juggle a ton of different things, trying to keep it all working. And so, we said, "As a result of that, we're going to go to a six-hour workday," so that people have time for the rest of their life.
But I set it up as an experiment. So this was back I was still the CEO of the company. And I said, "So, here's what we're going to do. We're going to try this for two weeks. And then, we're going to get together. The executive team's going to get back together and say, ‘Have we maintained our productivity? Are our financial objectives still within a reach? Are we still making progress like we went to against that?"’ Two weeks, all good. Couldn't tell any difference, honestly.
And so, then we said, "Okay, we're going to do it through the summer." So, that was through the summer of 2020. And so, we got through the summer. We said, "Oh my gosh, we're killing it." We've been more productive than ever.
And I think people because they had a constraint time, they were forced to prioritize and focus on their most important activities.
So in the fall of 2020, we said, "This is now becoming permanent policy." So six-hour workday. I work four days a week, six hours a day. Most everybody in the company works five days a week, six hours a day. And a lot of companies have gone to a four-day work week. Doesn't really matter.
The same kind of thing applies. But I think that you got to constantly be reinventing yourself. And, of course, that made recruitment of new employees. Holy smoke. Would we have an opening for a job? We'll typically get a minimum of a hundred candidate supply. Sometimes, 200, 300-candidate supply.
Guy Kawasaki:
And with this six-hour theory, aren't those people getting back made be four hours because there's two hours less of work and two hours less of commuting. That's four hours back.
Michael Hyatt:
That's right.
Guy Kawasaki:
Michael Hyatt:
It's awesome. You started by asking, "What do I consider my calling at this stage of life?" And I referred to the double win.
This enables us to ensure that our people get that double win. So they've got time kill it at work. And we pay above market. We want them to be making their bonuses and all the other things. But on top of that, we want them to have a life. We want their marriages to flourish. We want their relationship with their children to flourish.
We want for them to be able to contribute to their local community. This makes that possible where the normal workload does it.
And as a result of that, we feel like they end up being even more committed to us. It'd be really hard for somebody to leave and find that someplace else. And so, that's exactly what we hope for.
Guy Kawasaki:
Very nice. Next question. So it's the beginning of 2022. And going forward for this year, what do people need to succeed in 2022?
Michael Hyatt:
So I basically said if you're going to pack a suitcase to get through the journey, that's called 2022, there's a few things you need. And I would say the first thing to do, because life is a marathon, and this year will feel like a marathon, and I feel like every or during the pandemic has felt like a marathon, I would go ahead and first decide the time you're going to take off.
Rest and rejuvenation are more important than most people know. If you want to be performing at an Olympic level, if you want to be bringing your best to your work, to your family, to the people you love, you got to take time off. Otherwise, you're going to burn out or, worse, blow up.
So I would literally get on the calendar and just mark certain days that are going to be off. “I'm not going to work on weekends, for example, or I'm not going to work during this period of time, I'm going to put my vacations. I'm going to take the company holidays. I'm going to take all the company vacation that I get.”
Since I started company, I take a thirty-day sabbatical every summer. And I did that for a lot of different reasons. But it forces me to run the business in a certain way, or did force me to run the business when I was running it. So that'd be the first thing.
Second thing and I won't give you all these. But the second thing I would say is make sure you have a set of goals for this year. Goals are what move us forward. But not every goal is a goal. Goals need to be set up in a certain way.
A goal well conceived is a goal half achieved. And so we have a framework that we teach called the smarter framework, which we built on GEs model. But to have goals, to have deadlines that are very specific and measurable and exciting and relevant to your life in business, all that's important.
And then, the other thing I would say for those who are listening, who are business owners, this is like one of the best pieces of advice I could give you. And one of the things we teach in our coaching program called Business Accelerator is to have a sixteen-week rolling cash flow forecast so that week by week, and it's got to be updated weekly, week by week, what your cash inflows are and your cash outflows so that if there's trouble on the horizon, you still got some runway to solve the problem before you pick up the phone on a Tuesday to call in payroll and you go, "Crap. I don't even have enough money my bank account to make payroll."
That's one of the worst feelings as a business owner. So this keeps you out of that kind of trouble.
Guy Kawasaki:
Could you just mention what you consider good goals? Is it a number? Is it net income? Is it gross margin? Is it new product delivery? What kind of goal is a good goal?
Michael Hyatt:
I think it's going to be different depending on where you are in the season of your business, and what's happening in your business currently. I think for most business owners, most business leaders, there's going to be a revenue growth.
