David speaks with Ryan Hawk, the host of “The Learning Leader Show,” renowned as one of the most dynamic leadership podcasts available. Ryan is also the author of several highly acclaimed books on management, leadership, and excellence, including “Welcome to Management,” which Forbes hailed as one of the best leadership books of 2020.

They talked about:

🤝 Empathy over criticism

👥 The qualities of exceptional team leaders

💪 Building confidence through trust and empowerment

🔍 Mentorship and self-discovery

🤲 Embracing generosity and servant leadership

🌱 Building meaningful mentorships

👨‍👧‍👦 Unconventional lessons as an interviewer and a father

This is just one part of a longer conversation, and it's the second part. You can listen to the earlier episode here:

Part 1: 🎙️ The Pursuit of Excellence with Ryan Hawk (Episode 89)

🎙 Listen in your favourite podcast player

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Podcast App smart link to listen, download, and subscribe to The Knowledge with David Elikwu. Click to listen! The Knowledge with David Elikwu by David Elikwu has 29 episodes listed in the Self-Improvement category. Podcast links by Plink.

🎧 Listen on Spotify:

📹 Watch on Youtube:

👤 Connect with Ryan:

Twitter: @RyanHawk12 | https://twitter.com/RyanHawk12

Website: The Learning Leader Show | https://learningleader.com/about/

Books: Welcome to Management | https://a.co/d/0mK853F

The Score That Matters | https://a.co/d/bNRZJmz

The Pursuit of Excellence | https://a.co/d/d5m4paA

📄 Show notes:

00:00 | Intro

01:48 | Transitioning from individual contributor to a manager.

05:13 | Traits of exceptional managers

09:19 | Reality of leadership

12:42 | The power of trust in leadership

15:39 | The concept of coaching trees in business leadership

19:52 | The legacy of leadership

22:30 | Living out values and inspiring others

24:23 | The secrets to developing lasting connections

26:43 | Following one's calling

30:09 | Ryan's essence of authenticity and curiosity

33:03 | Leadership with intention

35:31 | Unconditional love

🗣 Mentioned in the show:

LexisNexis | https://www.lexisnexis.co.uk/

Mayer Brown | https://www.mayerbrown.com/en

Thomson Reuters Westlaw | https://legal.thomsonreuters.com/en/westlaw

Ted Lasso | https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10986410/

Brooke Cupps | https://twitter.com/brookcupps?lang=en-GB

Indiana University | https://www.iu.edu/index.html

NFL | https://www.nfl.com/

Andy Reid | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Reid

Brent Scher | https://muckrack.com/brent-scher

Robert Greene | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Greene_(American_author)

Foxhole friends | https://chaparralwisdom.org/2023/03/01/foxhole-friends/

Keith Hawk | https://www.linkedin.com/in/keithhawk/

Charlie Munger | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Munger

Steve Jobs | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs

Todd Henry | https://www.toddhenry.com/

Full episode transcript below

👨🏾‍💻 About David Elikwu:

David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist, and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.

🐣 Twitter: @Delikwu / @itstheknowledge

🌐 Website: https://www.davidelikwu.com

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📜Full transcript:

Ryan Hawk: [00:00:00] I think about following and chasing what I'm most curious and obsessed with.

I admire others and I listen to their podcasts because I enjoy them and I learn and they're entertaining. But I don't really try to, to be different for different reasons. I try to be authentic to what I'm curious about on what I care about, and ask the questions that I want to ask and learn from the people that I'm most curious to learn from. And again, doing that seems to have served me well.

Is it different than other interview shows? I don't know. Like you have to like, look on Twitter. Everyone's like, everyone has interview shows now or whatever. You can't do that anymore. I'm like, why? Why can't I do that? That's what I wanna do. I would never tell you, David, don't do an interview show, 'cause there's too many of them. Why? If you're curious to learn from other people, well then interview 'em, talk to them.

If this is what you want to do and you're curious about it, you're not doing it as like a marketing thing for whatever, but you're genuinely curious and you want to do it, then do it.

This week I'm sharing the second part of my conversation with Ryan Hawk. Ryan is the host [00:01:00] of the Learning Leader Show, which is a podcast that I personally have been listening to for years, and I'd highly recommend it.

Now Ryan is also the author of some very popular books about management, leadership, and excellent, including Welcome to Management, which Forbes called one of the best business books of 2020. And also The Score That Matters, which recently became a USA Today bestseller.

