Helping High-Achieving People Become High-Achieving Leaders With Alain Hunkins


High-achieving people have the potential to become high-achieving leaders. It may sound obvious, but it has to be emphasized, because that potential will remain a potential unless nurtured and unleashed. In this episode, Alain Hunkins, keynote speaker, facilitator, and coach, joins Tony Martignetti to share how he helps people become high-achieving leaders. Get to know Alain a bit more as he looks back and shares how his story unfolded. Alain and Tony then dive into the idea of leadership and its connection to performance arts. Learn the importance of practicing and mastering your craft in any art, even in business. Tune in and discover the core of what it means to lead at your best.


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Helping High-Achieving People Become High-Achieving Leaders With Alain Hunkins

It is my honor to introduce you to my guest, Alain Hunkins. Alain helps high-achieving people become high-achieving leaders. Over his twenty-year or so career, Alain has worked with over 2,000 groups of leaders in 25 countries. He's been busy. Clients include Walmart, Pfizer, Citigroup, GE, State Farm Insurance, IBM, General Motors, and Microsoft. It’s quite a list of companies. In addition to being a leadership speaker, consultant, trainer and coach, he's also the author of Cracking the Leadership Code: Three Secrets to Building Strong Leaders. It was endorsed by leadership luminaries like Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner, and Marshall Goldsmith. He's a faculty member of Duke Corporate Education and his writing has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Chief Executive, and Chief Learning Officer Magazines as well as Business Insider. It is my honor to have you on the show. Welcome to the show.

Tony, thank you. I'm excited to be here with you.

I think about being around the campfire and thinking about having this warmth of storytelling and having this warm fire going. I'm looking forward to knowing what brought you to this place in your world and doing such amazing things in the world. I'm thrilled to have you on and have you share your stories.

I'm thrilled to be here. It's funny because, for me, storytelling is how the human brain is wired and how we connect with other people. It's also how we make sense of the world. We tell stories about what it is that happens through our sensory experience, so I'm thrilled to share stories with you.

For people who are new to the show, start to tell people stories through what we call flashpoints. These are points in your life that have ignited your gifts to the world. Along your journey, what I'd like to have you do is to share what were the moments that brought you to who you are now.

Looking backward, it all seems that the pieces fit together and aligned. While I was going through it, I didn't know how the destination was going to unfold. If I think back in my own story, certainly a pivotal place for me to look to is my family of origin. I write about this in my book as well. I had a fairly unique childhood. At that time, I didn't know it was unique, Tony, because you don't know any there. It's all I know and it's my family. I was raised in New York City. That's not unique. I was raised by a single mom and a grandma. That's also not unique. What's unique is that my mother and my grandmother are both Holocaust survivors.

My mother was born in 1935 in Brussels, Belgium to a family of Polish Jews. Starting in ‘42, when the Nazis invaded Belgium, my mother was separated from her mother and was put in hiding. From the age of 7 to 10, she was separated. Her mother did not see her more than just for a moment or two to check-in sporadically, maybe 4 or 5 times over the course of three years. Luckily, they both survived the war, but most of the rest of the family were killed. As you can imagine, that completely shaped their worldview around who do you trust? What do you share in terms of information and just your general feeling?

It takes leadership to influence someone to get something done.

Both suffered all sorts of trauma from that experience and those were my primary caregivers. I grew up in 1970s in New York City. I had such a disconnect from my experience of being in New York City public schools with my friends, going over to my friend's houses, and then coming home. There was a different vibe, different energy, and different way of being in operating. Early on, my interest in people, human psychology, why we do what we do, and what do we do to shape the environments we were in was much informed by my family of origin. Certainly, that's something that I look back on as to how that has shaped my story and my own journey.

That's powerful because there are lessons that they've learned that are influencing their view of the world that by nature, they passed down to you and the way that you are seeing the world.

That's my mother's family. My parents divorced when I was one. My father's family are all professional musicians. His mom was a violinist. In fact, she was the first woman violinist in the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra ever. That's our claim to fame besides the fact that Danny Kaye once proposed to her and she said no. That's not our claim to fame. Anyway, my grandfather was a cellist, and my father is one of five kids. They're all professional musicians. I played the violin starting at the age of five and I got involved with the Youth Symphony orchestra of New York.

