Interview by Kristen Noel
Carlsbad, CA – Hay House Offices / May 5, 2015
Photographs by Bill Miles
Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.
~ Tom Peters
The corporate offices of Hay House Publishing are much like their CEO and President, Reid Tracy, discretely hidden and noticeably absent of any unnecessary Madison Avenue flash. What matters most is the quality on the inside. As a longtime fan of Louise Hay and many of their authors, I was practically awash in uncontainable giddiness upon reading the placard on the wall outside the office I was being ushered into. It read “Louise Hay.” Enough said. This was the Holy Hay House Grail and I was about to conduct my interview within the walls of its heart.
[Tribute quotes are from Hay House authors/creators]
Kristen Noel: Do you like my accessory of choice? [holding up a name tag on a lanyard]. Almost two years to the date of this interview, I attended a Hay House Writers Workshop in NYC… and I have to tell you, I recall not liking what you had to say very much — especially all that talk about platform building.
Reid Tracy: [laughing] I’m sure you didn’t. Most people don’t.
Kristen Noel: I had arrived chock full of preconceived notions. But I want to thank you and tell you that in fact you did make magical things happen that day.
Reid Tracy: Then I did good!
Kristen Noel: Your resume reads CEO and President of Hay House, the largest and most influential self-empowerment company. I think it should also read, mentor, visionary, and the wind beneath Louise Hay’s wings. For 27 years, you have stayed somewhat behind the scenes. Can you take us through how a young back-office accountant activated his own big picture using out-of-the box thinking?
I’m so grateful for Reid and his clear vision. His grounded knowledge, intuitive business acumen, personal style and generosity of knowledge is why Hay House is the biggest MBS publisher on the planet. That and the fact that he is an all round awesome person. ~ Rebecca Campbell
Reid Tracy: When I came on board we had three books and five tapes. Things were very different. I didn’t see it as activating anything; I dove in and did everything. I opened mail. We were all hands on deck. I had a willingness to try anything, which mainly came out of not knowing anything about book publishing. We tried things that other people weren’t trying… and many thought we were crazy.
Kristen Noel: As if Louise Hay starting Hay House when she was 60 years old isn’t enough inspiration! Many people will not know that you were working for an accounting firm down the hall from Louise’s office. Many of your coworkers thought she was completely “woo woo”; what made you jump and accept the job? Did you have a contingency plan and when did you start drinking the Kool-Aid?
Reid Tracy: I began to hear myself repeating things to friends and family, and realized that I was getting this through osmosis, from being around everybody. I started to see these words of our authors at work. When you go to live events like “I Can Do It,” you get to see thousands of people interact with our authors and hear them say repeatedly, “Your book changed my life.” Seeing is believing. This is where I truly became a believer.
Kristen Noel: Did you ever have an “ah ha” moment where you realized that you were activating more than a career, that you were activating a soul calling?
Reid Tracy: I don’t think there was one particular moment. The path wasn’t linear and there were several hiccups along the way.
Kristen Noel: You really practice what you preach, given that you advance and nurture the careers of others. I don’t know any other CEO who does what you are doing. Not only are you activating your talent, you are activating thousands upon thousands of people globally, and not just in publishing. I believe that you are on the forefront of truly creating new venues for outreach.
Reid Tracy: My favorite part of the business is helping authors reach more people and discovering new authors who have the potential to reach people, helping them discover the potential in themselves that they don’t even know yet.
Kristen Noel: You discover them and start talking about those dirty words, “platform” and “platform building.”
Reid Tracy: [laughing] People often don’t want to work hard.
Reid has been a wonderful mentor and friend since I first met him in 1993, and his advice for authors is trustworthy and reliable. Reid has helped my writing career to be enjoyable, fulfilling, and successful. I am so grateful for Reid and his wisdom. ~ Doreen Virtue
Kristen Noel: There’s the “work” issue but it’s also about getting over that hurdle of being open to seeing things differently. You really got that from the beginning. You didn’t have a blueprint or mentor’s footsteps to follow in.
