My guest today is a leadership speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach Alain Hunkins he leads and designs seminars on numerous leadership topics, including team-building conflict management, communication, peak performance, innovation, engagement, and change.
We talk about four essential needs that people need to have satisfied for them to perform at their best, what a road map to leadership looks like, effective leadership style and lot more.
His book 'Cracking the leadership code' is available on Amazon
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[00:00:04] Welcome to the success inspired podcast, a business and personal development podcast to help you accomplish more in life and realize your true potential. And now here is your host Vit Muller
Vit Muller: [00:00:16] Hello, everybody. Vit here from Success Inspired Podast. My guest today is a leadership speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. Over his 20 year career. He's led over 2000 groups in 25 countries and his client include Walmart, Pfizer, Citi group, General Electric, State Farm insurance, IBM, General Motors and Microsoft. He has led and designed seminars on numerous leadership topics, including team-building conflict management, communication, peak performance, innovation, engagement, and change.
[00:00:52] Please. Welcome to the show Alain Hankins.
Alain Hunkins: [00:01:00] Thank you so much of it for the introduction. And I am really excited for our conversation today. Thanks for having me.
Vit Muller: [00:01:07] You're welcome. Great to have you in the show. And since I've already introduced to a little bit, what's something that not many people know about you.
Alain Hunkins: [00:01:14] Uh, most people don't know that I come from a family of musicians. Uh, my father's entire family. He's one of five siblings. They're all professional musicians as were both of his parents. And I played the violin starting at the age of five really seriously all the way until I was 18. In factmy 13th birthday, I performed in Carnegie hall with a youth symphony orchestra of New York.
[00:01:35] So little known fact about me.
Vit Muller: [00:01:38] That's a fairly famous place. I've heard about it.
Alain Hunkins: [00:01:40] Carnegie hall, you know, they, they say, you know, the joke about how do you get to Carnegie hall practice, practice, practice.
Vit Muller: [00:01:48] Now let's talk about your expertise. You you're a leader, you coach leadership. Yeah. What were the first steps, um, that, you know, in your career that, that led to be, you know, a leadership coach?
Alain Hunkins: [00:02:02] Yeah. So for me, I've always been really interested in people specifically. Why do people do what they do? And if you think about it, doesn't matter what industry you work in as a leader, you're first and foremost, you're in the people business. So I think that was the connection there. Right? Cause it's all about working with people.
[00:02:20] You know, if we want to get anything done, that takes leadership. With, with yourself and with others. So I studied lots of different things. When I was in undergrad in college, I was a dabbler and I studied psychology. I studied theater, I studied Buddhist scripture. And then I actually went on and trained as a professional actor, which in some ways has a lot to do with motivation and behavior, because it's an actor.
[00:02:44] You are putting yourself under the microscope and trying to inhabit other characters that you play in. Drama. And so from there, I got involved doing teaching, using arts in education, leadership, training, and conflict resolution facilitation in junior high schools and high schools in New York city. And from there, a friend of mine said, have you ever thought about working in businesses?
[00:03:06] No. He said maybe you should check it out. To make a long story short. I ended up moving into doing corporate training and involved with management and leadership training. And I found that working with adults and doing this kind of work felt like the sweet spot. And that was in 1997. So fast forward 23 years, I've worked with over 2000 groups in 25 countries.
[00:03:27] And the great thing about working with so many groups is you start to see patterns emerge. So a big part of my focus and my. Thinking on leadership, isn't just theoretical it. Isn't just like I sit around and write books in my office. It's actually having been out in the field, working with training, coaching, and especially listening to leaders and the stories that they tell specifically what they struggle with, because it's a lot harder than it looks.
Vit Muller: [00:03:54] So in a way, it's like what you said at the beginning. We, you know, you practice violin, it's, you know, it's, you're honing on that, that, that instrument you keep on practicing and you get to Carnegie hall in the same way you've been, uh, you know, you've been going around the world, talking to these different business groups and honing on your, on your skills.
Alain Hunkins: [00:04:13] Yeah. Yeah, very much. Yeah.
Vit Muller: [00:04:16] That your, your new book, um, 'Navigating trust' promises to be a roadmap for leadership. Can you unpack for the listeners? What is that roadmap look like?
Alain Hunkins: [00:04:25] Sure. Well, then the needs to be clear, the new book is called 'Cracking the leadership code. I had another ebook called navigating trust, but no worries about that.
[00:04:32] So the book is called cracking. The leadership code. The subtitle are the three secrets to building strong, wrong leaders. And yet it is designed to be a roadmap to help any aspiring leader to basically shorten their leadership learning curve. Again. Yeah, you can spend your whole life practicing. And getting somewhere, but wouldn't it be helpful to have a guide to accelerate that, that success progress?
[00:04:56] So the three secrets of the subtitle are connection, communication and collaboration. And the book is designed to introduce these main three principles, but then to dive deep into the good, the bad and the ugly as to. You know, what's going to trip you up as a leader. What are the pitfalls you will fall into?
[00:05:16] And then how do you get out of those and what are the specific practical tools that you can start to apply or to use the word we used before to practice, to increase your leadership skill? Because leadership is a skill that is developed over time. Some people ask, you know, are leaders born or are they made?
[00:05:36] Well, last time I checked, every leader was born. No one was hatched. However, once you're born, that is just the ticket to entry. And some people might have certain natural giftings and abilities, but if you really want to develop yourself, you're going to need to practice and strengthen these core connection, communication and collaboration skills.
Vit Muller: [00:05:56] Now talking to more specifically, what are some of those, um, collaboration skills.
Alain Hunkins: [00:06:01] Okay. Let's talk about collaboration. Sure. So if we look at getting other people to work well, both with you and with each other, one of the key elements that leaders need to do, and I call it becoming a motivational choice architect.
[00:06:18] Now what I mean by that is if you try to make someone else be motivated, you're basically resorting to the old style command & control. Like you're going to be motivated. You're going to meet and learn to like, no, I'm not like don't, you know, that doesn't work. So instead it's almost like we've got to use some aikedo , right?
[00:06:35] It's like, like martial arts, you know how you work with the energy that's there already. And so instead, what you want to do is think about how can you design an environment where people can perform at their best. And what I found in my research is that there are four essential needs that people need to have satisfied for them to perform at their best.
