“Every writer I know has trouble writing.”

—Joseph Heller

I often have to write for a while before it becomes clear to me what I am writing about.

This is contrary to what I was taught in middle-school English class. “You must know the end of the essay in order to write the beginning,” my teachers told me.

But life isn’t always that tidy. Sometimes you’ve just got to pick up the pen and start writing in order for the spirit within you to manifest and flow forth.

*          *          *

This is the tenth essay of my weekly series, and it occurs to me that enticing CEOs to broaden their mission, expand their roles, and see their companies in a fresh light is one of the core aspirations of my writing this year.

Mike Hall, one of many great leaders at Hancock Lumber, where I work, is fond of telling me that my most valuable role is actually “Chief Evangelist,” not “Chief Executive.”

An evangelist is someone who seeks to convert. An evangelist understands the power and potential of an idea.

In that sense, Mike is right. My passion is learning to see the world of work, commerce, and free enterprise through fresh eyes—for what my alma mater, Bowdoin College, calls “the common good.”

I recently participated in a statewide leadership program on racial equity here in Maine.

“Why are you here?” one of the facilitators asked each of us at the opening session.

“I’m here because the purpose of any company should be to advance humanity,” I replied when my turn came. “Whatever confronts and challenges humanity must also manifest as priorities in our businesses.”

I hadn’t premeditated that answer. It just came out.

There are approximately 195,000 CEOs in America. Together they influence the values and cultural expectations for 155 million US workers and a $25 trillion economy. Imagine the potential social impact of those CEOs all embracing the belief that their highest calling is to advance humanity by serving the people right in front of them, the employees who give all companies life.

Old-school business thinking once urged CEOs to stick to their knitting and focus on the narrow core of their corporate mission. In our case that would be making lumber and facilitating logistics. Make no mistake: In order for our company to have a platform for doing good, we must be world-class at making lumber, and be fanatics about OTIF (“On time and in full delivery”). But that doesn’t mean lumber and delivery trucks represent our highest purpose. Our highest purpose is to create meaningful and empowering work experiences for those who choose to dedicate a piece of their lives to our company, as employees. The first priority of our company is the people who work there.

Where in society are adults going to grow and self-actualize? It has to be their place of work, because that’s where most adults congregate.

From a business standpoint, the twenty-first century is about flipping the script on the core purpose of capitalism. When the mission reorients and elevates, the potential for good expands. Humanity doesn’t need less capitalism; it needs more. But the kind it needs must be reimagined. Employees don’t exist to serve companies; companies exist to serve employees. When this shift occurs, employee loyalty, creativity, commitment, and capacity are unleashed. Business performance accelerates on the wings of service to others.

This doesn’t mean the end of accountability, best practices, core systems, or organizational focus. In fact, when companies serve their employees, all of these elements are strengthened. As our safety director Gregg Speed is fond of saying, “People support what they help to create.”

The Hancock Lumber sawmill team in Casco receiving a team safety award. A core mission of our company is to be a place where every member of the team feels trusted, respected, valued, and heard.

The purpose of safety within a company is a great example of this required shift in thinking. A company does not pursue safety to save money or avoid OSHA. A company pursues safety because its core mission is to be meaningful and valuable to the people who work there. Helping everyone stay healthy and safe is fundamental to any company’s raison d’être.

Change is created first within us, then beside us, and finally beyond us. When CEOs change what they see as their highest purpose, organizational transformation follows.

CEOs have the opportunity to release a veritable wave of human capacity, machinery, and capital toward the common good. Business is no different than life. When you commit to serving others, you are repaid with more than you give.

My personal mission as the CEO of Hancock Lumber is to create a corporate culture where everyone feels trusted, respected, valued, and heard. Creating that culture will improve business performance, but those results are the outcome of a higher calling. That higher calling is sharing leadership broadly and respecting all voices in a manner that helps every human within the organization to self-actualize and tap into the sacred power that dwells within us all. Advancing humanity, one human at a time, is the new business of business.

Setting that course is the CEO’s role.

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable.”

—Martin Luther King

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.


This is the tenth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



“Your choices and efforts, be they small or grand, define who you are.”

—Richelle Goodrich

Henry and Mamie Wilson migrated north from South Carolina to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1921.

“I believe he was about the first black man they ever hired at US Steel,” his son Tim would tell me nearly one hundred years later as we sat together at the Yordprom Coffee Co. on the uphill side of Congress Street in Portland, Maine. “He was the janitor there for forty-three years.

“My mom was just as sharp as my dad,” Tim continues. “Her name was Mamie Mobley Wilson. She was the cleaning lady at Suburban General Hospital. Everybody loved her too.”

Now well into his seventies, Tim is wearing a black sweat suit and a Tuskegee Airmen cap, leaning back comfortably in his chair.

As I listen to Tim reflect on his parents’ influence on his life, I contemplate whether Henry and Mamie could have imagined the social contributions that their son would go on to make. Today Tim Wilson is one of the most respected racial equity leaders in the State of Maine, and the legendary (now retired) director of the internationally recognized Seeds of Peace Camp dedicated to eliminating Arab–Israeli conflict, one teenager at a time.

Can we ever really know what impact we will have on the world simply by doing the little things right, one day at a time?

Two young black janitors from the Jim Crow South were positively impacting the world long after their own deaths through the values and skills they instilled in their son.

Henry and Mamie Wilson’s son, Tim (center, in white) at the Seeds of Peace Camp in Maine.

*          *          *

Henry, Mamie, and Tim’s personal story reminds me of two seemingly disconnected tales that my friend Angus King recently shared with me.

Tale #1

Many years ago, Al Capone virtually ruled Chicago. Capone owed much of his position and freewheeling lifestyle to his exceptional lawyer, known locally as “Easy Eddie.”

To show his appreciation, Capone paid Easy Eddie very well. Eddie and his family lived on an estate so large that it filled a city block. Eddie enjoyed the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocities that went on around him.

But Eddie had a soft spot for his son, whom he loved dearly. And despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie tried to teach his son right from wrong.

Even with all his wealth and influence there were two things Eddie couldn’t give his son: a good name, and a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. He wanted to rectify his wrongs.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about his boss, Al Capone, in hopes of cleaning up his tarnished name and offering his son some integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against the Chicago mob.

Within a year, Eddie’s life would end in a blaze of gunfire.

Tale #2

World War II produced many heroes, and one such man was Butch O’Hare.

Butch was a fighter pilot in the South Pacific assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington.  

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. En route Butch realized his fuel levels were unexpectedly low and his flight leader ordered him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, Butch dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

On his return he spotted a previously undetected squadron of Japanese aircraft speeding toward the American fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, Butch dove into the Japanese formation. His wing-mounted .50 calibers blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane after another. He continued the solo assault until all of his ammunition was spent. Undaunted, he pressed the confrontation until the Japanese planes veered off in another direction. Butch and his tattered fighter then limped back to the carrier, having destroyed five enemy aircraft. The date was February 20, 1942.

For his actions Butch became the US Navy’s first ace of World War II, and the first naval aviator to win the Medal of Honor. Later that year, at the age of twenty-nine, he was killed in aerial combat. Today Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is named in his honor.

So what do these two seemingly disparate stories have in common?

Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son.

*          *          *

We don’t know the full impact we will have on this world. What you do today counts, no matter how marginalized or small you might feel. A stone cast into the water ripples long after we’ve moved on from watching it expand. Humanity is anchored and defined by those who never considered themselves famous or extraordinary.

“Ordinary people do great things every day.”

—Jim Valvano


* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.


This is the ninth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.”

—Wayne Dyer

The Charles River Esplanade is a meandering urban green space separating Boston’s Back Bay neighborhoods from the Charles River. Filled with hardwood trees, playing fields, and exercise paths, the Esplanade traverses more than three miles, from the Museum of Science to Boston University. On any given day this scenic byway is filled with walkers, joggers, bikers, bench sitters, and geese—lots of geese.

I was walking on the Esplanade one January morning when I witnessed a short sequence starring the geese that caused me to pause and reflect.

I was crossing an arched stone bridge. Beneath me ran a shallow stream partially covered by patches of thin ice. In a pool of open water twelve geese were casually drifting about when one of them spotted a half-eaten apple on an ice sheet nearby. As that goose moved with intention toward the apple the others began to take notice. Soon a race was on. Wings and feathers were set in motion as a cacophony of honking spontaneously erupted.

The original goose was first to the apple, but he knew time was of the essence. He slid across the ice, neck extended, trying to gather the entire prize in his mouth. But the apple would not cooperate. It slid and bounced its way back into the water where multiple geese fought for control. Moments earlier this flock had been peacefully gathered together for safety in a display of tribal unity. The presence of a single apple had been enough to make them turn on each other.

I reflected upon the implications of what I had witnessed for humanity. The instinctive wiring of life on Earth is grounded in a scarcity mind-set—the fear that there are not enough apples for everyone. Long before white men ventured onto the American plains, Indians fought, killed, and tortured other Indians for control of critical natural resources and hunting grounds. To be sure, like the geese, Indian tribes also came together and cooperated with each other as well. That’s really the point: Humanity, like all life on Earth, has always maintained a delicate balance between competition and cooperation.

How do our primal instincts advance or hinder social harmony and human collaboration in the twenty-first century? Might those instincts at times prevent us from seeing clearly, even keeping us fixated on the wrong problems?

The World Health Organization estimates there is 1.5 times enough food presently available to feed everyone on the planet. This would suggest that distribution, not scarcity, is the problem. Digging deeper in search of root causes, humanity has radically uneven economic productivity. The average household income in the United States is approximately $66,000, compared to $13,000 in Venezuela, $7,500 in Cuba, $3,400 in Ukraine, and $530 in the Congo. That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not optimal.

Why is this so? And what’s the solution?

One remediating strategy would be to take most of the money from places like the United States and send it to places like Cuba. That’s the scarcity mind-set model, and it wouldn’t work. Within a generation the income would be unevenly distributed again back in places like America. There is no net global benefit to lowering income in America. By the same reasoning, there is no net benefit to lowering income levels in Colorado ($77,000) in order to grow them in Mississippi ($46,000). (As an interesting aside, the highest average income levels in America are in the District of Columbia, $92,000.)

An abundance mind-set would recognize that there are massive opportunities for productivity growth around the world. Getting there would require leaping two hurdles. First, we would need to initially over-invest in communities that have historically been exploited. Second, we would need to expand the conditions of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law to all the peoples of the world. Freedom for all is the solution, and that includes economic freedom. Corruption prevails wherever democracy and free markets are restricted. In America, for example, the historic problem has been the exclusion of some from the full rights of our democracy. We don’t need less freedom for some; we need full access to freedom for everyone.

My favorite current example of annual income disparity is that of Hong Kong and China. The annual household income in Hong Kong is $50,800, compared to $10,410 in China. So what is the Chinese Communist government’s strategic response to this discrepancy? It’s to make Hong Kong more like China. How do you think that’s going to work out?

Primal man, like the geese on the pond, fought over the scarcity of apples.

Modern man has the potential to grow more than enough apples for everyone.

A mind-set of abundance, not scarcity, is the path toward more apples for all. We need more freedom and democracy, fully accessible and evenly applied. Rising up does not require a corresponding volume of pulling down.

“The idea that political freedom can be preserved in the absence of economic freedom, and vice versa, is an illusion. Political freedom is the corollary of economic freedom.”

—Ludwig von Mises

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.






This is the eighth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




“What you think, you become.

What you feel, you attract.

What you imagine, you create.”


Despite an incalculable myriad of differences in backgrounds, experiences, and opportunities, every living human shares one common truth: We must all move into the future from the spot we presently occupy.

Wherever you are at this moment is your launching point for the future, and nothing can change that. We take our next step from the piece of ground we now stand upon.

“Everyone has three selves: a past-based self, a future-based self, and a present-based self. The past-based self is the person an individual thinks he or she used to be. This self-concept is influenced by powerful memories. The future-based self is the person the individual imagines he or she is going to be. This is influenced by powerful goals (or the absence thereof). The present-based self is a combination of the other two selves, with either the past self-concept or the future self-concept dominating.”

—Dan Sullivan

An essential component of self-awareness is recognizing whether or not our thoughts are led by the future or the past.

I have learned this lesson the hard way many times, most recently through my voice condition. In 2010 I acquired spasmodic dysphonia (SD), a rare neurological voice disorder that makes speaking difficult. At its worst it feels like a seat belt has been tightened around my throat when I talk. The condition is particularly restrictive in group settings, on the telephone, and anywhere there is background noise.

In 2018, after living with SD for nearly a decade, I began seeing a hypnotherapist by the name of Maggie Clement. Once a month I would travel into Portland and meet with her in a small first-floor brownstone office near Maine Medical Center. The first half of each session was an open discussion where Maggie would ask me questions and listen as I described my emotions and experiences with respect to SD.

“How often do you think about your voice?” Maggie asked me one day. “And when you think about it, are your thoughts positive or negative?”

These two questions would come to mark the turning point in my ability to navigate and transcend my affliction.

I left her office that afternoon and drove home in a reflective silence.

The following day I began counting every time I thought about my voice. Additionally, I noted whether the thought was positive or negative.

I realized that I thought about my voice more than one hundred times a day, and each time, it was negative. I was constantly thinking about the difficulties I had encountered in the past and then projecting an expectation for continued difficulty in the future.

For example, if I was going to a restaurant that evening I would momentarily think of it dozens of times that day, with the expectation that the chatter and clatter would overwhelm me.

It turned out I was unaware of both the frequency and fragility of my thoughts. I did not know, until Maggie called me out, that I was constantly worrying about how my voice would perform in the future based on my experiences from the past.

After months and months of training Maggie helped me to break this self-fulfilling prophecy. Today, thanks to my heightened self-awareness, I recognize a negative thought about my voice as soon as it arrives.

“Ha, I’ve caught you!” I now say to myself when such moments manifest. “Now, go away. You are nothing but a self-contrived negative thought about the future based on past experiences.”

Today I deliberately put positive thoughts in my mind with respect to my voice. I envision it performing. I imagine myself healing.

The difference in my vocal performance has been dramatic. I still have a shaky voice at times, but it no longer dominates my thinking or expectations. As a result, I’ve improved a condition that the medical community defines as incurable.

This was one of many lessons I learned regarding the limiting powers of a past-based mind. Thankfully Maggie taught me that this was my mind we were talking about, and as such, I had the ability to fill it intentionally with future-based optimism.

“The future-based person achieves freedom from the past.”

—Dan Sullivan

(Note: Dan Sullivan is the creator and author of the book and audio series HOW THE BEST GET BETTER: THE ART AND SCIENCE OF ENTREPRENEURIAL SUCCESS.)

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.


This is the seventh in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



“You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round. The sky is round, and I have heard that the Earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls, birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”

—Black Elk

The remains of old Fort Fetterman sit high above the North Platte River at a point just north of Douglas, Wyoming. It’s a cold fall day as I pull my dust-covered rental truck into the inconspicuous gravel parking lot. No other vehicles are in sight. The fort is closed, which is my favorite time to visit.

The abandoned forts, trails, and battle sites commemorating the nineteenth century on the northern plains are best visited alone. It is in silence that these windswept artifacts tell their stories about the winning—and the losing—of the American West.

I pull my wool hat down over my ears as I ascend the ridge before me that conceals the remains of the fort. My Lakota medicine wheel necklace bounces gently on my sweater as I walk. Tumbleweeds dance and dart in front of me. The wind and my footsteps are the only sounds. I am facing north toward the Bighorn Mountains, toward the Little Bighorn River, and toward the Montana goldfields that created the necessity for this fort and the Bozeman Trail that passed through it.

Parade grounds sit at the center of all the Western forts I have visited. As I follow their sharp edges with my eyes, I can’t help but think how closely related a square is to a circle. All that is required is to bend the corners.

The abandoned flagpole and supporting metal guide wires whistle in the wind. My feet crunch with each step on the narrow gravel path. Without thinking, I begin walking more aggressively and deliberately so that I can hear that sound, the sound of marching. I move in rhythm, accentuating each step down the faint outline of the old parade grounds. I am in no hurry. I have nowhere to go.

Circles and squares define the northern plains. Nature makes the circles, and men—a product of nature themselves—then turn them into squares.

The hills roll.

The rivers bend.

The grass swirls.

The seasons come and go.

Day turns to night.

Life emerges and then fades.

It’s all a circle.

Yet the plains today are equally dominated by squares.

From the air you see property divided, square after square.

Houses are square and fence posts travel in straight lines.

To the Sioux and other plains tribes the circle is sacred, for that is how life travels.

There is much to be gained from seeing the circles that surround and define us all. While no two human journeys are ever the same, our lives do share a pattern that nature’s rhythm commands.

Consciousness itself is a circle. We are born full of innocence. The time and place of our birth then begins to pull on us and makes its mark. Eventually we come of age and the opportunity to awaken presents itself. Our degree of consciousness then defines our experience until we return to our place of origin and rejoin the innocence, which is also the place of knowing.

Consciousness is the state of being awake and aware. Birth is the invitation to acquire it. But to gain consciousness we must know where to look. In a world full of chaos and distractions we must learn to look within ourselves, where consciousness resides.

Consciousness once created can never be destroyed. We carry it back with us and gift it to the collective human memory and the shared learning of the Universe. Even consciousness—or the lack thereof—travels in a circle.

“We Indians think of the Earth and the whole universe as a never-ending circle, and in this circle, man is just another animal. The buffalo and the coyote are our brothers; the birds, our cousins. Even the tiniest ant, even a louse, even the smallest flower you can find, they are all relatives.”

—Jenny Leading Cloud

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.


This is the sixth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



Bureaucracy and social harmony are inversely proportionate to each other.”

Leon Trotsky

What are the origins of bureaucracy?

How did “power” historically become centralized in command-and-control hierarchies?

How did certain groups come to exert a defining influence over others?

