Straining My Vocal Chords and Strengthening the Voices of Others

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks on Awakin Call about his books Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. He speaks about his journey to Pine Ridge as well as the healing process and lessons he learned there. He then talks about how he incorporates the tools he gathered there to implement a better structure at Hancock Lumber. In an effort to disperse power, Kevin shares the leadership role with every one of his employees. This allows them to find their true voice and the company benefitted from this greatly. He leaves the podcast by talking about how shared leadership will continue growing throughout the world.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • One of the things I’ve thought a lot about is the idea that we all come from a tribe. We’re all born into a certain moment in time, place, culture, community. And that entry point, if you will, pulls on us all to act a certain way, to be a certain type of person. But ultimately, each soul is here living a life on earth to find their own true voice, authentic to who they are, and to release it and share it with the world. (16:35-17:28)
  • One of the ideas that I really talk about in that book is the idea that awareness and connectivity, in and of itself, is a powerful act. So when I would go to Pine Ridge and come back, people would ask me what I did there. And at first, I really struggled to provide an answer. But finally I just came clean and said, I don’t really do anything there, which I don’t. I just travel around the reservation and spent time with people that I know there. And this is a place where for decades, generations, people from away have gone there to fix, save, change the people that live there. And that doesn’t work, of course, because change comes from within. And I really would see power in going there for no other reason than to be aware and connected. (32:45-33:47)
  • So at Pine Ridge, one of their core values is wisdom. And the Lakota believe that wisdom is primarily acquired through experience by living a life. And for those who have lived the longest have had the most experiences and have therefore acquired large quantities of wisdom. And elders, therefore, are highly respected within the community. If you go to a public gathering and a younger person stands up to speak, they will first ask permission to speak for the elders. And I remember a few years ago when I took my mom with me to Pine Ridge, and we had a really lovely experience. And it was fun for me to see that immediately upon arrival, she was put in front of me in a place of honor, even though she never been there, because she was the elder. And so it really made me think about how our culture, mainstream culture, could engage elders differently. (43:04-44:35)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.

Not 4 Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with host CinnamonMoon to discuss his book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. In his book, Kevin shares the driving factors that led him to his vision quest in South Dakota. He shares the details of how his life changed during and after the quest, as well as how he took the lessons he learned and applied them to his life.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • And then it dawned on me probably later than it should, but after four or five trips from Maine to the reservation that I was having a bit of my own modern day Vision Quest experience. When I looked at what was happening to me, it had all the same elements of that ancient Lakota right. (26:39-26:58)
  • Yeah, no, you do. It’s so fun. I mean, the world actually becomes, I don’t want to say a simpler place, but you can see these basic simple elements everywhere you turn suddenly. It’s like the whole world lights up that way. (57:50-58:07)
  • Learning and growing does not have a finish line. It doesn’t have an end point. It doesn’t stop and there’s no winning or losing. It’s just living with a soul-based authentic intention and purpose that is pointing you in the right direction. (80:56-81:20)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.

Not For Sale

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Bright Side host Tekneshia about his book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and the journey he took that brought him to Pine Ridge. Through his own healing quest, Kevin was able to identify groups of other people who felt their voices had been muted and made it his mission to strengthen everyone’s unique voice. He took this initiative and began dispersing leadership and power to those around him.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Not For Sale: Guest Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with The Common Sense Psychic host Phyllis King about his new book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. The book depicts his journey to Pine Ridge to visit the Indian Reservation and the lessons he learned along the way. One of the largest realizations on his journey involved Kevin’s leadership style. As the CEO of Hancock Lumber, Kevin was often the loudest voice in the room, but when he lost his ability to speak, he turned to others to speak more. By listening to others, he found that he could uplift their ideas and share the leadership role.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • And I happened to have read in the summer of 2012, a copy of National Geographic in which the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was on the cover. And that article, that story, just spoke to me in a really deep, soulful way. Like every character in the story came out and hugged me. And I finished the article and I said to my wife, “I’m going to go there. I want to see what life is like, modern day life is like for the people that live there.” One of the biggest most historic, poorest, combative, disenfranchised of all the Sioux reservations on the Northern Plains. And one trip led to two, which has now been 10. And a journal I was keeping turned into a book and a story I wanted to tell. But it all came from stopping, sitting still, and listening to my own voice and wanting to express myself more broadly than just the roles I’d been assigned or taken on in my life. (08:17-09:18)
  • But what I discovered by accident changed the way I thought about leadership and changed my role. And I’ve since come to be a champion of what if we could create an organization where every voice was a leading voice, where every person led. Wouldn’t that be more powerful and dynamic and healthy than an organization where just a few people held all the cards? (20:09-20:37)
  • I suddenly had a lot more time, I was able to be more effective by doing less. Which is a really counter intuitive concept for leaders to get their head around. But I freed up time and then I was able to reinvest some of that time in my own well-being. And just over time, spending time just on me. Like I would go to Pine Ridge for five or six days at a time by myself. And while I was engaging with them and learning about them and growing fond of them and thinking about their world, I was really also just there clearing my own head and serving my own soul. And the mere act of making time to do that was extremely powerful. (20:41-21:35)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.

