LAC Gene | Innovative Leadership


The biggest drivers to fast growth is the ability for companies to create a growth culture and leadership that inspires ownership. After fifteen years of being a serial entrepreneur, Gene Hammett has built teams and taken many companies to 2X and 3X growth. Gene is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, executive coach, and the Founder of the Growth Think Tank podcast. He joins Alicia Couri on the show today to talk about leadership that inspires ownership and share his six disciplines of hyper growth.

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Leadership That Inspires Ownership With Gene Hammett

I’m excited to interview Gene Hammett because I’ve been watching and listening to some of his podcasts. He’s inspired me. I’m thrilled to have him as a part of this show. I’m going to share a little bit about Gene before we get into the discussion. He is a leading expert on high growth company culture and leadership. He has decades of experience with more than $40 million in revenue for the companies he has led and owned. Gene has interviewed more than 530 CEOs of high growth companies to understand the core principles of fast growth. He consults companies to activate new growth and reduce the high cost of ineffective leadership.

After several years of being a serial entrepreneur, Gene has built teams and taken many companies to 2 and 3 times growth. He has worked with more than two dozen companies on the Inc. 5000 list. He realized the biggest drivers to fast growth was the ability for companies to create a growth culture and leadership that inspires ownership. He is the bestselling author of The Trap of Success, a book about breaking through to new levels of growth. He has leadership insights and has appeared in large publications like Inc., Entrepreneur and Success magazines. Since 2014, his show, Growth Think Tank, formerly known as Leaders in the Trenches, has been recognized by Inc., Business Insider and Entrepreneur for its insight on growth and sales leadership. Welcome to the show, Gene.

I’m excited to be here, Alicia.

Right off the bat, I am going to ask you. You have been doing this for a long time in leadership, not with your own companies, but also helping other leaders to develop. What is your specific leadership philosophy?

You said it toward the end there. It’s this concept of leaders that can inspire people to have a feeling of ownership. The feeling of ownership is the key there because it is a feeling. You can give someone ownership as in stock options or profit sharing and pay them based on how well the company is doing. That’s external. The feeling of ownership is an internal drive where people feel connected. They feel a sense of belonging. They feel empowered. All of those things are important in this world. It was important before COVID. It’s important now as well.

When a leader strips that away from you, let’s say you’re working on a project and their input is more important than hearing what your input is. It makes you feel like, “Why am I even here? What value do I have to give if you’re not going to listen to what I have to say?” I love that. You have this history where you owned your own companies. You’ve worked in corporate. What is the difference as an employee when you were working for someone versus when you started your own business?

The difference in what aspect, Alicia?

The way in either you were leading in a corporate setting versus now you starting your own business and you’re leading a team. Was there a difference for you?

The big difference is I never felt like an owner inside my businesses in the corporate world. I’ve had three different companies I work with. One of them was massive. PricewaterhouseCoopers was one of the bigger companies in the world at the time. There’s no way I could feel like ownership because I was like some project manager, a cog in a wheel. My first job out of school, I was young and unaware of what was going on. I was just excited to have a job, for one and be doing some interesting work. I learned so much. A lot of the work I do traces back to that. I even had stock options. I had this sense of ownership through options, but I wasn’t included in all of these major decisions. I was included in some. I was one of the leading sales reps in that space, but I didn’t have that sense of ownership across this. As I started growing companies myself, I knew I wanted to create a different culture. I wanted them to feel empowered. I wanted them to feel like I supported them. I didn’t have a word for servant leadership, but I did play like that for many years inside the business. There were some limitations in that servant leadership model that I tripped up on that I had to discover and grow beyond.

How does that affect your confidence? I want to talk about confidence in leadership. When you are working in another organization where you don’t feel like you have ownership, does it hinder your confidence in it versus starting your own business?

