The world has changed in innumerable ways owing to the looming shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but countries continue to live another day. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone in every country to find new ways for themselves to keep living as global citizens. Dr. Diane Hamilton sits down with Dr. Mandeep Rai, the author of The Values Compass, to talk about the ways the world is changing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evolving times and evolving circumstances also require new approaches to leadership. Kevin Hancock, the CEO of Hancock Lumber Company, joins Dr. Diane Hamilton to share his story of rethinking leadership in changing times. Don’t miss this inspiring conversation.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Dr. Mandeep Rai and Kevin Hancock here. Mandeep is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Values Compass. She’s had some of the top names endorse her book of all the experiences she’s had throughout the countries looking at values. Kevin is the author of The Seventh Power. He’s a CEO of a large lumber company. He had a health issue that impacted his vocal ability and he was able to regain that but he’s learned a lot in the process. We’re going to talk to both of them about their new books. I’m excited to have them here.
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Seeing The World Through COVID-19 With Dr. Mandeep Rai
I am here with Dr. Mandeep Rai who went from private banking at JP Morgan in London to pioneering years of creative activism, journalism, and development. She’s used her degrees in politics, economy, philosophy, and more to report for the BBC World Service covering the emerging markets. She produced documentaries features and programs on developmental issues across the board from environmentalism to luxury goods traffic. She has a PhD in global values and what’s interesting is she’s also the author of The Values Compass: What 101 Countries Teach Us About Purpose, Life, and Leadership. Welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me.
I was looking forward to this. You have quite an interesting background and you’ve traveled to more than 150 countries which I can’t say I’ve done. You must get a lot of frequent flyer mileage. Is it ever overwhelming to you or do you love to travel?
I love to travel and the idea of perhaps not traveling in the way that we used to or indeed being caught in quarantine when we arrived somewhere for two weeks and being in quarantine when we come back home for two weeks. That’s a month out of your life to step foot in another country potentially. For someone like me, this is a huge moment.
It’s so funny because I was supposed to be in Europe now on a cruise. When we’re airing this, we’re in the middle of COVID. My husband is a plastic surgeon. He can’t be quarantined weekly even things did clear up. I can imagine being quarantined would be tough. You had done a lot of your traveling throughout your time before all this. Are you still working with the BBC and still needed to cover these things? How are you doing this without traveling?
You’re right. One hundred and fifty nations were covered before COVID-19. In the book, we feature 101 countries and I wanted to feature the other 99 for the sake of completion. In my mind, I have this sense of wanting to travel to the other quarter of the world that I haven’t seen yet, namely quite a bit of Africa. That is still an itch that I need to scratch.
I’m co-authoring a book with somebody who loves to go to Africa and she does quite a bit of travel there. I’m curious about all the things you’ve seen in all the places you’ve been. Do you have a favorite? Is there one place where you think, “I have to go back there again.”
My husband always laughs at how we can never return back to the same place but since we started a family, we have been returning back to some of some places. To answer your question quite directly about whether I have a favorite, the answer would be no. I genuinely mean when I say, to me, it feels as if someone’s asking me, “Do you have a favorite child?” I have two and they’re both equally adorable but for different reasons. I feel this about the country’s cultures, people, and nations. Every place in the world has pluses and minuses. There are no favorites but there are definitely places that were more memorable or have been more memorable than others. Basically, the book takes you around the world and highlights some special features, characteristics, values, and some positive traits. When you fall in love with that trait, it’s hard to say one of those positive things is better than another.
