We had the good fortune of connecting with Don Hutson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Don, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
Integrity. It is the one value that has allowed me to stay true to my life’s purpose to help people in a transformational way to unlock and unleash the best of their human potential. There have been a lot of times that I could have done things that would have made more money, but would not have created a transformational change. To do so would not have allowed me to fulfill my purpose. As an example, it would have been easy during the current pandemic to create videos of what we do in our programs and sell them for people to use. And, the result could have been very lucrative from a financial point of view. However, integrity would not allow me to do so, as the transformational changes we work so hard to achieve with our clients are best realized in person. It has never been about the money, it has always been about the purpose. Really making a difference in people’s lives.
What should our readers know about your business?
I suppose that I have never thought about what we do as a business. Probably because I am so passionate about what I do. I have always been focused on providing a service that can help improve human performance and how to lead for it. If there has been one major discovery for me on my journey it was to learn what drives human performance. What I learned is that information does not move the change needle. Performance is the outcome, adding an emotional component to information. Skills like trust, collaboration, partnerships, relationships and others, are essential elements necessary to driving human performance. What differentiates The Cowboy Solution from other instructional-style training programs is our experiential environment. Discovery is the highest form of learning (the transformation of knowledge into being). People remember what they discover. You cannot instructional-ize behaviors. You cannot put someone in a classroom and say trust me, build a relationship, collaborate, innovate or any other emotional component. This is the strength of The Cowboy Solution program. There are no PowerPoints or classroom. We also use horses as part of the program because they are absolute in their responses and cannot lie. This allows participants to experience using the EQ skillsets and experience the transformational change. Because this type of developmental training is so foreign to the transactional information program offered by institutes, MBA programs, and other instructional-type programs it is often hard for some organizations to understand how we can help. As crazy as it sounds, we don’t try and convince an organization. We simply align with organizations that recognize their need and offer to help. My greatest lesson has been that humans are just that–humans and not machines. We are illogical creatures driven by emotion. Sadly, I also see no trend in public education that works to develop and not simply train the human side of the brain. I only want people to know about the brand. Humans are not resources. They are important. Develop them.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am more about sharing friendships in actions. Sharing the beauty of the area around us. Houston and the surrounding area provide a variety of wonderful experiences to share with friends. Here are a few of my favorite places. Bernhardt Winery Just an hour north of Houston and outside of Montgomery near our ranch is the Bernhardt Winery. They offer tours and tastings of their award winning wines as well as Sunday concerts in the Spring and Summer. The owners are always willing to share their stories about the wine-making process and make you feel like part of a family. Miller Outdoor Theater In the heart of downtown Houston is Miller Outdoor Theater, offering a diversity of free professional entertainment all in an outdoor setting. Hopefully they’ll be able to return to in-person experiences in 2021. Harlem Road Barbeque We have a good friend who owns Harlem Road Barbeque just west of Houston. We’re fortunate to call him chef for all of our programs here at the ranch. Chef Ara takes Texas barbeque to a whole new level. We love taking people to his restaurant not just because of the food, but the whole experience with Ara. He’s the real deal.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There have been several people along the journey that deserve recognition. It would be impossible to name only a few. However, the greatest influence was my dad. My dad was wise far beyond his education. He taught me to question, seek understanding, to care, and other foundational elements that allowed me to be a better person so I could help others. To my dad, better people made better leaders and better leaders made better people. But it wasn’t the “what” that he taught me, it was “how” he did it. Everything my father taught he did though actions of everyday living. He did more than the talked about doing. The Cowboy Solution is built around simple back to basics principles for living. These were the principles of the old cowboy. I met such a person many years ago in Colorado. His name was Bob Parsons. He too lived his simple values and in the words of a cowboy song, “He had a simple solution to just about anything.” Later in life I met John Van Alstyne, Lt. General, US Army, Ret. Our conversations about performance and leadership have helped me hone the application of a few basic principles to transformational learnings. He also introduced me to the work of two people who are part of a movement towards human performance development as a corporate culture. Simon Sinek and Marcus Buckingham create a lexicon that have helped create a transformational developmental program. Of course, my wife Debra helped me put into words what we do and create organization out of chaos. She has been a great source of help and encouragement.