Episode: There’s No Success without Succession
Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.
Megan Hyatt Miller: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.
Michael: And this is Lead to Win, our podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. Today, we’re changing formats. We’re going to do something different, something experimental, but something that, frankly, has been a long time coming.
Megan: I’m really excited about this. I’ve been waiting for this for a while.
Michael: I am too. Okay. Here’s the deal, guys. This is going to be more informal. This is going to be much more like coffee with Megan and Michael, or whoever we decide to have on, rather than something that’s researched and scripted. I think some of our listeners appreciate that, but we’ve had comments. If there have been any negative comments we’ve had, people feel like sometimes it’s too structured and maybe a little too wooden.
Megan: And sometimes we feel like it’s a little too structured. The truth is you and I have been talking to each other now for…well, about 40 years, so we like to think we’re pretty good at that and we could just do that and it would probably be more interesting for us and more interesting for you, so we’re going to give it a try.
Michael: Today, we want to talk about something we’ve been thinking a lot about lately, which is the topic of succession. This is going to give you a peek behind the curtain so you can see what has been happening at Michael Hyatt & Company, but fear not; we’re going to apply this to your situation. By the way, maybe you think that if you’re the CEO, succession is important, or if you’re a business owner, succession is important, and it is, but it’s important at every level of the organization, and I’m going to give you a couple of examples of that as we go through the content.
Let me just start with this, Megan. I want to see if you agree with this. It’s my growing conviction (and it has been now for about 15 years) that there’s no success without succession. In fact, the word success is baked into the word succession. Do you agree or disagree?
Megan: I agree with that, but I think there are different kinds of succession. What we’re going to be sharing about in our own personal experience today is succession in a family business. Like, how you build a multigenerational family business, because that’s our intention. But some people might do succession, obviously, outside of that context.
The succession might look like the sale of a business. There are a lot of ways this can look that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re passing it on to a family member or even having continuity in ownership, necessarily. But you’re right. What we want to avoid is just kind of letting things die a slow, painful death that is unsatisfying to everybody.
Michael: For us, it goes back to our worldview about stewardship, that everything we have is a gift, that that gift, whatever it is, is given to us to preside over temporarily, but ultimately, there’s an accountability, and we’ll pass it on to somebody else. That’s true of our most important relationships. That’s true of our property. That’s true of the businesses we run, the positions we have, the roles we play. All of that is temporary.
It may be 40 years, it may be 50 years, but it’s still going to be temporary. At the very least, it all comes to a screeching halt when we die. Then it goes to somebody else. So, what we don’t want to do is be in a situation where we haven’t thought about it, we haven’t designed it; we just kind of drift into it or leave other people picking up the pieces.
Megan: Which happens a lot.
Michael: It does. I was talking to our BusinessAccelerator coaches this morning… By the way, we have 10 coaches right now, which is amazing.
Megan: And counting.
Michael: I was talking to them about this concept, and I just said, “Look. I’ve had a career that’s now in its fourth decade, and I’ve never seen this done well.” I’ve never seen succession done well. Usually, the person who is the occupant of a position within a corporation or within a business is going to hold on, by God, to the very end.
Megan: In fact, this is like a topic you never bring up.
Michael: Right. In a lot of businesses you can’t. It’s a forbidden topic. But I can promise you, if you run a business or if you lead a business, people are already talking about it, especially if you’re really making a valuable contribution to the business. People think, “What happens to my own security if suddenly you get hit by a truck or you get incapacitated in some way or decide to go to another opportunity? What happens to our department, to our division, to our business if that happens?”
Megan: This is actually the number-one question I get asked in interviews with people, increasingly, over the last couple of years, probably the last two or three years. Almost every single interview I do, which is everybody who is a director-level candidate and above, in their final interviews with me, they always ask this.
This is what they want to know, besides, “What’s it like to work in a family business?” They’re trying to kind of test out “Is it healthy?” and all that, which is totally reasonable. They want to know, “What’s the long-term vision? What’s the long-term plan?” What they’re really asking is, “Do I have a future here? I don’t want to invest my time and energy and talent in a place that has a limited shelf life or is declining.” That’s what they want to know.