[00:06:57] And I'll just walk through these in turn. So the first need that we have is safety. So people need to feel safe. They have to feel physically safe. You also have to feel psychologically safe because when people feel safe, it actually allows their central nervous system to relax. And it then frees up their executive functioning of their prefrontal cortex.
[00:07:17] And they're not all in that fight flight freeze state, and they can relax and focus on doing the higher level cognitive creative problem solving they're trying to do in their job. So safety is the first big need. Second big need is energy. I mean, you know, this from your work is that people do better when they're energized.
[00:07:36] So an easy example, anyone who's worked in an office or in a business knows what it's like to sit through a two or two and a half or three hour meeting that hasn't taken a break and, you know, you're just going and going. And you're just like, I can't co you literally cannot focus because physiologically we are not wired to go that long with high level thinking.
[00:07:57] So, one thing to consider, I call it use the 90 minute rule. We basically have a 90 minute threshold, and then we're done. So as a leader, design breaks put breaks into your time. I know that sounds so common sense, but design breaks into things so that people can refresh. Now that's a shift. A lot of people think what overtaking a break.
[00:08:16] We're wasting time. It's like, no, not taking a break is actually way less effective. So what you think you're gaining in efficiency, you're actually losing an effectiveness. So we've covered the first two. We've talked about safety. We've talked about energy. Third thing is people want a sense of ownership over their work.
[00:08:34] They want freedom and autonomy. To put their own take on it. So yes, you want to define the outcome. They're trying to get to and frame the project, but don't micromanage every little step of the way. Give them some latitude to express themselves because when people do that and they take ownership, they are so much more engaged in the process.
[00:08:56]So that's third it's ownership. And the last one is getting people a strong sense of purpose. The fact is there are certain things that will get you out of bed getting started because it matters to you. People want to feel like what they're doing is bigger than just a job or a paycheck or a transaction, right.
[00:09:13] They want to feel like what they're doing really matters. I'll give you a quick example. So I was working with a medical device company in Minnesota a few years ago, and this company makes very high tech devices to help, um, release time release medication. That's a machine that's internal for recovering cancer patients.
[00:09:33] So I was there to work at the corporate office, but. They said, you know, we have our factory right across the street. Would you like to go and take a factory tour before we get started? I said, I'd love to. So I took this tour of the factory and I saw someone working there. Her name was April and she was doing some work that was this amazing combination of high tech, but also high skilled craftsmanship.
[00:09:53] And so she was working away at this little thing in this high-tech machines and she was taking a break and I came over to, I said, April, my name is Ella. I'm here for on a factory tour. Can I just ask you some questions about what you do. And so can you explain what exactly you're doing here? And I'm expecting her to explain how she's going to take this wire and it gets soldered.
[00:10:11] I mean, that's what I'm expecting her to say,
Vit Muller: [00:10:12] like a technical answer,
Alain Hunkins: [00:10:13] a technical answer. And she says, well, I help save people's lives. What do you do? And I was like, Whoa, like she was, that's the big picture. That's the purpose.
Vit Muller: [00:10:21] That's amazing.
Alain Hunkins: [00:10:22] And I found out that was no accident because what the company and he does is every quarter.
[00:10:27] So four times a year, they have an all company town hall where they invite patients who have used their products to come and speak to all the employees about what a difference their product has made in their lives. And so. April's clued in because she's hearing it directly from the end. So many of us feel so disconnected from the work that we do.
[00:10:48] So if we, as leaders can give people that sense of purpose and it can be anything, you could be sweeping floors somewhere, but you know what those floors need to get clean. Every role has a purpose. And as leaders, we have to remind people what that purpose is regularly and passionately.
Vit Muller: [00:11:06] No, that's, uh, that's amazing.
[00:11:07] And that's so true for so many other businesses as well, like yeah. Right in fitness, good example too, right? I mean, that's, that's, that's where I'm from. We, you know, at the gym we do these regular challenges. And at the beginning, when we do an info night and we try to get a couple of people to share their story, On their past challenges that they have tried with us before to share it with the new people, but also share it in our staff and trainers there.
[00:11:34] And it really sort of helps us sync in that purpose. Like you said, like, what did that do for them? Like they've lost weight, they've increased fitness. They may be a parent parents. They've got kids now they've got more fitness. They feel healthier for them. Um, it really sort of connects the dots. Doesn't it?
Alain Hunkins: [00:11:51] No completely it does reminds me of a story. I met, uh, uh, an executive. He must've been in his mid sixties and he told me the story, you might be familiar. I know this is big in the UK, something called park run. These not-for-profit community sponsored runs. They're like five K's and there non competitive.
[00:12:07] And he basically trained to do a park run. And he told this whole story about the reason he did it was because he wanted to be able to be around for his grandchildren. And it says again, the way he told the story. He's crying. He's telling the story, I'm crying because it's so powerful. I mean, you know, we can think of it as, Oh, I'm just wanting to get in shape, but there's a bigger why.
[00:12:26] And if we can connect into the bigger picture, why are we doing this? Whether it's, you know, I want to dance at my daughter's wedding, or I want to be able to be there, whatever that might be suddenly you feel the passion and the energy starts to come. And that's such a huge way to help people to collaborate and be motivated.
Vit Muller: [00:12:43] Absolutely. And for those of you guys who listen to this podcast, you know that we've repeated this many times over when you're trying to figure out your, um, your true motivation. What really is there for you? Like, why are you really doing, why are you really doing it? It's like peeling that onion and like trying to go three levels deeper, like ask yourself, okay.
[00:13:02] If, if it allows you to do this, if you can lose a bit of weight, what will that allow you to do then? Okay, well, you'll be able to move better. You'll be able to move a lot lighter. You'll be able to do more. If you can do more, what will that allow you to do? Maybe you can take on another project, maybe another sidekick.
[00:13:18] Maybe it allows you to increase, um, additional income support you, your family. So many other reasons, but trying to go deeper and just, just a typical, like, I want to get a six pack or that superficial aesthetic goal. Right?
Alain Hunkins: [00:13:32] Yeah, that's great. In fact, what you just described it in my work, we call it, it's an exercise it's called the five whys where you take the top level and whatever the answer is, then you ask.
[00:13:41] And so why is that important? And then you come up with the next level and then you ask and you try to go hopefully five, maybe it's three or four, but the idea is you discover that deeper motivation behind you. If you get to somewhere at the end that you thought you knew already, it turns out that the journey is amazing.