So in this episode, you're going to hear Ryan and I talking about how to deal with criticism. We talk about the qualities of exceptional leaders and how to build confidence in teams through trust and empowerment. We talk about mentorship and self discovery. We talk about embracing generosity and servant leadership. And how to build meaningful mentor mentee relationships. We also talked about some of the unconventional lessons that he's learned both as a podcaster and also as a father.

So, this was a really incredible episode, you can get the full show notes, the transcript and read my newsletter at theknowledge.io and you can find Ryan [00:02:00] online at @RyanHawk12 and his website is TheLearningLeaderShow, we'll have all the links to his books in the show notes or description.

And if you love this episode, please do share it with a friend, and don't forget to leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts, because it helps us tremendously to find other listeners, just like you.

David Elikwu: Obviously you used to work at Lexus Nexus. I used to work in corporate law, so we were a client of yours and I probably have more experience using Lexus Nexus than I'd like just because of all the years having to dig out precedent and, and doing all of that.

Oh my gosh. You know that that was, yeah, probably five or six years that, that I spent doing that. So I was at Mayer Brown, which actually you may know of 'cause it's a Chicago based law firm.

Ryan Hawk: Very cool. Wow. That's amazing. Yeah, man. And I'm super lucky to have gotten that job and got to work for Lexus because it was really tough. I mean, again to have your first sales job be kind of a cold calling, prospecting type job was [00:03:00] not always fun and really hard, but it was super rewarding when you did well, and it also helped kind of create my professional working work ethic for everything else.

And I think everybody at some point should have sales jobs because selling is a part of everything you do. Like you had to sell me to come on this podcast. Like it didn't feel like a sale to you probably, but that was part of the deal. We have to sell something, ourselves, an idea, in some cases a product or you, work in sales, whatever it may be, you have to sell every day. So it's worth it to get good at that skill. And so I'm lucky again that I had some really tough gigs early in my career in sales and, and luckily, you know I was selling a good product as you know, you used it. I was selling something that was useful, but we had a lot of competition there too. You probably used the competitor as well, Thomson Reuters Westlaw.

So like, there was a lot of, it wasn't easy in that. Having a tough job like that has made maybe, now more recent things I do, it's made it, made it a bit [00:04:00] easier.

David Elikwu: Yeah. You became a manager there when you were like 26 or something.

Ryan Hawk: Yeah.

David Elikwu: I mean, even in the context of what you were just saying, what was it that you had to learn or to grow or get better at, to become good enough that quickly? And you know, suddenly as a manager you actually have a team. It's not one of the companies where, you know, sometimes people give people the title manager, you're not managing anything, you're just a, it's a pay bump, right?

But you actually have people that are twice your age or more that are now reporting to you and suddenly you have to upskill. You have to learn a lot of things really fast, both on the personnel side and then also your own growth and development as a salesman as well.

Ryan Hawk: Yeah. I mean, it's just a completely different job. You usually get promoted for being really good as an individual contributor, and they, they see something, some sort of potential, but that's the reason why there's so many bad managers, because they were maybe good at the job, but then they weren't very good at helping others.

Like I had a math teacher at one point in my life in high school. He was amazing at doing math, but when you asked him how he did it, he would walk up to [00:05:00] the board and he would just write the problem and just do it. He wouldn't even talk through it. He's like, see, that's how you do it. That's like what a bad manager does. They just say, well, you just do this. And it's also why some, like really great athletes are not good coaches in sports because it maybe came more natural to them or they didn't have to think through it. It's why a lot of backup quarterbacks are really good coaches because they weren't talented enough to play. They had to use their brain and understand coverages and how to run a team and, and they had to lead, like, in weird times, like the starter gets hurt and they come into the huddle and they really gotta, like, everyone's nervous and they gotta ease everyone's nerves.

So, yeah, I didn't really know anything when it came to managing. I just knew how to do the job as an individual contributor. And so there were a lot of rocky times of understanding people or the fact that every member of my team was unique and different and you had to coach them differently in a right and welcome to management, which you probably saw the opening story of a woman twice my age knocks on my door is [00:06:00] crying on my, like, my first days and told me her husband cheated on her and he wanted to get a divorce. And I'm thinking like, what is she doing? Like why is she telling me this? And I called my dad and I'm like, I would never tell my boss something that personal. And he is like, "Hey man, she's not you. Everybody's different. Everyone has their own unique way. It's your job to be there for your people. It's your job to care for them and to love them and to support them regardless if you think she should have or should not have told you that." And he is like, "Welcome to management." Like that was a welcome to management moment.

