Kevin Cashman is a best-selling author, global thought leader and CEO Coach and a world-class speaker. He is the founder of LeaderSource Ltd, and the Chief Executive Institute® recognized as one of the top three leadership development programs globally. In 2006, LeaderSource joined Korn Ferry, where Kevin Cashman is now responsible for CEO and Executive Development across 130 offices internationally. Kevin Cashman has advised thousands of CEOs, senior executives and senior teams in more than 80 countries worldwide. He has written six books including Awakening the Leader Within and Leadership from the Inside Out, named the #1 best-selling business book of 2000 by CEO-READ and is now used at over 150 universities globally. The third edition of Leadership from the Inside Out is out now, equipped with new chapters! His other best-seller, The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward, has been recognized as a Business Book of the Year Finalist by both ForeWord Reviews and CEO-READ. The 20th Anniversary Third Edition of Leadership from the Inside Out will be published in Fall 2017. Kevin Cashman holds a degree in psychology from St. John’s University and has been an adjunct professor for the University of Minnesota Executive Education program. I was so excited to be able to interview someone with the impressive track record that Kevin has. Please enjoy my interview with Kevin Cashman…
As the Global Leader of CEO and Executive Development at Korn Ferry (with 130+ offices and consultants around the world), we foster the accelerated growth of CEOs and CEO Successors to ensure sustainable, purpose-driven enterprise growth. Also, I authored Leadership from the Inside Out and The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward; am a worldwide keynote speaker, and write a leadership column for Forbes.com.
Talk us through a typical day for you…
How about an ideal ‘typical’ day? A day that balances pause, purpose and connection is ideal. On these days, I feel rested when I awaken, take Leo, our Golden Retriever on a walk through the woods along the lake, hopefully gathering inspiration and creative clarity. My best writing often emerges on these walks! I enjoy some time to exercise a bit more, then some writing, maybe a new Forbes article, a keynote or book project. Shifting focus, I work with CEO and CHRO clients, co-creating meaningful breakthroughs. I engage with my team and consultants in the office. At home, in our meditation studio, enjoy dinner and conversation with my family, then maybe a movie or a good book in front of the fire, while Leo jumps in our bed and snuggles-up to sleep.
What are you reading at the moment and what made you want to read it?
Giant of the Senate by Al Franken. I have met Senator Franken and admire his intelligence, “work-horse versus show-horse mentality,” and his brilliant wit. He is an authentic leader in the Senator Paul Wellstone lineage. Fun and informative book.
Can you remember the first book you read by yourself?
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The first book in which I had a true “immersion experience”. The book transported me to a different world. Pure genius.
Are you a page folder or a bookmarker?
Neither. I am a digital book and audiobook guy! I travel a great deal. This way I can carry 50+ books with me. It’s great!
If you could gift yourself books at age 16 and age 25 – what would they be and why?
At 16: The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X. A surprising choice, I know. However, to become aware how much a life can transform and serve a higher purpose, at multiple stages of life, is very important to understand at the entry to adult life. Plus, to expand ones socio-cultural and psycho-spiritual boundaries (as this book does) is an unending journey. I did read it at 16 and it was very eye-opening and world-opening for me.
At 25: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. While most people are honourable and empathic beings, there is a small but significant percentage of people who are not. At 25, best to understand the best and worst of people, versus learning the hard way!
Can you remember your first demonstration of entrepreneurial ability?
Yes, I recall going door-to-door at age 6 or 7 selling every imaginable thing. It was clearly in my DNA. In our neighbourhood, if the doorbell rang, likely the occupants said, “Oh no, not that Cashman kid again!”
If you could invite 5 authors (dead or alive) to a dinner party – who would they be and why?
Herman Heese, Carl Jung, Dalai Lama, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and Joseph Campbell. I would ask one question: “What is the meaning of life?” and just sit back, absorb and marvel.
Getting to Yes, And: The Art of Business Improv by Bob Kulhan. In today’s change-rich world, leadership and improv are so very similar. Bought it before a Forbes interview with Bob on the intersections of Leadership and Improv. Forbes.com article will be out in December, 2017.
What is your favourite thing about reading?
To be transported to a new way of thinking, being or living. The transcendent experience is my favourite part of reading.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. Steve Martin is a brilliant writer.
If you could insert yourself into any book, which would you pick and why?
Would love to have been a fellow Physicist working with Einstein as described in Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. (Too bad in real-life, I never passed Advanced Calculus!…)
When you think of success in the business world, who is the first person that comes to mind?
All the CEO clients I work with and write about in Leadership from the Inside Out. ALL are on unique journeys with unique challenges. I admire them all in different ways.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
So many and so hard to pick just one. But if I had to select only one, it would be the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. A true guide to becoming a leader for life. How he penetrated the patterns of the natural world and made them relevant to enlightened living and leading is stunning.
What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring entrepreneur?
1) Know your gifts and organize your business around them.
2) Be more passionate about serving your customers than your own success.
One I want to read is Success and Luck by Robert Frank. I hear it is a fascinating look at the surprising research and varying socio-political mindsets regarding success and luck.
What’s the worst advice you hear given to young people looking to start their own business?
Worst Advice: dedicate yourself to financial success at all costs. As Einstein counselled, “Try not to be a man of success, seek to be a man of value.”
Which book sat on your shelf are you most excited about reading next and why?
The book that “sits on my phone” that I want to read next is Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I love the intersection of science, wonder and philosophy but have to be in a “science mood”. And sometimes Neil deGrasse Tyson stretches my brain way beyond its boundaries, so I have to be ready for that!