Episode 121 – Alain Hunkins
Welcome to another episode of The HERO Show. I am your host Richard Matthews, (@AKATheAlchemist) and you are listening to Episode 121 with Alain Hunkins – How to Become a High-Performing Leader in Your Industry
Alain is the founder and CEO of Hunkins Leadership Group. His company is focused on facilitating leadership and behavior change programs, culture change in the workplace, adult learning, and development design. He has over 20 years of leadership training and organizational development under his belt. And he’s also the best selling author of Cracking the Leadership Code. In a nutshell, his business is all about igniting brilliance in organizations, teams, and individuals to create a better world.
Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:
- Listen in to the exciting discussion about “unconscious incompetence” and “unconscious competence” and that’s just the appetizer.
- Excellent tips on how to communicate while avoiding ‘expert’s language’ that you don’t understand, and improve conversations within your team.
- Alain and Richard discuss the consistent actions they apply to their businesses that help push them forward. It’s the golden key for all entrepreneurs.
- Listen to an engaging story about the hammer and the nail.
- Self-reflection has a tendency to get you stuck in the muck. Alain shares that the best entrepreneurs don’t stay too long in self-reflection because they are more focused on execution, drive, and go.
- Why perfection is the lowest possible standard you can possibly set yourself up to. And why good work doesn’t always speak for itself. Both points are explained in today’s informative episode.
- Alain reveals how he helps unleash people’s potential.
- Consistency is never a straight line, but keep going and find your team of Avengers.
- Franklin Planner – a paper-based time management system.
- HubSpot – a CRM platform that enhances conversations, improves customer relations and revenues.
- Salesforce – another CRM platform that integrates marketing, sales, commerce, service, and customer care.
- Freedom – an app that removes online distractions.
These media and book were mentioned in today’s episode:
- Cracking Leadership Code Secrets Building book written by Alain Hunkins
- Equip 2 Endure
- The Leadership Challenge
The HERO Challenge
Today on the show, Alain challenged Ed to be a guest on The HERO Show. Alain thinks that Ed is a fantastic interview because he loves to listen and tell stories about courage and bravery.
How To Stay Connected With Alain
Want to stay connected with Alain? Please check out their social profiles below.
With that… let’s get to listening to the episode…
Alain Hunkins 0:00
Personal accountability, that my word is my bond. And if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. But I honor my commitments. I feel doubly responsible for that one because I feel like, “Look, I’m teaching people these principles. And if I don’t model them, this whole thing is a giant waste of time.” It’s like I’m, I’m a snake oil salesman. I mean, I get that, you know, it’s easy to talk about. So I feel like I’ve got a little live this stuff. So for me, it’s about personal accountability. That is by far the first thing you know, I love the quote from Albert Schweitzer, who said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it’s the only thing.” So it’s like how – so I just know that I have to walk my talk and talk my walk. And if those things aren’t congruent, I’m just out of luck.
Richard Matthews 0:45
Hello and welcome back to The Hero Show. My name is Richard Matthews. And today, I live on the line, Alain Hunkins. Are you there?
Alain Hunkins 1:45
I am. It’s nice to see you, Richard. I’m really excited to be with you today.
Richard Matthews 1:50
Awesome. And hopefully I did an okay job with your French name.
Alain Hunkins 1:56
Yeah, it was great. It was great. Yeah, it’s not that wouldn’t be the first person who has had to struggle with my name. So –
So you know, something that cracks me up is I have a really basic name, right? Like Richard is not very difficult to pronounce. But more often than you would ever imagine. I tell people, my name is Richard. And they respond with “Oh, Robert.” And I’m like, “I don’t understand where you’re hearing, Robert when I say Richard,” but probably no less than several hundred times in my life has that happened. And it’s always Robert. So
Well, that’s a really good example, Richard, of just people who are not as rational as we think we are. I mean, there’s reasons that we are flawed as communicators. And that just points to it, partially.
Richard Matthews 2:38
That’s one of them. So speaking of what I want to do real quick, is do a quick introduction for my audience who may or may not know who you are, and then we’ll dive into your story. So a lot is a sought after keynote speaker, facilitator and coach, and you’re a leadership expert who connects the science of high performance with the performing art of leadership. So what I want you to do for me real quick a lot is tell me a little bit about what your business does, who you serve, and sort of like what your primary problems you solve are?
Alain Hunkins 3:11
Sure. So I am the founder and CEO of Hunkins Leadership Group. And what I’m about is helping people who are high performers, become high performing leaders. Anyone who’s ever worked with a bad boss in the world knows that being good at something and being able to lead others is two different skill sets. So,I work with individuals, teams and organizations, either through training or coaching, or consulting or speaking, on basically breaking down the magic behind “Ooh, great leaders, what do they do?” Breaking it down into its component parts, and helping people to understand the challenges to implementing those behaviors, and giving them specific tools, so they can become more effective. How that plays out, is either individually or with teams or with companies, what we look at is we get higher levels of productivity, higher levels of profitability. We have increased levels of engagement, lower levels of turnover. And so the list goes on. I mean, clearly, when people work in environments with better leaders, better things happen. So my work is all about creating better results through better leadership.
Richard Matthews 4:20
Absolutely. So you said something that stuck out to me, mostly because it’s very close to something I tell people all the time you said that being good at something doesn’t always necessarily lead to being good at leading other people to do the same thing. But one of the things that I’ve done for the longest time is I help people, I help clients, build education systems, that they can then turn around and sell to people who want to learn whatever it is they’re teaching. And one of the things I’ve discovered is that the overwhelming majority of people who are really really good at doing a thing are not good at teaching other people how to do that thing. The deal … sounds to me like it’s very similar to leading others in terms of actually getting at that problem. You think about that?
Alain Hunkins 5:06
Absolutely, it is. In fact, my background is I think of myself as an adult educator. And that really, I never think of myself as so much as a teacher, as I facilitate the learning of others, right, which is a different reframe, right. So it’s, how do you help people to do that. And I find that in terms of, I think, as you said, many people can’t explain what they do well to others, it’s because most of us are too stuck, we’re in it. And so it’s equally as important to know how you do what you do, as opposed to just what it is because otherwise, you have no perspective. And so leaders need to be able to rise up to roll call the balcony, and see the big picture and see how all the systems interconnect and interrelate and then also to rise back down to the dance floor and get in there and dance and do the detail, step-in. And help people alongside because sometimes we’re leading from out front, sometimes we’re leading from the side, sometimes we’re leading from behind, and part of leadership wisdom is to know the difference of when you should do what part of it?
Richard Matthews 6:11
Like, I have a couple of couple of questions on that. So the first one is just an observation. And the observation for me is that you know you called it getting up onto the balcony being one of the things that I’ve always, I regard that as learning how to separate the stimulus … and you know, anything that we’ve mastered, and you don’t have to think about all the steps, right? So if I were to talk to you right now, you know, your hands would go up in the air, you get the chocolate bar, and you know, your salivary glands would start going, you have chocolate now, right? All those things would happen with no mental like interaction, right? You didn’t calculate the trajectory of the thing. You know, in your head, your hands, right, but like, it all just happened. And it’s because you’ve mastered all the fields in there so far, that the stimulus and the response are immediate. And if I’m hearing you correctly, when a leader needs to learn how to do is they need to learn how to separate them, and pull them apart. The stimulus from the response and see all the decisions that are happening. Right, all the little things that are happening, so they can teach someone else. When you’re, you know, when you get this stimulus, here’s how we’re making these decisions that we’re making. That sounds right?
Alain Hunkins 7:24
It sounds completely right. I mean, as you think about that, the way you describe that, that makes me think about you might be familiar with the spectrum of what they call conscious and unconscious competence, right is that the fact is, when someone is a brand new, they have no idea how to do anything, we can call them unconsciously incompetent, right? That they don’t know what they don’t know, and they can’t do anything. And then someone says, “Hey, you know, we’re gonna teach you how to, let’s say, fly a plane,” and then think this is that work. And you realize, Oh, no, no that I can’t do that.” So you’re now consciously incompetent. And then, what you need to do is then learn how like the steps, okay, for driving a car, I mean, anything, any steps. And then you get to a place where, if you remember back to being in Driver’s Ed, and we’ll switch from the plane to the car, so more people can connect to this one. But if you learn how to remember those first moments of like, “okay, turn, you know, like, put your foot on the brake, hands here,” … mental focus that every single little step at that point, you’re trying to develop conscious competence. Well, fast forward 20 years later, or 10 years later, and you’re driving, and hopefully, you’re not checking your cell phone and turn the radio on and eating a sandwich. And, you know, this is all happening at the unconscious competent level. And so what you just said, Richard is yet to if you want to train or lead others, and help them learn how to do this, you need to step back out of unconscious competence and step back into the conscious piece, and then break down the competency into its component behaviors so that you can teach others and bring them along this journey of competence with you.
Richard Matthews 8:49
So my secondary question, I think ties, dovetails really nicely into that. And that is, when it comes to leadership, a lot of times you are stuck in a place where the thing that you need to have your team do is something that you do not have skills, and you have no level of competence at all, in doing that thing. So one of the things that’s really common in our world is design work, right? A lot of people like design work and it is very creative thing. And you need to hire a designer to do that. But when you’re trying to lead your design, if you’re not a designer, that’s just an example. But there’s a lot of different things, right? Maybe it’s coding, maybe it’s, you know, something that’s going on somewhere where you’re like, I need this thing to happen in my business. But the only thing that I know that needs to happen is that it needs to happen. Not I don’t know, I don’t have any of this confidence there. So how do you lead when you’re in that capacity?