And so it's just developing a whole new skillset for something that previously wasn't part of your job. That's why I have some friends that are working sales and they're really critical of like senior management or even their own manager. I'm like, you don't know what it's like, you don't know what it's like to be in that person's seat to understand like what they're actually dealing with. It's very easy to criticize when you haven't been there and you're not doing it.

And so I try to have grace for others in those roles because I don't, you know, I'm not sitting in that seat right now. And I think it's better to be curious than judgemental, [00:07:00] as Ted Lasso might say and that's a much better approach.

But yeah, if you wanna get into all the management things, I messed up, we're gonna need another podcast that's gonna take a while.

David Elikwu: Okay. Fair. But I mean, in terms of getting things right, what are the traits that you think make someone a particularly great manager?

Ryan Hawk: This sounds like obvious, but I think you have to truly and actually care for the people you're serving. Not just like in a way that makes it seem like you do. But I think if you don't actually care for them and love them in a sense of maybe not like you'd love your wife, but like have a love for them and for their benefit, I think you're gonna struggle.

And so like truly getting to know your people as they are as a whole person, I think is, is, it should be mandatory. I have this getting to know you exercise that I instituted once I learned some things that really brought me closer to my people. So on one, I think you have to really care and love for them. I think you need to be compassionate and be a really good listener. I think you need to be really deeply curious.

People want to feel heard [00:08:00] and that you actually, again, care for them. And I think one of the ways you show care and love is curiosity. So that I think it helps to have some sort of a vision of where you want to go and to be able to communicate that really well to your team. You gotta run meetings all the time. So understanding how to tell good stories, how to move people, how to share that vision is really important. And then I think you should understand the financials behind the management elements of the actual business to help your team understand that as well. That's really important.

And then I'll stop here with this last one, there's a big coaching element that great managers do well, and there's two forms of coaching. I think there's coaching for in the moment, real time, Hey, you did this, maybe instead you should have done that. And then the second form of coaching would be long-term developmental coaching, which again gets back to showing how much you care for them. So having two separate one-on-one meetings with your people. One is that in the moment, here's how we get better on this [00:09:00] specific thing that you were doing that maybe you could tweak a little bit. The second one, we're not even gonna talk about today. We're not even gonna talk about the numbers or about your hitting your goals. We're talking about you and your career and how I can help you get to the next step in your career. 'Cause a great boss, I think, helps their people leave them.

The great performers paradox the wrote about in management, like I love that moment when I could send somebody else beyond me, whether it was promotion to management or another bigger sales job that like, we kept track of that and advertise that to people when they were thinking about the coming to work for me or my team was, look at our alumni base now, look at where they go. This guy's a manager, she's a manager. He now is a big time large law sales rep. Like, look at where our people go. I'm very proud of that. And so you don't have that without those one-on-one developmental coaching sessions that most managers don't do at all, 'cause they're too focused on just today and the numbers for this month, [00:10:00] as opposed to caring and loving for your people to help them get to where they want to go. Do you know how much how hard people will work for you when you show them that you genuinely care for them and you've proven it by helping other people leave your team to get promoted or get bigger jobs people, they will go, they will work like crazy for you. And does it hurt to lose a great performer? Of course it's really hard, but I'd rather that and then recruit the next good one and help them out. Like that is a cool machine to get running. And we had that thing going towards the end of my time and I think that, that was one of the things I'm most proud of was to see people develop and prove and then leave me and now they're, you know, prospering and doing great things. Like, that's such a rewarding feeling.

David Elikwu: It's funny, as you were saying that, I was just thinking of a particular manager that I had that's probably one of the best managers that I've had, and I can tell you a bit about that in a moment. But the other part, just connecting these two dots of what you were just saying.

I think one of the funny [00:11:00] things about management and leadership in general is, a lot of the time it's almost like economics, right? Where there is the economics of you as an individual. You go to a store, you see everything's expensive, things don't work out the way that you think they should be working out.

Things feel miserable. And then there is the economics that's in textbooks and the stuff that people say on tv, which is like, oh, the economy has gone up by two basis points, or blah, blah, blah. And there seems to be this massive disconnect between, okay, like textbook economics and real world economics.

