(Formerly Leadership and the Environment)
Community, support, vision, stories, role Models, experience.
Leadership turns feeling alone and complacent into action.
We bring leaders to the environment to share what works. Less facts, figures, and gloom. More stories, reflection, self-awareness, connection, support, and community.
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555: EJ Perry, part 1: Brown's quarterback on clutch performance
Who doesn't love knowing about something big before everyone else?
EJ Perry is something big, a very talented quarterback being scouted by the NFL, coming from the Ivy League. Rarely do people reach pinnacles in multiple areas of life so young. (I'm posting early so you can know to see him play in the Shrine Bowl next week, February 3 at 8pm eastern on the NFL network.)
Regular listeners know I like bringing top athletes to the podcast because they've faced challenges, victories, losses, and adversity and had to return to the game and life. We didn't ask to be born into a polluted world, but we did. I believe we can learn from athletes and other leaders.
I indulge in asking EJ about playing in clutch situations. He describes preparation, teamwork, mindset, and the types of things we need to face our environmental problems beyond facts, numbers, and instruction. Then we talk about what the environment means to him. He responds with humility and evolves from a mainstream response of what can I do?? to I know what I can do, connecting him more to family, giving him energy.
My notes that I read from for this episode:
Five months ago, Gaya's work led to headlines like Yep, it’s bleak, says expert who tested 1970s end-of-the-world prediction. The 1970s predictions weren't exactly predictions, but the headline refers to the book Limits to Growth. If you're not familiar with it, we start by talking about it. We both consider its views and analysis among the most important.
The book simulated possible outcomes for humans on Earth. Those outcomes varied from lots of happy people to billions dying. The authors' goals were to show what patterns we might expect.
Still, people since have wondered if we and Earth have tracked any of those outcomes. Gaya's work does just that and shows that we have a slim chance of avoiding collapse, but a good chance of hitting it. I am amazed at how well those models track so many measurable outcomes in disparate areas.
Our conversation covers her research, what it means, how to understand it, her work with companies, systems, solutions, and how these things affect our personal lives. Limits to Growth, Gaya's work, and what to do about them are among the most important things we can understand.
Hilary describes her commitments as achieving some success and some failure, but learned from both.
We start with her personal experiences and memories of ice skating and cross country skiing as a child leading to her sometimes painful lessons today. More than just ice skating again, she took lessons with her child. Listen to her for the lesson and why it was painful, but I'll share that she learned to wear a helmet.
She also talked about driving less, which led to what she could do with her community not to accept that not driving has to be hard, but how to improve the situation. She talked about eating less meat, which I heard creating more connection within family.
From the personal, we moved to the systemic. As the president of an august institution and connected to peers at peer organizations, she can influence within Allegheny and among university presidents and across academia. It's nice to talk about change and sustainability. It's nice to change institutions. But she points out, everyone sees what you do and your personal behavior affects others.
I don't think this episode is the last we'll hear of Dr. Link. I believe she'll implement some of the ideas that came up during her actions and this conversation. Stay tuned.
In this episode we talk about how to lead people, but I can't help notice on listening afterward how quick and easy it is for him to fly his whole family across the country several times a season, but impossible to pitch a tent in his back yard. Whatever effect I've had on other guests, it's not happening with Chad.
What he shares about leadership, I agree with and his life transformation to adjust to circumstances he couldn't have predicted, we can all learn from, so I recommend listening (sorry about the sound quality on my microphone). He lost his sight, which hasn't led to a worse life, as best I can tell. We're losing our ability to eat meat, have as many babies as we want, and fly without these actions causing others to suffer and die. But unlike losing an ability most people would not want to lose, eating more vegetables and living more sustainably benefits everyone, especially people with lungs.
Four conversations in, I see Chad starting to act but not beyond conversations with family. My diagnosis: I think I haven't connected with what the environment means to him so he doesn't feel intrinsically motivated.
Prepare to be awed at Rick's stories of adventure, discovery, nature, and humanity. He has summited K2, Everest, and more. He's visited places possibly no other human has. And he's an experienced, brilliant storyteller, so shares his experiences with a vitality that can only come from living it. Hear what it's like for animals that have never seen humans to approach him.
His interactions with people show up too, including Sir Edmund Hillary, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, and North Face and Esprit founder Dave Tompkins, and more.
He shares what it's like at altitudes where each step requires summoning all the willpower he can just to take the next step.
For background, before recording, I checked with him if we could talk about his thoughts on his role as a role model promoting activities that impact the environment, like all that flying. I was glad to hear he was open to it. It just worked out that the stories he shared were so engaging that we didn't get to the topic, or to do the Spodek Method. I hope in a future episode. Still, he shared plenty on his environmental views and work.
He just published his latest book. As captivating as I found this conversation, the book's stories transcend them. Beyond individual stories, it's composed with threads running in and out that create a greater message than a collection of stories.
Many people and mainstream society seem to view technology as the solution to our environmental problems---and the more and the newer the better. Abdal Hakim and I agree technology isn't the glowing solution many believe. It can play a role, but as part of a mix, including low-tech and non-tech components.
This topic led to the new green mosque in Cambridge that he helped make happen, how to mix technologies and harmonize with its location. It won awards and created networks and support from the community.
He shared the role of sacred spaces in life, less available now, as well as natural spaces. Nobody dislikes trees, but there are fewer around than ever for many people.
He also shares his commitment on reducing meat with a widespread social and Muslim perspective.
Erik Bottcher is my elected legislator. New York City's council presides over a budget bigger than most countries'.
Yet I met him picking up litter. He organized weekly clean-ups when the city dropped its sanitation budget during the pandemic. He also sees the problem not as too little cleaning up but too much supply of packaging that becomes litter.
Let's pause for a moment. How many politicians have you heard of who bend down and pick up litter, week after week? I think the world would benefit from all of them doing it.
We talk about changes to the city we'd like to see. He shares about growing up gay not in Manhattan but the Adirondacks, then coming to the city and how that affects his governing.
Michael is becoming a regular. Would I have expected an extended conversation with a doctoral candidate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary when I started? I don't think so, and I don't think many environmentalists engage with evangelicals and conservatives. I think you'll hear genuine friendship, mutual respect, and mutual desire to learn from each other. I think you'll hear actual learning.
In this episode we took on a topic we expected to disagree on: population. This time I asked more questions, learning his views and the views of scripture he follows, though I shared my views too.
What does the Bible have to say about population? Where do we agree or disagree? What common ground is there, if any, and what can we do about it?