Leadership Mastery: Secrets to Being the Outstanding Leader Everyone Wants to Follow

Home/Leadership Mastery: Secrets to Being the Outstanding Leader Everyone Wants to Follow
Leadership Mastery: Secrets to Being the Outstanding Leader Everyone Wants to Follow 2012-02-04T22:38:58+00:00

Leadership Mastery: 5 Secrets to Being the Outstanding Leader Everyone Wants to Follow


What were the 3 biggest obstacles you have had to overcome in your lifetime?

Michael Hutchison Number one was fracturing my back after falling four stories my second year in college. I was 19 years old and the doctors told me I would be paralyzed, which was not the future I had in mind. I worked very hard on my body and mind to overcome that.During rehabilitation is when I first realized that it’s easier to act yourself into good thinking than think yourself into good action. To recover, I knew that I had to get started and that I was not going to stop until I got it done. I promised myself, and my God, that I would recover and that I would be an example of someone who took action each and every day. It was a very dramatic recovery, but I made it and I eventually played sports again. I went on to become a varsity letterman in football and lacrosse my senior year at Georgetown University. I also taught tennis after graduation.Anyone who says, “You can do whatever you put your mind to,” is leaving something out: Action and Behavior! I say, “You can do whatever you put your mind to only if you have the action and behavior to drive what you envision in your mind!”Number two was going through my divorce in 2001, after being married for 17 years. Failing in my marriage and being separated from my children was the most pain I have endured in my life.Number three was overcoming my innate shyness. My father was a military officer. He was a pilot and then in the Joint Special Operations Command. Special Ops are the really secret soldiers-the Army Deltas and Navy Seals. We grew up in a strict yet loving family where speaking up was not condoned and certainly my father’s work was never discussed. Being shy led to my Self-doubt. I had a hard time believing that I was smart enough, and capable enough to have a career as a business leader and professional speaker. It seemed like such a huge chasm between other’s experiences and credentials and mine. Fortunately, I learned how to overcome my shyness, gained lots of real world working experiences, learned from the best speakers in the world, and eventually wrote the book: Speaking Mastery: 7 Keys to Delivering High Impact Presentations. All this required a lot of drive.

The famous book As a Man Thinketh by James Allen tells us when we “Conquer doubt and fear, we conquer failure.” Let me ask you. What is the biggest thing you do to help you conquer doubt and fear?

Michael Hutchison I am an Internet TV host, a speaker, I have a former wife, a new wife to be; together we have six children, I manage a couple of start up businesses, sit on a couple of boards, and I am involved with my church. So, there is potential for fear and doubt in every aspect of my life. But I don’t let fear or doubt control me. Instead, I conquer it by remembering various childhood adages like “FEAR really stands for False Evidence Appearing Real” and “Fear doesn’t exist, except in your own head.” And then there’s my favorite: “Confront your fear and make it disappear.” That’s the one I really hang my hat on; that’s the one that helped me to develop my Personal Best Philosophy.My Personal Best Philosophyis that, each day, I get to choose how I’m going to view and approach a situation. I tell myself the truth:I see things as they are-not worse and not better. I choose my Personal Best Thoughts and my Personal Best Emotions, which is how I think and feel about a situation. From there, I affirm my Personal Best Thoughts and Personal Best Emotions in my mind and make them my reality. The mind doesn’t know the difference between the real and the imagined, so I imagine and see myself –my Personal Best Identity—as strong and powerful and able to do most things. By the way, I tell my wife to be Heather all the time she is marrying Clark Kent and Superman, and she just laughs.What helps me to conquer fear is analyzing precisely what it is that I think I am afraid of and what risks I might face if it came to be. Then faithfully and with tenacity, I attempt to deal with every risk and prepare a solid strategy to minimize its impact. I ask myself: Can I live with the risk? What will it cost me? What will it buy me?Sometimes, I look back over past times when I may have encountered such experiences and I remind myself how I dealt with them and that I survived in the end. Doing that reminds me that there really wasn’t / isn’t anything to fear.