It depends on the business because as we all know in tech companies sometimes and other companies like Amazon profits not that important initially. It may be if you're in a tech startup and you're running a SaaS business, that the number of monthly subscribers you have is a multiple that's going to inform the valuation that your company gets.
Whatever's going to be important to the owners of the company or to the future owners, that needs to be a goal. If you do nothing else, you better deliver that.
And then, there's some other goals that are around that. So it could be anything depending again on where you're at in the life cycle of your business.
For example, we're in the process of developing a software product right now. And so, that is a goal, a company-wide goal, because it's going to take everybody's attention to make it happen and bring it into reality.
Guy Kawasaki:
What is the best development path to become a great leader?
Michael Hyatt:
Oh man, you're asking some really good questions. It's like you do this for a living.
I would say that great leadership starts with great self-awareness.
And part of what happens for leaders is that wherever they go, they leave awake. You leave a meeting. And people are impacted emotionally and intellectually. They're either left more energized or less energized. They're left feeling better about themselves. They're left feeling diminished. They're left feeling like they can conquer the world or they're left feeling like they're idiots and can't do anything.
And again, sort of the Great Recession. This is so funny. We had sold the company to private equity. And we sold at the top of the bubble. We got unbelievable evaluation on the company. But then, the recession hit. And, of course, then the numbers didn't work because nobody ran a recession scenario. And so, we had to end up light off 20 percent of our staff. And our revenues fell by 20 percent in the first year.
And it was very traumatic. But I remember the private equity guys saying to us, "What is wrong with you, guys?" And they didn't say this quite this fall. But how I heard it was, "What are you, idiots, doing?"
I finally said to him, one time, I said, "Hey, the same knuckleheads are running the company now that we're the same geniuses that you bought the company from a year ago?" We were flying high. It had seven years of continuous quarter by quarter earnings improvements.
Our stock had gone through the roof. But now, all of a sudden, we're in the middle of recession. And it felt like we couldn't do anything. Their leadership, their presence in our board meetings during that time, I would bring in the entire executive team. We had a quarter where in the middle of the recession, we crushed it. We beat our numbers. We had a really good quarter.
So I was letting the executives talk about the job that they had done in the previous quarter, giving them an opportunity to shine and all that.
And it got shut off at about five minutes. The chairman of our board said, "Yeah. We know the good stuff. But we want to focus on what didn't work.”
And I mean, you could just hear the air go out of the room. And my team left.
And so I had to get them together after the meeting and get them kind of all pumped back up. But that's what leadership does if it's not self-aware by having an executive coach is hugely helpful because you can have somebody speak into your life. Here's another funny story about an executive coach.
I was sitting in a meeting at Thomas Nelson where we were doing our financial reviews, which we did every month at the end of the month. And so, she pulled me aside about ten o'clock in the morning after I'd heard a couple of our general managers go through their divisional performance. And she said, "Are you pissed off?" And I said, "No. What do you mean?" She said, "Are you sure you're not angry or having a bad day?" And I said, "No." And she said, "Well, you might want to let your face know it because you're sitting in this meeting frowning and you're intimidating the heck out of the people you're trying to lead."
That was a moment of self-awareness. I wasn't aware that I wasn't smiling, that I was looking hostile. Leaders have got to have that.
Guy Kawasaki:
What if you're a young person, a twenty, twenty-five, or even thirty, and you're listening to this, and you want to be a leader? You got to need concrete steps for the young person?
Michael Hyatt:
Yeah. Start by being a great follower.
Guy Kawasaki:
Which means what?
Michael Hyatt:
It means that you got to be a person who learns how to listen carefully to the outcomes that your boss or somebody else wants. And then, you've got to exceed their expectations.
So this year's the fast way to advance through the ranks. Every boss has a set of expectations. If you miss those expectations, you create disappointment. If you hit those expectations, you get to keep your job. If you exceed them, you create wow.
And if you exceed them by a lot, you create a lot of wow. And that's where you get advanced in your career. So always aim to go that second mile to do a little bit more, to beat the numbers significantly because that's how you build a reputation and a career.
Guy Kawasaki:
Is this the same answer to how to get noticed in a busy world?
Michael Hyatt:
I don't know. I wrote that book, Platform. That was the first book I wrote after I started this company. And I think one of the things I've learned since then is large platforms who can create problems for a lot of young leaders who get, as I said earlier, bigger platform, more charisma, more platform than they have the character to sustain.
But, yeah, I do think when it comes to getting noticed in a noisy world, you've got to always aim for wow.