Vit Muller: [00:13:58] Now you said one of the four elements. If we can call it elements.
[00:14:05] The first one being safety, like when people feel safe to do their work, then they can sort of self-actualize and it reminded me of the Maslow's pyramid in a way. Is that kind of where it's sort of coming from?
Alain Hunkins: [00:14:20] Yes and no. It's interesting. Cause everyone, everyone goes to Maslow because that's the most famous one, but there's a number of other kind of hierarchies in this ideas around needs.
[00:14:28] So whether it's Maslow or Piaget, there's a whole bunch out there, but yeah, there is a certain level of that. It's like the fact is if you, and you know, you want to look at the physiological needs that like we talked about with energy, In some ways there's a Maslow thing. Like, look, if you are really tired or really hungry or really have to go to the bathroom, you're not going to listen to a thing I have to say.
[00:14:48] It's just not that important. Right. So certain needs outweigh other ones. It's certain moments, but it's interesting because yeah, for sure. When it comes to safety, it's really important. Specifically around psychological safety. They did some really great research at Google to found out what are the things you can do to increase psychological safety and actually a couple of big things.
[00:15:08] Number one is, as the leader is you modeling vulnerability. Basically people will only be as open as you are as a leader. So you have to model it and set the tone, which means be courageous enough to share when things aren't going well and going, Hey, you know, this is, you know, it doesn't mean you're not competent.
[00:15:25] It just means that, you know, we're human, you know, you don't have to pretend to be a superhero. So that's the first thing. The other thing is if you're working with a team, you know, it's really easy at times to have just one or two people with a loud voices dominate. So making sure that everyone on the team gets equal amounts of airtime.
[00:15:42] So that we hear everyone's voice because until people have their voice in the room, they're not really fully engaged.
Vit Muller: [00:15:49] Yeah.
[00:15:49] That's so important giving everybody opportunity and rather than trying to be the authority and my way or highway type thing, it doesn't work. Does it?
Alain Hunkins: [00:15:59] No, that is in fact, the whole beginning of the book, I go into why we call it, I call it old school leadership, right?
[00:16:05] It's very old school. And most of us know it because most leaders today still have inherited even parts of that. And that comes out of the industrial revolution. And why this is so important to understand is because remember in the industrial revolution, we're talking at the beginning of the 20th century, end of the 19th century, 95% of the organized labor force was working.
[00:16:28] On the assembly line doing repetitive manual labor. So the leaders wanted people to behave like parts of the machine, in fact, the way parts of the factory. And so the value proposition was you show up, you basically shut up and comply. We're going to teach you how to do something, and you're going to do that same thing, repetitive manual labor over and over again every day, every week, every month.
[00:16:54] For years and years and years, that is not the world that we live in anymore. So if you just want people just to shut up and comply, you're in the wrong century. I mean, Henry Ford who founded the Ford motor company once famously said about his employees. He said, why is it when I want a pair of hands?
[00:17:07] They come with a brain attached. I mean, we live in a digital technological knowledge work age, and the fact is everyone. Even people at the front lines. I mean, think about like, let's say in the fitness industry, and let's say your frontline people are, you know, the people at the front desk of a health club or a personal trainer working directly with clients.
[00:17:26] I mean, they need to have their brains. They need to be creatively problem solving and addressing issues and noticing what's going on and critically thinking all day long and reacting it. Isn't a repetitive thing. You're not, you're not, there's not the health club factory where you're just doing the same thing.
[00:17:41] And so that idea of being the commander and controller and chief is about as outdated as anything.
Vit Muller: [00:17:50] Absolutely. I totally agree. Now on that same note, there's a fine balance between opening yourself up, showing a level of your vulnerability, trying to be a bit more friendly with your staff so that, you know, it's.
[00:18:04] It's a lot easier to connect with them, but then sometimes you also need to manage and you need to explain, okay, well, especially when it comes to performance, right? If there's an issues of performance. So how does one best navigate between those two areas? Because, I mean, yeah. You've to be a bit of both.
[00:18:20] So you can't be do,
Alain Hunkins: [00:18:22] and this is the, this, this is the nature and this is what makes leadership so tricky because it's filled with paradoxes on the one hand. You do, you need to be that compassionate at times, open vulnerable person. And at the same time, how do you have a business to run? You have performance to make sure you have targets to hit.
[00:18:40] And so that's why we have connection, communication and collaboration. So one of the key ingredients to making sure that you can achieve the performance that's necessary is being super explicit about what expectations are before you get started. Because what ends up happening is if you don't make things clear up front, down the road, you get into those really uncomfortable conversations where you're thinking, well, they should know that they need to be performing there, but you've never said it.
[00:19:07] And so it's being really clear because I'm sure you're familiar with the idea. And this is a big buzzword in certainly in the corporate world, is this idea of accountability, right? We have to hold people accountable. Now it's my belief. From the leadership lens is we actually don't hold other people accountable.
[00:19:23] What we do is we remind people of the commitments that they've made to us and to themselves, and we remind them to hold themselves accountable. So that way we are talking to them, adult to adult, as opposed to this kind of very common. Parent child dynamic that we see,
Vit Muller: [00:19:42] I told you, so I
Alain Hunkins: [00:19:43] told you I'm the boss.
That's what I mean. Cause that's a very old parent child dynamic and you know how well that works with kids, kids put up with it until they're teenagers and then they stop putting up with it. They're like, I'm not going to deal with this crap anymore. So anyway, so the key to being able to have that clarity is having some really clear boundaries and explaining to people, this is what it is.
[00:20:04] This is the expectation. Does that make sense? What questions do you have? And then. As people are working towards achieving those targets. Basically if people are making progress and they're tracking along the way to achieve the targets, you're great celebrate and congratulate them. Great. And if they're not, the first impulse is to go in and say, Hey, I'm noticing things aren't achieved going towards the goal.
[00:20:25] How can I support you? What's getting in the way, how can I help? Right. So you're. Operating from that place first, as opposed to going, I don't know Vit, you know, you said you were going to sell 10 of new subscriptions this week and you only got five. You know, if you don't get to there five, you're going to be out of a job.