I performed in Carnegie Hall on my thirteenth birthday, and then I went to the High School of Music & Art, which is known as the Fame school if you know the movie Fame. We joined the School of Performing Arts while I was there. For me, I'd say the flashpoint is not one moment in time, but what it did is it gave me this love of the performing arts, in the sense of when we come to the performing arts as an audience member, how we are transformed and moved by something that expresses a deeper core level of our humanity.

After I went to college, I got interested in theatre. I started doing playwriting and acting. I have a graduate degree in MFA from Theatre Conservatory. I trained as a professional actor, which is where you put yourself under the microscope as it were to learn how human behavior works. How do you break it down so that you can inhabit someone else as a character playing the role? Whether you speak differently or move differently, how do you access certain feelings on cue for this role? It taught me a whole lot about human behavior from the inside out. Those two things around being a performer, both a musician as well as an actor, have much informed how I see the world of leadership.

By the way, I don’t think of leadership as a position or a job title. It's much broader to me than that. Anyone who has ever tried to influence anyone, and by the way, that anyone could be somebody else or it could also be yourself to try to get to do something. Anytime you are trying to influence someone to get something done, that takes leadership. Using that broad definition, suddenly, we're all leaders every day. As I started to think about what it meant to me to lead, I realized that leadership is in fact a performing art. It's what we say and it's what we do. This idea of how do I do these things intentionally? Were you a musician or anything? Did you do any practice when you were a kid, Tony?

I was an artist, but I wasn’t a musician.

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You're a visual artist. As you know from even the visual arts, the fact is, there is so much detail, skill, practice, and dedication to mastering the craft of any art. I think about leadership as there are so many details and skills to master. It isn't just somebody standing up there and being charismatic. That may feel like it's a part of it, but if anything, it's only a small part. For me, I got interested in this like, “How do I help others express the performing art of influence?”

The skill, art and craft, I have approached it from that perspective and then I came into the business world from that perspective as well. It's a fairly unique way to go into seeing the world and the people that I worked with. I always said I was in the business world, but never of the business world. I had a foot in and a foot out and that felt right to me. It feels like that's part of my unique gift as it were and part of what shaped me.

It's your advantage to be able to see it from that perspective of not being in it but to be able to see it from the outside because you had that view. I love the way this has come together. I talk to a lot of people about how art is missing in the business world and the marrying of those two areas can be powerful. In fact, I talked to somebody that leadership is a dance. It's a tango. I love that concept because it leads to this element of influencing other person's movement by the way you move and you're hoping that they're going to match your movement. It’s like a jazz performance.

There are many metaphors that apply well. Many people who are in the business world have been trained well to be great analysts and problem solvers. They're good at reducing things down to how we break this down into its component parts, which by the way, is an industrial age mechanistic mindset. I'm not saying that's bad. I want to get away from the binary of this is bad or this is good. That's necessary but it's not sufficient by itself. As much as we want to be able to analyze equally important, it’s our ability to synthesize, reintegrate, constitute, and bring the pieces into the larger hole.

The challenge that we're seeing in the world at large, especially in the business world, is that I don't care what industry you're working in, you're in the human being business. That's why for leaders, looking to the performing arts as a guide is so useful because what the performing arts do is traffic in things like creativity, especially engagement. When you go and you pay your money to buy a ticket to sit in a live Broadway show or even a movie, you expect to be engaged every single moment throughout.

Unfortunately, in the business world, the bar is so low. It's boring, static, and repetitive. In nowaday’s workforce, the number one reason people say they look for a new job is their inability to learn and grow. Boredom is not a state in which people learn and grow. What can you as a leader do to create engagement around the people? We talked about employee engagement. You're never going to have employee engagement until you have leadership engagement and the two go completely hand in hand. You can't get one without the other.

I love that concept because it does feed into that. Coming back to the thing that I talk a lot about inspiration, if you're not inspired then you can't inspire. An important thing to remember is that you're not going to go to pass on something to somebody else unless you have it yourself. We've touched such a golden nugget that I could talk about all day, but I wanted to see if there's something else as you move along the journey that was leading you towards a new path or new flashpoint.

