Always, always, always invest in yourself, first and foremost. As an entrepreneur, you are your business’s greatest and most marketable asset. Without you, it doesn’t happen, plain and simple.
Based in Washington D.C., Kelly Hoggan is the founder and principle of H4 Solutions, a premier transportation security consultancy. With nearly 30 years of experience in aviation security, operations, and technology, Kelly draws upon his unique insights and innovative solutions in the aviation industry to advise clients on aviation security and operations.
Kelly Hoggan was drawn to aviation from a young age. His parents both held positions as Federal Government employees working in national security, which furthered Kelly’s interests in aviation infrastructure. In 1994, Kelly Hoggan earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Strayer University. He later went on to earn several certifications from the Federal Executive Institute, Federal Senior Executive Service, UVA’s Darden School of Business, and USC’s Center for Organizational Effectiveness. In addition to his certifications, Kelly is also a Six Sigma Master Black Belt.
Before founding H4 Solutions, Kelly Hoggan began his career in aviation as a ramp serviceman for United Airlines and was ultimately promoted to the Manager of Customer Service Operations. From there, Kelly held multiple roles for Air Canada before transitioning to the Transportation Security Administration in 2004. During his time working for TSA, Kelly held several roles including Assistant Administrator. He was a principal advisor on issues related to security technology, procurement, and deployment to ensure technologies and process employed met the overall mission, vision, and goals of TSA and DHS. Kelly Hoggan has led the Office of Global Strategies to create a more secure global transportation network and has managed all security programs related to over 450 airports across the nation. He has served as TSA’s chief technical expert on operations, programs, and screening technologies and played a significant role in the implementation of the TSA Pre✓® program, which allows passengers to access expedited screening. Kelly has a deep knowledge of operations standards, staffing, and project management.
Kelly Hoggan founded his own company, H4 Solutions in 2016. With his combined expertise and leadership in aviation security, Hoggan provides high-value services to a multitude of industry and global government clients.
Where did the idea for H4 Solutions come from?
After years of working for others, I decided to work for myself. The timing was right, and I’d identified a need for the kinds of services we provide, especially when it comes to the aviation industry and the way in which security was being practiced. The terror attacks of 9/11 and the global war on terror since then showed that innovation in business, technology, policy, and operations was needed. H4 Solutions delivers all that in copious amounts and individually tailored to the needs of each of our clients.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Because we work with clients all over the globe, a “typical” day generally calls for a great deal of flexibility, especially when I and my people may be in one or two different times zones and a client is in another completely different one several hours away. Still, I can always look forward to four to six hours of conference calls, then a minimum of one or two face-to-face meetings along with answering emails and going over various white papers as well as position papers and proposals. Then, there are always a few hours of personal, one-on-one calls and once those are complete it’s back to addressing any outstanding issues left over. I insist that we always try to close out as many issues to our clients’ satisfaction as is possible that same day. Of course, prioritization plays a role and some issues or activities are hotter or more pressing than others. Again, it’s all about flexibility.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I don’t like using the term “thinking outside the box,” because I’ve found that it too often becomes an easy way of saying “Never mind how I did it, just trust that I did it right.” To me, the phrase shortchanges a client and makes what you’re doing seem murky or secretive, when maximum transparency – to the level allowed by operational security concerns, of course – is often what’s called for. Rather, what I require we do is that we always ask ourselves “How else can this be done? Is there another way?”
When you ask yourself that simple question, you find yourself forced into thinking of problem-solving on several levels, such as process engineering, or physically reengineering something like an airport security checkpoint so that it operates at a faster and more efficient as well as effective level. It might be something as simple as rewriting a policies and procedures manual and then training a client’s staff to the new standards. We’re able to offer our clients A to Z, turnkey solutions by asking “How else can this be done?”
What’s one trend that excites you?