[00:20:38] I mean, that's not the best way to do that. Right. So it's recognizing how can I support and also helping people to understand. Look, if you do not achieve certain results, there is a natural consequence like you might do with kids, right? There is natural consequences to your behavior. And that way people are empowered to make decisions empowered, to ask for help.
[00:20:57] And you see your role as a leader is I'm here to support you in the process. And that look, there are times where it doesn't work. There's times where you have someone who's in a role and it's not a good fit, but because you've treated them with a level of respect when you realize it's time to part ways, it isn't this horrible nightmare of, Oh, I've got to come in and like, let them like, no, it's like, they're pretty clear on where they already stand because you've had these very.
[00:21:23] Courageous conversation along the way. And why I say courageous is because it takes courage to be able to speak this clearly, most of us don't have modeling of leaders who did it this way. Right? Most of us are having to make that up. So it feels really new. And so if you can find leaders who can mentor and model you in this way, it's great because it's really hard to do things that you've never seen practiced.
Vit Muller: [00:21:48] I think coaching is, is very effective when it comes to that. When it comes to that, um, communication with your employees, um, in your business to do in a way, like sit down with them and sort of coach, you know, ask them those right coaching questions. Um, To get them think about solutions and the importance of it, and to really get them to buy into it. Right ?
Alain Hunkins: [00:22:09] Totally. I mean, what you just said about coaching and asking them questions, that's the ownership piece that we talked about. One of those needs and collaboration is that when you're coaching, and instead of me saying things aren't working, it's like, Hey, how do you think things are going? What could you, you know, asking the coaching questions, then they create their own solutions.
[00:22:25] They take ownership of it as opposed to stepping into that child dynamic role. Okay, daddy. Okay. Mommy, you tell me what to do. So, yeah, coaching and, you know, I always suggest that, you know, leaders don't always have to be coaches, but they should be coach like in their approach, you know, and understanding how to go ask a good question.
Vit Muller: [00:22:44] Yeah. Yeah. That's right. That's what I was going to say. Yeah. It could be as easy as, as learning a couple of those. Really good questions and just put them in your toolbox. Cause then those meetings, when you have those meetings and you run those meetings in this way, they become a lot more collaborative and people don't feel like, um, you know, I'm here and you're here.
[00:23:02] It just becomes we're on the same level here and let's just have a good, good conversation. Um, productive conversation.
Alain Hunkins: [00:23:10] Yeah, but what you're I love what you're saying here Vit, because what you're alluding to is it's the willingness that leaders to do that, that to ask those questions, it means you get to actually take off the superhero Cape.
[00:23:20] You know, so many leaders think, well, I'm in charge. I have to show everyone I know the answers to everything and I can do it all. It's like, no, you don't, you don't have to do it all. You don't have to have all the answers. Why don't you let your guard down, be a real person and instead invite people to come on the journey with you.
[00:23:36] Instead of follow me, I'm in charge. I know where things are now. That's that's, that's again, very old school. Like the sole hero. You don't need to be the hero. In fact, what you can do is try to make everyone else heroes, because they'll remember that.
Vit Muller: [00:23:53] And going back to those relationships. I mean, we're all humans, even though you might be in a tough position, you're still a human.
[00:23:59] You still want to be, you still want to feel like other people value and you've got connections and those could be the employees, or if you're, if you're always like up to the top, um, You're going to have those days where you feel like, Oh, they don't understand me. I mean, in a way you kind of fit, sometimes you feel like, I wish I could just have a friendly conversation with them.
[00:24:18] And, but if you've always been that our third Tarion, you know, that, that, you know, I'm the boss it's never going to happen. Right. So that's, that's the other positive, like, benefit of off it. Right.
Alain Hunkins: [00:24:30] Oh completely, completely. I mean,
[00:24:32] I can tell you a quick story about this guy named Matt, that kind of brings this whole thing to life.
[00:24:36] So I met Matt. He was a district manager for a national in the U S national fast food franchise. And so at the time the company had a hundred districts. So a hundred district managers, each district manager oversaw about 10 different fast food restaurants. When I met Matt, he was ranked number one. Out of all hundreds.
[00:24:53] So I said, man, that's amazing. You're number one. Have you always been such a top performer? He went, no, no, no. When I started, I was like 84th on the list out of a hundred and I was down there for a long time. I said, well, 84th to number one. That's a pretty huge change. What happened? Tell me, you said when I started my mentality was he just got promoted.
[00:25:12] I'm the district manager. I'm the boss I'm in charge. And he thought his role was to be the fixer. And so every morning they would print out a summary of their key performance metrics about every store revenue per store. You know, drive-through wait times customer satisfaction. They did for every single store, they'd have these and they call them the hot list.
[00:25:28] So first thing that would do is look at the hot list and you'd see what was in red, right? So what's not measuring up in his 10 stores and then he'd hop in his car and he would drive from store to store. And he'd tell us, restaurant managers, you're not doing this. You gotta fix this. You've gotta do this again.
[00:25:41] And he did that like that. And he was hustling. He was working really hard and his results were just not getting any better stuck. There was turnover because he was kind of a jerk. He admitted he's like, I was kind of a jerk,
Vit Muller: [00:25:52] especially if you've got so many of those locations. It's
Alain Hunkins: [00:25:55] yeah. Yeah. So he was kind of, kind of trying to fly in, clean it up, fly out, clean it up.
[00:25:59] It's doing this. He did that for years. And he said, finally, I realized people don't want to work for a fixer. They want to work with a leader. And so I totally changed my approach. He said, I started going in and I talked to the restaurant manager. And the first thing I'd say is, Hey Vit, how was your weekend?
[00:26:14] How are you? How's your family like, and actually build some human to human relationships. And then he'd pull out the hot list. But he wouldn't say this isn't red. You aren't doing this. He'd say. Here's the data. What do you think we should do? Like you were saying, ask them some good questions. Like, what do you think we should do?
[00:26:27] What's the strategy here? And then they would, co-create a solution together. And what he said is, and that's when he started to climb because people started to build relationships with them. Employees would stay longer. So they were starting to coach each other. And he said the really cool thing about all this.
[00:26:40] He said, I realized that the key to making the numbers is to actually stop focusing on the numbers because the numbers are only a lagging indicator of the behavior.