To your point, people are talking about this. If you are the CEO or the business owner, it’s unlikely that they’re going to ask you, because I think most people, just out of politeness, would assume that would be an inappropriate question to ask. Essentially asking someone, “What happens after you die?” is a pretty bold question to ask in a meeting, a professional context. But they’re asking somebody or they’re thinking about it.
Michael: In fact, it was somebody asking that question at our annual meeting with all of our employees and their spouses… One of the spouses in the Q&A time, after I’d kind of presented the plan for the next five years, stood up and said, “Look. I’m not sure if this is out of place or not, but I just have to ask this question. What happens when you die?” It’s not a question of if. It’s only a question of when. There was this sort of audible gasp in the room. People were like, “She has asked the forbidden question.” But I welcomed it, because I had given a lot of thought to it. It also helped me see the importance of making it really clear and really concrete to our team.
Before we get into that, I want to talk about three situations where it didn’t go so well. I’ve been in situations where, like you were talking about, Megan, nobody could give voice to it. Nobody could ask the question. It was a forbidden topic, and then we just all had to deal with the fallout when there was a fallout, when the CEO was taken out either because of a health issue or had some personal issue that took him or her out. That’s not a good outcome either.
I’ve also seen it and have experienced where the CEO seemed to be thinking about succession, but then once the succession happened, the CEO, in my case, fought it. I was the successor. My predecessor was my mentor. He was my advocate with the board. He nominated me for the position. Everything was all flowers and unicorns until I actually became the CEO. Then, all of a sudden, he was threatened because he hadn’t thought clearly about what he was going to do next.
Megan: Right. It was an identity crisis for him.
Michael: It was a huge identity crisis. All he could connect with at that moment was what he had lost, and he freaked out. So then he spent the next two years trying to unseat me from that position. I’m going to get into that story at some point in the future. He has passed on to his reward, so I think it’s safe to talk about it, but I don’t want to sidetrack it. That’s just a bad outcome too.
Then I had another situation… Megan, you may have heard about this for the first time this morning when we were talking to our coaches. I was in a position where I had turned this division around at Thomas Nelson Publishers. I’ve told the story publicly a gazillion times. We had taken this division that was dead last out of 14 divisions and were suddenly now number one. It was a dramatic turnaround. We went from being the least profitable to the most profitable, from the division that had negative growth to the division that was experiencing double digit growth, growing faster than any other division.
So, my boss, the CEO, came to me and said, “This is fantastic. We want to expand your influence, and I want you to become the supervisor (we called it a group publisher) for 5 of those 14 divisions.” So, he was going to basically give me about a third of the company to preside over. He said, “There’s only one caveat. I’m not willing to do this until there’s a successor to take your place, because I don’t want the division you just worked hard to turn around to slide back into a position where it’s underperforming.”
I could not take advantage of the opportunity because I didn’t have a successor. I was caught totally flat-footed. I couldn’t take advantage of the next opportunity for an entire year. It took me over a year to find my successor before I was eligible. It was about a 30 percent bump in my salary. It was a bigger bonus opportunity that I could see but I couldn’t taste, I couldn’t take advantage of, until I had a successor.
You don’t want to be in that position, so if you’re not a CEO or not a business owner, you still have to think about succession, because your next opportunity, even if it’s never expressed, may be contingent upon how you’re going to backfill your current position. Does that make sense?
Megan: Yeah. I think that’s really important. I’d love to hear about, first, why you think this is so hard for people to talk about. Let’s kind of go back to the more traditional scenario. Actually, it’s true in both cases that we just talked about, whether you’re the CEO or business owner or if you’re in any level of leadership. I think the reasons are probably similar in some cases. But I’d love to talk about that, and then I’d love to talk about how you experienced thinking through this. Like, what emotions came up for you? What was the motivator for you? Just kind of give us some insight into what your experience was like.
Michael: The reason a lot of people have difficulty, especially owners and CEOs… There are a lot of reasons. One is they may think, arrogantly, that nobody else can lead the company at the level they’ve led the company. They have an inflated view of their own importance. I’m telling you, that that’s not a great reason, because what if your successor, even if you can’t see it right now, could actually lead the business better? So, I think that’s one reason. I think another reason, which may be even more existential, is they just haven’t come to grips with their own mortality.