That’s interesting because I write about personality, traits, and behavioral issues within the workplace. I look at how culture impacts a lot of things in my work in perception. As you’re talking about this, I was thinking about some of my favorite places. Termini Imerese, Sicily might be near the top or I always go back and forth to Maui a lot. You get a different sense of what makes you happy based on where you are. In my background, I’m half Sicilian. When I’m in Italy, I love that aspect. When I’m in Hawaii, I like that calming thing. What are some of the features, values or traits that you focus on, and can you give us some examples from some of the countries?Journalists tend to observe, and part of that is becoming a fly on the wall. Click To Tweet
I love the way you took my answer and said, “Yes, but there are still some papers.” I love that. To enter your point, I’m British but I am ethnically Indian. I’m third-generation British, but Indian in culture, language, and sensibility., I do further my connection to India. I think of my ancestry originally because of the Mughal Empire and where Punjab used to be and where Sikhs come from, we have Iranian or Persian roots. The culture is similar. It’s the focus on light and there are many things that made me feel comfortable in Iran. I can’t tell you whether it’s because of the way I look, which is basically a mulatto. I’m brown, have brown hair, brown eyes, and curly hair. I look like I could belong anywhere. I have a sense of belonging because of that or maybe I’m female. We have trusted more and we can slip in under the covers, in the sense that we don’t stand out as much. It’s because I’m a journalist and I observe and almost become a fly on the wall to a point that I can accept it. For example, in Cuba, I slipped into the peso economy as opposed to the dollar economy.
My intention in Cuba was never to be a tourist. It was always to know what the Cubans experienced as one word if they were Cuban. I deliberately let go of all my belongings as in, I didn’t take a suitcase of clothes and didn’t even take anything branded. I took off my Puma trainers, I didn’t carry Colgate, and got rid of the hammock that I had bought in Mexico. I went with a little light satchel as if I had stepped out of university like Havana University. I met a friend of mine who’s a professor there. We went to his home, to his cousin’s home in another part of the island and his friend’s home in another part. Before I knew it, the police weren’t looking at us and I was a normal Cuban. When you travel with a desire to get to know a place, you inevitably have incredible experiences and connections with each and every step you take. I can tell you exactly what I did in France years ago, almost minute-by-minute. I couldn’t tell you what I did yesterday because it’s so familiar and every day blows into one.
I’m thinking of having monkeys on my head in the UK when I was in Gibraltar. Some of the things you do when you go out of town you won’t forget your experiences because you go and do things you wouldn’t normally do when you go someplace else. There is a different experience. I love that you traveled light. That’s a hard thing for me and I don’t know if I blend as well with the bright blonde hair sometimes. I was going to travel light on this cruise. I was all excited to think I’m only going to bring this and I never got the chance to see if I was even able to accomplish it.
Don’t worry it will happen.
I love your optimism. It’s interesting to look at the different cultures of the world. With the COVID thing, there’s a lot of videos going around. They had the Italians out on their balconies singing, and they had the mocking funny videos of the Germans yelling at them to stop doing that when they pretend they were doing it in Germany. Did you find that any of these videos showed people trying to have a sense of humor throughout all this? It also showcases the difference in cultures to some extent.
What was shocking to me and I could have never predicted this or wanted this, but the way every nation has responded to COVID is directly in line with the values that I mentioned in the book. For example, China’s completely taking a pragmatic approach is how I kick off the book. England being quite steadfast, “Keep calm, carry on. We’re not going to do the lockdown yet. Let’s see what the numbers say. Don’t move too much. It’s okay. We’ve got this.” In Italy, the attention to detail, the care, and the level at which they started to test and collect numbers, statistics, and the cost of their elderly, etc. In America, the way the country had to pivot, one night there was almost no COVID, there was no understanding of it, no mention of it and it was not a problem until the next day, it was a complete lockdown, at least at the beginning especially in New York, and it was 180 flip and quite an entrepreneurial attitude.
When I was writing the book, people had said to me, and even I thought to myself, “The world is so globalized. People don’t even relate to themselves by their country. We’re all global citizens.” I was writing it through a national lens in order to create more color and show you cultures and values in a more colorful and descriptive manner. It couldn’t be more relevant only because we are completely divided or categorized in living our national experience. Where we come from is where we’re set. The experience we are facing and it’s 100% aligned to the value that that country prizes. Although we have globally decided that health and not dying is the number one priority and value. The way we are experiencing that, what we’re putting forward, and what’s our national expression are very different in each nation.
