Ryan Hawk has taken an avocation, turned it into a full-time career and now he’s ready for the next chapter — literally.
Later this month, McGraw Hill Education will publish the Washington Twp. resident’s first book, “Welcome to Management: How to Grow From Top Performer to Excellent Leader,” a book exploring lessons he has gleaned from nearly five years of interviewing leaders for his fast-growing podcast, The Learning Leader Show.
In the podcast, Hawk has interviewed everyone from area billionaire Clay Mathile to Gen. Stanley McCrystal, to University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari and many others. Figures from culture, sports, business and other arenas sit before Hawk’s microphone to share with him and listeners what they’ve learned about leadership and growth.
The podcast started small. Hawk — older brother of standout linebacker A.J. Hawk — doesn’t think downloads reached triple digits in that first week. Today, it achieves millions per year in more than 150 countries.
“It has grown the way I think you want it to grow, which is by word of mouth — one person telling someone else,” he said.
The result has been an education, and that’s no accident. He launched the podcast in 2015 as an alternative to pursuing a second graduate degree. Hawk went straight to the source.
“It started as another way for me to educate myself, because I got my MBA, and I considered going back to school to get a further graduate degree,” he said in a recent interview. “I decided to kind of create my own leadership PhD program.”
Hawk joined Miami Twp. business accountancy and consulting firm Brixey & Meyer a little over two years ago to pursue the podcast, speaking, consulting and the book full-time. The company and its leaders extend the space, time and trust he needs to grow the Learning Leader and its offshoots.
“I think it’s the best way to go out and really build your own business, when you have the care and support of an established firm like Brixey & Meyer, ” he said.
Douglas Meyer, chief executive of Brixey & Meyer, liked Hawk so much, that he plucked him from an executive position at LexisNexis to offer him a full-time practice.
Meyer was asked to lunch with Hawk when Hawk wanted to explore professional avenues. Within 10 minutes, he said he knew that Hawk would be a “huge” fit at this firm.
Hawk works with clients, makes keynote speeches, consults with emerging leaders and more.
As he becomes a national voice, that only boosts Brixey & Meyer, which has bout 80 employees total and some 45 in the Dayton area, Meyer said.
“There’s a lot of respect when people hear that we did something unique and different with our firm and brought on that type of resource,” Meyer said. “And you can just see it in their eyes when you talk to business owners.”
The book has been praised by early readers, and Hawk likes the feedback he has heard so far.
“I’m very happy to hear the positive response, especially from highly intelligent people, that they find it to be impactful, that’s it’s original, that there’s some new aspects that people haven’t read about before,” Hawk said. “I mean, the leadership space is certainly crowded. So where you’re able to produce something that stands out and is different, unique and helpful, I don’t think that’s easy to do.”
So in five years of podcasting, what has Hawk learned? A lot.
One distillation from thousands of hours of interviews — Hawk says that leaders are “intentional.” They don’t attend a meeting by accident. They don’t read a book by accident. They don’t waste time and they go forward with purpose.
“These leaders are very thoughtful people,” said Hawk. “In addition to being so thoughtful and reflective, they are extremely intentional with their behavior and actions.”
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