Learning to Lead Episode #10: John Henne

This month I sat down with John Henne. John Henne is currently President and co-owner of Henne Jewelers in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. John has managed the family business since 1998, overseeing all aspects of the operation including diamond procurement, accounting, sales and marketing. Prior to functioning in that capacity John was the sales manager. In 2004 John and his sister Meg Henne Gibson assumed full ownership of the company that was established in 1887 by their great grandfather, Rudolf Joseph Henne.

The mission of Henne Jewelers is to strengthen and enhance relationships, and John most enjoys the part he and Henne Jewelers can play in couples’ lives as they prepare for marriage and grow in love throughout their married lives. Along those lines he established the “To Have and To Hold” program that is designed to give couples financial incentives to properly prepare for marriage through pre-marriage counseling.

Under John’s leadership Henne Jewelers has grown and received numerous local business and retail jewelry awards. John is most proud of being awarded the Pittsburgh Business Ethics award, by the University of Pittsburgh’s David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership and being named to the Best Places to Work by the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Prior to joining Henne Jewelers, John was a CPA with KPMG in the audit and tax departments. He received a Bachelors degree in accounting from Grove City College in 1989. John is a past president of the Shadyside Chamber of Commerce and currently is on the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Christian Outreach, which transforms college students to transform the world, Imani Christian Academy, which serves at-risk inner city youth in Pittsburgh, and Jewelers of America. He is also a member of the Grove City Alumni Council and the Pittsburgh chapter of Young Presidents Organization (YPO).

To listen to the podcast, click the “continue reading” link below the picture.

John and Dara Henne

Photo Credit: PPG



Tell us about yourself, your family, your passions, and Henne’s!

Personal Leadership:

Walk us through your leadership journey . . . did you always aspire to be a leader wherever you were? How did you learn leadership?
Name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
I love your parents! What are one or two of the greatest lessons they have taught you?
Could you talk about one or two of your greatest leadership failures? What did you learn from them?
What advice would you give to leaders when it comes to failure and making mistakes?

You’re a business owner with a family, how did you balance life and work?


You’re in a family business. I know a lot of people that are in family business say it can be very difficult at times, especially when you’re a young leader and can see changes that can be made to make your business more effective. Your family business is 125 years old! Walk us through your journey of working for the family business to running the family business.

Your organization has won several awards. What sets Henne’s apart from other jewelers?

What advice would you give to other business owners to make their businesses stand out?

Your dad says you’ve taken a lot of risks since taken over the company. What can you tell us about risk when it comes to business?

What’s the biggest challenge you face running your own business?

I love this part of your mission statement, “Our mission is to strengthen and enhance relationships.” How do you do that?
Talk to us about the “To Have and to Hold” program.

As you build and develop your team, what characteristics do you look for in the people that you hire, promote, and want to keep on your team?


You do an incredible job of mixing faith and business. That is a big struggle for a lot of men and women in business. Talk to us about how you navigate that.

Organizational Leadership:

In your leadership experience, what have you learned about building a great team?

Closing Questions:

What do you want your legacy to be?

Where is John Henne in 15 years?

Any closing advice for young leaders?

About the Podcast

What are your thoughts on doing something that you love verses doing something for the money?

This year, I’ve started a new leadership podcast and a newsletter called, “Learning to Lead”. In the podcast, I will be interviewing leaders as well as sharing what I have been learning about leadership. My hope is that through these resources, you will grow both as a person and as a leader. If you would like to subscribe to this podcast through iTunes, click here!

Past Episodes include interviews with: Mike Steidel (Director of Admission at CMU), Josh Dziabiak (CEO of Showclix), Penny Semaia (Assistant Athletic Director of Student Life at the University of Pittsburgh) , and Chaz Kellem (Manager of Diversity Initiatives with the Pittsburgh Pirates), and Len Petrancosta, former President of Sysco Foods Service, Luke Skurman, CEO of College Prowler, and John Stahl-Wert, CEO of The Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation, and Tony Quatrini, Director of Marketing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Larry Black, Director of Security Sales for Diebold To listen to these podcasts, go to my podcast page.

If you listen to podcasts, I’d highly recommend downloading the app: Downcast for the iPhone. It allows you to stream podcasts instead of downloading them. You can also adjust the speed you play the podcast at. It’s one of the most useful apps I have ever owned!

In addition to the monthly interview podcast, I will be teaching one leadership lesson as well as sending out a e-newsletter. The newsletter will be published 1-2 times a month with new leadership content not found on my blog, leadership quotes, leadership resources, and interviews with leaders. Subscribe to the Newsletter Now!

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