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Studies in Business Transformation – Dr. Gay Hendricks

An interview with New York Times bestselling author Gay Hendricks launches a new Studies in Business Transformation series on this column.

Joining me today is Dr. Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap and co-founder with Dr. Kathlyn Hendricks of The Hendricks Institute. Over the past 40 years he has consulted with several hundred executives from numerous companies, including Dell Computer, KLM Airlines, Motorola and others. Dr. Hendricks has appeared on more than 500 radio and television shows, including ‘Oprah’ and shows on CNBC, CNN and CBS.

Please share with us the story of how you decided to pursue your business, books, & transformational journey.

When I was finishing my Ph.D. work at Stanford in the early 70s, an executive at a Silicon Valley firm came to see me about back pain. My degree was in Counseling Psychology, and at the time I had zero interest in business or working with executives. However, in helping the executive clear up his back pain, I learned a great deal about the corporate world and the pressures facing business leaders every day. My client began referring others to me for a variety of issues, and within a year my practice was mainly Silicon Valley executives. Later, while serving as a professor of counseling psychology at University of Colorado from 1974 to 1995, I developed a set of tools for creating rapid change in both individuals and organizations, which we then turned into seminars around the world. At present, we offer seminars in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

What top 3 lessons could others learn from your story?

Great teams build great businesses, and everything proceeds by teamwork. Relationships are paramount, including your relationship with yourself. It’s crucial to acknowledge all your emotions and communicate about the important and often-unspoken feelings such as anger and fear. It’s also important to take time to appreciate team-members and give them positive feedback about their work.

What were the 3 most interesting or unexpected business transformation moments that you experienced in the past 3 years?

  1. Two top executives at a firm had stopped speaking to each other. With an hour of coaching, they ended up hugging each other (and told me later they had never done more than shake hands in the seventeen years they’d known each other.)
  2. A client, a successful real estate agent, pursued a dream of marketing a product she had invented. She did so and launched a business to market it. Watching her grow as the company expanded has been deeply gratifying. Recently she had the company appraised for possible sale, and excitedly called to tell me it had been valued at 500 million dollars.
  3. I had the pleasure of working with team members of a start-up that I was also an early-round investor in, all the way from the first meeting in the kitchen of the founder to the sale of the company to Pepsi for $225 million two years ago. Being part of all of the twists & turns a start-up goes through in becoming successful gave me a deep respect for entrepreneurs.

Which authors have influenced you the most?

The late Indian philosopher, J. Krishnamurti, taught me how to look at reality, in myself and the world, in an unflinching way. Tom Peters changed my life with a line in one of his books: There is no such thing as a minor lapse of integrity. Morehei Ueshiba, founder of the martial art of Aikido: “Whirl in circles around a still center.” Practicing meditation and martial arts helped me learn to stay at ease inside while going through ups and downs of business and life.

What tips would you give to young entrepreneurs for being successful in business and in life?

Acknowledge all your emotions, tell the truth always and all ways, appreciate your friends, family and co-workers lavishly.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Dr. Dwight Webb, a long-ago professor of mine at U of New Hampshire, first helped me learn to be authentic instead of putting up any false fronts or ego-driven attitudes.

What world leader was most influential for you in becoming the leader you are today, and why?

Probably JFK. I listened to his inaugural address the night of my 16th birthday on Jan 20, 1961, and was deeply moved by it.

What are the 3 things that most excite you about 2019 or this moment in time, and why?

This is the most exciting time ever to do new, creative things. For example, when I was growing up there were three TV channels. Now there are hundreds on cable, as well as thousands more opportunities on the internet. Second, technology can be your best business partner. For example, I communicate regularly with 400,000+ people on Facebook; at no time in history has anything like that been possible.

How do you think leaders will need to change in in the next decade (2020 and beyond)?

They will need to become extraordinarily more flexible and open to sudden changes, while simultaneously focusing on maintaining their authenticity.

Have you launched a new book / podcast / webinar  / app recently? If so, please tell us about why you chose to create it, a little more about it – and share the link(s)  where you’d like our readers to check it out!

I recently published the sequel to my book, The Big Leap. The new book, The Joy of Genius, shows you how to eliminate negative thinking and liberate your true creativity. Learn more here: https://www.joyofgenius.com

To learn more about Gay Hendrick’s work & online presence see www.hendricks.com.

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