MotivationPublic Speaking

The other night I sat down and watched Hasan Minhaj’s stand-up special Homecomingon Netflix.  The special had come highly recommended from my colleagues and I was definitely in the mood for a laugh that day. What I ended up watching was as much as a lesson in leadership as it was a comedy routine.

After reflecting, here are 4 Leadership lessons I learned by watching Hasan Minhaj.

1)    Storytelling has power. Hasan’s entire act took us on a journey of identity,

privilege, discrimination, failure, and success.  His storytelling technique (which beautifully blended visuals and story) reinforced that story is a powerful way to make an impression and get a message across.   The humor centered around one theme (his upbringing and experience of being Indian and Muslim in America). Although this was likely never intended to be a traditional leadership talk it turned into a showcase of how story can allow us to connect and empathize with an experience.  Leadership isn’t always about bulletpoints and deliverables. Sometimes, the story of the journey is enough to get the point across.

2)    Seek to Understand. I won’t give away the exact moments but Minhaj’s routine was speckled with moments of misunderstanding. Seek First to Understand, then to Be Understood is one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It is easy for us to get wrapped up in our lives, our ambitions, and our goals. It’s even easier to look at life exclusively from our personal lenses. Seeking to understand helps us not only with coming to agreement on a particular situation but it (more importantly) deepens our worldview.

3)    Speak Your Truth. Stand-up comedians are fantastic at speaking their truth and Hasan Minaj was no different. Speaking your truth means you have to be transparent and being transparent means you have to be vulnerable and that can be scary. However, if we can push past that this comfort then speaking your truth also makes you an authentic leader that people can understand and relate to.

4)    Small Changes ARE Wins. Homecoming King features several moments where small changes occur. These are wins! Quite often we think of change on a massive scale as the only measure of success. In reality, change often occurs as a series of micro-steps that build on each other. In addition, sometimes a small change/win with a key person in your work/life can lead to significant results immediately.

If you haven’t seen Homecoming King yet then watch it because It’s funny, entertaining, and poignant. It’s also an effective to medium to show use the intersections of identity, self-awareness, and leadership. It works on several levels. So much so that I am going to give it another watch (or three).


Paul Artale is a leadership trainer and keynote speaker who helps people and organizations achieve their goals. More about Paul can be found at

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