[00:26:51]People that take care of the numbers. And then he said, this is the coolest part, because he said, when I was number 84, I was so much more stressed and I was working so much harder than I am now at number one. And our whole team, we are having so much more fun as well. So it's a real mindset shift that leads to new behaviors, but it starts with that mindset of getting out of the idea that you have to be this in-charge superhero.
[00:27:18] Vit Muller: [00:27:18] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
[00:27:20] Now what were some of the, let's go back back to you back to your own sort of coaching business.
Alain Hunkins: [00:27:26] Sure.
Vit Muller: [00:27:27] So what were some of the toughest experiences that, um, that you've had in starting and growing your, your business so far? How did you overcome them and what did the experience that these experiences do for you?
Alain Hunkins: [00:27:37] Yeah, I think one of the biggest, uh, challenges I had to overcome was my own fear of kind of putting myself out there.
[00:27:44] You know, I started in this world doing training for other people's training companies and I was good at it. I was comfortable, but there was a knowing part of me that was like, you know what, I want to do bigger and better things. And I want to write a book and be out on my own and do this. And so I think one of the biggest challenges.
[00:28:01] Was stepping out of my own comfort zone and stepping into the unknown territory, because I think like a lot of people, I know that I'm good at certain like a very small band of stuff and anything outside of that I would tend to, uh, I, I can't, like, I would feel that nervous. I can't do that. Somebody else does that.
[00:28:18] And then I would go back to my comfort zone. So, and I found that I was doing that for years. And then I was like, you know what, I'm going to have to stretch. I'm going to have to try stuff. And then. Part of it was realizing how to reframe those feelings of discomfort. So I used to be like, Oh, I can't do this.
[00:28:34] And I'd go back to my comfort zone. Well, in the last few years with this book coming out and writing it and stepping out and finding an agent and finding a publisher, when I get those feelings, I started to go. Oh, I know what this feels like. This is what learning feels like. This is what stretching out of your comfort zone feels like.
[00:28:50] This is what progress and growth feel like. So I've actually learned how to reframe those bodily sensations in a way that get me excited. Like, yeah. You know what. I never did this before. And, you know, even I remember it was really cool. You know, when my book was just about finished, I sent out drafts to get endorsements from people.
[00:29:10] And I reached out to a bunch of people, including a couple. I mentioned one guy before being a Nobel prize winner. Well, I reached out to another Nobel prize winner named Dan Conaman. If he'd endorse my book and he emailed me back, like within the same day, he said, no, I won't. And I won't, because I only endorse books of people who I know who've done their original research.
[00:29:29] So I got that email. And then I remember I had to pick up my kids from school that afternoon. And somebody said, how was your day? I went, my day is awesome. I just got rejected by a Nobel prize winner. No, because I realized if I had never sent the email, I would have never gotten a ride. You know, it goes back to the old, I think it's attributed to Wayne Gretzky, right?
[00:29:47] The old, you always miss a hundred percent of the shots you never take. And so I'm finding that as I step further and further into my business, like when I started, I used to be really like, I don't feel comfortable talking to that person. They're such a high status, you know, I can't, you know, they're, they're famous, they're they?
[00:30:03] Sorry. You know, they're, well-known in my field. Today, I'll talk to anybody. I'm like, Hey, great. Cause they're people. And I also believe in myself and believe in the work. So I think getting out of your own fear about stepping forward to me, that's massive because the, all the other stuff, those are logistical details.
[00:30:22] I mean, yeah, you can learn this, that, but until you kind of start to conquer that fear, at least for me, I was stuck for a long time.
Vit Muller: [00:30:28] Hmm. Now back to your beginning, I mean, the start, you know, like you said, like you, you learn the instruments, then you, you started, you know, teaching kids at the junior school, um, helping them.
[00:30:41] Where, w who were your role models when you were growing up?
Alain Hunkins: [00:30:45] Yeah, so interesting. I had, you know, some role models of what to do and some role models of what not to do for sure. And I think, you know, I think we all do, like, I'm going to be like this person. I'm not going to be like that person. So one of my big role models in terms of working hard, because I'd say one of you said, Ella, what's one of your super powers is, Oh, if I decide I'm going to do something, I am like a dog with a bone.
[00:31:06] I mean, I can get, like, I dig in sometimes to the point of like, My wife would be like, you need to stop and eat dinner. Like, like, just like, you know, do you know it's 1130 at night and you've been sitting there for I'm like, have I really, like, I'm just, I'm just going on this thing. Um, and I actually credit my grandmother for that.
[00:31:24] My grandmother and my mother raised me and I, you know, my, my grandmother was born in 1909 and she survived the second world war and. You know, and so she put her daughter in hiding. So my, my grandmother, my mother are both Jewish and they were living in Europe and it was intense. And my grandmother was actually arrested and survived a concentration camp and survived.
[00:31:43] And there was something about knowing her story and knowing her. And she was, you know, on the one hand she was tenacious and she said, you can work. If you work at something that you can make it happen at the same time, she was also emotionally pretty shut down from all the trauma. I mean, her husband. The old her mother and father were killed.
[00:31:58] So it's that experience scarred her in a lot of ways. So, you know, I think I got a lot of blessings and I also had to deal with some of the baggage that came along with that. So she was definitely a role model in terms of always thinking about stuff. You know, we oftentimes ask kids, what do you want to be when you grow up?
[00:32:15] And I've been asked that question. And I just remember being a kid from my grandmother. I got, this was. I want to be happy. It wasn't a thing. It was more a state of being, which I think in a lot of ways is freed me up to follow what I've been interested in. And cause I would have never guessed that this was the path.
[00:32:32] It only makes sense looking backwards. But while I was doing this one thing sort of led to another in a very organic way. So for sure she's been a role model. And then along the way, I have just had the opportunity to meet some really great mentors and teachers and you know, people ask me a lot about.
[00:32:49] Who's your mentor. And I always say timeout, timeout, like not let's let's change mentor from capital M to lowercase M that I don't think you should have one all seen. It's not like Luke and Yoda, right. While they're learning to be a Jew. It's how do you get lots of mentors and there's different mentors for different parts of your life.
[00:33:08] And you can also someone who, a friend of mine, Gary is really good. He runs his own business and he's very entrepreneurial and very comfortable around money and investing. So when I wanted some advice around that area, I go to Gary and other friend of mine is really great around physical health and well-being and nutrition.
