Wayne Strickland

Be very disciplined with letting go of a bad idea.


Wayne Strickland is a business coach, consultant, speaker, and enlightened leader who believes leaders fail because they fail to develop new skills as they grow as leaders. New leaders, crow functional, and enterprise leaders require different skills and most don’t invest time to develop them.

Wayne began his career selling pots and pans door to door, and rose to a successful Vice President at Hallmark Cards for over 25 years, where, in his 35th year in the business, he lead the launch and development of the Hallmark Greetings business across multiple Amazon platforms.

Wayne’s extraordinary experiences he shares include winning and losing billion dollar contracts, and his success and failures have informed his approach to building a competitive culture and market leadership. For almost forty years, Wayne’s consumer, retail customer and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry knowledge have allowed him to lead and sustain Hallmark as one of the world’s most powerful brands. Now Wayne shares his competitive leadership philosophies with both large corporate audiences and individual entrepreneurs. Wayne Strickland graduated from the University of Arkansas with a BSBA and an MBA. He is an avid cyclist, guitar player and singer who hope’s to go on tour with a band when he grows up. He is proud to call Kansas City home.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I have always been a big believer that the title of a company, a retail store name or a product should be very clear what it does. I have seen the title of a new business or new product cause them issues because nobody knew what it meant. It might be a clever name but it’s confusing. Consumers don’t want to work that hard to figure out what something means. They want it to be simple. So, Wayne Strickland Speaking is pretty clear to me so I went with it.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Typical is not a word that describes an entrepreneur very often but I try to do these things everyday. I start with a healthy protein, vegetable and fruit smoothie. I always find a way to get a 1 to1.5 hour workout. Even at 62 I still do 1500 pushups a week. I try to write everyday even if it’s just a little. I am working on my second and third book, at the same time so I need content. At the end of the day, I usually cook for our family.

I try to bundle all my meetings out of the office on the same days so I can focus when I am in the office. Monday is usually a marketing day where I work on my website, articles like this one, LinkedIn and Twitter. I try to keep the middle of the week open to write again and schedule meetings for the next week or so.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Test, trial, iterate
Test trial iterate
Test, trial iterate
Scale, modify or dump the idea

Be very disciplined with letting go of a bad idea.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The re-birth of analogue is interesting, exciting and I am investing behind it. I think we have become a bit too digital and lean on it far too often. There is a place for hand written notes, a greeting card, and things that are more tangible. Clearly, digital has made us faster, given us vast access, and it plays a major role but you can stand out from the crowd if you add a hand written note or card to your communication playbook. People are humans and have human emotions. I am afraid we resembling androids and not allowing our emotions influence more of what we think and do. Be to clear, I am a fact driven guy and follow quantifiable metrics in my decision-making. But when working with people you need to have and use soft skills. One of my mentors told me years ago, “be strict with the strategy, but sensitive to the people.” I think the come back of analogue will help develop better soft skills.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

It’s consistently trying to stay fit and having healthy eating habits. (most of the time) I have seen too many people over the years not take care of themselves and then they have major, avoidable health issues. They say they will get fit later. They are too busy with work, kids, family and all the rest. It’s sad to see so many people not being able to enjoy themselves later in life because they failed to take care of their health.

What advice would you give your younger self?

A couple of things jump out.

First, stop talking all the time and listen. Listening is a skill that most people don’t have but should. I believe the smartest and best leaders are the ones who listen, ask smart questions, and then give clear direction. Too many times people talk to impress not to learn. That described me early in my career.

Second, if you have an issue with a person, go talk to them one on one and solve it. Early in my career I avoided conflict and it slowed me down. I have added a phrase I use with teams, “Find the Friction” If something that is not working, find the friction. Find out what, where or who is holding you back and figure it out. Don’t avoid it, it will not go away, it will only get worst.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Experience is more important than just education. Big name schools don’t impress me. They are arrogant and don’t teach real life skills.

I was never “wowed” by the people who went to the big name colleges and had high grade point averages. I wanted people in my organization that had real skills from real life jobs. I wanted people that had failed and figured it out and got back on track. I wanted people who knew how to work with other people and not always a solo artist. I wanted people who had to claw and scratch their way and not have life handed to them from their parents or feel entitled because of where they went to college.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Be clear what is it you want to do and stay on track. Don’t get distracted by the next fun idea that comes in your inbox. Formally this is a business plan with goals and metrics. I hope all entrepreneurs have one, if not go start one. You should be really clear on what your competitive advantage is and stay focused on it.

It’s easy to chase the next “thing or big ideas”. If you of that you don’t have a competitive advantage or a brand.

Every entrepreneur should be clear on what it is they do that is meaningful. Some might call it their brand, their value proposition, their competitive advantage but whatever it is, stay focused on delivering against it. Don’t chase every idea.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Being focused and deliberate on how I spend my time. As you can tell I am disciplined, maybe to a fault, but it’s worked for a long time. I don’t spend time on things that don’t matter to me. I spend my time with people who will make me better, not be cynical. I have balance in my life and that’s means it’s not all about the business. I enjoy my family, my hobbies, and my self-renewal.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I was too aggressive trying to get a client and gave away too much of my IP (intellectual property) and they went out and implemented my ideas without me. They will not get it right and they might call me back but I gave away some great ideas.

I have also made a big mistake in a contract by not being specific about when the payments were due and got hosed on a payment.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Boating Uber, this is an uber service for lakes that can take passengers to bars, restaurants, homes or anyplace passengers want to go. We have a lake house at the Lake of the Ozarks (yes the one on Netflix) and it would get an excellent service to offer. The lake gets crowded and it can be a challenge to get around. A service that would pick you up and drop you off would be a hit. Add additional services like drinks and snacks and I think you have a winner.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

My mother-in-law was staying with us for 3 weeks and I paid for her and my wife to go get foot and neck massages. It was a good thing for all of us.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Dropbox – It cleaned up my desktop and gave me organization for all my content.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Crucial Conversations – Patterson – Gernny – McMillan – Switler

This is an excellent resource to help you understand the importance of having the crucial conversations and the tools to have them. Everyone has crucial conversations, or needs to have them, but they lack the skills. This book played a key role in helping me navigate some very difficult times in my career.

What is your favorite quote?

You are the master of what you don’t say and the slave to what you do say.

Key learnings:

  • If you want to start a blog, start writing. Writing will give you more ideas to write about. Just start writing.
  • Hire a social media expert to guide you for the first few months. It’s well worth the expense to help you jump start your blogging skills
  • Try different themes to your writing. Insights, Learnings, humor, ideas, or just a good story. Try all of them.
  • Try multiple platforms and one of them will emerge as the best for you.


Twitter @WayneLeadership