Boredom is not a state in which people learn and grow.

If I think about another major nugget in my journey, I went to drama school. It’s a three-year program, by the way, and there are sixteen of us. That's it for three years. They don't take any more incoming students, so sixteen actors altogether. By the time we finished, we dropped down to twelve. We started and this guy, John, who is at the personal development workshop in our first year. He told me about it. It was for men. It was learning how to be more emotionally authentic and emotionally intelligent and how to get connected to your personal mission in the world.

It sounded good, but he said, “It's $600.” I'm a poor broke student, so I'm like, “That's great.” That was more money than I even had in my life. I didn't think anything of it but over the next two years, I saw John transform. I saw how he somehow stepped into his power in a clean, authentic way and the way he would talk to other people. We had some funky vibe with our faculty at times and John could step into this and manage that. By their third year, I went, “I want what he's having,” like the old Harry Met Sally thing, “I'll have what she's having.” I’m like, “I’ll have what he’s having.”

I managed to get myself on this training and it blew my mind because suddenly, I realized it's not a both-and. It's an either/or. Here I was on the clock, I was a 25 or 26-year-old man. I was an adult, but I felt like a boy still. This training was about showing me healthy role models of mature masculinity. The other thing that I saw were these role models of people, I thought, “This is my tribe. These are the kind of men that I'd like to be around.” I was realizing, “I could be strong and passionate, and I could be thoughtful and sensitive. I didn't have to choose sides.”

In our society, especially in North America, there are many two-dimensional versions of what it means to be a man, that masculinity. Now we hear about toxic masculinity. This was back in 1994. I said, “I want to get involved with this work.” I started volunteering and supporting. They had these groups going on. I started facilitating these personal development workshops as a junior co-facilitator, and then I kept doing it and taking more training. That set me on the path of realizing, “All professional development, anything you're going to develop, if you want to develop as a leader, you have to develop as a person.”

You can't somehow have this professional persona, “I'm going to develop myself in my work-life without it impacting my personal life.” I have seen those two things connect together back and forth. Doing that work consistently has been a huge piece of my own journey. In November of 1994, I went through a process where I discovered my personal mission, which thankfully enough, for me hasn't changed. People say, “What's your personal mission?” It's close to my professional mission, which is to create a vibrant and alive world by kindling the fire of brilliance and people. I get to do that and live that every day. I know we were talking about climbing the right mountain. When you are living on purpose, the world is energizing because you know you're climbing the right mountain.

I'm honored to have you share that here. Having you share your mission was something that I'm hoping the people who read this will be able to say, “I want that. I want more of that. I want to continue to radiate that further.” When you vibrate inside, figure out all the things inside that are working well, and figure out what it is that you're meant for, it's a win-win. You start to have this element of things started to click in your life on so many levels, but it starts from getting at the core of what it is that is lighting you up. When you described that, I was like, “I felt that.”

I love that you call that out. For all the readers, if you think about that, you're reading the back end and the fruits of the labor. Whether it's you or a coach, workshop, or YouTube video, the fact that it's a process to go through makes it didn't just happen by accident. It didn't come out full-born like that. I had to go through some work, thinking, and reflection. The important thing here is if you want to develop yourself as a person and as a leader, you need to stop, first of all, the constant business. Press pause on that, and then hold up the mirror and take a deep look inside of what's staring back at you, which can be scary because I know for me, a lot of times, I’m like, “I'm good enough. I'm wonderful.”

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We don't like to look at those what we call flaws or shadows. The fact is those drive a lot of things. If we don't stop to take an honest assessment, then we're responding to messages that may not even be ours. Suddenly, we find ourselves when we're 30, 40, 50 or 60 years old going, “This isn't my beautiful life.” To quote the philosopher David Byrne, “How did I get here?” It’s because I didn't stop to ask the questions of, who am I? Who am I really? What am I about? What does success look like for me? If you don't take the time to come up with your own definition of what those things look like for you, the internet and society have all sorts of answers and they'll give you an answer. You'll be chasing down that a long time and then go, “This is not my beautiful house.” There you go.