If, as a leader, you raise confidence in others, they're going to fight for you when the time comes. Click To Tweet

Every time a leader wants to exert their ideas and options. Even saying something as small as, “Why don’t you send me that for review?” They are helpful. It’s about the quality of work and it all being right. All those things are important. Every time you’re undermining that sense of confidence, what if you truly trust your employees, would you be asking for that sense of review? Would you have a different type of review that they could go through? I’m not saying that we’re all infallible, that we don’t need some review. Every moment that you have an employee that you have to undermine them a little bit, you have to go, “You missed this idea. What about this part of the problem or solution?”

It does take confidence away. I believe part of leadership is to get away from managing the work. The work is the output of which we are doing. If we’re in sales, it’s about getting new clients. Those are things that are important to talk about and measure but we also have to look at the other side. Most companies and most leaders don’t take time to say, “What fears are you running into in your job?” Having real conversations around those fears that allow them to grow beyond that and raise that sense of confidence. Over time, as a leader, you raise confidence and others, they’re going to be loyal. They’re going to fight for you when the time comes. They’re going to stand out for you. They’re going to do the put in the extra hours. Those things are important as you think about building confidence inside of leadership.

That is another one of those soft skills things that you can help grow in someone to develop that confidence to know that they don’t always have to have their work checked or that they can come to you with a new idea and flush it out with you instead of feeling like, “I don’t think they’ll listen to me if I came up with a new way to do this.” When we’re talking about brain science and how do we use assessments and different things because that’s what I do with organizations is what are you assessing? Are you assessing someone’s skill level? Are you assessing their personality? Are you assessing their ability to do something and taking all those aspects as a leader and then understanding the strengths of your people and giving them that autonomy to do the work? Regardless of how it’s done, you might have a process and say, “I want it done this way,” but giving them that autonomy and that ownership to do it their way and come up with a result and then having a discussion around that. Do you see that happening a lot or no?

I’m going to tell you where I see it. One of the things that I decided to do a few years ago was to study fast-growth companies. I got fascinated. I had a couple of clients that made the Inc. 5000 list. I wanted to understand what growth looked like in the terms of some of the fastest-growing companies. The Inc. 5,000 are privately held companies. They’re not publicly-traded, multi-thousand person. They’re not that big. Many of them are 20, 40, 100, 500 employees. Some of them are even bigger than that. They’re not too terribly big. They understand leadership. They understand what people mean inside the organization.

They don’t want you to feel like a cog. I started studying those companies and how they look at growth, how they look at people and found that the details behind it, being able to pull back the data and I’ve been collecting all this for years. It’s something I love to share and talk about. There are many different aspects of it that are counterintuitive to what’s going on in Corporate America. What’s going on with small organizations that have 2 or 3 employees? Those things are helpful to understand if you want to create more growth inside your organization.

You talked about the culture of these fast-growing companies. How do they develop culture? How do you see them developing a culture to achieve that fast growth?

What’s surprising is I asked what I call the impossible question. The answer is not apparent. There are only two answers to this because I make sure people can’t give me a different answer. Many people want to give you a different answer. The impossible question sounds like this, “As a leader of a fast-growth organization, what’s more important, your customers or your employees?” If you’re marketing-focused or you’ve got a sales focus, you most likely say customers. If you’re a big company, you’re going to say customers because that’s the way it is. They see people as commodities or interchangeable.

They’re short-term focused so they say, customers. What fast-growth companies understand that when you treat employees well that they will take care of the company. They will take care of the customers. They will take care of the value that they’re creating in the world. They will create a culture that does empower people around them. That’s where that feeling of ownership comes from. Ninety-four percent of fast-growth company leaders will say that it’s employees first. Does that surprise you?

With successful fast-growth companies, it doesn’t surprise me. It all stems from people. That’s the biggest investment that you make in your company. You should be focused on the people.

Jeff Bezos has got counterintuitive around this. He talks about being customer-focused and obsessed. He’s the richest person in the world, but he’s got a business that it’s unlike most of our businesses, especially the ones I work with. His business is there’s a set of tasks that have to be done and they need people to do them. They’ve automated as much as they can. They optimize this to a point. There are things that they still need people to do because they’ve got to think and they’ve got to move and all that stuff.