Alain Hunkins 9:42
I love this question. This is great. So how you lead in this capacity is that you know where you want to get to. So what you need to do is actually coach the skilled person to give you signposts to know if they’re actually on the way to get you where you want to go. What I mean by this is let’s say for example, like this user example of design work. And I’m not a designer, let’s say, but I know I’m bringing these designers. So first of all, I know what I need at the end. So the first thing I want to establish is the end in mind, here’s our target. And let me explain when this is all working, these are the things that we can do and get your designer whoever you’re hiring, to agree to that. Great. So then you say to them, help me to understand and this is what the part that a lot of leaders have a hard time with. Because this means lowering your status and your ego, because you have to admit, I don’t know everything. So great helped me to understand, walk me through what the process of this is going to look like going from where we are now to this end result. “Thank you. Can they walk you through that? Great, can you now walk me through what are some key milestones are things that we know that we’re getting to achieve along the way.?” And so you have them walk that, and great you say, “thank you.” Let’s build in some checkpoints about how things are going with the milestones. And you can explain this. So that way, you’re not completely in the dark, and at the whim of someone who’s an expert, you have no idea. But what you’ve actually had them do is you’ve had them scope out the project and build in the project, timelines, and status update points for you. And you’re just checking in to make sure they’re on track, even though you have no skills. So that’s the way I focus on it. But that takes a lot more communication skills than people have, because you have to be really clever, because most of us tend to rely on, but I didn’t know how to do this. So that’s where you’d go.
Richard Matthews 11:27
And I know I just had a friend who went through that experience. I remember coaching him through the process where he’s like, he wanted to get … developed for the company. And he hired someone to do it. I was … it’s like, he’s asking me a question that I don’t know the answer. Like, I don’t know how to, I don’t know how to respond to him with this question. I was like, “well, you need to tell him, that’s where you’re at? Like, I’m not a coder, I don’t understand how you phrased that question. Can you please explain these couple of words that I don’t understand. So I have better context for it.” Right? So you’re actually, you know, you’re you might be leading the project. But sometimes you have to come down and be like, “hey, you’re the expert in that area, please educate me here, you’re here. So I can have a more informed conversation with you. Right?” And the more you do that with your team, the more you that’s where I think at least you’re gonna pick up a lot of those skills. Right? You don’t have to necessarily be the one who’s pushing the keyboard at becoming a, you know, a designer or becoming a coder. But you’ll start to learn how to communicate in their language when you ask them to teach you their language.
Alain Hunkins 12:24
Absolutely. I mean, I think this idea of translating things from what’s inside people’s minds, whether that’s the expert that is coming into code, whether it’s your customer, like helped me to understand what this look like to you? And if people start throwing out language, you don’t understand, pause and say, help me understand. I don’t get that. Can you explain that in a different way? Give me some examples, whatever it is. The challenge that I think so many entrepreneurs have is that we’re afraid of looking stupid or afraid of going, you know, like, if I do that, what are they going to think about me? Well, what are they going to think about you if you build something wrong? I think they’d rather hear the question now than -I mean, the typical example I work in some midsize and large organizations. I mean, I can’t tell you how many people have been through the experience, where they’re in a meeting, and people start throwing up acronyms, and they have no idea what the acronym is, but they’re not comfortable speaking up and saying, “excuse me, what did you just say?” Because now we’re speaking alphabet soup. And no one knows what’s going on. So yeah, we got to lower the ego bar so that we can have conversations that lead to understanding as opposed to these conversations that are just about trying to impress people with how smart we are.
Richard Matthews 13:29
And I think for my own part, my years of experience doing this, my piece of advice for anyone who’s listening to this conversation is that the other person is not thinking about you. Right? So they’re not thinking about what you know, how it’s going to impact your ego. And probably what was the most likely outcome is that you’re going to say, “Hey, I don’t understand that.” And they’re going to feel good about themselves, because they’re like, “Oh, I know something that the leader in this case doesn’t know. Right?” And it’ll make them respect you and they’ll feel good at the same kind of thing.
Alain Hunkins 14:04
I’m very much so. It’s that willingness to I call it go low status. You know, this whole, you know, one of the unspoken things around leadership is that in most places, there’s a power, there’s a pecking order, there’s a status and where are you on that? And we send all sorts of spoken and unspoken signals around that. So as leaders, one way to invite other people’s engagement is to lower our status consciously, as opposed to just kind of going along because it’s so easy to fall into the traps of because I’m in charge. That’s why and I’ll take this commanding voice and tell you and you just follow me and that’s so old school Industrial Age. It’s kind of sickening.
Richard Matthews 14:40
So it reminds me of one of the YouTube channels I watch which I’m going to plug them even though they don’t know who I am. Is that Equip 2 Endure and they talk about a lot of … things, right? Things like how to protect your house, how to fire a gun, all sorts of cool stuff like that, right? Tactical things. One of the things he said in the video recently that really stuck with me was, “if you want to be the most dangerous person in the room. But you don’t want anyone else that way. Right?” And the same kind of thing with the leader, being the leader, you know, it’s you, you may or may not be right like the head honcho in the room, the top guy in the room, but you want to conduct yourself, like everyone else is better, faster, stronger, more expert, you are right, and treat them that way. And it’ll help engender the whole key aspect of getting things done.
Alain Hunkins 15:44
And certainly for the long term, it’s really important. I mean, I like to say that we’re trying to move away from being the Commanders-in-Chief to being the Facilitators-in- Chief and some people have said, “facilitator sounds so soft than commander.” I’m like, “well, it’s different, you’ve got to let go of your ego as who wants to be seen.” And if your primary objective in leading is about power, and status and being seen, you’re totally in it for the wrong reasons. And there’s going to be a limit to growth. Because we are all basically being supported by relationships. And in the long term, you’re going to be way more powerful and get way more status by actually enabling other people to come on this journey with you than trying to command them in some way.
Richard Matthews 16:29
Absolutely, I completely agree with that. So I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about how you got to the place where you’re teaching and helping other companies like that. We call this the origin story, right? Every good comic book hero has an origin story, and it’s the thing that made them into the hero they are today, were you born a hero or were you bit by a radioactive spider that made you want to teach leadership to companies? Or were you starting a job and eventually becoming an entrepreneur? Basically …
Alain Hunkins 16:55
So you know, it’s interesting, because certainly getting involved in training and teaching leadership isn’t something that any five or six year old thinks about certainly wasn’t something I even knew existed back then. But if I had to look at the common thread around my origin story, it’s I have always been really interested in people, specifically, what makes people tick. And how do people impact other people with how they tick and how they behave. So that’s really important. And as I look at, like the through line beyond that, a lot of it has to do with my childhood. And you know, I think a lot of us are impacted, because our home life is our first organization that we work in, right as a child, right. And we’re part of that team. And it was at the time, I didn’t think it was unusual, because it’s just, it’s what you know, it’s all there is. They think, “Oh, this is just the home I grew up in?” Well, I found out later on that it was a fairly unusual place to be. And so I grew up in New York City, that’s not unusual. I was raised by a single mom, also not unusual. The unusual part is that my mom and my grandmother, my mom’s mom, who also raised me because my grandmother moved in with us when I was one. Both my grandmother and my mom are Holocaust survivors. They’re born and raised in Belgium. And that experience of surviving the war, my mom was in hiding from the time she was six until she was nine and a half, three and a half years separated through the Belgian underground, and then they were reunited. The rest of the family was killed. And that shaped their experience of the world. And it certainly shaped their experience of how they raised me. And here, I grew up in New York City, I went to public schools, and my experience at school and going to my friend’s house was so different from my own. And I think there was a part of me trying to reconcile, like, why is one of these things so not like the other. And so it got me interested in studying psychology, I was a kid, I was reading books about psychology and I was reading like Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. You know, who is the one who wrote by the way, about ‘between stimulus and response, there is a choice. And then that choice is your freedom, and that freedom is your power to choose.’ I’ve been talking about stimulus response. So for me, a lot of this was really informed by that experience. And what I found and I ended up doing a personal development workshop when I was about 25. And I started realizing, “oh my gosh, there are other people who have these rich internal lives because it’s not something I’ve ever talked about. But I walked away from this weekend training and I was just on fire”, like, “Oh my gosh, this sense of touching into my own innate potential was like getting bitten by the radioactive spider like this is amazing.” And the cool so I wanted to get involved and I started volunteering to be a support, third level string facilitator to help. This guy observed a fly on the wall in these kind of personal growth training, and I went, “Oh my gosh, this is great.” And what I found was, there was nothing more satisfying than turning on the light bulb in somebody else right how do I kindle the fire of … in somebody else and that passion, I mean, to this day, there’s really nothing that’s much more exciting than that to me. There’s nothing that feels more rewarding, more meaningful. And so I started getting involved with this the age of 24-25. And I was doing educational training in schools. My background actually trained as a professional actor. And I got working with an arts and education company teaching kids conflict resolution skills and assertiveness training and all sorts of things in New York City. And then a friend of mine said, “Hey, have you ever thought about doing training in corporate groups?” I was like, “No, I never worked for corporate groups.” So –
Richard Matthews 16:59
… better for you.
