Success Tips From a Best-Selling Author Jeffrey Hayzlett

Primetime TV & Radio Host, Keynote Speaker, Best-Selling Author and Global Business Celebrity

As I write this, Jeffrey Hayzlett is a best selling author, a primetime TV host, radio host, and former CMO of a Fortune 500 company. He also runs a PR firm, and I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon. My business partner John Zanzarella and I love Jeffrey Hayzlett. John and I have taken a few meetings with Jeffrey and we always leave smarter than when we entered the room.

Jeffrey is a high octane, move a million miles an hour business cowboy with a shotgun slung over his shoulder. The guy is all straight talk. All passion. No frills perfection. In a world of tip toe on eggshells political correctness, Jeffrey calls it how he sees it because he can. Which is why he was an obvious choice for John and I to have him keynote the Westchester Digital Summit. Jeffrey blew the roof off our event.  He was recently  inducted into the speaker’s Hall of Fame. Oh yeah – he’s also a newly minted grandfather.  Let’s welcome Jeffrey to the Success feature, because – hell, this guy deserves it!


Let me stop myself.

I feel like I’m a gameshow host introducing one of the spokesmodels.  Ok – here’s the real deal. When I first met Jeffrey he scared the shit out of me.  When he walked in, I said to myself “shit – that’s a big dude.” His right hand is bigger than my head. He had just gotten back from a TV appearance defending the bad behavior of Alex Baldwin.  Yep – DEFENDING.


I didn’t know what to make of him.  But since that first meeting, Jeffrey has collaborated with our team and helped us greatly. His insight, participation and guidance has been invaluable to my agency as we deal with astronomical growing pains. His keynote was a highlight at the summit.  While Jeffrey was speaking, I was in a side room interviewing our Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. We had to keep stopping the interview because Jeffrey’s voice was bellowing throughout the conference hall, and the crowd was eating it up.  This is a guy who’s seen it all in the C-suite, but he’s humble enough to know that he had to reinvent himself to remain a success. He now travels the globe spreading the cautionary tale of Eastman Kodak. Pulling no punches about his experience, and his own missteps as innovation bubbled up around them, and left Kodak in the dust.  He’s a touch of old school, a dab of new school and a ton of bravado.  Just the way I like it.

There, I feel better – let’s do this.

Chris Dessi: You’re at a cocktail party, and one of your contemporaries says something like “I don’t get that Twitter thing – I don’t care about what you had for lunch”…how do you respond to them? I guess what I’m asking is – how do you explain the power of social media to someone who dismisses it?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: My first response would be something very direct like, ‘you have to be an idiot not to be using social media.” And after they spit out their cocktail, I would then proceed to explain the benefits of social engagement and building brand ambassadors for your brand. This is the new way of selling. I’m using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, to not only engage audiences but to sell products. Business leaders need to understand that their community is online and if you want to reach them you need to be there, too. That’s what social media is about, engaging with an audience that is interested in your company.

Chris Dessi: What the hell is it about bacon that has you so enamored? Why not devil dogs, or lollipops, or hamburgers? What do you think it is about bacon?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Duh, because its bacon! Don’t make fun of bacon; I’ll have to hurt you. Seriously, everything goes better with bacon. You can even eat Brussels Sprouts with bacon on it! Although, if I were you I would just throw out the Brussels Sprouts and just eat the bacon. I mean, why go through all that hassle when you can just eat bacon?

Chris Dessi: Many people would consider themselves a success if they accomplished just one of your many accomplishments (write a book, appear on TV, etc.). When did you first consider yourself a success?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: I don’t know if I have ever looked at it like that. I was brought up to believe that no matter what you did, as long as you did it right, you are a success. That’s the way I approach things in life and if I can add zeros onto it well, then, that makes me wealthy and smart. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not always successful but usually that’s just timing.

Chris Dessi: How do you define success?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: I think all things around success are defined by mutual conditions of satisfaction. Everyone needs to have a sense of what their conditions of satisfaction are. For me it’s about building wealth, having fun and learning something new.

Chris Dessi: You recently delivered a powerful keynote at my event, the Westchester Digital Summit. Does that come naturally, or have you worked on your presentation skills?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: I think it’s easier for some people rather than others. Some people just have a natural ability to connect with audiences. That being said, one needs to practice and prepare. Just like in sales or anything else it’s called hard work because it’s hard. A good practitioner is always honing their craft, finding the perfect timing or the right story, so the audience gets the most of their experience.

Chris Dessi: What advice can you give my readers who want to be successful public speakers like yourself?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: The biggest free advice I can give is to practice, practice, practice. This can be applied to any job, task or profession. My second piece of advice is to watch those who are the very best at their craft. Not to steal their ideas, if you’re stealing ideas you’re only cheating yourself, but to learn how the masters work. I was recently inducted into the speaker’s Hall of Fame and I am now listed among some of the greatest speakers in the world. I grew up watching and learning from those speakers. My last piece of advice is to be genuine. You can tell a great and authentic speaker because it just oozes out of every word, every movement, every story and that’s what helps make them great. Being in business can be tough.

