Guy’s Guy Radio
And that’s what I really got excited about. The idea within our own company of creating a culture that gave everybody a voice and made it safe for everyone to say what they actually thought, and to share the responsibility for speaking for the company – because I couldn’t do it myself – and for leading the company. (39:10-39:39)
It’s a notion that essentially everyone is capable of leading, and everyone has a voice that’s worth being heard. And that the culture is really what separates organizations. Cultures either collect power to the center and put it in the hands of the few, or those cultures disperse power and strengthen the voices of others. (40:57-41:38)
Well, I think the one big thought is to make the employee experience a top priority. That sounds simple, but it’s powerful. Corporations are good at whatever they choose to focus on. So really, the simple act of making the employee experience a top corporate priority, will had a huge impact on improving the employee experience. (43:57-44:29)
It’s Guy’s Guy Radio, here’s your host, Robert Manni.
Robert: Welcome the Guy’s Guy Radio. This is your host, Robert Manni, welcoming you to the show where men and women can be at their best and everyone wins, Guy’s Guy Radio. Well, I hope everybody’s staying safe and managing to deal with our worldwide timeout, if you will. I guess the universe is upset at us and we all have to stay in our room for a while, just like we did when we were little kids. So I hope you’re making the best of this tough situation.
We’re right smack dab in the middle of it. And God bless everybody. I feel so much for my home in New York City. I just moved from there in September, and it’s just really tough sledding in New York now. And I feel so much for my friends and folks and family there in the New Jersey area and it’s just a really trying situation. So I hope the rest of the country can learn from this. That we really need to practice the social distancing when you have all these people on top of each other, things can spread very quickly. So I hope you all have things under control.
I’ll get back into mentioning this Coronavirus in a few minutes but let me tell you a little bit about our show today. We’ve got two real guys on Guy’s Radio. Our first guest is Marc Cameron, he is a peace officer, a police officer, and he’s worked in SWAT. He’s worked as a patrolman. He’s worked as a protecting emissaries. He is really an adventure novelist is what he is. And he’s written a whole bunch of books using a character by the name of Jericho, who was loosely based on Marc. I think he might agree with that. And he’s also now writing some of the Tom Clancy books, the Jack Ryan books. He’s got one called, Code of Honor. And that’s quite an honor to be able to be asked into that franchise because it’s a very special place. Obviously, Tom Clancy is considered a master at his craft. And if you’re writing using his name, basically since he’s passed the key, to keep Jack Ryan the character going, it’s a real honor. So Marc Cameron is going to be our first guest.
And then we also have a real guy’s guy. His name is Kevin Hancock, he is a CEO of a lumber company up in Maine, and it’s been a family-owned business for about 150 years, I believe. And what’s amazing about him is two things. First, he has been on a mission really to learn how to be a better manager and to learn to have his companies be more employee focused, versus just profit and top-down focused. And it’s a real challenge, obviously, to have an open type of organization because a lot of times people are afraid to talk about their superiors and the conditions where they’re working. But Kevin’s done a masterful job by traveling around the world and spending time with Indian tribes, spending time in India, spending time in Columbia, and really learning from different shamanic and spiritual masters about how best to lead groups of people forward. So a real guy’s guy approaching business in a more spiritual way. And he also has, just so you know ahead of time, he was diagnosed in 2012 with something called spasmodic dysphonia, and it’s affected his ability to communicate vocally. So just please understand that when we’re having our conversation. He’s a terrific guy, as is Marc, and I can’t wait to get into the show with them.
But let me just give you a couple of thoughts on Coronavirus. I am not an expert. I have not been afflicted. I have been safe, my family has been safe. I’m very blessed and very appreciative and full of gratitude for that. And my heart goes out to everybody out there because I know we’re going through this whole thing together. And I would just ask everybody to like, keep your head on your shoulders. And so I’ve got a couple of tips that have worked for me under this past month or so of quarantine. And I think we’re right smack dab in the middle of it, so got keep going and be smart about it. So here’s a couple of thoughts for consideration only.
Number one, limit your exposure to the news. We need to know what’s going on, but I’m finding that it’s just fear porn. It’s really being blasted out as like the worst-case scenarios over and over again and a lot of blaming going on. And of course the U.S. has fumbled its response. And it’s a very diverse country. We have 50 states, and the states have different amounts of authority, and exercise them in different ways. And it’s not like in Seoul, Korea where you’ve got about 10 million people who live in Seoul and the surrounding suburbs, and another 10 million. So 50% of the population of South Korea lives in kind of one area, if you will. So the measures they put in very quickly helped flatten their curve. Here in the United States, as of this day, we still don’t have a national kind of shutdown. So there’s some states, I believe South Carolina is the most populated of the remaining states that have not done a shutdown. And that’s scary because those people could be traveling a month or two from now, this thing could have legs, and I think we’ve got to all get together and clamp down on that.