Megan: I think that’s the big one.
Michael: I do too. Fear of death.
Megan: You said something interesting when we… We actually went on a retreat recently together. We’re kind of planning the next steps of our succession process, which we’ll share in a little bit. We were talking about the idea of legacy and the nefarious quality of that idea. It’s not what people think it is sometimes. It’s sort of a wolf in sheep’s clothing in some ways. I’d love for you to share about that, because I think it’s a big idea.
Michael: A lot of people talk about legacy. “I want to make a dent in the universe,” Steve Jobs famously said, and undoubtedly, he did. But I think for most of us, unless you’re Martin Luther King Jr., unless you’re Steve Jobs, unless you’re Nelson Mandela, that’s mostly vanity. It’s an unwillingness to come to terms with your own mortality. For most of us mere mortals, we’re going to be lucky if we end up in three generations as a box on an Ancestry.com family tree. I mean, that’s the extent of it. I know you can name your grandparents, because two of the four are still living, but do you know who their parents were?
Michael: Do you even know their names?
Megan: On your side, yes, but not on Mom’s.
Michael: I mean, this is crazy. This is why thinking about legacy in the traditional sense, I think, is an exercise in vanity.
Megan: It’s also an exercise in trying to live on even after you’re dead. Like, you’re just not going to accept that once you’re dead, you’re dead. (You’re going to talk about how you see this in a second. I can feel where you’re going.) I mean, it’s really an exercise of denial.
Michael: It is. It’s an unwillingness to come to terms with your own mortality. I think that’s huge. By the way, what was the book we read on that topic? It was by the medical doctor.
Megan: Oh, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. It’s an excellent book.
Michael: Phenomenal book. That was a book that I felt was a major stepping-stone in terms of me thinking about my mortality. That’s hard for a lot of people to think about. I know of people who are very into longevity, and certainly I want to live as long as I can, but I don’t want to be in denial, that maybe there’s some technology or some medical breakthrough or something that’s going to enable me to live almost forever. Occasionally, you see these reports in the press where people say, “We’re just on the cusp of being able to live forever.” At least in my worldview, that’s never going to happen, so you have to come to terms with your mortality.
Megan: Okay. Now let’s shift gears. If that’s what’s normal, then talk about your experience, because you had to have this conversation with yourself. I can remember sitting with you and talking about it and you coming to grips with “I am not going to live forever. I can’t lead this company forever.” What does that feel like to you?
Michael: Well, a lot of mixed emotions. For most of my career, particularly the last 10 or 15 years, I’ve been so anti-retirement. Part of that is just that, based on statistics, we know that the average person, from the moment they retire, will live another five years. So, for me at least, there’s not the option of moving to Florida, as sweet as that would be, and just playing golf every day or playing checkers every day.
That, to me, is not contribution. I’m not anti-retirement. What I am is anti-non-contribution. I always want to be making a contribution. It’s going to look different at different seasons in my life. So, when I began to think about this, I felt like one of the things I wanted to do was start some other companies, because I have some other interests.
But now, even in recent months, even over the summer, I’ve thought, “Actually, I don’t want to do that. That sounds like an enormous amount of work. I’d rather take whatever time I have left and pour it into this company but in a different role,” which we’ll get into shortly. I want to pour any excess time I have into mentoring my family, my grandkids, and also mentoring the leaders in this business so that they’re prepared to take it to the next level. But I still had all of those same emotions.
Initially, I was focused on what I was going to be giving up. Let me just tell you, being a CEO… Megan, you’re about to experience this. It’s a pretty good gig. It’s good to be the CEO. It has its challenges, and you have the weight of the company on your shoulders and the success of it and the financial responsibility, and all that, but there’s a lot of prestige, a lot of rewards that come with it, and it’s a pretty good gig.