The answer, at its most fundamental level, is through stories backed by force and force justified through stories.

Slavery was a story backed by force. The subjugation of indigenous peoples across the Americas was also a story backed by force. The September 11, 2001, attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center is another story backed by force. A traditionally male-dominated society was, and is, a story backed by force. In all cases a narrative defining the superiority of one group and the inferiority of another is required in order to “justify” the inhumane actions required to establish and maintain dominance.

Both the Roman emperors and the European monarchs of the early and Middle Ages reigned on the basis of a story known as the “divine right of kings.” This tale, which became accepted as doctrine and was reinforced by the Church, stated that kings ruled with the backing of heavenly powers.

“The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon Earth,
for the kings are not only God’s lieutenants upon Earth and sit upon God’s throne,
but even by God himself they are called Gods.”

—James I of England (1610)

Across the Western world this divine right was conveyed upon kings by another co-conspiring hierarchy, the Church.

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
For there is no power but of God: the powers that are ordained of God.
Whoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God:
and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

—Romans 13

All of this presumes a God who takes sides and is vengeful against those who do not follow “his” word.

In the quest to be fully conscious it’s interesting to note that the dominant conclusion of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism is of a hierarchical God who reigns from above, sends commandments below, and judges all. While this may be the case, it’s not the only interpretation. It does, however, conveniently set a precedent for human organizations to follow.

Indoctrination is defined as “the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.” The key word here is “uncritically.” These beliefs must become so deeply rooted over time that they exist largely unquestioned.

European Americans of the nineteenth century convinced themselves that native peoples were less-worthy humans and therefore exploitable. Southern plantation owners built their society upon the same narrative about people who were black. Slavery and reservations were actually considered “good” and “necessary” for the people subjected to them.

These are dramatic examples of hierarchies established by stories and force, but the model also manifests in more-subtle ways. The place of work, for example, has traditionally been organized around a similar pattern, a ladder of importance and control. The owner and the interests of the business are paramount. The employees, meanwhile, are subservient to the company and expected to follow the instructions that flow down from above.

It can be numbing to consciously confront the origins of our dominant leadership models. It gives me pause to even type these words. I am a white male CEO of a family business. My position in this world came in part through inheritance, as was true of my dad, his dad, and beyond, for six generations. Traveling centuries back in time, a piece of my opportunity emanated from the divine right of kings. Reconciling this and deciding what to do about it has become a priority for me.

In the end, I can’t change when and where I was born—I do have a company and I am leading it—but I can try to change how that company engages with others and expand the mission it exists to serve.

This is what brings me to champion the concepts of shared leadership, redistributed power, respect for all voices, and the creation of employee-centric companies that prioritize the people who work there.

Across human history, power has been centralized. But, like anything that travels in a circle, it can be given back. The fundamental building block of personal power is self-worth—the internal knowing that you are sacred. Today’s “kings” must honor this truth by re-dispersing their power.

The first step in creating a new and more-collaborative model for leadership is the uncomfortable task of acknowledging the old one.

“Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible.”

Javier Salcedo

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.


This is the fifth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



“Well, I’ll be darned,” Walt said to Jimmy from the driver’s seat of the truck.

“Yes,” Jimmy replied from the passenger side. “They stock those filters at AutoZone down in Elko and sell them for eight bucks apiece.”

“I did not know that,” Walt said, clearly amazed.

From the backseat I checked the clock on the dashboard. It read 3:50 a.m. I adjusted my camouflage Gore-Tex gloves, pulled my wool cap down tighter over my ears, and settled fully into my seat as the dust swirled behind us into the blackness of a Nevada night. I drifted off to sleep to the rumbling of six tires careening over the road as Walt and Jimmy conversed with exceptional enthusiasm over stories great and small.

For the next five days this would become our morning ritual, Walt and Jimmy’s banter a transcendent reminder of the joy of being present.

*        *        *

Elk hunting for me is simultaneously energizing and draining, joyous and mundane, heartwarming and discomforting.

There’s no way we’re going to get an elk on this hunt, I thought.

I was huddled by a small fire on a rock-strewn mountaintop staring out across a vast expanse of treeless wilderness from which I could see both Idaho and Utah. I shivered, even though I was wearing everything that I had brought with me in my meager defense against the snow, wind, and cold.

“Welcome to Nevada ice fishing,” Jimmy said with a smile.

*        *        *

Elk hunting in a remote corner of the American West commands surrender, and this perhaps explains part of my addiction to the sport. As a CEO I am used to identifying a goal and making a plan. Action steps are listed and crossed off when completed. Timelines are established. Meetings are set to monitor progress and make adjustments if needed. The whole process is about increasing certainty and establishing control.

A guided elk hunting trip requires the exact opposite. It begins with surrender. To have any chance of success you must transcend the urge to structure and define your day.

Upon arrival you learn to cede virtually all control except your willingness to hustle and keep hunting even when the odds seem insurmountable. Until the experience is over someone else (your guide and outfitter) will decide where you sleep, when you awaken, when and what you eat, where you go, when you drive and when you walk, when and where you sit and wait, and when you attack.

If you want to maximize your odds of success you arrive ready to trust a small team of people that you have never met, and may never meet again. It’s an extreme test of one of life’s most difficult rules:

Learning to surrender is a prerequisite for finding your highest success and authentic path.

I have come to describe this state of being as learning to follow. Our future bumps into us all the time, but often we are too fixated on a predetermined march through a fully planned day—or life—to embrace the unexpected and follow along.

If an angel had told me in 2010 how the next decade of my life would unfold, I would not have believed the storyline.

The economy would crash not once, but twice. I would lose a piece of my voice to a rare neurological disorder and then set out from Maine for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where I would make over twenty visits and acquire two Lakota names. All of this would ignite my understanding that truth lies within us all, which would move me to rewrite my personal rules for organizational leadership through the honoring of every human voice. This, in turn, would plant the seeds for the three books that I would write, all while our company would set records on the wings of employee empowerment and dispersed power. The more I let go, the better we did.

I didn’t see any of this coming.

I couldn’t have scripted it.

I wouldn’t have been able to manifest any of this had I been determined to stay on a preset path and maintain tight control.

Surrender was required. Knowing was unknowing.

Like climbing into the backseat of Walt’s truck in total darkness, any hope for a successful hunt rests in complete surrender.

*        *        *

I did shoot a very big elk on our last afternoon of that trip, using a rifle that jammed after a single shot on a remote ridge known to the locals as “China Jim.” I never would have ended up in that spot at that moment if I hadn’t surrendered to Walt and Jimmy’s accrued experience, a lifetime of knowing elk.

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

—Joseph Campbell

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.


This is the fourth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



In the first decades of the twenty-first century, three exceptional yet unforeseen events altered humanity’s course.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda militants hijacked four airplanes. Within hours the twin towers of the World Trade Center would fall and a global war would commence. In 2008, subprime borrowers began defaulting on their home mortgages, initiating a financial crisis that nearly collapsed the entire global banking system. In late 2019, a small group of shoppers at a wet market in Wuhan, China, became infected with a virus of unknown origins. Within a hundred days, nearly every nation on Earth was partially paralyzed by gathering restrictions and lockdowns.

In times of such epic social disruptions, how do we stay focused on our personal mission and voice? How do we support the whole while advancing our sense of self?

Maintaining one’s personal energy in a sea of social chaos may be the essential skill of our time.

Every voice is unique by design. The long arc of humanity is ultimately the sum of its individual parts. What society needs most from us is for our never-to-be-repeated voices to be unfurled and broadly shared. We change the world one human at a time.

I was sensitized to the importance of authentic voice and personal mission by yet another combination of unexpected events. In 2010, I began to have trouble speaking. I was the CEO of one of America’s oldest family businesses, and our lumber company was reeling from the stress of the economic crisis when my voice failed me. Months later I was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called “spasmodic dysphonia” (SD). Suddenly, I had to develop a new strategy for leading that did not include lots of talking.

Two years later, I began traveling from Maine to the remote Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (a place I have now visited over twenty times). There I encountered an entire community that did not feel fully heard.

These two events combined to produce a series of personal learnings. First, I understood what it was like to not feel fully heard. Second, I realized there are lots of ways for people to lose their voice in this world. Third, I began to wonder if the very purpose of a human life on Earth is to self-actualize.

Unfortunately, across the centuries many leaders have done more to restrict the voices of others than to liberate them.

That’s when my personal calling became clear. The partial loss of my own voice was an invitation to disperse power, share leadership, and strengthen the voices of others. I have stayed focused on this mission ever since, despite the distractions of the larger world.

Influencing the world is an inside job. You have a mission and that mission matters. Only you can pursue it. Humanity needs you to be you and carry on. With this approach the world morphs into a different place. It slows down, gains clarity, and localizes.

The history-altering events described at the beginning of this essay share a single root cause: Humanity is moving too fast to acquire more. Our pace—you might call it our “race”—is unsustainable. In the Western world’s zeal to conquer and colonize we find the underpinnings of radical Islamic instability and terror. The subprime mortgage market collapse was also the result of impatience and excess on all sides. Speed was equally responsible for accelerating the global pandemic. How many customers can be crammed into an airplane, a stadium, a bar? Bigger, better, more. We all drank the Kool-Aid and now here we are.

Once we recognize the cause of our chaos, we can hone in on the cure. The world as seen on TV manifests as overwhelming. Only by returning to what lies within us and beside us can we clear the skies. Staying on your mission is the remedy to the turmoil that plagues our modern world. So for the love of humanity, follow your voice. Walk your path. Speak your truth.

If excessive pace with vague purpose is the problem, controlling your pace and clarifying your purpose is the cure.

(Note: A longer version of this essay was first published in 2020 as part of the international bestseller “Bright Spots: Motivation and Inspiration to Light Your Path in a Changing Worldby Cathy Davis. This book—a collection of essays written by forty authors from around the world, including Kevin, in response to the events of 2020—is available on Amazon, or wherever books are sold.)

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.


This is the third in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!

#2 | Awakening


Awakening to what?

Awakening to the sacred knowing that dwells within us all. Awakening to the power, path, and purpose that only the spirit within you can provide and the mysteries that only awakening can solve.

As the legendary American mythologist Joseph Campbell understood,

“We are the truth we seek to know.”

But awakening to this realization—that inward lies our voice, salvation, power, and destiny—is increasingly difficult in our materialistic modern world which is wired for 24/7 connectivity to external voices, all vying for our time, attention, ego, and control.

The times we are living in have pulled our vision to the external, to what others are doing—or not doing. When solutions and salvation rest beyond our reach we become spectators, sidelined from the game. When someone “over there” needs to change in order for our world to improve, we’ve ceded control and lost our inner power to make a difference.

For centuries empires have gone to great lengths to convince us that power, sacredness, and control live in a distant capital or kingdom upon a throne reserved for others. But these narratives are all about controlling us, sowing the seeds of followership, and distracting us from the kingdom within.

Each of us is a king, a queen.

Each of us is divine royalty.

Each of us holds within us a piece of the sacred power of the Universe.

The Sioux tribes of the northern plains have long understood that everything that exists is related and connected. All that we see is comprised of the same stardust, from the same creation source.

It thus stands to reason that if anything is sacred, everything is sacred.

If everything is sacred, we are sacred. You are sacred.

Organizations of the future should honor the sacredness of each individual. As Rudyard Kipling wrote, “The strength of the pack is the wolf.” Only when each individual on a team or within a community is thriving can the tribe be truly whole and strong.

Across the entirety of 2021 I intend to share a series of essays dedicated to releasing the sacred that dwells within us all. These writings will explore new (yet ancient) narratives about personal power, self-actualization, and shared leadership. We need to reset the templates for viewing ourselves and the organizations we belong to if we are to create meaningful change in both our personal paths and our shared global human course.

These transcendental paradigms will hopefully help bring us back to what each one of us can most influence, elevate, celebrate, and control—ourselves.

The twenty-first century is about awakening at the individual level and awakening we are. But awakening is an arduous journey, and it requires two commitments from all who pursue it:

First, I will create change by looking inward, not outward. I shall become what I seek in the world.

Second, I will live in a loving manner that empowers others to also look within and embrace the essence of who they authentically are.

If all of this seems too whimsical or philosophical, don’t fret. We’re going to keep it real. We’re going to keep it grounded. You can build a family, community, school, company, country, or planet around this stuff! Remember, at my core I’m just a lumber company guy from Maine. I have seen firsthand how dispersed power and respect for all voices can reinvent capitalism and produce collective good. The formula is simple: The whole excels by honoring the well-being of its individual parts.

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.


This is the second in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!


Hello! In the spring of this year I am publishing my next book! 48 WHISPERS from Pine Ridge and the Northern Plains is a hybrid of sorts. First, it’s a photography book featuring full-page photos that I have taken at Pine Ridge, the Black Hills, and across the plains. Second, it’s a personal and organizational development journal of hope containing 48 thoughts which I describe as “whispers.” Each whisper is exactly 248 words in length and honors an idea meant to spark personal growth, organizational excellence, and social harmony. The book will be available for pre-order soon and I will let you know when that time comes!

In the meantime, I’m inviting you to join me on an idea-sharing adventure! In support of my upcoming book (48WHISPERS) I intend to write a series of short essays honoring the sanctity and potential of the individual human spirit. There is a divine light that dwells within us all and my inspiration in my work and writing is to help bring that ‘spark’ to the forefront of our lives.

I would like to share these essays with you. To receive them click the “Together” icon!

One click will link you to my sign-up form and ensure that you receive this series of writings designed to advance self-actualization and promote respect for all voices.

The organizational structure of human society was long ago designed to compel us to look EXTERNALLY for direction, solutions, leadership, and control. This has been an intentional exercise and has produced an empire-centric view of our world. Employees exist to serve their company, followers, their church, and citizens, their state. These institutions have done some good through their centralization of power but they have also done some bad. Regardless, in virtually all cases, the common denominator is that the individual is advertently made small before the capital, the kingdom, and the crown. True power, we’ve been taught, lives “out there,” beyond our reach.

I’m interested in flipping that script. The goal is not to eliminate human institutions but rather to refocus them on dispersing power, not collecting it. The salvation we seek requires looking inward. The real power source of humanity lives dispersed and WITHIN us all. Each of us is a spark of divine light, a never-to-be-repeated gift. Institutions should exist to celebrate and accelerate self-actualization at an individual level. A great company, therefore, should serve, honor, and ignite the talents of the people who work there.

The twenty-first century has the potential to mark the ascension of decentralized power, but for that to happen, the traditional model of leadership and followership must be reinvented. My upcoming book and supporting online essays are dedicated to pursuing this goal.

Here’s an early look at the back cover of the book, which contains the titles of each whisper. This will give you a sense of the ideas 48 WHISPERS contemplates and explores:

48 WHISPERS – Back Cover

My first essay will be released soon so click the “Together” link and join me in the conversation. To invite others, just pass the link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become!

My outreach to you is dedicated to the advancement of a single question:

What if everyone on Earth felt trusted, respected, valued, and heard?

What might change?

I think it could be everything.

Many blessings to you.



—Kevin Hancock


* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

My New Year’s wish is that everybody on Earth would feel trusted, respected, valued, and heard!

Hello and Happy New Year!

Wishing you and your family a safe and fun holiday!  Looking forward to 2021!

Across 2020 I participated in nearly 100 “events” (podcasts, articles, talks, interviews) hoping to advance the concepts of


My goal is to help change the mission of work in America.  Work should be meaningful for the people who do it.

The archives of these events are available on my website.

Click here if you have a chance over the holiday weekend! 

Election day is finally here and with it I have one wish and one promise…

Election day is finally here and with it I have one wish and one promise…

MY WISH… and hope… is that all 565 of us who work at Hancock Lumber VOTE (or have voted)!  That’s your voice / our voice in action!

MY PROMISE… While every election is important, America will neither be SAVED nor DESTROYED by today’s outcome.

SO… If the outcome doesn’t go your way- it’s not the end of civilization as we know it.

Conversely, if the outcome does go as you hope – remember that nearly half of all Americans wanted something different.

ULTIMATELY…America is defined by what happens at our houses not the White House.

320,200,000 people live in America.

2 live in the White House.

320,199,998 American’s do NOT live in the White House.

What the 320,199,998 do with our daily lives is what determines the fate of America no matter who is elected! That’s the Seventh Power…

Kevin Hancock on What Matters Most Podcast

Kevin Hancock joins What Matters Most host Paul Samuel Dolman to speak about his shared leadership philosophy. They speak about how CEOs and other leaders might elegantly break down the planet’s entrenched, top-down governance model in favor of a new playbook for heightened human engagement, hallmarked by shared leadership, dispersed power, and respect for all voices.

The What Matters Most podcast covers a wide range of topics and hosts an array of industry influencers and world leaders.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

ProDealer Industry Summit Presentation 2020

Kevin Hancock shares a keynote speech with the ProDealer Industry Summit in October 2020. In this presentation, Kevin highlights the importance of culture in the workplace, stressing that it is what makes the difference between companies and performance.

The ProDealer Industry Summit is an exclusive three-day educational forum designed to promote the growth of lumber & building product dealers, distributors, wholesalers, and the manufacturers who supply them. LBM dealers will benefit from sharing insights and best practices from industry leaders.

Click here to watch the full keynote video.

The Inventions Show EP10: Kevin Hancock, CEO Hancock Lumber

I wanted to take a moment to share a recent podcast I participated in on The Inventions Show with host Tack Lee. Here is his excerpt from our chat: Live with your heart not just your head with Kevin Hancock, a sixth-generation family CEO of Hancock Lumber, one of the oldest companies in America which dates back to 1848. An extraordinary leader who is also an award-winning author and speaker. Simply Inspirational and transformational. Kevin shares his incredible journey of self discovery after being diagnosed with a rare neurological condition that made speaking difficult. How he had to think differently and reinvent leadership through dispersing of power. His mission to strengthen the voice of others and come into their own true voice.

