Leadership Insights from Jeffrey Hayzlett

Leadership Insights from Jeffrey Hayzlett

Many people who dream of owning their own business think the main advantage is being your own boss. In actuality, the first step to becoming a great boss is adopting a servant mentality.

Jeffrey Hayzlett proved his corporate mettle as the chief marketing officer at Eastman Kodak when it was a Fortune 100 company. Since then, he’s bought and sold 200 businesses during a storied consulting career. He even got the better of Donald Trump once – a feat in and of itself.

With that kind of track record, you might think that Hayzlett is a big shot. He is a big fellow at 6’3”, but it’s not unusual for this former high school All-American to arrive two hours early to his Seventh Avenue office in Manhattan to clean the bathrooms.

“It sets the tone for everyone else,” Hayzlett says. “It’s my way of being able to say I’m going to get my hands dirty, so there’s no job that anyone else in the company can complain about doing.”

It’s precisely this type of “servant mentality” that has molded Hayzlett into a great leader. Today, he is CEO of the Hayzlett Group, where he has built his own personal brand as a speaker, strategic business consultant and media personality. His new bestseller “Think Big, Act Bigger” racked up sales of 250,000 copies in the first two weeks after it rolled off the presses. I was privileged to host Hayzlett last week on “Mind Your Business” which airs every Sunday night at 11 pm on 77WABC Radio in New York.

Whether you own a business or working hard to keep one going, Hayzlett says only you can set the tone. “Nobody is responsible for the success of your business except for the person who stares back at you in the mirror,” Hayzlett says.

So how do you get started?

The first step is to lay out your “conditions of satisfaction.” Early in his career, Hayzlett set three such conditions for himself: build wealth, do things that were really interesting and advancing himself.

“It’s all about being whatever you want to be,” he says. “You can act bigger. If you want your dreams to come true quit waiting for it. Get out there and act. Once you start doing, your dreams catch up with you and become reality. Get the rewards of being relentless.”

That relentlessness, a Hayzlett trademark, is what earned him his connection with Donald Trump.

While still at Kodak, Hayzlett was marketing a product he thought could be best showcased on Celebrity Apprentice.  He asked a staff member to get Trump on the phone, but the task was obviously out of that staffer’s comfort zone. True to his servant mentality, Hayzlett picked up the phone, dialed 411, got Trump’s office number and placed the call himself.

His call was relayed from a receptionist to a Trump assistant who said the boss was too busy to come to the phone. Hayzlett left the assistant with the following message: “I’ve got a few million dollars I need to spend in the next half hour and if Mr. Trump can’t call me back in the next half hour I’ll pass and spend it with someone else.”

Fifteen minutes later, the Donald himself called back. One thing led to another and Hayzlett starred for three seasons as a celebrity judge on Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice program.

How did Hayzlett intuit that such a bold – dare I say “chutzpadig” – approach would work?

“I knew what would trigger him,” he says. “He likes money, he doesn’t like to lose and I gave him a time limit.”

Time is money and a great leader knows how to maximize both. Hayzlett shared three of his top tips for becoming a great leader.

  • Be inquisitive. If someone asks you something you don’t know or approaches you with an idea you’re not familiar with: “Don’t fake it. It’s okay to say I don’t know why don’t you teach me?”
  • Set the Pace. Create a cadence for the company that completely reflects what’s important to you and make sure your team members are drinking the same Kool-Aid.
  • Don’t break promises. Business is a promise to deliver. Be real about what you do and deliver it.


Bottom Line Action Step: Set goals and pursue them relentlessly.

Yitzchok Saftlas

Yitzchok Saftlas is the CEO of Bottom Line Marketing Group, a premier marketing agency recognized for its goal-oriented branding, sales, and recruitment and fundraising techniques. Serving corporate, non-profit and political clientele, Bottom Line's notable clients include: Beth Medrash Govoha, Dirshu and TeachNYS. He can be reached at ys@BottomLineMG.com

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