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This martial arts champion has put his business on the fast track using the Scaling Up platform

By Verne Harnish

As CEO of Intuitive Self Protection and parent company NLB Tactical in Virginia Beach, Hank Hayes trains both executives and military special forces in self-defense, weapons systems utilization and dynamic threat neutralization. 

Since 1998, NLB Tactical has trained more than 22,000 law enforcement and military operators, including SWAT teams, as a government contractor. In 2019, by popular request, Hayes started Intuitive Self Protection, where civilians learn from a core team of instructors who have military, law enforcement and security backgrounds. The company’s tagline: “You are your own first responder.” 

Mastering the One-Page Strategic Plan

For many years, Hayes found his 12-person operation was “going in circles, making the same mistakes” – and not hitting the Big Hairy Audacious Goals he knew the company was capable of.

Then he discovered the Scaling Up platform for growing a company and took a Scaling Up Masterclass in late 2021. He and his executive team dove into completing the One-Page Strategic Plan (OPSP) and have now put into place one-year, three-year and 10-year revenue and profit goals. Filling out the OPSP has helped them to determine how many courses they need to offer per month, quarter and year to achieve their financial and other goals. 

“I feel that every time we do a session working through the OPSP, we are gaining clarity with the whole team like I’ve never been able to in 20 plus years of business with companies I’ve owned,” says Hayes. “This process has been like watching magic happen, and we are just at the starting line.”

Developing situational awareness

Hayes began studying martial arts in 1973, at age 10 , when he was growing up in Staten Island, N.Y., in a tough neighborhood where he lived a few doors down from a well-known mobster. His family was the only African-American one in the immediate neighborhood. “It wasn’t if I needed to protect myself,” he recalls. “It was when and from how many kids?” It was during this period, he says, that he began to develop the situational awareness he now teaches his clients.

He found he loved martial arts and eventually became a United States Martial Arts Hall of Famer and bodyguard to the elite. Along the way, he invented and patented the “No Lie Blade,” a tool that offers immediate feedback on whether a knife defense works. This formed the foundation for a system he developed called the NLB Knife Defense and Combatives System. It teaches not only the physical skills needed to win but the mindset to prevail. 

Raving fans

Thanks to their attention to quality instruction, Hayes and his team built a loyal and passionate customer base.

“Our training services are received with RAVE reviews, and we have excellent returning customer rate and the work we do truly saves lives and impacts people in a way that’s indescribable,” Hayes says. ” It’s been described as; Tony Robbins meets call of duty!”

Embracing the systems to scale

Currently, Hayes’ business is bringing in close to half a million in annual revenue. Now he’s putting the systems in place to grow the business to its full potential. “I didn’t have the tools to scale, nor was I in the right place,” says Hayes. “Now I am more in control of our financial destiny.” 

I have no doubt that as Hayes apples the disciplined mindset he developed as a martial arts champion to using the Scaling Up platform, he’ll be well situated to achieve his goals for growing the company.

Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” and WEO’s “Advanced Business” executive program both held at MIT. Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 150 coaching partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies scale-up. The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also the Venture columnist for FORTUNE magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0); Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times," for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. Verne also chairs FORTUNE Magazine’s annual Leadership and Growth Summits and serves on several boards including chairman of The Riordan Clinic and the newly launched Geoversity. He is an investor in many scale-ups. A father of four, he enjoys piano, tennis, and magic as a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.