When it comes to conquering doubt, I start by listening. My inner spirit and voice tells me to keep advancing, so I set my objectives, make decisions and try not to second guess those decisions or sabotage that Personal Best Self-talk. To reinforce my determination and decrease any doubts, my mantra since high school when I was playing tennis was “Peace, be still.” Here’s how it works: in between points or sets, I close my eyes and imagine my mind is like a body of water. When I am afraid or stressed, I can see in my mind’s eye, the waves crashing and the white caps on the top of the water. Then, I say to myself: “God is near. Peace, be still.” Then, I see the waters calm, and then so does my mind. This scene and self-talk works every time. It works like magic!

For the most part though, I don’t have doubt and fear. On the rare occasion that I do have fear, I try to confront it. I break it down. I ask myself, “Do I have control over it or not?” If I don’t have control over it, I don’t worry about it. If I do have control over it, then I decide what strategies and action plans I can put into place to deal with those issues.

My best defense against fear and doubt, though, is not how I conquer them, but what causes them: Negativity. I am always working to counteract all the negative stuff there is in the world. In the mornings I do my cardio workout—either running or riding my bike. That’s my time to pray and ask for guidance, strength, discipline and vision as well as give thanks for my skills, talents and abilities God has given me. I affirm in my prayers that in order to be an example and steward for God’s work, I have to use those assets He has given me for the highest good and without doubt. If I doubt myself, I am doubting God because God gave me those abilities. I affirm those gifts by choosing to use them for the highest good and accepting the greatness God has set for me. I do believe that: “To whom much is given, much is expected.


What 3 books have influenced you the most? Why?

Michael Hutchison Only three, wow! I love books! I could drink from good books all day long.Let’s see: Sir John Templeton’s Templeton Plan: 21 Steps to Personal Success and Real Happiness. Sir John told me two things in his book that transformed my life. The first was that God wanted me to be wealthy, which was incredible to me. I had never heard such a thing. I came from a loving and close Catholic household that never talked about money nor related to the positive side of saving and investing. Sir John also shared that my Personal Best Thoughtscould be an instrument for poverty or prosperity. That statement was a breakthrough for me.The second book that really influenced me would have to be Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. His writings instilled in me the three characteristics of Personal Best Identity, Thoughts and Emotions. For me, Frankl mastered what life is all about. He expressed that, out of all of the freedoms you have, and out of all the freedoms that can be taken away from you, the only one that cannot be taken is the freedom to choose your Personal Best Identity and your attitude. It’s the notion that the attitude with which you approach any problem or opportunity is your conscious choice. Whenever I hear someone say, “Well, I’m just a negative person,” or “I’m just that way,” I say, “No, that’s how you choose to be.” If you don’t want to be negative, then you don’t have to be negative. You choose your own future and attitude in that way.” Every decision counts: That’s what I learned from Viktor Frankl.As for the third book, it’s a tie between Sidney Poitier’s The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography and Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. Reading about Mr. Poitier getting back on stage at age 60 and performing solo inspired me to stay focused on my dreams. I enjoy Warren’s book because it reminds me be receptive to God’s incredible plan for my life. Warren enables his readers to see the big picture of what life is all about and begin to live the life God created them to live.

How did you get started as a speaker?

Michael Hutchison While I was shy in most social circles, I was, and am, accustomed to speaking a lot as a coach. I have coached all my children’s baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball and football teams. What I discovered was if I could develop some expertise in business, and combine this with my athletic background, I could be very good.When I graduated from Georgetown University, I went to work for Ross Perot’s Electronic Data Systems (EDS). I was good with people and easily excelled at my job, eventually becoming the top recruiter in the country for EDS. The thing is: My heart wasn’t in it.After working for EDS, I went on the road to promote Tony Robbins. We went knocking on doors, trying to get the opportunity to speak in front of anyone we could. I literally used to go out and knock on ten doors every day, trying to find someone who would let us come in and speak. Now that was a numbers game. Nine would say “no” and one would say “yes.” I remember that the first person who said yes to me was from Metropolitan Life Insurance in Dallas, Texas, and when he said yes, I said, “Really do you mean it?” From that point, I was hooked. I started doing two, three then four talks a day. I’d do a breakfast talk at 7 am, go and sell for a while, do another talk at 10 am, then 1 PM, and another at 4 PM. We spoke to stockbrokers, real estate agents, insurance salespeople, Rotary Club meetings, networking events… we spoke to anybody who would have us in our drive; give us an audience and we’d go speak.My first 1500 speeches were little 30-minute freebies to 6-10 people. Needless to say, I realized early on that I was going to have to develop some talent or starve to death!Eventually, I got good enough to get promoted to a Regional Director. My job was to focus on replicating my success and to build other teams. Over the next three years, I made over 20,000 sales calls and did, on average, 20 presentations each week.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, The Outliershe suggests that to be successful, one must invest a minimum of 10,000 hours to start to get good. I practically had that covered in the first year working with Tony!