Click a player box to watch the video podcast.


So the article copied below fascinates me. I’ve been on this theme for a while but have not really known how to approach it. I’m trying to reconcile the following dichotomy – there are lots of American based multi-national corporations that want to lead for social justice in THIS country (which is great) BUT won’t touch the subject of social justice in China. The NBA caught my attention on this earlier in the year when the entire league refused to speak out for social justice for the people of Hong Kong…and now there is Disney with its latest movie – Mulan (the remade / non-animated version).

We watched the new Mulan as a family about a week ago. We all left feeling it was ‘ok’ and ‘oddly generic’ in the subject matter it approached and avoided. When a friend of mine sent me this article below from Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe – the ‘plainness’ of the movie came clear. You might give Jacoby’s article below a read and see what you think.

Here’s where I have landed – multinational corporations NEED China economically AND advocating for social justice in China will NOT help your cause so they don’t. Your economic success in the massive Chinese market depends in large part upon the Chinese Communist Party’s satisfaction with your behavior and messaging. In America advocating for social justice is seen as good for business – so they pretty much all do it.

I love advancing social justice in America. The only thing better, to me, would be to advance social justice globally but companies won’t take those risks. Corporate involvement in ‘social justice’ is still often a calculated business decision and until we get beyond that we will only be in limited and selective pursuit of a cause that should apply to everyone.

To do business with China you must placate China and I’m not sure if this current reality of this global economic phenomenon has yet been called into the light.



Kevin Hancock



Disney Thanks the Dictators by Jeff Jacoby

I don’t subscribe to Disney Plus. But even if I did I wouldn’t spend $29.99 to view Disney’s ballyhooed remake of “Mulan.”

According to critics who have seen it, the $200 million picture is a mediocre piece of moviemaking. It reflects “a timid and studied thematic emptiness, an avoidance of any specific ideas or questions that might upset anyone, anywhere, at all,” writes Reason’s Peter Suderman. “Mulan fights for honor, for family, for finding herself and owning her power, which is to say she fights for vague and inoffensive banalities.” In the Wall Street Journal, critic Joe Morgenstern calls it “earnest, often clumsy and notably short on joy,” and concludes that “the film as a whole lacks the clarity of its animated predecessor, not to mention the earlier version’s gleeful showmanship, gorgeous design, and vastly wider emotional range.” Joshua Rivera, reviewing “Mulan” for The Verge , says it “feels like an anticlimax. . . . [It is] merely a serviceable film that’s rather easy to forget.”

The real problem with “Mulan,” however, isn’t its artistic failings, but its moral callousness.

Unlike Disney’s 1998 original, a key theme of which was self-determination and personal freedom, the remake heavily emphasizes the virtue of loyalty to family and community. In China, where the movie is set, loyalty is also a heavily stressed value — loyalty to the state and to the ruling Communist Party. It is not by coincidence that the new “Mulan” reinforces a doctrine so important to the Chinese dictatorship: Disney collaborated with Chinese authorities in making the film.

The company “worked closely with China’s government, all the while striving to present a main character and story line faithful to Chinese values,” reported the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. “To avoid controversy and guarantee a China release, Disney shared the script with Chinese authorities while consulting with local advisers.”

There is no indication that anyone connected with the movie objected to toeing China’s Communist Party line. When pro-democracy protesters were being brutally assaulted in Hong Kong last year, the star of the new movie, Chinese-born American actress Liu Yifei, publicly supported the security police suppressing the protests . That was appalling. But it was nothing compared to the discovery that “Mulan” was filmed within hailing distance of China’s Uighur concentration camps, and that in the credits at the end of the film, Disney thanks China’s rulers for the privilege.

Those credits, wrote Isaac Stone Fish in The Washington Post, are “the most devastating” thing about the movie:

Disney filmed “Mulan” in regions across China (among other locations). In the credits, Disney offers a special thanks to more than a dozen Chinese institutions that helped with the film. These include four Chinese Communist Party propaganda departments in the region of Xinjiang as well as the Public Security Bureau of the city of Turpan in the same region — organizations that are facilitating crimes against humanity. It’s sufficiently astonishing that it bears repeating: Disney has thanked four propaganda departments and a public security bureau in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China that is the site of one of the world’s worst human rights abuses happening today.

More than a million Muslims in Xinjiang, mostly of the Uighur minority, have been imprisoned in concentration camps. Some have been released. Countless numbers have died. Forced sterilization campaigns have caused the birth rate in Xinjiang to plummet roughly 24 percent in 2019 — and “ imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” fits within the legally recognized definition of genocide. Disney, in other words, worked with regions where genocide is occurring, and thanked government departments that are helping to carry it out. . . .

Why did Disney need to work in Xinjiang? It didn’t. There are plenty of other regions in China, and countries around the world, that offer the starkly beautiful mountain scenery present in the film. But in doing so, Disney helps normalize a crime against humanity.

So what else is new? For years, Disney and other studios have kowtowed to Beijing, subtly and not-so-subtly adjusting the content of their movies to satisfy the demands of the world’s foremost communist regime. In a recent report , PEN America, a nearly 100-year-old organization that champions human rights and fights against threats to freedom of expression, condemned Hollywood studios for “increasingly making decisions about their films — the content, casting, plot, dialogue, and settings — based on an effort to avoid antagonizing Chinese officials who control whether their films gain access to the booming Chinese market.”

There are numerous ways in which Hollywood “compromises on free expression,” says PEN:

[C]hanging the content of films intended for international — including American — audiences; engaging in self-censorship; agreeing to provide a censored version of a movie for screening in China; and in some instances directly inviting Chinese government censors onto their film sets to advise them on how to avoid tripping the censors’ wires. . . . Steadily, a new set of mores has taken hold in Hollywood, one in which appeasing Chinese government investors and gatekeepers has simply become a way of doing business.

Needless to say, US moviemakers have no hesitation about portraying American leaders, attitudes, or history in unflattering ways. In PEN’s trenchant observation,

Hollywood enjoys a reputation as a place uncowed by Washington, and one that is often gleefully willing to speak truth to American political power. This reputation contrasts strangely but silently with Hollywood’s increasing acceptance of the need to conform to Beijing’s film dictates.

Disney and other studios are private companies, free under the Constitution to promote any message they like. But their willingness to truckle to Chinese censors has a terrible impact on the freedom of others.

Beijing’s influence over Hollywood . . . cannot be ethically decoupled from the Chinese government’s practices of suppressing freedom of expression at home. Beijing enforces one of the world’s most restrictive censorship systems, in which films and other creative endeavors are subject to a strict process of pre-publication review by the State. China’s media is similarly under state control. . . . Vast categories of protected expression are criminalized, with peaceful dissidents serving years-long jail terms for their critical speech.

Independent civil society does not exist within mainland China, and the country’s Great Firewall represents the world’s most advanced and expansive system of digital censorship. In the areas of Tibet and Xinjiang, the repression of civil rights is breathtakingly severe; in Xinjiang especially, it is no exaggeration to say that millions of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are in detention camps or jail because the government has essentially criminalized their cultural and religious expression in the region. . . . Beijing’s imposition of near-total barriers to access for Western reporters in those regions, meanwhile, helps ensure that this narrative is unchallenged.

In short, the Chinese government works tirelessly to ensure that the only stories told within China are ones that it specifically approves. Beijing’s influence over Hollywood is part of this work.

So when Disney goes out of its way to thank Chinese government propaganda agencies and the public security department in Xinjiang, anyone with a functioning conscience should be nauseated. Disney’s Chinese partners in the making of “Mulan” are literally engaged in genocide and its attendant atrocities. For a parallel, imagine a Hollywood blockbuster filmed in 1930s Germany that made a point of thanking the Reich Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment in the on-screen credits.

Once, Disney had more backbone. In 1996, the studio produced “Kundun,” a movie about the life of the Dalai Lama. The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama is reviled by the Chinese government, which routinely blackens his reputation and has made it a crime even to display his photograph. Beijing was enraged that Disney had made the movie, and vehemently insisted that it not be released.

But in those days, Disney knew how to face down communist dictators. It announced that the movie would be shown in the United States as planned, China’s threats notwithstanding. “We have an agreement to distribute ‘Kundun’ domestically,” Disney’s spokesman said, “and we intend to honor it.”

When China retaliated by restricting Disney’s access to China, however, the company abruptly shed the backbone it had briefly grown. “We made a stupid mistake in releasing ‘Kundun,’” then-CEO Michael Eisner told Premier Zhu Rongji in October 1998.

“The bad news is that the film was made; the good news is that nobody watched it,” Eisner added. “Here I want to apologize, and in the future we should prevent this sort of thing, which insults our friends, from happening.”

To repeat: Such bootlicking should nauseate anyone with a working conscience.

Maybe Disney has no qualms about its open and shameless collaboration with the brutes of Beijing, but the rest of us should. Don’t reward that collaboration with your dollars. Boycott “Mulan.”

COVID Response Strategies

The Wall Street Journal 8/24/2020 Article “New Thinking on Covid Lockdowns: They’re Overly Blunt and Costly”

This is the most thoughtful, data driven, reflective, and objective considerations of potential strategic responses designed to achieve maximum and balanced health, economic, and social salvation from COVID that I have read. –Kevin Hancock

  • “400 million jobs have been lost world wide.”
  • “We are on the cusp of an economic catastrophe. We can avoid the worst of that catastrophe by being disciplined.” – James Stock. Harvard economist.
  • “The economic pain from the pandemic mostly comes not from sick people but from healthy people trying not to get sick.”
  • “There have been few attempts to truly define the goal.”
  • “Nursing homes account for 0.6% of the population but 45% of Covid fatalities. Better isolating those residents would have saved many lives at little economic cost.”
  • “By contrast, fewer children have died this year from COVID-19 than from flu.”
  • “And studies in Sweden, where most schools stayed open, and the Netherlands, where they reopened in May, found teachers at no greater risk than the overall population.”
  • “If schools don’t reopen until next January, McKinsey & Co. estimates, low-income children will have lost a year of education, which it says translates into 4% lower lifetime earnings.”
  • “Bars, restaurants, and casinos accounted for 32% of infections traced in Louisiana.”
  • “Masks may be the most effective intervention of all.”

The thesis is that more targeted strategies would have saved / and still have the potential to save / more lives AND simultaneously create far less social and economic disruption.

This article was refreshing because, for me, it transcended politics. When was the last time you over-heard or participated in a non-political / calm / rational discussion of potential COVID management strategies with data and balance for all priorities? When I realized a couple months ago that our national Covid response would be the primary campaign debate theme in November I knew it would result in polarized thought limitations. Winning strategies usually reside in the gray middle but our politics live on the extremes and it’s costly.

Recent Press Updates: Featuring The Seventh Power

Hello! Just sharing the following podcast and op-ed piece that I wrote on the importance of shared leadership, dispersed power, and respect for all voices. If you like them, please share!
Thank you,



  • The Enlightenment for Change interview with Connie Whitman was one of my favorite podcasts to date! Connie was a great host–our discussion was deep and really fun.




Finding Your Authentic Voice

Kevin Hancock joins the Leadership from the Core “Love in Action” podcast with Episode 58, Finding Your Authentic Voice. Host Marcel Schwantes chats with Kevin, who shares his inspirational story of finding purpose in the midst of adversity and re-scripting his definition of leadership as a result. They also discuss his new book, The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. Marcel Schwantes is the founder and chief human officer of Leadership from the Core, a global leadership training and executive coaching boutique with one core purpose: to grow profitable and powerful servant leaders through “Love in Action.”

“Leaders who want to create a culture of shared leadership should talk less, sit still more, have faith in their people, and engage their power. The way to get people to pick up more is simply to occupy less. The power of them all leading is just immeasurably greater than anything I could do on my own.”  – Kevin Hancock

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

How to Make Shared Leadership a Reality

Article published in the April 2020 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review.  Click to read complete article

“Having found a piece of my own authentic voice, I wanted to help others do the same, and a lumber company in Maine became an unlikely platform where this could occur. The new goal: create a socially transformative work culture for the 21st century in which employee engagement soars because everyone feels authentically heard.”—Kevin Hancock 

Dispersing power is not hard to do. It’s about learning how to defer to the most fundamental laws of nature. But creating a culture where every voice matters does require discipline and intentionality. Humanity’s modern thirst for deep change is real, but to get there, the established organizational rules must be thoughtfully deconstructed. At Hancock Lumber, deepening employee engagement is our number-one goal. We believe that if we get that right, everything else we care about will materialize. Click to read complete article

Business Community Building: We’re All in it Together

In the Workable article “Business Community Building: We’re All in it Together,” Kevin Hancock is interviewed among other business leaders about the importance of clarity in the COVID-19 pandemic. Kevin speaks about the need of the company to follow the lead of the people connected to it. This unification of employees creates a deep connection. The article goes on to interview others on the same topic, highlighting the strength of togetherness during this unique, difficult time.

To read the full article, click here.

How to Talk to Your Boss About Your New Work-From-Home Challenges

In this article, Kevin weighs in on how to communicate with your manager about balancing work and family. During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people found themselves working from home and finding the work/life balance very difficult. Kevin highlights that no one is alone in this new struggle. Everyone is in this together and experiencing true disruption. Speaking to your boss about your newfound difficulties is an important part of drawing boundaries.

“Bosses need to hear the truth about what employees are feeling and it’s a disservice to yourself to keep your personal needs on the sideline.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

7 Signs That Say You Have the Mindset of a Great Leader

Centralized power and decision-making control is out. Shared leadership is in.

To read the full article, click here.

This Family Lumber Company Has Survived 11 Major Economic Downturns. Here’s How

Hancock Lumber learned how to sell global and act local.

In this article, Kevin Hancock speaks with Steve Goldberg about the challenges that Hancock Lumber has faced with economic tides since 1848. While looking at the reasons that Hancock Lumber has been able to survive these hard times, he discusses that he recently started looking at the company model differently, putting employees as the priority.

“What I like to say now, to borrow a piece of Maine slang, is that the customer comes a wicked-close second.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

Culture Makes The Difference

Article by Kevin Hancock, published in March 2020 on the Young Upstarts website. Young Upstarts is an online business resource for startup entrepreneurs, small business owners, idea people, and intrapreneurs seeking change within their organization.

What differentiates companies?  It’s generally not products, services, facilities, or equipment. Years ago, I would have said it was people who make the difference and separate companies. But I have come to realize that’s not the whole story. Certain companies may think they have the ‘best people’, but the truth is, great people are everywhere — the planet is filled with them. So, if products don’t make the difference, and great people are everywhere, then what separates one organization from another?

The answer is culture. Culture makes the difference. An organization’s culture either creates an environment where great people can flourish, or an environment where people are frustrated, held back, or stymied.

Click here to read the full article.

If Everyone’s Voice Was Heard, What Might Change?

Kevin Hancock appears on the b Cause podcast with host Erin Hatzikostas. In this podcast, Kevin and Erin speak about his shared leadership philosophy, visiting the Pine Ridge Native American Reserve, spiritual enlightenment, and his new book, The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership.

The b Cause podcast works to give people unique, fun and bite-sized solutions that provide the energy, inspiration and permission they need to rise in their careers, without selling their souls.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

A Butt-Kicking Project to Overcome the Drain of Talkative Leadership

This article highlights the downfalls that talkative leaders often use to justify their conversation monopoly and the negative impacts it can have on culture and engagement. It also gives an exercise that leaders can partake in to find out how often they take over entire conversations. Kevin Hancock’s story is shared through a video interview about how losing his voice changed his entire leadership style.

To read the full article and watch the interview, click here.

Putting Work Back In It’s Place

In this article, Kevin Hancock writes about the importance of having a proper work/life balance. He highlights the difficulties of keeping work weeks to forty hours in the manufacturing industry, but admits there is no denying the benefits of having a balanced life.

“Today I encourage all of the 525 people in our company to expand their lives beyond work and to invest more energy in pursuits that spark their hearts. While being successful at our jobs is essential for a healthy society, life is bigger than work. Today’s complex world needs CEOs who see the big picture of a balanced life, and use advancements at the workplace to free human capacity, not consume it.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

Culture Makes the Difference: Great People are Everywhere, Great Cultures Aren’t

Written by Kevin Hancock, “Culture Makes the Difference” explores the differences between companies and what are the key differentials between them.

“Culture makes the difference.  An organization’s culture either creates an environment where great people can flourish, or an environment where people are frustrated, held back, or stymied. 

What makes one corporate culture different from another?  To me, it’s all about control and where it lives.  Some organizations collect leadership power into the bureaucratic center, where a few people can make the majority of the decisions for the many.  This is the traditional model of business—and government—leadership and, during a period of time in human history, this may have been optimal.  But, that time has passed.” – Kevin Hancock 

To read the full article, click here.

The Age of Localism

In this article, Kevin Hancock speaks about shared leadership, employee engagement, and employee-centric company structures.

“Humans will always benefit from banding together to create value and solve problems. But institutions will need to alter the ways they engage with the world. Take corporations, for example, where employees have historically existed to serve the company. This self-centered model is in decline. It will be replaced by a new corporate relationship in which the company understands that its real purpose is to be valuable and meaningful to the people who work there. I call this reoriented corporation an ’employee-centric company.'” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

True Profitability and Productivity Come From Striving for a Bigger Social Goal

This article is an excerpt from Kevin Hancock’s new book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership.

“At Hancock Lumber, we grow trees, but that is not our core objective. We make lumber, but that is not our primary purpose. We manage logistics, but that is not our most important task. Our one big goal is to add value to the lives of the people who work at Hancock Lumber. Work should add more than just economic value to the lives of the people who operate our company.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

The Age of Localism

In this article, Kevin Hancock explores the beginning of the age of localism; the idea that localized decision-making, rule-setting, and self-organizing will be the new pathways towards excellence. Kevin also discusses what will happen to larger companies in the future and the role that they play in our lives.