And I think leadership it can feel like exactly the same thing where you hear, I mean, there's great management books. You have a great management book, there's loads of great books on leadership and things like that. But then when you actually go around and ask people, tell me about your manager, and you know, like you look for real examples of how people are actually managing day to day.

There seems to be a disconnect again because, and I don't know if it's just that people get caught up in the day-to-day, like as a manager, you still have the pressure of having to deliver stuff, having to execute, and so you're not really taking the time to develop that soft side of things.

And funnily enough, so the person I was referring to as you know, one of [00:12:00] the best managers that I've had, I don't even necessarily think it was that. He was doing a lot of the soft side. I think he did to an extent, but it's interesting that a lot of it was just trust and this deep sense of trust. I don't think I've felt anywhere else. And it wasn't necessarily a good thing. It was pretty much just over and over again, him throwing me directly into the deep end of something I had no idea how to do.

The most visceral example of this that I can remember is one time we were on this deal, we had a client that was very pernickety about certain things and they had a bunch of clauses that if we're being honest, they didn't really need, but they always had these demands that they want this to go into every single contract. And so it is my job to, to fight for that on this deal and make sure they get these terms in the contract. And I remember there was one call where I got ambushed by, so we were representing like one party, there's two parties that are kind of meant to be on the same side and then there's the other side of the deal.

And I get that I was probably the stick in the mud on this deal because I'm fighting for these extra things that my client wants in the contract that to [00:13:00] everyone else don't seem really necessary. So I get on the call thinking that I'm just gonna be speaking to this other lawyer that's meant to be on my side. And the other lawyer is also on the call and these are two senior partners at two of the, the biggest law firms in the world and me. And I am backed into a corner trying to like fight for my life. And the funny thing is, my boss, this guy, we share an office. He's in the room listening to me on loudspeaker and not saying a single word. He's just watching me sweat and flounder and, and struggle. And it was like one of the most difficult moments in a sense where like I was blindsided by both these guys being on this call. They're really trying to hammer me down and not allow my client to get this thing that they want. And I'm kind of looking over to my boss here, like, okay, you're gonna jump in, you're gonna help me out. And he did not. And he let me figure it out and just fight it out on that call.

But watching that happen, 'cause there's sometimes where he might just leave me something to do and then go off and then expect it to be done by the time he comes [00:14:00] back. But knowing the intentionality of him just sitting there and watching me flounder and figure it out, I think just gave me a big sense of confidence because I knew that he trusted me to figure things out, even if I didn't feel that for myself at the time.

Ryan Hawk: Yeah, trust is super powerful, man. I'm going through this now in a different way with a 15 and a half year old daughter learning to drive, and that is a big, you know we went to a basketball game with my, my friend Brook Cupps who I wrote the book with, his son plays at Indiana University. That's like a three hour drive. And I told my daughter, I'm like, do you want to, I trust you. You wanna drive the whole way. You know, she's got just here in the states, she just has her temps or like temporary. You have to drive 50 hours before you can earn your license when you turn 16. And I think it's similar of, it's empowering to your child or to anybody you're leading, which I'm certainly trying to lead to say, yeah, I trust you to drive us all the way there, go through detours, obviously use GPS. Park in the parking garage, get to the game. Like, go, get gas. Like as a leader you have, and a parenting is leading is very similar. You have [00:15:00] to, I'm here, but you are gonna do it and I trust you to do it, and I'm gonna empower you to do it.

And that helps create evidence for them that they can do it. And what better thing could a leader do, like your boss did for you? He helped you create evidence for yourself that you can do it. If he would've jumped in while you were floundering, he took over, wasted opportunity to create evidence for yourself.

There is risk, there is certainly risk, but I love leaders who are willing to say, this is a great opportunity for David to, to create some evidence for himself, which will create further confidence that he can draw from, that he can do this really hard thing, even though he's kind of screwing up right now, right. But I believe in him and I trust him. And then how do you feel about him afterwards where, you know, he is doing it intentionally? Same way with parenting. Like, it's really powerful, man. And I think leaders who are thoughtful and intentional do that more than those who [00:16:00] just kind of like, randomly go through their days and they see a guy floundering and they say, I'm taking over from here 'cause I can't risk this. Versus those thoughtful ones who are care deeply about growing their people who say, what an opportunity, what an opportunity for David to create evidence for himself that will then make him much better in the future.

