Meet John Hall, founder and CEO of an award-winning content marketing agency called Influence & Co. John is also the author of “Top of Mind” a book you can pre-order here on Amazon and will be available April 28th. I’ve known John for several years and am constantly amazed at all he has accomplished in such a short time. John is still in his early 30’s, but he breaks the mold in entrepreneurship, content marketing and public speaking – he’s one of the best there is in all three categories.
What’s John’s formula for success? His focus on people and his family. No matter how high the stakes, John remains committed to bringing out the best in the team around him and saving his best for the home front. His emotional intelligence is helping him become the leader he wants to be for the long-run and not someone who will burn out. In other words, John is discovering what it means to be a journey-minded leader.
I was lucky enough to get some time with him recently to ask what lessons he could share on how people-first leadership has led to his success and, more importantly, finding joy in the journey. Here’s what he had to share.
Q: Do you consider yourself a destination leader?
Yes, I do in a way. I’ve also considered myself a bulldozer. Once I have something in my sight, I clear a path and continue to break through barriers in my way. However, the challenge with that is sometimes I can leave a little bit of a mess during the process.
That’s where my co-founder and other senior leaders support me really well. I wouldn’t be as effective and reach my goals without them. To me, true leadership isn’t ever really accomplished alone. So, my answer is yes, I’m a destination leader, but I wouldn’t be that way without the complements of a solid team around me.
Q: What’s one goal you are actively pursuing in your professional life? In your personal life?
- Professional goal – We have some pretty hefty goals in the next 5 years as a company, but they are all ones I believe that myself and the team can achieve. There are some typical revenue and profit goals, but we also have goals around retaining employees and having happy clients that we provide substantial value to. It’s great to gain wealth, but it’s even better when you can do it while providing good jobs for people and you helped companies actually succeed.
- Personal goal – I want to make sure I take trips with my wife, my family, my friends, and my extended family each year. I know that might seem excessive, but I never really went on vacations when we started the company because I was always working. Even if I did take a trip, I would be working the whole time. Instead I want to be fully present so these people know I value the time with them, and so I can relax a little with the people I care about most.
Q: What is an example of an obstacle you’re facing in your leadership journey? How are you maneuvering around it?
Traveling away from family has killed me in the past and really hurt my “journey.” Over the past few years, we’ve invested in my brand as a company. This has brought us a lot more inbound opportunities such as speaking engagements and client partnerships.
We’ve built it up to the point that I can pick and choose which opportunities are best to spend time on, making travel easier because my time is used a lot more effectively. Now, my wife and children are going to start coming with me on trips so that I’m able to share some of my travel experiences with them.
Q: What are a few tips you can share for finding greater joy in your leadership journey?
It’s easy to get caught up in running the business, but I try to do certain things to minimize some of the more unpleasant challenges leaders can face.
- For example, we try to have a “no a**hole” policy so that we only take on clients that fit our company mission and culture, which helps keep our company journey on course. I’d rather make a little less money and work with good people than working with just anyone.
- Also, in our hiring process, we focus on bringing in people that want to work with us and that we know will add value for the company. Our core values center on respect and evolving to add more value to our clients, which makes the journey have a fun mix.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given about leadership?
Just because you are a leader doesn’t mean you are a dictator. Sometimes you have to do whatever it takes for the team to accomplish an overall goal, and that can include rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. This goes back to Sam Walton packing groceries when they were low on staff for the day. A good leader is judged by his or her ability to empower others and be there when needed to ensure the team crosses the finish line.
I hope you found John’s “people-first” leadership style and thinking inspirational. I love his story because it beautifully illustrates how a destination leader with a journey mindset thinks – one who is driven to succeed in their ambitions but who also knows how to prioritize the right things – and people – at the right time.
For more on the journey mindset, click here.