“Take corporations, for example, where employees have historically existed to serve the company. This self-centered model is in decline. It will be replaced by a new corporate relationship in which the company understands that its real purpose is to be valuable and meaningful to the people who work there. I call this reoriented corporation an ’employee-centric company.'” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

5 Clear Signs You’re Not An Authentic Leader

In the article, Kevin Hancock’s core belief that leaders should listen more than speak is highlighted as an important indicator of being an authentic leader. Authentic leaders are naturally those who disperse and share leadership with those around them. Author Erin Hatzikostas says that when you share leadership and listen to others, “you’ll be amazed at how smart other people are.”

To read the full article, click here.

Kevin Hancock Appears on Tell Me More Podcast

Kevin Hancock joins Renee Changnon on the Tell Me More podcast to share his story about how his speech disorder set him on a path to develop new management skills and a company culture that encourages all employees to be leaders.

In the Tell Me More podcast, Renee Changnon, NRHA’s Retail Outreach Coordinator, talks to retailers across North America to learn about their careers, unique ideas and retail insights.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

EXCITING NEWS: My next book releases on February 25, 2020!

Hello! I have some exciting news! My next book, The Seventh Power – One CEO’S Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership, releases on February 25, 2020. My publisher, Post Hill Press recently launched the ‘coming soon’ sale site on Amazon. Check out the link and help me share it with others! It takes a community of followers to help a book and its message go viral. 

The book will be distributed by Simon & Schuster and available in e-book form. The audio book is being published by Recorded Books

This book takes the reader on an adventure that stretches from the Navajo Nation in Arizona to Kiev, Ukraine. The journey uncovers seven lessons about the art of dispersed power and the benefits of shared leadership for organizations who wish to thrive in the 21st Century. I am looking forward to sharing the full story with you soon! In the meantime, here’s a quote from the front of my book that offers a clue or two about the adventure that’s in store: 

“It is extremely hard to discover the truth when you are ruling the world. You are just far too busy. Most political chiefs and business moguls are forever on the run. Yet if you want to go deeply into any subject, you need a lot of time, and in particular you need the privilege of wasting time. You need to experiment with unproductive paths, explore dead ends, make space for doubts and boredom, and allow little seeds of insight to slowly grow and blossom. If you cannot afford to waste time, you will never find the truth.”

“Great power thus acts like a black hole that warps the very space around it. The closer you get to it, the more twisted everything becomes.”

If you really want the truth, you need to escape the black hole of power and allow yourself to waste a lot of time wandering here and there on the periphery. Revolutionary knowledge rarely makes it to the center, because the center is built on existing knowledge.”

—Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Just click here and enter your email address to join the conversation about strengthening employee engagement through shared leadership in the workplace. Then share this link with others. It takes a village to create change.

Governor Mills Nominates Individuals for Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission

May 24, 2019 – PRESS RELEASE

Governor Janet Mills announced today that she has nominated six people to serve on the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission. The Governor nominated John Cashwell, Robert Checkoway, James Cote, Kevin Hancock, former Senator Michael Pearson and former Senator Richard Rosen to serve on the Commission, an inter-governmental entity charged in part with reviewing the social, economic and legal relationship between Maine Tribes and the State.

“The Maine Indian-Tribal State Commission has the potential to improve and strengthen the relationship between the State and Maine Tribes,” said Governor Mills. “In nominating these qualified individuals, my Administration is taking a step forward in reinvigorating the Commission and empowering it to become a forum for substantive communication, problem solving, and dispute resolution.”

The Commission is composed of six members appointed by the State, two by the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, two by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and two by the Penobscot Indian Nation. The thirteenth, who is the chairperson, is selected by the other twelve. The Commission has not had a full slate of members since 2013.

All state nominations to MITSC are subject to review by the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary and final confirmation by the Maine State Senate.

Governor Mills’ Nominations to the Maine Indian-Tribal State Commission:

For appointment, John Cashwell of Bangor has served as president of Black River LLC since 2008. He previously served as Director of the Maine Forest Service from 1987 to 1992 and is a United States Army veteran. Cashwell also previously served as a Councilmember and as Mayor in both Calais and Bangor.

For appointment, Robert Checkoway of Freeport, a retired attorney, formerly served as Assistant US Trustee for the US Department of Justice, responsible for the administration of all bankruptcy cases in Maine. Checkoway also formerly served as Assistant US Trustee at Preti, Flaherty and Beliveau and formerly as Associate Attorney at Skelton, Taintor & Abbott. Checkoway is a 1976 Maine School of Law graduate.

For appointment, James Cote of Farmington is a public affairs consultant with Bernstein Shur and specializes in policies relating to natural resources, energy, and economic development. Cote formerly served as president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine and as Director of Communications and Government Relations for the Maine Forest Products Council.

For appointment, Kevin Hancock of Casco has served as CEO of Hancock Lumber since 1991 and is the founder of Seventh Power, a non-profit organization that works to support Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Hancock is the author of the award winning novel Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and is the recipient of the Ed Muskie Access to Justice Award, Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award, and the Habitat for Humanity Spirit of Humanity Award. Hancock is a graduate of Bowdoin College.

For appointment, the Honorable Michael Pearson of Enfield, a retired school teacher, formerly served as Old Town City Councilmember and as state representative and state senator, including as chair of the Appropriations Committee, representing the people of Old Town and Indian Island for more than twenty years.

For appointment, the Honorable Richard Rosen of Bucksport served as the Commissioner of the Department of Administration and Financial Services from 2014-2017 and for fourteen years as state representative and state senator. During his time in the Legislature, Rosen served as Senate Chair and Ranking House Member of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and as Assistant Senate Republican Leader. Rosen is also the former owner and operator of Rosen’s, a clothing and footwear retailer in Bucksport.

Kevin Hancock Addresses the ‘Elephant in the Room’ at the DO MORE GOOD Conference

DO MORE GOOD by Kevin Hancock

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Margaret J. Wheatley

May 18, 2019: This past Friday I spoke in Lincoln, Nebraska at the DO MORE GOOD conference.  Don’t you love that title, DO MORE GOOD?!

Do More Good Conference
Do More Good conference stage at the University of Nebraska Innovation Campus

The conference was held at the University of Nebraska Innovation Campus in the shadows of the giant Cornhusker football stadium.  It was an exciting opportunity for me because the event brought in some top business speakers from around the country.  Jay Cohen Gilbert, founder of the B Corporation movement, spoke.  So, too, did Rand Stagen, co-founder of the Conscious Capitalism movement.

The conference was a call to action for corporations to adopt a mission that was bigger than just making a profit.  Have a purpose that’s bigger than what you make or what you sell.  Stand for something important!  Your corporate purpose should solve a real problem.  These were the rallying cries of the conference.

My talk and personal mission were a good fit for this event.  I spoke about losing some of my voice to SD and then traveling to Pine Ridge where I encountered an entire community that did not feel heard.  The two events combined to give me the inspiration to use a company as a platform to strengthen the voices of others, and to create a culture where everyone leads.  So, my proposal was to create an EMPLOYEE CENTRIC company where the first priority of the business is to enhance the lives of the people who work there, by creating a safe and dynamic space for people to express themselves freely and self-actualize through work.

elephant prop
Kevin Hancock Addresses the Elephant in the Room

At the talk, my mascot was my Ringling Brothers stuffed elephant.  I introduced him as the ‘elephant in the room’, representing the traditional, top down, bureaucratic, power to the center leadership model.  The new model I am advocating for is one in which power is shared and dispersed, so that every voice is heard and everyone leads.

I closed the talk by returning to the elephant.  I acquired him on May 5th, 2017 at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.  I was attending the last-ever performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  It was an historic event –a tipping point in social consciousness.  The elephant, who originally helped make the circus and played the star role, ultimately helped end the circus and bring about its demise.  But, why?  The elephant hadn’t changed…

So, what did change?  Human perception changed.  The well-being of a handful of elephants had become more important to society that an entire iconic industry—the circus.

Do More Good
“Who knew that losing your voice could help you find it? That giving a voice to those not heard creates a better work culture? And that great culture disperses power to its people rather than consuming them?”

This subtle, but super important moment, is a sign of the times and a guide post for business in the 21st Century.  The age of the individual is upon us.  Corporations must do more than simply serve their own objectives.  Specifically, they must become a valued place full of life and growth for the people who work there.  If companies focus on advancing the lives of the people who work there, the people who work there will create—in turn—exceptional experiences for customers.  In this model, profit actually increases, but it becomes an outcome of a higher calling.

Everyone attending the conference received a copy of Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse in their gift bag.

blog follow

Thank you for reading and please help spread this blog to others that might like to follow.  My next book is coming in the Spring of 2020 and my publisher, Post Hill Press, wants me to grow my blog follower ship in advance!  It takes a village to spread ideas and create change.  If the ideas I am writing about are of value to you, please think about your own personal network and share the link to this blog and invite them to follow.

Finally, Rosie Freire, the owner of the Singing Horse Trading Post (where I stay at Pine Ridge) drove down to the conference and attended.  I was able to introduce her to the audience during my talk as one of my personal heroes in business.  What I said about Rosie during the conference and what she thought of the event is the topic for another post, soon to come!

The title of my next book has been finalized and I will share it here with you now…

One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Leadership

Thank you for sharing your voice!

Kevin signature



Kevin Hancock, President + CEO

The Consequences of Overreaching

The Wall Street Journal recently published this article titled, Fast-Tracked Aircraft Certification, Pushed by Boeing, Comes Under the Spotlight

My next book is about, in part, OVERREACHING, and how leaders often go too far and take too much…

One of the common paths of overreaching, I have concluded, is GOING TOO FAST…and cutting corners in the ZEST to get there.

Nearly every book on Custer’s last stand indicates that he was in a hurry for a victory because he wanted the news to reach the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia before it ended.  His rush for glory led him to attack before he KNEW the situation he was entering. 

“We scouts thought there were too many Indians for Custer to fight…It was the biggest Indian camp I had ever seen.”
–White Man Runs Him, Crow scout

“Hadn’t we better keep the regiment together, General?  If this is as big a camp as they say, we’ll need every man we have.”
Captain Frederick Benteen to General Custer


“You have your orders.”
Custer to Benteen

That story of defeat is also full of critical moments where the leader did NOT listening to those around him. 

I have no way of knowing if Boeing hurried for certification or not, but I do know that hurrying is a form of overreaching and that overreaching always has consequences.

Pinky Clifford Receives National Award!

Click on the link below!


On March 28th in Washington D.C., my dear friend and NOT FOR SALE book star, Pinky Clifford, is receiving a distinguished award from the National Low Income Housing Coalition for her decades of work to bring home ownership opportunities to the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I am very happy to see Pinky receive this recognition and I will be attending the ceremony in DC!

Embracing the Age of Shared Leadership

Kevin Hancock presented the keynote speech at the LBM Strategies Conference in 2018. The keynote highlights the importance of the Shared Leadership philosophy on employee engagement, job satisfaction, and culture.

The LBM Strategies Conference brings together LBM pros to address and share practical, tactical solutions to today’s toughest business challenges. LBM Strategies is produced by LBM Journal, the leading media brand serving the lumber / building material distribution industry.

Click here to watch the full keynote video.

Celebrating today…

Today is a day to celebrate all the good we have done as parents…and to forgive any transgressions…and to contemplate fresh starts when necessary. 

One great thing about life is no matter who you are or where you are there are always past events to be thankful for AND future chances to create something fresh and better.  We always have the choice of celebration, forgiveness, and renewal.  All three are part of a family experience I think. 

Family is all just a chance to learn, love, and grow. 

Kevin Hancock to speak at UMA

logo-footerThe University of Maine at Augusta and the Office of the Dean of Students have invited Kevin Hancock to speak about his experiences on the Pine Ridge Reservation as part of their recognition of Native American Heritage Month at the Augusta campus. This event is open to the public, and will be held from 12pm – 1pm on December 5th, at the UMA campus. The academic theme this year at The University of Maine at Augusta is TRUTH, and Kevin was asked to speak as they felt his experience and perspective would dovetail nicely with their exploration of this theme of TRUTH.

The first 40 attendees will receive a FREE copy of Kevin’s award-winning book, Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse 

It has been a really exciting fall, filled with speaking opportunities. Sharing our stories brings us together and open our eyes to new ideas. We hope you can join in this great opportunity at UMA. To hear some of Kevin’s recent talks, check out the videos section in the related links tab on our site. 

The University of Maine at Augusta is located at: 46 University Drive, Augusta, ME 04330

2017 SAGE Lecture Series

SAGE9/26/17 – This past Tuesday, Kevin Hancock was invited to speak at the University of Southern Maine in Portland as part of the SAGE lecture series. SAGE provides academic lecture and discussion programs chosen by its members, in topic areas such as history, culture, the arts, geography, anthropology, and science. Using University and community resources, the SAGE program provides a format in which enthusiastic learners can discover new realms of intellectual challenge and academic pursuit.


Kevin was met by an enthusiastic group of 80 lifelong learners interested in hearing his recent journey through the Land of Crazy Horse. For 2 hours, the group heard from Kevin, watched a video he made during his trip, and followed up with a great Q+A session. Here is a link to watch the talk! 

Third Printed Edition of NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse launches!

Hello!  The third printed edition of NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse arrived from the publishing company today!

The book first launched in the fall of 2015 and we now have 6,000 copies sold or in distribution.

To celebrate, now through September 30th, we are having a big sale!  For every two books ordered, you will receive a third book free!  Order four copies and receive two free (and so on)!  Enter coupon code BUY2GET1FREE at checkout! Shipping during this period is also free and all books will be personalized and signed.  A single book is $20.

This new edition has an updated front and back cover, as well as some new inside cover material.  Simply go to www.kevindhancock.com and place your order, as this special is not available through any other distribution sources (only on the book website).

Also, if this book has spoken to you, now would be a great time to post a good word for the book on Amazon, the book website or through your own social media outlets.  As I am now fond of saying, in the Aquarian Age, readers (not publishers) sell books by sharing their experiences with others!

In closing, I heard yesterday from my friend Pinky Clifford at Pine Ridge that the South Dakota Governor was on the Reservation last week and Pinky gave him a copy of my book, which he tells her he is now reading!

Helping people seek, find, and share their own true voice is the mission of spreading the word and continuing to share the story! Thank you for being a part of that objective!  Wopila Tanka (Big Thanks)!

Kevin Hancock

Maine InnKeepers Podcast Link

Hello!  I did a live Facebook podcast with the Maine Restaurant and Innkeepers Associations today!  On October 24th I am speaking at their 1st annual Maine Hospitality Summit (www.mainehospitalitysummit.com).

Here is a link to the podcast…: https://www.facebook.com/MaineInnkeepers/videos/10154577491767282/

At their conference we are going to be talking about leadership strategies for pushing power out from the corporate center and strengthening the voices of others.  The goal is to create an organization where everybody leads!

Check the podcast out and, if it speaks to you, pass it on!

Books can always be ordered at www.kevindhancock.com!  All orders placed on the site are signed and personalized!  $20 per book…free shipping!

On that note, we crossed a nice milestone recently passing 5,500 copies of NOT FOR SALE – FINDING CENTER IN THE LAND OF CRAZY HORSE  sold or in distribution!  As a result, we have placed the order for our 3rd printed edition which we be out this fall!

Thank you for being you and for being interested in the messages and ideas we are testing and sharing around new leadership models for the modern age!


Searching for Voices in the City of Music

I was blessed to be the key note speaker this weekend at the annual National Spasmodic Dysphonia Conference held, ironically this year, in the Music City of Nashville, TN.  People with broken voices from all over the world came to the city of beautiful voices to learn, connect and share their stories.  It was such a joy to share my story with the people gathered there.  

At the conclusion of my talk about searching for my own voice in the Land of Crazy Horse I shared three ideas…

The first was on the idea of leaders doing less not more…of leaders pushing power out instead of collecting it in…of a future where everybody shares the opportunity and responsibility of leadership.  I ended that idea with this quote…

“When the best leader’s work is done the people say ‘we did it ourselves’.” – Lao Tzu

The second idea I shared was to learn to SURRENDER to what comes your way…”What if Spasmodic Dysphonia picked you for a reason?” I asked the room full of people with SD.  “What brings you here?”  We will never know…but just pretend…what if SD picked you for a reason…what is that reason?  What is that calling or opportunity?  Earlier I began my talk by saying that my voice disorder was a blessing, one of the very best things that ever happened to me and that if a magic fairy appeared in the room and offered to take my disorder away I would not let her have it.  SD has brought more blessings into my life than challenges.  It was a blessing disguised as a problem.  Without SD, I told the group, I never would have known that I was a story teller, a writer, a photographer, an activist or an advocate for reinventing leadership for the modern world.  All of that came into my life becasue of SD.  “What if SD picked YOU for a reason?”  

Finally I shared the idea that despite the trauma that came with your/our disorder…”our true voice still lives within us”.  At the opening reception the night before we shared a magical two hours as the microphone was passed around the room and a group of people who struggle to talk all introduced themselves and told their story.  The broken voices did not bother anyone in the room.  We all understood each other perfectly.  During that process several times a broken voice would slip, even for just a few seconds into a normal voice.  That true voice still lives with in us all.  SD is actually a tool to help people find their voice, not lose it.  I told the group we might not be able to totally cure the neurological disorder we share BUT that we could definately make it much better.  I told them I didn’t want mine to totally go away anyway…it had been too good to me!

I closed with a reading from my book from a dinner conversation at the Singing Horse Trading Post with my dear friend Catherine Grey Day where she told me that “Change must come from within.”  SD forces you to stop, sit still and look inward…that is the blessing of SD.  It continues to be a joy to be connect Pine Ridge and the indigenous wisdom of the Sioux to the rest of the world!  In the end we all belong to the same tribe and the borders that we think divide us are not real.  

Last night, after the conference concluded, I went to the Grand Ole Opry and loved watching beautiful voices do their thing…just like I had at the conference full of amazing people with SD!!!!  Blessed!

