Listen to the Full Interview with Ryan Hawk here:
As a journalist, I plan many nights for work—for writing—and, along with that, for learning, reflection and creative expression.
But what takes place is a derailment—a night spent scrolling Instagram, watching The Walking Dead, grabbing a pint of ice cream and heading to bed, which precedes waking up just in time to work, which precedes a weekend of family commitments.
And amidst that perpetual cycle and my pile of excuses, I ask myself, “Where did the time go?”
How do some people achieve greatness? How do they make it look easy? How do they manage to find the time?
Ryan Hawk, creator and host of The Learning Leader Show, seems to have figured it out. On top of a full-time job and raising a family of five daughters under the age of 10, Hawk produces a twice-weekly podcast in which he interviews world-class leaders with a proven record of success. After deconstructing and evaluating more than 150 of the best in the world, Hawk has earned hundreds of thousands of listeners in 112 countries, and was recently named as one of Inc’s “5 Podcasts to Help You Lead Smarter.”
Everything, from the content to the guests, is first class. And yet, it’s one of three major commitments. How does Hawk do it? His success compelled me to look at myself, from my lifestyle to my sleep habits and everything in between, and the realizations hit me like a lightning bolt. I was asking the wrong question. It isn’t about where I can find more time; it’s about utilizing the time that I have.
I reached out to Hawk for time management advice, and he obliged with not only an array of tips, but also a valuable insight into his motivations.
Hawk’s competitive spirit is impossible to miss. The middle child of three boys, he and his siblings were year-round athletes. Hawk eventually starred on his high school football team, which led him to Miami (OH) University, where he unsuccessfully competed for the starting quarterback job. His opponent: now Pittsburgh Steeler, two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger.
The failure, which occurred despite Hawk’s incredible work ethic, provided a lifelong lesson.
“Sometimes you can do absolutely everything within your power,” Hawk said of his time at Miami (OH), “and yet it still won’t be enough to accomplish your goals. It’s served me well to handle failure at a young age. I draw from that experience on a daily basis.”
After battling it out with Roethlisberger for two years, Hawk soon transferred to Ohio University and started two years at quarterback before playing in the Arena Football League.
His professional quarterbacking career comes as little surprise given his cerebral nature, and the skills that led to sporting success have certainly translated to the business world. Where one playing field requires split-second decision making in order to find your receiver amidst the blood-thirsty 300-pound defenders, the other rewards a similarly measured approach and ability to withstand pressure in high stakes situations. And, upon earning his MBA and deciding against a PhD, its exactly those skills, in addition to some newfound maturity, that led to Hawk creating his own curriculum: The Learning Leader Show.
“In high school, when a coach told me to take action, I did it blindly,” Hawk said. “Now, I take a step back and ask myself why, and I question if there is a better way of doing things.”
If what we want to do with our lives can be greater than simply what we do for a living, how do we find the time? How do we take care of both the essentials and pursue our passions? These questions are daunting, but answerable.
Here is Ryan Hawk’s recipe for tackling the difficult task of time management, distilled into four ingredients:
1. Be Deliberate With Your Time
There is enough time. Hawk maps out the 168 hours of his week, and he carefully decides where to spend it, beginning at 4:50 a.m. every morning. Upon waking up, he drinks a tall glass of water, expresses gratitude in his Five Minute Journal, reads for at least 15 minutes, and heads to the gym. He makes time for breakfast with his family. Then, he goes to work.
Once the available time is laid out, finding 10 to 15 free hours for podcasting is no problem. Whether you’re starting a cake pop bakery or a clothing line, 40 dedicated hours per month can get your project in motion.
2. Know Your Purpose
Hawk’s goal is clear: to impact millions of people. Admittedly, he gets tired, but his explicitly stated purpose provides motivation when the time comes to trade sleep for work. It allows him to steer the course. Alongside the greater objective is Hawk’s social goal, which is to surround himself with intelligent and creative minds. As Jim Rohn says, “You are going to be the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” And by filling his time having high-level conversations with world-class leaders, Hawk is in turn improving himself.
3. Get A Head Start
Before he launched his show on iTunes, he pre-recorded 22 interviews. By preparing, Hawk lowered the potential for the future stress of meeting deadlines, thus lowering the potential for burnout. At any point, he can go on vacation without worrying about constantly working to update the podcast. If you are in the content creation business, build a repository in advance. “I am always planning ahead when it comes to my episodes. Typically I have at least 4 weeks (8 episodes) of content ready to go. Consistency is a big deal to me.”
4. Get Your Family On-Board:
Hawk’s family was excited about his decision to start a podcast because they understood the potential impact he could have on people all over the world. Have the discussion and get them on-board early because they can help you determine if it’s the right decision, and they’ll understand the time you must dedicate to make it successful. Hawk has proved to me that it is possible and it can be done. If it’s important, you’ll make the time for it. There will be sacrifices—Netflix, golf on the weekends (like Hawk has done)—and your friends may not understand, but you will need your family’s support.
Hawk’s motivation to create an extraordinary podcast is infectious, and his tools for success are invaluable. And above all else, his work ethic is admirable. He’s an insanely driven person. “If I build a quality show, I know people will listen,” Hawk said. As a fan of the show, I can tell you it’s the most dynamic leadership podcast out there.
“It will spread because I’m going to work like crazy for it to be great.”
As usual, Hawk is not focused on the competition; he’s fixated on outworking them.