And so, one of the eight values of our company at Michael Hyatt & Company is relentless wow. And so that's something we're always trying to achieve. We always want to wow our clients, our customers.
I take that attitude towards my employees. I'm always trying to wow them. And certainly, we don't always do that. Sometimes, we disappoint people. Sometimes, we just satisfy them. But our goal is always to wow.
Guy Kawasaki:
You touched on this very briefly before. And I want to revisit it. So the question is, "How do I do a no-fail meeting?"
Michael Hyatt:
First of all, I would start by asking is this meeting worth having? Is there any other way we can do it? Probably 50 percent of the meetings you think you need to call could be canceled right there.
Second, create an agenda. I will not take a meeting with somebody that doesn't have an agenda. And the reason for that is not so much for me, although I like to know, but for them. I don't want them to waste their time or my time. I don't want them to think through the topic.
And when you write things down, they become clear. Thoughts disentangle themselves. Somebody once said, "Pass it over the lips and through pencil tips."
And I think having a written agenda and insisting on that discipline in your organization is really important because it takes less time.
And by the way, if you don't have a purpose for the meeting and an agenda, how do you know when the meeting's over, because there's a lot of meetings that we might plan for an hour. But if we could accomplish the objective and get through the agenda in thirty minutes, great. Let's give back that extra thirty minutes to everybody.
And then, I would say another thing. There's just a couple of things. One, we always start meetings with our wins.
I think that leaders, a lot of times, if they're not careful, like the example I was giving you the private equity board, smart people tend to see the things that are wrong very quickly. And the problem is that doesn't encourage anybody.
So anybody can see that stuff and point it out. But to focus on your wins, and I did learn this from Dan Sullivan, that builds your confidence. And when you feel confident, you feel like you can do anything. So we always start with wins.
Literally, every meeting, what were the wins since the last time we met? We're going to get into the problems. We're going to be honest about that. We're not sugar coating anything. We're not being Pollyanna. But we want to start with the wins. Then, the last thing I would say is keep track. You don't have to keep copious minutes of who said what, when.
But you do need to take inventory of the commitments that people are making. And that needs to be the second thing in the follow-up meeting that you cover. So you cover wins in the next meeting. And then you said, "Last time we were together, Guy, you said you were going to do this. Sally, you said you were going to do this. How'd you do? Did you get those things accomplished?" And that creates a culture of accountability.
Guy Kawasaki:
You are the king of focus. So let's talk about how people can achieve focus in addition to buying your planner? But generally speaking, how do people achieve focus?
Michael Hyatt:
First, we've got to recognize that it's a banishing commodity, that the people that can focus, it's kind of like a superpower today. It's something we took for granted in the past.
But now, we live in a blizzard of distractions. So it's everything from social media to Netflix, to all those things, plus, all the interruptions that-
Guy Kawasaki:
Michael Hyatt:
... we get from. Yeah. With working with people. And so, I think, or the best way to focus is you've got to start with a plan. If you don't have a plan, essentially, what you're doing is you're defaulting to everybody else's plan. Somebody else has a plan for you.
Somebody else has priorities for you. So if you don't have your own priorities in your own plan, you're going to be susceptible to working their plan. I like my plan better.
So one of the things we teach and one of the things the full focus planner allows for is we say to people, "Identify your big three for the day." So what I wrote my book Free to Focus, we surveyed all of our customers at the time.
And we said, "Number one, do you use some kind of task management system?" Yes or no. If they said, "No, we didn't ask them anything else." If they said yes, we said on average for any given day, how many to dos or how many tasks do you have to complete?
The average came back at fifteen. If you just take Parkinson's Law, 20 percent of the effort drives 80 percent of the results. 20 percent of fifteen is three. Not all tasks are created equal.
Some tasks really advance you towards your goals and towards your important products. Some tasks don't. They might be busy work. They might just be errands. They may be things that need to be done. But they're not mission and critical.
So identify your big three for each day. And that for a lot of our clients, and for me personally has been a game changer. I've already completed my big three for today. Everything else is just gravy.
And here's the difference guy. When you have a list of fifteen tasks in your heart of heart that you don't have much of a chance of actually accomplish them. So you get up in the more and you feel overwhelmed. You'll get this to-do list and you go, "Oh, no way I can get this done." And you don't. Even if you get seven of fifteen done, there's still eight left undone. You go to bed defeated.
And when you repeat that cycle of overwhelmed, defeat, overwhelmed, defeat, overwhelmed defeat, what does that do especially if you're a leader? What does that do to the energy you bring to your team.
