The Conversation: Toni Hernandez

Toni Hernandez
Leadership Trainer/ Culture Engineer
Toni Hernandez Brown North America
Leading Ladies 904

Photograph by Tiffany Manning

Toni Hernandez-Brown is a people developer, risk-taker, culture change agent, and lover of a sweaty workout. She is most passionate about visionaries, human connection, and companies who invest deeply in the development of their people. She is also the founder of Leading Ladies 904.

Hernandez-Brown approaches life through the lens of her own company’s core values: integrity, candor, leadership, passion, and fun. Although she is not a Jacksonville native, she describes her affection for this city as being “madly and wildly in love” with it. Hernandez-Brown left corporate America to create impact in corporate environments. She launched Toni Hernandez-Brown North America, a leadership and culture development firm that implements and strengthens people culture in companies through training, coaching, and 1:1 engagement. One of their fundamental cultural beliefs is that people are a company’s greatest asset.

You’re big on vision. Why are visionaries so important?
They are my favorite kind of people! Visionaries are game changers. They see the big picture. They are lovers of new ideas, and are not afraid of failure. In fact, they see failure as an opportunity that is necessary for success. Visionaries change the trajectory of our reality. I can’t imagine where we would be without Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Blake Mycoskie, Malala Yousafzai, Thomas Edison, just to name a few.

I believe that vision is the first step in creating something epic. And because creating ‘epic’ is no easy feat, having the right team plays an integral role in bringing vision into existence. The clearer the vision, the more likely we attract the right people in realizing that ‘BIG picture.’ My passion and purpose led me to launch a firm that supports companies in the personal and professional development of the very people who are driving the vision.

Your stated company core beliefs are integrity, candor, leadership, passion, and fun. Now, that’s something we don’t hear everyday – fun as a core value?
Create an environment that makes it difficult for your team to call ‘work’. Simple as that. Our core values are essentially the behaviors we look for potential candidates that will help us drive our vision. It is also one of our commitments to our clients – to make development fun. In a nutshell, we love fun people and we love having fun.

I do think more companies should consider having ‘fun’ as a core value. Your team should laugh, work hard, and laugh while working hard. Rewarding great performance in a fun way is a big win in business. Truth is – your people will feel valued. And people work harder when they feel valued. I once blind-folded an employee and surprised her with a midday yoga class. Fun is a fundamental core belief because we are also in the practice of integrity. One of the greatest lesson for me is that without integrity, nothing works. In fact, integrity is the epicenter of our core values and all others branch out from it, including fun.

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Author: Arbus

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