What unites us is more powerful than what divides us…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wYXw4K0A3g]

Hello!  This is a great short (4:00 minute) video reminder about how we are all more alike than we are different.  The ideas that we think divide us are not as big as they appear…

Kevin Hancock  President / Hancock Lumber khancock@hancocklumber.com

Books available at www.kevindhancock.com

The Ten Virtues of Leadership for a Collaborative World

This short article is by a friend of mine…Larry Miller…a lean management consultant.  The article is titled The Ten Virtues of Leadership for a Collaborative World.  This is a quick but brilliant read and just had to share this with you.  I don’t use the word ‘brilliant’ very often…but this article is briliant!

 I shared this with everyone at our company today and suggested that it describes Hancock Lumber’s real, modern day mission.  Our mission is not lumber, or logistics or even making money…our mission is trying to model a new paradigm for how people work together…

Below is a link to Larry’s amazing post…

The Ten Virtues of Leadership for a Collaborative World

Thank you for being you!



Connecting Tribes!

I had the honor of being the dinner speaker tonight at Aetna’s world-wide finance team leadership conference in Hartford, CT.  They had 400 of their finance leaders there from around the globe.  Aetna bought a copy of the book NOT FOR SALE for each attendee.  It was really fun to share the story of Pine Ridge and the story of Spasmodic Dysphonia and how both changed the way I thought about leadership with their team.  The theme of their conference was transformational leadership and thinking about new models for leadership that engage the members of the team more deeply!

Here is an excerpt from my talk…”We have been looking in the wrong place for purpose, power, meaning, opportunity and guidance all along.  Leadership does not live ‘out there’ somewhere in the hands of others.  It’s inside us.  We are each the source of our own power.  We each are the leader we have been searching for all along.  Each of us is the only one who can set things right.”

I shared a passage from the book of a dinner conversation I had one night at the Singing Horse Trading Post with my dear friend and respected elder, Catherine Grey Day as well…”Change comes from within,” Catherine explained.  “Our progress as a people must come from within.”

It made me very happy to be a portal for connecting the wisdom of Catherine Grey Day, Dakota Sioux, with the entire finance leadership team at Aetna! :):)

The Aetna team had a great vibe!  You know how when you spend a few minutes with a group you immediately get a feel for the spirit and culture of the organization?  Their spirit of care and enthusiasm came through in a powerful way during my time with them.  The room was filled with talented and motivated people who take pride in what they do and the impact they can have on health care in America.  It made me think…the entire television debate about health care access and affordability is almost exclusively focused on what government is going to do…there is very little talk of all the amazing innovation, technology and fresh ideas coming out of the insurance industry itself.  Instead, the insurance industry is often labeled as the ‘problem’ that the government has to ‘protect’ the people from.  If you had spent the night with me in the Marriott ballroom in Hartford with the Aetna leadership team I am confident you would have left with good feelings.  The room was filled with  talent, enthusiasm, innovation and good values.  It would be helpful if our political leadership would recognize the important work the private sector does to make health care in America better every day.

Aetna’s team was amazing and inspiring!  Made me feel good about the future possibilities for health insurance and the positive power of the people working in the industry!

We had a great time!  Learned a lot!  Shared a lot!

I told them,”only in New England would your motivational speaker be the guy from the local lumberyard”!  Thank you Aetna for being you and for all you do!

It takes adults to make the world too complicated…

Just sharing this 3 minute video…no one in the video over 10 years old…could solve all the world’s problems…

Humanizing “refugees”…makes the truth of what America should do easy to see…

Devils Tower, photographed by Kevin Hancock
Devils Tower, photographed by Kevin Hancock

Hello!  This video humanizes the Syrian refugee crisis.  Whenever you humanize a situation the truth surfaces.  President Trump’s current position of distancing America from refugee challenges is the opposite of what should be done and who we are as a country.  

“Refugee” – a person who has been FORCED to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster…

This video follows Mohammed Alsaleh and his work to help Syrian refugees in Vancouver.  He himself is a refugee…once tortured and imprisoned for wanting freedom for his people and country.


Mohammed Alsaleh quotes…

  • “My generation was dreaming about having freedom” (before 2011)
  • “It’s so normal now to open your computer and see the death of your friend (back home) on social media.”
  • “It’s heartbreaking to see the country you grew up in get destroyed.”

It always comes back to what WE do…

cropped-028.jpgHello!  I had this essay picked up as the OP-ED in the Maine Sunday Telegram Today.


The world around us can be very mesmerizing and distracting but at the end of the day our path always comes back to what we each choose to do on a local level.  That’s the 7th Power, the power of the individual spirit,  that lives within us all!  We are not defined by what others do or have done.  We are defined by what we do each day.

Thank you for being you and for staying connected!


Americans Should Set Example for New Leader

In this article published by the Portland Press Herald, Kevin Hancock writes about how Americans can and should set examples for the newly elected President. As Kevin’s leadership style evolved into one of employee leadership, he mentions instances where he has become concerned with the lack of communication coming from the leaders in government. However, if we set an example for how relationships should be treated, we can become unified and stronger than ever.

“Hold a loving hand out to everyone around you and carry on. Your children, your neighbors and the world will see what we – the 324 million – do every day as the definition of who we are. In the Aquarian age, the voice of the orchestra trumps the voice of the soloist.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

Spirit of Christmas

004I have been saving this video for Christmas.  When you have 15 minutes you might enjoy this 60 Minutes segment on how love and ideas ended the 50 year old gorilla war in Columbia.  It’s the best example I have seen of the new Aquarian paradigm of human engagement.

The New Columbia


More than Christmas is a day…it’s an idea…

Love to you!  Merry Christmas to all!





The Secret of Change

021I saw this quote today.  It crystalized a thought I have had for some time for the people of Pine Ridge and the other reservation communities of the northern plains.  This quote also speaks to the one concern I have had surrounding the protests at Standing Rock.  More broadly, I think this quote is applicable to all humanity…

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

– Dan Millman –

The Gift of Ideas

106I participated in a small leadership workshop recently where there goal was simple…acquiring a piece of new learning…putting an idea in your head that had not been there before.  The program was a reminder that growth is an intentional act…you have to be looking for new ideas, wanting to think differently.

It all reminded me of the vision-quest rite of the Sioux.  I have studied that rite and come to believe that the biggest step in the vision-quest process is the first one…seeking.  “The spirits will meet you half way,” as the Lakota say.

Over a year after my book, NOT FOR SALE, launched I am still sharing and acquiring ideas connected to that story.  Below is a link to a talk I recently gave to the Portland Rotary Club.  I wanted to share it with you becasue it’s Christmas and ideas are one of the most valuable gifts we can exchange…


Mitakuye Oyasin!  (We are all brothers)



Holiday Book Sale!

Kevin Hancock’s award-winning book, Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse, on sale for $20/each with FREE shipping, or, BUY 3 GET 1 FREE! Now through 12/31/16. Get your newly released 2nd edition copy with new cover & pictures, signed by the author for the perfect holiday gift! Enter coupon code: BUY3GET1FREE at checkout!


“I read Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse in record time. I simply couldn’t put the book down. Kevin Hancock’s courage in laying out his vision quest so beautifully and humbly is a true inspiration. It is my hope that all business leaders will heed the message that it is possible to care for our souls and our businesses simultaneously. In fact, for true sustainability and health, we must.”

–Christiane Northrup, MD, New York Times best-selling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, and Goddesses Never Age


“If you had told me a couple of years ago that my friend, Kevin Hancock, would set off on a quest for enlightenment, sparked by a long-distance astrological reading which would lead him to a sweat lodge in a remote Indian reservation well, let’s just say that ‘skeptical’ doesn’t come close to covering it. What happened next is the amazing story Kevin tells here; part history (and not very pleasant history at that), part spiritual journey, part moving portrait of some extraordinary people, and part leadership manual, this fascinating book will touch you and teach you on many levels.”

–Angus S. King Jr., US Senator


“Kevin Hancock’s story touched me, heart and soul. As I read his words, I kept having to chase ‘Amazing Grace’ out of my head. The archetype behind that song–the archetype of awakening and redemption–permeates every chapter. His is the kind of tale that helps restore my faith in human nature–and gives me hope for the human future.”

Steven Forrest, author of The Inner Sky

This is Phyllis Young, leader of the Dakota pipeline protest


The 7th Power…

The sign in front of this housing cluster at Wounded Knee symbolizes the longstanding ineffectiveness of government at Pine Ridge.
The sign in front of this housing cluster at Wounded Knee symbolizes the longstanding ineffectiveness of government at Pine Ridge.

Hello!  I wanted to share this passage below from a daily reading web-site I subscribe to because it offers a powerful description of the 7th Power…how easily it can be lost…and, therefore, how easily it can be found…

“One of the most common ways in which we imprison ourselves is by comparing ourselves to others and, upon finding our situation inferior, placing blame — on circumstances that we feel are unfair, on the people we believe are responsible for those circumstances, or on some abstract element of fate we think is at play. The self-defeating catch is that we often end up judging our circumstancesagainst others’ outcomes, forgetting that hard work and hard choices are the transmuting agent between circumstance and outcome.

Joseph Brodsky captured this with piercing precision in the greatest commencement address of all time, cautioning: “A pointed finger is a victim’s logo… No matter how abominable your condition may be, try not to blame anything or anybody: history, the state, superiors, race, parents, the phase of the moon, childhood, toilet training, etc. The menu is vast and tedious, and this vastness and tedium alone should be offensive enough to set one’s intelligence against choosing from it. The moment that you place blame somewhere, you undermine your resolve to change anything.”

Luna touches on this perilous tendency as she considers the origin of Should:

How often do we place blame on the person, job, or situation when the real problem, the real pain, is within us? And we leave and walk away, angry, frustrated, and sad, unconsciously carrying the same Shoulds into a new context — the next relationship, the next job, the next friendship — hoping for different results.”

 Here is the link to the full article…

Thank you for being you!  Wopila Tanka!


Strengthening the Voices of Others

In this article, Kevin Hancock shares his story about losing his voice and how his leadership style adapted to this major obstacle. By listening more to others, Kevin is able to preserve his voice and create a new employee-centric culture at Hancock Lumber.

“Leadership is about doing less, not more. It is about restraint. It is about holding the power but not using it. It’s about listening without judging or correcting. It is about being connected and aware of how others feel.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

More Awareness & Connectivity…Less Judging and Fixing


Before 7 AM the streets of Boston belong to the runners and the homeless.  This man was sleeping on a bench in Copley Square early this morning holding a small America flag.  I walked past him, like everyone does…but could not get him off my mind.  So I circled back.  I didn’t decide lightly to take his picture but I could not resist.  I wanted to share his presence.

I think we have become de-sensitized to what’s disturbing around us.  People walk by this man all day and make sure not to look…but he is still there.  I wonder why we don’t want to look too long or think too deeply about someone is those shoes.  What scares us about that?

I come to Boston quite a bit and always bring a small pile of one dollar bills.  I give a dollar or two to pretty much anybody who asks.  In the process I always look the person in the eye and say hello…maybe exchange a sentence or two.  I always leave seeing a real person there who is actually as smart and as human as the rest of us.   There is one big black guy who “owns” the spot behind the mail box outside Dunkin Donuts on Boylston.  He is very bright.  His eyes light up when he talks.  He sees me coming and smiles as we know each other now.

The acknowledgement that a person exists is more powerful than the one or two dollars I share.  To feel invisible must be deeply painful.

It all reminds me a bit of my time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  Those who contemplate the “rez”or the homeless often find their minds moving to “solutions”, “strategies”, “initiatives” and “judgement”.  I understand why…but…I don’t think it’s what is most needed.  If it was, Pine Ridge and homelessness would have been “fixed” long ago.  I think awareness and connectivity…one human to another human…is what’s needed most.  Seeing and acknowledging a person that feels invisible is…in and of itself…a powerful act.

Wopila Tanka for all you do!


2016 Independent Author Network Award Winner: Religion and Spirituality Book of the Year!

non-fictionNot For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse has been selected by the 2016 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards as a winner in the “Religion and Spirituality” category! The IAN category winners are now submitted for the Book of the Year Award and will be announced on September 1st.

 The IAN Book of the Year Awards in an annual contest open to all authors who are self published, or published by independent publishers (small, medium or otherwise). Click Here to read more about the award!

For updated information and lots of new press coverage, or to listen to radio interviews from Kevin’s Radio Media Tour, visit our Related Links page!

E-Book Now Available on Kindle!

063Yesterday, NOT FOR SALE – FINDING CENTER IN THE LAND OF CRAZY HORSE  launched it’s e-book on Kindle!

The e-book is a unique digital experience with all the color and pictures of the printed version!

Global Radio Tour Begins!

NIEAseal-2014-Winner-VSMMy book, NOT FOR SALE – FINDING CENTER IN THE LAND OF CRAZY HORSE  began its global radio tour this morning LIVE on the Kathryn Zox show.  Her show broadcasts live on “Voice America/World Talk Radio” every Wednesday at 10 AM EST.

My segment opened today’s show…which you can listed to via the following link:


The book received this radio tour as a result of winning the 2016 National Indie Excellence Award for independent books!  I want to thank NIEA for helping to give my book and story this “voice”!  In addition, it does make me laugh to know that the guy who wrote a book about losing his voice wins a RADIO tour as a prize!  Haha!

This is the first of approximately two dozen shows I will be participating on throughout the summer and fall.  You can keep posted regarding what’s next on the web-site…if you want to listen live someday…or simply replay an episode.

It was interesting to realize that pretty much every radio show today is broadcast WORLD WIDE!  In the Aquarian Age anyone can share their voice!

Thank you!


Pictures from Pine Ridge (just got back)!

Hello!  I wanted to make my most recent pictures from Pine Ridge available!  I just returned from visit #9.  The book is gaining traction on the Rez and northern plains, which makes me happy!  I also keep expanding my circle…going deeper with existing friends and making new ones!


That is the formula…I feel…for transcending the deep, deep wounds.  Therefore anything you do to share this post…share past posts…or promote the book…contributes to the power of that circle.  We all belong to the same Tribe! Love!


Sunset Above Singing Horse (AKA…I know why cowboys wear pants)

FullSizeRenderFirst the humor of it all:

I know why coboys wear pants.  I just keep forgetting.

Everytime I walk up onto the rolling hills and grasslands above the Singing Horse Trading Post in shorts…I remember.

I just spent the last 20 minutes picking tiny, tiny prickers out of my shins and ankles!

One a more thoughtful note…here is an excerpt from my newest Pine Ridge journal…written less than an hour ago on the ridge line above the Singing Horse Trading Post just north of Manderson.  No judging it…the words just flow off my pen here sometimes…pure as snow, without really thinking about ego terms like ‘quality’.


“I am so still and grounded right now.  There is no need to move.

I am planted in the earth, hands free.

Stillness brings power.

I am at this very moment…taking energy from the earth and giving energy back to the earth.  There is only one energy, to which all things belong.

To try to understand this sacred source of power we give it human form…GOD…an old white man with a grey beard, knowing eyes, sandals and a white robe.  How funny and self-absorbed that is when you think about it.  White robes aren’t much more than 4,000 years old.  The Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the Universe 13.8 billion! We try to humanize the energy, when it should be the other way around.  We are the newcomers…but it’s all good either way!

I am the only person here…The only person every to see this sunset…from this spot…on this night.  What did you see today that no one else every saw or will every see, from where you viewed it?  Many things no doubt, when you stop to ponder it.

Meanwhile, the grass and the wind keep dancing.  Another timeless rhythm plays its sacred song.

As I stand to leave the wind grows stronger…but of course it didn’t…it was me that changed.”

Later, as I drifted down the hill, past Rosie’s horses, a poem came to me (and I wrote it while standing in the dark):

“The sun is done and so am I…the fence cares not as I pass by.

The grass still blows to its own beat…a dance only broken by my two feet.

The horses graze without a care…be it night or day, they stay right there.

The rhythm of the Plains has its own flow…that a busy man shall never know.

But stop yourself and look around…for that which you seek can then be found.”

Just a little live taste from Pine Ridge!  Thank you for reading!  Thank you for being you!  Wopila Tanka!  Love!


People Are People!


Yesterday was on of my favorite days on book tour!  I spent the morning at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.  I did a one hour book talk and visited with 20 men who live there.  Then we moved over to the women’s correctional center and did a one hour talk with 8 women there.  At the conclusion I donated 28 books…one for each participant to read.

The event was voluntary so only resident inmates who wanted to attend were present, BUT I was SO IMPRESSED with the people who were there.

They were interested, attentive and had lots of good comments, questions and perspectives.  They appreciated being respected as thinkers…that someone would come speak with them and share ideas.

The event on the women’s side was perhaps the most inspiring.  There was a bit of magic in the room as we sat in a circle and talked about the book.  The group was so into the discussion that we collectively decided I would come back and have a book club discussion after they finished reading in a few weeks.

I was excited about this opportunity to go to the prison because I felt that many people there could relate to and connect with the ideas and messages in my book.  The Sioux have a list of grievance so long and deep that it would be hard to count all the reasons they have to blame others for their situation…but…as I suggested at the prison…”The price for growth is to give up your grievances”…and that moving forward requires finding a path to forgive (not forget)…compartmentalize the past hurts…and look inward for the source of your own true strength.  As Joseph Campbell once wrote, “We are the truth we seek to know.”

There was a lot of head nodding in the room as these ideas were shared.

Context is such an interesting thing.  I was deep within the prison…behind 4 sets of double steel bar doors.  All the participants in the book discussion were dressed in blue.  There was no mistaking where we were.  Yet…if we moved the book club to a library…and changed clothes…you would have had no idea it was a group of prisoners.  Pretty much everyone waited after the talk concluded to shake hands, say thank you and share an idea or two of their own.  Each person was smart, thoughtful and interested in the dialogue.