Alain Hunkins 18:42
Exactly. So that was one of the things too, because I was literally working in schools. I was teaching five classes a day. And I think the day rate was, I think, 75 bucks a day, I was getting paid. So I was like, I was looking long term thinking this might not be so sustainable, you know. So anyway, I ended up switching. And then from there, I ended up working both for profit and not for profit, I just kind of worked with everyone and anyone, because the common denominator is people. So for me just cultivating that. And then, as I got into focusing on people, I realized that I was interested in leaders because I thought leaders make a difference. And what I found through all of my practice, and then my research is that leaders don’t make a difference. Leaders are, in fact, they are the difference that they create so much of the variance in culture. And as you know, Peter Drucker famously said, culture eats strategy for breakfast. And so getting the culture right, getting the behaviors, right is so important. So that’s what got me into leadership development. And that was about 20 years ago. And so it’s been going ever since. So I guess that was the bug that bit me.
Richard Matthews 21:36
It’s funny, I was actually on a podcast called … Strategy based … a few weeks ago. I got the same kind of thing. My interesting sort of question about that whole origin story is when did you sort of make the shift into turning it into a business where you are actively seeking clients? And how does that transition go from learning how to teach what it is you teach? Learning how to run the whole, like, business aspect of it, right, which is like, you know, having clients dealing with payments, and accounting and marketing, all the other stuff that goes into running a business, doing what you do?
Alain Hunkins 22:20
So for me, I started doing the work itself, basically subcontracting out to other companies, right? So I was working, doing that stuff. And what I found was, I was changing and upgrading their content, changing it all around, like, great. I can do this myself, like I could. So I started reaching out to other people. And they said, “Hey, come do this.” So a lot of it was learning as I go, like, “oh, how do you invoice someone?” You know? What’s that look like? What is net? I remember like asking stupid questions? What is net 30? mean? They said net 30? Like, I had to look that up? Like, oh, that’s payment terms? I understand.
Richard Matthews 22:54
I remember looking that up too.
Alain Hunkins 22:56
Yeah, of course, like, …30?
Richard Matthews 22:59
I don’t know, do I?
Alain Hunkins 23:00
Exactly. So you know, figuring things like that. So I think there’s been a lot of email, it’s kind of trial and error, you try stuff and like, oh, that doesn’t work, like marketing, branding, like, I’ve gone through so many iterations. And I think it’s like, they talked about your, when I first got a website, you know, I kind of came up before the internet really was going. And someone said, you gotta understand your website is like a painting that never dries, you know, there’s constant iteration. And I just love that idea of so many aspects of building a business, or like a painting that never dries. And I think entrepreneurs that are really successful share at least a bunch of stuff, but I think there’s one superpower, and it’s not very sexy. It’s consistent action, right? I’m sure you’ve talked about this with other people, because it’s such a key thing, which is, do you follow up? Do you do something every day to move your business forward? And do you look up to see how it’s going every so often, you can’t just work at the same stuff. And then change your approach if it’s not working, and just keep that you’ve got to try stuff. I’m amazed at how many people say, “Oh, you’re gonna go on a podcast? Like, what’s the ROI on that?” Like, I’m in seed planting mode right now. Like when you’re planting seeds, you’re not pulling those seeds out of the ground and go, “why aren’t you growing yet?” So there’s a season for all these things. And no, there’s a time to reinvest. And so where am I researching? Where am I hiring somebody else to do something, instead of doing it myself? Or does it make sense for me to do something myself? I mean, these are all the questions that I think all of us as entrepreneurs are continually asking, and there’s no magic wand. It’s trying to figure out what’s working, and then keep doing more of it. And the key thing is consistent action. And because I don’t know about you, Richard, I have found that where the opportunities end up coming from are never where I expected it from somebody like “oh, you know, I heard you on this podcast,” or “I read this book or book this.” Like, I would have never dreamed I would have, you know. A few weeks ago, I found myself on a symposium panel that was being sponsored by the New Delhi Institute of Management, which is like the Harvard Business School of India. And I got through there like a random person. I was on a podcast and someone heard me and they said, “Hey, talk to this guy.” And before you know it, I’m doing this symposium panel, I’m making great friends with everyone. But I never would have dreamed of that a few months ago. So it’s all a question of continuing to put yourself out there and doing stuff and making it happen.
Richard Matthews 25:15
And to further that point, one of the things that I’ve learned over the course of the last 10 years is that it is not about the volume of things that you do. It’s about doing the right thing over and over and over again.
Alain Hunkins 25:29
Richard Matthews 25:31
So the hardest part about that is you don’t always know what the right things are. Which is where people get tricked into trying to do the whole volume of things. Maybe I’ll just do everything, and work myself till I die. But one of the things that I found is, when I started my entrepreneurial career, I was the kid who was, you know, well, if I work 15 hours a day, and you know, only take breaks to bathe and eat. And then I’ll get to where I want to go faster.
Alain Hunkins 26:02
Richard Matthews 26:03
And you find out that that doesn’t actually work. Because you’re not actually focused on doing the right thing, you’re focused on doing. You’ve asked yourself the wrong questions. And when I started reducing the amount of time I was willing to work, my business started exploding. So what this did to me is that consistent action, it’s not a consistent volume or consistent time, it’s like consistently doing something that you said earlier that it pushes your business forward. Right doesn’t have to push it forward. So I mean, like, sometimes I’ve been like, if I’ve got stuff I want to get done with my family, or we’re traveling or … You know, people who watch this show know that we travel full time. And it’s like, sometimes I’ll be like, I want to finish this row of copy on our website. If I accomplish that today. I’m good. And it’s fine. We’ll come back and finish the next row of copies of the website. Right?
Alain Hunkins 26:56
Richard Matthews 26:57
It’s like the stuff that I know needs to get done. And, if you do, if you do something every day, that pushes your business forward to the next stage, that stuff compounds really, really quick. And the other thing that happens when you start restricting, like, “Hey, I’m only going to work four hours a day, or am I going to work four days a week, or whatever it is. You start thinking to yourself, okay, I don’t have a lot of time to work today. What’s the most important thing I can get done?
Alain Hunkins 27:21
Richard Matthews 27:22
And you ask yourself better questions, you start getting better answers and you actually follow through on this thing. It really grows your business fast.
Alain Hunkins 27:31
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I mean, all those things are so true. And like you said, you don’t know what those right things are sometimes. So there is some trial and error. And you do need to try stuff. I mean, one thing that I think a mentor of mine told me that in a way, as you’re picking those things, you also got to notice, like for example, they said, “Yeah, you do need to network,.” But there’s different ways in which you network. So I know that for me going to a business networking, international breakfast meeting four days a week, which some people love and love to, like, get out there and do that a little harder when you’re locked in quarantine. But still, some people love that stuff. I mean, to me, I’d rather spend four mornings getting to the root canal. I mean, that’s just I’d rather do that. It’s just not my thing. Whereas –
Richard Matthews 28:14
Except for podcasts instead.
Alain Hunkins 28:17
Exactly I do four podcasts in a day, because it energizes me, I get to me. And so just knowing what is going to be something that you can sustain over time, because it’s going to be really hard to do stuff long term, when you’re just thinking I’m doing this because someone said I should be doing this. It’s like it’s not, that’s not a great way to continue.
Richard Matthews 28:38
And for me one of the things like on that same line of thinking when I found something I know that works that doesn’t energize me. Those are the things I know I need to hire. I need to get someone who’s going to do those things for me. So I’m like, Okay, this is working, I need to get it going. And for me, it was everything that happens like on this podcast, I hit that stop record button everything that happens on the other side of that I would rather have … I have a team in place that handles all that now. And it makes this part I love doing. I play every day, where I’ve got guests coming off three, four or five times a week. Working podcast 4-5 times the week. And it really helps put you out there. And you know, to your point, if you do that consistently, and we were doing it consistently for a couple of years now. Your business looks really different when you have 140 plus recorded interviews on our show, and you’ve got 30-40 plus interviews on other people’s shows. People know who you are. Or if they don’t know who you are, they look you up. You’re everywhere. Right. So it’s interesting that when you find something that works, you just have to know, if it doesn’t energize you, you have to figure out a way to make sure that you can still get it done. Is more like learning how to hire and become a leader in your own business.
Alain Hunkins 29:52
Richard Matthews 29:55
Well, so my next question for you then is about your superpower. So we say every comic hero has a superpower or has a fancy suit or, you know, the ability to call down Thunder from the sky. In the real world, here’s what I call a zone of genius. It’s a skill or set of skills that either you were born with or developed over time that really energize everything else you do, right? So they’re the ones that use that common thread that sort of makes all of your skills sort of come together. And, you know, it help people slay the villain in their life. You know, with that framing, what do you think you were superpower is?