But the point is, the news. There’s just so much of it and it’s so omnipresent. You could really depress you and scare the bejesus out of yourself, so be careful how much news you consume. You want to stay up to date and you want to get the latest information, but you don’t want to be totally bombarded by it, so your stress level goes up. And when your stress level goes up, your immune system goes down.
Number two, I would do whatever you can do to keep your vibration high. Keep a clean diet, work out at home, meditate. You have some time now to meditate, slow things down. If you’re in the corporate world, you can’t do everything. I’m sure it’s not as crazy as it usually is where it’s like bang, bang, bang on every decision all the time. Use that time to slow things down. It’s a good time to clean up your diet, get some rest, do some spiritual stuff. Maybe do some yoga, whatever, but do whatever you can to raise your vibration, because that will also raise your immune cells.
Number three, I find that developing routines has really helped me. I get up every morning and I do some affirmations, I do some prayer, and I also do Dan Millman – who wrote the way The Peaceful Warrior – I do his, it’s about it’s a four-minute workout. It takes me about a little longer than that because I do more reps, but it’s a 15-movement system. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years and it’s really, I got to tell you, it’s made me younger. It’s made me much more supple and flexible and it’s fantastic. But what it is, it’s a routine. So unless I’m really under the weather, I do it. And I’ve been doing it for a couple of years straight now, and I can really feel a difference. And also the fact that developing a routine is a good thing, keep you on beam. I know some people are saying like I said, “Is today Wednesday? Oh no, it’s Friday”, because we’re not used to this being shut in.
If you’re going to be inside, it’s a perfect time also to go inside and take a look at yourself and look at your relationships, and look at your life, and look at what can I be doing different. What’s going to bring me joy. What’s going to bring me pleasure. And how can I share that with other people? It’s a perfect time. You have a little bit of time now to go inside. So while you’re inside, go inside.
And last but not least, you’ve got to do the sanitary stuff. Obviously, wash your hands. I don’t know what to think about wearing a face mask, because you could be breathing in the same germs in the face mask over and over again. I don’t know. I’m not wearing one right now, that’s just me. My family’s not wearing them. We’ll see what happens. So anyhow, that’s a couple of thoughts on Coronavirus since we’re right smack dab in the middle of it. So hang in there, we’ll get through it. Be strong. Be patient. All right, Guy’s Guy Radio. We’ve got two special guests. Two guy’s guys. We’ve got Marc Cameron and Kevin Hancock.
It’s Guy’s Guy Radio, I’m your host, Robert Manni. As I mentioned, I have a special guest here, his name is Marc Cameron. Let me tell you a little bit about him. He’s a very prolific writer. He’s written these Jericho Quinn novels that are really fantastic. We’re going to talk about the latest called, Active Measures. He also writes some of the Tom Clancy books with Jack Ryan. He’s amazing guy, 29 years in law enforcement as a police officer, horse patrols, Detective, dignitary protection. He’s been all over the world. He speaks Japanese. He travels extensively researching his New York Times best-selling Jericho Quinn novels. And he’s been nominated for both the Barry and Thriller award. He’s a real guy’s guy. He’s from Texas, he lives in Anchorage, Alaska. Marc Cameron, welcome to Guy’s Guy Radio.
Mark: Thanks, Robert. Great to be here.
Robert: Okay, let’s start right at the beginning. You’re a writer. And you were a police officer for many years. How did you, what inspired you to do both, and how did you kind of weave those two different paths, if you will, together to make it work for you and be so successful?
Mark: Well, that’s a good question. I’ve always wanted to be a writer from the time my aunt was a librarian. My parents were teachers, and so I was around books my whole life. And if I was honest, I’d say that probably Adam West’s Batman probably inspired me to be in law enforcement. And I just early on wanted to be that guy that hunted bad guys and helped the underdog. And the two careers, police officers are generally storytellers. And so I listened to some incredible stories over the years and incredible bits of dialogue. At the end of the day, we’ll get together and, “You’ll never believe what happened today” after the fight, or this domestic call, or whatever. And just try to, I carried a notebook my whole adult life as a police officer anyway, and many of those notebooks just ended up full of little quotes and snippets of conversation that I used later in stories.
Robert: What did you learn about people that you didn’t know before, from being a police officer and particularly an everyday police officer, a patrolman, if you will.
Mark: I have to say that out of all the jobs that I’ve done, the uniform patrol officer is the one that taught me the most about people. Oftentimes my youngest son is a police officer here in Anchorage and he works midnights and he’ll call me on the drive home. He’s probably got about a 30-minute drive home, and he’ll give me a call and recount his night. And it’s good for me because, being one of those former action guys, it’s nice to hear from somebody that’s still doing it. He starts off almost every conversation with, “Dad…people.” And then he’ll tell me about some backstory about somebody, and just that uniqueness of the humanness of people.
