Doug Haynes is the President of The Council and has spent the latter part of his career as an advisor to top executives of private and public enterprises. Doug previously served as President of the Point72 Asset Management, one of the premier equity hedge funds in the United States.
Doug is an active philanthropist and focuses his philanthropy toward organizations that focus on fighting poverty, supporting veterans, and education. He is a founding board member of the Cohen Veteran’s Network, Cohen Veteran’s Bioscience, and The Center for Global Enterprise. He is a board member of the Robin Hood Foundation in New York and Camp Southern Ground in Georgia.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I had never even heard of management consulting until I went to business school. My background was in engineering, mathematics, and computer programming. I loved Darden’s case method for teaching and loved the diversity of industries, problems, and ideas that were featured in the cases. By the time I left business school, consulting seemed like the perfect fit.
I retired from McKinsey & Company because I wanted to focus on CEOs and the unique challenges of that role. Becoming a CEO — or in my case, a company president — was a turning point in my understanding and appreciation for the challenge. As one of my clients said, “You really don’t get it until you have had the job.” After leading a company for four years, I returned to consulting as a CEO adviser with more energy and purpose than ever before.
Looking back, I could never have imagined the opportunity to collaborate with such terrific clients and colleagues on such interesting and important work. In some ways, my career has been a random walk but I would not change a thing. I have learned new things at every step and on each path.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am enjoying getting back to my pre-COVID rhythm of working. I appreciate the technology and changes in work culture that enable work from home, but I am “old school” in my preferences. I love meeting with people in person, working over meals, and enjoying the personal relationships that form through informal interactions.
I tend to start early and work on individual projects before the business day gets going. I write at least one hour per day and am always working on a book (I have written four so far). Most days are now a mix of in-person working sessions and video conferences.
I find that staying productive requires more discipline than ever. The continued penetration of technology into our lives can result in constant disruption that can lead to fragmentation, lack of focus, and poor execution. I have personal practices to fight the tendency to let my devices get control of my time!
What’s one trend that excites you?
Green technologies. We have seen, over and over, that businesses can adapt to constraints of all types. As long as the playing field is level and uniformly enforced, enterprises will innovate to get customers the value they need without violating regulations or laws. We are finally seeing innovations that make green products, packaging, and services competitive and affordable. This trend gives me great hope.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I would cite two principles — both from my father: 1) Do the work that is in front of you to the best of your ability, every day; and, 2) Don’t work with people or organizations that lack integrity. Quality work is its own reward. That can be hard to see at the time, but it is infallibly true. The second principle is the real key to success because it defines success. You spend the majority of your waking hours working. Doing so with people and organizations that do the right things for the right reasons is success.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Have a little more faith and have a little more fun. I am guilty of over-sweating things I could not control that, in the end, didn’t matter nearly as much as I thought.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Life around the world and in this country has never been easier than it is today. If you study history, you will see that it is filled with difficult times over and over. Life was harder for our parents and for their parents and so on back as far as you can research. Today’s pervasive media tends to make us think that everything bad — poverty, violent crime, racism, sexism, bullying … even weather — is worse than ever before. The facts show the opposite. Many things are much, much better now than ever before.
All that said, I am not sure that life in the past was “bad”. For example, Americans spend, on average, 12 hours per week watching television and 18 hours per week participating in social media — 30 hours per week of entertainment in just those two categories. But 100 years ago, the average American probably engaged in three hours per week of passive entertainment. Were they less happy for their lack of entertainment and the time to consume it? I doubt it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I still have doubts every day! I have been fortunate to work for the U.S. government, a global corporation, an esteemed partnership, and an elite private firm. Only recently did I try starting my own firm. The level of doubt when trying to make something from nothing can feel suffocating. The only way through, at least for me, is to focus on delivering as much value as possible to others — clients, colleagues, your community — whichever is most relevant for what you are doing. Dedication is the remedy for doubt.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Dinner with my daughter Lydia at the Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar. Great place, great food, great company.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I was introduced to Stoicism by a friend relatively recently. In the same way that this philosophy emerged from what may have been the first great Western city, its principles and practices feel very relevant as we grapple with becoming a single, interconnected, global society.
What is your favorite quote?
Ben Franklin, Winston Churchill, and Mark Twain all offer a lifetime’s worth of wit and wisdom in their quotes. If I could pick only one, it would be from Ben Franklin: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
- Stay disciplined and focused
- Don’t be afraid of failure
- Do the work that is in front of you to the best of your ability
- Work with companies that exhibit integrity
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.