What If the CDC Normalized Activity Instead of Inactivity?

posted by Joshua on August 17, 2017 in Fitness, Leadership
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My post on LinkedIn today, “What If the CDC Normalized Activity Instead of Inactivity?,” begins

What If the CDC Normalized Activity Instead of Inactivity?

Screen shot of my post “What If the CDC Normalized Activity Instead of Inactivity?”

What If the CDC Normalized Activity Instead of Inactivity?

This post is about my great passion, leadership—in particular, how beliefs, mental models, and words motivate and influence. I also care a lot about: fitness.

America’s normalization of sedentary lifestyles

Inactivity and diseases of excess are so prevalent in the U.S. that even the Centers for Disease Control’s Benefits of Physical Activity page treats inactivity as normal and activity as something to go out of your way for.

I find that perspective discouraging so I edited the text to normalize activity instead. Click the CDC page for the original.

Read the rest at What If the CDC Normalized Activity Instead of Inactivity?.

The Creative Warriors podcast interview

posted by Joshua on August 16, 2017 in Audio, Leadership
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Jeffrey Shaw hosts the Creative Warriors podcast and he just posted our interview.

I enjoyed the interview a lot. He listened and asked meaningful questions that gave me a chance to share on leadership, learning, vulnerability, and more.

Listen to the interview

Creative Warriors' Interview of Joshua Spodek

Creative Warriors’ Interview of Joshua Spodek.

Listen to the interview

Here are the show notes:

When you think of a good leader, what do you think of? A good leader is someone who really knows the people that are following them. The people who follow them also know all about the leader. There needs to be a strong level of empathy. People need that emotional connection, and to feel invested. If you throw your power around, you’re only going to get compliance – not motivation. Nothing gets done efficiently with compliance.

Everyone has dreams and passions. You need to make sure you know what your follower’s are, and make sure that they know yours. When that happens they will become emotionally invested. They will want to help, they will be willing to go above and beyond to help you achieve your goals.

There are ways you can practice becoming a great leader. Just like a concert pianist practices their skills, and a pro tennis player practices their forehand drills, there are fundamental practices for Leadership. On this episode we are joined by Joshua Spodek, who has been shaking up the world of leadership.

Joshua has studied not only what truly makes the best leader, but more importantly what makes the best followers. He’s developed leadership training skills you can, and should, practice daily if you want to be the best possible leader. His recent discoveries have been progressing the business and creative entrepreneurial world faster than we’ve ever seen.

Download this episode today to learn how you can get ahead on these growing trends and be on the forefront of being a great leader, before everyone else.


“I didn’t want to live a life where people knew me for a long time and didn’t know me.” -Joshua Spodek

Highlights –

  • Leadership isn’t about authority.
  • A good leader can find what motivates people, and what they care about.
  • Lead from compassion and empathy.
  • You want people to work out of loyalty, not out of compliance.
  • People need to feel a sense of ownership over a project.
  • There’s no need to hide behind formality.
  • If you don’t ask people what they care about, you’ll never find out.
  • Don’t let your role get in the way of making connections.
  • You need practice overcoming small things in order to overcome big things.
  • Denying or suppressing your emotions limits your ability to improve yourself.
  • In order to be a strong leader you HAVE to make a connection.

Guest Contact –

Listen to the interview

I predict Donald Trump will have a Richard III moment

posted by Joshua on August 16, 2017 in Leadership, Nonjudgment
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A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!

I predict that Donald Trump will, as president, find himself without allies, under attack, and bewildered, lashing out, realizing he’s run out of anything to offer anyone. This will come after he’s surrounded by sycophants, maybe family, abandoned by anyone who could get anything from him.

Without having supported anyone who would help him for reasons other than what he offers and with no way to advance or to offer in a transaction, no one will help him out of empathy or compassion.

I hope the others will act in the interests of the Constitution and the people they represent.

I’m not talking about good, bad, right, wrong, or evil. People disagree on those things. That’s what having different values means. I’m talking about relationships, how people interact with each other, and what I see of how President Trump is interacting with the people around him and those he represents.

