Matt Kincaid ran a house painting business the summer after his junior year of college.
The Hanford High School graduate hired several friends, including his longtime pal Seth.
They kept plenty busy.
Kincaid didn’t sleep much, regularly logging 15-hour days. “But,” he later wrote of that period, “running a business for the first time was exhilarating.”
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Then, “fast-forward six years.”
Kincaid and Seth had just finished a summer league basketball game, when Seth said he wanted to talk.
“Something has been bothering me for a long time,” he told Kincaid, asking why they hadn’t used a special moss-killing primer on the sweet old lady’s house that summer years ago, as promised.
Kincaid felt a pit in his stomach. He didn’t know. He must have forgotten.
Kincaid writes about that conversation in his acclaimed new book Permission to Speak Freely. Co-authored by Doug Crandall, it centers on the idea that candid communication is key to success in business and in life — and that it’s the leader’s responsibility to cultivate.
That summer in college, Kincaid hadn’t done that, the book says.
“(Kincaid) should have said to Seth explicitly: ‘You can speak freely to me. I sincerely mean it. Say anything. Anytime,’ ” it says.
Permission to Speak Freely came out in March.
It’s published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers and is available around the U.S. and the world.
It’s available in bookstores, including Barnes & Noble in Kennewick, and also online. A deal even is in place to bring the book to China.
Kincaid, 37, who lives with his wife, Alaina, and three children in Richland, is excited to share it.
“I think it’s an important message, and I think if people read it, they’ll like it,” he said.
Kincaid was a three-sport athlete at Hanford High in Richland, graduating in 1998. He went on to Gonzaga University, playing on its basketball team.
Kincaid earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business from Gonzaga, as well as a doctorate in leadership studies.
He taught for several years at Columbia Basin College, serving as chairman of the business department. He’s now part of the faculty of Heritage University.
He also runs a leadership development firm with Crandall called Blue Rudder.
Crandall lives in Issaquah now, but spent several years in the Tri-Cities. He’s an Army veteran who taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
He has another high-profile book to his name: He co-wrote Hope Unseen with Pasco native Scott Smiley, the Army’s first active-duty blind officer.
Kincaid and Crandall met several years back and a partnership quickly blossomed.
Together, they wrote the leadership book Say Anything, publishing it themselves.
While self-published books often get little attention and rack up few sales, theirs found praise and an audience.
They revised and re-worked it into Permission to Speak Freely, adding new stories and material.
The book is filled with personal anecdotes, like the one about Kincaid’s painting business, plus research, tips and tools.
Shann Ray Ferch, a Gonzaga professor and American Book Award winner, wrote the foreword.
“Give this book a transformative read. Let this book transform you,” Ferch wrote. “See this book transform those around you with a new vision, far-reaching and filled with the kind of legitimate power that creates rather than degrades, and sees us through the darkness to the light of a new dawn.”
Kincaid has heard not only from people in the corporate world, but from coaches and parents, saying the message of Permission to Speak Freely has helped them, he said.
That’s meaningful to him. It’s why he’s excited to share the book.
“It’s a message Doug and I both deeply believe in, and we know it matters and it can make people’s lives better,” Kincaid said. “And so to have it accessible to people feels like a good thing.”