You bring up a lot of interesting points. You mentioned an entrepreneurial attitude in American and we are much based that way. I’m wondering how the United States compared to how we were so worried about our economic situation versus how other countries were looking at it. Were we higher focus or was everybody focused on that because nobody wants that in culture? I was wondering how every group handled that lack of control and the sense that you think you’re in control. Did you see that different cultures have less need for control as you go around? I’m curious on that front.
To your point about the economy, it is not that any nation thinks that their economy or that the entrepreneurial landscape or business is not important but everyone has a different approach. For example, some leaders have taken a long term view and thought, although we want ultimately to thrive and the way to thrive is to make sure that our people are safe first that this doesn’t spread. In the case of COVID-19, we’re thinking about what the focus that different countries have had has been much in line with their values. I never want to be judgmental towards values. I don’t want to say, “This is a female value or this is a male value. This is a good value and this is a bad value.” Who am I to judge? That’s not my objective.
We have seen that certain countries have taken a precise approach. For example, the value of South Korea is dynamism, to be dynamic and quick moving. You see that in their fashion, music, their approach to the industry, and everything. They’ve almost skipped a trend and moved on to the next trend all within a day and they’re on the next one. That’s been their approach towards this too. They were testing before anybody knew it. They had already created an app to be able to show it to people. You can see who has it, who doesn’t have it, where it came from, and whose patient number one, etc. Everyone’s aim is to protect their population and make sure they prevent a loss of life. In doing so, hopefully, all the other pieces of the puzzle, as in the political economy, etc. will fall into place.
As you’re talking about all this, this is interesting because it makes me think about how different each of these areas are and how they react to things. I sent my daughter to study in Italy. She speaks four languages as she goes to all these places to learn. I’ve seen things from different perspectives because we’re from the United States. As you’re going around, you sometimes have this in your mind that they’re looking at you negatively because you’re from the United States or if you’re from this place in a different way. If you and I went to the same place and had the same experiences in where we went, stayed, and how we interacted, do you think that both of us would be perceived differently since I’m from the US and you’re not?
No one asked me that question. I’ve seen this acutely like face up because I’ve traveled with many different people in many different stages of life for many different purposes. Let’s take the example that you’ve put to us of you and I. They may respond to you differently because of your accent, hair color, where you’re from, your face, or how much money it’s perceived you have or all the things. Initially, there will be all the judgments that the person or other people we interact with will carry. Ultimately and quickly, I find that within a day of speaking to us and getting to know us, you’ll find that all of that sheds quite quickly. I don’t know if this is a gender thing but I quickly found that people adopt me as their daughter, sister, or their cousin and they’ll say things like, “You’re like so and so.” That’s it. Even though they can hear my accent, see my skin color, know that I’m a Sikh, I’m a funny girl who has a nice heart. You’re probably the same and that’s what they can relate to.
It does take time for people to get to know one another. In my research on emotional intelligence, a lot of it ties into empathy, being able to put yourself in someone else’s position. That can take a little bit of time sometimes for people. It takes asking questions, trying to learn more, and showing genuine interest in people as you travel. You’ve got some interesting people who have recognized how much you have done with your work with all of this. I was looking at some of the people who have written nice things about your book on the cover. We’ve got Deepak Chopra, the Dalai Lama, and you have a few friends that people might have heard of.
That’s always the number one question. How did you get The Dalai Lama? Who’s got the first name The and how is he written for the book?
I would love to know. I had Paul Ekman on the show and he’s close friends of the Dalai Lama. I’ve asked the Dalai Lama to be on the show. He’s getting older now he doesn’t do a lot of these appearances. How did you get these connections? I’m curious. BBC probably helped.
From a few people. Who did you say that helped?
The BBC being part of that.
No. Not at all. I am a correspondent. The BBC is the only people I report for. This time that I was working in New York and working for Reuters, it’s been the BBC but I’m not a BBC staff member. I’m a freelancer and I contribute. None of this is because of a BBC name. In the case of the Dalai Lama, I am ethnically Indian and unless they’re traveling, they are often in Dharamsala. I went to Dharamsala, which is in the north of India. I’m from the region of Punjab and above Punjab are the Himalayas and the Himachal area and Dharamsala, where they’re based is there. I’ve often felt an affinity towards India because that has been home ever since I’ve been exiled from Tibet.Every country in the world has had such a differing response to COVID-19. Click To Tweet
When they’re lecturing there, greeting people or talking to people, etc. I attended a lot of their lectures, talks and I’m often part of the audience years ago. After that period, I would frequent in that space or compound or whatever you call it often. When they were in London, their staff member who knew me quite well by then would let me know when they came to London. I’d visit them in whichever hotel they were staying at. At the same, when I was staying in New York, I’d be told when they were coming to New York.