I think all of us as leaders should think about that more as the moments are happening so that when the moments do arise, which they will, right? That we are actu, this is intentional here. We don't just take over and step in 'cause it's easier to just say, boom, push you aside, I'm taking over. I got it from here, I'm driving now. And when you do that, I think you could really set somebody backwards. It's more powerful to trust them and empower them and then create evidence for themselves, which will then make them more confident in the future.


David Elikwu: One thing I'm interested to know, kind of connecting these two dots that you've talked about, we talked about, okay, we have these great managers, great leaders, that very often they're able to point to, Hey, this is of someone that worked for me. They are now a leader over here. These people have gone on to be leaders over there, and I guess, there's a balance between, okay, going back to our previous conversation, we were talking about football and when you [00:18:00] watch the NFL people talk about coaching trees, right? You see there's a coach, the head coach of this team, oh, he's from the Andy Reid’s tree or he's from this tree. He learned from this coach, that learned from this coach, that learned from this coach. And there's things that get passed down.

I'm interested to know, one thing that in the business space, it can be hard to find specific coaching trees that are within a domain like, it's hard to just decide, I'm gonna join this coaching tree because you also have to care about the business, you also have to care about the industry. You can't just find one great leader and regardless of what they're doing right now, or what business they're in right now, you just go straight there.

So I'd love to know how you think people could either join or start great coaching and leadership trees of their own?

Ryan Hawk: Well, I mean the, the one interesting thing about that is that they just take time. So the best way is to constantly be helping people who want that.

And so let's say you're in a management role, something write about welcome to management, but that I did with a number of people who said, Hey, I want the same job that you have like, I want to get promoted to a job like yours. I would then say, okay, great. Like we would [00:19:00] have little mini coaching sessions on what it actually takes to do it. And I would put them in the role for like half a day.

For example, I would say, okay, we're gonna get one of your teammates, you're gonna go listen to that teammate's calls and you are gonna provide coaching for that teammate. And I'm gonna watch you coach them, and I'm gonna provide coaching to you on how you coach them. And we're actually gonna get feedback from them as well of how useful they felt it was. And so you kind of create this circular motion of putting somebody into the role, having them see what it's like to think of it differently. And then there are other parts I'd have him lead meetings, I have him come up with ideas. I would put them in, like my dad would always say like, I just wanna see them in the actual role. He's like, any way you can simulate that, but make it as real as possible. So if that's a part of how you lead a team and you're saying, okay, I had this high potential person who told me they want this specific job that happens to be maybe the same job that I have, let's [00:20:00] simulate that as much as possible when working to develop them and then coach them on that. It also makes you better as a leader because, I think that one of the best tools for learning is teaching. And so putting yourself in the role of being a teacher is a great way to learn. So I benefited from those two.

But then I remember Brent Scher, who I wrote about in the book, he was one of those early guys, rep of the year, great sales guy, won all the awards, but said he wanted to manage. We went through that process for probably a full year where we simulated probably every act of that job, almost every act of that job. He then becomes one of the next guys promoted, he then goes on to lead the team of the year, and then goes on to be a director and a VP, and now an a senior leader at a different company. Well, I mean, like, that's, that's how it starts. It starts one at a time, one at a time. And but I don't think you make people do that. I think they have to want to do that. And you know, what makes them wanna do it is when they see others, they're like, Ooh, what's possible? Oh, this is cool. I wanna do that.

It also, when you put them in the role and they [00:21:00] simulate something, sometimes it happens. It happened a few times, they'd say. I don't wanna do that. I want no part of that. Like I wanna go on a different track. I don't want that job. And wouldn't you rather know that before they get it than after they get it?

And so in a way it gives them a little bit of taste of what it's like. And so whether they may say, oh, I love this. Let's go. Or they'll say, I don't like this. And then we learned early that maybe there should be a different path for them. So I think simulation, role playing, actually doing it as best you can is a great way to help building that treat.

David Elikwu: And a few of these examples you've tied things you do in a professional context to things that you do as a dad or in your family as well.

I'm interested to know how you see the evolution of the, the Dean Hawke fatherhood tree where, you know, what are the similarities or differences that you might notice between, like, you've had a lot of great leaders in your family and people that you've learned a lot from maybe between like your grandfather and your father, and then between your father and you.

Like how do you see some of those traits evolving where there's some things you definitely wanna [00:22:00] do similarly, exactly the way they did it. And then there's also things where you think, how can I take this in my own direction or take it to the next level in the way that, that I see is most useful.