Here is Lawrence Olivier playing Richard III just after those lines, in a 50s style of direction and acting:

How to have a great conversation in Manhattan

posted by Joshua on August 15, 2017 in Habits, Nature
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Here’s how to have a great conversation in Manhattan that works every time.

Take your compost to a compost station and talk to someone else dropping theirs off.

To have compost to drop off means you’ve stored it in your small apartment, probably keeping it in your freezer, until one of the days the stations is open, before they pick it up. Then you have to carry it there and drop it off. Then you see when each other ate over the past few weeks.

It’s not hard. It’s fun when you make it a habit, but you still have to do it, which means you have the motivation, which means you have a lot in common and don’t mind other people thinking you’re doing more than you have to when you really just care about the environment.

Someday everyone will compost. For now, we’re a small enough community that we all like talking to each other.

Composting in Manhattan

Composting in Manhattan




Pollution, Native Americans, Priorities, and the Opposite of Progress

posted by Joshua on August 14, 2017 in Nature, Visualization
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Working on leadership and the environment, I’ve thought of people trying to reduce pollution. People my age and old will remember the public service announcements of the 70s with the Native American amid scenes of garbage and pollution, a tear rolling down his face at the tragedy of what we’ve done to the land, blithely ignorant of it.

Here are two versions:


The Opposite of Progress

These announcements came out in 1971, nearly half a century ago. I bet we pollute on scales few dreamed of then. At least then we drank water from faucets where it was clean. Now we use multiple bottles per day, even when we can get cleaner, cheaper water from the tap. Last I heard, 9% of plastic bottles are recycled, so all those unnecessary bottles become garbage.

I bet humanity has polluted more since those ads than in the 300,000 years of homo sapiens existence prior.

People say they care, but not enough to resist driving, flying, not using air conditioners, and having lots of children.


When I was a kid, people called the announcements the “Crying Indian” ads.

I believe that words are important. Today, I think more people would protest calling the man “Indian” than the litter and pollution. I don’t begrudge people concerning themselves with names we call people, but not at the expense of working on pollution.

If I mention how long the announcement ran, at one minute, and compared it to the length of today’s ads, often 15 seconds or less, I bet you’d feel more motivated to talk to people about how long ads were than about how to reduce pollution.


The announcement says, “People start pollution. People can stop it.” I agree with the first statement. I’m not sure if my observation agrees with the second.

Can people stop pollution? It seems like some can sometimes, but to stop pollution in general, I don’t see evidence of it. I’m working toward it. I think we can lower pollution in some areas, but as far as I can tell, we’ve increased pollution nearly monotonically since we started.

How long have you gone without polluting? Hmm… I never thought of it that way. I wonder how many Americans, for example, have gone, say, 24 hours without polluting? Could you do it?

I don’t think I’ve done it. I guess I’d have to unplug my fridge, not use my phone or computer, and so on for a day. I don’t know if I’d count living in a building.

Non-judgmental Ethics Sunday: How Do I Deal With a Gun at a Relative’s Home?

posted by Joshua on August 13, 2017 in Ethicist, Nonjudgment
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Continuing my series of responses to the New York Times’, The Ethicist, without imposing values, here is my take on today’s post, “How Do I Deal With a Gun at a Relative’s Home?

The patriarch of our large family came out of the closet as an elderly man nearing the end of his life; he now has a husband who is much younger, whom I will call Tim. The family embraced Tim, but the adjustment has been rocky, especially among some of the men. Tim has earned back this trust by being both husband and physical caretaker of our ailing relative. One recent evening, while his husband was ill, Tim and I sat alone in their home. The conversation turned to gun politics; I’m a closeted gun rights sympathizer. Perhaps sensing some undue camaraderie, Tim stole away to the foyer, then returned with an unloaded black shotgun and ammunition. Tim told me not to mention this to our family — or to my relative, who doesn’t know about the shotgun even though they live together. We also have children in the family, who visit Tim and his husband with frequency, and I’m well aware of the statistics about households that keep guns. I plan to advise Tim at least to move the gun elsewhere, out of the house. However, that does not seem to be enough. Having the gun in the house suggests a lack of judgment; it seems like a serious breach of trust and, God forbid, potentially dangerous. Doesn’t this directly contravene Tim’s claim to being a responsible caretaker, an ethical impetus that overrides confidentiality? Another twist: I also know that if the gun (or ammunition) were discovered, it could be just the excuse our extremely anti-gun family needs to disavow Tim. This seems like a bitter pileup of issues — gay equality, gun safety and family loyalty. Name Withheld

My response: Your contradictions complicate answering. Do you support gun rights or consider them unethical? Why do you add “back” in “earned back his trust”? Why “patriarch” and not uncle, father-in-law, or whatever?