Sometimes it would be public knowledge events. They’re being covered by other forms of the press. It would be known that they’re around and other times, I was told because I was considered a friend. Over this twenty-year period, they have got to know who I am. There were times when I’ve got to see them, and I have a fairly concrete question in mind. I will forget every time and I’m not someone who forgets because I’m a journalist, generally, whichever questions that I have in mind, I ask and we get into a dialogue. They’re the only people on the planet where I am almost blown away by their radiance to the point that I can’t see or hear anything.
It’s like being in front of a light and I melt in front of them. I’ll be super humble, melt at their feet, and say, “Thank you for who you are and all that you do.” It always feels like you’re reaching some form of personification of divinity. I find it hard to see them eye-to-eye. I look at their feet and bow. They did hear about this book because I’ve been thinking about creating this book. It’s a lifetime project for years. A few years ago, they refer to me as betee or daughter. They said, “When are you going to stop talking about it and do it?” I became so embarrassed. It was like, “I’m never going to mention this book again. Unless I’ve written it and dove into it.” When I finally had written it, the first person I wanted to show it to was their team and them. That’s how it happened. It’s a long journey that they’ve been part of.
I mentioned Deepak and got these directors from Harvard. You’ve got the Nobel Peace Prize in Economics. You’ve got some serious people on this.
They’re all long term. They’re all relationships as in, the professor from the LSE, who’s also a Nobel Prize winner. I graduated from the LSE years ago and the HBS people have taught me. These people have known me for a long time. They’ve also become bored about hearing about this book that I’m still working on. It’s been a long journey and a lot of these people have contributed multiple times over several years.
You can see it’s a Wall Street Journal hardcover business book bestseller. You’ve done some amazing things. I thought it was interesting. You got your PhD in global values. I worked as a Doctoral Chair. I’ve helped people through their dissertation process. What was your dissertation? I’m curious.
I’ve mentioned that I’m a Sikh a few times. Not many people know the Sikh faith is the fifth-largest faith in the world. I say faith as opposed to religion because it’s not about following a particular dogma. It’s not about rules and regulations, but it’s a faith that is not well researched or even known around the world. It’s similar to the Baha’i faith, I suppose. There’s a great emphasis on education. Our scriptures are 1,500 anga, it is like a limb. Our scriptures are seen as the living guru and teacher after the ten gurus that founded the faith and passed away, which was more than 500 years ago. Thereafter, our scriptures are guides. There is no hierarchy, priesthood, no person that you go to have your questions answered. You delve into the scriptures, interpret it, have a relationship with it, and understand in the way it would make sense for you. It’s a personal faith.
I remember at one time, one of the many jobs or careers I’ve had is to set up the first Media Venture Capital Fund in the Middle East. It was my job to invest in people who had good ideas. They’re not consuming Hollywood and Bollywood, but we’re hearing stories coming out from across the MENA region, Middle East, and North Africa. This was straight after 9/11 because they’re much felt that Islam was becoming synonymous with terrorism. That’s not the case. More people needed to know the region and its people, which is so much more than just the fanatics.
Within that, I had funded one group of people who were writing about the 99 attributes of Prophet Mohammed like mercy, compassion, forgiveness, etc. I remember when I was investing in it, I thought, “That must be the case in Sikh too.” I don’t know the scriptures enough to know whether that’s the case and that was the ignition of this PhD. The seed was planted at that point. I didn’t get to do it when I started to research for the book but I found that it went the other way. I had the idea for the book and as I’m researching and developing, I needed to do all this research, no matter if I got the PhD.