Ryan Hawk: I think with my dad and my grandpa that just the, the first thing that comes to mind is selflessness, caring for others, loving them, putting them before you really, truly like servant leadership. So I'm very fortunate and lucky to have.

Unfortunately, a number of people who have examples of what not to do based on how they were raised. And all of mine are examples of what to do, of really how to be very generous, how to be very loving, how to truly care for people, how to listen to them. My dad's one of the best in the world at patiently listening and waiting and not feeling like his voice needs to be heard. But then when he does speak up, everybody is listening and usually saying, oh, yeah, that's the thing.

And I think that's a, that's like Robert Greene, like always say less than necessary. Like my dad probably didn't even read that book or knows anything about that, that's just the way he lives.

So to me, yeah, and also grew up in a special needs home with one of my aunts who, my dad's sister [00:23:00] who passed away special needs. I mean, I saw my grandpa take care of her for 40 years. She was special needs from birth to death. And then same thing happened with my grandma the last 10 years of her life. This dude was constantly taking care of other people literally like, almost his entire life. And so when you see that love and compassion never complained a day in his life, ever, still doesn't to this day that I've heard. It's like, man, this dude had a, has had it a lot harder than me and yet shows up with a super positive attitude, caring, loving, kind, a joy for life. What am I doing? What in the world am I complaining about? Like, suck it up.

It's just, again, another really great fortunate situation for me is, having these loving parents and grandparents that I can draw from to say, man, watch how they treat people, watch how they help people, watch how they serve, watch how they love, watch how they listen, watch how much compassion they show. There's no excuse for me not to be that way. And I, and you know, I'm trying my best to do it. Not there yet, but trying my best to do the same.

David Elikwu: Were there any [00:24:00] values that were spoken of or emphasized? In your most recent book, one of the points there is also about not just defining your purpose, but also defining your values and I've heard you talk about the values that you have.

I'm interested to know what the process was like of coming up with those values and how you use them and make them practical.

Ryan Hawk: Yeah, I mean, it's funny, we never had those conversations growing up. I think what's even better though, is the fact that, as parents, our job is to be the model. I mean, my wife was, I was out of town with my brother the last couple of days and she'd say, it's amazing how Charlie, our youngest daughter, how Charlie mimics exactly what you do.

For example, how you make Boomer our dog, sit before you take him out to walk to the bus stop. She makes him sit. And she said she walks on the same path around the sidewalk and down the driveway down. She's like, she does exactly the way that you do it. And I just responded like, right. She's always watching. And I think what's a good reminder that the way to show your values to your kids or to anybody is to live them. And so my [00:25:00] parents, they never said anything about that. I just watched how they treated people. I still watch how they treat people, same with my grandpa.

So, the values mean nothing unless the behaviors are in full alignment with them. So I know what it means to be curious and to be thoughtful and to be caring and to be loving. And those are ways I would describe, you know, the house I grew up in and the way my parents still are that like living them out, I've now further solidified them and named them and written them down and talk about them with others that I think is helpful, but it's even more helpful, especially when it comes to being a parent, is to live them out every single day. The behaviors have to match whatever the words are that you choose for your core values.

David Elikwu: You seem to have a lot of mentors in your life, whether some of them are like friends and old coaches, that you're still in touch with someone, even like Brook Cupps, who you've now written a book with some maybe your dad or other people that you've come across. I would love to know how [00:26:00] you cultivate those types of relationships.

And I guess maybe there's also a connection there to the friends in the foxhole concept, right? Like how do you find and build those foxhole friendships as well?

Ryan Hawk: I mean, Charlie Munger was asked one day, "How do I get a great wife?" And he said, "Deserve one." I think the same is true for friends and mentors. I try to be curious and thoughtful. I try to follow up on what the advice that they give me. But I, I am not afraid to ask. I'm not afraid to seek out mentorship and to ask to talk to them or just specifically ask them a question immediately or even directly via email, text, phone call, lunch, whatever it may be.

I think there does seem to be a fear of rejection or of, taking up somebody's time. And I just go back to my cold calling days. I've been rejected 60, 70 times a day for weeks on end, years on end. I'm not afraid of that at all. I also think back to that Steve Jobs video, which I can send you afterwards. When he was 11 years old and he calls the Hewlett and Packard guys at their house and asked them [00:27:00] for some spare parts to build a frequency counter. They invited him in and gave him a job. And he said, I was in heaven. And he said, the difference between people who dream about things and those who actually do them is you gotta be willing to ask. You gotta be willing to get rejected. You gotta be willing to fail. And I think that's true for almost everything. And when it comes to, for mentors is I'm just gonna ask, I'm willing to ask and then I hopefully will deserve that relationship by people seem to be flattered by curiosity and by direct specific questions and certainly I will praise them for what I admire about them, and I will tell them that specifically. And so when it comes to asking, specificity is key and then follow up, and then actually, trying to implement what they say. I found that helps deepen relationships and then just being very grateful for them and, and just being hopefully a kind, decent person will help foster those relationships.