After I left Tony Robbins, I sought additional business and leadership experiences while continuing to improve my speaking capabilities. As a speaker, I started on a part-time basis in talking about mental readiness, sales, communication, persuasion and recruiting.

That’s how it all started.


You are one of the most sought after talk show hosts and speaking training coaches, what advice can you give the rest of us who may still be looking to hit our stride?

Michael Hutchison Read.In my freshman year in college, I had a government professor Steven Blake, who went on to become the Charges Des Affaires in Qatar who told me: “Michael, if you want to be an Ambassador or Statesman one day, you must continuously read.” It was great advice. Reading a wide variety of materials—–newspapers and magazines, fiction and non-fiction books—helped me develop a lot of knowledge in many areas. It will make you well rounded too. Plus, reading helps your vocabulary, which is a huge asset when it comes to being and effective communicator. When I come across a word I don’t know, I highlight the word on my kindle or write it out on a 3×5 card and look it up in the dictionary. My wife and kids tease me because we have these vocabulary cards all over the house!Find a specific field and become an expert.Exploit and promote your differences.I once heard someone say: “There are riches in niches. When you sell to the masses, you live with the classes.” I believe that. So, another tip is: Don’t try to be all things to all people, and be patient in terms of what you do. It always takes longer than you think.Focus.

Find out what you are really good at. Find the opportunity that excites you the most, where you have a passion, and stick to it. Don’t stick your toes in the water. Instead, dive in! And when you do, don’t let yourself be distracted by other things. I have a gift and a love for what I do, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to put my Personal Best effort and energy in that, and stick with it. A lot of people I have seen over the years who were equally or more talented than me have not achieved nearly as much because they are drawn from one thing to another to another. They never really dig in and get good at anything.

Remember Jack Palance in the movie City Slickers? He said, “The key to life was one thing.” That resonates with me and I think it should with others too. So, don’t be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, and definitely revisit your focus yearly to be sure whatever you’re doing is still your passion.

See yourself as being worthy of making a certain amount of money.

It all starts with your Personal Best Identity. You need to BE a million dollar person first and the money will follow. To do that, start and end your day with something positive to reinforce in your mind. Choose your Personal Best Thought’s—what you allow into your thought process—and that will change your thoughts and your results.Embrace the notion that wealth does not come from chasing deals throughout life but by adding value to it. The more we give, the more value we create and add to others, the more income we seem to generate. Like the Circle of Life states: What goes around comes around.Learn to pay yourself first. Take some money and put it in an investment account and invest it very conservatively for 20, 30 or 40 years. Let it grow. Even if it’s only $100 a month.

Finally, recognize that fame and fortune are not the key to fulfillment.

The closeness and unconditional love of your family, your faith in God, and the unending support of your friends are precisely the things you need to carry you through times of adversity and into environments of abundance.


How important is the ability to communicate?

Michael Hutchison Communication is all there is. If you can’t get your ideas across to someone, you’re not going to able to persuade or influence them. If you’re not clear in your communications, people are not going to understand what you mean.“Every business challenge is a communications challenge.” Try to name one business challenge that doesn’t hinge on effective communication. Launching new business initiatives, adapting an organizational vision, increasing sales, using advertising and marketing, recruiting and retaining employees, cultivating strategic leadership, improving client relations, changing how your company or product is perceived, they all depend on strong, carefully developed, well-executed communication.You may develop the best ideas. You may have the best business plan. You may have the best product or service. You may have the most talent-rich organization and deepest resources. If you don’t communicate what they mean to your audiences, none of them will matter. It’s not just the message —it’s how the message is delivered.That’s why communication has to be solid the first time, so people get it. Unfortunately, communication is an area where many people lack skill, because it is not taught in school; That’s madness! Those are the skills that will help you no matter what you do. Communication skills apply across the board; effective communication is the # 1 skill of a leader in any profession. Therefore, it’s a skill that everyone should possess and cultivate.

