Scott Hodge


Interview with author Hank Wasiak

May 27, 2008

I had the recent opportunity to throw some questions out to Hank Wasiak, co-author of the book Change the Way You See Yourself.  I've been a big fan of Hank and co-author, Kathryn Cramer since being introduced to their first book, Change the Way You See Everything, a couple of years ago. 

SH: Hank, congratulations on the release of another practical, yet inspiring, book.  Just like your first book, this one is now filled with scribbles, notes and tons of underlines.  Great stuff!  Now the questions…

"Asset-Based Thinking" is a phrase used in both books.  Can you summarize what "ABT" is and give me an example of what this looks like in every day life?

HW: Asset Based Thinking is a very simple and effective way of viewing and living everyday life. It’s based on over two decades of research and practice by Dr. Kathryn Cramer and The Cramer Institute. ABT teaches us who to look at ourselves and the world around us through the lens of what’s working and possible so we can make the most of every situation.

Everyday we’re bombarded with news, much of it negative and it’s easy to become preoccupied with problems and focus on what’s wrong and missing in our life.  So easy, in fact, it’s almost a natural response.  This kind of Deficit-Based Thinking (DBT) can, over time, drain the life out of anyone.  Now imagine if you focused on what’s right in this world instead, harnessed your strengths rather than letting weaknesses debilitate you, and highlighted opportunities rather than problems? These small shifts can make seismic differences in your life.

A small but interesting example happened before my eyes this weekend. My grandson Lucas had a birthday sleep over this weekend. Eight  12&13 year old boys at our house fresh from seeing Indiana Jones, filled to the brim with birthday cake and ready to play Nintendo Wii. Eight boys, four controllers and everyone wanting to play right NOW. A classic conflict situation which could set a negative tone for the entire night. In the midst of the arguing over who should go first. And who was a better player,  one of the boys stepped in and suggested that rather than argue maybe they should think up some cool things to do that they all could play. In about two minutes they concocted something they called “Speed Wii“. They paired off in two teams of four and had a competition on how many times each team could pass the controllers and make the most swings or score the most points in a given time frame. (I have no idea what the game was). But there was ABT in full view. Of course after the game they stayed up all night, razzed each other and got into the usual mischief that boys that age do. Ah, kids. “You gotta love ‘em.” 

SH:  In the book, you mention that people should not be afraid to make "my" and "I" statements. Why do people (especially leaders) struggle with this?

HW: Each of us has at least one “mighty cause” in us ready to be awakened and taken out to the world. By starting inside yourself, you build your personal power, expand your circles of influence exponentially (people are attracted to your mighty cause and vice versa) and your personal impact intensifies dramatically.

All too often, people feel a bit uneasy and self centered when asked to think in “I” and “my” terms. But just the opposite is true. Identifying your mighty cause and creating your personal agenda based on a foundation of Asset Based Thinking is just what the world needs from you.   

SH: In writing about the power of transparency and authenticity, you quote the letter written by JetBlue's CEO, David Needleman, in response to what he called the "worst operational week" in JetBlue's history.  Why was his letter so effective?  What can we learn from his response when it comes to admitting our own personal and/or organizational faults?

HW: From my point of view this was a great letter for 4 reasons. 1. Timeliness -  He faced the situation head on and addressed it while the problems were fresh in peoples’ minds. 2. Direct  admission of  the mistakes and shortcomings – Rather than hiding behind the weather issues and other extenuating circumstances he owned up to their shortcomings in dealing with them.  3. Direct Apologies – clear, sincere and often 4. He personified the Brand – Jet Blue has built its business and brand essence on  user friendly, democratic, caring flying experience…”We hope you enjoy the Jet Blue Experience”. He made dealing with the mistakes in a positive way, part of the experience.

I fly Jet Blue often and in fact was flying that weekend. I had problems. His letter helped put that behind me and continue with them in the future. I believed him and I’m still a customer.  

SH: Who should NOT read this book?

HW: My first reaction was that everybody should read this book. Heck, who would want to have a better more fulfilled life. Then, after a pretty satisfying weekend of golf of actually hitting the ball better, I’m suggesting that my friend and golf instructor, Rick Riley, not read these books. For the past 5 years he has been focusing on correcting the many flaws in my golf swing..eliminate the deficits and it finally seems to be working.  I’m concerned that if he switches to the ABT side and asks me to concentrate on making the most of the assets in my swing, I may stay at an 18 handicap for quite some time. (Just kidding Rick)

Thanks Hank!  Appreciate your time! 

Buy the book.
Asset-Based Thinking

3 Responses to “Interview with author Hank Wasiak”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great questions, Scott… and interesting answers from Hank.
    As always you’ve got interesting content on your site!
    Thank you for taking time in the Post2Post Virtual Book tour!
    - Paul

  2. e.cabello says:

    I am coming to grips with how prone I am to attach myself to comments made by critics & skeptics. I find myself pandering to the lowest common denominator when I listen to the FEW moaners in the midst. So easy for me to get sucked into the negative swirl of complaints. ABT is a powerful concept. Great resource. Thanks for brokering the authors insights.

  3. hank says:

    Thanks for the great interview Scott and thanks to Paul and e.cabello for the comments. “e” made a great observation about how it’s so easy to pander to the negative common denominators. It’s a struggle everyday. What I’ve found is that,over time, if you keep on deflecting the negativity and try to shift to the ABT channel, people get the message. In essence, you wear them and their negativity down. Keep on the positive ABT side.
    Thanks again for being part of this.

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