[00:33:26] So when I want input there I go to him. I don't go to Gary. So it's just finding who are the people in your life that can teach you? Because we are all surrounded by teachers who, if we ask them are usually pretty willing to share their expertise because they want to pay it forward.
Vit Muller: [00:33:41] Yeah, makes perfect sense.
[00:33:42] And what I like about going back to what you said, you know, uh, who do you want to be and, and just be happy, you know? Uh, I like that because it takes away having to decide something specific, something, you know, based on like what society in a perceive as success. You really just doing it for yourself.
[00:34:02] And over those years, you'll find what you enjoy really doing. But as long as it's. Something that you really enjoy doing and keeps you happy. You know, it doesn't matter what it is. Right. And those things will change as well. Like, I mean, things change your career might change. I mean, of course I, I was happy before when I was trying to pursue your becoming a chef.
[00:34:20] When I was in my, in my early twenties, then I changed over and moved to fitness. And that's where I find my happiness. It's not that I don't like cooking, but just, yeah, just a bit of a shift.
Alain Hunkins: [00:34:32] Yeah, I love what you say about success. I think, you know, it's very easy to get caught up in somebody else's definition of success.
[00:34:39] And you've got to define what success looks like for you on your own terms. And here's the thing, I mean today with technology and the internet, if you want to play the comparison game, you will lose every time because you're comparing yourself against 7 billion people, so let's say your success metric is money.
[00:34:55] Guess what, unless your last name is Jeff Bezos. Somebody else has more money than you. You know, if it's good looks, someone else is probably better looking or in better shape than you. So you can always feel bad about yourself. I think the key to all of this is instead of focusing on what's the outcome I want to get decide what are your values and fall in love with the process of working at that every day, because.
[00:35:16] The joy actually comes from the work itself, whatever the work is for you. You know, for me, the work is around leadership and helping inspire other people in their potential. You know, other people, it might be playing an instrument or building a house or fitness or cooking or whatever that is finding that process.
[00:35:33] Because as soon as we play that comparison game, I think we're sunk.
Vit Muller: [00:35:37] Mm. Yeah. And then you start also focusing too much on materialistic, um, KPIs. Um, yeah, I, I really enjoy, like for me, it's like the quality of the relationships that I can have the people at the gym, people on my podcast, my guests, people anywhere.
[00:35:57] I mean, like if you can have a really good conversation with somebody even you didn't know, maybe an hour ago, if you got a really good conversation, I think that's, uh, I think that's more meaningful.
Alain Hunkins: [00:36:08] Yeah. And realizing that
[00:36:11] we all have different choices about what that means. But recognizing that if you go after something that isn't part of your core values, ultimately you're going to pay a price.
[00:36:21] I, you know, I've, you know that for me, I'll just share my own personal story around that. So when my wife and I decided that we want to have a family thinking about the quality of life, how much money do we have to earn? How many? So we thought were some other places we could live.
[00:36:35] And so instead of making a list of geographical cities, we actually made a list of values. What are our values? You know, one thing was access to nature and other thing was, well, I was traveling so close access to an airport. Another thing was, uh, quality of, of, of the, the environment. Um, also a place where we can be like-minded people.
[00:36:54] So we made, then we started mapping this all, and then we moved to where I live now, which is a small town in Western, Massachusetts, which is a college town. So there's a lot of intellectual, cultural, progressive, interesting life. And then. The kids were born the first one. And then I had some, because my work was basically the more days I was traveling and working, the more money I would make.
[00:37:14] But then, then we have the trade off it's time versus money. So I made some decisions, you know, once the kids were born. I was like, I'm going to pull back from working as much because actually I'm never going to get the time back with little babies and infants. So I took three months off unpaid because in the U S we don't have paid leave because we're crazy.
[00:37:32] So I took three months off when both kids were born and I pulled way back even later, because for me, Part of how I define success. I don't look back at my kids growing up and going, Oh, I missed that. You know, I wish I had been there. I was like, no, I don't have regrets about that now. Have I done it perfectly?
[00:37:49] Absolutely not. But I think if you have a clear sense of what you want to do and what's important, I mean, that you talked about. You know, easy to get caught up in the material stuff. I mean, there's a great book out there. Some people probably know it it's called your money or your life. And it actually inspired.
[00:38:04] What's called the fire movement, which is financial independence retire early. So for anyone who's interested in that book changed my thinking around money because what they basically say is money is what you're willing to trade your life energy for. So for example, let's say you work at a job and you make a hundred bucks an hour.
[00:38:23] Okay. So if you decide, you'd go to the store. And you want to buy some trinket, whatever it is, and it costs $500. Hey you go, is this thing worth five hours of my life? Because that's what it costs. Right. So, so when you start to think about it in those terms, you go, Oh my gosh, you know, what do I actually want to spend my money and my time on.
[00:38:42] So instead of just thinking of it another way, so it's a great resource and it, you know, it made me think about, yeah, what's important. What's not important. So for example, when I was. Whatever, 1990, 21, 22 years old, I bought a Honda civic, Honda civic, new, um, with not even air conditioning, you know, no nothing.
[00:39:00] And, um, I drove that car for 22 years, you know, I paid it. It was paid off. And for me, I just wanted to, I want to transportation. I didn't need status. I didn't need to impress anybody with my car, it worked and it didn't, it worked really well. And so, so I was happy to keep that car. So I had that car from the time I was 21 until I was 43 and that's a long time.
[00:39:23] So I just share that because I'm okay with that choice. Other people might like, how can you drive? Like, you know, my brother would see me. How can you drive that old dirt bag of a car and leave? Cause it runs. It's fine. You know? So it's all about, what's important to you and you have to align your values to the behaviors you have in your life.
Vit Muller: [00:39:40] Mm. That makes perfect sense. And I like what you said, and if you were happy with a car that is working and it's getting you from a to B, why would you need to change it? Right? I mean, unless you really value, you might be somebody who values more luxury and that's fine. You
Alain Hunkins: [00:39:57] might want to have totally fine.
[00:39:58] Right. Everyone has their own rating system. I'm not here to judge, but it's, I think what's important is for you to clarify what your own set of criteria are. Too many people I think are playing by someone else's set of rules. And I think you have to, you have to define the rules of the game of success for yourself, because otherwise you're not really playing the game fully and well.