You become Eeyore. But instead, if you've got three things that are important and you can really accomplish those and nail those, then, you have this underlying current of confidence and energy that you bring to everybody and belief in everybody. And so, that's a keystone concept for the planner and for how we do productivity.
Guy Kawasaki:
But in this hybrid world, if you have a list of these tasks, fifteen, and one of them is mail the remarkable tablet to Michael, I wouldn't say that's in the top three. But that stuff has to be done.
So how do you balance mailing the box to Michael with do the research for the next interview, which is much more important than mailing the box to Michael? But it's got to be done. The box has got to go. What do you do then?
I'm not sure what you did. But thank you for sending the remarkable. I think one thing that leaders sometimes do poorly, they all know they need to do this, but they do it poorly, is delegation.
So we could get to the question of what about the people that don't have somebody to delegate to. I've written some articles on that.
But I think that, a lot of times, leaders hesitate to delegate because they don't have a clear view of what they do well. They have a concept called the Freedom Compass. And Do North is what I call the desire zone. And this is where your passion and your proficiency come together.
This is that place where you feel confident, where you're feeling like you're making a contribution, where you actually drive the best results for the organization you're in. That's the desire zone. The exact opposite, there's four zones. But I'll just give you two.
The bottom one is called, what is it called? The drudgery zone. And it's where you have no passion or no proficiency. For me, mainly a box like that would be in my drudgery zone because I'd have to figure out how do I go to UPS?
And I got to fill out this form and all that stuff just makes my eyes glaze over, or booking my own travel, or managing my own schedule. I've got an assistant that does that.
But leaders don't typically delegate. They hesitate because they got this sentence in their head that says, "If I want something done right, I got to do it myself." And that's not true.
My executive assistant, Jim, is so much better than I am at the things he's great at. And so, we have a division of labor.
But some leaders, they don't hesitate. They abdicate. They just do a dump and run. And they're expecting their assistant or the person they're delegating to read their mind.
And most people are very poor mind readers. Nobody can read your mind. Not your wife. Not your girlfriend, not your boyfriend. Definitely not the people on your team.
The third mistake leaders make when it comes to delegation, so, it's abdicate, hesitate, and then suffocate. They micromanage. And there's all over that other the person, which is totally discouraging.
You need to be very clear about the outcomes like in your case, you could say to an executive assistant, "I want Michael to have this before the podcast so he can be wowed." And so I can soften him up for this interview. That's the outcome.
Guy Kawasaki:
That never occurred to me, Michael.
Michael Hyatt:
And how you get it there and how you make that happen is up to the person. I leave broad latitude. I'm not going to micromanage that stuff. I don't care how you get it done.
I don't care what strategy you employ as long as it's ethical and doesn't land either one of us in jail. But if you can do that, just get the outcome. And I'm good.
Guy Kawasaki:
You'll be so proud of me because about three weeks ago, I gave my assistant, Madisun Nuismer, the drop in surfing queen of Santa Cruz…I gave her the boxes. I gave her the tablets. I gave her the cases for the tablets. I gave her the pencils. You got socks too, right?
Michael Hyatt:
I did. Thank you very much for those as well.
Guy Kawasaki:
Yeah. I gave her the socks. I pre-printed the postage. And I gave her all that. I said, "All right, you just send this to these people, and I don't need to be involved." And there we go.
Michael Hyatt:
Perfect. Perfect.
Guy Kawasaki:
She's going to be listening to this.
Michael Hyatt:
No. I'm proud of you. I'm going to give you a gold star on that. Here's the cool thing. Things that are in my drudgery zone are in my assistant, Jim's, desire zone. He geeks out managing my appointments, confirming it, making sure everything's buttoned up.
I've got agendas, all that kind of stuff. He's phenomenal at that.
If you left that to me, it'd be a disaster. So we complement each other. But again, another mistake that leaders make is that they try to hire a clone. What you need is a compliment. You need somebody that offset your weaknesses, that enhances your strengths and is not a clone.
One of you is enough. One of you is enough.
Guy Kawasaki:
More than enough.
There's a woman named Peg Fitzpatrick who works on this, who does all the marketing. And there's a guy named Jeff Sieh with his assistant Shannon Hernandez, who does all the design of the sound.
I like to do editing too. But I think my most important role in this podcast is the background research in order to create questions that bring out the remarkableness of my guests.
That's where the money is for me.
Michael Hyatt:
Well, can I tell you, that's something you can never delegate and something that you are outstanding at? It's clear to me. And honestly, this rarely happens. I do tons of podcast interviews.
