Cover art for podcast The Firestarter Podcast

The Firestarter Podcast

10 EpisodesProduced by Willa KammererWebsite

The Firestarter Podcast, with Willa Kammerer, is about people, ideas, and conversations that move us forward. We’ll talk to mission-driven entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and investors; thought leaders, researchers, and experts on the front lines of the world’s most pressing issues about designing a… read more


Hans Manzke on the Power of Curiosity, Networks, and Radical Self-Honesty Applied to our Professional and Personal Lives

Tune in to this episode of the FireStarter Podcast where host Willa Kammerer guides a discussion on people, ideas, and topics that move us forward. Building both professional business and personal passion on making the world a better place through storytelling, Willa talks to mission-driven entrepreneurs, philanthropists, investors, thought leaders and experts on the front lines of the world’s most pressing issues about designing and thriving careers in impact. In today’s conversation, guest Hans Manzke is welcomed on to chat about the power of curiosity, networks, and radical self honesty in relation to professional and personal lives. Hans has over 15 years of experience in this field across public, private, and non-profit sectors. In speaking to all types of leaders, Hans expresses his core belief that humans are strongest in their inner selves. He presses in to this in order to unlock higher levels of performance. 

Willa introduces Hans as the Principle at the Clearing and the author of, For All: Democratizing Big Ideas. After recounting how they first met, Willa jumps right in and asks Hans to reflect on how curiosity played a role in his journey. Learn about the “why” questions he once asked to his parents as a young child that are still part of his daily work routine today. Hans walks through his career pathway post-college, and how he got to where he is today. After working in other fields including journalism and publishing, Hans learned by contrast to gain clarity and conviction for the current line of work he’s in. Once he got into his current field, what stood out to him was how fortunate and lucky he had been with being in the right place at the right time, and knowing the right people. In becoming an author, Hans wanted to work to give back to people that may not be as fortunate.  They take a moment to dive into the idea of democratizing, reflecting on this in both life and career. Working in the equity and inclusion space, Hans decided he wanted to contribute to helping to level the playing field. 

Shifting topics, Willa asks Hans about the affect the pandemic has had on him and how he has worked to navigate the circumstances. With uncertainty still on the horizon, the timeless human questions and frameworks offered in Hans’ book help people navigate these circumstances. Hans chats about the shared experiences of hardship and negativity, that are simultaneously met with a lot of goodness and positivity. Learn about the unique opportunities that COVID has brought to both Willa and Hans. 

Taking a few minutes to dive more into the substance of For All: Democratizing Big Ideas, Hans speaks to the big ideas that he outlines throughout. While there are 10 big ideas, Hans just names a few here, particularly those that are personally standing out to him now. Listen as he discusses Imposter Syndrome and ikigai. Learn more about how to think and be radically attuned to your personal purpose. Willa asks Hans to share about an activity that could help to express one’s interests in compelling ways to find their ikigai—what this looks like in times and places. Furthermore, Hans shares about preconceived notions that he originally brought to the book, but did not hold up by the end. With the unique writing, editing, and publishing process through The Creators Institute, Hans addressed these notions head on. 

After a brief break, Willa and Hans discuss his emphasis on radical self-honesty and condor. Hans shares what he thinks and how he practices it big picture—he argues that one has to be honest with themselves before they are able to be honest with others. Listen as he discusses the Leadership Circle Tool and how creative competencies and reactive tendencies can be measured to help reveal differences between an aspirational-self and the real-self. Learn how we create limits where they may or may not need to exist. “Talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not.” 

As the conversation draws to a close, Hans offers advice for listeners who feel stuck. First, he encourages listeners to get tuned in to a personal sense of curiosity, remembering all the tools available to them. Additionally, he says listeners need to seek out the people and organizations out there to help with whatever they’re about—they are out there, you simply need to invest the energy to find, and benefit, from them. Willa’s rapid fire questions have Hans reflect on quotes that have guided him and things that are true of himself now, that he did not used to know. 


0:01 - Host Willa Kammerer introduces the podcast

0:45 - Guest Hans Manzke is introduced

1:34 - Topics of today’s conversation outlined

1:48 - Hans joins the conversation

2:40 - Hans reflects on how curiosity has played a role in his journey

5:10 - Walks through his career pathway post-college to get to where he is today

7:42 - Idea of democratizing discussed

10:00 - Other stops along the way

13:53 - COVID Pandemic and how it has impacted work

17:55 - Big ideas of his book—Imposter syndrome and ikigai

29:54 - Preconceived notions brought to the book 

33:11 - Break 

38:08 - Radical self-honesty and candor

38:40 - Created limits where they may or may not need to exist

44:08 - Advice for listeners that feel stuck

47:55 - Rapid fire questions

51:20 - How to learn more about Hans, The Clearing, and where to find his book 


Learn more about The Clearing

Connect with Hans on LinkedIn

Connect with Willa on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. 

Subscribe to the podcast, find show notes and the video of today’s show here. Learn more about Hans Manzke

Check out Hans’ book, For All:Democratizing Big Ideas, on Amazon


Hans Manzke, curiosity, career, pathway, post-college, democratizing, pandemic, book, Imposter syndrome, ikigai, radical, self-honesty, candor, limits, advice, The Clearing, storytelling, networks, professional, personal, leaders, journalism, publishing, equity, inclusion, Leadership Circle, aspirational-self, real-self, opportunity, talent, tools

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