And yeah, been lucky to have a lot of them and still currently do and talk to them in on a regular basis.

David Elikwu: So how do you think about your career now? Obviously you've gone out for yourself. You left [00:28:00] your, your corporate role. I think I remember you talking about how you had to get your wife on board as well. Obviously she had to believe in the vision of you going out and doing this thing by yourself.

And what's interesting now about being in a non-linear career is obviously you have the podcast that you're doing, which is like the main thing you, you write not just books, but you have the newsletter as well. How do you think about, what you're building to and what you're building towards and where you see this career going.

I think also in the book, just to touch on it, there is this concept, I'm trying to remember exactly how it was phrased, but it was essentially, I mean I guess there's two pieces. One is about having like a internal goals rather than external goals, or I think it was like process-based goals as opposed to like an outcome-based goal.

So trying to think about, okay, we're not just basing it on, Hey, I wanna win this championship, or I wanna have x many subscribers perhaps, but it might be some other way of defining your progress as well.

Ryan Hawk: Yeah, I mean, I'm very lucky that I genuinely enjoy and love the work I get to do each day. Like having a [00:29:00] deep, long form conversation with a thoughtful person is the coolest thing in the world. So the reward for me is that I get to keep doing it.

So I'm just grateful that the thing that, I love doing also matches up for a need in the marketplace as well as there's parts of the things that I do that people are willing to pay significant sums of money for. And so that overlap, that kind of Venn diagram overlap of what I love and a need and what the market says it will pay for, that's just not the case for everybody. And so in my case, it is now, I work really hard at that, but the reward is just that I get to keep doing it.

One of my, I think, weakness areas is long-term strategic thinking when it comes to, building a business. I'm very good, I think at putting my head down and working hard today and the next day and the next day and the next day. And as a result of that, a lot of really cool opportunities seem to continue to come my way. And you know, say yes to [00:30:00] some of them, and in some cases that's like as a business builder and financially, it's certainly really cool. But I just wanna keep doing what I'm doing right now. I'm gonna keep writing books. I'm gonna keep speaking on stages. I'm gonna keep working with leadership teams. And obviously I'm gonna keep going back to the foundation of all of that, which is recording the Learning Leader Show. And I am, I'm always in a constant state of preparing for that next episode and preparing for that next speech, or preparing for that next interaction with the leadership team.

And I think the heads down focused on the work and providing value seems to make this a really viable business. And that's why I mentioned before, I don't have any long-term contracts where I lock people in or force them to pay me. I can be fired at any time by any client with no more payments. And so some would say that's risky to me. I think it's the only way to do it. It's the only way to ensure that you're gonna provide value to people. And that's kind of like what a business is. A business solves problems for people. And then when you solve a problem for them, they pay you. If I keep helping people do that then, I should be [00:31:00] okay. And so that's, that's my intent is to keep doing that.

David Elikwu: I think when you started the podcast, they were probably a lot less, a lot less popular now. But I'm interested in, I think it was Todd Henry that gave you some advice about not being a cover band in, the first book that you were writing.

And I think very similarly, both with podcasts and with writing. You know, there's lots of books on management or books on leadership or, you know, books on personal development, et cetera. And there's also maybe perhaps lots of podcasts of where people speak with and interview even some of the exact same guests that. you've had. How do you try and like, differentiate and make meaningful, like your specific platform and the work that you do and avoid becoming like a cover band?

Ryan Hawk: I don't really think about that at all. I think about following and chasing what I'm most curious and obsessed with. You know, as my most recent book you mentioned, like trying to always compare and try to differentiate. To me it seems like a waste of time. If people aren't interested in what I'm most curious and obsessed with, then they, I'll need to go do something else. I'll have to go get a sales job. I just don't spend a ton of time like I admire [00:32:00] others and I listen to their podcasts because I enjoy them and I learn and they're entertaining. But I don't think, I don't really try to, to be different for different reasons. I try to be authentic to what I'm curious about on what I care about, and ask the questions that I want to ask and learn from the people that I'm most curious to learn from.