So especially as a writer, the ability to counsel with folks to listen to their stories, the Marshall that I used to work for, my boss here, the presidential appointed Marshall in Anchorage, he was very fond of saying, “We’re in the people business”, and he’s absolutely right. This it’s most of the people we deal with in law enforcement or. And the worst day of their life, they might be really great folks, but we happen to intersect with them if they’re being assaulted or for whatever reason, they might be generally decent people, but doing some kind of evil behavior.
I’ll often get asked, you must’ve deal with a lot of evil people over the years. And I have, but not as many as people would. I’ve dealt with a lot of people that have done evil things. But generally speaking, I could count the truly what I would say were evil people on both hands and maybe one foot. So they’re at the worst day of their life. The good guys, the victims are the worst day of their life, and you just really learn a lot about folks when they’re under stress. Including your cohort, the people that you’re working with. And so that’s been very interesting.
Robert: How did you develop your first story? And then also let’s move into the book, Mark Cameron’s Active Measures, a Jericho Quinn novel. I think there’s about 10 of them. And this one’s about a. Kind of an atom bomb that goes missing after the Cuban missile crisis. And it’s a fast page turner and it’s got a lot of action. And as somebody who’s a published novelist, I have a lot of questions about your writing process. Because hats off to you really, you’re fast and it’s fun and they’re page turners. So how did you say, okay, I’ve got this character, I’ve got a series I can start writing, or was it just like an idea, like, oh, here’s a conflict, here’s what this main character wants and he can’t get it? Or how did you come up with all this, Marc?
Mark: Yeah, that’s a good question. And not many people know this, but, well, I hope more people know that I write three series. I write a series about a deputy Marshall Alaska. In fact, the second book in that series just came out yesterday, it’s called, Stone Cross. And I had written several short stories, I’d written some western novels, and I have a stack – like most writers – I had a stack of rejection letters back when you used to get letters in the mail that said, ‘no thanks’ instead of emails or the cold shoulder like happens now.
And so I had when we were early married, my wife gave me a bulletproof vest and a Smith Corona typewriter to show me, I support this crazy dream you got. And so, I had been writing a long time and I was published already for actually six western novels, published some under other names that I’d ghostwritten for other writers. Which is often the way you break into this. And I wrote a book about Alaska with Sumo, Alaska native youth in the crime. And I had gone down to Prince of Wales Island and tracked as part of the district tracking team. And I had gone down to a track, a bad guy who had chopped another guy’s head off and run into the woods. And they called us, the Troopers call us down to help them because of our tracking experience, and we were part of the Alaska Fugitive Task Force. So we went and tracked them. It took us a couple of days and eventually arrested him. And so I thought, man, this would be a great book, this story would be great.
And so I wrote, and I was already published. I thought this would be easy. One of my books had already hit at USA Today, and nobody would buy it. I had a literary agent and when I look back on it, and I can look at the manuscript now and say, well, gosh, no wonder nobody bought that book. I couldn’t figure out whether I wanted to write a romance or a mystery or a thriller.
But I got a rejection letter, and I won’t say who it’s from, but it was a major publisher. And it was a page and a half long. Which is so rare. And the editor was effusive about my writing. He liked my writing style, he liked the characters, but he didn’t particularly like the plot. And at the end of the letter, he said, “Who cares about Alaska and who cares about these native kids that are running around in the Alaska bush? Write over the top. Write something that’s like Jason Bourne. Write Something that’s like James Bond with your background.”
Well, it really made me mad because I do a lot of work out in Alaska bush with bush communities and my friends are Iñupiat, and Yup’ik, and Athabascan, and we do a lot of work out there in the marshal service. But I set that aside and in a fit of peak, just took me about eight months because I was working full time, I wrote this kind of over-the-top character that I, at that point my son was in the Air Force Academy and my oldest son wanted to go to be an OSI agent. So he was applying OSI within the Air Force, which is like NCIS, but for the Air force. So I knew a bit about that and I just made this character of Jericho Quinn, OSI Agent that rides motorcycles. Like I ride BMW GS adventure motorcycle. I spent some time in Japan. I practice martial arts. I enjoy boxing. I like to sail. And so I just took both my sons and my daughter and me, and sort of merged them, and my wife, and merged them into these heroic characters.
