—Systemic change begins with personal change—

170: Colonel Mark Read, part 2: His Family’s Best Christmas Ever


A lot of people say, "Josh, easy for you to act on the environment. You don't have kids." First, I could point to former guest Bea Johnson, who with her husband and 2 sons, produce less than a mason jar of trash per year, whom I see as role models to aspire to. I could point out former guest Jim Harshaw, who involved his four children and wife in his personal challenge. They loved the process and he used it to bring them together. Now I can point out Colonel Mark Read, whom you're about to hear talking joy, fun, bringing family together and not in small ways. Acting on their environmental values connects them across generations, which he then brings to West Point cadets. The point is not to copy what we do, but to find what matters to you and act on it. One by one, other things will follow. I make things work for my life. They make their things work in their lives. If I lived your life, I'd make it work. You can too. Family is only one aspect I could focus on with Col. Read's results. Once you find emotional reward in it, results are a matter of time. I had no idea when I started that I'd reach the level of taking 16 months to fill a load of garbage. Looking back, I see that once I started, that result was inevitable because it's fun, delicious, and rewarding. Hearing Mark's experience reducing waste with his family, you tell me if you think they're done or just starting. How far do you think they'll get? West Point has long traditions. It might be that changing how they do things is hard. It may be that the changes fall within their basic values of service and stewardship. Or maybe something else. We'll see. Read the transcript.

165: Colonel Mark Read, part 1: Environmental Engineering at West Point


I met Colonel Read through Colonel Everett Spain, who has also been a guest of the podcast. Two myths about the military have unraveled in me as a result of seeing West Point from the inside and talking to 4-star Generals and department heads. One is that the military practices command-and-control and that someone of any rank can just order people to do things and get compliance. On the contrary, you'll hear Mark share how people lead with compassion and understanding, at least most of the time outside of combat. The second is that the military wouldn't care about the environment or their effect on it. Again, I don't think anyone could hear Mark as faking caring. So far, the military seems to be fixing what it's broken, but I think it's looking toward sustainability, at least in training areas. The military reacts to the nation's values -- that comes from you and me -- and influences us back. They're ahead of many of us in some ways, especially corporate leaders, who could stand to learn from West Point -- one of the nation's top institution for teaching leadership. "It makes us stronger," that's a military leader at the United States Military Academy at West Point talking about environmental stewardship. Who would have expected a top military leader talk about woodpeckers and act on it? A major initiative of the military is restoring economies and helping local populations. Stewarding the environment is fundamental. I hope civilian leaders learn from Mark's lead. I can't believe how much American business and other institutions are trailing the rest of the world in environmental stewardship. Read the transcript.

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