LAC Gene | Innovative Leadership

Innovative Leadership: Having real conversations around our fears allows us to grow beyond those fears and raise that sense of confidence.


They do time them. They time their bathroom breaks and all that stuff. Most fast-growth companies are not like that. They need their employees to think. They need to use their head above the neck. If you have a business where you expect your employees to think, then you want to make sure that you take care of them. They’re more employee-focused. You asked me about the culture. That’s one of the biggest differences in fast-growth companies. I will tell you some of the other things that are on the edge of that is they look at culture sometimes even before they have product-market fit. Many of the founders I’ve talked to through my podcast, Growth Think Tank, I’m asking them, “When did you first start thinking about people and culture?” They said, “Before we even had a product or an idea.”

That’s what I wanted to ask you too. Is that culture designed even before they launched? Before we started looking for people, we design what it looks like.

It’s not always the case, but many times it is, Alicia. It is a refreshing way to look at it because they want to create a space for the most talented people to do the best work possible. That doesn’t mean that they follow it A, B, C, D. You want them to figure out their own path. You want to be able to give them the direction at which to take. You said the word autonomy and that’s part of it. You want to empower them to share these ideas and feel safe around sharing ideas. Failure is acceptable and encouraged across many of these companies. That’s different in other organizations.

It’s okay to fail. They celebrate failure. I’ve had someone on the show not too long ago. They said, “At the end of the year, we have great teams that are celebrated. We have individuals that are celebrated, but we also celebrate the biggest failures.” We want people to know that it’s okay to fail because those failures, every time they can look at it and say, “It allowed us to move forward in some other way.” That was important for us in 2019. Thank you to everyone that was a part of this team. Thank you to everyone that’s moving forward at this pace. They know that people are important that if they’re afraid to fail, they’ll be getting a hiding. They’ll begin to not innovate. You can’t innovate without a healthy understanding of failure. That’s an interesting thing that I’ve seen in my research.

I’m glad you brought up the topic of failure. That’s another question that I love to dive into is what has been your biggest failure and lesson learned? How did that affect your confidence and allow you to rebuild from that?

Alicia, all owners and founders of companies have had many failures, but one stands out for me that that did rock me. Without too much context, we can go deeper if you want. I’m not hiding here. It’s a long-sordid tale. Several years ago, I had a deal with my best friend. We had a financial contract in place and I had paid him $3 million. He failed to deliver on that contract. My business was put in a catastrophic place because I’d given him the money for the inventory. We had a product service business. There was no inventory. It was not delivered. Several years ago, everything fell apart for that business. I was in. We were doing millions and millions in sales. Now that all my working capital was gone and there was no way to replace what he had.

I had no money to replace it. It put me into dire straits. From a confidence level, I hit rock bottom. I didn’t immediately close the company down. We stopped doing business immediately. I wasn’t able to close the company down because we had to go through the legal battles. For all intents and purposes, the business stopped the next day. I didn’t take another dollar in because I didn’t want to have any fraud. As soon as I knew that this was not going to happen or expected it wasn’t, my attorneys advised me and said, “Any checks you have right now, don’t deposit them.” It stopped immediately. I had to rebuild myself. I had to look at what was important. That’s when I became a coach. It was a few months after that when I started that journey. It took me a couple of years to be able to get back in a place where I knew I could deliver advice, insight, wisdom and support someone that was where I was a few years ago because I had to rebuild my own confidence.

I can’t even imagine taking that hit and then having to get up the next morning. What did you do?

It took a few days. I was in Vancouver. If you want a little bit more about the story, I was at the Vancouver Olympics. I had an international sports tour company. I was not sure that what was going to happen for a couple of days. The day that the contract was supposed to be delivered on, I got more untruths as they say. It started to unravel. This relationship that it was based on was not going where we wanted to. I talked to my attorney. His advice to me is like, “You’re in another country and things are about to hit the fan. I suggest you come home. Let’s get our ducks in a row. Let’s fight this battle from a place where you are in more control.” That made total sense to me.