You may consider guns dangerous, but people who own them consider them safe. You probably consider cars and airplanes safe, even when used properly. I consider them dangerous. Will you stop flying? If not, then why should he get rid of the gun? You consider it dangerous, not him. From his perspective, what if a robber comes? Or if he wants to go hunting?

I would like to see fewer guns, but I long ago recognized that people like having them, many for safety. What do tolerance and support mean if not for people you disagree with? Beyond having the law on their side, they have the Bill of Rights. If you want him to get rid of the gun, I recommend talking to him and leading him, not trying to use authority, such as trying to get the New York Times to label it unethical. He considers it ethical and its his house.

You can tell other family members about it, which will cause great disruption, possibly tearing up your “patriarch”‘s relationship.

I recommend considering your options, creating new ones if possible, considering your resources and constraints, imagining their outcomes as best you can, and choosing among them based on empathy and compassion.

The New York Times response:

Let’s be clear: Tim didn’t show you an Altoids tin filled with crystal meth. Provided he has the necessary permits, he is entitled to keep a gun in his home. The largest danger posed by firearms in the household is that they will be used for suicide, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of gun deaths. I assume you don’t think he or your relative is at risk for that. (If they were, the solution would involve more than getting rid of a weapon.) True, there’s good evidence that people living in homes with guns are more likely to be homicide victims as well. And obviously, accidents with guns do occur, and you need guns around to have accidents with them. But a reasonable person who knows all this might decide to keep a gun. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 44 percent of American households have at least one gun. Tim’s not depressive or alcoholic — or you would have mentioned it — and it’s his home.

Certainly, guns should be stored where children can’t get at them; Tim should keep his locked up. (Maybe he does.) But I don’t agree that having an unloaded gun, even with its ammunition nearby, is evidence that you’re not a responsible spouse and caretaker. Our country is full of responsible spouses and caretakers who have guns stored safely in their houses.

In our divided country, though, people who disagree about gun ownership and regulation seem to be split into two great tribes. Each regards those on the other side as not just mistaken about policy but also wicked or corrupt. (For what it’s worth, I think guns should be more heavily regulated; I don’t think gun ownership is wicked.) The members of your family are on one side of the divide; Tim is on the other. Because of this, telling your kinfolk he has a gun, which he showed you in confidence, will give them an excuse to do what some of them are inclined to do anyway, which is repudiate him.

You don’t quite explain the basis of that inclination; family dynamics are complicated, and this patriarch’s new household falls into the Grace Paley category of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. But your mention of gay equality suggests that you think some of it has to do with their being disconcerted by their patriarch’s pairing off with a man. That is, you fear they would use the permissible prejudice against gun owners to excuse the now impermissible prejudice against gay people. In these circumstances, sharing the confidence seems not only wrong in itself but also likely to lead to some people’s behaving badly. The only reason to tell them would be if you thought the children were at risk because of it, and that need not be the case.

The problem with Tim’s conduct isn’t having the gun; it’s not letting his husband know he has it. That is a breach of trust, especially if Tim knows your relative would disapprove. I said it’s Tim’s home. But it’s not just his home. You could wonder whether someone who keeps that sort of secret fully respects his spouse. So provided Tim can assure you that the gun is stored safely when the kids visit, I’d focus on persuading him to tell his husband he has it. Unlike you, his husband is in a position to ask that the gun go, if that’s how he feels. If Tim won’t tell him, you may have to consider telling him yourself. The duty of confidentiality can be overridden by sufficiently weighty considerations. But getting in between two spouses, even if one of them is a close relation, is a pretty serious step.