And my mother is from Louisiana. So Jacques, the Cajun character, came pretty naturally. I’ve heard the Cajun vernacular when we’d go down there, I have many friends that are Marines. And so the characters were really already bumping around in my head. And I allowed myself to write basically a 1970s, Matt Helm-ish, or Remo Williams kind of adventure story that I would have liked to read. And thought, well this would be one off and I’ll go back and polish this other book, and off you go, nine books and two novellas later. Were people enjoy them, and I do, too. I enjoy them. But I was able to go back eventually, and right after the Clancy’s, right to Arlis Cutter books, which is about a deputy marshal based in Alaska and out in the bush Alaska. So I’ve gotten to have the best of all the worlds.
Robert: Good for you. So let’s talk about this book that I have here, which is called, Active Measures. And this is about the Bay of Pigs and a kind of an atom bomb that gets way. How did you research that, have you been to Cuba? How’d you come up with these characters? How has this fit in with the rest of the 9 or 10 other Jericho Quinn series? You’ve got Triple Frontier, Dead Drop Field of Fire, a lot of brute force, fast, furious page turners. How did this book come about? How’d you come up with like, okay, Bay of Pigs, runaway atom bomb.
Mark: So I was reading about the intermediate missiles and things that caused the Cuban missile crisis. And in sort of in a little footnote of some of the historical writings, there was a note that unbeknownst to the United States until the early 2000s, Russia had parked almost a hundred, like 98 short range, tactical nukes there. And we didn’t even know about them. These little FKRs, these frontline combat rifle rockets, to stop an invasion. Because Cuba, Castro was worried we were going to invade. And all our intelligence that we had from satellites and people on the ground, we really underestimated Cuban intelligence at the time. Some would say we did for a long time. We felt like, well, they were a little Banana Republic, and our intelligence apparatus is better. And we really did underestimate them, historically.
And so we didn’t know. And so I just supposed that I’m always looking for some kind of an Indiana Jones, if you will, what if. And if I don’t hear that Indiana Jones theme in my head. I know I’m on the wrong track. So I really liked stuff to move that quickly, especially in these Jericho’s. And so I just posited to myself, what if the bad guys, what if Russia left behind one of these FKRs, these frontline combat rockets and it got lost because of some kind of death or whatever, and then it was found more recently, and then it became a threat to us. So it’s something a little different than the suitcase nuke that goes rogue or something like that, because reading history, it was certainly very possible.
Robert: Okay Guy’s Guy Radio, your host Robert Manni. I’m here with special guest author, Marc Cameron. We’re talking about one of his Jericho Quinn books, and we’re going to talk about some other stuff. But with Quinn, and this type of writing, how people think that writing these type of page turners is easier than some type of literary stuff. I would disagree, because I think writing action is really difficult in terms of choosing the words and putting the sentences together and not getting all going down the rabbit hole. How do you approach action sequences? Because I think they’re very challenging to be able to, and you’ve got a real skill to be able to write good action sequences. It’s not easy.
Mark: Thank you. No, I plot everything out pretty… I’ve studied martial arts for a long time. I have a Jujitsu master named Ty Cunningham. He’s a 10th degree black belt and he was my partner in the Marshall service for a number of years. And so I call and chat with him. I work through, when my kids were younger, I would go through things with them. When I worked with a Marshall service up here in Alaska, we have a nice mat room, and I would get my buds in there and we would walk through different scenarios. So writing a fight scene is like choreographing a dance scene, like they do in Hollywood. You need to make it fluid, but you need to make it seem spontaneous. But in order to do that, it really has to be really thought out.
In fact, what I strive for is to make it seem not only spontaneous, but chaotic. But in order to make it chaotic, a page and a half fight, there’s a fight, in fact is one of the most fun fights I’ve ever written. I think it’s in Active Terror, the second book. He’s in a fight in a bathroom, a very cramped bathroom, with three other men. So it’s Quinn, he’s standing at the urinal. And I’ll be somewhere standing at the urinal thinking, what if somebody attacks me now while I’m peeing? Or I’ll think, okay, I’m just stepping out of my car, my leg exposed to this door, what if somebody attacks me now? What do I do? And, tactically, I’m always thinking that. So I think this is a worst-case scenario, and then I drop Quinn or Thibodeau or somebody else into that, and then watch them be in characters that get it out.
So I really work hard on choreographing those fight scenes. But it might take a full day, sometimes a couple of days with revisions to write a fight. You’re absolutely spot on. It’s not an easy thing to write action. Just like I’ve heard comedians say it’s not easy to write jokes.
Robert: So, now you got a chance to work with the Tom Clancy property and the Jack Ryan novels. And you’ve got Code of Honor, the Mark Cameron. How did that happen, and how do you get into the right mindset to write part of a series that somebody else came up with? And did you enjoy the process? Is it liberating? Is it constricting? How does that all work for you, Marc?