So, initially, when I started thinking about it (I think this is probably normal), I was thinking about everything I was going to lose if I was to make that transition and, for example, make you the CEO. Then I’d become the chairman, and what would I lose? It wasn’t until I started getting focused…
And I did this through a tool we use with our business coaching clients called the Project Vision Caster, where I forced myself to put into writing not what I was losing but what I was going to gain. What was I going to be doing with this newfound time or this newfound focus? What would I be doing?
Then I started to get really excited, because I thought about this next season, and I thought what was going to be possible that wasn’t possible right now, so that got me excited. I think that’s critical for anybody who’s thinking about succession: to focus on how it frees you up for whatever is next. If you’re not positioned to take advantage of next when it happens, then you still have work to do.
Megan: I think that’s really important. If you’re listening and maybe you’re not in the CEO seat and you’re thinking, “Well, how does this apply to me…?” Every time I’ve moved into a new role in our company, or anywhere, for that matter, I’ve had to be prepared to let my previous job go to somebody else. What I’ve experienced every time I’ve done that… I’ve done it over and over and over again.
Every time I do it, I always feel like I’m in this weird liminal space of sort of like, “I really understood that. I kind of understood who I was in that context and what the win looked like and how to be successful, and then I’m going to make this transition over here, and I have to go create that. It’s not all specced out. It’s not ready-made.” It can be disorienting. It can be unsettling a little bit, especially if you’re just considering it.
I think what we have to believe in that process is that our best days are ahead and not behind us. If you think your best days were when you were a CEO at the top of your game and everything after that is downhill, well, first of all, it’s going to be really hard to make that transition, and if you do, it’s not going to be positive for you. Your view, Dad, is that your contribution continues to become more and more significant until the very end. That’s your vision, anyway, your intention. Right?
Michael: Yeah. My perspective from my worldview is that I won’t pass on until I’ve fulfilled the purpose for which I was created, and if I’m still alive… By the way, I got this from Andy Andrews in his book The Noticer, which is a book I highly recommend. It’s kind of a novel or a parable, so he tells a great story in there that illustrates this point.
I feel like if I’m not dead yet, then that means I haven’t fulfilled the very purpose for which I was created, which means I still have something in front of me that’s left to do, something important that’s left to do. So, yeah, that’s my focus. One of the things we’ve tried to do over the last couple of years is get great clarity about what my own succession looks like, for a couple of reasons. We want to reassure our current employees (and we have about 40 now) that there’s a future and that the future is not dependent upon me or my contribution. It’s bigger than that.
Four years ago or so, we said, “What we have is a business that’s built on a personal brand, me, Michael Hyatt, and that’s not healthy.” It’s a great way to start a business, because people build relationships with people, and it’s easier to build trust and rapport when you have somebody who’s the public face of the business, but what begins as an advantage can quickly turn to disadvantage if you don’t decouple the business from that personality, because the business will never grow beyond that person’s capacity. Does that make sense?
Megan: Yep. We see it all the time. It’s a great strategy for the first part of your growth, but a lot of people fail to make that transition in this stage of growth to decouple, as you said, and they’re held back by that.
Michael: So we’ve been very intentional about that. For example, we have the Full Focus brand. If you look at fullfocusplanner.com, which is probably now a little more than half of our total business, there’s not a picture of me on the website unless you scroll way down, and even there, to be honest, I’m not even sure it’s there. If you look at BusinessAccelerator, which is pretty much the other big part of our business (that’s our business coaching program), I’m not at the top of the page. I’m not until you go way down to the bottom of the page.
That’s not by accident, and I don’t feel like I’m getting pushed out. I mean, there’s a little part of me that feels like that, but mostly, I think this is super healthy, because we’re decoupling these brands from my personality. If we’re going to grow in scale, then we absolutely have to do that.
I guess it was a year and nine months ago from the time we’re recording this in September of 2020… By the way, what a year this has been. I digress. So, a year ago January, we announced to our team at an annual team meeting our succession plan. You and I got in front of our employees, and we said, “Look. Here’s how we see this unfolding.” I said to the team, “We have picked a date when this transition will occur.”