Alain Hunkins 30:31
Interesting. So can I say that I’m able to blow things up? That wouldn’t be it? That’s when I make mistakes? No, actually, I think. So for me, my superpower. And this is true, whether it’s writing a book, or it’s when I’m coaching, or I’m speaking, if I have the ability to take complex ideas, and create not just make them simple, but make them super engaging, and actionable. And I do that through telling stories, constantly. So for example, when I start like the beginning of my book, it’s the same story, as I share in my TED Talk, which is around the point, what I wanted to make was that leading is complex, and leaders aren’t necessarily very good. And I found this amazing story, that in 2007, the leaders of this large, well-known organization had this problem where their customer service wasn’t keeping pace with their customer expectations. And so they did a seven page strategic report. And they found that the biggest issue was that their customers felt like they were waiting in line too long. And so what did they decide to do in their infinite wisdom, they took all the clocks out of their retail lobbies. That’s how they dealt with it, right? There’s the US post office true story, this actually happened that the US Postal Service and out of 23 lobbies.
Richard Matthews 31:48
Alain Hunkins 31:49
It’s amazing, you read that story is like, “Oh, this is such a good story.” So like I used it, but again, it brings it to life of, you know, shake my head, you know, SMH Shake My Head. I can’t believe that leaders do that. Yes, I can, because leaders do stupid stuff. So again, it just stays with you because of the power of storytelling. So I’d say my superpower is taking concepts and bringing them and engaging people in the process from where, like, I trained as a performing artist as an actor. So like, part of this is bringing people on the journey with me, and being excited for them too. Because ultimately, what I want is people to be excited about their own potential and seeing glimmers of it coming to life right here, right now.
Richard Matthews 32:29
Absolutely. So I love that skill, that superpower so to speak. It’s one of my favorite favorite things that I do as well. I call it putting the cookies on the lower shelf. So you make it accessible to everyone. The toddler can get the … They can get the Oreos. But one of the things that I had? I had a mentor say to me one, which just slipped my mind at the time and but you know, after you hear it, you’re like, “Oh, of course that’s totally true.” But he was like, any information you give someone how to information, why to information, anything that you give them information, without stories, is just data. Right? If you want to, it’s like you know, it’s just a nail. It’s like, if you want to drive it home, you have to have the hammer and the stories are what drive the nail in. But actually makes things work otherwise, you just are giving people a box of nails. Yeah. And so the ability to connect the information that you want someone to have with a story is the key aspect of helping someone learn and then most importantly, implement it, without them, they just have data and they’re not gonna do anything with it.
Alain Hunkins 33:55
Richard Matthews 33:56
So that’s one of the things that I’ve been fascinated by is how that works with people.
Alain Hunkins 34:02
I love that analogy by the way of the hammer. The nail was a nail being data and the stories being the hammer.
Richard Matthews 34:09
Because if the story strikes home and right so for me, I tell people that you know, humans are a storyborne people. We judge everything on story. You know, particularly our relationships. So, you know, you and I are closer friends than we were when we started to share some stories with each other.
Alain Hunkins 34:29
Richard Matthews 34:29
And the more stories we share with each other, the closer our relationship becomes, right? And that goes from, you know, an acquaintance to someone whose name you know, but story you built, right? A friend might be someone who knows stories from each other. a best friend might be someone who you have shared all of your stories together already. Right? And you can’t tell them any new stories they haven’t already heard. So they claim a way to deepen your relationship… together, right.
Alain Hunkins 34:34
Richard Matthews 34:35
So that works in a relationship. It’s also how human beings interact with their world. We interact via stories. So being able to educate and teach via story is such an important skill.
Alain Hunkins 35:11
Yes. It’s terrific.
And I think also, when friends are so good that they know each other’s stories, I guess the other thing you can do that’s fun, is you can find new people and tell those stories together. Because that’s always fun, right? It’s like, Oh, well, you tell, you know, you tell it this time, you know, you tell them.
Richard Matthews 35:33
The flip side of the superpower is your fatal flaw. So you know, every Superman has his kryptonite. And every Wonder Woman has their bracelets of victory they can’t remove without going mad. Probably have a flaw in your life or in your business. It held you back, like I struggled with, for me a couple of things that I struggled with over time, like perfectionism, that kept me from shipping products, or lack of self care, which meant I let my clients walk all over me. Or, you know, probably my biggest one is being a visionary, but be really, really bad at the minutia, and didn’t have the discipline to implement all the things that I wanted to get that. But more important than the law, I think, is how have you worked to rectify it? So people who go might learn from your experience?
Alain Hunkins 36:16
That’s funny, I can resonate with a few of your flaws there. So thank you for the honesty on that, Richard. So for me, I sometimes describe myself as a recovering perfectionist. And there’s a couple pieces to that. And that had for a long time held me back, because I felt that somehow if I didn’t get it right, then I shouldn’t put it out there. And in my mind, right was this I had put the bar so high, it kept me from trying stuff is easy, just so it’s not going to happen. Not going to happen. And then the flip side of that was I would spend so much time focusing on getting one little thing, right. I was shining, shining like this little tiny gem, like realizing, “oh, you realize a whole truckload of other gems just went by while you were so busy shining the one. ” I was losing perspective. And I had this great mentor who said something to me, let you know what your problem is, is that you approach everything. Like you’re trying to get 100 on a test. And there’s a lot of tests in life that just fail, and you don’t need to get 100 on lots of pass fail tests. And I got to say, that sounds kind of pretty obvious, but it hit me like a ton of bricks at the time. It was like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s so sounds like me,” because yeah, I would worry about those littlest things, “how is this gonna seem? And how is that going to seem?” What I have found is the best entrepreneurs in a lot of ways. Actually, they don’t have too much of that self-reflection. Because yes, you need to reflect. But then you need to execute and drive and go, like you said, ship, like, let’s get this going. And let’s learn from the active iteration of doing it, as opposed –
Richard Matthews 37:47
Ship and iterate.
Alain Hunkins 37:48
Ship and iterate exactly, as opposed to “What do you think? And what is it.” We don’t know. And in fact, we won’t know. There’s no way we’re gonna be able to figure it out. So as to spending more time ruminating and going over this again, and again, is not going to lead us there. So for me, that has definitely been a fatal flaw. And I’ve also connected with that early on. I was a big part of my upbringing, I was a really good student in school. And you know, in school, if you do good work, you get good grades, and you get seen and promoted and that. And then when you get out of school, those rules don’t apply. And as someone said to me, unfortunately, “too many of us live under the myth that good work should speak for itself.” Hey look, if good work spoke for itself, the field of marketing wouldn’t exist. The fact is, you do need to toot your own horn and you got to find the right way to do that. So it doesn’t come across too obnoxious. But if you just do great work, but no one knows about it. It’s like the work didn’t exist. And so the willingness to put yourself out there and frame what you do in a way that’s a value to other people, is a really important skill. And I wish I had learned that sooner. And I’m still working on getting better at it. So that’s as a couple of my flaws I’d say.
Richard Matthews 39:01
So though on the first one the perfected thing, the metaphor that hit me like a ton of bricks. That really helped me with that was another friend of mine said that “you know, Richard perfectionism is the lowest standard you’ve pulled yourself to.”
Alain Hunkins 39:20
Hmm, that’s interesting.
Richard Matthews 39:22
I was like, Ow, like, why? And she was like, “because it doesn’t exist. You can’t hit it.”
Alain Hunkins 39:28
Richard Matthews 39:29
So if it doesn’t exist, you can’t hit it at the lowest possible standard you’re setting yourself up to not do anything. Right? To not ship and, if that’s your goal, if your goal is to not ship if your goal is not make a difference, your goal is not to help people and sure go for perfection, that’s the lowest … you can have and it was like a shift in my head. I was like, Oh wow, I am not helping people by striving for perfection …
Alain Hunkins 40:09
Yeah, that’s intense. It’s funny, even as you say that to me, like, that’s the lowest part of me goes, “Oh, gosh, yeah, you’re right.” Oh, yeah. So I totally, totally get that one.
Richard Matthews 40:20
You feel it in your gut, you’re like, oh, when you get a festival, the whole point story thing, right? When you have a story that drives a talk, you’re like, “Oh, yeah, I get it now.” And so for me, one of the things that I did to overcome that was learning how to take the last little bit of something and pass it off to my team. Right, whether that is publishing the episode, or pushing the publish button on the article, or saying, “hey, read this over it, if it’s good,” you know, get it up on the website, or whatever it is. It’s just taking the shipping part off of my plate, and having a team responsible for a specific thing that I can’t get myself into my own, like, “Oh, I could tweak it a bit for the next three years.”
Alain Hunkins 41:04
Because it’s never done. You said there’s no there. There’s no perfect. So there’s no point in that.
Richard Matthews 41:10
It’s a painting that never dries, like always making a few more adjustments, right.
Alain Hunkins 41:14
Yeah, yeah. So have you found –
Richard Matthews 41:16
How have you dealt with that?
Alain Hunkins 41:17
Well, one of the things I was gonna say is one of the things on that front, one thing I’ve done is I’ve let people into the process sooner. So, I show earlier drafts of work to more people, I’m just like, “Hey, take a look at this.” Because part of me is like, yeah, you know what it is a second or third draft that you’re looking at. And I won’t show my first draft because they’re usually terrible. So I need to edit if I’m writing something. But that is getting people more involved earlier, and just being it’s the work, like realizing you’re giving me feedback on the work, you’re not giving me feedback on my own inherent self worth as a human being. And learning how to separate those things out is so important, I think for everyone is like how can you learn to bring other people on because like, none of us is as smart as all of us. And so the more I can get good minds, looking at the stuff and moving things forward. And like you’re saying, trusting other people with stuff. Great. Go with it. And let’s make that happen. So that’s where I guess, opening them up into the process sooner.