Reid Tracy: That’s probably the reason it worked. The messages aren’t unique; our authors found their unique ways to implement them in their own voices. When we started Hay House radio 10 years ago, everyone thought we were nuts. Louise didn’t invent affirmations, but she translated them into a language that resonated with people, one which they could apply to their own lives. She’s the benchmark – this is what we strive to have all of our authors do — to reach others with messages wrapped in their individuality.
Kristen Noel: And as you said, you enjoy sitting back and watching the audience interact with your authors and hearing testimonies and personal stories. Hay House Radio allows people to do just that — to connect with their favorite authors.
I don’t want to get you in trouble with your talent, but would you say that there has been anyone in particular who has personally influenced you? Anyone who especially contributed to your out-of-the-box thinking?
Reid Tracy: I’ve spent most of my time with Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer.
Kristen Noel: Not bad company!
Reid Tracy: I talk to Wayne Dyer every day — in some conversations he’s like my father or my mentor and some my friend… and some my kid [laughing].
Kristen Noel: Depends on the day and the biorhythms, right?
Reid Tracy: I used to accompany Louise on all of her travel around the world. On one trip to Italy years ago, Louise was sitting in first class and I was in a middle seat, last row in the smoking section. That tells you how long ago it was. Upon my return I was complaining to Wayne about my seat in smoking and Wayne said, “I’m going to put you in millionaire’s training. The first thing you are going to do is not sit in the middle seat in the smoking section.” I guess this is where he also became my personal coach.
How wonderful to see Reid Tracy acknowledged for building an international company that brings inspirational and educational tools and teachers to millions of people around the world. He’s an innovator who’s not afraid to run with a crazy idea. A risk taker who thrives on taking chances. And a passionate teacher who truly loves helping people. I’m fortunate to call him my friend and one of the best teaching partners I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a stage with. ~ Cheryl Richardson
Kristen Noel: But way before Wayne and Louise, there was some driving force that propelled you to take a chance. That’s truly the story I love.
Did you read “self-help” books?
Reid Tracy: No — zero. Frankly, I didn’t even really know what self-help was. When I started at Hay House, there wasn’t a self-help section in bookstores and today it is one of the biggest sections in Barnes & Noble. Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer were cutting edge and ahead of their time. Bookstores didn’t know where to put them. They put Louise in “alternative health” and Wayne in “psychology” and anything else that they didn’t know what to do with they placed in “occult” in the back of the store.
Kristen Noel: To that point, why do you think Louise succeeded?
Reid Tracy: It’s simply because she helped people — that’s why anyone in this business succeeds. If your message can go out and help people then you will become successful – and it doesn’t happen day one when you write the book. A great example of this is sharing the story of the group Louise started called the “Hay Ride” to help people with AIDS. This was long before even the president of this country would say the word AIDS. There were no movie stars attached to this movement. Louise literally started groups that met in her home until they grew so big they had to move to different venues. Her mission has always been to help others. To this day she still receives recognition for this. Just recently, we received a check from a man who passed away in his 80s with a note that said, “Thank you so much — you helped my partner and he lived another 20 years all because of you and your work.” This is powerful stuff.
Kristen Noel: I think you downplay your role in all of this. I think you are a really big thinker and that your superpower is activating the superpower in others.
Reid Tracy: Yes, that is my superpower.
Kristen Noel: Right brain/left brain — creative side vs. logical business side. What do you lead with and what would you say has changed for you over the course of this journey? Do you follow your gut or your heart in making new deals or acquisitions?
Reid Tracy is NOT your usual CEO. He is a combination of down-home country boy, intuitive business genius, visionary leader, and, most important of all, a man I am proud to call my good friend. He is a gift to the world. ~ Christiane Northrup, MD
Reid Tracy: Both – I think you have to do both, and remember I have been doing it a long time now. In hindsight, there are always things we may have done wrong — perhaps there are books that we should’ve done.