Vit Muller: [00:40:17] And if you're spending too much time scrolling through Instagram and checking out other people's lives, maybe it's time to switch that phone off and go for a walk to really sort of figure out what your own values are. Because I think that's, that can be very poisonous if you're spending too much time, checking, other people's things, especially with like things like Instagram, when people put their filters and make their life look better than it really is.
Alain Hunkins: [00:40:41] Yeah.
Vit Muller: [00:40:43] Now, Tell us about those moments. When you started to see success in your coaching business, what did, how did that impact your lifestyle?
Alain Hunkins: [00:40:52] Um, well, success in my it's funny because for me, success in my coaching business is really kind of, I define success is when someone has had some kind of a breakthrough moment that insight that aha, or like, ah, and then they'd go off and, and something that we've done together makes a change.
[00:41:09] So for me, it's you could say that's very, you know, how did that impact my success? I just think that for me, it's just. The process has been increasing the frequency of those moments, as well as the quantity, the T intensity and duration of those moments for myself and for the people that I work with.
[00:41:27] Um, so I just feel like now, for example, with the book being launched, I've gotten emails from people literally around the world who said, you know, I've read your book, I've started applying things. This is making a difference. And in my mind, just getting those emails, I'm like, this is if nothing else ever happened with the book.
[00:41:42] I'd be happy, you know, like already it's had the impact because you know, all I'm focused on how can I share this with other people and move things forward.
Vit Muller: [00:41:51] So in a way it's like your, your currency is the impact. How much impact can you, can you make?
Alain Hunkins: [00:41:56] Oh yeah. Oh yeah, for sure. And now obviously I have bills to pay and, you know, I want to provide for my family.
[00:42:01] So looking at what's the value proposition for what I do and making sure that there's that, but once I get to that level, it's ultimately it's about how can I be of service to other people? Yeah. I'm a huge believer that yeah. If you, you know, the, in the light you call it, the law of reciprocity or karma is that if you keep putting out value value will come back to you.
Vit Muller: [00:42:22] Yeah. Yeah. And that's, and in a way, exactly, like you said, like, cause if you focusing on how much money I'm going to make on this, or how much money am I going to make on that, you're too focusing on that monetary amount. You lose track of what was that? The truly important thing that you were really doing it for, and that is case impact impacting more people, be better leaders.
[00:42:44] You know, that if you've got to make a better impact on a company's leadership, they're going to make more money and that will result in you, you know, get in pay maybe even extra some bonus from your client. Cause they were really happy.
Alain Hunkins: [00:42:56] Yeah,
Vit Muller: [00:42:56] they will refer you more and
[00:42:58] Alain Hunkins: [00:42:58] button. Exactly.
[00:42:59] Vit Muller: [00:42:59] Absolutely. Makes perfect sense.
[00:43:01] Now tell me something that is, that is true. But nobody else agrees with you on
Alain Hunkins: [00:43:09] Oh, okay. Okay. We're gonna get into some good controversial stuff. Um, so here's something that I don't know if people don't agree or disagree, but this is something that we don't talk about. So it's something that I think is true.
[00:43:19] You know, we talked earlier about why leadership is so challenging. I think one of the reasons why it is so challenging is that so many of us, so this is what, this is what I believe. I think so many of us have internalized. Power struggle in the typical human to human relationship. And I say that because most of us were raised.
[00:43:40] I know I certainly was by parents who at some point defaulted to do this because I'm your dad or I'm your mom. That's why like, basically if at some point, and I just think that creates this dynamic of power on the one hand. But fear and shame on the other hand. Right? So the child in that situation is the shamed one is the fearful, afraid like that. And they, and they internalize that. And unless they do some really good work to deal with all of that internal fear and shame, what ends up happening is they grow up. And when they get into a position like a parent or a boss, they end up repeating the same behaviors again.
[00:44:18] Hmm. And so I'm, I'm a big believer that one of the things that is sort of on, on cue for us to work on in the next 50 to a hundred years of humanity, you know, we talk about rights for women and rights for all different sexual orientation. I think, you know, we look at rights, racial injustice, and making sure rights across different nationalities and colors, et cetera.
[00:44:40] I think we need to take a look at basically how we're raising children and the right. Cause, I mean, I'm sure it's true where you are, but if I'm here and I go to the local supermarket and there's a parent, who's got a kid in the S in the shopping cart and they're yelling at that kid, like, like, Hey, you gotta stop.
[00:44:56] Like. We think that's okay. Right? Like that's normal, like that's considered. Okay. And I think, yeah, like, and again, this is totally my personal judgment and I don't go over to them and say, Hey, you really should stop yelling at your kid because they're going to internalize the fear and shame. So that's what I'm thinking possibly.
[00:45:11] And look, and I've got the reason I know this is, I've gotten it wrong with my kids. You know, my wife is way better at this than I am, but I think that is certainly an area that the less damage that we can do to children. And we're going to do some, it's just the nature of it. It's like life is real, but I think being aware of that and then helping people to decrease the level of stress and tension, cause that all of this creates a lot of tension and stress.
[00:45:39] And so for me, I think that if people start to think differently about power struggle and basically just not engaging in power struggle, You're going to see very different outcomes and, and my own experience. And I'm going to credit my wife. Who's the mom of our kids with 99% of doing this well, is that, you know, they talk about the terrible twos.
[00:46:02] We never had that. I mean, my kids are teenagers now and they talk about teenagers, rebelling, you know, like the kids go crazy. My kids, my, my daughter is 13. Will still sit on my lap. My son who's 16. We'll still sometimes would walk along and then absentmindedly, just hold my hand. As we're walking down the street.
[00:46:18]you should grow up. You're going to be like, again, that's like, what's that man? It's like, he wants to connect, you know, he loves me. I love him. He's my son. So it's just one of these things of the more that we can treat people at every age with respect. The more respectful a world we're going to create. So that is my soap box on that one.
Vit Muller: [00:46:37] Now back to that power struggle, right? If when the kids are really, really little,
Alain Hunkins: [00:46:43] yeah,
Vit Muller: [00:46:44] no. How do you go about it? Because if they throw a, the tantrum and they started screaming, you talking about, you know, that, you know, don't let into that power struggle, don't let in to it.
[00:46:56] Do you mean like. Um, trying to ignore it or not, not ignore it, but like, you know, if they're trying to tantrum, there's nothing you can do.