Richard Matthews 42:12
So on your second point, learning how to market yourself, right, doing good work speaks for itself. I believe what you said.
Alain Hunkins 42:19
Richard Matthews 42:21
yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s such an interesting thing. I’ve never heard anyone say that before. But it’s such a true thing. And I remember growing up as a kid, I was one of the kids that, you know, if I tried it all right, it was like, … and designed for people of my type of personality. And so it was, it wasn’t that I didn’t care. And I realized pretty early on that good work does speak for itself. And so it’s something I’ve always sort of had in my head. And I’m just because I’m in the process of raising children.How do you teach the message?
Alain Hunkins 43:07
That good work doesn’t pay for itself?
Richard Matthews 43:09
Alain Hunkins 43:10
It’s interesting, because I think, good work. In the parenting thing? I think it has to do with the fact that, I think there’s a developmental cycle where’s like, certainly in a family system, and as well as in school systems, there’s a certain amount of hopefully good work that speaks for itself. It’s almost like you need the structure of that first, before you can create the variation, which is it doesn’t speak for itself, because ultimately, let’s face it, yes, you need marketing. But ultimately, after you’ve gotten someone’s attention, and they open up the package, and they look inside, and they go, “yeah, that’s kind of stinky.” It’s kind of stinky. So you need to have good work, too. So I don’t think it’s an either or I think it’s a both and. It’s a question of priorities. Is this thinking that one can exist without the other is kind of crazy. So I think yeah, I mean, thinking about from the parenting point of view, it’s, well, I’m just thinking about, you know, I’m thinking I have a 13 year old daughter now. And my pattern for 13 years – she’s 13 now. I suddenly have a 13 year old daughter. No, I’ve had her for a while. And now she’s now 13. And I just look at her social life and have a 16 year old son too. But my daughter’s social life is way more complicated. And I hear that’s pretty true of girls in general. But I think about how she needs to kind of we’ll call it marketing, but just in terms of which friends are going to spend time with who and how that works. There’s a lot of thinking about all that stuff that’s going on now. Ultimately, what’s that like? I asked her, “Well, what do you want?” Because it’s really easy for her to get caught up in what her friends think about her and she loses sight of what she herself actually wants. And I think as entrepreneurs to take that analogy is everyone’s going to tell you know what’s what’s success like? So like what’s your income stream going to look like? How much do you want to make this month? Or that? What’s your vision for this? Or in five years, what you’re going to do? And, you know, there’s so many other people that can tell you try to define for you what success looks like. And ultimately, we’ve all got to find that for ourselves. Right? And so that looks like different things for different people.
Richard Matthews 45:17
Yeah, I know, it’s been an interesting thing for myself and one learns. So, I think that good work speaks for itself in perfectionism a lot. And a lot, because one of the things that like I struggled with was, I want things to be perfect. So that work speaks for itself.
Alain Hunkins 45:36
Richard Matthews 45:37
And so, and then you realize that, like, if it’s perfect, and you put it out there, it doesn’t speak for itself, right? Because nobody cares, right? If you build it nobody comes. You till have to build the roads to put up the signs and invite the people to come, right?
Alain Hunkins 45:50
Richard Matthews 45:52
So, if you still want it to be good when they show up. But it’s an interesting thing, both to learn in my own life, and in my own business. And then also, like, if I’m in the process of like, trying to educate my children that, hey, you have to have good work. But more importantly, than having good work, you also have to, like, you have to be able to talk about it, I’d have to be able to, so I don’t know what the word is in what I’m looking for here. But you have to be able to, to hold up your work and show it to someone else. That’s basically like walking … why it will help them and why it’ll make a difference in their lives. Otherwise, you know, I find myself doing that a lot in the parenting world where I’m like, “Hey, you have to do the dishes, right?” Here’s the story. But here’s why you have to learn how to do it. Sure, a good job that you have to, you can’t just force them to do good work, you have to also tell them the reason why they need to do it.
Alain Hunkins 46:50
Yeah. And I think also is to catch them doing it right. And giving them some praise along the way. You know, I think often as parents, it’s so easy to energize negativity is to notice the things that aren’t working. Wow, you didn’t do this, right? You didn’t do this, but like how often do we see parents energizing positivity? Like, “wow, you did the dishes, that’s amazing!” Like, usually you don’t get that much. You don’t get that kind of effect and energy coming at that. So it’s really supporting that like, “Hey, you know, I really, I really appreciate the fact that you did that.” In fact, this morning, my daughter did something I’m trying, she brought her laundry hamper back up to her room. So just even just know that. Yeah, it’s sort of expected, but to say, Hey, thanks for bringing your hamper up and didn’t leave not leaving it down there. So it’s just catching those things as you go. It’s really important.
Richard Matthews 47:32
And I think it probably has a lot to do with that same thing that you do with your kids, as well. But I’ve noticed like I make it a practice, like, my kids have chores. And then I will tell them to do the thing. And as soon as they do it, I thank them for doing it.
Alain Hunkins 47:45
Richard Matthews 47:46
For getting done. I really appreciate it. It engenders a whole different type of response to getting work done.
Alain Hunkins 47:54
You know, as you say, all this Richard, it reminds me that we talked about perfectionism. And we think that good work should speak for itself. But the other piece, and this is another, I will call it a flaw, fatal flaw that I’ve learned about is you need to develop relationships with other people. So when it’s time to show them the work, that they’re there, right, because otherwise you’re doing all this stuff in a vacuum. And so let’s say for example, you do this great work, and you will have this book, but then you have no network to promote it to. So it’s this whole sense of what are you doing to cultivate those relationships with other people, and doing it from this place of “I want to be of help,” because you can’t wait until the work is out. It’s kind of like those people that only go on social media to post their own stuff, but never comment on anybody else’s. So the challenge is how do you continue to nurture and cultivate relationships for the long term. And that’s something I wish I knew sooner.
Richard Matthews 48:51
To your point earlier that you made that you can’t – I’m going to lose what I’m going to say – but your ability to put it out there and get someone to like be a part of it is going to come from you have to actually like building a network of people. You can’t have, you can’t be looking at what the ROI is now. ROI is going to come later. When you know when you build all the relationships, you have the huge network of people whether that’s coming out going through … group, you have the whole local community because you are building a podcast like this one or going on podcasts like you’re doing. You’re building those networks of relationships so that when you do something which I believe you’re going to be talking to … people share it with.
Alain Hunkins 49:41
Exactly. And it’s putting in the work that’s part of the work too, is building those relationships up over time. And how do you find ways to not just have them once, but just sustain them in some way? And that takes some thinking and thinking through smartly.
Richard Matthews 49:56
So my next question for you then is about your common enemy. And I would love this question. Because your every superhero has an arch nemesis, right? The thing they constantly have to fight against in their world. And in the world of business to take a lot of forms that generally speaking, I put in the context of your fly for people you’ve worked with every day. And it’s a mindset, or it’s a flaw that you’re constantly having to do battle against. Have to fight to overcome, get those clients better, cheaper, faster, higher degree of results. What is that thing you’re constantly sort of like banging your head against the wall? I had a magic wand bob, all my clients on the head with it, that get rid of it. What would that be?
Alain Hunkins 50:32
Oh, my gosh, I would say I’m sure everyone can relate to this. I’d say one of the big Nemesis around this is there’s people like “Oh, you’ve got to come and work with our organization.” And then I come in and like, “Okay, tell me what the issue is.” And always, like, when the issue is like this, we need this this is like, okay, but you know, who’s it’s always they end up pointing the finger at somebody else. But it’s not me. No, I don’t need your work. Somebody else needs it. Right? You know, you somebody else has to do this. See? And it’s amazing how the blame game gets passed. It’s like people will say to people, mid level managers like, well, we would but you know, the senior managers don’t. And I go to the senior manager, like, “Oh, you know, I would but the executive team, I really don’t.” Go to the executive, “oh, what’s the CEO.” So I go and interview the CEO, who you think is the buck stop here? Well, you understand I have a board and shareholders to report. There’s always someone else out there that somehow we could all if we could only do this, but you know, or you know, and part of this too, is people just, they don’t want to let go of? Well, that’s the way the game is played. Like. So for example I’m working with and this is a very common one, particularly in you know, once you get outside of smaller companies, but in like midsize and large companies, where they’re coming up with departmental budgets, and everyone knows this budget game, it’s like, well, you know, if I got 100, to do what I did last year, but you know, if I asked for 100, I’ll only get 80. So I’ll ask for 130. And they’ll probably budget 110. And I’ll find ways to do it. And then I’ll definitely have my hundred to get what I need done. And there’s this kind of back and forth. And it’s a kind of a kind of back and forth. And if you say to people, what if you had trust in relationships, and when you said to somebody, when I say 100. 100 actually means 100, so you didn’t have to do all these extra rounds of this thing. But you do understand, that’s the way the game is played. Now, I’m not so naive to think that you can just go into say that to anybody. But to me, and this is part of the Nemesis, too, is I think that particularly in businesses, we put up these walls around ego. And it’s like, I can’t show them like, I can’t let them see me sweat, I can’t, you know, it’s like I say, “Here you go, like, take a look like I’m sweating like this is real life, this is human.” And I hope that actually coming out of this pandemic, in 2020 people realize, guess what, these are people here, like, you’ve probably seen them on a zoom screen with a dog or a child running through because they’re all home together. It’s like, you know, there always was life and work. And they’re all together. It’s called life. So, to me, it really means I’m digressing around this, but they’re connected to me. Because I think ultimately, what it comes down to is, how can we if we say that we want to unlock potential is, are we willing to hold up the mirror? You know, I mean, some people are, and particularly the more senior you go in organizations, the more challenging it gets, because let’s face it, people get comfortable. So there’s this kind of weird entropy comfort zone. And I think it’s that comfort zone that has people push things off. And people are really good at coming up with excuses for why they won’t do stuff. And I think the real challenge is to go, “alright, I want to work with this, and I need some help, and I can use some support.” And that’s one of the things I work against is kind of entropy, that people hang out in that comfort zone and want to blame somebody else.