What everyone seemed to appreciate most was that they were being recognized.  The mere act of going to visit them…of seeing them as important…worthy of a book discussion…that was what they appreciated most.

“They don’t even know we are here,” I have heard people say at Pine Ridge.  Being forgotten and cast aside is hard.

“People are people,” I think this to myself all the time.  Prison, Pine Ridge, Casco, China, Europe, Africa…it doesn’t matter..it’s all one tribe…and…people are people.

Wopila Tanka to Noreen Hopkins (activities director) at the prison for reading my book and connecting me with the people I spent time with yesterday morning!  I loved it!

Kevin is headed back to Pine Ridge!

In the movie Close Encounters, the overwhelmingly powerful culture from far away made contact and then left; the alien culture resisted the temptation to plant their flag and claim the land as their own.  Leave it to science fiction to come up with an implausible ending…
Devil’s Tower, photographed by Kevin Hancock

Kevin is headed back to Pine Ridge!

On Wednesday June 22nd from 1-3pm, Kevin will make his first stop of the trip at the Devil’s Tower National Monument where he will be on hand to sign books and personally discuss his story with people who are visiting one of the many locations he writes about in his book!

Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse is a unique iconoclastic memoir that traces one businessman’s journey deep into Indian country, and even deeper into his own soul. In a corporate world hallmarked by the never-ending quest for bigger, better, more, this CEO of one of America’s oldest family businesses contemplates an organizational structure where the goal is to do less, not more. In a 24/7 internet- wired world consumed with roles, responsibilities, and external accomplishments, Kevin learns to look inward for meaning and purpose. Through a series of successive, solo trips to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Kevin learns the following powerful lessons:

– We all come from a tribe, and while the pull of the past is strong, the soul is here to individuate.

– Leadership in the new Aquarian Age is about doing less, not more.  Those who hold the power often overreach; they go too far.

– Busyness is not living, and personal growth lies in looking inward, not outward.

– The boundaries that have been set to divide people are not real.  In the end, we’re all one tribe.

In a modern-day adventure strikingly similar to the ancient Lakota Vision Quest rite, Kevin separates from his own tribe for the purpose of seeking a deeper sense of self. Along the way, Kevin comes to be thankful for the partial loss of his own speaking voice as he learns it was his soul’s way of getting him to stop working, stop leading, stop caretaking. In losing consistent access to his voice, Kevin discovers a pathway, a calling, to strengthening the voices of others, which he uses to think differently about the future of Pine Ridge, the future of Hancock Lumber, and the future of tribes everywhere.

Devil’s Tower is an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the rolling prairie surrounding the Black Hills. This site is considered Sacred to the Lakota and many other tribes that have a connection to the area. Hundreds of parallel cracks make it one of the finest traditional crack climbing areas in North America. Devils Tower entices us to explore and define our place in the natural and cultural world.

For more information and upcoming dates for summer events, please visit the Upcoming Events tab on our website, www.seventhpowerpress.com.


It is time!

First, I want to share a link to the Muskie Access to Justice Award dinner, held here in Maine on May 25, 2016.  The event was a celebration of what I suggested that night was the single most important idea in human history: “equal access to justice for all”.  An idea so delicate that constant vigilance is required.  An idea difficult to achieve but worthy of pursuit. Kevin Hancock Honored Muskie Access to Justice Award

The event also was another small step in advancing CONNECTIVITY, AWARENESS & RECONCILIATION for Pine Ridge, and other Indian reservations globally.  Pine Ridge was reference repeatedly that night to an audience in Maine that otherwise might not be exposed to a story that is still unfolding.  Columbus did not discover a new world.  People already lived here.

A new day is ready to dawn however.  That day was actually foreseen long ago by Black Elk, Crazy Horse and others.  Depending upon the Lakota story that is told…six or seven generations after the beginning of the “Reservation era”  (1870’s)…the circle would be made whole again…and humanity would begin to see itself as the single tribe it really is.  The following quote was in the center of the Muskie event program last week.  The power and potential of these words give me goosebumps each time I read them…

“I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole earth will become one circle again.  In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom.  I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells.  For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be one.”

-Crazy Horse

The day that Crazy Horse spoke of long ago is upon us.  It is time…but we must seize it.  It is time…

Kevin Hancock


“Attention is the rarest & purest form of generosity.” – Simone Weil

I want to start with something funny.  One thing I love about Pine Ridge is the powerful sense of humor and playfulness that lives in the hearts of the people there.  I recently gave a small amount of money to a friend from Pine Ridge.  As soon as she received the money she sent me the following text:  “OMG!  Wopila Tanka (big thanks)!  I am going to repay you as soon as we get the Black Hills back!”

I laughed all day from that one message!

I also wanted to share with you that my book (NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse) won another award from the National Indie Excellence Awards (NIEA) based in Santa Barbara, California.  Each year, the NIEA gives out four “Sponsor’s Choice Prizes” to four books that they feel represent the best of what independent publishing has to offer.  Each prize gets a major promotional package.

My book ended up being selected and awarded the “Radio Media Tour” promoted by Conscious Media Relations (CRM) (http://consciousmediarelations.com/).

As a result, the book is going to be professionally marketed by their agency to over 3,000 radio shows seeking “personal development/self-help/conscious living/wellness/spirituality/transformational” guidance.

You can read more in the link below.  As someone who has helped me or been passionate about the book, I wanted to share this with you and say Wopila Tanka!


This all makes me happy because, for me, this whole exercise is about raising awareness & connectivity between the “tribes” of the world and inviting self-reflection on an individual level.  As the Lakota knew long ago, tribes are made strong one soul at a time.

It’s not about selling books for me…it’s about sharing and spreading ideas…strengthening the voices of others!

Thank you for help me spread the word!  In the Aquarian Age…readers (not publishers) sell books!

Kevin Hancock


Momentum is Building!

Hello!  Just sharing a couple of exciting updates.

First, we recently learned that our book NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse won a national award for independent book excellence!  Specifically, the book was selected by the National Indie Excellence Awards (NIEA) (based in Los Angeles) as THE 2016 winner in the “Leadership” book category.  The book was also one of only three finalists in the “Spirituality” category.  You can learn more at www.indieexcellence.com.

Second, our book was picked up by the National Grasslands Visitors Center in Wall, South Dakota! (http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/parks-monuments/buffalo-gap-national-grassland) The book will soon be “for sale” there and is already for sale at Devils Tower National Monument!

We have nearly sold out our first printing.  The book’s second edition is going to print this week, so look for it coming soon!

Wopila Tanka!


Video of Kevin’s Maine Live presentation now posted online

  1. MaineLive_screenVideos now available online! At the 2nd Annual Maine Live on March 24th, 14 speakers shared their stories of integrity, tenacity, and courage. For Kevin Hancock, CEO of Hancock Lumber Company, that story is about losing his voice to a rare neurological disorder and then finding it again after spending time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There, he learned an important lesson about power and the individual.“What if we could create an organization where everybody led?Where every voice felt heard, respected, valued, trusted, and empowered?” Watch now.

In addition to Kevin’s message above, here are a few of our favorite reflections from the day: (click here to watch any or all 14 speaker presentations)

  • Mark Bessire | Portland Museum of Art:  There doesn’t need to be conflict between the traditional and the modern; ideas from both worlds can coexist. There is power in creating meaningful traditions with family, friends, organizations, and communities.
  • Jan Kearce | Lift 360: Ask yourself, “What am I a commitment to?”. Embody your purpose. YOU are enough to make it happen. Re-write your story – think about the obituary you’d write for the life you’re leading; now, think about the obituary you’d write for yourself for the life you WANT to lead.  Take time to pause and reflect; don’t burn yourself out.
  • George Neptune | Abbe Museum: Pass on tradition/language/stories of your tribe, so as to “save it for those not yet born”. Find balance, embrace your two spirits – it is OK to have feet in multiple worlds.
  • Steve Malcom | Knickerbocker Group: Spend time “kicking the dirt”…having conversations about the “What ifs” and “Why nots”. Throw rocks (ideas) out there to make ripples and share ideas; it might take time for them to come back and become reality, but get your ideas out there.  Take time to listen, really listen and be in the present without judging or making an opinion too quickly. The world is a dynamic place that is ALWAYS changing. Look for those moments to find opportunity.
  • Tae Chong | Startmart CEIRacism is a bad business model. Look at ALL kinds of people as an asset and economic opportunity in a state that is facing a major labor crisis.  A few eye opening Maine stats that Tae shared:
    • By 2022, 1 in 4 Mainers will be over 65
    • 100,000 workers will be needed in Maine in the next 10 years
    • 44 Median Age of Mainer
    • Maine had more deaths than births in 2015
    • Maine is older than Florida
    • Maine is the oldest and whitest state
  • Beth Shissler | Sea Bags: Sea Bags is green in product and process, sourcing USA materials and keeping manufacturing and jobs in Maine!  Look for the FIT in the people you bring to your organization. HR is all about cultural fit.
  • Ben Fowlie | Camden Int’l Film Festival:  Don’t shy away from difficult topics; leverage the arts to spark local dialogue and create social change.
  • Laurie Lachance | Thomas College“Nia” = purpose.  Let your life unfold down an unintentional path, intentionally, and you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be–but, only if you are paying attention during threshold moments.  Pay attention. Listen. Stop. Pause. Reflect.  Ask yourself, “What are my unique gifts?” and seize the opportunities in front of you.
  • Leslie Oster | Aurora Provisions: Slow down and set a place for yourself at the table.  Sharing your gifts and passion with the world will only be fulfilling if you put a seat at the table for YOU.
  • Sara Shifrin | Gould Academy’s Family Ideas Center: View the library as a room full of ideas, possibilities and thinking – it’s not just a room full of books.  Resist the temptation to find solutions; observe, learn, listen, and employ design thinking to bring new ideas to life.
  • Yellow Light Breen | Maine Development FoundationThere is a distinct difference between feeling comfortable and fitting in. Sector jargon- “internal languages” – get in the way of making change; ideas matter, people matter, and take time to celebrate success. We all like to be on a winning team.
  • Mike Katz | Camp SunshineWorking with terminally ill children makes one very humbled and reflective. Acts of kindness make a lifelong impact. Volunteer; make a difference!
  • Heather Sanborn | Rising Tide Brewery: Ask the ones you love around you what they want to do in life. “A rising tide lifts all boats” – there is such art and meaning behind naming a child, a non-profit, a business that you are passionate about.  Think about the community and power in “helping a neighbor”, and leveraging the “spirit of collegiality” — the cooperative relationship of colleagues. A collaborative ethos is best; we are all a part of “Team Maine”!

Mark Your Calendars for the month of May!

imageMark your calendars! May is a busy month and full of a variety of opportunities to listen to Kevin speak about this about his book and the lessons he learned and applied during his time on the Pine Ridge reservation. Here is a schedule of events:

  • Friday 5/6 12:30-2pm: Architects of Tomorrow event at the East Auburn Baptist Church. Kevin will be the keynote speaker for this year’s event, Architects of Tomorrow: Build leaders within your organization. Join us to learn what is takes to become a strong leader who defines the path, clarifies the direction, leads the team and executes the vision. Register today by emailing lallen@auburnmaine.gov; $99 Registration, lunch and conference materials included.
  • Thursday 5/12 6:30-7:30pm: Author talk & book signing at Falmouth Memorial Library
  • Thursday 5/19 5:30-7:30pm: Author talk & book signing at The Mustard Seed Bookstore
  • Thursday 5/26 12-2pm: Join members of the business community at a “Lunch and Learn” event at the Scarborough Public Library for an opportunity to discuss Kevin’s book!

Remember to check back often to the upcoming events section of our website, as this list continues to grow. We hope to see you at any or all of these events!

Sign Our Online Pledge!


On the cusp of this great opportunity to share an article recently published in the New York Times about Kevin and his book, A Lumber Executive Loses His Voice and Finds Balance, we wanted to share something else too!

A few months back, Kevin shared an excerpt from his book of a written apology to the people of Pine Ridge that both recognized, and apologized for what happened. We were excited to see that almost 500 people felt the same way and were willing to sign our online pledge!

It is our hope that you will continue to share this excerpt with the people around you, because as it was said before, awareness, in and of itself, is a powerful act.

Please visit the apology written by Kevin at the following link:


Here, you can add your name and pass it on!

The idea is everywhere!

FullSizeRenderThe town of Casco, where I live, has one traffic light.  It only blinks, never turning fully red.  Two buildings down from the old, red Hancock Lumber office on Pleasant Lake is the Casco Village Variety store.  I go there most every day.

Inside the store, to the left of the door, is a small white marker board where Evelyn, the owner, posts a quote each morning.  The short messages are so good that I have started going in to read them even if I don’t really need anything from the store.

This morning’s quote reads:

“Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.”

That one sentence is the essence of my book NOT FOR SALE.    (took me 500 pages to say it!!!!)

Long ago, before the coming of the horses, the Lakota were given Seven Sacred Rites by the White Buffalo Calf Woman.  One of those rites was the Vision Quest (Hanbleycheya).  In the Vision Quest rite, young men coming of age and adults at transformation times in their lives, would leave their tribe and journey alone into the wilderness for the purpose of seeking a vision.  The object was to gain a deeper sense of the connectivity all living things share with each other and the Great Spirit.  Then, under those quiet and meditative condition, it was often possible to hear more clearly the whispers of your own soul (the soul always whipsers but the ego doesn’t always listen).

The idea was to gain insight into that which inspired YOU…to see…for a moment…your unique path and core values.  Then you were expected to return to your tribe…share the vision you had received…and live your life in accordance with what you learned.

The idea was simple but powerful…if EVERY individual was strong because they were being true first to themselves, than the tribe would be strong.  As Rudyard Kipling wrote, “The strength of the pack is the wolf”.

In this way, being selfish is selfless.  When we listen first to ourselves…and follow our individual path of truth…we become the most valuable to others.

All that from the morning quote…on the left hand side of the door…at the Casco Village Variety store…

It’s everywhere!

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself, again and again.”

  • Joseph Campbell



New York Times Features Kevin Hancock!


The New York Times features Kevin Hancock in their March 9th online article titled, “A Lumber Executive Loses His Voice and Finds Balance”.Writer Jennifer Van Allen recounts the past decade and Kevin’s journey – how losing his voice led to a series of unexpected events, ultimately helping Kevin redefine his role as CEO and share power more broadly within the 6th generation, family-owned organization led by its 458 employees. Anyone interested in learning more about leadership, opening oneself up to new ideas and experiences, and living beyond the definition of  “roles” should take a look at this article and learn more about Kevin’s book.

What a day when the New York Times features your story! It is an honor to share these opportunities and lessons beyond the state, and connect with like-minded leaders around the country. Pick up your copy of The New York Times tomorrow, March 10th and share in our excitement!


Author talk events and the value of book reviews!

On the shelf at the Portland Museum of Art Bookstore

Looking for something fun to do next week? Pick up a copy of Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and join us at the Bridgton Public Library on Tuesday, 3/8 from 4-6pm when Kevin Hancock will be on hand to discuss his book and sign copies! Books are for sale at the library now, or, the night of the event.

Copies can also be purchased at our newest bookstore in the Portland Museum of Art. While there, check out the amazing exhibit featuring the work of Edward Curtis, now through 5/29, featuring photographs he took while studying to write his book, The North American Indian. 

In the upcoming months, Kevin Hancock will be making appearances at the Falmouth Memorial Library, The Mustard Seed Bookstore, Scarborough Public Library, and Raymond Public Library to discuss and sign copies of his book. In addition, you can now find the book at Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick and Maine Coast Books in Damariscotta!

We also wanted to share this exciting review recently posted on Amazon from a reader:

“Kevin has written a very profound and moving book. What appears to be leadership lessons turns out to be a spiritual journey, in its deepest sense. It is personal and authentic, and written with a great style. We ALL can learn from this gifted author.”

Sharing your thoughts help share this story, and we would love to hear your feedback on our Amazon product page. To do so, simply click on the link below, view the customer reviews, and share your own thoughts about the book.


Organizations where EVERYONE leads!


HR_power_hourI recently appeared on the “HR Power Hour” radio show on WLOB news & talk.  During the show I spoke about creating a work culture where EVERY VOICE MATTERS.  Organizations where everyone leads and feels heard will outperform those where just a few hold all the power.

I feel this idea is valuable to any organization whether it is a business, a church, a sports team or an Indian Reservation.  The last time the Lakota were powerful and independent, the individual was the center of the tribes strength.  Today, government is the center and the people have lost their voice.  When this is reversed, Pine Ridge will regain its strength and balance.

I hope you enjoy this podcast and find it relevant for the organizations and tribes you belong to!

Wopila Tanka!

Kevin Hancock

Exciting New Additions to the Website!

Exciting things are happening as we continue to spread the word about Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse! We are excited to share these updates with you, and share with you some recently added sections to our website!


IMG_1222The book is currently being sold in 17 bookstores in the New England and Dakotas regions and the number continues to grow! Just this week, we added The Book Review Bookstore in Falmouth, Maine to the list. Check out our new “Bookstores” tab to see a complete list of stores now selling the book!

In addition, we have been working to schedule a number of author events to create even more awareness about the book. Bridgton Books, The Good Life Market, the Casco Public Library and the Harrison Public Library have all hosted events, just to name a few. Please check out our events calendar during the upcoming year to see all of the author events taking place.

Here are a couple upcoming events to note:

  • Author talk and book signing on Monday February 22nd from 6-7pm at the Auburn Public Library.
  • Author talk and book signing on Tuesday March 8th at 4pm at the Bridgton Public Library.

There have been a number of articles in different publications featuring Kevin and his book such as:

  • The National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association
  • Maine Home + Design
  • Lumber Co-Operator
  • Prosales Magazine
  • MaineBiz

A full list of these with links to the articles can be found on our website under the “Related Links” tab.