Kristen Noel: We have built this issue around you and the business of the soul. You seem to light up when you talk about new ideas. Would you say that connecting your purpose with your passion and activating a mission to serve is an equation for success in both your personal and professional life?
Reid Tracy: I think the mistake people make is that they either do all service and don’t think about the money or all money and don’t think about the service. I think you need to have both. If you don’t make money, your business will be over very quickly and you may end up doing something you hate.
Kristen Noel: There’s a sweet spot.
Reid Tracy: There are tons of people in business doing all business, and succeeding — but it doesn’t seem like that much fun to do it that way to me.
Over the years Reid Tracy has become my mentor and great friend. Reid’s life-changing guidance has inspired me to dream big and become unapologetic about carrying my message out to the world. I’m blessed to have Reid Tracy on my speed dial. ~ Gabrielle Bernstein
Kristen Noel: You have children — what conversations are you having with them about this? Our generation was raised in a more nose-to-the-grindstone, get-a-good-job, get-a-pension, save-for-a-rainy-day-and-then-have-a-midlife-crisis-because-you-haven’t- activated-your-passion way [laughing]. What do you say to your children?
Reid Tracy: We tell them they can do whatever they want. My mom didn’t tell me that I necessarily had to do x, y, and z, but growing up in a place where there weren’t very many successful people is a disparate experience from that of my children. My kids are surrounded by a lot of successful people. So whatever success means to them – they can see it. They have better models of what they are trying to achieve. We tell them, pick something you love to do, then you don’t have to retire.
Kristen Noel: Did accounting light you up?
Reid Tracy: No. [laughing] Before selecting a major in college, I perused the “Help Wanted” section of the newspaper and recognized that there were a lot of jobs for accountants, engineers, and nurses. It was as simple as that.
Kristen Noel: Well, things certainly did add up for you. Little did you know that accepting a job down that hall from Louise Hay’s office was going to change everything.
Reid Tracy: It was a good choice. I still like to read the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Fortune, Inc., etc. I like traditional business.
Kristen Noel: Someone has to!
Okay, you started at Hay House when there was a very small roster. I’m just going to rattle off a few of your tangible accomplishments since you came on board: you created conferences, workshops, Hay House radio, online products, affiliate products, social initiatives (raising over $100M for public TV), created worldwide offices (NYC, London, Sydney, Johannesburg, New Delhi), launched the Hay House Summit (which reached over 204 countries and territories), and sold over 65M books in the U.S. alone.
Can we say WOW-list?
Reid Tracy: Yes, one in five people in this country has bought our books.
Kristen Noel: Out of those extraordinary achievements, is there a particular one that stands out for you or that you are most proud of? What excites you now?
Reid Tracy has been a visionary leader, guiding some of the world’s greatest authors and speakers, often behind the scenes, for decades. The impact he’s made on my personal career, from helping me become a NY Times bestselling author, to helping craft a message and vision that can reach millions, has been extraordinary. From his early days of picking authors up from airports himself, to his current status as the undisputed leader of the personal development industry, Reid continues to shine, change lives and make a different for to all us. To many more years of inspiration and innovation! Thanks Reid! ~ Nick Ortner
Reid Tracy: New territory. Online courses that reach more people, making things affordable and accessible to all, not to mention available all the time. Simply broadening our outreach to help people.
Kristen Noel: You are taking a more visible presence on stage. What informed the decision to come forward?
Reid Tracy: Honestly, it was by accident. Cheryl Richardson called me up and asked me if Hay House would want to do a workshop. Then she asked me to do the whole thing with her. At first I didn’t say very much and just lurked in the background. No one that knew me could believe that I was even doing it, but now six years later here we are.