Mark: Yeah. Good question. I had just finished the full-length Jericho Quinn before Active Measures several years ago, called Field of Fire. And I was at a conference, and a friend of mine named Mark Greaney, who was writing the Clancy Jack Ryan books before me. He came and we were chatting and he just said off the cuff, “Hey, do you want me to do a cover blurb for you?” And I hate to ask other authors for cover blurbs, because I know how busy we all are. But having somebody like Mark, who’s a number one New York Times bestselling author with his own Gray Man series. So, that was great. So I had no idea what he was planning, but I sent him the manuscript. He wrote me one little note back praising the first chapter that’s about a Russian military installation right across the water from Alaska. And then I didn’t hear from him again. He gave me the blurb and that was that.
And then my wife and I had gone to Florida to research, actually we were finishing up some research on Active Measures, and I was doing some research on one of the new series, the Cutter series, who’s from Florida. And I was on the beach and my agent call and said, “The Clancy franchise called, and Mark Greaney recommended you to write the next Jack Ryan. This was in 2016. And my wife thought somebody had died, and for some macabre reasons, she took a picture of me. So there was a picture of me with a stricken look on my face, holding the phone about the stroke out, I think. But we marched on from there.
And I’ve been a Tom Clancy fan since The Hunt for Red October, so I feel like I really know the characters. Not as well as I should. I’m constantly striving to get to know them better. But I’ve grown up with them as a police officer. I would have been about 21 or 22 when in Hunt for Red October came out. I can remember specifically being back to the federal law enforcement training center, and the building has been torn down now, but I was at an advanced class. And when a paperback of Sum of All Fears came out, I left the paperback on an airplane, and I had to buy it again because I was caught up in story. And I remember sitting in this this room, the accommodations on the federal law enforcement training center when I was with the marshal service, and there was exposed radiator pipes and it looked like I envisioned KGB training grounds to be like. So I just was reading that kind of thinking about the story and thinking, I could write this, I could write these kinds of things. I never thought I would write for the Tom Clancy franchise.
Robert: Congratulations and great job. Just a couple more questions. I’m sure there’s a lot of books in your genre, I think you’d agree. What separates Jericho Quinn, when your writing style, what makes you different?
Mark: Well, there are some guys that are really great, there’s people that are former cops, there’s people that are former Navy Seals. Jack Carr comes to mind, he’s written a new novel called Savage Son that’s, my goodness, it’s incredible. Brad Taylor, former military. Mark Greaney is not formal former military, but man, the guy gets out and trains with a military trainer and as law enforcement, he’s always on the range, he’s talking to intelligence folks, people that do that kind of research. And so, I’m really bad about promoting my own books. But what I try for, what I really strive for, is to be authentic in my fight scenes. Because many of the fight scenes are taken from some sort of scrap that I’ve been in, and then extrapolated into life or death scenarios. If I was kicked into a prep table in a restaurant on patrol and ended up peeing blood for two days, that turns out way worse in the book than it did in my real fight. So I try to be authentic in the fights. I try to be authentic in my terminology about weaponry. And maybe where mine are a little bit different, is there’s a lot more humor in mine. And there’s humor in other books as well, some other books as well. But if I was going to compare my Jericho’s to the Jack Ryan’s, Clancy would put some humor in, mine’s the kind of humor that I believe real operators… sometimes I have to chat with my editors for both sets of books, “Why are these guys telling jokes in the middle of a tense situation or a gunfight?” Because that’s the way it really is. It’s a stress reliever.
Robert: Guy’s Guy Radio, our special guest, Marc Cameron. The latest Jericho Quin novel is Active Measures, but there’s like nine or I think more. He’s also got the Arliss Cutter series. He’s written some of the Jack Ryan books. Tell us, Marc, where our listeners can find out more about you and where they can get your books, and your website, whatever you want to promote?
Mark: Yeah. So, just MarcCameronbooks.com is my website. I’m on Facebook at @MarcCameronAuthor. I’m on Twitter and Instagram, if you just Google ‘Marc Cameron books’, you’ll find me pretty much everywhere.
Robert: All right. Well, great job. I would like to invite you back whenever you want it to Guy’s Guy Radio, because you’re a breath of fresh air. I love the work you’re doing. I started Active Measures, and I’m committed to going through the whole thing. Because it’s a pleasure. It’s fun. I was hooked. The inciting incident happened within six pages. I’m hooked. I know where we’re going and it’s going to be a fun rock. So the name of this book is called, Active Measures. Marc Cameron, thanks so much ofor being on Guy’s Guy Radio. You’re a guy’s guy and you’re a man’s man. Thank you, sir.
Mark: Thank you. Robert.
[32:18] Robert: Guy’s Guy Radio, your host, Robert Manni, wearing our business hat today for this guest. He’s an amazing guy, his name is Kevin Hancock. He’s got a book it’s called, The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. And as I mentioned to Kevin, I’ve been in corporate life for 30 plus years at big ad agencies, small ad agencies, big companies, Volvo of America, Nabisco brand, just a lot of different companies I’ve worked for. So we’ll have a very fruitful conversation.
