The Learning Leader Show With Ryan Hawk

Episode #300: Keith & AJ Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Kids

Full show notes can be found at 

Keith Hawk is a 32-year veteran sales professional and sales leader.  For over ten years he led one of America’s greatest sales organizations, at LexisNexis.  He continues in a customer focused role to this day at that global organization, speaking to customer groups around the world on the topic of solving business problems with the solutions offered by his firm.  In addition, he continues to speak regularly on topics such as consultative selling, selling to executives, and how to effectively lead people.  He also happens to be my dad.

AJ Hawk played 11 seasons in the NFL.  He was a two-time All American at Ohio State and he also won The Lombardi Award (as a senior at Ohio State) as the countries best defensive player.  He was the fifth overall draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in the 2006 NFL draft.  He was voted team captain on their Super Bowl winning team in 2010.  He finished his career as the all time leading tackler in Green Bay Packer history.  AJ is my younger brother.

  • Staying sharp after official retirement?
    • “My mind is as clear as it’s been in many years. I read more, write more, listen to more podcasts, I learn more now than I ever have.”
    • “I never liked getting the question, ‘did you get all of your work done?’ As a senior leader at a big company, the work was never done. In my role now, I can go give a speech and get the work done.”
    • Advice to others – “Stay patient a little bit, you have to find a way to grab hold of your day and take control of it.  Don’t let others do that to you.”
  • AJ’s progress to improve as a broadcaster:
    • There is no end game
    • Must keep grinding and getting as many reps as possible
    • “You have to jump in and do the work.” You can’t worry about judgement from others. You have to get the reps. Get on the stage and do it.
  • How to handle the follow up to a competitive life in the NFL?
    • Must have realistic expectations… That amount of competition will never happen again.  That’s okay as long as you’re prepared for it
    • Broadcasting is a never ending battle with myself to get better.  To improve.  “I’m competitive with myself to get better.”  Learning the intricacies from the greats.  “I’ve learned to be quiet, to let a moment breathe.”
  • Why are walk-thurs so important in the NFL?  Why does a world class athlete need to walk-thru a step for over an hour a day?
    • “The tiny details consistently worked on everyday so they become instincts. In the moment you don’t have to think and just rely on the instincts you created.  That’s why we did so many walk-thrus in the NFL.”
    • Why my Dad went to Green Bay for his birthday week every summer? The famous Tom Hanks quote, “I could watch my son brush his teeth all day.” And he loved watching world-class athletes work on perfecting their craft.
  • Listener question: From Tony Milenberger (member of one of my leadership circles) – With all the different directions you guys are going, how do you still manage to like each other? What rhythms keep you connected in the busy seasons?  How does it help your success?
    • We each have different roles and we’ve worked hard to do a great job at our role.  We all have creative outlets and have remained each others biggest fans.  We push each other to be better.  And when one of the family members reaches a level of fame and fortune (AJ), their ability to remain humble and down to earth is huge.  AJ has done that and created a ton of phenomenal family experiences because of it.
  • The process of earning my book deal with McGraw-Hill… How it all came about.  There was an instant huge belief from Casey Ebro, senior editor from McGraw-Hill.  I describe that conversation and why we chose to work together.
  • Listener question from Mike Flynn: What is your Dad’s greatest hopes for his children and grandchildren?
    • Maslow’s hierarchy
      • Economics taken care because of their hard work
      • Fulfilled life with a great spouse
      • Work stimulates us, gets us excited
      • Put our children in a place to be successful
      • Self-actualize — Live up to what you want to do
  • How to handle a situation when you hit a rut?
    • When this happened with my Dad, he always wanted to get directly to the front lines.  “When times got tough, I scheduled days in the field to meet with our customers and our front line people.  I wanted to be reminded why they did business with us.  I wanted to break it down to the bare essentials.  How could I do this in a different way?  Meeting with them helped.” Reminded of the quote, “if it’s not broke, fix it.”  Be proactive.  Billy Joel had this happen to him and he rediscovered his love when he went to a new fan base in Russia.
    • With AJ – “When I was struggling or kept getting caught in the garbage of the linemen in front of me, my coach, Winston Moss, would say, ‘why don’t you take a step back and see what the view is like from there?’ A simple step back to gain a new perspective helped.


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