How Spirit Quests & Indigenous Wisdom Can Shape Better Business Leadership

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to The Lucid Planet podcast host Dr. Kelly Neff about the lessons he learned at Pine Ridge that permanently altered the course of both his life and leadership style, including learning to listen more, looking inward for purpose, strengthening the voices of others, and reconstructing his entire sense of identity. Kevin’s transformation allowed him to connect with a different sense of unity within his communities and adapt his leadership style to strengthen the voices of others.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Native American Callings Panel Discussion Guest

In this video, Kevin Hancock joins a panel at Kansas State University Staley School of Leadership Studies as a discussion guest on Native American Callings. Kevin shares his story about losing his voice and traveling to Pine Ridge. He speaks about how the leadership styles on the reservation, coupled with the events of losing his voice, have changed how he leads. He highlights how individuals want to speak their own truth, instead of letting the head of an organization speak for them.

Click here to listen to the full video.

Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Beyond 50 Radio host Daniel Davis about the lessons he learned at the Lakota Tribe at Pine Ridge and how their teachings helped him find how shared leadership enhances the lives of everyone. He shares the spiritual healing and inner peace that his quest to South Dakota brought. Kevin also speaks about how shared leadership has enhanced the lives and job satisfaction of those that work at Hancock Lumber. The power dispersal has allowed the company to flourish and grow at a rapid pace.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Guest Presenter: Kevin Hancock

In this video, Kevin Hancock stars as the guest presenter on Skidompha Library’s “Chats with Champions” series. Kevin discusses his book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and the journey the book showcases. This healing quest brings Kevin to South Dakota, where he meets the Lakota tribe living on the Pine Ridge reservation. He then discusses how the lessons he learned during his journey have helped him grow, learn, heal, and evolve as a person and leader.

Click here to watch the full video.

Not For Sale!

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Law of Attraction Talk Radio host Jewels Johnson about his new book Not 4 Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. He speaks about how important his journey to Pine Ridge was to finding his sense of purpose and rethinking how he leads his employees. Kevin’s quest brought him to a realization that he wants to help strengthen and enforce the voices of those who feel unheard.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse

In this podcast, Kevin speaks to Big Blend Radio host Lisa about leadership and spiritual connectivity. He shares the journey he took when he lost his voice and the lessons he was able to learn while searching for peace and healing. His quest brought him to an understanding of shared leadership and power dispersal in nature. He then brought that lesson back with him to his leadership position at Hancock Lumber. At his company, he was able to observe the changes in employee satisfaction and engagement when leadership began being a daily part of every individual’s life. Kevin finishes by speaking about the unification of a global tribe as people begin finding their voices and coming together.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Not For Sale

In this podcast, Kevin speaks to Conscious Thought With Leo host Magdalena Winkler about his new book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. Kevin shares his story, his journey to Pine Ridge, and the lessons he learned along the way. He dives into the idea that power is meant to be dispersed, meaning leadership should be shared among the many instead of collected at a single entity. By practicing this at Hancock Lumber, Kevin shares his findings about the company’s performance and how his employees have been able to find their own true voices.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

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”!

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.

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!

Spiritual Essence #216

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Love Maine Radio Podcast host Dr. Lisa Belisle about his journey to Pine Ridge. Kevin shares his draw to Pine Ridge and the connection he feels to the tribe there. During his quest to find peace with the loss of his voice, Kevin wanted to begin strengthening the voices of others who felt unheard. Kevin also explains the spiritual connection he feels to the land, the people, and the philosophy of the tribe.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

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.


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.