The basis of all of that was my Sikh faith and the exploration of all these values that were in the faith, but not only in my faith, but in all faiths, and not in faith, but in all humans, and not in all humans, but therefore, in all countries and in all aspects of society. All institutions from families, schools, to corporations. We are all based on our values because the way we make decisions is based on our values. They’re fundamental building blocks in your values. That’s how you decide what you’re doing and how you’re spending your time. We never articulated in that way. It’s not part of our vernacular and the term we use. I decided to call a spade to spade and value. You’d say that we’re in a weird setting and everything is according to our values.
It was harder or longer to write the dissertation or the book the way you describe it.
The dissertation fed into the book. The book was harder and longer. It’s not that a PhD is easy but from the moment I started writing the book, which was years ago, to the moment I put the pen down and thought, “I’m going to edit with a long nine-year journey.”
I can’t imagine.
Is the next book going to add the next 99 countries or this will be an updated version saying, “Cross out the 101 and make it 200?”
The publishers have already said that would be a fat tone. Don’t add them all. I’m like, “Okay.” There’ll be different forms because there has been a real interest in this like a daily reader, values for children, or all kinds of things that I am working on doing. There will definitely be a version of the other 99 as well, for sure. That’s because I need to do that now.
I’m curious if you found that certain areas of the world were more curious than other areas since I studied curiosity.
With the certain areas of the world were more curious than the others, that’s a fantastic value and curiosity has not been assigned to a country yet. Otherwise, I would have said, “Yes. Paraguay is extremely curious,” but no.Certain areas of the world are much more curious than others. Click To Tweet
The studies that I’ve seen doesn’t change that much. I’m trying to get companies out of status quo thinking and the places that allow you that freedom to ask questions and explore. I was curious if there were areas where you thought, “These people asked a million questions when I was there.”
I love that you asked me that question. I’m going to ponder and think about it. There are parts of the world that encourage it more and do not encourage it. I try not to be negative. It’s not because I don’t think that there is negativity in the world or that indeed, any of these positive values also have a shadow side. Anything in excess can be negative. I don’t want to say to you that Asia is less curious. It’s not that it’s less curious but it won’t encourage you to ask these questions of your boss, parents or elders, because the respect is interpreted differently. I don’t think that there’s a lack of curiosity or indeed more curiosity. It’s about what culture is cultivated, accepted, and encouraged.
That ties into what I’m researching now on perception. Perception is a combination of these things the EQ, IQ, CQ curiosity, and CQ culture quotient. When you combine all these things, you find out more about everybody’s perception and learning about different values in different areas is so key to success. Especially in the business world, we need to be able to develop empathy and understand things from everybody else’s perspective. That’s why I was excited to have you on the show. A lot of people could get a lot from your book, and I’m sure they’re going to want to know how they can reach you or follow you. Is there anything you would like to share for them to do that?
It’s very kind of you to ask. I do have a website. I’m also creating a monthly book club. My website is my name, Mandeep-Rai.com. I believe if you’re still locked down, hopefully, Amazon is shipping because, in some parts of the world, Amazon has continued to ship. If for any reason, that’s not happening, then on my website, I definitely ship. I can ship and send it. All independent bookshops should also have the book. It should be reachable in every part of the world. It has been translated into different languages. Also, there’s an eBook. If for any reason, all of those methods don’t work, there’s an audiobook in my voice if that’s still okay and you could listen to a bit more. In order to engage, I’m in every form of social media platform, and there’ll be much more engagement from my website as of now, thanks to your question.
Thank you, Mandeep. This was interesting. I enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for joining me on the show.
You’re welcome. I’ve loved it. Thank you so much.
It’s been so much fun. You’re welcome.
New Perspectives On Leadership With Kevin Hancock
I am here with Kevin Hancock, who is the author of The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. He is the CEO of Hancock Lumber Company, one of the oldest and best-known family businesses in America. He’s received numerous awards. He’s also received a diagnosis in 2012 of having spasmodic dysphonia, which makes it difficult to communicate. I’m interested in hearing your story about that, Kevin. Welcome.
Diane, Thank you. I’m so happy to be with you.
