We’re launching a new series, My Career in Energy, where we’re featuring different people in our industry to learn how they got to where they are today and some of their thoughts and ideas.
Interview with Robert Hefner V, Hefner Energy LLC
Robert Hefner is an energy entrepreneur and Forbes U30 Lister; his insights have been published from The Wall Street Journal to Oil & Gas Investor. At his core, Robert’s insightful work is driven by adventure. He leads passionately under the assumption that people would rather follow a leader who is always real than a leader who is always right.
Robert proudly calls Oklahoma City home, where he serves on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Hospital Foundation and as President of the ADAM-OKC Energy Network, which he co-founded in 2014. Robert is also a Guest Lecturer at his alma mater, where Hefner Energy is also a partner with the Irani Center for Energy Solutions, providing real-world projects to the students of OU’s Mewbourne College of Earth & Energy. Robert is passionate about Energy, Climate, Oklahoma, and making the world a better place. His life love is to travel, embracing adventures across the globe with his wife and kids.
Let’s dive into Robert’s career.
What was your first job?
I was a ranch foreman during the summer in high school.
What was your favorite subject at school and why?
Math; I love that it is not relative; there are right and wrong answers (absolute truth exists).
What was your first job in Energy, and how did you get it?
I graduated in December 2008 into the Great Recession. My last name also didn’t do me any favors. So, I wasn’t able to land a job. Instead, I put my Entrepreneurship & Venture Management degree to work earlier than I had envisioned and started Hefner Energy LLC in 2009. Thankfully, I had a smart wife who kept getting promoted at Chesapeake Energy in their Environmental Health & Safety department.
What advice would you give someone entering the energy industry today?
Consider going into renewables; don’t fight the virtue-signaling headwinds of the markets; embrace them instead. However, if you’ve got grit, consider oil and gas. For the adventurous, the future is Hydrogen. Also, learn Python and stay relevant with technology trends.
What is the first thing you do when you start work in the morning?
I start my day reading the Bible and reviewing my daily and weekly goals that support my broader quarterly and annual goals – my Achievement Management System. I do this so that I can begin my day in the right mindset and achieve consistent, high-performance results.
How do you relax?
Adventure drives me, and people give me energy. I relax by skiing blues instead of blacks, traveling with my wife and kids, and reading white papers.
Who is your inspiration at work?
As a Founder & CEO, I find my inspiration from external sources. Some of the most inspirational people I can name off the top of my head are Craig Groeschel, Harold Hamm, Don Burdick, Mike McConnell, Dr. Scott Tinker, Michael Schellenberger, Mark Mills, Mike Ming, and Hans Rosling, to name a few.
What excites you about your job?
I am really enjoying my launch into energy advocacy right now. In just a couple of weeks people have spent nearly 70 hours watching my first three videos on YouTube – that’s mind-boggling to me. The resulting inbound messages from Washington to London have been invigorating, and I’m excited to continue exporting my energy literacy to other markets. It’s the first time I’ve felt like I’m doing what I’m built to do.
What book has helped you most at work?
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss taught me how to better influence and persuade people through communication. The mind is a powerful drug!
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (a fellow Leb) taught me how to see the world differently. You need to be sure to sample the entire distribution in order to have perspective on any matter. Those quick to find success generally don’t sustain it over longer periods. I am happy to be the tortoise.
If you could travel back in time 10 years, would you do anything differently?
Yes. I had a lot of self-doubt early in my career. It took me over a decade to realize that I can’t just turn it off like a light-switch. I wish I would have been more assertive. I would have put myself out there sooner, publishing original content and doing what I do best – advocating for others.
I also wish I would have pursued a STEM-related degree at Stanford, or something more apt to put my mind to work and open more doors outside of Oklahoma.
What do you think the energy industry will look like in 10 years’ time?
The energy industry will look remarkably similar. Although I suspect the E&P labor force will be dramatically smaller, those who remain will enjoy record-profits as the world realizes natural gas’ nobility as a fuel and to combat climate change. The only two viable options right now are nuclear and natural gas. Hydrogen is the future. Pick one!
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