I'm a David Byrne fan, so that's fantastic. Tell me more about what happened next because I feel as though you've come to this point where you've said, “Now I've discovered this element of I could be more than what I am.” You go down this path of let's call it self-discovery. What did you discover at the end once you found the end?

I'm not there yet. I'm still evolving. What I discovered is if there are things in your life that you know bring passion, spark, joy, and feel like they're in alignment, keep doing more of them. For me, it was getting involved with this organization, which by the way, is still out there. It's called the Mankind Project,, in case people are curious about it. You can read about it online and learn more about it. For me, it was getting involved and I got involved because I found I kept learning and growing. People want to keep learning and growing. I was developing myself.

That was one area, and then I kept taking workshops and different things. I hosted a workshop. There's a facilitative technique called Voice Dialogue. All I wish to say is it's a facilitation technique. The local chapter of the ManKind Project was sponsoring it and I was organizing it. The person that came in to facilitate it came in from out of town. I hosted it at the little studio apartment that I was living in. It was 250 square feet on 36th Street in Third Avenue in Murray Hill in New York.

At the time, I was already doing some work in schools. I’ve gotten involved with an arts and education company and I was teaching leadership work and conflict resolution in junior high schools. The work was rewarding. It was challenging as heck because I was in a tough neighborhood inner city and I was getting paid $70 a day to do five classes. I was like, “This is great, but this is not sustainable long-term.” He said, “Have you ever thought about doing any corporate training?” I’m like, “Do you mean business people?” He's like, “Yes.” I’m like, “I am not a business person.”

I was watching my college roommates and classmates putting on interview suits in my senior year of college and going, “You're a sellout. You're selling your soul. You're selling it to the man.” That was where I was at and that's where I was. I was 21 years old, so I pursued my artistic ideal sensibility. Anyway, here we are, fast forward, years later after college. He said, “There's a local chapter meeting of the American Society for Training & Development. You're welcome to come at me.” I go with him to this meeting and didn't talk to a soul. I put on a tie and I was like, “Me wearing a tie? Is this a funeral? What's going on?”

On the way out, I picked up their newsletter and I'm looking through the newsletter at home. They have a job hotline. This is 1997. A job hotline is like, “Dial this number. Press one for this.” There was no internet. It was like, “Press two for this job. Press five for this.” I'm listening through and most of these jobs are things like technical software trainer. I’m like, “This is not me at all.” When I get to this job that says, “A leadership company is looking for facilitators in the New York area. Our company values are integrity, accountability, teamwork and fun.” I was like, “This sounds interesting.”

Anything you're going to develop as a leader, you have to develop as a person.

To cut a long story short, I ended up applying for this job and I got hired as a facilitator doing corporate training for a company called Eagle’s Flight, which is still in business. It's based in Canada. This is back in 1987. They had all these Fortune 500 corporate clients and these cool experiential simulations where I got to use some of my theatrical background because sometimes, we'd be doing the trainings for 200, 300, 500 people. I get to use that, and then I had to ask a lot of questions to learn about business. That's how I started getting into this. I realized, “This ties a lot of my skillsets together.” Because by nature, I’m a learner and curious, I got to learn. For example, I learned there's a company that makes something called Carbon Black. Have you ever heard of that, Tony?


It's the stuff that they put on the outside of tires. I got to work with a company that makes that. I didn't even know there was something called carbon black before I met with these folks. There's a whole industry of people who are spending all day thinking about carbon black and that is true for everything in the world. Any single product, someone has been in time producing, marketing, and selling it. I found it fascinating because I got to come in and spend a day learning about them. I like to say I got to continue to be my guest artist. I come in, do my show, and build some stuff, and then come out and create an engaging experience, so that led to me getting involved.

What I found is I was starting to do it. In the beginning, I was doing fifteen of these a month sometimes. I was getting a ton of experience. As I started to work with all these different industries, I noticed, “It doesn't matter what industry. It's all people.” There were these patterns that started to emerge more. I noticed, “All the best organizations, best teams, and best leaders all had stuff in common. All the lousy teams, lousy organizations, and lousy leaders all had stuff in common.” I started taking notes because stories are so powerful. My notes were about stories. I'd hear a good story, I'd write it down. Someone else would share a story in a workshop, I'd write it down.