Chris Dessi:  You’ve enjoyed some good times, but I think that’s boring. I’m more interested in learning how you push through your worst times?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: I’ve mentioned earlier that it’s called hard work because it’s hard. It’s not easy to be in business for yourself or in any business. It’s not the lucky who win, but the relentless that succeed in the end. Never be afraid of hard times, because in your career you’ll face numerous hard times. The key is to realize what’s coming and always be ready to handle the toughest situations. That way when times are good you will succeed faster.

Chris Dessi: Which habit has helped yield the most success for you? What I mean is – are you an obsessive networker, or cold caller?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: I use both but I’m a bigger networker than I am a cold caller. Not that I like one over the other but I’ve found that by being a really great networker, I don’t have to make as many cold calls because people call me.

Chris Dessi: Do you watch a lot of TV? If so, what’s your favorite show?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: I don’t watch as much TV as I used to but when I do watch I like shows where I learn things, like Antique Roadshow. Although, I have to admit I’m a fan of The Big Bang Theory it’s so well written and it makes me laugh.

Chris Dessi: What’s your rhythm? How much sleep do you need? What time are you in bed/up in the morning?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: I can get by with about five hours of sleep a night. I tend to go to bed very late and wake up early. However, I do like to sleep in every so often. Every three or four months I catch up by sleeping in very late

Chris Dessi: Do you exercise? Meditate? What centers you?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: I work. When I’m in South Dakota I do a lot of outside work — that is a real workout! I haul, brush, cut trees, pull fence, move rocks— there is always something to do on our acreage there.

Chris Dessi: Who do you consult to make hard decisions in business and in life?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: For the most part I look in the mirror because the person staring back is the one that really has to make the decision. But I also have partners and I try to consult them.

Chris Dessi: I notice how hard you work, but I also notice that you love to spend time on your farm, and with your family. Now that you’re a grandfather – How do you find a work/life balance? Have you always been able to separate church and state, or are you the type of guy that needs to schedule down time – sort of force it upon yourself so you don’t burn out?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Everything is about choices. I learned very early in life that you have to concentrate on living a balanced life. Stephen Covey once said, “a real successful leader balances between spiritual, friends, business, and family.” I have a great partner, my wife of 33 years, who does a good job in keeping me centered and focused on the real things.

Chris Dessi: You’ve rubbed elbows with some of the most powerful people in the world (Donald Trump and Gene Simmons come to mind). Who has impressed you the most? What was it about that person that impressed you?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: To be very honest I don’t get enamored much by the trappings of celebrities or high-powered people. In the end, they’re just people. Maybe it’s just a South Dakota thing, I treat everyone the same way I treat my next-door neighbor.

Chris Dessi: What’s the biggest misconception young people have about success?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: I think it’s being realistic about how hard you need to work. Most people don’t succeed because they’re lucky. They succeed because they’re relentlessly hard workers. There is no real substitute for being great at what you do.

Chris Dessi: How important has your education been to your success? What do you say to people who say college is a waste of money?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: It’s not a waste, it’s an investment —if you don’t invest in yourself who else wants to invest in you? College helps lay the foundation for what you will do later in life and your college or university friends will become lifelong friends.

Chris Dessi: What is one skill do you think all successful people MUST possess. Bar none.

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Listening.

Speed Round:

Chris Dessi: Dakota or New York?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: South Dakota

Chris Dessi: Donald Trump or Gene Simmons?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: While Gene is savvy and smart, Donald is relentless. Donald.

Chris Dessi: Bacon or …ah, never-mind.

Jeffrey Hayzlett: You had me at bacon.

Chris Dessi: Best compliment you ever received?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Your children are wonderful.

Chris Dessi: In 100 years what one word do you think people will use to describe you?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: BIG!

Chris Dessi: What is your greatest strength or weakness?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Focus, on both counts.

Chris Dessi: If you could travel back in time to witness anything – what would it be?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Nothing— I want to live now, not then.

Chris Dessi: How do you break the ice at conferences when you meet new people?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Hi, I am Jeffrey Hayzlett. I just walk up and say hello.

Chris Dessi: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Taverns (Sloppy Joe’s) my wife made. But they were made with love.

Chris Dessi: What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without sleep?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: About four days. I don’t want to do that again.

Pre-Order Jeffrey’s next book Think Big, Act Bigger now!

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a primetime television host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and Executive Perspectives on C-Suite TV, and business radio host of All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett on CBS on-demand radio network Play.It. He is a global business celebrity, speaker, best-selling author, and Chairman of C-Suite Network, home of the world’s most powerful network of C-Suite leaders. Hayzlett is a well-traveled public speaker, the author of two bestselling business books, The Mirror Test and Running the Gauntlet.


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