Richard Matthews 53:44
So they’ll just bring it back into the … world….
Alain Hunkins 53:55
Richard Matthews 53:58
I say that to him, mostly, because I have to say it to myself all the time,
Alain Hunkins 54:01
Richard Matthews 54:04
It’s not my fault. I can’t fix it. You know, and so, everything that’s wrong in my life, no matter what it is, right? My wife is having a bad attitude, if I got a client that I’ve, you know, my dog has diarrhea, no matter what it is. It’s always my fault. If it’s my fault then I have the power to fix it. Changing the diet for the dog or figuring out what’s going on with the wife to help her through whatever you know, or apologize to a client. It’s always my fault. It’s a hard thing to do. So it’s one of the things I always have to tell myself. Because that something comes up in your life. Whether … your first instinct is always like, yeah, it’s over there and you have to like suck it up and go “nope.” Whatever this is, it’s my fault. I have to fix it. Even if it’s the client screws up, …have happened, right, it always got to be my fault, or I have no power …
Alain Hunkins 55:16
And that’s it. That’s a great example where we call an empowering belief, right? That may or may not be true 100% in all situations, but by believing it and holding that, it gives you so much more power to actually start to be proactive and do something about it. And what a valuable thing for any entrepreneur who wants to make things happen happen, right to make that happen. It’s my fault. I can do something about it.
Richard Matthews 55:39
My fault isn’t about it. But it’s the same thing. Like the whole, it’s just one of those, you know, the customer’s always right kind of belief. Yeah, the customer may not fit most of the time, it’s probably not right. If you treat them like they are, you have a chance of saving your relationship.
Alain Hunkins 55:52
Richard Matthews 55:54
More importantly, if you treat them right, publicly, then your other customers see that at stake. And so it’s one of those, it’s an empowering belief kind of thing. You just have to realize you just suck it up. My fault. How do I fix it?
Alain Hunkins 56:10
And I think that starting with that, also, then you start creating new solutions. As you say this, I’m reminded. So I was just, I met with a new, prospective client. And we sat down to do the whole conversation over the phone for me to come in and do leadership training for their company. And he said, and walked through about five or six different things. And I was taking notes as I do. And I asked him follow up questions. But he got into this whole thing of, “now, I really need my team to be more innovative.” And I took a couple notes. And I read through them after the call and they went, “I don’t really know what this means to them enough.” And I thought, well, I could make something up for the proposal. No, I’m just going to go back and get on like a second email and say, “Hey, you said these things about innovation. As I’m reading through this, I’d love to know more. Can you share more? I’m happy to jump on a phone call? Or can you email it to me?” And realizing there’s a part of the old part of me would have been? “Ah, you know, you can’t do that. Because you have to look like you’re the super consultant and have this figured out.” When in fact, no, it’s just like, you’re saying just like, reach out. This is my fault. I’m going to fix it. I’m going to ask somebody and frankly, if somebody came back to me with a courteous email, who’s like wanting more information to write a better proposal, hats off to you, you know, that’s, so it’s just reframing how we think people are going to think about us.
Richard Matthews 57:30
And again, that the reality is they’re probably not taking you out to you and you simply held back. They’re like, “Oh, yeah, like, there we go.”
Alain Hunkins 57:36
Richard Matthews 57:37
And, and the realization that, like, in that particular case, if you’re learning to ask better questions, and other smart entrepreneurs recognize better questions. Right. And the moment you ask someone a better question, it will elevate the level of discussion, people have a lot of respect for that.
Alain Hunkins 57:57
Richard Matthews 57:57
So the cool thing, cool. I want to talk about the flip side, then of the common enemy, which is the driving force, right? So if your common enemies that you fight against your driving force is what you fight for. So just like Spider Man fights, save New York or Batman fights save Gotham, or Google fights to index and categorize all the world’s information. What is it that you fight for with your business?
Alain Hunkins 58:19
This is a simple one, because I’m pretty clear on this one for quite some time. So for me, what I’m fighting for is to create this very empowered, vibrant, alive world by kindling the fire of brilliance and people by unlocking their leadership potential. I mean, that’s what gets me up, my mission. That’s my purpose. That’s what gets me out of bed every day. It’s what I think about when I go to sleep and reflect on my day, and I think, did I get to live my mission today? And I’d say, nine and a half times out of 10, I get to say, Yeah, I did in some way. You know, I’m getting to do it right now with you, for example. I get to live it,right now.
Richard Matthews 58:55
So I like to phraseology there, kindling the fire of leadership. And it strikes me as one of the things that I tell people all the time, it’s one of the reasons we created our creative, we have that spark of divinity in us. And it’s what allows us to have and create value for other people. Just in terms of, for instance, your mission. Sounds to me almost like it has a bit of that ripple effect going for it where if I can help organise the amount of good that organization can then go on and do is …
Alain Hunkins 59:34
Yes. Absolutely. I mean, if you think about it, I mean, there’s probably there’s no accident that it’s I’m not trying to kindle the water of brilliance. I mean, fire does spread, right, it’s got that flammable sense that just a little match, a little flame can start to do something and start to spread. And then, the other piece for me around this about kindling the fire if you think about when you make a fire. When you look for bits of kindling, like what is kindling? Kindling is deadwood, and the idea is I would like to think that a lot of us have dead, tired belief systems that we actually have to, we actually have to mourn and release so that we can embrace these new beliefs. And so I think a big and this is the part of the work that I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with, because we want to say, “Oh, just be a better communicator, be a better collaborator, help your team to work together.” We don’t stop and go, “Hey, what are those limiting beliefs that you have that are getting in your way, you need to actually take those out and uncover them and look at how they’re not serving you, and then find a really good way to burn them. So that you can create some new beliefs to take their place.” And so to me, that is a big part of unleashing people’s potential is the willingness to really burn up those parts that no longer serve you. Because, you know, if I forget, you can’t feel, you can’t put anything else in a full cup. And so you’ve got to get rid of the stuff that’s not
Richard Matthews 1:00:51
one of my favorite companies. Just because I love their story. I love how they do their marketing, and their product development is Apple… they’re just Apple now. And one of the things fascinates me, I read all their history all the way back to when they started, like, pretty much all their devices, releases. And every time they have a future release of something … a company that will intentionally cut things off before they went about serving a purpose, like release. Like FireWire … with USB and they cut off floppy disks, drives out, but an SSD hard drive, right. And all those things happened significantly before the market was, quote, unquote, ready for it. But it allows them to push the envelope forward rapidly, right? And we all benefit from their desire to get rid of things that are no longer serving them to 100 that right, if it’s not like taking a second or five years, that cut it off whether or not the rest of the industry thinks they should keep it. And I always love that myself, I think things like you know, in my own business and my own life, does this serve me now? And if it doesn’t, is it worth cutting out and getting rid of. And that whole philosophy has turned me into the most minimalists … People who watch the show regularly probably notice I only have three button up shirts. I’m sure you’ll ever see this one, a grey one or a black one or a red one. That’s like my entire wardrobe within a single drawer in my desk over here, because that’s how I live my life. But it’s like if it doesn’t serve me, I don’t keep it. I always try to figure out, you know, how do you how do you keep everything your life, whether it’s the relationships, that you’re close, to get your tools, if it’s the stuff that you have stuff in your closet, if it’s, you know, things, your products, dropping your business, they’re not serving this …
Alain Hunkins 1:03:49
That’s terrific. I love that.
Richard Matthews 1:04:19
So, I do want to talk a little bit about something very practical. So I call this the Hero’s tool belt. Like every superhero has their tool belt … gadgets like a batterangs, or laser or a big magical hammer that you throw I would come back, talk about one or two … business every day, anything from your notepad, your calendar, to your marketing tools … client with your own pneumonic or something that you think is essential to getting your job done everyday.