Lastly, we encourage you to check out HR Power Radio to listen to Kevin Hancock discuss his book on the radio show that aired this past Saturday!

We look forward to sending you updates as things continue to happen, and hope you find these exciting new additions to the website helpful!

Life Lessons Lead to LBM Changes at Hancock Lumber

Kevin Hancock’s journey of self discovery after losing his voice is brought to life in his new book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. Kevin’s quest brought him to the realization that the structure of Hancock Lumber could drastically change and improve employee engagement and job satisfaction.

“I thought, what if this came to an organization where everyone led and everyone had a voice and their opinion and perspectives mattered. That would be more powerful than an organization where just a few people led. Hancock Lumber has always been an organization where people’s opinions were valued, but we have taken that to another level. ” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

Leading by Listening

In this article, Kevin Hancock is interviewed about his journey to finding a new leadership style by listening more to others. Kevin’s new management initiative helps bring Hancock Lumber to new highs, by creating a lean structure and maximizing employee engagement. They also talk about his new book, Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse.

To read the full article, click here.

The Apology

The sign in front of this housing cluster at Wounded Knee symbolizes the longstanding ineffectiveness of government at Pine Ridge.
The entrance to one of the housing clusters in the village of Wounded Knee, modern day.

I was driving through the Black Hills after my second trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation when the idea hit me.  AWARENESS, in and of itself, is a powerful act.  More government programs won’t change Pine Ridge.  What is needed is a sincere, thoughtful apology; recognition of what happened.  So I grabbed my journal…took out my pen…and began to write.  I wrote an apology.

Then I had another idea.  What if the apology went viral?  What if thousands upon thousands of people signed it and passed it on?

Please visit the apology I wrote at the following link:

The Apology

From there you can sign on to the apology…add you name to the list…and then pass it on!

If just 100 people sign onto the apology with me, and then share it with 10 more people each, in just 4 steps this apology will reach 1,000,000 people.  In Sioux culture, the number 4 is considered sacred.

“Apologies aren’t meant to change the past.  They are meant to change the future.”

-Kevin Hancock (Casco Village Church.  September 27, 2015.)

Join the apology and pass it on!

Wopila Tanka (Big Thanks)!

The Great Awakening – Transcending Tribalism

“Now you can see today why the world is in trouble.  What is the social field today?  The social field is the planet, and there isn’t a single system of action that has to do with the planet.  They all have to do with one interest group or another.” – Joseph Campbell

There was a time in human history when tribalism was necessary for survival.  Today, tribalism is what often threatens survival.  How ironic!

I wonder who see this among the world’s leaders today?  For many who hold power, there must be fear in the notion of tribal integration…of connecting more deeply with people from away.  The entire dogma of most tribes is built upon the need to stay separated.  The power construct of the world today is dependent upon the compartmentalization of peoples into distinct groups.  Distrust of the other tribes is what perpetuates the need for your own.

It is hard to break through the barrier of tribalism when there are those who will (knowingly or unknowingly) abuse it’s existence for the advancement of their own personal power.

I wonder who sees this among the people, the average citizens of the worlds respective tribes?

A thousand years from now what will humans think of all the tribal borders and boundaries that artificially segregate the planet today?  How unnecessary, expensive and limiting will it all appear from afar?

Every time I leave the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, or the Black Hills, and drive into Wyoming I stop at the sign that tells me I am leaving one state and entering another.  The border makes me smile and laugh out loud even though I am usually alone there!

“This border is not real,” I say softly, but defiantly, with a friendly smile.  “It is an artificial construct claiming territory between governors and legislatures.”  The wind and the grass and the sun care not about this invisible line.


The myth of tribalism will someday be one of the great awakenings of human social development.  You can see the limitations and consequences of this myth at every turn.  I see it today in the history that created the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Approximately 200,000 years ago, early humans began migrating north out of Africa.  Over time, some travel further north into Europe.  Others moved east into Asia.  By boat and with the assistance of an Ice Age, the descendants of some of those who long ago traveled east moved down into the Americas.  Eventually, the descendants of some of those who migrated west began traveling by boat in search of new lands; in search of new worlds.  In 1492, the descendants of those who went east were reunited with the descendants of those who went west…both groups thinking they were meeting each other for the first time…neither group recognizing the other…neither group realizing that they all belonged to the same tribe…the human tribe.

“I stood upon the highest mountain of the world and I knew more than I saw, I understood more than I knew, because I was seeing in a sacred manner.  And what I saw were the hoops of all the nations interlocking in on great circle.” – Black Elk 




The sign in front of this housing cluster at Wounded Knee symbolizes the longstanding ineffectiveness of government at Pine Ridge.

The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims worldwide.  He spoke recently at Harvard University about tribalism.  The Associated Press summarized his speach as follows:
“He said globalization should not mean the creation of a single, homogenized society where all differences are erased, but one where what we have in common and what makes us different is respected.”

The Aga Khan was speaking of the relationship between the Christian and Muslim worlds but I also immediately thought of Pine Ridge.

I think that this cuts to the heart of the challenge for the Sioux reservations of the northern plains.  On the one hand there is a desire for greater economic and social connectivity, inclusion and integration.  On the other hand, lives the fear of losing heritage and culture.  The problem is the feeling that we have to choose one or the other.  That notion is limiting.

A new paradigm might be the embrace of both ideas.  Easier said than done I am sure but in Lakota society the direction one faces is considered to be important…because it determines where you end up.



What if we slowed down?

Hello!  I want to share this short essay by Sophie Gregoire that my daughter Abby shared with me this morning!

What If We Slowed Down?

The old abandoned buildings of the northern plains slowly make their circle back into the earth.
The old abandoned buildings of the northern plains slowly make their circle back into the earth.

We are the truth we seek to know!

The single wild flower I study, while lying on my stomach that morning on the hilltop above the trading post. The closer I look, the more I see.
The single wild flower I study, while lying on my stomach that morning on the hilltop above the trading post. The closer I look, the more I see.

To all my Pine Ridge friends –           This quote reminds me of Pine Ridge…it reminds me of Casco, Maine…it reminds me of planet earth…it reminds me of being human.  We are all one tribe and we are the truth we seek to know…



Why We Struggle to find ourselves and How to do it.

“For a long time I’ve had a bit of an obsession with coming home. Not my physical home, but HOME with a capital H. Being with myself. Knowing who I was. Leaning back into me and having that “AH” feeling of being totally whole and totally at peace. I felt like there was something missing, and that I needed to find that missing piece to complete the puzzle. I thought that if I found the right job, or met the right man, or had the right friends, or went on the right adventure that I would find it.

The journey to the self is much less of a linear path to be trodden and much more of a turning back to ourselves.  It’s a stopping, a slowing down, and the realization that we are already complete and whole.  But, it wasn’t until I stopped trying to get somewhere, be it the perfect future or the end of a spiritual path that I could see that I was what I was looking for. And, that I’m here not out there.

So call off the search. You don’t need to be found. you’re already here.”

– Jane Doherty

Habitat For Humanity – Annual Raise the Roof Gala

On Wednesday I spoke at the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland annual “Raise the Roof Gala”.  I enjoyed this opportunity becasue Habitat for Humanity is modeling the way for organizational effectiveness.  Habitat for Humanity celebrates the power of the individual spirit.  The volunteers and homeowners who are part of the organization are given important roles.  Their voices are strong!

I suggested Wednesday night that the Aquarian Age is going to be about a transition from institutions holding the power to individuals holding the power.  Organizations that celebrate the individual are going to attract people and support.  Organizations that resist sharing power are going to lose ground.

Habitat for Humanity is an orgainzation that strengthens the voices of others.  In doing so, their power goes far beyond building houses!  They are a modeling the way forward for others!


Bethel Sawmill – Book Day!

I spent the day at our sawmill in Bethel, Maine yesterday.  At the end of the work day, I gave each of the 103 people who work there a copy of my book, NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse!

The day before I had personalized each book…took almost 3 hours!

I wanted to do that as a show of respect.  I never want people at Hancock Lumber to feel like they are only wanted for their physical work.  I want every person to feel important for their ideas and opinions.  That’s really what my book stands for…strengthening voices…at home and at Pine Ridge!

Spreading the word!

19576_280220683595_3109022_nSunday, I did a book talk at the Casco Library (my hometown library)!  1/2 of my former english teachers were there! That was a little overwhelming!  Sold 20 books.

Yesterday we shipped 12 books from on-line orders to 7 different states!

Today I am giving a book to all 103 people who work at our mill in Bethel.  Every voice matters!  In addition, we are hosting a group of medical professionals from Central Maine Health Care at the mill today.  We are sharing lean strategies for making the voices of employees and customers stronger in health care and manufacturing.  I am giving them all a copy of the book!

The word is spreading!  In the end, it’s all one tribe!


I want to share this great, short video.  It summarizes what happened in just 20 years after wolves were reintroduced to the Yellowstone ecosystem.  This story reinforces the Lakota view of the interconnectedness of all living creatures.  Balance is nature’s optimal state.  This also makes me think of human organizations and how easily they can fall out of balance if the needs of certain groups of individuals within the organization are neglected or excluded.  It takes every member of the tribe to achieve optimal balance in a community (be it a reservation, a company, a state, a nation or a planet).


Mitakuye Oyasin (“All things are one thing.”  “We are all related.”)

Hancock Lumber’s Kevin Hancock on Growing After the Recession

Kevin Hancock is interviewed in this article about Hancock Lumber’s growth after the economic recession. During this time, Kevin lost his voice, which creates a new leadership style centered around listening to others more than speaking.

“I learned that leadership is about doing less, not more. It was letting people who have responsibility own their issues and opportunities to learn and make decisions.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

1st Library Event & Book Signing

I had my first library event and book signing last evening at the Harrison Public Library!  It was great to see how vibrant libraries are reinventing themselves!

There were 20 people there.  We sold 14 books.  Most refresing was the notion of an evening of discussion…a bit of a lost venue.  No television…no internet…instead a discussion about my book and the themes that it plays off.

My book is about strengthening voices.  I talked about my voice disorder and the calling it has come to represent for me to help strengthen the voices of others.  At Hancock Lumber, that translates into a desire to create a company where everyone leads…where everyone feels heard and valued.  At Pine Ridge, it translates into encouraging people to look inward for their own personal source of strength.  This was the tradition of the Lakota represented in the Vision Quest rite of passage.  Finally, for me, the concept represents listening to my own inner voice and allowing it to be free and served.

This book is definately striking a cord with people.  I can feel it.  They tell me…they write me.  The feedback is incredibly sincere and powerful.  I think there are a lot of people SEARCHING for a bit more meaning…SEARCHING to transcend “busyness”.

Wopila Tanka!

Spreading the word!

Colors, movement, drums and chants all merge as the energy of the opening ceremony fills the pow-wow grounds. it was a very emotional experience for me.
Colors, movement, drums and chants all merge as the energy of the opening ceremony fills the pow-wow grounds. it was a very emotional experience for me.

The book is off the a strong start and this makes me happy!  This past weekend was Native American Sunday at UCC churches across America.  I was invited to give the sermon at our church in Casco and it gave me a chance to speak about Pine Ridge.  The UCC (globally) has repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery.  The Doctrine began as a 15th century papal edict that gave European Christian explorers the “authority” to claim foreign lands they “discovered” for their Christian monarchs, so long as the native peoples were not already Christians.  This papal “ruling” was the justification and basis for colonialism.  It was great to learn that the United Church of Christ take such a progressive position.  As I said in my talk…”apologies are not meant to change the past, they are meant to change the future.”

Apologies require awareness.  Awareness, I feel, is critical to helping native peoples today feel recognized and acknowledged…which will, in turn, help more Native American communities let the past go a little bit more and more forward with more confidence and focused eyes on the future.

On Tuesday I did a radio show with Love Maine Radio about the book and tonight I am doing an event at a leading library in Western Maine.  Over 1,500 copies have been sold and distributed!  NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse is off to a strong start!  Wopila Tanka!  Help me keep spreading the word!


FullSizeRenderSo my book launched this week!  It has been great fun to share the story!  This picture is from my office in Casco where I stacked books for shipment to all the people who helped make the project possible!  All the great characters in my book from Pine Ridge received copies.  I am thankful to everyone who participated in the project!  Wopila Tanka!

The book is available on Amazon and in bookstores across Maine!  The book is also available at the Singing Horse Trading Post on the reservation.  All copies ordered on our website (www.kevindhancock.com) will be autographed!

The Lakota have a saying, “Mitakuye Oyasin”, which means “we are all related”.  This book is about seeing the planet for the single tribe it really is.  Enjoy!  Help spread the word!

The book has launched!!!!

NFS_new_thumbnailThe book has arrived and is officially for sale!  I am excited to share this story and help increase awareness and connectivity for Pine Ridge.

Books are currently for sale online at www.kevindhancock.com.  You can click the yellow BUY NOW button to the right of this post.  All books ordered on my web site will be signed!

Books are also available on Amazon.com.

The following retailers in Maine are currently selling the book:

  • Bridgton Books
  • Casco Village Variety
  • MirarBella Salon
  • Bowdoin College Bookstore
  • Gulf of Maine Books (Brunswick)
  • Longfellow Books (Portland)

Stay tuned for more store openings soon!

Help me spread the word!  Wopila Tanka!


A Path to Change

In this article Kevin Hancock is interviewed about his new business leadership ideas and how dispersing power amongst all employees of Hancock Lumber has created a more successful company.

“The more I held back and left space for others, the more everyone grabbed that space, embraced responsibility, took ownership, enjoyed making decisions, and ran with it. There were lots of people who could help lead our company, everyone in fact.” – Kevin Hancock 
To read the full article, click here.

Best Place to Work in Maine!

Colors, movement, drums and chants all merge as the energy of the opening ceremony fills the pow-wow grounds. it was a very emotional experience for me.Hancock Lumber was recently selected as a “BEST PLACE TO WORK IN MAINE” for the second year in a row!  This is an extremely difficult award to achieve.  The criteria is based on confidential employee surveys in which the vast majority of respondents describe themselves as being “Highly Engaged” in their workplace. Since I lost the partial use of my voice to Spasmodic Dysphonia in 2010, I have found myself listening more, talking less, and seeking to strengthen the voices of others.  An organization where EVERYONE leads is stronger than one in which just a few lead. Pine Ridge is an example of this.  In the old days, when the Lakota were strong, the role of central government was very small.  All the power went to the individual.  The vision-quest rite of the Lakota is an example of the traditional values of their society.  Each young man coming of age ventured out on his own to “seek a vision” of his true calling.  Then, that individual was expected to come back to the tribe and live their personal truth and pursue that which called to him.  It was believed that if each individual was strong than the tribe would be strong.  Today, thanks to generations of excessive central control, the government (Federal and tribal) holds most of the power (land, money, jobs) and very little space is left for the individual. The ‘old ways’ of the Lakota show the path forward for modern organizations in the Aquarian Age…the path to strength lives in each individual LOOKING INWARD and seeking their own truth, speaking their own voice, and making themselves strong.  Modern leadership structures need to support and encourage this individual strength, not squash it! As Rudyard Kipling wrote, The strength of the pack is the wolf.

A Story I Had To Tell

In this article, Kevin Hancock recalls his first trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation and how this journey opened his eyes to life in the tribe. At a time in his life where Kevin was losing the ability to speak, he stumbled upon a tribe of people who had felt that their voices had been lost too. The feeling of being connected, of shared kinship, was reawakened in this time amongst the tribe.

“The point is, what do you want to do with your life? You don’t have to travel thousands of miles to help others, it may be right in front of you. This experience for me has been a call to be connected with myself. There is this energy that has been brought to life within me to help others.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

Thunder Valley

thunder_valleyThunder Valley is a Lakota founded and managed non-profit at Pine Ridge that promotes economic independence through traditional values.  They are beginning construction this summer on one of the largest housing developments in the modern history of the reservation.  Nick Tilsen, the executive director, is one of my best friends at Pine Ridge and a leading character in my book.  The following link will give you a GREAT glimpse of life at Pine Ridge and the amazing spirit of the people who live there!

Off to the printer!

Pine Ridge 7 (May 2015) 050I made the first journal entry, that would become the basis for this book, on Sunday October 28, 2012 on a flight from Chicago to Rapid City.  A short while later, my now close friend (and tribal member), “Pinky” Clifford met me at baggage claim and hosted my first visit to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Today, July 24, 2015, we sent the book (NOT FOR SALE) to the printer in Illinois!  In about five weeks we will be signing and shipping copies!  The book contains 200 original color photos that follow the story of my experiences in the Land of Crazy Horse.  I have a quiet peace about me as this book completes its circle…

Wopila Tanka to all my friends at Pine Ridge and my book team back home in Maine!


June is high school graduation season in Maine.  At Fryeburg Academy, not far from where I live, a senior by the name of Thu Pham gave a graduation speech titled – “Stay Gritty”.  In her commencement talk Thu cited the work of Angela Lee Duckworth who has been studying the characteristics that define success in school.  Angela has concluded that the #1 determinant of success is not IQ, social ability or good looks.  The key to success is GRIT.

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.  Grit is having stamina.  Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.  Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” – A. Duckworth

I love this idea and it immediately made me think of Pine Ridge, one of the grittiest places I have ever been connected to.  The people of Pine Ridge have endured hardship and oppression for generations yet the reservation is still filled with big-hearted people who are resilient and proud.

If being gritty is the key to long-term success than Pine Ridge has good things coming its way!  Stay gritty Pine Ridge!