If you had to start your adult life all over again, what would you NOT do again?

Michael Hutchison I wouldn’t have gotten married as young as I did. I would have followed my gut a lot more than my head. I would develop more networks of colleagues.When I left Tony’s company, I started my own company called Ambassador Management Group. My role model was Mark McCormack’s IMG, the famed sports marketing company. I was managing other speakers and authors. The first obstacle was that I had no idea how hard it was to start a new business. I had some support from those I knew but I was complete novice at juggling the many balls in the air a business owner faces.My second mistake was assuming that I could make a living self capitalizing my own business, while being married and supporting three kids far faster than it turned out to be possible. I knew I was in trouble when my first client’s retainer check bounced. In fact, it took me more than two years before I was actually earning more from my events and seminars than I was paying out.In the meantime, I learned how to sell again. I sold our house in Del Mar, after the Sheriff put a foreclosure notice on my door. I sold our furniture. I sold my wife’s Volvo station wagon, beforeit got it repossessed, again. Yep, the American Dream of owning my own business turned out to be the American Nightmare. And I borrowed from everybody I knew. Good news: I eventually paid everyone back.I learned the hard way that, to be financially successful, you must guard your financial resources like a hawk. You must never trust or assume that other people have the ability to pay you on time or make you any money at all.

That being said, I don’t have many regrets. I’m very happy with life. My life is incredibly blessed.


What is the reason most people don’t achieve their major goals and dreams?

Michael Hutchison The #1 reason is most people don’t achieve their major goals and dreams is because they haven’t established their Personal Best Identity. They do not have a clear vision of what it is they want to achieve, because they have not created a solid strategy to make their goals achievable; they do not invest themselves in practical systems that will help them achieve their goals, and they do not pursue their goals with consistent execution.Here was Tony Robbins ultimate success plan:

  • Define exactly what it is that you want.
  • Develop a strong enough “why.”
  • Take action.
  • Make it the way you see it.
  • Find role models.
  • Know whether the actions you are taking are getting you closer to or further away from your goals.
  • Never give up.

The #2 reason, I think, is fear… not the feeling of fear but the avoidance of fear. People are great learners when they are kids, but get too comfortable as they age and they stop trying to learn; they stop taking risks and when they do, they lose power. It’s like they tie themselves up in imaginary ropes and hold themselves hostage. What they don’t realize is it’s their mindset that’s paralyzing them. Their ego creates a false Identity that keeps their mind in a state of fear in its intention to protect them. So, the ego does serve a purpose. But here’s the thing: If the ego isn’t kept in check and it ends up taking over a person’s mind, that person will always mentally give up the fight before it even begins; they’ll always be playing to lose. On the other hand, if the person chooses to face fear, they’ll always be playing to win.


Who were your role models/mentors, and what was it that you saw in them?

Michael Hutchison I am fortunate to have role models for different things, because some role models are good at some things and not so good at other things.My first role models were and are my folks. Mom and Dad taught me to believe in myself.I do believe that that is the key to all the good fortune or success that I have had. Believing I could do anything has always enabled me to face problems head on. My parents instilled in me that the two secrets of success have always been the same. They are “Get-to-it-iveness and Stick-to-it-iveness.”Note, they did NOT say “Think-to-it-iveness.”In other words, get going and keep going. This has been the formula for my success.

My children are my role models in terms of possibilities.

Once I got into the speaking and training business, Tony Robbins became a role model. He is a consistent deliverer, and that is rare. He’s reconditioned his inner Personal Best Thoughts knowing that anything less than perfection, as a platform professional, is unacceptable. It’s just not a place that he will go. And that’s true no matter what. I remember being with him when he’s missed 2 days of sleep in a row, and he still delivers. And you know what else? In 7 years of working together, I only remember seeing him yawn once. And that was at a comedy club for Pete’s sake!

