Donald Henderson is the CEO of Hendersongdi. Donald is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Donald provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of Hendersongdi. Donald Henderson joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team is delighted to have Donald join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview.
Donald, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview about your company, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
1. Donald, please tell us about Hendersongdi.What is the elevator pitch?
Henderson Graphic Design & Illustration is just my son Shane and I. We are both graphic designers, illustrators and photographers. We really don’t have an elevator pitch. We don’t go looking for work, I have never pitched a job to anyone. Work comes looking for us. If somebody wants to hire us for a project, they are coming to us based on our reputation, past experience, word of mouth from satisfied clients and of course the style of art that we are known for.
2. What is the one thing that makes Hendersongdi great?
I think the thing that sets us apart, is our style of design & illustration. I don’t think anybody can do what we do.
3. Please tell us what is the key to being a great entrepreneur?
I haven’t a clue, I have not reached that level where I think I’m a successful entrepreneur. I don’t even consider myself a entrepreneur, I even have trouble spelling the word. I just know that I enjoy what I do. For 35 years I worked for others, today, I work for myself and my son, it’s not always easy, most days, it is a challenge, but a challenge that I like and I get to work with somebody who I mentored, and have the highest respect for, my son.
4. What is the best advice can you give to a young entrepreneur just starting out with a new venture?
Work hard, nothing is given to you, you have to earn it. Talent is only part of the equation, the rest is hard work and dedication. Believing in who you are and that what you are doing is important.
5. What is the one thing that you, as a person, want to be known for?
I want to be known most importantly for my art, but I also want to be known for my work ethic and dedication.
6. When building a business, what is the one most important thing to keep in mind at all times?
The business is who we are, it has our name on it, it is our reputation. Try to always be right with people.
7. When hiring employees, what is the one most important thing you look for?
We don’t have any employees, but if we did, they would definitely have to have a strong work ethic. Even when we aren’t busy with client business, we are always working, always creating, always moving forward. I used to hate when I worked at designs studios in Pittsburgh and see colleagues who weren’t busy, with their feet up on the desks. My feeling is that you should always be creating, sharpening your skills, making art.
8. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning?
I love the art that Shane and I create. We love being a designers, Illustrators and photographers. We love sharing our work, it is who we are. We are active on all the social media platforms, we interact with people all over the world with our work.
9. What is the one thing that makes a great company?
I learned from working for several design studios how not to run a business. If we had operated Henderson GD&I like some of the design studios I worked for, Buildings By Shane may not of happened, The Right Cross might not have happened. We think outside the box, if we only focused on our clients, we would have lost who we are as artists, the beauty of who we are is that we can do both. Our clients come to us for a particular look for their work, they trust what we do for them. We give them what they want, but it is what we want as well.
10. What is the one thing that makes a great leader?
I have been fortunate to work with some really great leaders and some incredibly bad leaders, so it was real easy for me to know what was great in a leader and what was bad. Years ago, I had the good fortune to have worked under a creative director named Dale McWilliams. Dale was a larger than life character. He was a commanding presence, very likable with compassion and empathy. He was a big burley, prematurely gray haired, Irishman with a reddish complexion, a huge bushy handlebar mustache, a hardy laugh , a powerful handshake and strong work ethic. He was an incredibly talented designer, but his true brilliance was his ability to mentor and bring out the very best in people. He wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and help, his joy was in the work. He loved every aspect of it, from brainstorming, to concept, to layout & design, to illustration, to photography, to final production. Dale was hands on, involved every step of the way. I always admired that in him, as I said, his joy was in the work, he was never more happy than when he was working. He never acted like he was too good to do any aspect of the job. I’ve always tried to be like him, he was the best I ever worked with. If I can be half as good as Dale, I would consider myself a success. Sadly, he passed away from a brain tumor, but his legacy lives on in me. He is the one who got me interest in Celtic art and the Right Cross is a tribute to him.
I hope that helps people out there to be better leaders, but more importantly to be better people. People will follow you to Hell and back if you inspire them and pay it forward.
Donald Henderson, thank you so much for participating in the DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping our readers learn more about what it takes to build a great company and become a great leader. We wish you, your family, and of course Hendersongdi, nothing but the best.