Soon, I started a blog. I changed the names to preserve the innocent, but I started putting these things together. For the first two years, my blog was all over the place and it sucked. I called the blog, The Business of Behavior. In the beginning, I had two readers, and I know one was my mom and one was me, so that was much it. In 2013, I committed to publishing once a week. I published it on a Saturday and I did not miss a single Saturday for four years. Four years later, I've got 250 blog posts. I started reviewing the posts and putting them into big, giant, overarching buckets.

What I found is I had three major themes that kept showing up. One was around connection, one was around communication, and one was around collaboration. Those became what is now the subtitle of the book, the Three Secrets to Building Strong Leaders, which are connection, communication and collaboration. That's what turned into this book. The book is now a chance for me to share more of the insights that I've gained over the years out with the world and to make new connections because a book can go to places that you can't. Books have legs and people can pick them up anytime, anywhere. That's what led me down the path.

It's strange interest in people moving from being an actor to being an actor-teacher, being a corporate trainer, starting to dabble in blogging, and moving to writing, but the undercurrent under all of that has been a commitment to ongoing personal growth. Throughout that, I've been in a men's group since 1994. I've been continuing because I am a huge believer that I can't talk about this stuff and try to “train” or teach anybody else any of this stuff if I don't keep working on it myself. I will be the biggest snake oil hypocrite charlatan in the world. Let's face it. There are enough of those out there, by the way. I've met a few.

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I've got to feel like when people walk away from their experience with me, I want them to think, “He's the real deal. He's doing this. He's in this with me. He's the guide.” God forbid anyone ever call me a guru because I am no guru. I'm a guide. What I like to say I do is I have had a lot of great teachers. I’m a leadership geek so I asked a lot of questions and I read a lot of books. What I tried to do is take all the stuff that I learned from other people, package it up in a way, share it so people can digest it in bite-sized chunks, and apply it right away.

There are many things about your story that I was thinking, “Where does the imposter syndrome show up?” You learned your way out of imposter syndrome by keeping on showing up, doing steps-upon-step, keep on learning, and figuring out how does this connect to this. You don't have to worry about that because there's an element of, you're continuing to see how the dots connect to each other.

I would say yes and I will respectfully disagree, Tony, in terms of where the imposter syndrome shows up. First of all, remember, I went to drama school, so I'm good at faking it until I make it. I can put on a good front. Underneath that, there have been total times when I have felt completely out of my league like, “What the heck am I doing?” The first time you speak to a group of 1,000 people when the biggest group you had before is 200 is a big jump. Is my heart beating? I might bah-bah. A big piece of the imposter syndrome is this idea that there's this unattainable perfection that you're going to get to like, “It's got to be perfect.” There is no perfect. There have definitely been times along the way.

What I've learned over time is I have those pit in my stomach. I call them oh-s*** moments. What I've learned how to do is reframe those because if you're still changing and trying new stuff, for me, I keep feeling those feelings. What I've learned to do is reframe them instead of going, “This is horrible.” I'm like, “This is what learning feels like,” and that's helped. If you're familiar with the work of Carol Dweck who's written the book Mindset, growth mindset versus a fixed mindset, that is such a hallmark. You need to adopt this growth mindset. I wanted to say that because there are times when I still feel like I'm out of my league, but the league that I'm out of, the bar keeps going up. I want to be out of my league with the big fish in the big pond as opposed to out of my league with the small fish in the small pond.

The way you described it is that you slowly but surely got there. You didn't just like take a wormhole and jump through it and get there. You had to do the work and you had to do it by way of learning your way through it, and that was the power of it. Sure, you still get scared. Everyone does. You still have those oh-s*** moments, but ultimately, it's at a different level now.

We're speaking about professional goals and careers primarily, which, by the way, is the default setting for most of our North American conversations. People have said to me, “Alain, you could have written this book years ago.” I was like, “Yeah, but I was raising my kids.” For me, part of this is what is your priority at the time? I like to say I'm on the slow track of success. Success is you've got to enjoy the journey in the destination and as you're on the journey, like for me, there were things that were more important than getting a book published or starting my own business.