And again, doing that seems to have, have served me well. Is it different than other interview shows? I don't know. Like that comes out so much now. Like, you have to like, look on Twitter. Everyone's like everyone has interview shows now or whatever. You can't do that anymore. I'm like, why? Why can't I do that? Like, that's what I wanna do. Like, I would never tell you, David, don't do an interview show, 'cause there's too many of them. Why? If you're curious to learn from other people, well then interview 'em, talk to them. You know what I mean? Like I just would never push you away from something you're really curious about. If this is what you want to do and you're curious about it, you're not doing it as like a marketing thing for whatever, but you're genuinely curious and you want to do it, then do it.

Yeah, I don't know. Is [00:33:00] it that different from other people? I don't know. Maybe in some cases it's not, in some cases it is. But I don't really approach it that way. I think if I'm genuinely curious and I wanna talk to a person, and we do, and other people like it, then that's great. And that's what I'll keep doing.

David Elikwu: So, I mean, funnily enough, just going off the back of what you were saying, I remember you said that you started the podcast as a way to almost create your own degree, right? So I would love to know from all the episodes that you've had, it was probably hard to even encompass how many episodes that you've had. But are there any specific lessons that stand out from this personal degree that you've had that stand the test of time?

Ryan Hawk: Yeah, I mean that's honestly why I write books is to try to distill that down into only 260 pages of book. But a few things like off the top of my head, I mentioned it earlier. One, nobody's got it all figured out. Everybody's figuring out as they go. I've yet to meet the person that has it all figured out. A commonality among leaders who sustain excellence is that they are both very thoughtful and intentional. As I mentioned, when it comes to [00:34:00] the questions I ask, like, it's not done haphazardly or without thought. Like there's a lot of thought and intention. So I try to take what I've learned from others to be really thoughtful, reflective, and intentional. And then third, I guess if I'd say is there's people who sustain excellence have a strong bias for action. They're regularly iterating and experimenting and doing it, like whatever the thing they're learning, they didn't then go and do it and then figure out what worked, what didn't. What should they start doing? Stop doing, what should they keep doing based on actual action taken? As I mentioned, when it comes to teaching people who would work for me, we're going to simulate as much as possible and put you into the actual job, 'cause you learn most by doing it. I played as a freshman in high school and I learned a lot more once I got onto the field than I did from standing on the sidelines. And I think the same is true with whatever is we wanna do. You wanna become a great public speaker, then find a way to get on stages. You wanna be a good interviewer, interview people. Whatever the thing is, you wanna be become good. You wanna write? Then write every day, [00:35:00] like whatever the thing is you wanna do, have a bias for action towards doing it. Not just procrastinating by having these like grand plans. Like I'd never written a business plan, right? A business that is supporting my family and extended people and doing really well. I've never made a plan. It's let's go and we're gonna do the thing and then we'll learn and we'll iterate. And yes, we'll adjust and we'll think and we'll talk to people, but we gotta go.

And so I think that kind of combination of being thoughtful and intentional and then when it's time to go, like you go and that seems to serve most people well.

David Elikwu: Okay. Amazing. I was just thinking there's so many other things that we could have talked about. There's so many more questions that I could have asked you and wanted to ask you. Maybe like one that actually just came to mind, if you don't mind me just asking. You have five daughters. I would love to know, if there's only one thing that they would remember you for and could remember, Oh, my gosh, this is one thing that my dad did, or one thing that my dad said to me that I always remember.

What might that be?

Ryan Hawk: Oh, [00:36:00] that I love them. I mean, unconditional love, right? That means love without conditions regardless of what happens or what they do or where, wherever it is they, whatever they want to be or do, that the love is there no matter what. And that's something we say quite a bit or something they say, no matter what. That's unconditional love.

So if there's one thing that they remembered or they thought is that, he loved me unconditionally, regardless of anything. And I try to prove that with my actions of how I show up for them. And part of that is being very present, as present as possible. Both actually there to pick them up from practice or to help them with friends or to take them on a Starbucks day. And they're there, meaning phones, you know, it's very easy to be distracted by that stuff. So be as present and present as possible and then love them unconditionally. That's what I'd I'd say.

David Elikwu: Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do stay tuned for more. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. It really helps the podcast and follow me on Twitter feel free to shoot me [00:37:00] any thoughts. See you next time.

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