It took me a couple of days to get out of Vancouver and get back to Atlanta, which is where I’m from and try to dig into this. It wasn’t an overnight thing. Within about two weeks, finally, my wife, my lawyer said, “This is not going to work out. I don’t care what hope you have that it’s going to work out. This was intended to break you.” I had to accept that reality. I didn’t want to. I had so much optimism that this relationship was solid. I had done the right thing. I had trusted the right person, but the reality was I had to accept that it was not going to work out. The next stages behind that we’re a little murky. When I say murky, I was in a lot of pain. I was in a lot of doubt. I was someone who had been running a multimillion-dollar business for many years. I had built up this confidence and it was stolen in one moment. It was crushing me.

Part of leadership is to get away from managing the work. Click To Tweet

I interviewed a doctor not too long ago. He’s a pediatrician and was accused of sexual misconduct of the parent of a child that he was like attending. It was a whole false claim. He ended up losing everything, his medical license, getting arrested and being thrown in jail. He didn’t do anything. This woman lied about everything. I understand what you’re saying. He was destroyed. You’re trying to rebuild your confidence from something that you had no control over. Someone else took your life into their hands.

One of the things I remember the best thing I did through this process, Alicia, around confidence was I got centered on something that was beyond money because the money had been stolen from me. It was the fact that I had a business coach or leadership coach early in my career. I remember how Linda made me feel. I felt listened to. I felt valued, which is a great thing in leadership to make people feel that they belong. She helped me understand what my next step was in the business. I would take that initiative. I said, “I want to do that. That’s what I want to do. I want to make people feel the same way. I want to be that voice of wisdom. I want to be someone who can support them.”

There’s a missing element that I did not see as I got later into my growth career as a founder and I wanted to be that person. I started the journey to be a coach. I have an analytical mind. I’m an engineer by education. I’m a strategic mind through mergers and acquisitions. Strategy comes naturally to me. I can see the future in many cases, not always right, but in most cases, I can see what’s going on. I can tell you I got this training to be a coach so that could work with the inner issues of what’s going on inside of leadership. That training was what I needed as a person to get back into the world and connect with the confidence that I had and go beyond that. I had to figure out a way to go beyond that level of confidence to a new, higher level. It was coaching that allowed me to do it. I knew how powerful it was because I’d lost everything. I could rebuild it through these conversations with almost a stranger.

Leaders and CEOs of companies are people too. Sometimes we forget they’re people, too. They have feelings. They have insecurities. They need someone in their corner to see their blind spots and help them get to that next level as well.

We all have blind spots. We all have something that we don’t see because of the way we grew up, the way we were educated, what we’ve seen in the past. If we always do the same thing, always see this take the same perspective. If we always make the same moves, it won’t work anymore. We begin frustration and that frustration causes even more difficulties to get out of the struggles. Advising leaders to get beyond their frustrations and look at new perspectives is exactly what I decided to do. That’s what helped me rebuild my confidence as being a part of those conversations over the last several years.

You love to dance. I love to dance. I’m not formally trained like you do. I know we’re taking a side trip here, but how has dancing helped your ability to lead?

Dancing is something that some people either love to do or they hate it. There are not many people that are like, “I could take or leave it.” There are people that identify as dancers and those that don’t. Many times, I’m always looking for a way to connect with the audience. Sometimes as leaders, we have to tell stories that allow people to connect that’s outside of the work, that’s outside of even business. If I want to help someone understand their own level of confidence, I’ll share my journey of going from not a dancer to someone who is a dancer. It was late in life. I can tell the story if you want me to.

I want you to tell the story, but I also want to ask you before you tell the story, if you’ve ever used it. I know you’ve used it on stage speaking, but have you ever done a workshop with CEOs in the room and taught them to dance?

I have. I’ve done this for thousands of people and I’ve done it for eight. It’s scarier to do it for eight than it is to do it for a large group. I don’t know why, but I feel like you’re being judged. It’s such an intimate experience. I know it gets the audience. I’ve done it dozens of times. I’ve never done it for less than eight.

