Gorilla Theory Logo
With Insight From:
ghSmart is the management consulting and assessment firm for CEOs and Investors
Xing - Powering Professional Networks
Entrepreneurs & Leaders Insight: Darin Hager
“I literally do every job from design, Far-East development, importing, exporting, logistics...”

Heyday Footwear

Darin Hager is the CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of the ground-breaking Heyday Footwear (a design-driven, lifestyle footwear brand for young, hip, wired taste makers). Darin has risen from being a senior designer to running his own businesses with great success, harnessing his creativity with footwear design to entrepreneurial flair.

His focus on people skills, planning and discipline has a synergy with the principles of Gorilla Theory, and so Darin was happy to give some insight into his way of thinking and acting that brings him success.

Your views on the importance of effective people skills to help team-working and business building

I often say that I became an entrepreneur 6 years ago because I have an "issue with authority" and could never ever work for someone again! As an entrepreneur, one would think that self reliance and drive to succeed at all costs on your own would be paramount, however there is a flip side to that notion.

Relationships are a key element of success for the entrepreneur. You have to cultivate and care for relationships in business as much as you do for a spouse. It's not always only about finding the right person, whether a co-founder, new hire or spouse, but BEING the right person.
    My 4th hire (long after the previous 3 had parted ways), turned out to be my best. I found an enthusiastic, smart and younger woman who went from being a model in a photo shoot to being my right hand person. Two years ago she "forced" her way into the business because she saw something in me and in my brand that perhaps others didn't see. She loves to network and hustle like I do and her background in the hip hop music industry overlapped with fashion in many ways.
    I was finally ready to have that kind of employee by my side. I have taught her all facets of the business but I also had to (and continue to) hone my "people skills" ( a particularly hard task for someone used to going it alone). We both really had to in order to coax the best performance out of each other each and every day.

How do you avoid project delivery disaster?

I have ADD so while being an entrepreneur may lend it self to my particular skill set, planning and scheduling has always been a tough concept for me to grasp. Having my #2 ready to take notes as I brainstorm an idea at any time is key. We have a relatively easy method that helps avoid project delivery disaster (most of the time). I dictate ideas, plans or schedules, she jots them down on yellow sticky notes, then sends me emails or adds items to our shared Google calendar. I've found that having someone dependable who can take notes and act on those notes has really helped me to focus, stay on track and taught me how to do the same for her and others.

Traits you find in the most effective project managers/leaders

The ability to think short and long term, high level and man on the ground are both necessary traits in effective, real-world project management. As an entrepreneur with title of Chief Everything Officer, being able to effectively perform every role in the business is my secret sauce to success. I literally do every job from design, far east development, importing, exporting, logistics, customer service, marketing, celebrity liaison, social media, content creation, art director, photographer, web site, accounting, procurement, picking, packing shipping...when you know every possible avenue in your business, you can have both the high level understanding and the hands on knowledge to know what must be done under any circumstance.

How do you organise yourself?

As I mentioned previously, keeping myself organized is quite difficult at times due in part to me ADD. I have found that using calendar and reminder apps that sync across ALL of my Apple devices is a key but not fool proof method to organizational success. Having a truly amazing and dependable #2 who understands my thought process is also vital.

Back to top   //   Back to Case Studies

The Baby Gorilla
The Baby Gorilla Project Management Scenario
They may seem harmless at first, but they are stronger than they seem and they can quickly overpower you.
The Troop
The Troop of Gorillas Project Management Scenario
Several projects on the go? Worried about how to cope successfully? Find out how.
The Silverback
The Silverback Gorilla Project Scenario
The big beast of a project. Find out how to know you have one, and how to avoid being crushed by the sheer power. Learn to tame one.