We said, “On January 2 (because we’re not going to be working on January 1), Megan is going to become the new CEO of the company, and I will become the chairman. Here’s what that’s going to mean.” And we said what I’m not going to be involved in and what I’m going to be focused on. Again, contribution the main thing. So, there was an announcement, and I think… And, Megan, you can speak, because you’re probably a little bit closer to our teammates than I am. I think there was great relief.
Megan: Yeah, I think so. I think everybody had been wondering. They had been asking, and I think my role was continuing to become more front and center internally for the team, so there was a little bit of, “Okay, where is this going?” I was doing things you used to do, so the transition has been sort of gradual, but also it kind of got to a point where people were like, “Okay. What’s going on?”
I think that just gave people a lot of confidence and clarity. They could kind of relax, like, “Hey, they know exactly where this is going. This is a plan that is getting worked out step-by-step along the way, and we have a big future here.” We made that announcement with their concerns and interests in mind, not our own.
There is all kinds of financial stuff to work out and all that stuff. That’s all happening behind the scenes that our team is not involved with, because that’s not what they care about. That’s not important to them. What they care about is “What does this mean for me?” So, as we went through the communication process, that was always top of mind.
By the way, we talked about this in another podcast episode, the idea of cascading communication, where when you’re rolling out a big change or some kind of big communication, you go step by step, level by level, hierarchically through the organization so you don’t end up with people who are surprised. We told our executive team first, then we told our leadership team, then we told our executive assistants or anybody who was a stakeholder, who was really close for whatever reason, and then we told the rest of the team.
That way, the leaders in the room could support and answer questions about the decision and the announcement, and they weren’t left flat-footed, hearing the news for the first time along with their teams. I think that’s an important tactical thing you need to do. Really think through your communication plan and make sure you’re thoughtful about it and you do this cascading communication.
Michael: By the way, one resource on that that we’ve created is called No-Fail Communication. It’s a book, and you can find that at nofailcommunication.com. We’ll put the link in the show notes. That book talks about cascading communication and why it’s so critical that you do that and why that creates alignment and leaves people in a sense of confidence and not feeling flat-footed, like, “Boy, that was a surprise. I’m not sure what to think about that.” We never want to have that happen.
So, we made that announcement. We got really clear on when it was going to happen. We got clear on the timeline. We built a timeline, all that kind of stuff, but then this past summer happened. So, this past summer happened, and I went on my usual annual sabbatical for 30 days. This time it was mostly a staycation because COVID. But I did a lot of thinking.
Of course, during that time, I don’t typically do any work, but I felt like this was not so much about work but about my life. So I started doing a lot of thinking about what I wanted next, and I came to the conclusion that there was no reason to wait until January 2, 2022. I think I have a reasonable sense of self-awareness, and I feel like I’m a pretty good leader. Right?
Megan: Yeah. Absolutely.
Michael: I don’t think I’m a great leader, but I think I’m a pretty good leader. But I think (and this will embarrass Megan for me to say it, and I’ve already embarrassed her numerous times in different audiences) Megan is a great leader. So, I’m thinking to myself, “If I’m a pretty good leader and I have the chance to put somebody on the field as the quarterback who could be a great quarterback, why would I delay that?”
There’s nothing Megan has… I mean, there’s a lot she has to learn, but in terms of being qualified for this position, she knows everything she needs to know. She has been side by side with me in this business since 2012. She has seen all of the various evolutions. She knows the rationale. She knows the whole body of my content, and she’s just great with people. She has the ability to be direct but also to be really empathetic, and that makes her a great leader. So I thought, “Okay. I think we’re going to do this January 2, 2021.” That’s an accelerated kind of succession plan.
Now I want to be clear, and I’ve said this to every group I’ve told this to internally. Just so people aren’t wondering, we’re not making this transition early because I’m sick or I have some kind of grave illness that requires me to have less stress in my life. I feel like, physically, I’m at the top of my game. I mean, I know I don’t quite have the energy maybe I did when I was younger, but I’m in pretty good health.
Megan: Yeah. You’re in great health.