I’m excited to talk to you about your journey. I know you’ve had success with some of your books and you’ve won all kinds of awards from everything from Habitat for Humanity Spirit to Boy scouts of America and Distinguished Citizen Awards. You’ve had a difficult journey. You were diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia. We’ll say SD for short to make it easier. How did that impact your ability to lead in your role as CEO?
It came about 2010 during the peak of the mortgage and housing market collapse. Suddenly, I found speaking had gotten quite difficult. Speaking was always something I’ve done a lot of and had taken it for granted. I never thought about the importance of the ability to speak easily and it got quite difficult. As a CEO, you can imagine, that was settling because in some ways, my voice was my primary tool and I couldn’t use it in the way I had been accustomed to.
I can imagine. For people who aren’t aware of what SD is, can you give a little background on what that means?
I never heard of it either. It’s a rare neurological voice disorder that affects only speech with no known cause or cure. Essentially what happens when you go to talk is the soles in your throat they overtire. It contracts, squeezes, and makes talking a bit difficult. I’ve got quite a bit better at it but at that time, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to talk with you like I am now.
Does it make it painful? I hope this is not challenging.
No, it doesn’t. I’m glad you brought that up. One thing that I hope will come out in this visit is that it turned out years later, this voice condition was a big gift and blessing. It has brought many great things into my life than it’s taken away.
I’ve talked to so many people who have things that you would consider negative things that have said the same thing. Sometimes it makes you open up to realize that there are other things to appreciate. I’m not surprised that you say that from the people I’ve talked to but you focus on other things in your work and you don’t write about this SD. You’re writing about actual leadership issues in your book, The Seventh Power but you do write about this impact, don’t you?
I do. It forced me quite quickly to start thinking differently about leadership and to lead differently. I’ll give you an example, at the time, people would come to me with questions or problems because I was the boss or CEO of the company. Previously, I always would have given an answer but a directive or a direction from me because I couldn’t talk a lot at the time. I started answering a question with questions. Someone would come to me with a question or a problem and I started responding by saying, “That is a good question. What do you think we should do about it?” Putting the conversation back on the other person. What struck me about doing this repeatedly overtime was simply people already knew what to do.Being diagnosed with disease makes you think more about the way you lead. Click To Tweet
It turned out that they didn’t need a top-down management directed solution to the vast majority of questions, problems, or challenges that they faced during the course of a day. They already knew what to do. What they needed was simply the confidence, encouragement, and the right safe work culture to trust their voice and follow it. That got me thinking about a new leadership model that I now summarize being about power dispersal, not power collection, and about giving others a stronger voice. My voice condition transformed the entire way I thought about leading and leadership.
A lot of what you’re talking about is what I work with people to develop curiosity. A big part of curiosity is allowing people to ask questions, listen, and develop empathy through understanding. We don’t ask enough questions. In fact, a lot of sales jobs I’ve had almost taught us out of asking questions, in some ways, because they wanted us to sell so much. We do need to ask questions to get to the root of whatever the issue is. As you were saying that it reminds me if you went to a therapist or a coach. Mostly what they do is ask you, “How does that make you feel?” We’re asking these questions. People do have a lot of these answers. They need validation. They need that sense of, “This is okay,” but they want to see that. I could see how that would totally make you look at things in a completely different way. It does help with employee engagement if they feel like their voices are being heard. You think most companies don’t measure the engagement and I am curious about why you think that is?
You hit so many to make great points on the thought to share. To back up one step, all of this got me thinking differently about the purpose of listening to some of the points you’ve made. What I like to emphasize is listening is for understanding not judgment. We’ve worked on this with our management team. The purpose of listening is to help everybody feel understood. We’re not judging what people say. We want everyone to feel authentically heard and that is what drives engagement. It’s all about giving everybody a voice to your point. We kept doubling down on this thought process of empowering people, sharing leadership, dispersing power.
We’re giving everybody a voice to the point where we change the mission of our company. The first mission of our company is to be meaningful and valuable to the people who work here, which is about making sure that work is an engaging experience for them. It is more than an economic exercise, but it’s meaningful to them. To that end, to your question, one of the things we had to do was figure out how we were going to start to be able to measure the engagement level as defined by our employees across the company. To get that data, we began participating in the Best Places to Work Survey process.