And it's extremely rare for somebody like you to be as well versed in my work and to ask me questions that are just like on the money.
Guy Kawasaki:
Thank you.
Michael Hyatt:
So, kudos. You're my new hero.
Guy Kawasaki:
No. You should aim higher.
So, I love this concept of the full focus planner, which that's your trademark here. And for those of you who are listening, it's all about this how do you focus as a leader?
So now, let's suppose that Joe Biden calls you up and says, "Hey, I listened to guy's podcasts about full focus. And, Michael, I need some help. Man, I don't know. Am I fixing the infrastructure? Am I fixing voting rights? Am I trying to make sure the midterms work well? So Michael, help me focus. What should I do?” And you say, "Joe."
Michael Hyatt:
I would say, "Joe, let's get crystal clear on what you want to see happen by the end of this next year. Then, let's chunk that down into goals by quarter. And then, let's every day, or actually every week, we're going to come up with weekly objectives.” And this happens in the full focus planner. “What are my big three for the week, the three projects? They don't have to be related to a goal. But they got to be something really important. And then every day, what are the three things that I can do to move the ball down the field in the accomplishment of one of those goals or one of those important projects. And we're going to do that every day. We're going to do it for 250 days. We will complete 750 important actions all related to a goal or an important project. And I'll bet we can get your agenda done or at least a large part of it.”
Guy Kawasaki:
Wow. And you'll be the secretary of focus. How's that?
Michael Hyatt:
We should have that.
Guy Kawasaki:
Michael Hyatt:
Guy Kawasaki:
So the last question is work-life balance really possible, or is that a bullshit concept that consultants throw out in the air?
Michael Hyatt:
Yeah. I know it's been trendy the last few years to just laugh it off and say, "There's no such thing as balance." But I think it depends on how you define it.
So when we talk about balance, we're not talking about giving equal time to every category or domain of life. For most of us, we're going to spend most of our waking hours at work.
But what work life balance is it means that we're giving the appropriate amount of time to each of those domains, not the same, not the equal. But the appropriate amount of time.
So just, for example, I'm going to work when it's all said done six hours today. I don't need to spend six hours in the gym. I'm going to spend-
Guy Kawasaki:
Six hours in the gym?
Michael Hyatt:
I'm saying I don't need to spend six hours in the gym.
Guy Kawasaki:
Oh, I was going to say, "My God, you'd be ripped."
Michael Hyatt:
Yeah, I'd be ripped. You can tell just looking at me. I don't spend that.
Guy Kawasaki:
Go fight Mike Tyson.
Michael Hyatt:
But I need to spend about forty-five minutes either doing cardio or strength training today, which I do. And that's the appropriate amount of attention. Does that mean I'm out of work life balance? No, I'm in balance. I'm in balance because I'm given the appropriate amount of time.
And my daughters, my grown daughters, I don't spend six hours a day with them. I try to take each one of them on a date every week on a rotating basis. So I work through all five and five weeks. And then, we start over again.
That's an appropriate amount. And they all live close. So we spend a lot of other time weekends and so forth together. But it's an appropriate amount of time.
It just means that you're given attention to something other than work. And that's the problem with most people is they're spending all their time thinking, reading, doing work. And there's so much more.
Guy Kawasaki:
Perfect. But I'm going to have one more question. So I just learned that you had… I actually knew that because I do such research. You have five daughters.
So I have a theory that a father cannot be any happier than his least happy daughter.
Michael Hyatt:
I think there's a lot of truth to that. I've heard that before. Isn't that something Confucius said?
But yeah, I think that's true. You think, "Well, I'm going to get the girls raised or I'm going to get my kids raised. Then, I won't have to worry anymore." But the truth is you do worry.
You are concerned about them. And two of my daughters work in the company. And that's awesome.
And all of them live within about twenty minutes. All my grandkids live within two minutes. So that's pretty awesome.
But, yeah, I'm more empathetic than I've ever been. And so when they hurt, I hurt.
Guy Kawasaki:
So that's Michael Hyatt. He's on a mission to help you focus and to become a better leader.
I'm Guy Kawasaki. This is Remarkable People. My thanks to Jeff Sieh, Peg Fitzpatrick, and Shannon Hernandez.
Plus Madisun, drop-in queen of Santa Cruz, Nuismer, Louis Magana, and Alexis Nishimura.
Last, but not least my thanks to Buzz Brueggemann. He introduced me to Michael Hyatt and made this interview possible.
Until next time. I hope the tide wind and waves are in your favor. Mahalo and aloha