Have you had them do the dance?

LAC Gene | Innovative Leadership

Innovative Leadership: Fast growth companies understand that when you treat employees well, they will take care of the company and the customers.


If you want to understand your own confidence, you have to understand the role that your identity plays in who you are and how you see yourself. Where my identity was shaped was in this whole world of dance. Going through high school, I didn’t have a gift to gab with women. I was afraid to dance. I became a not dancer. I avoided proms and dances. If I ever did go to these things, I was still on the sidelines wishing I had this ability. I saw my friends that had this confidence. I didn’t have. I was said, “That’s not me.” I wasn’t fine with it. I didn’t know what was missing.

As I went through college, I continued that pattern. I got out of college still I’ve had some girlfriends through this pace, so it wasn’t bad. Don’t feel bad for me. It wasn’t easy for me. I remember when I was at 26, I was at a family wedding and I remember standing on the side of the dance floor. The band was playing, the drinks were flowing and a beautiful girl asked me to dance by. By a beautiful girl, my cousin. It was a family wedding. She goes, “Do you know how to jive or jitterbug.” I’m like, “No.” She’s like, “Let me show you.” I couldn’t get it right. She goes, “What do you know how to do?” I know how to sway. The thing you do in middle school, that’s what I know how to do.

Sometimes in these small workshops or big on big stages, I will ask the audience to sway with me because I want them to feel a sense of fear. Some of them feel the excitement. They giggle. They love it. You can see the ones that don’t like it. You can see it on your face. Here’s the reality. We should be comfortable enough to sense someone’s fear inside of leadership and be able to have a conversation around what that fear is and allow them to move forward. If we don’t, we’re missing an opportunity to connect with the person they’ll trust, but also to help them move forward and empower them.

What’s happening though is we focus so much on the work and the milestones and all the things that we’re measuring. We’re not talking about that fear. That’s how I use it. The reality of my story shifted in gear at 26. That was when the movie Swingers was coming out. Every bar that I knew of around the country was doing these free swing dance lessons. I would go in. I would learn how to do swing dance lessons. It was uncomfortable at first. This all new growth is. A couple of weeks into it, I was like, “This is fine.” A month into it, I started getting some good foundations. I was like, “What’s next?” I could go to pay for lessons, but I was a consultant traveling the world. I lived in Toronto and was traveling back and forth. I didn’t have this. Being the nerd that I am, I rented VHS tapes of the old 1930s. I was learning these moves from videos that people my age had never seen before. I thought that was normal and I would practice them on the dance floor. I became a leader because I could show people these new things. I could show them and bring them into this world.

I can invite them on this journey with me and they loved it. I loved it. My identity shifted from that of not a dancer to a dancer. That’s a necessary understanding to understand how important identity is, who we see ourselves as who we attach ourselves to. You talk about confidence. It took my confidence to an absolute, another level I was able to date pretty women. Your wife is gorgeous. I met her at a club and I said, “Would you like to dance?” That was many years ago. That was my go-to tool. I knew how to do this. How does this relate to leadership? The story is simple. If we, as leaders, we don’t have to learn to be dancers. I’m not asking you. The evolution I took was necessary just as leaders have to take evolution from who they are to that next level.

Even beyond, I’ve seen a lot of leaders that are good at first with a small team, but they’re not good with a bigger team or maybe they’re good with a team that’s inside their domain of expertise, but they’re not a great leader when it’s outside their domain of expertise. If you want to be a great leader, you’ve got to learn to evolve and identity has to shift, and the confidence comes along with it. You also want to be able to do it for others and you can’t lead others if you’re not willing to address your own fears and insecurities. That’s one way I use the story of dancing inside of my work.

I love how you connect the two of them because there is a level of insecurity when you’re stepping into something new. Les Brown said, “The person you are today, you have to be willing to die to grow into the person you want to become.” This person you are has to die in order to become the person you want to be or something like that.