I was happy to work for other people as a subcontractor for training companies because I loved the work and someone else was in charge of sales and marketing. I could just come in and be the guest talent, and that worked well when a big part of my focus was on raising small children. It's important for us to pick and choose those things because it's easy, especially if you look on LinkedIn or something to start comparing yourself like, “I'm not doing enough. I haven't aspired and I haven't climbed enough. I'm not successful enough.” That is such a curse. As soon as you start comparing yourself to others, that's a lose-lose proposition.

As soon as you start comparing yourself to others, that's a lose-lose proposition.

You can say that again, that's for sure. That's something I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say that and maybe even said it to myself. Let's be honest. That's a recurring comment. I feel like the story has been remarkable. I want to know, as you look back on your path to where you got to here, what are the 2 to 3 things that you feel like, “These are the lessons I've learned the most. If I were to go back and tell my younger self, this is what I would want to tell them?”

There are a few things. Number one, I’ll say I came through formal education. I was a good student in school as part of my trying to please my mother and grandmother and make them happy. I would tell my coming out-of-school self that as you continue on, realize that good work doesn't speak for itself anymore. It doesn't school, but in some ways, to build a more fruitful life, you need other people and you need to build relationships. That's a skill to be interested in. If you want to call it networking, fine. If you want to call it relationship building or connecting, fine. I don't care what you call it, but you need to do it on some level.

Those relationships are a lot like flowers. They need to be tended to a garden. You have to water, seed, weed, and nurture them. I was always going from one thing to the next. I wouldn't say I burned bridges. It wasn't that bad but I didn't maintain relationships. One thing would be to think about how you maintain relationships with the people that you care about. Otherwise, those relationships start to wither like a garden does. That's definitely one thing I would say.

Another big lesson looking back and I would tell myself, I'm glad I got this one more once I started doing the personal work, is to actively seek out honest feedback from others like, “What do you think I can be doing differently here? What am I doing well?” As humans, we are notoriously bad at judging ourselves. What can you do to step back and get out of that blind spot? The only way you can get out of the blind spot is to ask other people what do they see because they're a better judge of that than ourselves. The appropriate response is to say, “Thank you for the feedback,” and then figure out how you're going to apply it.”

When I coach people around to accelerate their leadership development, it’s the number one thing I say. I was like, “Seek out feedback. Most people don't do it. If you do, it's going to stand you apart and help you accelerate your journey more.” The third thing hit me like a ton of bricks when someone said this to me. I grew up in a house where my grandmother would say, “If you aren't going to do something well, don't do it at all.” Talk about a fixed mindset statement. Let's face it. When you're learning something, you're not going to do it well. How could you possibly do it?

I got good at saying, “I don't do this. I can't do that.” I created a narrowband in which I operated. In that narrowband, I needed to be perfect in my mind. I was like, “I have to do this well.” We created the perfectionistic mindset. I had a mentor who said, “Alain, I want to tell you what your big problems are. Your problem is you approach everything as a test on which you have to get 100. A lot of tests in life are just pass-fail.” That hit me like a ton of bricks. I was like, “He's so right.” I approach everything like, “I’ve got to get 100 on this one.” It's okay for this to be a pass-fail.

It reminds me of this time that I had this list of to-do’s. This day was busy, and on my list, I had this library book that was due at the library that day. For whatever reason, I was looking like, “I've got to do this.” I jumped and I went to return the library book. I stopped, then I looked at my next-day calendar and I thought about all of it. To get to the library, I had to get my car, go ten minutes, and then come back. It was twenty minutes out of a busy day that I could have used somewhere else. Do you know what it costs in Northampton, Massachusetts, to turn a library book in with one day's fine? It's $0.10.

No one else is keeping score on this. Once a year, they'll waive fines. It's not like I killed someone, but in my mind, it’s like, “It’s due.” I didn't stop and step back. That's an example of that rigid thinking that I used to go through. I share that and it's great to be able to laugh at yourself. It's being able to take the big picture view and get perspective. To me, don't try to approach everything like it's a 100% test. Some things are pass-fail. Get feedback, for sure, is that second one, and then going back to the first one, it’s realizing that you're only as good as your network and the people that you build relationships with. Those are three big things I’d recap with.

