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10 Questions with Leader Michael Hyatt – Thomas Nelson Publishers

By June 15, 2010June 20th, 2011Business, Christians, Interviews, Leadership

Michael Hyatt
is one of the best leaders I know.   I have had the privilege of getting to know Michael personally over the last couple of years, having met him first through Twitter.  What I have come to understand is that Michael is the same online as he is in person.  When I first published this, Michael was the C.E.O. of (Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher. He has since retired as C.E.O, but remains the company’s Chairman. He is extremely accessible and transparent through his online involvement, and he is a model husband and father. In addition, Michael is a true Kingdom-builder and loves Jesus passionately. When I think of a well-balanced leader, I think of Michael Hyatt.

You can follow Michael’s blog HERE and on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Michael Hyatt:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally?  If not, what did you want to do?

When I was in elementary school, I thought I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer. I was fascinated by space flight and science fiction. In the 9th grade, I started playing guitar. In fact, I majored in music for my first two years of college. I thought I would be a professional musician. However, when I become a Christian, I wanted to serve in full-time Christian ministry. In fact, I was planning to go to seminary, until I discovered the world of book publishing.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

I have worked in book publishing for my entire career, so I have to go back to high school to find a job that was really different. I sold cable television subscriptions door-to-door for a while. The challenge of making cold calls has served me well. In my job, I spend a lot of time doing things that I have never done before. Selling door-to-door taught me to overcome my fear and just step out in faith.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I actually blogged about this recently. I would have to say Robert Wolgemuth, my former boss, business partner, and now close friend. He was such a consistent example to me. He really walked his talk in every area of his life. In particular, he modeled integrity, responsiveness, and gratitude. I find myself coming back to these character qualities again and again as the core of my own success.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

This is a tough question for a book publisher to answer. I love so many different kinds of books. If I had to pick one, it would be For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann, an Eastern Orthodox seminary professor and priest. The premise of the book is that everything is sacramental. Every person you meet, every experience you have, manifests the presence of God—if you have the eyes to see it. This book shaped my worldview more than any other.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Energetic, prolific, and polished. (It feels awkward to say this, but I am trying to be objective.)

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

My ability to make complex ideas simple. I am obsessed with making things easier to understand and communicating them in ways that people can grasp and remember.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Boredom. I love to build things. I hate to maintain them. I’m like a shark; I have to keep moving or I drown. This means I have a short attention span. My focus drifts if projects or meetings take too long.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Meet people and be sociable. Many people are surprised to learn that I am an extreme introvert. I love being with my family and close friends. But attending social functions where I don’t know people and have to be “on” is challenging. It depletes my energy and takes a toll emotionally. I have to be intentional about building space into my schedule to recharge.

What is one misconception about your position you think people in your organization may have?

That it must be great to be the CEO and call all the shots. My position is mostly about solving very difficult problems. The easy problems get solved before they get to me. Often times, I am having to chose between two bad options. This is where the stress comes in.

If you could give one piece of advise to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

You are not as smart as you think you are. Therefore, stay humble. You have more potential than you can possibly imagine. Therefore, remain faithful. Keep growing, and be patient. Your time will come.

Have you been impacted by the online presence of Michael Hyatt? Tell me about it.

Do you understand what Michael means when he talks about his Introversion?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 29 Comments

  • How has Michael Hyatt's online presence impacted me? Probably not in the way you'd think…

    His tweets and comments often give a lovely glimpse into how much he values his wife and their relationship. Gail Hyatt's obvious support of her husband (through her tweets) mirrors that impression. What a wonderful example of a strong – and working to stay strong – married couple. Michael Hyatt's quick comments about watching a movie with his wife, or enjoying dinner together or missing her when on a trip show other leadship couples that it's good and fine and important to both nurture and give priority your marriage relationship.

    Way to go, Mr. & Mrs. Hyatt!! Thanks for being a little transparent in your personal life to give other couples "real-life-real-time" encouragement.