For business ethics, my role models are Tom McCarthy and Joe Sweeney. I met Tom in 7th grade, back in 1974. We became best friends and have been ever since. Joe Sweeney is the author of Networking Is A Contact Sport. His word is his bond. Both Tom and Joe are as squeaky clean as imaginable!

Cisco System’s CEO John Chambers is another business role model. While I never met him, I have always admired Mr. Chambers because I’ve heard he’s a master from the front of the room and everybody I’ve met who works for him loves him. He manages 100-billion-dollar problems when most people are complaining about not being able to pay off their credit cards.

My intellectual role models are my older brother Bill and his wife Laura Ann, who have several degrees from Duke, Harvard, Cambridge and MIT. Bill can sit down with you and discuss how chaotic math can predict weather patterns and the components of Mars’ surface like someone would discuss the headline news and the sports page. He is truly brilliant.

My role models for being a good parent are my parents who have been married for fifty-two years; my brother John and my fiancée, Heather. John has three boys and is firm but fair when it comes to being a parent and he has taught me the importance of the word “no.” One of the many attributes I appreciate about Heather is that she “says what she means, she means what she says, but she is not mean when she says it” to our six kids or me.


How important is Mindset and Mental Readiness as it relates to your success and why?

Michael Hutchison Hall of Fame Quarterback Joe Montana was once asked: “Are you ever afraid when you go into a game”? He said, “Yes, I’m always afraid. If you’re not afraid of losing then winning really isn’t that important.” That is mindset and mental readiness. Focusing on winning and breaking through the fear of losing; thinking you can win and that you can achieve success if you focus on your goal.Mental readiness, which is the ability to bounce back from adversity and disappointment, is one of the most important qualities a person can develop. The key to developing this quality is to resolve to bounce back well in advance of the adverse situation. This form of mental preparation will enable you to be ready when the setback occurs.I remember reading Tim Gallway’s Inner Tennis and Maxwell Maltz’s Psycho-Cybernetics when I was in high school, and then Tony Robbins’ Unlimited Power a few years later. Admittedly, it wasn’t immediate but I eventually realized that Mental Readiness combined with the Power of Positive Doingwas what separated the good from the great. I often say in the training programs I do that getting mentally ready is absolutely essential to success.In my opinion, anybody who does not believe in mindset and mental readiness should have his or her head examined. 🙂 Ok, a joke, but it underscores the unfortunate stigma that those who seek mental skills training are weak or crazy. Most athletes, coaches and business leaders would agree that mental readiness is vital and incredibly critical to performing well and yet I did not have a single coach or business mentor who required me to practice mental skills. I am not being critical I just don’t think my coaches knew how to practice these skills. Or, maybe they just were not psychologically minded enough to offer assistance in this area. Regardless, what I doknow is that your mental readiness level has a huge impact on how you view and go through life.As I shared earlier, I have failed many more times than I have succeeded, but I don’t look at it that way. I see the setbacks as opportunities. Too many people accept defeat. They give up too quickly. However, when you get knocked down you must get back up. That’s non-negotiable… and it’s your mental readiness that allows you to do that.

I am often asked how to achieve mental readiness. My answer is simple: Mental Readiness comes from understanding your Personal Best Identity and, through that, understanding other people. Once you understand yourself and your Personal Best Emotions and patterns better, you can manage yourself in any situation. For example, people always ask me, if I ever get depressed? The answer is, “No. I get discouraged, upset and testy but not depressed.” That may sound odd to some of you but my reality is that depression is not part of my Personal Best Identity. Why? Because depression is rooted in despair, and I know that there is always a way.

So, my advice to you is to work on your mental readiness… starting today! You have got to be tough enough to believe in yourself, even when the whole world seems to be against you. You must overcome the world suppressing you into thinking you should struggle to get by in life and be poor or unhappy. You have to be tough enough to realize that all those types of negative thoughts and ideas are superficial. If you see past that and persevere, the real proof will appear.

%d bloggers like this: