Greg Hawks is a Corporate Culture Specialist with an expansive leadership portfolio.
For two decades he has mentored leaders, developed teams, crafted culture, and empowered
employees. A keynote speaker, he has an enthusiastic character, style, wit, and energy.
More than six months ago I came across Greg’s bio and asked if he would do an interview with me. As sometimes happens, his interview was six months in the making, but the end result has been more than worth it and I am excited to share it with you now.
AE: What inspired you to start the Hawks Agency?
GH: I had been a freelancer for a couple years and decided I wanted to create a structure others could join with me. Also, I have two kids that I wanted to offer a conduit for them to explore their gifts and talents if they so desired.
AE: Early in your career you worked as an Executive Director for Youth America and then Business Director for Church of the Harvest, how did your early career prepare you for what you are doing now?
GH: I wish everyone could spend a part of their career working in ministry. It gives such an advantage in the marketplace! Leading volunteers is exponentially more difficult. Doing big things with no money requires creativity and leveraging everyone’s abilities. Articulating vision in a meaningful way that others can find themselves in, is incredibly rewarding.
It prepared me so well. Leading people. Guerilla marketing styles. Accomplishing the amazing through people’s willingness. Understanding what drives individuals.
It was challenging and difficult with a continual press for excellence that I internalized and developed an aptitude to thrive in. It’s been such an asset in every way!
AE: What is a Corporate Culture Specialist?
GH: It is a guy who has focused many years on leadership, team, people development, vision, motivation, goal setting, values, marketing, human nature, growth – and discovered all those parts fit under the umbrella of Culture. Organizations are interdependent organisms impacted by every individual participating. Understand how to intentionally nurture culture, enables leaders and team members to bring their best and extract the best of others.
AE: You call yourself an Owner/Instigator, how did you come up with that?
GH: A long history of both. My cornerstone philosophy is rooted in ownership. The more we assume an owners mentality, in life, in work, in relationships, wherever we find ourselves, the more fulfilled and productive we’ll be.
As far as an instigator, I’ve worn that moniker a long time. I like to challenge people in small and big ways. I’m not a motivator. I poke and prod and find pain points to help move people to action.
AE: You recently updated your website, what kind of response have you received?
GH: This is my 3rd website in 4 years.
It’s the place where people can best assess
who I am and what I do. However, it’s a utility.
People go there to find what they need and
then depart. The feedback about the site has
been minimal. Beyond “I like it”, the way I
determine its value is the usefulness it provides
current and future clients.
AE: You have a unique approach where you provide insights around cultivating a spirit of Ownership and creating an Owners Mindset. Can you elaborate?
GH: It’s what I reference in the last question. If individuals will take on an Owners Mindset, which to me is Think, Act, Lead and Create Like and Owner® they will find themselves satisfied. Many people navigate life as a victim or powerless or unable to make decisions. There are many reasons for this, ranging from their family history, childhood experiences, being taught disabling thinking, insecurities, failings, etc…
If you see life through that lens, you can find reinforcing experiences. However, if you embrace an Owners Mindset, you see all kinds of possibilities and opportunities many miss.
AE: How does thinking like an owner affect a company’s bottom line?
GH: In many ways. First all the talk of lost money on low employee engagement or workplace drama or people doing their minimum expectations. When we come to work Like an Owner® our eyes are consistently open to finding ways to increase value. We don’t blame others for deficiencies but explore possible solutions. We invite input across departments and skill sets. We lead people to think more creatively. We reduce wasted time. There is a greater level of candidness that gets us to the best solutions more quickly. Having an ownership mindset creates efficiencies.
AE: How can individuals apply your approach to their personal life?
GH: The five filters I evaluate ownership through is: Commitment, Increased Value, Reaching for Responsibility, Being Inclusive, and embracing the Big Picture. In our personal lives, many people shrink via selfishness. I’ve found an ownership mindset facilitates generosity, empathy, and transparency. Of course, trust is foundational to those elements, which in our personal lives is true as well. Also, diminishing the blame game offers relationships positivity.
AE: One of the things you offer to your clients is keynote speaking. Have you ever had a bad keynote experience and how did you recover?
GH: Part of my challenge as an optimist is considering anything “bad”. Even when I haven’t nailed it, I tend to find something decent from the experience. That being said, I generally always think something could’ve been better – because it can. I continually am conscious of pacing (sometimes I talk fast). I rarely have a great closing. I could benefit from unpacking my stories with a little more detail.
In all of my messages, I invite the audience to speak to one another. Afterwards, I go into the audience and find out some of the things they spoke about. That tends to be where the message goes off the rails. Which is fun and scary. You never know what someone will say or do. I’ve had people say disparaging things about millennials, that created sweet awkwardness in the audience. Stuff like that can affect the tone of the overall message. But I enjoy that challenge.
AE: Your mission statement is great “We are on a mission to challenge and empower leaders, teams, and organizations to reach for greatness. For us, greatness is a sacred pronoun that represents the best version of you, sustained.” How would you describe the best version of yourself?
GH: Oh, that’s fun. Ummmm… let’s see. Best.Version.Of.Me…
Mindful of others
Challenging others smallness
Being generous with words and attention
Planting thoughts of greatness in others
AE: Has there been someone in your career that has inspired you?
GH: OH geez… lots of people. Right now there are people who inspired me. I tend to recognize characteristics in people that I admire. So whether younger or older, in my field or doing something entirely different, I find inspiration in people.
My first real boss and former pastor, Kirk Pankratz was my first work hero. Someone I found so many things in that I wanted to emulate. His humility. His vision. His capacity. His commitment to others. His courage.
From there I could list at least 20 different people with attributes I noticed, embraced and made my own. The current iteration of who I am is an amalgamation of many many people I’ve done life with.
AE: What would people be surprised to know about you?
GH: Not much. I try to be transparent. What I find amusing is, because I’m such a gregarious and somewhat ornery individual, when people discover how strategic I can be, it sometimes surprises them. I aspire to be wise. If you know me from afar, that may not always be the first impression I make.
AE: What do you think the biggest mistake leaders make is?
GH: Feeling like they have to have all the answers. Mixed within that is not cultivating humility as a strategic advantage.
AE: As a leader, what has been the biggest ah ha moment for you?
GH: I’ve had a bunch. One of the early ones was having expectations not met and understanding how to still maximize what is happening. Another one was how words can impact someone, positively or negatively rather quickly. Any careless expression could hurt someone in unexpected ways. Another was embracing a “loyalty up” attitude, saved me from people involving me in gossip. Another was how significant vision can cause accomplishment more than money or resources could. It goes on and on and on.
AE: What advice would you give those who are just entering the workforce?
GH: Enjoy it. It’s seasonal. Even if you aren’t in a job that you think is your calling or long-term career plan, let it teach you. If you’re not learning, that’s not the jobs fault.
Practice communication. Learn how to work with authority. Figure out how to honor your co-workers. Ask for more responsibility. There are a few key principles like these, that will accelerate your opportunities in the journey. (Ownership thinking, of course)
AE: What would you like your legacy to be?
GH: That I lifted lives.
I brought out the best in people.
When I was involved it got better. (It = someone’s life, project, effort, company, etc)
I used wisdom & joy to impact humanity.
AE: Have you considered writing a book?
GH: I have. Even now jotting down some possibilities. I just don’t want to do it substandard or as a big marketing piece to get more speaking gigs. If I’m going to write purposefully like that, it becomes it’s own entity.
AE: I have watched some of your videos
and you have a real presence and ease about
you, does that come naturally or have you had
to work at it?
GH: It’s a mix. I’m naturally outgoing. I have
lots and lots of experience speaking, so I’ve
learned a few things. I’ve leaned into being
intentional about certain speaking characteristics.
I’ve also designed my messages to play to my strengths.
AE: What’s next for you?
GH: I’m still trying to figure out how to best expand my platform to help people. Both my kids are in high school too, with my son graduating this year, so navigating how to maximize our time together is a priority.
I’m having a ton of fun interviewing people in organizations with healthy cultures. I’m not a researcher by nature, but I’m gathering lots of data on what makes places awesome to work for. Figuring out how to catalog and disseminate that is interesting to me.
AE: I am a lover of quotes and post one daily on my website and social media. You have posted some great quotes of your own, do you have a favorite?
GH: I probably like the expression I tormented my kids with every day I dropped them off at school, for like a decade – “Today is the best day of your life. Live it. Love it. Make the most of it.”
This is truly all that we have. TODAY.
Want to know more about Greg and the Hawks Agency, check out his website http://hawksagency.com/ and social media channels.
A CONVERSATION WITH
By Anthony T. Eaton September 2017