We’ve since gone on to be the Best Place to Work in Maine a few years in a row. While the award is nice, the primary reason we take the survey is to get the data. The data is designed to be another way to make the voice of the employees strong. We’ve found that if we focus on their experience, they will, in turn, figure out how to take world-class care of our products, customers, and company in return. In that model, where you flip the script, profit to me becomes an important outcome of a higher calling. That higher calling is making the place of work meaningful for the people who do it.
That’s so important and write about some of this in The Seventh Power. I’m curious about that choice of the seventh power. Does this tie into the Native American tribe’s meaning? Can you give me a little bit of background on that?
Yes, it does. It was a second event that was transformational for me. First was the onset of my voice condition. A couple of years later, serendipitously, I began traveling out to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, which is one of the biggest, most historic and most traditionally distant franchises of all suit reservations on the northern plains. This is the connection, Diane, there I encountered an entire community that did not feel fully heard. It felt as if a piece of their voice had been taken or cast aside. Putting two experiences together, I concluded simply that there are lots of ways for humans to lose their voice in this world.
It may be even that unanswerable question that we always think about. The purpose of the meaning of life on Earth. It’s as simple as each of us trying to find our voice, our own unique never to be repeated voice to know it, love it, and to bring it into the world. Across that time, what I thought about it, I concluded that leaders have established organizations that have probably done more in total to restrict, limit, and direct the voices of others than to free them. That’s when I started to see my own voice condition as perhaps a bit of a gift, blessing, or an invitation to lead differently again in a way that gave others a stronger voice.
I could see the connection there. You’ve tapped into so many different realms of some of the things I teach in some of my business courses. I teach a lot of courses that include Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which deals with self-actualization. I know that you suggested that one common purpose of human life is self-actualization. How does what you’re writing about tie into that?
It’s at the center of what I ended up writing about. The Seventh Power, long story short, is an expression or representation of the power of the individual human spirit. I got interested in organizational models that would celebrate the individual human spirit and put it first before the need of the corporation or the entity as a whole. In the book, I set out on a bit of a travel adventure looking for what I believe are lessons, guiding principles, or cornerstones to leading that way. I ended up uncovering what I consider to be seven key principles. The journey takes me all the way from that Navajo reservation in Arizona to Kiev in the Ukraine, where I pick up a lesson and a chapter at a time. It’s designed to be a fun book to read, but also with an outline of a new approach to leadership that’s much more interested in celebrating the power of the individual human spirit.
I’m in Arizona so I’m curious about the Navajo. Do you have any background connections to the Indian culture other than finding it interesting?
No. I’ve developed an affinity for communities that feel like a piece of their authentic voice has been taken by them. When you look at communities that feel disenfranchised is that someone or some group who had more power than they did abuse that. They went too far and took advantage of those communities. Anywhere I see that I am drawn to it. Native American reservations in the West are one place where you always see it. That’s what draws me there.
You mentioned some of these seven key principles. I’m curious, did you tie one specific to any tribe or is it across the board that you came up with these seven principles?
It’s broader than that. It came from a number of different settings.
Can you give me an example of the principle?
One of them is a simple example that culture makes the difference. We used to have sweatshirts in our company years ago when I started here. I said, “Our people make the difference.” It’s that old saying that you see in business, but I concluded that it’s not true. Great people are everywhere. The planet is filled with great people. It’s the culture that makes the difference in that culture either empowers or disempowers the individual human spirit. One of my favorite simple examples is Germany after World War II. That country was divided in an arbitrary line between East and West. West Germany went on to become one of the economic and free thought engines of the modern world.
East Germany hung on under the guise of machine guns, barbed wire, and guard dogs until it collapsed under its weight. The difference between the two countries was, nobody would say that on that random date, East and West were divided that all the “good Germans” ended up in the West and the less good Germans ended up in the East. That doesn’t make any sense. The difference was leadership culture. One side of that country had a culture that it powered individuals and the other side had a culture that disempowered individuals. In the modern age, leadership is all about giving people a voice and great people are everywhere. Everybody is capable of sharing the responsibilities of leadership.