Here’s the reality. I ran a fast growth company. We had $5 million or $6 million in revenue. I was comfortable running that company. This is back when I was doing sports tours. I saw innovation. I saw where things were going. This is my cell phone. It was 2005, 2006, when these things started to catch on. I knew I could see the vision that things would change in the side of this industry. No one was prepared for it. I was like, “I’m going to lead the charge.” I talked about it, but I didn’t do anything about it. This is where I failed to take that invitation forward. I could see it, but I wouldn’t step into it. I didn’t have the courage. I didn’t have the confidence to make those changes. It required me to let go of the comfort of what I had in order to go after this new innovation. It took me looking back, Alicia, of losing everything to say, “What did I miss in this journey?” I can blame the person who took the money from me and has the money and spend it, but that doesn’t give me any power. I looked at myself and said, “What did I miss through this journey?” Confidence and courage are necessary to continue the evolution I needed, even though I was successful.

That can sometimes separate a good leader from a great leader is someone who is willing to take that extra step then. You see where it’s going and you see an opportunity to innovate. When you say, “Things are good right where we are.” What I was going to ask you is do you think then, as I don’t know, I believe in God. Sometimes he has a sense of humor that losing everything pushed you into space where you now have to step out.

I have accepted that story is a big part of my life that I had to go through this journey. My wife, how did I handle the dark days of this? She said, “You’re going to look back on this. You’re going to see this as a gift.” When you’re in the dark days, it’s hard to see. From someone from the outside, even though she was in the problem with me, because it was her money too, it was her business. All of us are going to have to go through this. She was very wise in that statement. It took me a while to get it. Even Les Brown when I had him on the show, it took me a while for him to walk me through some of the things that he discovered when I told him my story.

As an entrepreneur, we create our own world and the future that we want to live in. Click To Tweet

I ended up writing the book, The Trap of Success here because that’s what happened to me. I was trapped by my own complacency. I was drifting along and I wasn’t growing. I was complacent. I share in there too, you asked about the God thing. I felt like God may have been whispering to me early in life in that business saying, “What’s next?” He probably even talked to me. He might’ve even said some stern words to me at some point in time because I was trying to get out of the business. I was looking at maybe how do I sell it and all that stuff. I said, “This next big deal will be the deal that like allows me to do that.” I called that my 2×4 the day that everything fell apart because I didn’t listen to the whispers. I didn’t listen to all the other stuff, but he had to hit me with a 2×4 for me to get my attention. That’s what took me on a different journey.

When you are wanting to get out of something that if you don’t, you’re going to get hit by the 2×4. You have the six disciplines of hypergrowth. You talk about the six disciplines. I want you to run us through those six disciplines, what they are and then tell me what your favorite is.

The disciplines have changed over the years and I probably haven’t updated from this. I know my work so well that I’m going to give where they are. They’re all important. If you’re missing some of them, you do miss the opportunity. Empowerment we talked about, also inclusion, which is are you including others in the ideas or you’ve given the ideas and expecting them to execute on it? You also must have a mission and a vision for the business. Those things are important to connect people together. It’s bigger than the paycheck. Creating a space where people feel that sense of ownership. All this comes together when you have these elements of inclusion and the other one is transformation.

If you take transformation out, it’s where you have a company that doesn’t believe in investing in their employees, in new skills and development. At the beginning of this, Alicia, you talked about the soft skills. The soft skills are money skills. We can get technical training. We can get project management training. We can learn how to get the work through faster. We can get sales training, but until we understand emotional intelligence until we understand how to lead people truly, we’re missing that opportunity to connect. I think it’s one of those soft skills. People feel that sense of ownership when they feel like they’re getting an increase in value while they’re being on this journey with you.

A lot of those disciplines that we talked about, they all come from all my research with Inc. 5000, those hundreds of interviews. I’ve been organizing this and working with people but the big idea behind it is, do leaders inspire a feeling of ownership across the team? That feeling of ownership is dissected into those different pieces. One of them is around team alignment. I created some scorecards to allow people to go through this, to see where they are, that is free. I don’t know if your audience is interested in taking an assessment around that.

