Jeffrey Hayzlett has started many professional conversations with the word bacon. And in that sentence alone you get a glimpse into the man who I'd describe as "warm, human and bigger than life". A professional you'd be lucky to have in your corner. Aside from bacon, Jeffrey is a recognized authority in marketing, leadership and brand building. A few weeks ago I did a deep dive into the story behind his success and as I often do, I asked about favorite quotes. Jeffrey's answer gave a nod to Henry Ford:
“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”
In his choice of quotes, I instantly knew that Jeffrey's road to success has included many adventures that go well beyond a healthy bottom line. It is my privilege and pleasure to help you get to know Jeffrey Hayzlett though my Editor's Spotlight; I'm certain you'll be as entertained and inspired by his insights as I was.
Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Influence
Jeffrey, first off, I know you're an authority in marketing, leadership and brand building, but bacon? Tell me about that.
I just love bacon. What’s not to like about bacon? I’ve become somewhat “famous” for this. I’ve had people take pictures of all things bacon and tweet them to me and that’s sometimes how we start a conversation. Bacon makes the world go round; in fact, I think the world would be a better place if we all just sat down and had bacon.
Okay, we're both officially hungry right now but let's start at the beginning. Where were you born?
I was born in Charleston, West Virginia.
Where did you spend the majority of your childhood? How did this place make you who you are?
I spent most of my childhood in Rapid City, South Dakota. The place I call home is a very spiritual place for me, it’s what grounds me and keeps me going, all at once.
Where do you live now?
I spend time between Sioux Falls, SD and NYC.
Who do you consider family?
I've got two children, a son Tyler and a daughter, Lindsey. Plus, two granddaughters and of course, my wife of 37 years, Tami.
You're a man of many talents, but what do you consider to be your one Superpower?
I'm a forward thinker and agile.
What key events or memories changed the course of your life? Were there any driving factors that make you who you are today?
Growing up poor allowed me to become an entrepreneur.
Do you have or have you had a mentor? Who is/was it and what do they bring to your life?
Yes. Throughout my career I’ve had several mentors, but the one with the most impact was Mike O’Connor, the owner of the print shop I ended up purchasing. He taught me the proper way to run a business, including what benchmarks to use to determine how much I needed to sell, how to set up metrics and KPI’s and how to properly understand the targets I needed to hit. I still use those teachings on a regular basis, just on a much larger scale.
Do you consider yourself a mentor? If yes, what is the most important thing you can share with someone seeking guidance?
Yes, I do consider myself a mentor. Should you choose to mentor someone (it’s not for everyone), you should be generous with your knowledge and your time. Be willing to share what you know with them and never use this for personal glory. Also, it takes time and commitment to be a good mentor and both parties need to set expectations from the beginning to avoid misunderstandings.
Mentors should also be honest and truthful with the advice they delve, even if it stings a little. One common misconception is that mentors should be someone from your same industry or company. That is not true! Sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective in order to better understand the industry you’re in.
Knowledge is knowledge, who cares where it comes from?
100 years from now how would you like Jeffrey Hayzlett to be remembered?
As someone who made a difference, whether personally or professionally, in someone’s life. Also, as a good husband, father, brother, grandfather and everything in between.
Favorite Quote or Mantra?
I have a few quotes or mantras. To my team I always say, “Adapt, change or die” and “Work smarter, not harder.” Personally, I love Henry Ford’s quote: “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”
What do you consider to be some of the highlights of your career so far?
Not necessarily my career, but by far my kids and grandkids are definite highlights. In my career, I’ve had many great, and memorable moments. Some were great, others were forgettable (pheasant farm but that’s another story), but my biggest highlight is yet to come.
What are you looking forward to professionally? What are you excited about?
I’m looking forward to growing my entire business, including The Hero Club. The Hero Club is a group for CEOs, founders, and investors who put profits AND people in the same level of importance. These are business leaders who share a commitment, not just to increase their bottom line, but to benefit the people that got them there, along with the community they serve. I’m excited about expanding the same mentality to as many leaders as possible. Corporate America often gets a bad rap for all the bad things we see on the news, but that same corporate America is capable of doing great things that I don’t think are highlighted as much, or as often.
What do you offer your clients?
A solid network, transparency and accountability. My business partner and I run several businesses and we preach these values to everyone. Transparency clears any potential misunderstanding and accountability makes everyone responsible for the success of the project.
