10 questions for Ken Hendricks
What's your favorite part of a typical day?
The end of the day, because I know I've done all that I can.
What skill would you most like to improve?
Organizing my desk.
What is the most overrated skill for an entrepreneur?
The most overrated skill is skill. Luck is more important. The entrepreneur gets credit for being this genius, when really he was just at the right place at the right time.
If you could go back in time and do one thing differently in your business, what would it be?
I would have shared with the banks my long-term vision and got them involved instead of just going to them when I needed money. I should have got them on my team right from the start.
What's the simplest thing you never learned to do?
Run a computer. I don't trust them.
Who is the smartest person you know? And why?
There is no single smartest person. There's a broad range of talent and intelligence out there. There are smart salespeople and communicators and managers. There are people who are successful at raising families and building companies. I always go to the best person I can find in a specific area.
What is the best advice you've given your children?
Whatever you do, do the best you can and never set a limit on how far you can go. I don't care if you're a garbage collector--you can turn into Wayne Huizenga. It doesn't matter what you do. It's always fun if you're successful.
What has been the most rewarding moment in your decades of entrepreneurship?
Our last annual managers meeting. I gave my motivational talk and then I asked, How many people here started as a forklift operator, a warehouse person, a roof loader, or a truck driver? We had 600 people and almost half of them stood up.
What belief did you hold at the beginning of your career that has changed?
That it was going to be really hard. I'm the 107th wealthiest person in the U.S., but getting here has just been step by step. I can't believe how easy it's been. What a country!
If you were charged with fixing the U.S. auto industry, how would you do it?
The guys who run the auto companies are out of touch with their customers and their employees. They ride to work in their limousines. They go up in their elevators and lock themselves in their offices. They don't walk out into the plants. They wouldn't even drive in the neighborhoods where their employees live. They give themselves big bonuses when the company isn't making any money. I'd make them get involved with the people who are building the cars. They've got to become real people.