It’s the Team Alignment Scorecard. It’s ten fundamentals. If you go to, you can get the ten fundamentals that fast growth companies know to be important in this feeling of ownership. It gives you some guidance. It’s not a 1 to 10 thing. It shows you what a high performing team is aiming for when you talk about empowerment and trust and things like that inside of organizations.

Team alignment is vital to that productivity and that performance, that growth in performance. When you have misalignment either from the standpoint of how the team dynamics work or even misalignment with the job fit, you can’t have that growth. You can’t have that performance. It’s all-important.

The thing about team alignment I’ve found is most people have this picture of a rowboat or crew boat where a leader is yelling and saying, “Let’s go.” What if that’s not the right vision for alignment? What if we need to be operating more like a baseball team or a football team or basketball team where everyone has individual skills and talents is, they all know their roles and they’re able to execute them well because they trust each other in such away. We don’t need someone saying “row.” You don’t sit out there and the quarterback on the football team and tell him when to throw the ball, he knows for himself, he executes that he’s empowered to know when to throw it, who to throw it to and how to even make some changes when necessary. Most people get that alignment thing wrong. That’s one reason why I created the scorecard to allow you to tune into a little different aspect of team alignment. It’s free for leaders that go through it but we use this inside of our teams to help my clients go to that next level. It’s been powerful over the last few years.

I love that you used the sports analogy because I use sports analogy a lot for exactly that for team alignment and not just team alignment, but hiring the right people for the team because you have to look at the dynamics of the team and make sure when you’re bringing someone in, you’re creating a new team. In essence, when you bring someone new in and how that dynamic is now going to shift or change and how to create a great performance with that. Do you use a lot of analytics when you are coaching?

I don’t use that much. I don’t use other assessment tools. I’ve created my own thing. I do respect them. I’ve seen Myers-Briggs. I’ve seen a lot of the other tools and assessments. I’ve chosen to look at fast growth companies. I saw pieces that make them have a growth culture are different than what these things measure. These other assessment tools. I’ve created my own. Now it’s hard work. It’s been a lot of research. I don’t have the brand name recognition that some of these bigger companies have where they have thousands of people out there, talking about how great it is and using them inside many case studies. My clients want to grow fast. Those ten fundamentals are critical to them understanding how they work together as a team through that alignment survey. That’s the way I’ve used that.

LAC Gene | Innovative Leadership

Innovative Leadership: If we always do the same thing, see the same perspective, and make the same moves, eventually it won’t work anymore.


That’s a lot of work. It’s tons of work to pull that together. I want to ask this question. Do you have children?

I do.

My question is what advice do you give your child about leadership?

Being a parent and being in leadership, the dynamic between growing up a healthy young adult is similar to what we want with employees. He doesn’t get it yet because he’s not an adult and he doesn’t get it. Your older children probably get this because they go out on their own. One of the things is I teach him about being intentional. I’m not good at this. I’ll be honest with you. He doesn’t think his parents know the answers to anything. I put it down to him. I’m a sportsperson. He’s not. We’ve been watching the last dance together. He likes it. He understands basketball better and he understands the dynamics of championship teams and all those things through watching Michael Jordan.

The one word that comes down is to be intentional. Be intentional about what you’re going to do next about who you are. Don’t let it happen. As an entrepreneur, I believe we create our own world. I have faith in God. God’s on my team, but I have to create the future that I want to live in. God’s there to support me and guide me through this. I also think that we have to be intentional to a fault and it gets in the way sometimes. There are times when I probably shouldn’t have been intentional and it comes back to bite me, but 99 times out of 100, or even more often, it’s powerful to be intentional. In leadership, one of the things I see that’s dangerous is where leaders think, “It’ll get better on its own.”