I am an American and recent college graduate teaching English to children in China. When I arrived, I had no teaching experience whatsoever, and I did not study anything in college related to English or teaching. I recently found out that I make about twice as much money as local Chinese teachers, who all studied English and teaching in university, have advanced teaching certificates and usually have at least a few years of teaching experience. The company I work for explains this by saying that Chinese teachers get a fair, competitive wage for the city we are in, and that native English speakers would not be attracted at anything close to this wage. And yet it seems so immoral that I should get paid far more. What can I do to lessen my guilt? Name Withheld

My response: Learn and practice social and emotional skills. Not to pitch my book, Leadership Step by Step, but the first three-quarters of it cover aspects of personal leadership.

You don’t have to be a slave to your emotions. Through working on your self-awareness, environment, beliefs, behavior, and such, you can create in yourself the emotions and motivation you want. I teach you to develop them through exercises and experience. Since few schools use such experiential techniques for leadership, few people realize how much you can learn this way, but you can, as my students’ testimonials attest.

The book’s last quarter, by the way, teaches you how to create emotions and motivations in others, which is a major part of leadership.

The New York Times response:

We live in a world where wages are determined, in part, by the sorts of market forces your employers have mentioned. There are lots of ways in which these forces are modified by other ones. Some, like legal regulation, can be legitimate; others, like racial and gender prejudice, are not. Your case doesn’t seem to pose such issues. The company wants native speakers of English; if it paid them what it paid its Chinese teachers (who are getting a competitive wage in the local market), it would have fewer or none. You are working a long way from home and, presumably, for a limited time. I don’t think you need to feel bad about the premium you currently command.

You can’t have both: “Today’s poor live better than yesterday’s kings” versus “Americans take antidepressants in astounding numbers.”

posted by Joshua on August 12, 2017 in Fitness
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Materially and economically speaking…

Talk about problems with society today and someone will tell you that the poor today live better than kings of yesteryear, or even the rich in other countries.

They seem to stop talking or listening then.

This Forbes article’s headline, “Astonishing Numbers: America’s Poor Still Live Better Than Most Of The Rest Of Humanity,” is typical. The article looks at material wealth and GDP growth, stating:

The poor in the US are richer than around 70% of all the people extant. The poor in the US are about as poor, perhaps a bit richer, than the poor in other rich countries. It is true that there is more inequality in the US: but this isn’t because the poor are poorer. It’s because the rich are richer.

As for emotions…

How about Americans’ emotions?

From Harvard Medical Schoo’s “Astounding increase in antidepressant use by Americans“:

[Americans] are taking [Prozac] and other antidepressants (Celexa, Effexor, Paxil, Zoloft, to name just a few) in astounding numbers.

According to a report released yesterday by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (people ages 12 and older) increased by almost 400% between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008.

From Scientific American:

Antidepressant use among Americans is skyrocketing. Adults in the U.S. consumed four times more antidepressants in the late 2000s than they did in the early 1990s. As the third most frequently taken medication in the U.S., researchers estimate that 8 to 10 percent of the population is taking an antidepressant.

From the New York Times:

Over the past two decades, the use of antidepressants has skyrocketed. One in 10 Americans now takes an antidepressant medication; among women in their 40s and 50s, the figure is one in four.

Yet no antidepressant has been shown more effective than exercise, as far as I know (not that I’ve researched that much), which tells me that people live out of touch with what creates happiness and emotional reward.


Speaking of exercise, obesity rates keep rising:

The illustration above has to add new bins every few years as the obesity rates increase. The illustration below shows that the rates continue to rise.

Since genes don’t change in a few years, the illustrations above tell me that the growth is resulting from reversible behavioral changes. Maybe people prefer diets and behavior that lead to diseases of excess to fitness, but I suspect most obese people would prefer not to be obese.

You can’t have it both ways

The material, economic perspective appears to miss something important. While it’s possible people before antidepressants were as depressed as people today, or many other explanations, soaring antidepressant use implies a lot of depressed people, whether poor or not.

My read: Mainstream America is out of touch with what creates meaning and emotional reward.

Economic growth masks cultural and social problems, or maybe exacerbates them. They distract us from seeing, understanding, and developing the skills to create a life that creates a fit body and mind that doesn’t need antidepressants.