Let me tell you a little bit about Kevin and his book. He is the CEO of Hancock Lumber company. And it’s one of the biggest lumber companies in the U.S., so it was established way back in 1848, so it’s a family business. It’s a four-time recipient of the Best Place to Work in Maine. Kevin’s a past chairman of the National Lumber Building Materials Association. He’s a graduate of Bowdoin College. And the basic thing is, he’s a frequent visitor to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, which is a long way from Maine. And he’s traveled all over the world on business and pleasure, and really in a learning journey.
He published his first book about his experiences with the Oglala Sioux tribe in 2015 called, Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse, which is an amazing story, the whole story of the Sioux Indians and Crazy Horse and General Custer and all of that. It’s well worth delving into, because I think Native Americans are really, they’re really spiritual beings. And some people say they may not even be originally from earth itself, this plane, but whatever. Thankfully, people like Kevin are bringing awareness to the Sioux and other Indians, Native American Indians, and their cause and just their lives, and being able to flourish as best as possible in our society.
This book was featured in the New York Times and won the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award, the 2016 Independent Authors Network Award, and the 2016 New York Book Festival Award. So, quite a book. And this is a follow-up, but it’s a standalone book, and it’s called, The Seventh Power. Welcome to Guy’s Guy Radio, Kevin Hancock.
Kevin: Thank you, Robert. It’s my pleasure to be with you.
[34:50] Robert: Kevin, let’s get right to the heart of this at the beginning. You have been a CEO of this major company for many years, and then suddenly you were diagnosed with what’s called spasmodic dysphonia, which makes communicating and speaking difficult, so I hope our audience understands that. So tell us how you got, what it is, and why do you think you got that? Because I think it sparked part of your learning journey.
Kevin: Yeah, it sure did. So two things. In 2010, at the peak of the national housing mortgage market collapse, I was feeling lots of pressure trying to figure out how to help our lumber company get through that. And during that period, suddenly I began to have trouble speaking something. Something I had always taken it for granted, never thought about it, and frankly, done a lot of. As a CEO it’s kind of like your voice is your tool. And suddenly I couldn’t use it and had to quickly develop some different communicating systems.
And long story short, Robert, when it was super difficult to talk back then – it’s gotten quite a bit better – but it was super difficult back then. I started developing strategies for talking less. And the strategy I intuitively picked up was to answer a question with a question, thereby putting the conversation right back on the other person. So it worked in that kind of classic scene. Someone would come up to me, because I was the boss or the CEO with a question. Instead of giving an answer, I started saying. “That is a good question. What do you think we should do about it?”
Initially this was just a voice protection exercise. In time, it really opened my eyes. Because what I found was people actually already knew what to do. They didn’t actually need. A top-down, management directed solution to the vast majority of challenges that they faced during the course of the day. They already knew what to do.
[37:15] Robert: Let’s talk a little bit about this book. Because the journey is, you traveled. When you start to learn about yourself and about companies based on what you learned about your own affliction, if you will, you went back to the Lakota tribe and you worked with some of the folks there. You traveled with some people in Colombia, you went all over the world. Even in Boston, you talked to people who worked at Soul Cycle, and you really gleaned a lot of insights into what makes how companies nowadays and corporations need to change to become more driven by value for the employees, versus value for just the shareholders, if you will. So it’s kind of a bottom up. So I guess my question to you is, how did you weave that together, that learning. And then let’s talk then about the practicality of it. Because sometimes it’s difficult to do that because people get afraid to talk. So let me turn it over.
Kevin: Thank you. So yeah, what really started to hit things for me was the travel I began doing first to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota, which is one of the biggest, poorest of all the Sioux reservations on the Northern Plains. And here is the connection Robert, there I encountered an entire community that did not feel fully heard. That felt as if a piece of their voice had been taken. And I put that together with my own situation and concluded that there are lots of ways for humans to lose their voice in this world. And that really across time, leaders have probably done more to restrict the voices of others than to free or to liberate them.
And that’s what I really got excited about. The idea within our own company of creating a culture that gave everybody a voice and made it safe for everyone to say what they actually thought, and to share the responsibility for speaking for the company – because I couldn’t do it myself – and for leading the company.
[39:40] Robert: Yeah. I like what you say about employer-served companies, but we need the companies to serve the employees. In the book, a very great part of the book is amongst many things, is that you have this seven points, the seven powers if you will, and it’s a wheel and it came from I think your experiences with the Lakota folks, and also your other travels around the world. But let me read some of the points for you.
Number one, and you can talk about the ones you want to highlight. One, great people are everywhere. Two, culture makes the difference and power is dispersed as part of that. Three, change is created first from within. Four, localize. Five, listen. Six, overachieving has consequences. And seven, broaden the mission.
