Episode #1: Weave’s BGS Webinar Series

About the speaker

One of the highest profile conversations during last year’s BGS event featured an interview of then-Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert.¹ The interview was conducted by the founder of Weave, Brandon Rodman,² and covers a whole range of topics, from advice about work/life balance to Utah’s economic success to the impact of technology on business.

Governor Herbert took office in 2009, and at the time of this interview was the longest-standing governor in the United States. His resolute focus on economic development in his home state of Utah led to national and international renown.

Before serving as the head of Utah’s executive branch, Governor Herbert started multiple successful businesses and was very involved in the real estate market. Because of this experience, he came into office with a deep understanding of the challenges of entrepreneurship. He applauds the risk-takers of the business world, and governed with their needs in mind.

🎧 Webinar with Governor Herbert | Preparing Small Businesses 👇

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Here’s a recap of the other words of wisdom Governor Herbert shared with Brandon:

Sources of motivation

When asked about what drives him, Governor Herbert responds by talking about his family. He says he owes a lot to his good parents. His father began his career as a milkman, but eventually got into real estate and started his own construction company. Governor Herbert’s father taught him a phrase he calls the 8 W’s: “Work will win when wishy-washy wishing won’t.”

Governor Herbert recently celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary and has six children along with 17 grandchildren. He’s motivated by the need to support his family and ensure that his grandchildren have ample opportunities to flourish. His pioneering spirit led Utah to earn the #1 spot in Forbes’ annual Best States for Business rankings³ six times.💥

Work/life balance

Because of the primary importance of family in Governor Herbert’s life, he gets together with his children and grandchildren every Sunday for dinner, a tradition they’ve maintained for 25 years. He also attends church services on a regular basis in order to feel a connection with “something outside of ourselves.” Although wealth creators work hard, whether they’re professional athletes or tech moguls, entrepreneurs need anchors like family and spirituality to keep themselves grounded.

Utah’s economic success

Brandon shifts the focus of the conversation from Governor Herbert’s family life to the health of Utah’s economy. The governor went into office looking to empower the private sector by making Utah a land of opportunity that rewards people based on merit. One of his primary objectives was “getting the government off your backs and out of your wallets.”

In order to achieve his ideals, Governor Herbert set about lowering taxes and reforming governmental regulations in his state. His administration made a concerted effort to search out inefficiencies in government, resulting in fewer state employees than when he started. Herbert’s governorship coincided with a low unemployment rate, significant GDP growth, and an expanding private sector.4

This growth is the culmination of over a decade of work by Governor Herbert’s administration. Utah’s economic diversity earned it a 97.3 on the Hachman Index,5 where it leads the country. This level of economic diversity insulates Utah against downturns and gives it one of the best outlooks in the United States.

The economic development Utah is seeing across the board helps improve education, transportation, and human services. Herbert credits Utah’s fast-growing population for also pushing the state into the upper echelons of the nation’s economy.

Executive decision-making

Over his time in politics, Governor Herbert witnessed plenty of politicians making short-term decisions to win elections. However, as the state’s leading executive, he found himself having to occasionally make tough, even unpopular decisions. While tactical decisions are crucial, long-term strategy can’t only be oriented toward garnering votes.

Herbert finds communication to be the hardest part of decision-making. That’s why he surrounded himself with smart people to challenge his thought process. He intentionally hired staff that were able to anticipate unintended consequences.

In his first inaugural address, Governor Herbert stated that he wanted his team to work together. He hearkens back to his time playing quarterback, where he relied on a stout offensive line, tough running backs, sure-handed receivers, and a strong defense to support him. Though it’s a little corny, he likes the acronym TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More.

The impact of technology

Governor Herbert remembers carrying a “brick” around for a cellphone and, even further back, waiting in line for 30 minutes to call his wife while serving in the military. He’s amazed at the communication technology that’s available today, as well as the medical developments that allow people to potentially live longer. He sees how technology can make our lives better than ever and thinks technological advancement is a wonderful thing.

Utah’s future

Although Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, it’s again one of the USOC’s leading candidates6 to host the games in the next decade or two. Governor Herbert wants Utah to work on some of its environmental issues, like air quality, between now and then. Regardless, the incredible economic and population growth make Utah’s future bright.7

Advice to entrepreneurs

According to Governor Herbert, small business is the backbone of the American economy. Entrepreneurs should be more civically engaged and involved in their local community. Herbert encourages business owners to keep grinding and not to “rest on their laurels.” Economic prosperity is a never-ending quest.

Notes:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Herbert
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/brandonrodman
  3. https://edcutah.org/news/2019/12/19/utah-continues-%E2%80%9Cpodium%E2%80%9D-streak-forbes-best-states-business-ranking
  4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/brendarichardson/2019/12/09/utah-ranks-among-the-fastest-growing-states-in-the-nation-heres-why/?sh=27621603217f
  5. https://gardner.utah.edu/wp-content/uploads/Hachman-Brief-Apr2020.pdf
  6. https://www.espn.com/olympics/story/_/id/25536056/usoc-selects-salt-lake-city-winter-olympics-bid
  7. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/utah