Friday Five: Michael Hyatt


Michael Hyatt, Chairman, Thomas Nelson PublishersToday it’s a privilege to welcome Michael Hyatt to the Friday Five. Michael Hyatt is Chairman of Thomas Nelson, the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the world. A respected leader in the Christian publishing community, he is a sought-after speaker on the topics of leadership, time management, and the integration of faith and technology. He has served as a literary agent, CEO, and business owner. His blog, Intentional Leadership, is one of the most highly trafficked blogs on the Internet.

Today Mike answers my questions about the future of Christian publishing, the essentials of good leadership, and his use of technology.

You’ve served a long career in Christian publishing. What is your perspective on the future of Christian publishing in terms of its impact and viability?  

Certainly the world of publishing is changing. The digital shift is impacting Christian publishing as much as general market publishing. However, I think this is something positive. No longer will our content be limited by the boundaries of physical distribution. We will be able to get resources into the hands of people who don’t have access to a traditional bookstore. The world is still in desperate need of the message we offer, so I am optimistic about the future of Christian publishing.

You recently stepped down as CEO of Thomas Nelson to focus on blogging, speaking, and writing. How has this transition been so far and what advice to you have for others in a season of transition? 

It has been great. I am loving the freedom I have now to do more of what I am uniquely gifted to do. In terms of advice, it is really important to plan, pick a worthy, capable successor, and make the transition as smooth as possible. Perhaps most important, it is really important to get out of your successor’s way, so no one is confused about who is in charge.

Leadership seems to be what you’re most passionate about. What do you think most leaders get wrong about leadership and how can they fix it? 

I think the most powerful way we lead is by example. That means we have to lead ourselves. Yes, we can read books, attend seminars, and learn better of “leadership techniques.” But our followers will be impacted the most by who we are, not what we do. As a result, as leaders we must model what we expect our followers to become.

You were one of the early adopters of new technology and have built a sizeable online following. What has been your key to building and sustaining this platform? 

In a word, generosity. I don’t say this to pat myself on the back, but to express to others how they can replicate what I have done. I wake up every day thinking, How can I add value to my followers? I especially work hard at trying to provide quality content. As I often say, “Platform may be the queen, but content is still king.”

If you could give once piece of advice to an emerging Christian communicator, what would it be? 

Learn how to communicate with clarity. “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8). The best, fastest way I know to do this is by attending the Dynamic Communicators Summit. My friend, Ken Davis, who created it, nagged me to come for years. I finally went last spring. It is the single most important investment I have ever made in terms of taking my communication to the next level. I am using what I learned daily—in my speaking and my writing.