So I don’t know where you want to start, or if you want to just pick out a couple of these. But putting all these together is the seventh power, if you will, in terms of how to transform your corporation to be one that the companies are serving the employees and that value is then shared with the customers.
Kevin: Yeah. So I think there’s a lot there of course, it took a whole book to talk about it. But to take a piece of that, I think I would start with this. It’s a notion that essentially everyone is capable of leading, and everyone has a voice that’s worth being heard. And that the culture is really what separates organizations. Cultures either collect power to the center and put it in the hands of the few, or those cultures disperse power and strengthen the voices of others.
I’m a former history teacher, and one of the examples I like to give in the book regarding culture is Germany after WWII. Think about what happened. So Germany was divided arbitrarily between the east and west after WWII. West Germany went on to become one of the economic engines that led the planet forward. East Germany held on with machine guns and barbed wire and guard dogs until it collapsed under its own weight. But would anybody say the difference was that all the “best” Germans happened to be on the west side of that line, and the less best Germans, I don’t know how you’d even say it, being on the right hand.
Robert: Like in Korea, North and South Korea. People are people. They respond to the environment they’re in, so it’s up to the leaders to put together an environment where people can flourish. Because as you say, great people are everywhere. Agree 100%.
I also love your notion that every person should be CEO of their own job. And I think that’s important because a lot of times people don’t realize that they are important, and they do have accountability and responsibility. You see it. A lot of people they just show up and then they leave. They don’t feel anything about their job. And there’s not a lot of loyalty going from corporation to employ nowadays as well as employee to corporation. It’s just stops along the way where it’s convenient for everybody. Hopefully everybody wins and then people go their own way. Whereas in the past it used to be, I guess one of the positives in a way, where people could work for the same corporation for 40 years now and public corporations. Now that’s not really the case. It’s more of the rarity than the exception and the rule, if you will.
I know you have your own company, but most places, people are managing their careers and hopping when they need to hop. And just staying ahead of the executioner sometimes, where they’re going to get fired, they just move around and round. What’s your thoughts about what can companies do to keep their good employees?
[43:57] Kevin: Well, I think the one big thought is to make the employee experience a top priority. That sounds simple, but it’s powerful. Corporations are good at whatever they choose to focus on. So really, the simple act of making the employee experience a top corporate priority, will had a huge impact on improving the employee experience.
Robert: Oh, I agree with you completely. My experience in multinational corporations was pretty much bottom line oriented. Where for instance, I worked at a confectionary division of Nabisco, and the people who worked on Lifesaver candies, that was a cash cow because it probably meant at the time was about 3 cents to make a roll of Lifesavers. And you made probably $0.50 profit on every roll. So the people they put in charge of that brand were pretty straightforward. Don’t screw it up. Whereas the marketing people who worked on Bubble Yum, including myself, we were put out there to see if we can set the brand on fire and had some more latitude to do that.
So there was a environmental aspect there, which I thought was very smart. In the agency business, I found that the big global agencies I worked with, I didn’t find that their, even though they had the big accounts, I didn’t find that their creative was that good. A lot of times I felt sheepish going into the client with some bad ideas. Whereas I worked with some small more boutique agencies where the culture was about working together, and it was about creativity, and where people showed up to work happily.
I remember going to one agency I worked with, I’ll say the name of it, Margeotes Fertitta Partners. We did great work. I was always happy and looking forward to gingo to work. Whereas some of the big agencies I worked at, I was like dreading some of the meetings because I knew the product was not going to be as good. I attribute that, as I think you would Kevin, to culture. So you want to amplify on that a little bit from your own experience with other companies?
[46:08] Kevin: Yeah. I love what do you just said there. That the employee experience matters, and if people are having fun, feeling valued, feeling powered, and feeling like here is the big thing, like work is more than just an economic exercise, they’re going to perform better in a more sustainable way.
The data on this is dramatic in America today, 180 million people work, but less than a third of them will describe that experience as engaging or meaningful beyond its economic value. And globally, that data gets even worse. Globally, a billion people work, and less than 2 in 10 will describe that as engaging. And perhaps in the 19th century or during the Industrial Revolution that might’ve been okay, but this is the 21st century. And for people to invest decades in a career that is not meaningful beyond the economics, so as to only live on the weekends or on vacation or in retirement, that in the 21st century to me is an unnecessary structure and counterproductive to peak performance in business. So first, I’m after that on a human level. And then second, on an economic level.
[47:54] Robert: My special guest on Guy’s Guy Radio, and this is your host Robert Manni, is Kevin Hancock. He’s got a book, it’s fantastic. It’s called, The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. One more question, Kevin. A lot of people working remotely right now – and I think not just working, but people going to college, that whole experience, education is going to be remote – what’s the challenge for CEOs like yourself to embed your culture with the values that you’re talking about when a lot of people aren’t even going to be showing up at the office in the future?