Michael: All that’s fantastic. So, it’s not for that. It’s not because I’ve grown disinterested in the business. You know, I’m just kind of bored with the business and I’m ready for the next thing and I want to step out and do something else. I love our business. I love the team I’m playing with. I’ve never been in a more healthy, better corporate culture. I’ve never played the game with more qualified, skilled, competent, committed people before. So, it’s not for those reasons.
At this moment, I own 100 percent of the business. That’s going to change as we go on. We’ll transition equity to Megan, and she’s about to have an equity stake, but that’s not going to change. I’m going to still be the owner of the business, and as the owner of the business, I have to think what’s best for the business. Well, I can tell you what’s best for the business. The sooner we get Megan in that CEO seat, the better it’s going to be for the business.
It’s going to be better for two reasons. First, I’ve already said, she’s a great leader. She’s a better leader than I am. Secondly, it’s going to enable me to focus on my Desire Zone like I’ve never been able to do before. As the CEO, I have to have a lot of operational responsibility that, frankly, I’m okay at, but I really don’t want to be focused there. Where my unique gifting is, I think, is creating content and, particularly, coming up with frameworks that are transferrable to our clients. I’m looking forward to doing that.
Megan: I’m really excited about that. It’s hard to do both of those things, and you’re kind of the best when you get to be sort of the mad scientist in the lab, just making cool stuff. I think that’s going to benefit all of you listening. It’s going to benefit our clients, our internal team, our coaches…everybody. Everybody benefits from that, because we’re not content to just rest on our laurels and say, “Hey, this is our body of work, and it ends here, and we’re just going to keep promoting it.” We want it to continue to evolve and develop so we can continue to help people in new and better ways as time goes on.
Michael: Yep. I’m super excited about it. In fact, it’s all I can do to wait until January 2. Part of that’s just a function of my personality, because on the Kolbe profile I’m a very high Quick Start. Once I’ve made the decision, I’m already there. So I kind of feel like, “Ugh. I have to wait…how many months?” I keep looking at my watch. “How many more months?” But that’s because I’m so excited to get to the next thing.
I think that’s a key in succession planning. You honestly have to get yourself excited about what a clear succession plan will make possible. I have to give a big shout-out to Bryan Miles at BELAY Solutions, who’s one of my dear friends. He and his wife Shannon over dinner one night challenged me. “Are you an owner or an operator?” When you’re an operator of a business, you’re tethered to the business. It’s really hard to let go. It’s hard to get away.
I’ve made it a practice since the very first year this business began to get away for 30 days and not think about the business, so that creates independence in the business, independence of me, but it’s still not being fully an owner versus an operator. A lot of people start businesses because they want the freedom to do what they want to do, but then they end up finding that they really have a job with a business that’s even more dependent upon them than probably their previous assignment. I didn’t want that to happen.
Megan: So, you talked about what you’re going to be doing inside the business and how that’s different, but you didn’t talk about how you’re spending your time, how that’s different, and what you’re going to be doing personally that might be different than what you’re doing now. Since we talk about at Michael Hyatt & Company the double win, winning at work and succeeding at life, we need to talk about the life part.
Michael: Yes. This is an important part of my consideration and what I gave a lot of thought to this summer. Initially, when we made the announcement to the team a year and a half ago, or whatever that was, I said, “I really want to start some other businesses.” There were some businesses I had in mind. I’d already registered URLs for those businesses. But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered that starting a business is a lot of work, and even if you hire a CEO from the get-go to run that business, if you’re putting your money up to get it started, you’re going to be involved. You can’t just decouple yourself from that and just whatever happens, happens.
I thought to myself, “Is that the best and highest use of me at this point?” The truth is… I’m not bragging. I’m just saying it. I don’t need more money. I don’t need more toys. What I need more than anything is to make a contribution. So, here’s what it’s going to look like. I want to pour into my family, because I have five adult daughters. I have currently, so far, three sons-in-law. I have nine grandkids, which is a moving target. That’s just from two of my daughters. Megan has five. My daughter Mindy has four. Three of the other daughters don’t even have points on the board yet, so that’s going to increase over time.