Though aviation security, most especially, was slow to change after 9/11, a trend I’ve seen that excites me greatly is what’s called “systems integration.” Basically, it’s the seamless integration of “new” technology into a current operating system. The result is that a current system can be “supercharged,” if you will, by integrating new technology rather than tearing down the entire existing system and replacing it with something different, often at great cost. Systems integration can save clients both time and money, both of which are frequently in short supply these days.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I consistently start my workday early in the morning, well before the sun comes up. For me, it’s the most peaceful and quiet time of the day, and it’s also when I come up with some of my best ideas and innovations.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I really wish there was a time machine. If there were, I’d jump in it, go back and visit my younger self, grab him by the shoulders and tell him: “Kelly! Start sooner, work smarter and network much, much more!”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Take this one to the bank: The NFL’s Oakland Raiders will win the AFC West in 2019.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Always, always, always invest in yourself, first and foremost. As an entrepreneur, you are your business’s greatest and most marketable asset. Without you, it doesn’t happen, plain and simple. So, take care of yourself and make sure you’re performing to your utmost every single day.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
My business is about selling myself, meaning the knowledge, skills, and abilities I possess in far greater amounts than anyone else out there offering a similar service. This is also part and parcel of investing in myself in order to grow and market my brand, as any entrepreneur out there should be marketing their own brand.
So, you’ve got to not only deliver for your clients, and offer a superior product or service, you’ve also got to effectively market your brand. You may have the best product or service in the world, but if no one knows about it then it will die on the vine and you’ll find yourself once again working for someone else.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I first started out, I failed to sufficiently invest in an appropriately sized “digital footprint” – out on the internet – soon enough. Study after study has shown that people are more and more checking things out on the internet before they personally interact with whatever that thing is they’re interested in taking on. It’s just the way of things nowadays. You’ve got to have a robust online presence, and it needs to offer relevant, timely, factual and comprehensive information to your prospective clients, or they’ll quickly move on and search until they do find what they’re looking for.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Before I answer that, a little advice is required: Always try to lead the market, don’t follow it or try to latch onto it once it’s matured. You’ll never become a big fish if you’re just swimming around in someone else’s well-developed pond. All you’ll be doing is trying to catch up. This means you need to identify a need for something or an improvement on something that’s already out there and which creates a value proposition for people considering your product or service.
Given the above, and the way in which we’re increasingly leading fast-paced digital lives and the growth in autonomous vehicles – meaning driverless cars – servicing that industry is going to be huge, I think. It may be offering training in a virtual reality (VR) environment so that people can order up a driverless ride, say, through their smartphones or other devices. Such a company can provide “pop-up” training, meaning swoop into a neighborhood or event, set up a booth and have at it, and then move on to the next “target-rich environment.” Projections are that within 10 years, the cost of a subscription for such rides will be no pricier than an unlimited data phone plan, given the predicted economies of scale. Think on the possibilities for providing services in such a sector.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It’s still a truism that “business” gets done in more places than just the office. For example, I recently took a client out for a round of golf. Besides the both of us achieving low scores we were able to go over a great deal real business while doing so, and in a relaxing environment in which the ideas being exchanged between us were coming at a lightning-fast pace.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
There are so many good services and software packages out there. I really like Microsoft’s “One Calendar,” which lets me view all my different calendars – necessary because of I have clients all over the world, many of whom have their own preferences in calendars – and integrates them into an easy-to-read overview. It helps me to be hyper-productive.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Hands down, it’s Zig Ziglar’s “See You at the Top.” Ziglar’s widely considered to be the preeminent example for salespeople in any industry, but he was much more than that. He always stressed the importance of honesty, loyalty, faith, integrity, and strong personal character. Those are traits that everyone should work to develop. “See You at the Top” also provides concrete advice on how to set and achieve goals and Ziglar gives step-by-step instructions on how you can change the way in which you think about yourself and your environment. Anyone having difficulty dealing with change, for one, should read it and take what he says to heart.
What is your favorite quote?
“Don’t become a wandering generality. Be a meaningful specific.” Think on it for a moment, and you’ll get what Ziglar’s saying.
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.