Professional Development

Inspiring Women

Minnesota Business introduces Sue Hawkes and her new monthly column, Inspiring Women

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Starting in 2016, Minnesota Business will publish a monthly column, Inspiring Women, written by Sue Hawkes. Sue Hawkes is a certified EOS implementer and has had more than 16 years of experience in personal and professional training before starting her own company, YESS!

YESS! works with a broad range of organizations, from nonprofits and youth groups, to for-profit businesses with $2 million-$50 million in revenue. We recently caught up with Sue to learn more about her background and what she has in store for Minnesota Business readers over the next year.

MNBIZ: What can we expect from your column over the next year?
Hawkes: The purpose of the column is to take very successful women and highlight the story behind the story, so that it isn’t just about their business and outward success, but also about the challenges, the growth opportunities, the nuances and the instrumental pieces that made them who they are. It could be a one-on-one with a really top CEO, and it could be talking about how they grew, the kind of culture they have in their company and what kind of personal trials and challenges contributed to them thinking that way. I think it’s going to be a diverse column highlighting a unique group of women leaders doing something really interesting that forwards them personally and professionally.

MNBIZ: Do women face special challenges in business that men don’t face?
Hawkes I think men are challenged and women are challenged with the very same scenarios, but I think women internalize much more of it. I also think women don’t sing their own praises nearly enough, while men are very comfortable saying, “Here’s where I’m great” — the competitive part gets celebrated in one gender and maybe not so much in the other.

The successful women-owned companies that I know have an easier time focusing on culture as the element that’s driving success. Their focus is on the people, and how they develop people, and what that culture feels like. I think it’s a tougher thing for men to say and do those things, and not be looked at as soft.

MNBIZ: How would you define a good coach?
Hawkes A really good coach is a partner. They’re not someone who advises as much as they draw out or evoke the answer from you that is the right solution for you. They can be a confidant and you can open up completely and feel connected. You’re in good hands so that you can see yourself differently and take better actions as a result of interaction with them.

MNBIZ: Do you have a coach?
Hawkes I do. I have two different people in my life, one I would call more of a mentor, and the other one absolutely is a coach. I meet with one of them on a monthly basis, and the other one as often as possible. I think I’d be a big hypocrite if I didn’t have a coach!

MNBIZ: You are a certified EOS implementer. Can you tell us more about that?
Hawkes EOS, or Entrepreneurial Operating System, gets its popularity from the book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman. Certified EOS implementers are disciplined and focused on running our companies using Traction and EOS.

EOS forces people to deal with the stuff they know they should be dealing with, because it puts it right in front of them instead of something they can tuck away in the background. It isn’t new information. Once they do it, it’s not such a big deal, but it’s very often something they’ve been putting off or not wanting to deal with because it’s uncomfortable.

It’s a system that takes discipline to implement, but for entrepreneurial companies it’s enough structure to systemize without bureaucratizing them. To date, I haven’t found anything more effective, or more fun to work with because it works 100% of the time if the teams follow the process. It takes somewhere between 18 months and two years to completely get it in place.

MN BIZ: What inspired you to start YESS?
Hawkes I had been at a general public training company for sixteen years, and I had seen the personal and professional transformation through that. I loved that kind of learning. I think [YESS] happened more organically than having some brilliant business plan — many of the business people that I interfaced with said, “Can you do some work for my company?” I don’t know that I was inspired to do it, I think it was more like, this is the path I should be doing, it makes sense, and it’s more fun!

MN BIZ: What makes you and YESS! different from other companies doing similar things?
HawkesI have coached individuals, and taught and certified coaches, so I’ve learned and designed curriculum around how to work with people effectively. I also have sat in and had the privilege of working with all these women business owners for eleven years, hearing commonalities and the thread of what their concerns are. When I think in terms of EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System), I’m working with a leadership team to advance them and their company wherever they’re trying to get.

I think as a human being I bring a perspective of having grown up in a family-owned business and seen the best and worst of that. My level of compassion and understanding has been enhanced through all the people I’ve been fortunate enough to learn with. I’m not bringing theory to people; it’s real, practical, results-based learning that works for our kind of company.

MNBIZ: What have you learned from your work?
Hawkes I’m amazed at the depth of care that [business owners] have. They care so much for their people, for their clients, for what their business makes possible. They feel such a sense of responsibility and accountability for the lives they’re touching. It’s visceral in this process, because they’re able to realize their dreams while they’re helping others do the same. The thing that I’m constantly touched by is how sincere that passion and commitment is, and that when things get tough they stress the most about their people — only their people don’t always see it.

Second, these people are so smart! They have 90% of what they need to be successful among the people at the table, so if we can get them communicating they can solve anything.

MNBIZ: Do you have any standout examples of a successful client?
Hawkes [Consulting firm] Keyot was at 51% growth last year, and 34% this year. They are killing it, they’re just outstanding leaders and people, and they’re coachable and they’re having fun with it.

MN BIZ: Finally, what’s coming up in the future for you and for YESS!?
Hawkes A really fabulous year of writing great articles for Minnesota Business magazine, for one! Our evolution as a company as we continue to serve our clients well, to help them reach their goals, we’re reaching our goals when we’re doing that. I’m also starting a Platinum Chapter for WPO. Those are the biggies right now.


Sue hawkes, CEO of YESS!, is a Certified EOS Implementer, Certified Business Coach, WPO Chapter Chair, bestselling author and award-winning entrepreneur. She has been helping entrepreneurs and leadership teams succeed for the past 20+ years.