How to Become A World-Class Communicator

Hank Fortener Redux

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AWE Episode graphic Hank Fortener Redux

This week we’re going back to the archives, to bring you one of our earliest and best guests, Hank Fortener.

Hank Fortener is an adoption expert, speaker, and sought-after authority on culture and leadership.

As the founder of and World Adoption Day, Hank has dedicated much of his life to helping young people who are “without a tribe” feel a sense of family and belonging. AdoptTogether’s mission is simple but powerful – to create a world in which there is a family for every child.

Through his organizations, Hank has helped thousands of families raise literally millions dollars towards adoption expenses to help bring their children home.

Luckily for us, Hank has applied much of his learning around human behavior and belonging to the business world.

In our conversation, Hank talks about the importance of empathy in organizational cultures; why solving problems is the most important job of any individual, team, or company; and why storytelling is at the heart of great leadership.

Because of the way we launched our first five episodes, not as many people heard this episode as probably should have – which is why we’re resurfacing this episode now.

Hank really set the standard of excellence for AO guests. Here is the full, unedited interview, all in one episode. Enjoy.

Key Takeaways

  • Hank explains the “Why” behind his organizations and World Adoption Day.
  • Hank tells us why he prefers the word “tribe” or “team” over “family” when describing relationship dynamics in the business world.
  • Hank explains why empathy is the key to effective communication and how to cultivate empathy in your preparation before public speaking.
  • Hank talks about why solving problems is more important than being right, and how to set aside your own ego in order to do so.
  • Hank tells us how companies and leaders can (and should) become better story-tellers.
  • Hank explains why leaders should make a place for charity, goodwill, and community in their organizations.
  • Hank explains why he believes that profit-only business leaders will age out of the majority of the world’s most successful companies in the coming years.
  • Hank explains what he means by “real-time clear thinking,” and explains why this, in combination with an overwhelming sense of empathy, is the key to great communication.
  • Hank walks us through the tactics he uses to put himself in the mind of his audience before he speaks.
  • Hank breaks down what he calls the “magic of communication.”
  • Hank tells us why storytelling is at the heart of great leadership and great companies, and explains why listening and observation are actually the most important traits of great storytellers.
  • Hank breaks down the difference between actual meaningful communication and mere self-expression.
  • Hank tells us why the most successful people say no to most things, and yes to only a few.
  • Finally, Hank explains why maximizing your team’s capabilities is the mark of a great leader.


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