Alain Hunkins 1:05:17
Sure, there’s a couple things that come to mind. One is, I am a huge fan of analog tools. I have digital ones too. But I have, and it’s actually right next to me here I have this Franklin planner, I’ll show it up on the screen. I’m not just making this up. It’s a compact Franklin planner that I got, I think originally, first year I had this was 1995. And I have all of my appointments online and stuff like our appointments and stuff. But there’s still something about putting things to paper with a pen, which I have right here and having taken notes and some of the things you’ve been saying. It just wires things into my brain differently and reviews it. And I still do a daily planning and a weekly planning process based on the kind of the Franklin planner method. And for me that is about sitting through my big projects and then taking a look at day by day, how can I carve out time. And by the way, this is a sort of a tool that’s not a tool, because it involves it and my wife laughs at me because if she wants to get a hold of me good luck because I have no ringers on my phone. No notice, like I turn notifications on everything off. Because I don’t want to I don’t want to disturb, I have enough business going on in my head. If what I’m trying to get done, I don’t need more input, I’ll get to the input later, I’ll check my voicemail, I’ll check my email, but just dedicated swaths of time because otherwise, and there’s all this great research about, you know, people that it takes about 90 minutes to get refocused after you’ve been interrupted. So our attention and our time is our most valuable resource. So I have this planner, I have a whole system by which I go through to focus on what is big like you’re saying what matters the most. So I can go through that. And then there are times where I go, okay, block off, you’re done. So that’s it. So that’s one tool. The other thing that I found too, is now I happen to use HubSpot, which is a CRM system. There’s another thing Salesforce has other things because I just found the other key thing with growing a business with I can’t remember stuff. And I needed a good system to be able to follow up to set reminders. And just so using it, whether it’s following up setting tasks, and just being able to track stuff, I think without a CRM system that you will use, and it can be used for a lot of things. I mean, a lot of people know this stuff, but it’s just I can’t imagine functioning. I just I just can’t, like life’s too big. There’s too many people, there’s hundreds of contacts, thousands of contacts, you know, like, how are you going to do that. So those are a couple of tools that I found really useful. I’ll throw out a third tool that really helped me when I was writing my book. Because like many other people, it’s really easy to get distracted when you have a computer that you’re got an internet connection. It’s an app called Freedom. I don’t know if you know this one, Richard. But basically, you purchase it. And what you can do is you can set it, so you can lock yourself out of certain websites, and you cannot access them for certain periods of time. You can do it, they can act like a lock yourself. So for me, I know when I start to get if I’m writing perfectly first draft stuff, I get anxious and stress tension. Part of me wants that release. And I want to go and like check the news on a website or check social media. So I would just do videos, watch some YouTube, oh, yes, I would lock myself out of YouTube, I locked myself out of Facebook, I locked myself out of some news websites that I would follow. Because what it made me to do is to stick with where I was like, I just had no escape. And it’s funny, because it’s called Freedom. Ironically, because if the idea is that you’re free to actually get deeper, more creative, meaningful work done. And I mean, so many people I meet and and where I work, so many leaders I coach, I say, “you know, if I’m in a room with 20 people,” I’ll say, “So raise your hand, if you’re working on a project right now, that would benefit from you having two hours of completely uninterrupted thinking time just to sit with this, issue this problem and work at it.” Every hand in the room goes up. I say “okay, raise your hand, if in the last two weeks, you’ve had two hours of uninterrupted time to focus on a project like this.” Maybe if I’m lucky, one hand goes up. Maybe two. That’s it. So I think this is the thing that is so in demand, we are so caught up in the treadmill of everything coming at us. So what can we do so that we can be much more responsive instead of reactive to the world that we’re working and living in.
Richard Matthews 1:09:30
And I know things like you know, I don’t have mine on right now. But the Apple Watch and other things like it in your phone, there’s always notifications going off bells dinging and now if you’re like me, I live in a 40 foot bus with four children, a dog and a cat, a wife, right? There’s always demand on the attention as well as you know, yeah, clients and they know that our world is literally burning down around us. It really starts to take that time and focus on things. And I know one of the things that I have done, and this was before it’s really well, but like, my wife is like … planner. If I put a planner away, like it’s out of my head, I’ll never see it again, and might as well just have not done it at all. I can’t use a paper planner, I actually, I’m the kind of person like, if I can mail the check, I have to give it to my wife, because I’ll accidentally throw it away. Like … don’t do good for me. So one of the things thatI bought the iPad as a secondary working computer. But not because he is really good at doing work. But because it’s restrictive.
Alain Hunkins 1:10:49
Richard Matthews 1:10:51
And so it does a couple of things for me. So the first one is that it doesn’t have the LTE, or cell phone connection or whatever Wi Fi connection. And so if I hop out of the RV, park or area like that, Wi Fi button off, I can’t get notified, I can’t be notified of anything, I can only work on what’s there in front of me. And so that’s one of them, let’s be rolled off. And then, it has the single tasking, which is the same sort of thing, right? Like, literally right now, if I hit the little window thing, I’ve got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … like 12 different things open. You know, and that’s just the nature of working on a computer and getting kind of worked on that. And I’ve had to do that. You have to … a bit. Secondary to that is I have been working on being more of a CEO and less of a do it myself. And one of the things that’s really, really easy to do on the iPad, is to help manage your team. But it’s really, really hard to do the work that they’re supposed to be doing. So I’ve been trying to spend more and more time using that as my primary device because it forces me to focus on things that need to be doing.
Alain Hunkins 1:12:11
Yeah. It’s great. Yeah, exactly. And I think there’s a lot of this is trial and error, right, trying to figure out which things are going to work well for you and talking to other friends like “hey, what tools do you like, what are you using? What are you not using cutting.” And always swapping, swapping ideas?
Richard Matthews 1:12:28
And for me, it’s a huge thing. But it’s the calendar, it’s like I live and die by my calendar, and by my family, not like my immediate family, but like by my parents, brothers, stuff like that. They’ll think I’m crazy because they’re not entrepreneurs. But my wife got to the point where she was like, “Yeah, like, if it’s not in the calendar, it’s not happening kind of thing.” And the more people I talked to about this show, the more you realize how common it is with entrepreneurs that we live by our challengers.
Alain Hunkins 1:12:56
Exactly. Because there’s so much going on every day, because we’re constantly planting new seeds, watering them, nurturing them. You know, there’s just so many things that you’re doing at various times.
Richard Matthews 1:13:08
Well, the last couple of questions here, your own personal heroes, right? So every hero has their mentors. Frodo had Gandalf, Luke had Obi Wan. Robert Kiyosaki had his Rich Dad, Spider Man has Uncle Ben, who were some of your heroes. Are they real life speakers? Mentors, authors? Peers who were a couple of years ahead of you. And how important were they to what you’ve accomplished so far?
Alain Hunkins 1:13:27
Great question. I’ve had a lot. I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of mentors. A lot of them are people you wouldn’t have heard of. They have been people who – And it’s funny because I get asked about mentors like, “Do I go to somebody and say, will you be my mentor?” And I said, “Well, that’s a lot of pressure.” Like don’t put the big capital M on it, because I keep it lowercase M. And I wouldn’t even get into the, “would you be my mentor?” Because what does that mean, as opposed to? What do you want mentoring around? Could you help me with it talk about the subject. But so for me, there’s a few people that have certainly mentors, personal people I’ve known and I write about some of these guys in my book, I have a guy named Gary … who I’ve known for years, I still reach out to who’s older than me and has a very successful construction business. And I’ve asked him a lot of questions along the way. A mentor named Jeff Altman, who I write about in the book as well, who I’ve known has mentored me a lot around coaching and leadership and thinking about putting my brand out there in all sorts of ways. So those are two that come to mind. In terms of some other heroes, Jim Kouzes, and Barry Posner are the co authors of a book, The Leadership Challenge, which I highly recommend. And the reason it’s it’s one of the best leadership books, and it’s one of the most popular. It’s now I think, in its sixth edition, they’ve sold millions and millions of copies. Is what they did is they took leadership off of the pedestal, and they democratized it. And they broke it down into the behaviors that we were talking about earlier. And so they are heroes of mine in terms of the commitment to great storytelling, great research and great application of the principles. And so they inspired me in many ways. In fact, it was a thrill for me that they both agreed to endorse my book. It’s like, Wow, can I get to connect with him? I haven’t met them in person. But we’ve had some wonderful correspondences. And I just think about the world of the work that they do, and they inspire me, because I’ve watched their talks and listened to them, and they inspire me to be focused on helping people like if you said, “Why do you do what you do?” What I’d like to be recognized for the work that I do, but I’d be more jazzed by helping people ultimately, like I said earlier, seeing the lights go on, as people kindle that fire, there’s really no greater gift than that. And so people like Jim Kouzes, and Barry Posner, who inspired me to keep going and just helping people to become the leaders that our world really needs.
Richard Matthews 1:15:51
I always loved just listening to that question. Everyone has their story of, you know, who their heroes are. And sometimes they’re famous people, most of the time, they’re just other people in their life.
Alain Hunkins 1:16:04
Richard Matthews 1:16:05
Who stepped up needed it, whether they know it or not?
Alain Hunkins 1:16:08
Well, it’s funny, it’s funny, you mentioned that, Richard, because he actually, Jim Kouzes. And Barry Posner did some research around this whole question of who are the leaders that you admire the most? And it turns out, it’s not the Martin Luther King Jr’s, Nelson Mandela’s, Mother Teresa’s of the world, it turns out, who are the leaders that you admire and that have influenced you the most? It turns out to be my fourth grade teacher, my grandmother, right? It’s my basketball coach. It’s those people who have had a personal real relationship with you. They’re the ones who actually have it, not only have they impacted you, but to me, that tells me, wow, that’s the kind of impact that I am having on somebody else. Not that I could have the fact is I am having another question: what kind of impact is it that I’m actually creating, that every single person I talked to, that has an impact that I’m creating? The question is, what kind of that be?