Not Forgotten!I spoke today at the annual Maine Youth Leadership Conference (MYL) (www.maineyouthleadership.org). MYL is one of my favorite organizations.  Each year it brings 10th grade “ambassadors” from every high school in Maine to come together for a program of leadership development, social tolerance and personal exploration.  For the past two years I have given the Friday morning talk to the group, during which I have shared my learnings and adventures at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

My talk explores five themes:

  1. Overreaching. Those who hold the power in organizations often over reach.  They go too far.  Overreaching has consequences.  The conquest of the tribes of the Great Plains during America’s western expansion is one such example (from which there are still  communities among us trying to recover).
  2. We all come from a tribe. We all come from a tribe (family, neighborhood, community, region).  Our tribes pull on us all to act a certain way and to do certain things.  But we are all here on this earth to individuate; we are all here to hear our own callings and become the person our soul wants to be.
  3. When we serve ourselves we strengthen our tribe. In this respect, being selfish is selfless for when we find the people, places and activities that truly inspire us we give the most back to the world we live in.
  4. When it comes to leadership, less is more. In my talk, I share my story of losing my voice to Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD).  SD is a rare voice disorder that restricts speech.  I acquired the disorder in 2009.  Sometimes I can talk freely.  Sometimes I can’t.  SD forced me lead differently and that turned out to be a blessing.  I have since come to believe that every CEO should lose his or her voice, at least for a time.  When you lose your voice, as the leader of an organization you…listen more, ask questions, pick your spots more carefully and share the leadership stage with others.  I have since become passionate about creating organizations where everyone leads and strengthening the voices of every member of the tribe (be it Hancock Lumber or Pine Ridge).
  5. Mitakuye Oyasin. Mitakuye Oyasin is a Lakota phrase that means “we are all related”.  This concept lives at the center of Lakota spirituality and it has scientific principles supporting it.  Lakota philosophy believes that all things that live, have lived or shall live are related as everything that lives come from and returns to the earth.  All living things are comprised of the same elements and particles.  From the earth to the earth.  It is in this way, for example, that the Lakota viewed the buffalo as their “four legged brothers”.  I have come to believe that Mitakuye Oyasin is a hidden revelation for our planet.  Once rediscovered, the idea changes the way people view the world.  The boundaries we see all around us are actually artificial, not real.  In the end, we are all one tribe even though we have convinced ourselves otherwise.

During my talk I told the students at MYL that after the Lakota were defeated in the 1870’s, they were sequestered out of the way on a series of remote reservations.  For the next three generations, American public policy was to “remake” the Indians so they could live successfully in the white world.  Children were removed from their homes (well into the 1950’s and 1960’s) and sent off to unforgiving Indian boarding school to be remade.  Their hair was cut, their dress was changed, their language and customs were forbidden.  They were conquered then colonized.  The effects of this overreaching are still being felt as the reservations on the Northern Plains are to this day among the poorest and most self-destructive places in America.  In elementary school we are taught that “Columbus discovered a new world” but people already lived here.

My experiences at Pine Ridge have shown me that the people who live there have all the skills and talents necessary rise above the transgressions of the past and to soar like their ancestors.  No one needs to save or fix them.  At the same time, the people who live there need to feel recognized, acknowledged and respected.  “They don’t even know we are here,” is a common theme I hear at Pine Ridge.

At the conclusion of my talk, the program coordinators made me wait as a group of students went out in the hall.  A few moments later they returned with dozens of back packs and school supplies they had organized for me to send to Pine Ridge as a gesture that says “you are not forgotten”.  People cried, smiled and celebrated.  A short while later, my Jeep was loaded with backpacks.

A guy from a  lumber company in Maine and a group of 10th graders from the same state were together reaching out to the people of Pine Ridge saying…we are all related…you are respected…you are not forgotten…be well…go forth in peace.

So cool, I thought to myself as I drove away.  Nowhere in my “job description” at our main office in Casco does it say I am supposed to be talking to students at MYL or increasing awareness at Pine Ridge.  We all need to listen for our callings and not lose ourselves in the 24/7 churn of “bigger, better, more”.  It’s all one tribe and each person on this planet is here to individuate and find their own true path.

Not For Sale May 2014

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My Morning Commute at Pine Ridge

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Pine Ridge Update

In the fall of 2012 I made my first visit to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota just to see what modern day life was like for the people who lived there.  What I experienced during that initial visit fascinated me.  It called out to a spirit deep within me.  I was not expecting the experience to be so powerful, but it was.  I have since been back four times and have many friends there now.  In the process…I have donated materials to build a new home there…hunted a buffalo and brought the meat to Pine Ridge to share with the tribe…launched a non-profit organization called “The Seventh Power”…and… I am now writing a book about my adventures at Pine Ridge that I expect to publish later in 2014.  Pine Ridge is beautiful, desolate, historic, tragic, hopeful, spiritual, poor, forgotten, resourceful, energizing and much more.  It is an amazing and important place that our country has forgotten about. The calling I feel is to help increase AWARENESS.


Pine Ridge is home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe and approximately 35,000 native people live there.  The reservation is large and remote.  It is 2.2 million acres in size and very few people go there.  It sits in the southwest corner of South Dakota below the Badlands National Park and above the Nebraska panhandle.  Pine Ridge is one of the largest and poorest native reservations in America.  Unemployment is around 80% and the median income is less than $8,000.  There is very little economic infrastructure at Pine Ridge.  There is no grocery store, no car dealership and no motel.  As a result, what little money the people do have is usually spent off the reservation.  Poverty, alcohol abuse, suicide, drop-out rates, life expectancy and other social challenges plague Pine Ridge today.


The people of Pine Ridge are resilient, resourceful and fun to be with.  Despite decades of cultural oppression their language, traditions and values are still intact.  The Lakota people generally, and the Oglala Tribe specifically, have a rich and powerful history.  They are the descendants of Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Black Elk and others.  Their ancestors are some of the most famous war chiefs and medicine men in American history.  Their ancestors played a leading role in defeating Custer and the Seventh Cavalry at the Little Big Horn River in June of 1876.  In December of 1890 Chief Bigfoot’s band of Minneconjou Sioux were massacred at Wounded Knee (located on the Rez).  Wounded Knee became famous once again in the early 1970’s when leaders of the American Indian Movement barricaded the roads and entered into a prolonged standoff with Federal Marshalls over living conditions and fair treatment.


The people of Pine Ridge will sometimes refer to their modern journey as “first to worst”. Before the coming of the “Wasichu” (whites) in the mid-19th century they were free, self-sufficient and prosperous.  Since the reservation era they have become among the poorest people in America.  Today, government dependency is very high at Pine Ridge.


Below are two links I hope you will explore.  The first shares a series of videos from my personal experiences at Pine Ridge.  The second is a link to our new non-profit where you can see the mission we are pursuing.


Personal blog site featuring my Pine Ridge journey

(Follow my blog for more updates)



Seventh Power (Non Profit) Website



If this subject speaks to you let me know and share these links with others.  I am not out to ‘fix’ anybody at Pine Ridge. I have met the people of Pine Ridge and I am confident they will chart their own course back toward economic independence through traditional values. I have no formal role at Pine Ridge.  I just like it there.  AWARENESS and UNDERSTANDING are, of themselves, powerful tools.  Individuals just following their heart find themselves and impact others every day.

– Kevin Hancock


Full Circle (Me and Pine Ridge)

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full_circleIn the fall of 2013 I returned to Pine Ridge for the 4th time… during this trip I hunted buffalo in Wyoming… rented a truck… brought the meat to the REZ… shared it with the people… walked the grasslands… worked on housing issues… celebrated Halloween… recorded stories from an elder… traveled north to former tribal lands… had a vision quest there… walked the wagon tracks of the Oregon Trail… stood alone at Forts Fetterman and Laramie where treaties were made… then broken… then fought over… drove to Denver in a snowstorm… gave thanks for my family… learned that the Great Spirit forms a circle… and that the sacred number is four…

Let The Wind Blow Through You (Me and Pine Ridge continued)

I am writing a book about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and the people of Oglala Sioux Tribe who live there.  Along the way I enjoy sharing my experiences through pictures I have taken.  This video follows my third visit to the Reservation where I; participated in a dedication ceremony for a new house that was built from materials our company (Hancock Lumber) donated, attend Pow-Wow and the annual rodeo, visited Black Elk’s abandoned cabin and traveled to the Black Hills to climb Harney Peak where I gave a prayer in honor of Black Elk and the Lakota people.

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I encourage you to read the book ‘Black Elk Speaks’ and stay posted for my book coming in 2014!  Please share this video with others as I am inspired to create more AWARENESS of the history of the Lakota people and more ENCOURAGEMENT for them as they let go of past injustices and build an independent future for themselves, their families and their communities.  The spirit & depth of this video is meant to be watched on an I-Pad or computer (not a phone).  It just requires a quiet 15 minutes for reflection.  Thank you!  Doksa Ake!

The Pine Ridge Story – 6 minute video

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For the past 12 months I have been spending time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the southwest corner of South Dakota. “The Rez” as those who live there call it, is home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The tribe has a rich history as they are the descendants of Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, Crazy Horse, Black Elk and other famous Sioux leaders. The Oglala Sioux were leaders in Battle at Little Big Horn in 1876 and the famous massacre site at Wounded Knee is located on their reservation. They belong to the Lakota band of Sioux Indians who, as late as the 1870’s controlled a vast territory stretching from the Missouri River to the Big Horn Mountains. Their land was guaranteed to be theirs by the U.S. Government through the Treaty of 1868 forever (“as long as the grass shall grow and the water shall flow”) but just a few years later gold was “discovered” in the Black Hills and everything changed.

The Lakota people referred to gold as the “yellow metal that makes the white men crazy”. Prospectors and settlers rushed into the Black Hills and the government told the Lakota people that the treaty could no longer stand. Instead, reservations were created in the least desirable places as far out of the way as possible. For the next 100 years government policy was to “remake” the Indians as white people. At Pine Ridge the Oglala Sioux were made to dress as white men and made to farm (even though much of the land is unsuitable for farming). It was illegal for them to gather or speak their language. Those “caught” practicing traditional religious ceremonies were arrested or sent to insane asylums. The children were taken (literally) and sent off to Indian boarding schools in the east to be remade. “First to worst,” is a phrase they still use at Pine Ridge to describe their journey.

Today Pine Ridge is statistically the poorest place in America. Unemployment is approximately 90% and the median income is about $4,000. The lowest life expectancy in the Western Hemisphere is Haiti. The second lowest is Pine Ridge where males today, on average, live to be 48. Housing is a major problem. The housing shortages is estimated to be 4,000 homes and many of the homes that do exist are over crowded and sub-standard. Many people live without electricity or running water. This is right in the middle of our own country.

This summer Hancock Lumber donated materials for a new home to be built at Pine Ridge. Those involved there refer to it as the “Hancock home” and tell me it was the only home built at Pine Ridge (2.7 million acres) this year. Pine Ridge is very geographically isolated. It is a 2 hour drive to Rapid City and 7 hours to Denver. People rarely visit here. Those who live here feel forgotten. The U.S. government promised to care and provide for the Lakota people in exchange for taking their land and forcing them onto reservations. These promises have not been kept. Sitting Bull once said, “They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one. They promised to take our land and they took it.”

I have since been to Pine Ridge four times. I have many friends there now. The people there are smart, resourceful and fun to be with. It is an amazing testimony to their fortitude that their culture survives. I am writing a book about the history of the Lakota people and modern day life at Pine Ridge. I have also started a non-profit organization called “The 7th Power” whose mission is to encourage a return to independence for the people of Pine Ridge through support of housing, education, traditional food sources and increased awareness of their story. Among other initiatives we plan to support more housing activity in 2014. It costs approximately $140,000 to build a home at Pine Ridge. With 4,000 additional homes needed that brings the total cost of the housing need to $560,000,000. Immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit the east coast the federal government made $900,000,000 available to repair housing and infrastructure. The housing shortage at Pine Ridge is over 100 years old and remains unaddressed.

“The 7th Power” in Lakota spirituality stands for the power of a single individual to make a difference. If you would like to join the effort or make a contribution you can email me at khancock@hancocklumber.com or by mail at “The 7th Power – attn: Kevin Hancock – P.O. Box 299 – Casco, Maine – 04015.

Thank you and as they say at Pine Ridge, DOSKA AKE (see you later)!

An Employee Led Company

The Maine based construction company Cianbro has a sign up on their conference room in Pittsfield that simply reads, “No one in this room is smarter than all of us.” Another quote I like is, “If both of us always agree, one of us isn’t necessary.”

Back in April I toured every location to sit in on employee focus groups. At each mill and store I sit with 8-9 employees and hear their thoughts on their work experience at Hancock Lumber. I really am interested in people’s perspectives on our company. I describe these sessions as ‘No Judgment Zone’ discussions. I think we can all spend too much time evaluating people’s views to determine if they are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ instead of just listening to what people have to say and respecting their perspective.

THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: There is no single truth about anything. Different people see the same topic from their own unique view. Getting every view heard is critical to gaining understanding. Gaining understanding is the first ingredient in improving.

Speaking up is a team sport. Managers need to ask lots of questions and listen with interest. Employees need to take responsibility for getting more involved in idea sharing and decision making. The more you lead, the better we will do. It is easy to fall into the stereotypical trap of letting the ‘bosses’ make the decisions, but please know that I do not want that for our company. I want you to think of Hancock Lumber as your company as much as you possibly can. What you see and what you think is a really important. The invitation for employee leadership is extended; the more YOU lead, the more YOU speak up, the better WE will do and the more valuable you will feel. We don’t have to agree all the time! In fact, think about how boring and limiting that would be if we did.

I have seen a lot of people get brave, take a deep breath and speak out at focus group meetings and it really inspires me every time it happens!

OST, Housing and Writing My First Book


Last November I visited South Dakota and Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Indian people.  This tribe has an incredible history with leaders such as Red Cloud and Crazy Horse.  They ruled the entire northern plains from the Missouri River to the Big Horn Mountains for nearly 200 years.  They defeated Custer and the 7th Cavalry at Little Big Horn.  One of their bands was the victim of the last great Indian massacre at Wounded Knee.  Approximately 100 years later in the 1970’s they had the stand-off with Federal Marshall’s at Wounded Knee that lasted for weeks.  In 1980 the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government violated their 5th amendment rights (taking without just compensation) in taking the Black Hills in the 1880’s.  The court awarded $17 million plus interest.  The tribe wouldn’t take the money…”Our land is not for sale was their reply.”

Today there are approximately 35,000 Oglala Sioux living on the Pine Ridge Reservation (+2,000,000 acres).  I was really struck by the geographic isolation of the tribe, the lack of commerce and the degree to which the original reservation ‘system’ is still in place.

Geographically, they are on the road to nowhere.  No white people travel through there for anything!  Very isolated.  I saw 5 white people in 3 days on the reservation.  4 of them were teaching at the Jesuit Red Cloud School.  One was advising the tribal council.

The lack of commerce is hard to describe.  There are no private businesses to speak of.  There is no bank.  There is no car dealership.  There is no grocery store.  There is no movie theater.  There aren’t 5 restaurants.  It is quite unlike anything I have seen in the United States.  The unemployment rate is 75%.  We have a national ‘crisis’ at 9%.

The original ‘agreement’ (Treaty) between the Oglala Sioux and the Federal Government was simple.  If you (Indians) agree (in the end they had no choice) to come live and STAY on this reservation, we (Whites – Federal Government) agree to take care of you.  We will cloth you, feed you, provide school, provide housing, provide the basic tools of agriculture.  That was the ‘deal’ and I understood this original ‘deal’ from history.  What I was NOT prepared for is the fact that this ‘deal’ is still in full force today.  That is how the reservation functions today.  The tribe has a dilemma.  They feel strongly that the government needs to keep its treaty obligations but in return that perpetuates this massive culture of dependency and lack of independent economic opportunity.  We are now 4-5 generations into this cycle and the cycle plays out in extreme isolation.

I stayed at the Singing Horse Trading Post with this German woman who married an Oglala and then divorced but stayed.  As she puts it, “If no one ever showed you a trumpet, why would you want to play one.”

I am going to stay connected to this tribe.  I will return there.  I made some good contacts.  Helping in a meaningful way is not that simple because of what I have described above.  I started a journal which, in time, will become the foundation of a book I am writing about their experience and the overarching themes it touches about man’s relationship with their government and finding YOURSELF in spite of your ROLE.

Customer Quote

“Customer intimate companies don’t deliver what the market wants, but what specific customers want. Their employees make sure that EACH customer gets EXACTLY what he or she REALLY wants.”

This is one of my favorite quotes for our business and I use it all the time – it is on pine plaques spread across the company, as well as in my email signature.  Our collective job at Hancock Lumber is to listen to our customers and deliver exactly what they need and want, day in and day out.

Hancock Lumber named MITC Exporter of the Year

Working Together


I have often found in business that the most powerful concepts are right in front of us in plain sight. Builders and suppliers have always “worked together” but today at Hancock Lumber we see a much deeper commitment forming that is redefining what this means. In our new economy ACCURACY and EFFICIENCY are the keys to increasing profitability. When there was more than enough work to go around the supply chain inefficiencies could be dismissed or “out run” because everyone had so much work. Today, improvement comes from better planning and more collaboration designed to get things right the first time.Team sports have been a big part of my life. What I love most about this business is that we need each other to be successful and that our interests are aligned. When an order is filled on time and accurately we both win. When an order is incomplete, wrong or late we both lose. Getting things right is MISSION CRITICAL to you AND to Hancock Lumber.Across our company today I see builders and Hancock representatives coming together like never before to PLAN together to make orders accurate and efficient. In the last four years we have reduced credits (mistakes) in shipping and billing by 66%! In just the last 6 months we have increased our average delivery size by 35%! FEWER – BIGGER – MORE ACCURATE transactions benefit everyone. For our customers, reducing paperwork, reducing credits, reducing shipments simply means more time for YOUR core activity of building, selling and servicing your customers. Together we are making material procurement more streamlined and efficient and I am super excited about the benefits this will bring to our customers and company in the years to come. Time invested to get it right the first time is high value added activity and I see us partnering with our builders like never before to accomplish this. We are truly committed to being BUILT TO DELIVER for you! Thank you for playing a leading role in accuracy and efficiency!