Who's on your team with you?
My business partner is Karl Post, who has been with me for a long time. I also work with another former CMO, Tricia Benn, who is also the General Manager of The Hero Club. The rest of the team is comprised of very different people, of all ages, with very different, yet very valuable skill set that blends in seamlessly with everything we do.
Who do you love to work with? What kind of client?
I like working with people with similar values to ours – people who believe that being transparent should happen ALL the time, not just when it’s convenient. I like working with clients who, regardless of size, have high-growth potential and can scale at a faster rate.
What makes you and your business unique? What makes you a standout?
As I like to say, “in order to run with the big dogs, you need to learn to pee in the tall grass.” We might not be as big as other companies out there, but we’re scrappy and we like to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We work hard so we can play hard.
I want to do a dive into the story behind your book. Why did you write the book? What did you want to share?
I wrote this book, “The Hero Factor: How Great Leaders Transform Organizations and Create Winning Cultures” to highlight all of the good things businesses are doing to create a culture that’s based on a great mission and vision statements and deeply ingrained values to help make the world a better place. I strongly believe we are at a crossroads – economically and with leadership. I’m hoping to change negative perceptions and bring back the focus to company values, rather than just operational excellence.
That's great, now tell me, what drives you? Why do you do what you do?
Because I love it. It’s in my blood and I can’t wait to go to bed every night and do it all over again the next day. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, but it’s something so ingrained within you that’s as much a part of you as breathing.
What message are you sending people with your words?
I want everyone to always push boundaries and challenge the status quo. Progress isn’t born from everyone sitting on their butts talking about how things have been done in the past. In fact, it’s a pet peeve of mine when people say. “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” I want to challenge, and eventually eliminate, that mentality. I also believe in creating tension – not to pin people against each other, but to push everyone out of their comfort zone. That’s how you grow.
Who do you think your book will help?
I hope my book helps leaders, not just c-suite leaders, but EVERYONE currently in leadership roles, or aspiring to be one, to hear the anecdotes listed in the book by people who have been there, done that and got the battle scars to prove it. They battled and as a result has amassed a modicum of success.
What did you learn so far in life that you share in your book?
I’m big about believing in the courage of your convictions. Having the integrity to stand by your values, whatever those are, and make decisions that are based on those values. I talk about the story of some of the fiercest warriors, the Dog Soldiers, who were not just fierce, but kind and good, too. In between battles, they fed and watched over those in need of help. I’ve contemplated what it means to have the courage to stand up for your values while maintaining kindness and goodness. These are the values that The Hero Club lives by. This is Operational Excellence. Fear is a reaction. Courage is a choice.
Tell me Jeffrey, what is your calling in life?
To be an entrepreneur is definitely my calling. Many people think being an entrepreneur is easy, but it’s not. It’s hard work! I love it, but it’s not for everyone. While it certainly has its perks, it can also create a lonely existence – all the travel, the long hours, meeting with potential investors, partners, etc. can wreak havoc if you’re not ready to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What character traits have been most important in getting to where you are today?
Honesty. I’m brutally honest, sometimes to a fault, but I think it’s much better to create that reputation for honesty than have people doubting your sincerity. That’s no way to run businesses.
What is one thing you know for sure?
That tomorrow will come. That new challenges will come and with those challenges, more opportunities for change and growth.
What are you grateful for?
Grateful for my kids, grandkids, my family, the people I work with, to do something that I love every single day.
I often find that someone's personal style shines a new light on their story. We'll do a speed round where I ask you a quick question, and you answer.
Jeans or Khakis?
ALWAYS jeans, no matter the situation.
Watch or play sports?
I sometimes watch the NY Yankees and the NY Jets.
Coffee, beer or wine?
Feet up on the desk or flat on the floor?
I’ve done both, so my answer is BOTH.
Vacation close to home or across the world?
Across the world. Love going to my ancestral country of Ireland.
Beach or ski resort?
My ranch in South Dakota
Plane, train, ship or automobile?
I travel a lot, so going with airplanes.
Your weekend: Plan every moment or wing it?
Plan to relax and unwind on weekends.
Jeffrey, you're a fascinating person and I'm so glad I've been able to share a peek into the story behind your success. Now, how can people connect with you?