Richard Matthews 1:17:01
That is the reason why I asked that question to help more people realize that you are a hero to someone else’s life, whether or not you know it. Right. I remember one of my mentors said to me, when I was a kid, actually, … … like calling me out directly. They are going to have a hero and it damn well better be you. And it was just something that clicked in my head and realize that hey, you know what, if there’s people in your life, that you’re going … live your life in a way that you’re worthy of the influence you’re going to have.
Alain Hunkins 1:17:48
I love that. That was impactful. It damn well, better be you. That’s great. Thank you.
Richard Matthews 1:17:55
Damn, well, better be you. So, the last question for you here is your guiding principle. Right. One of the things that makes heroes heroic is that they live by a code. For instance, Batman never killed his enemies, he only brought them to Arkham Asylum. So, as we wrap up the interview, let’s talk about the top one or two principles you use regularly in your life, maybe something you wish you knew when you first got started on this whole hero’s journey.
Alain Hunkins 1:18:19
Couple of them I mean, the first one that comes to mind is personal accountability, that my word is my bond. And if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. But I honor my commitment. I feel doubly responsible for that one. Because I feel like, “Look, I’m teaching people these principles. And if I don’t model them, this whole thing is a giant waste of time.” It’s like I’m, I’m a snake oil salesman. I mean, I get that, you know, it’s easy to talk about. So I feel like I’ve got to live this stuff. So for me, it’s about personal accountability. That is by far the first thing. I love the quote from Albert Schweitzer, who said, example is not the main thing and influencing others. It’s the only thing. So I just know that I have to walk my talk and talk my walk. And if those things aren’t congruent, I’m just out of luck. So that’s the first thing I’d say. And then I think another principle for me is empathy. I’m really, I’ve gotten really in touch with this one in the last few years. It’s really this year 2020, with a pandemic and everything. You know, at our core, we are human beings who are very emotional, who happen to think I don’t think we’re thinkers who happen to feel I mean, I’m just more and more convinced of that. And the older I get. So for me empathy, I define it as showing people that you understand them and care how they feel. I think that is if we’re going to solve any of these problems, whether it’s racial injustice, whether it’s a coronavirus pandemic, whether it’s climate change, it’s going to start by being able to take some perspective and step into other people’s shoes. And it’s going to take some listening and being able to not just listening cognitively, but actually feeling what people feel. And so that’s something that’s really important to me in what I do, and how I teach and how I interact with people. So we’ll leave it with accountability and empathy as two of my top superhero –
Richard Matthews 1:20:10
I love the empathy one in particular because my best friend and business partner has a lot of areas that his superpower is empathy. And it’s interesting how that superpower is driving a lot of business… Where like a normal person like myself, I have to think about and work at empathy. It just comes naturally to him that it’s so easy to put yourself into someone else’s shoes and see the world from their perspective. And it’s interesting, because I think it’s a superpower because it can absolutely be just right. But it’s not an unattainable skill, you learn something that you can get good at. And it’s something that you can and should practice. And the more you practice it, the easier it is to do all the things we’ve talked about in the show, everything from learning how to tell your story, right? If you tell your stories, right, you have to tell your story in a way that the other person is going to hear. Whether they’re going to feel about it. Remember, if you’ve ever read Orson Scott Card, he writes the Ender’s Game Series. The Ender’s Game book is a it’s one of the only sci fi novels that has sold out every year, started printing, like, I almost guarantee you whatever … sold out, right? It’s sold out every year from 1978, or whatever. And it was listed as having the best opening line of all of literature. It’s good book. Fair warning, if you pick it up, you may not sleep. You’ll read the whole thing all the way through the night. But that’s beside the point. In the back end of the book, he has a little chapter … the author of the experience of writing a story. And the things he said that really, really stuck out to me, it’s the whole empathy piece is that a story is only ever half done, I, when I write it, it’s half of the story, it becomes a story becomes alive when the other person hears it, or read it or interacts with the story, because it comes alive in their head. So the whole idea of empathy is realizing that anything that you’re doing, right, whether it’s writing a story or telling a story or teaching, you’re only ever doing half of the work, the other half of it is with the other person, the other person that you’re interacting. And that’s where they become learning how to be and that they have just as much part of whatever the experience is that you do.
Alain Hunkins 1:22:36
Exactly. And how do you as you’re building out whatever content or product or service, whatever you’re trying to do? How do you keep that other person in mind and more in heart? As you’re considering all that thinking? Know what would their experience be receiving this? And how can you close that gap as best as possible?
Richard Matthews 1:22:59
That is a wrap on our interview. And again, thank you so much for coming on the show, Alain. But I do have one thing I finished elephant interviews with this is a really simple thing. I call it the Hero’s Challenge. And it’s basically a selfless thing I do at the end all of my interviews, as a way to get access to the stories I might not otherwise find on my own. So the question is simple. Do you have one in your life or in your network that you think has an entrepreneurial story? Who are they? First names are fine. And why should they come on the show and share their story?
Alain Hunkins 1:23:27
Oh, I’m the first person that comes to mind is a guy named Ed. And Ed is all about being brave. He’s interested, he loves to listen and tell stories about bravery. And just what are the things that get in the way of that, and I think that courage and bravery is such an undervalued skill in today’s world. And so I think he’d be great to talk about these things.
Richard Matthews 1:23:56
We’ll reach out after the show and see if we can get an introduction to Ed. So for the send off and comic book, there’s always the crowd of people who stand and cheer and clap for the hero who has done their heroic deeds. So on this show, our analog of that, or analogous is basically where can people find you? All right, where can they light up the Bat signal so to speak …. like to learn leadership in my organization where we do that. And I think more importantly than where they can do that is, who are the right types of people to raise their hands and say, “yes, I would really like to …
Alain Hunkins 1:24:34
Great. Yeah. Let’s start with that second question first. So yeah, if you are interested in taking the next step on moving from being a high performer to a high performing leader, if you have beliefs that you want to take a look at your mindset and your skill set about what that means. That’s the kind of people I’m working with. I’ve worked with people who are clearly ready to take that next step, and are serious and whether that’s individuals and or teams or organizations, but that’s pretty coaching, speaking training or consulting. And if you want to reach me the easiest way to go is check out my books website page, which is www.cracking-the-leadership-code.com.
You can read all about the book, you can read the testimonials, you can also download the first chapter of the book for free right there. That page is linked to my https://www.alainhunkins.com/ website, which is A-L-A-I-N-H-U-N-K-I-N-S.com. And about on that site, you can learn all about the various services I offer, some of which I just mentioned, as well as one of the things that Richard and I were talking about before we went on air is I’m launching a new project on October the fifth and there’s information about this on the website. It’s an online 30-day Leadership Challenge. It’s going to be using a technology platform in just a few minutes a day helping a small group of committed leaders who are interested in bettering themselves Specific Practices using principles from habit formation, positive psychology and gamification, over the course of 30 days, and you can read all about that on the website on the 30 day leadership challenge. And as I mentioned to Richard as well, I am willing to give three listeners here with spots. If they are interested in being a part of that challenge, what you can do is you can email me with your name and your email address and in the memo put down that you heard me put down Hero Show in the subject, you need to put your name and your email address and send that to https://www.alainhunkins.com/
That’s A-L-A-I-N-H-U-N-K-I-N-S.com And anyway, and we will do if we get lots of people, we’ll do a drawing and have a few people. If it turns out that we get only three people, then you’ll have spots. But I’m offering three complimentary spots for people who want to be a part of this Leadership Challenge journey and become better leaders.
Richard Matthews 1:26:58
Thank you very much for Alain. It’s really, really kind of you to make that offer to our audience. Hopefully people take that offer. If you’re listening to this, we’ll have all the details, including a link to the email address in the show notes for this episode, on the website path, grab that, you can email Alain. … That’s really, really cool. And again, Alain, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate getting to hear your story and getting to chat with you about that really fascinating. So again, thank you. And before we hit this little stop record button, do you have any final words of wisdom for the audience?
Alain Hunkins 1:27:35
Oh, well, first of all, I want to thank you, Richard, this has been terrific. I just love the depth of which we’ve been talking about all this. And I’d say in terms of final words of wisdom, we talked earlier about consistency. I’d say as you are moving forward on this journey, it is not a straight line, just know that it’s all over the place, it’s going to two steps forward, one step back. But the key is to keep going is to keep going and not only just to keep going is find allies, find supporter. People who can support you on this. I find you know, entrepreneurs sometimes we think of the hero as being the solitary person. But I mean look at the Avengers, like look how much they do when they work together better to kind of switch our minds switch back to superheroes So, find your team of Avengers to take this journey with because not only will you get farther, you’re gonna have a lot more fun doing it.
Richard Matthews 1:28:20
And if you watch any of the superhero shows on TV and Netflix another thing it’s like what is it the flat arrow they all have? It’s like flat is the main hero but they got a team of people back in the courtroom that are always getting them to take care of them. Every Batman has his Robin, right.
Alain Hunkins 1:28:37
Richard Matthews 1:28:40
… Really appreciate it.
Alain Hunkins 1:28:42
Thank you, Richard.
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Would You Like To Have A Content Marketing Machine Like “The HERO Show” For Your Business?
The HERO Show is produced and managed by PushButtonPodcasts a done-for-you service that will help get your show out every single week without you lifting a finger after you’ve pushed that “stop record” button.
They handle everything else: uploading, editing, transcribing, writing, research, graphics, publication, & promotion.
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