Kevin: Right. Well, let me get at that in this way. Our company is one of those companies where people primarily have to be there to work. So we’re for example making lumber, and we can’t make lumber at home from our couch in our sweatpants. So our challenges right now are more along the lines of actually still having to show up and doing so in a safe way. And what really struck me about that Robert, is that our people have really appreciated the normalcy of coming to work. And while remote work it’s possible at some occupations and possible during times of duress, that really in the long run, it’s not enough for people. People value human connectivity and ultimately want to be in models that are connective.
But to the core of your original question, if a company’s got an enduring culture, it certainly can hold together during an interim period of crisis, like now, where many people may be divided and working from home.
[49:55] Robert: Got it. Okay. Our special guest is Kevin Hancock. The book it’s amazing, it’s called, The Seventh Power. It’s his journey with the Lakota Indians, through Russia exploring the Ukraine, Russia history, through Columbia and a lot of the history there between some of the rebels and the people running the country. It’s just amazing. And through some of America’s best corporations and most visionary corporations. And of course I would put Kevin and his company, even though it’s a lumber company, which you wouldn’t think is going to be that dynamic. I think Kevin, you’re a dynamic leader, and I love the fact that you went out there on your own to learn, and that you’ve used something that was given to you as probably you probably thought, “Why me?” and now you’re realizing that it was a blessing for you.
And all the best to you in continuing your work. You were a real inspiration. Kevin Hancock, thank you for being on Guy’s Guy Radio, and please tell our listeners where they can find more about you, your company, and the book.
Kevin: Thank you again, Robert, for having me. So you can contact me and learn more about the book at my website, which is www.kevindhancock.com. And the book is available wherever books are sold, which today particularly is online. So right on Amazon or BarnesandNoble.com you’d find it.
Robert: Fantastic. Well, thank you for being our guests on Guy’s Guy Radio. You are a guy’s guy, Kevin Hancock. You’re an inspiration. Thank you.
Kevin: Thank you, Robert. Take care.
Robert: Robert Manni here, Guy’s Guy Radio. Two guy’s guys on the show today, plus me. I guess you could call it three then. So what did we learn from Marc Cameron? I think we learned that cops can be good writers. He’s a prolific writer. He’s a real guy’s guy and a man of the world adventure novelist. And I think we learned that police really should be part of the community. Hey, we all know there’s some bad cops out there, but there’s far majority, there’s good cops. And a lot of them can be good storytellers based on the experience of working with people. So let’s keep an open mind and support our police as best we can.
The second thing we learned, I think, with Kevin Hancock is that not all CEOs are just all about greed. Some of them are really thinking about making the work experience better for their employees. And hopefully there’ll be more and more CEOs like Kevin out there. So I want to thank two wonderful guys for being on Guy’s Guy Radio today.
We’re on Guy’s Guy Radio every Wednesday evening on KCAA in Southern California. 102.3, 106.5 FM, 10:50 AM, 8:00 PM. Pacific time. The show rebroadcasts on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM. The podcast drops every Thursday all over the internet worldwide Apple podcasts, Spotify, iHeart, Google Play, Stitcher, Castbox, you can stream it or on my website RobertManni.com. There’s a brand-new robertmanni.com. Now it’s much more mobile friendly, a lot more visual in terms of the graphics and content on the website. I think you’ll really enjoy it. And also it features the source material of everything Guy’s Guy, which is my novel, The Guy’s Guy Guide to Love. It’s about two guys in advertising in New York City competing for love, sex, power, and money. It’s been called the male successor to Sex in the City. It’s a lot of fun and the book’s got a strong business undertow, but it also is fast. It’s fun, and it’s got an aspect of spirituality to it. I think you’ll really enjoy it. And I think the story, from what I’ve been told from, guys like it because they can relate to it, and women like it because it’s information about guys that they might not be aware of some of the truths about men. And you know what, it ain’t all that bad about guys these days, regardless of some of the bad things that men do.
So, Guy’s Guy Radio. If you want to support the show, please rate, review, and subscribe on apple podcasts. You can catch me, Robert Manni, on social media. I’m all over the place on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter, et cetera, and on my website. So thanks so much for listening. I really love doing the show, and I think it’s particularly important that I bring you some great guests during this time when we’re dealing with this pandemic. And I’ll do my very best to bring information to you that hopefully will help you in your day-to-day life and help you continue to grow, and help you to think, and help you to feel and hopefully help you to act. So Guy’s Guy Radio, your host Robert Manni. Thanks again to my guests, my listeners, we’ll be back next time. And until then, like I always say, guy’s guys finish first.