So, I’m thinking, I want to pour into them, because part of my legacy, to the extent there is one, and part of my stewardship is not just to pass my wealth on to my family, but I think of wealth not just as financial capital, but my spiritual capital, my intellectual capital, my emotional capital, all that stuff, I want to pass on. My financial adviser challenged me to think that way seven generations deep. That requires a big investment in me passing on to my family the best of what I have.
What that’s looking like in the near term is, I’ve already announced, Gail and I bought a lake house about six weeks ago, and we love that. We wanted to create a magnet for the family where we have toys, fun things to do, so that they can’t wait to come to the lake to be together. Frankly, that has exceeded my expectations and has been a total blast.
Effective immediately (this started a couple of weeks ago), I’m only working four days a week. I’m working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Thursday night we go to the lake. It’s about an hour and 45 minutes from our home. We go to the lake, and we stay there until Saturday night. Or sometimes (because of COVID, we’re rotating attendance at church) I don’t have to go on Sunday, so I stay until Sunday night.
Starting January 2, when Megan takes over, I’m only going to work for the company three days a week, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. That other time is going to be really invested in my family and, frankly, hobbies that I have that I can do with the people I love, including my family, my closest friends. I’m an avid fisherman. I play Native American flute. I’m getting back into golf. Gail is taking golf lessons. This is a dream come true. She already picked up fly-fishing and started fly-fishing with me, but now she’s also doing golf, which I love.
Megan: You’re also serving on a board, and that’s a pretty big investment of your time and energy.
Michael: Yes. I serve on the board of a seminary in New York, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. I absolutely love my work there, and that’s a big part of what I do. I do some one-on-one coaching, too, that’s outside of the purview of business, but just helping some church leaders with their assignments.
Megan: I think that’s just helpful, because when you’re talking about how you have to get a vision for what you’re going to do, not what you’re going to lose… You know, what does this make possible? You really spent time sketching out not only what it makes possible for you in terms of your professional contribution and purpose there, but also in your personal life.
That’s a real key, if you’re listening to this, whether you’re the CEO of a company, a business owner, or a leader of another type inside a business. This is relevant to everybody. We want you to have a vision for your professional life and your business but also for your personal life, because that ultimately is what enables you to get to the end of your life and not have regrets, to feel gratitude, to feel like you’ve made the contribution you were capable of. I think that’s really at the heart of this whole conversation on succession.
Michael: You know, as you were talking about this… I’ll kind of wrap up with this thought, because we could go on and on forever. I think a lot of this is getting out of a scarcity mindset, “What am I going to lose?” and getting into an abundance mindset of “What am I going to gain?” You asked the operative question, which we’ve asked so many times on this show: “What does this make possible?” If you always start with focusing on the possibility, it’ll make these kinds of transitions much easier.
The truth is there’s always more. There are more ways to contribute, more ways to make an impact that’s more focused and more effective, and I think that’s kind of a lifelong pursuit. It’s not just that you have to prepare for that succession at the end of your life, but there are a lot of successions that happen along the way. You listening to this have in your hand a baton. It has been given to you as a stewardship. It’s temporary.
You want to give it to somebody else in better shape than when you found it, but there will be a transition. It may not happen for 10 years, maybe 20 years, and it may be tomorrow. The best thing you can do is think through how you can hand that baton off to the next person in a way that they don’t fumble it, because what that does is that essentially eradicates all the work you’ve done, all the impact you’ve had. If you can make a good handoff of that baton to the next person, that’s the best way, not for you to have a legacy, but for your work to have a legacy. And, honestly, that’s enough.
Megan: Well, that was a great conversation, Dad. I really am enjoying this format. This is literally what our conversations are like. If you joined us for lunch on Monday… Every Monday we have lunch together and meet and kind of talk about things. This is pretty much how it goes, so welcome to the inside. But I enjoyed that.
I hope you guys listening not only saw an example of how this can go well, and you can continue to follow our story on this, but I hope you caught a vision of what’s possible in your own life, because that’s our ultimate goal. We love to share things about what’s happening inside Michael Hyatt & Company and our own lives, but ultimately, the goal is to help you get the things you want in your life. So, hopefully this has been helpful. We’re excited to continue this format and to see you back here next week on Lead to Win.