[00:47:07] I mean, what do you do? And especially if it happens in a, in a shopping mall, I mean,
Alain Hunkins: [00:47:11] of course, exactly
Vit Muller: [00:47:12] the pressure of the, of the society, you know,
Alain Hunkins: [00:47:15] Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting. So it's a great question to have the kids throwing a tantrum. So my question to you, if you're the parent of a child, who's throwing the tantrum and this is actually what my wife said to me.
[00:47:25] When my kid threw a tantrum, my son, she said, what were you doing the 15 minutes before the tantrum where you focused on him? Were you focused on your own stuff? Because, you know, for example, I've been on plane rides, right. I actually flew from Newark to Sydney. It's a long plane ride by the way. And you know, it's like, whatever, it was 13, 14, it was a lot, whatever.
[00:47:44] It's a lot of hours in the plane. And I remember that when we had our son on the plane, like we were totally engaged and focused with them. And I say, we mostly my wife, but you know, just like keeping it. And so it's when. You don't pay attention that when the tantrum comes and it's also, why are you as a parent taking it personally?
[00:48:01] I think somehow we think when a kid is freaking out and having that tantrum, that somehow it's going to reflect badly on us. And he's two he's three instead. So instead of getting on you better shut your mouth because, because what's happening. If you're coming, if you have that charge, it's because you're worried about what people are going to think about you, not about your kid.
[00:48:21] And so I think if we can just hold space, you know, the idea is that emotions. Come and they go, I mean, it's amazing, you know, you can feel something and I'm sure you've had the feeling. I know I did, you know, there were times when, like I broke up with my first girlfriend and I'm like, Oh, my world is over.
[00:48:36] It's like that feeling it will pass eventually. And so just realizing that, that tantrum, if we can just hold, we talked about psychological safety, giving that child some space and some air to let that go and then move on. But it's hard because you have to sit in the fire with that intensity. And most of us aren't that comfortable with emotional intensity, our own or anyone else's.
[00:49:00] So we want to shut it down. We want to make it wrong and that just perpetuates the cycle of fear and shame.
Vit Muller: [00:49:09]
[00:49:09] any advice you'd like to give somebody looking to, um, be a better leader?
[00:49:16] Alain Hunkins: [00:49:16] Wow. There's a lot of advice, but I'm going to share my number one top tip for being a better leader, which is if you're serious about getting better as a leader, look.
[00:49:25] To other people and ask them for feedback on how you're doing. People are notoriously bad at judging ourselves. What you need to do is reach out to people and not just your friends and your mom. Who's going to tell you you're wonderful, but go to the people who will give you the unvarnished truth, the good, the bad, and the ugly say, Hey.
[00:49:43] I'm working on this. I want to be a better leader. What do you think I do? Well, and more importantly, what do you think I could be doing even better and get more than one or two people, you know, get five, six, 10, and then when they give you that feedback, don't justify it. Don't try to explain it. Just say.
[00:49:59] Thank you and then write it down, have it somewhere you captured and then review it and think, okay. Which of all the things that I heard am I going to start to work on first? Cause, and it's something that you've got to want to do, because if you feel like you're doing it for somebody else, you're not going to do it.
[00:50:14] So finding that intrinsic motivation, but as number one thing is seek out feedback and then start applying it. That's what I'd recommend.
Vit Muller: [00:50:23] Excellent. I love it. Thank you Alain, lot of valuable advice on this interview.
[00:50:29]Now. People who listen to this show who are listening to this interview right now, and who would like to connect with you for some more help with your skillsets in leadership?
[00:50:41] How can they find you?
Alain Hunkins: [00:50:42] Sure. Well, the easiest place to find me is if you go, the book has its own website, which is www dot. Cracking the leadership code.com while you're there, you can learn all about the book. You can actually order it, or you can actually download the first chapter for free right there and preview the book.
[00:50:57] That'll take you that it takes you to a sub page of the alainhunkins.com website. So you can scroll around. You can find out more about the work that I do, which is around basically, either working with individuals and or teams. All under the bigger umbrella of how to become a better leader. And you can also connect with me on LinkedIn.
[00:51:16] And if you have any questions, you can email me directly. Since you've listened this far, I call this you're in the end of the podcast club. Cause not everyone listens to the end is you can, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I answer all questions that people have around leadership.
Vit Muller: [00:51:33] Excellent. Now at the beginning, we also talk about some online courses that you're, um, that you've got by now you've got available. Is there a particular offer that you wanted to provide to our listeners about that?
Alain Hunkins: [00:51:46] Well, yeah, I mean, so on, this is starting on October though. So this is the issue with, um, so I'm going to be running and this may be happening depending on when we, we air, but I may be running it again.
[00:51:58] I'm going to be offering a 30 day online leadership challenge where it's basically taking a lot of the key learnings from my book, but we're going to be putting it online. So just in a few minutes, a day with an intact closed community, we'll be using some of the top secrets of positive psychology. And habit formation and gamification, and just a few minutes a day to start practicing how to become a better connector, better communicator and better collaborator to make you a better leader.
[00:52:24] And so that'll be on the website too. Right now. It's there under www.alainhunkins.com/30-day-leadership-challenge . You can find it on the website and that will probably become a recurring thing that will happen a few times a year. So if people are interested in that, they can look at that as well.
Vit Muller: [00:52:39] Awesome. And I'll be sure to put all the details in the show notes for you guys listening. Um, if you're listening to this show on Apple iTunes, um, you won't find it links because it doesn't allow me to put any links in there, but if you are looking for all the details and simply head over to the successinspiredpodcast.com and in the show notes of this episode, what you'll find is full transcript.
[00:53:02] Um, you'll find timestamps. If you were, if you want to come back to any particular area that we discuss on this and this episode, you'll be able to find those in the timestamps and just simply click and you'll be able to listen to that particular segment. And you'll also find all the links for Alain's book and other resources.
[00:53:20] And if you want to connect with me, you'll find my links there. Or you can just find me on Twitter or Instagram. I'm all over the social media and simply look for @thatvitmuller.
[00:53:37] Alain it has been, it's been great pleasure to having on your show. Great talking to you about your journey and leadership and everything.
[00:53:44] Uh, I look forward to hopefully, you know, follow up on this maybe in a couple of months time. Um, thank you everybody for listening today as well. Uh, everybody have a great rest of your day. Stay, stay inspired and stay productive. Stay successful