  • gailbhyatt says:

    Thank you, Patti for your kind words. I, however, am the one who has been impacted by my contacts with you. You are an amazing person with so much to give. I'm grateful to God and to Twitter for making our meeting a possibility. God bless.

  • PattiM says:

    Both Michael and his wife Gail have had an impact on me. Michael through his writings on leadership and how he approaches various situations. Gail through our interactions online. They are a great couple, I greatly admire their transparency and forthrightness about their lives and their faith.

    As for his remarks about introversion, I absolutely get what he means. Probably because I tend to be the same. An introvert can 'learn' to act extroverted but we never truly become so. An extrovert is energized by being around people and would be driven nuts by being on their own for too long, people like Michael and I, need downtime in order to gain energy. A day, even two, around other people is manageable, the third day is overload for me. Others mileage my vary.

    I appreciate seeing how someone like Michael with his busy schedule copes and balances between the demands of the schedule and his own needs. He sets a great example for people like him.

  • Randy Willis says:

    I discovered Michael when I began using Twitter (he was prolific!). I've found many of his blog posts helpful to me as a pastor/leader!

    I appreciated Michael's response to many of these questions, including the challenge of meeting people and being social as well as describing "boredom" as a weakness.

    That gives me a good word for myself. I've long said that I'm better at getting the vision and casting the vision than I am about navigating the vision. By the time we're that far into it, I'm already working on the next adventure! 🙂

  • I just got this book in from Amazon! Haven't had a chance to read yet… appreciate this article!

  • Brian Forwood says:

    Hi I am a total "newbie" at this sort of thing, comments and such like. The main reason is that I resonate painfully wit Michael's introversion comments. It takes an extreme level of intentionallity to be a social creature when you feel like you will trip over your toungue if you even think about making a comment mano a mano, and this even extends into social situations on the internet, a la Facebook, bur thank you Michael for having the grace to present yourself as a person who has achieved your status whilst having to overcome the "Social Block" that introversion is to those who it effects

  • Mike, I agree – You are "energetic, prolific, and polished". Sometimes (scratch that) Most of the time, I don't know how you do all things you do. You do leadership well. And you teach leadership well too.

  • patriciazell says:

    Ron, thanks for the interview with Michael. He has been a tremendous help to me over the last year with his posts and his comments. He encouraged me to start writing my book on my blog and I am finding some success in doing that. (Who knows, perhaps I will find an agent and a publisher in the near future.) Anyway, Michael has been a blessing to me. By the way, I found your blog through a link in one of his tweets–another blessing! 🙂

  • PaulSteinbrueck says:

    Ron, you asked some great questions. I admire Mike a lot, as a Christian, a CEO, a blogger. His writing and his example have inspired me lead better.

    I was surprised by Mike's answer about his greatest strength, "My ability to make complex ideas simple." I haven't heard many people cite that as a strength, but that's really critical in this extremely complicated world we live in (especially as complicated as things are in the publishing industry these days). It's something I'm going to think and focus on more.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Paul. I agree, I didn't think about that as a leadership strength either. I saw it as a communicator's strength, but didn't think how it related to leading.

  • Ifeanyi says:

    You have been very wonderful in connecting me with great leaders of our time.Keep it up & remain blessed.Shalom!.

  • Sharing the misconceptions of being a CEO is important – segues well into the next question/response.

  • This series of post's has been great!

  • Great diversity in these questions. Helps me see a bit more into the the guy I've come to know over at 🙂 Mike's influence online has impacted me in a number of ways, one primary is him being an example of a successful business person who not only has a lot of insight to share but also one who has a personal life to admire. Love that he loves God, his wife and his family and shares that with others.

    Mike's comment about his greatest leadership strength is huge. Taking complex things and making them simple is a critical trait I've always been fascinated with myself and hope to learn to improve upon as I grow personally and professionally.