We have one last question for you. What's one book that's had an impact on your life and why?

There are a lot of books here. I'm going to go with a classic one and it relates to where we started from, which is Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. For those that don't know, the book was voted as the most influential book in the twentieth century. Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist who was imprisoned in concentration camps during the war, which is why I said it brings us full circle. He survived that experience in part because he visualized himself on a stage lecturing about the experience that he had been through and God gave him hope.

Do you know what my favorite quote is from his book he talks about? The first half of the book is the biography of his experience and the second half is his lessons that come out of it. In that, he writes a famous quote where he says, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. That space is your power to choose, and in your choice, lies your freedom.” That always reminds me because it's such an empowering belief. No matter where you are in your life and no matter what you're doing, you get to choose your response. Part of the growth of being a better person and being a better leader is learning how to create more space in that space so you can make a more informed decision on how you choose to respond.

On a personal level, I've heard that quote 1,000 times and I've read the book, but you, describing it happens to hit me profoundly. It's been something that I've been saying to myself, “I want to create more freedom in my life.” It seems so superficial for me to say that, but there's an element of having the business take over my life, even in that simple way you described it. “I have a choice.” You're always at choice.

You named something so important that it resonates for me and it resonates for a lot of people, which is when we feel this continual business, that space shrinks to the point where we don't even see it and that disempowers us. What can we do? 2020 Coronavirus is such an opportunity to step back, press pause, and take stock of, “There are all these things going on, which of these feeds my being? Which of these is just busy stuff?” The world has got tons more than you could ever digest. You wouldn't want Thanksgiving dinner every single day of the year. It's how do you step back and realize, pick and choose, and be more conscious about creating that space. As I say that, I'm reminding myself of where I can do more of that myself, for sure.

We always need a reminder. I can't thank you enough for coming to the show. This has been an amazing journey. You're full of so much energy and insights. I want to make sure I give people the opportunity to find out more about you. First of all, make sure they find your book. I've read the book and it's fantastic, so I definitely highly recommend it. Where can they find you?

Thanks, Tony. I want to say it's been an honor and a pleasure to being with you here. If you want to find out more, the easiest place to go is to the book website, When you're there, you can download the first chapter and preview the book. That will also link you right to the website. I've got all sorts of various offerings on. That's a good place to stay tuned with all things on Alain Hunkins and Hunkins leadership group, so do stay in touch. If you've read this far, you are now part of the End of the Podcast Club. If anything that Tony and I talked about sparks a question, feel free to email me directly, which is

Thank you and thank you, readers. I know you're leaving with some amazing insights and the journey is not over yet, so please come and follow us along as you leave the show.


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About Alain Hunkins

VCP 77 | High-Achieving Leaders

A sought-after keynote speaker, facilitator and coach, Alain Hunkins is a leadership expert who connects the science of high performance with the performing art of leadership. Leaders trust him to help unlock their potential and expand their influence, leading to superior results, increased engagement, higher levels of retention, and greater organizational and personal satisfaction. He has a gift for translating complex concepts from psychology, neuroscience and organizational behavior into simple, practical tools that can be applied on the job.

Over the course of his 20+ year career, Alain has worked with tens of thousands of leaders in over 25 countries and served clients in all industries, including 42 Fortune 100 companies. He delivers dynamic keynotes, seminars, and workshops covering a variety of leadership topics including communication, team building, conflict management, peak performance, motivation, and change.

With his Master’s in Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Professional Theater Training Program, and a BA from Amherst College, Alain also serves on the faculty of Duke Corporate Education, ranked #2 worldwide in 2019 by Financial Times on its list of customized Executive Education programs. Alain has lectured at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s business school and Columbia University.

Alain has authored over 400 articles and been published in Fast Company, Forbes, Business Insider, Chief Executive, Chief Learning Officer, The Association for Talent Development, CEO Refresher, and the American Management Association.

A certified co-leader for ManKind Project International, a non-profit whose mission is to help men lead lives of service to their families, communities, and workplaces, he’s based in Northampton, MA with his wife and two children.


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