Kristen Noel: The Writer’s Workshop is such a unique offering, the perfect melding of skill sets — a juxtaposition of motivational speakers to prod you along and a bounty of tactical, practical strategies to implement. You have to go back and do the work and build the platform, but the workshop is where the process begins to percolate.
Reid Tracy: The first workshops I did, I gave the audience so many facts I almost drove them over the edge. I had to lighten up and sprinkle in some stories and personal anecdotes as well.
Kristen Noel: Well, the facts are just the facts, as they say. Did you have any “failures”?
Reid Tracy: Failures just lead us somewhere else. Right now I’m participating in this Mastermind class with a bunch of people who are all younger than me; they are like me twenty years ago. I love riding this wave.
Kristen Noel: So how do you implement self-care into all of this? What is your “balance-ometer”? What’s your touchstone?
What few people know about Reid is that he’s a real-deal psychic who leads by example with his genuine heart. A visionary willing to take a risk on who and what he believes in. Reid has always been my greatest cheerleader and most trusted advisor. He has truly helped me realize a life beyond my dreams and I’m forever grateful. ~ Nancy Levin
Reid Tracy: We work a four-day week at Hay House, to start — then there is date night with my wife, picking up my kids (when I’m in town), golf, and a month in Idaho with my family during the summer.
Kristen Noel: Does Kris Carr have you drinking green juices?
Reid Tracy: Yes. I drink green juices. I even have a picture of it with her.
Kristen Noel: Well, I saw you holding a green juice and just wanted to make sure you were drinking it.
You’ve now got tentacles out there expanding the Hay House brand far beyond the realm of publishing. Again, walking the walk and talking the talk — raising the bar for how we can all reimagine our own businesses.
What is exciting about that to me is that you are addressing all aspects of life — it’s not just self-help books but now includes skin care, organic markets, goat-milk products, natural supplements, and more. But before we wrap this up, I need to leave you with a personal sharing. It is from those seeds of inspiration back at the Writers Workshop that Best Self Magazine was born — so for this I want to thank you. I’ve kept this lanyard hanging in my office all of this time as a reminder of the journey and to release attachment to outcome. It is from that place that the magic emerges (platform or no platform!).
Final question: How do you want to be remembered? Can you finish this sentence: He was…
Mentor, motivator, dream maker, path creator, sage advise giver, trouble maker, revolution architect and activator… True friend… Reid Tracy is all that and more with a side of red hot salsa. Where he goes I will follow. #blessed ~ Kris Carr
Reid Tracy: I’d like to be remembered for being someone who helped lots of people achieve what they want — helping other people realize their superpowers. That’s my thing.
Kristen Noel: Rock on! [high-fiving]
You are awesome – you are a very humble man and you ARE most definitely activating superpowers. Mission accomplished.
Here’s to the man who was responsible for my leaving a major New York publisher to team up with him in creating an international publishing house devoted to raising the consciousness of our entire planet. Here’s to the man who became my trusted companion on all matters, both personal and professional for the better part of the past two decades. Here’s to the only man I’ve ever known who shares the same kind of unlimited vision that I’ve known since I was a young boy in an orphanage. Here’s to the man I have been speaking with virtually every day since I placed him in ‘millionaire training’ so many years ago. Here’s to the man I think of as my son, my brother, my advisor, my confidante and truly my best friend. Here’s to the man I love, trust and respect as much as anyone I’ve ever known. Here’s to the man who has lived up to every promise he’s ever made and always comes from a place of honor and integrity. I love you my brother from another mother. I salute you my friend and I offer a toast to your basketball shoes. ~ Wayne Dyer
*Editor’s Note: As they say, it takes a village. I’d like to extend a special thanks to my secret-spiritual-operative and regular Best Self Magazine Co-Creator, Nancy Levin, for working undercover to help me gather the special tributes and celebrations of Reid Tracy that are sprinkled throughout this interview. Without her efforts, none of this would be possible. Yes, it takes a village. And I am grateful that this is ours.