If we don’t have that conversation or we don’t look at the numbers or whatever it may be that they’re avoiding, then it doesn’t. Being intentional is a big part of leadership, but we talk about all aspects. We talk about what empathy is. For a thirteen-year-old to understand empathy and understand what it is like, that’s rare. We talk about a lot of business stuff. I even told him the story of a nineteen-year-old who built up a $1.4 billion company. He goes, “Why do you wait so long?” He’s nineteen.

It’s the same thing with confidence. If you’re intentional about what you’re doing, then you can practice and you can have, and build your confidence in what you’re doing if that’s what you intend to do. It also not works for leadership, but also in your confidence growth. I have enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for joining us. Are there any final words that you would like to share with our audience?

The thing about leadership is confidence is such an important piece. I want you to think about how much time you’ve thought about your confidence and you’ve leveled up that. How you’ve continued to challenge yourself. Maybe it’s through being uncomfortable or growing at times. Reading is good, but reading doesn’t talk back to you. Don’t think that reading is the only thing you need to do. The videos don’t talk back to you either. When you think about your own leadership, you’ve got to be willing to go deeper and further and faster than your team. If you want them to be confident, then you got to work on your own confidence. In order for them to absorb that from you, you’ve got to have conversations with your teams about confidence, about what their fears are that keep them from being confident and about the challenges they’re facing.

If you do those things as a leader, you’ll continue to evolve at a personal level, but then you’ll also help your team evolve, which is true. Leadership is helping them grow to be as empowered and feeling that feeling of ownership across the work. This will help the company grow because I’ve seen it happen firsthand. One final thing is if you want to get that scorecard, it’s free. It’s You can get to see where you rank compared to the Inc. 5000. It’s like the Inc. 50, not the 5,000 because it’s the top tier of it. You can see where you rank within your teams and it’ll give you some insight around what to focus on next.

Thank you. I believe that confidence is sometimes that missing piece that takes people from one level to the next. You have to be willing to grow and step out boldly with audacious confidence to be bold and to be brave and step into that. Thank you for that. We will see you next time on another episode of the show. Don’t forget to be bold, be brave and step out into what’s possible for yourself with audacious confidence.

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About Gene Hammett

LAC Gene | Innovative LeadershipI was ready to begin my journey of entrepreneurship.

In 2001, I started an online company with just an idea. It grew from zero to $5 million in revenue in three years. It would have been on the Inc 500 that year if I had the time to apply (I didn’t). I carved out a very lucrative niche for my business and positioned it as “the” choice for our target audience. Over that time, I had to learn the importance of leading and the value of execution..

Seeing a new opportunity, I started a second company to serve my clients and soon had two 7-figure businesses.

But, while I was taking my companies into new markets, scaling growth, and personally making more money than I had ever made in my life…I realized I was missing something.

I was missing out on living with a real purpose. I knew that I wanted to innovate within my industry and create new tools and new technologies, but I was TRAPPED in my own success. Here is my book that tells you more about “The Trap of Success.” 

Unfortunately, I ignored those desires to create innovation and build a business that I truly wanted. Instead, I focused on just scaling my previous systems, and one day it all came to an end. In 2010, I lost it all – the business, the money – everything. In an instant, I lost a business deal and my business imploded. To the tune of losing more than $3 million in one day.

Ouch is an understatement!

This excruciating ordeal shook me to my core and caused me to rethink everything in my life and business.

I started working with high-performing leaders to achieve even greater results. They were founders, CEOs, and visionary leaders to generate growth in their business. I studied everything there was to study how to overcome limits, tap into sustainable growth, and empower leaders to achieve more.

This potential career-ending setback, began a new journey in my life with a mission to partner with business leaders to help them unlock the growth potentials they may not know exist.

Since then, my research has been featured in Forbes, Inc Magazine, Business Insider, Success Magazine, YAHOO!, NBC, and Entrepreneur Magazine.

I love to write about leadership and culture that activates new growth. My work appears in large publications like IncEntrepreneur, and Success Magazines. I host a podcast, Growth Think Tankwhich is different in that it is focused on interviews with Founders and CEOs of fast-growth companies — the Inc 5000 — to share insights of growth.


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