This is an important point. I love that you tie it all into these aspects of what makes a great leader. I want to look a little bit at the employee perspective for a second. In the book, you make a case for a shorter workweek, which I’m sure some employees would be happy with, and the creation of a new pay incentive that rewards working less time, not more time. Why do you think that’s important and what do you hope to accomplish with that?
In this example, we’re talking about full-time employees. There are groups in this country working part-time for 20 or 25 hours a week and their issues are different. Their issues are getting more hours, but in our company, all our employees are full-time. I’ve gotten excited about the idea that I like to talk about is simply putting the work back in its place where it’s important, it’s a big deal, we’re into it, but it’s not all-consuming. As productivity continues to improve on this planet, we can always use some of that capacity to make more widgets to produce more stuff.Truly great people are everywhere. Click To Tweet
How about using equally some of that capacity to plain work less. In our industry, the forest products industry, when I started in it, people typically worked 60 to 65 hours a week. The hourly pay rates were pretty low, but because you work so much overtime your overall paycheck came out okay. I don’t like that model. In the last few years, we have taken our average workweek from about 48 hours down to 40 and rebuilt the pay systems. People’s income has grown in that process. People are able to work a bit less and make a bit more and that requires taking on the traditional overtime pay structure, which I honestly think that if you sit down to develop the worst possible way to pay people, you come up with overtime.
That’s what you come up with. Over time rewards you one thing which is making the work take longer. The longer it takes, the more you make. What we want as a company is to find ways for the work to become more efficient, accurate, and take less time. We’ve created a new set of incentives that were bigger than the overtime incentives. People make more money by figuring out how to have the work take less time. Also, create more free time to reinvest as they choose outside and beyond the place of work.
How people spend time is changing. How Millennials look at when they want to work versus what Boomers used to think was appropriate. Everything is changing. Do you find it different by generations what they want and expect?
I do but I also think that’s because the older segment of the working population is so used to the model they grew up with. What we found is, once those groups get a taste of a new model, which is a 40-hour workweek instead of a 50-hour workweek and a new compensation system that pays for having the work take less time, people will quickly grow to embrace that regardless of their age.
You make so many great points in your book, The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership that we touched on. I know a lot of people are going to want to know more. If somebody wanted to buy your book, talk, or find you on social media, whatever it was, are there some ways that they can reach you?
The book is available everywhere books are sold. It’s online at Amazon or BarnesAndNoble.com. You can also go to my website, which is KevinDHancock.com. You can order books there and you can also communicate directly with me.
Kevin, thank you so much. This has been interesting. Thank you for sharing your journey.
It was an honor to be a part of your show. Thank you for helping to strengthen my voice, Diane, and to share some of these thoughts. I appreciate it.
I’d like to thank both Mandeep and Kevin for being my guest. We get so many interesting guests on the show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. You can listen to past episodes there. You can learn all you need to know about curiosity there or at CuriosityCode.com. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead radio.
- The Values Compass
- The Seventh Power
- Dr. Mandeep Rai
- Deepak Chopra
- Dalai Lama
- Paul Ekman – Past episode
- Hancock Lumber Company
- Amazon – The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership
About Dr. Mandeep Rai
Author of The Values Compass: What 101 Countries Teach Us About Purpose, Life and Leadership – Mandeep Rai is a global authority on values, working with companies, institutions, and individuals around the world. She has travelled to more than 150 countries and reported as a journalist for the BBC World Service and Reuters, among others.
About Kevin Hancock
Kevin Hancock is the author of The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. The CEO of Hancock Lumber Company, one of the oldest and best known family businesses in America, he is a recipient of the Ed Muskie Access to Justice award, the Habitat for Humanity Spirit of Humanity award, the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen award, and the Timber Processing Magazine Person of the Year award. Kevin’s first book, Not for Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse, was the recipient of The National Indie Excellence Award and the Independent Author Network Book of the Year Award.
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