LEDA/Opportunity Machine

Training Acadiana’s Entrepreneurial Future

by Zachary Barker

Training Acadiana’s Entrepreneurial FutureA Gallup-certified strengths coach, Wendy Hornung has dedicated her career to ensuring the development of local business leaders.

A Gallup-certified strengths coach, Wendy Hornung has dedicated her career to ensuring the development of local business leaders.

Wendy Hornung (right) of Hornung Creative Consulting and Coaching helps local companies grow by aligning the right people in the right roles.

Entrepreneurism is one of the driving forces behind economic growth — from the “mom and pop” shop that grows into a multi-location community treasure to the computer startup that becomes the company making tomorrow’s most iconic smartphone. Having a superior product, mastering the art of promotion and excelling at customer service all drive entrepreneurial success. However, identifying and leveraging your strengths — whether that’s design, deal making, problem solving or service to people — is the real secret to success for many.

With that in mind, meet Wendy Hornung, an Acadiana entrepreneur dedicated to helping fellow entrepreneurs and businesses. Hornung Creative Consulting & Coaching works with businesses and their employees to evaluate, identify and maximize personal strengths to impact the overall success of a company. Leveraging the successful Clifton StrengthFinder 2.0 solution, Wendy helps companies grow by aligning the right people in the right roles to achieve maximum results. Take a moment to learn more about Wendy and what makes her tick as an entrepreneur.

In your opinion, what is the most important attribute of an entrepreneur?
Resiliency and conviction are key to sticking with any entrepreneurial venture. Of course you have to start with a good idea; assuming you have that, the rest requires resiliency and conviction to ride the waves that come with developing and growing something new. The ups and downs can be intense, but if you believe in what you are doing and you keep trying, anything is possible.

In what areas do you see opportunities for your business?
I am fortunate in that my business is relevant to any industry where communication between people can affect results. When isn’t there an opportunity to improve communication? That is the No. 1 complaint in most work environments. Having said that, a lot of companies don’t fully grasp the impact of improving communication and the value it brings to the company. I think it seems abstract to people. It’s not a quick fix, but it if you give it time and connect it to an outcome the results are measurable.

As a Gallup-certified strengths coach, I have seen people change once they understand how their unique talents are important to their job. So many people have no idea how they can make an impact in their job. When they feel valued and they know their contribution counts, the way they approach their job is enhanced significantly. (Using Gallup’s strengths-finder test, you can get your top five here: gallupstrengthscenter.com/Home/en-US/Index.)

Understanding your talents is like being handed a few tips on how to succeed. As a coach and consultant, I help clients over time go deeper and understand how their talents can be used to lead, succeed in their job or how to apply them in their relationships.

I have done CEU workshops with therapists, coached CEOs of companies and developed training for companies that spans several years to grow the team into a productive workforce.

I am always happy to meet potential clients and discuss how we could work together. I am also a Louisiana Training Provider and can help companies learn if they are qualified to receive training grants.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
As my business grows, the tough part is prioritizing because as an entrepreneur, I wear the hats in every department. I am growing and starting an internship plan that will hopefully help me find the right person to grow with my business, but it has taken a while to get to this point. I am an idea person and see possibilities constantly, but you can’t do them all — at least not all at once and you can’t do them all by yourself, either.

Tell us about a time when you had to “push through” a tough moment or decision. How did you get through it?
I have taught in college environments for many years, and worked in various industries. The toughest decision was deciding to start my own business because of all the risks in leaving teaching, which is a true love of mine.
The bottom line was I wanted to do more, be more creative and have the freedom to try things. I felt like I had much more to offer than the environment would allow. The environment I was in didn’t lend itself to growth and innovation. It inspired me to want to help companies create better work environments. I also have a feel for the millennial workforce coming up, and they are very different and are not going to accept or be useful to organizations if communication is not improved across the board. It goes both ways. Growing up with technology in some ways makes millennials more different than any other generation joining the workforce. There are advantages, and there are opportunities for everyone to learn and make some unique communication bridges. It will have to go both ways.

What were you doing the last time you looked at a clock and realized you had lost all track of time?
I was teaching a workshop with 22 employees and exploring all their talent themes and how they use them in their jobs. It was fascinating, and the conversations really opened up new ways of seeing each other as valuable to the team.

What book do you think everyone should read?
An impossible question for me! The book I would recommend depends on the person, and what they need at the time. My library is very eclectic. I love biographies, and I think reading a book about Benjamin Franklin or any historical person who intrigues you can provide a context for a lifetime of results. Most of us are so immersed in our own day-to-day events we can’t see how they are shaping up in the bigger picture. One of the things that I love about coaching individuals is that I hold clients accountable to their goals and I can provide them snap shots of their story in progress. It’s very motivating.

Tell me about a time you felt company leadership was wrong. What did you do?
I will be totally honest. I love to work with people who are on the path to maximize their goals and develop the potential in others. Not everyone is gifted in this way. Some company leaders do not have a clear sense of how they impact others, and they are not ready to learn. I have witnessed a group of very talented people who have a “leader” who is blocking progress. In the leader’s mind there is one path to a result and they can’t consider other possibilities. They weren’t willing to fully learn along the way and seemed uncomfortable if they weren’t in control. In most cases, before I work with a team, I spend a good deal of time with the leader to clarify the goal and process. I did not do that enough in this case, and will not compromise that part of the process again in the future. That relationship is very important in terms of developing the team.

What movie, no matter how many times you’ve seen it, do you have to watch when it’s on and why?
I love movies, but When Harry Met Sally still cracks me up. I have seen the movie many times, and generally don’t like to watch the same movies over again. I used this script in a screen writing class I taught, and it reads as funny on paper as it plays on film. I love great comic writing.

What business would you love to start?
The one I have started!

What would you most like to learn that would help you in the future?
The technology for online businesses is changing so fast. I want to be able to learn about upcoming technologies that could provide the platform for future growth. I hope to find people who can help with that part of my business, as things go slower for me when I have to figure out the technology myself.

How do we connect with you to get more information?
I have a FB page: Hornung Creative Consulting & Coaching; website: www.wendyhornung.com; or contact me at [email protected] or 337-278-1274.

Zachary Barker is executive director of the Opportunity Machine, a LEDA-backed initiative that focuses on cultivating Lafayette’s entrepreneurial and technology-based industries. Barker is also president and owner of Acadiana Sports Leagues and active in the705, a local young leaders group. Contact him at [email protected].