People want pure, clean, safe air and water but keep polluting. We want to steward this beautiful Earth we inherited. Many feel If I act but everyone else doesn’t, what difference does it make?

Leaders help create meaning and purpose. Leaders help people do what they want but haven’t.

This podcast brings leadership to the environment—replacing doom and gloom with acting on your values, joy, and integrity.

You’ll hear leaders act on their environmental values, struggle, and then say: I wish I had done this earlier. Thank you for getting me to start!

Upcoming guests include

  • Col. Everett Spain, West Point’s Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership
  • Sir Tim Smit, founder The Eden Project, author of bestselling environment book of century, and 7x platinum and gold selling writer/producer
  • B. Jeffrey Madoff, Director, writer, professor, and producer of Victoria’s Secret Road to the Runway

Popular downloads include

Our first in-person expert panel featured

  • Vincent Stanley, Director Patagonia
  • Robin Nagle, TED speaker, author, NYU professor
  • RJ Khalaf, Dalai Lama fellow, TEDx speaker

Subscribe and review on iTunes, Stitcher, PlayerFM, Castbox

Episode 000: the back story:


100: Michael O'Heaney: Story of Stuff

November 6, 2018
Michael brings over fifteen years experience as an advocate, fundraiser and consultant to his role as Executive Director. As the Project’s lead program developer and fundraiser, Michael focuses on providing the over 500,000 members of the Story of Stuff community with the tailored content and tools they need to engage in collective learning and social change efforts. Prior to joining The Story of Stuff Project, Michael developed fundraising and communications strategies for environmental, civil rights, reproductive justice and media reform organizations as the principal of Channing Way Consulting. He also served as the Development Director of two San Francisco Bay Area-based advocacy organizations—Global Exchange and Pacific Environment. He can be reached at michael (at) storyofstuff (dot) org.
Michael O'Heaney

100: Michael O'Heaney: Story of Stuff

Michael is the Executive Director of an organization that inspired me as much as any---The Story of Stuff. They continue to inspire me to think bigger and to focus on the details it would be easier to ignore but that matter.

If you want to avoid plastic, waste, and other stuff, you'll find Michael's perspective and experience helpful. Having cut my waste a lot, talking to Michael leads me to cut it more---not out of guilt, shame, or other unwanted emotion but to live more by my values. Integrity.

Michael shares a lot of facts, grounded in passion.

Many people who have thought and acted long and deeply on environmental issues feel an initial resistance in acting more:

Haven't I done as much as I can? What more can I do?

If you feel that way, you'll be glad to hear Michael shares that resistance. You'll also be glad that he overcomes it, which, I hope, will help you overcome yours. We'll hear in his second conversation if the increased challenge burdened him, as many claiming "awareness" and "balance" tell themselves to expect, or enliven and liberate him.

Show Notes

Coming Soon

099: Jethro Jones: No Excuse Stewardship

October 26, 2018

Stewardship is Jethro's core message, as I heard---of his community, especially children in it, his country, and the natural world we share. This world is a beautiful, abundant gift we could wreck if we don't steward it as we know we can.

He cares about being an effective steward---not just talk but action. Wait until you hear this Alaskan's commitment to live by this value.

WARNING: if you're full of making excuses why you can't act, Jethro's no-complaining, in-service-to-others personal commitment will belie any bogus, self-serving ones. If you came here for more excuses or to reinforce complacency, you won't like Jethro's dedication and commitment.

We start on education. Jethro is a school principal active beyond his own school with a national audience. He describes how school systems propagandize, which we can and must channel with intent based on our values, not just let happen.

We've been friends since I did his podcast a year ago. He contacted me to do this show because of his personal and passionate challenge. People like Jethro taking initiative to lead himself and others is why I started this podcast. I hope you take initiative in your life as he did in his. I'd love to hear from you too.

098: Would You Free Your Slaves?

October 24, 2018

Imagine you were born into a slave holding family. You didn't ask to be born into it. You didn't create the system. You didn't make slavery legal.

Every landowner around you would own slaves. You would inherit yours.

Would you free your slaves?

Have you considered how hard it would be? It's worth thinking about -- how much it would change your life.

If you would, without a second thought, no matter the difficulty, what other actions you do that hurt others would you stop?

If you don't stop those other things, how do you know you'd free the slaves?

097: Sir Tim Smit: Changing the World with No Special Skills

October 23, 2018

Tim Smit is the co-founder and Vice Chairman of the Eden Project in Cornwall, in the southwest of England.

He turned a lifeless, poisoned abandoned mine into a bountiful green world-class garden people love to visit. Eden has attracted millions of visitors and billions of pounds. Tim is a consummate doer---not complainer or blamer---and an environmental campaign and entrepreneur, Tim tells how he met challenges he couldn't have foreseen.

I love that Tim has no special skills. He did what needed doing to finish the project, then to take it to the next level each time. How did he learn what needed doing? By doing the steps before it.

(Are you not starting because you don't know how to do some later stage? Start with what you can, get as far as you can, and solve each thing when you reach it. That's what Tim did. That's what everyone successful did to become successful.)

Tim's wisdom is useful for anyone looking to make a difference. You just have to start. (Bonus points if you can tell what Tim Smit has in common with Anuta Catuna, winner of the New York City Marathon.)

096: Chris Bailey: Hyperfocus, The New Science of Attention

October 19, 2018

Chris Bailey shares how to focus and create intention---how to become more productive on the outside and live with more meaning and purpose on the inside by focusing on what is important to you.

Focus isn't necessarily easy, but Chris shares from personal experience that anyone can improve theirs.

He shares to slow down and focus on less in order to make a larger impact. Modern society motivates the opposite, with marketers and advertisers learning and practicing more effective ways to attract and distract you. They tell you they want to help you achieve and enjoy more, but they distract you from what Chris lives and shares.

People judge us as leaders by our behavior. Focus affects how we perceive the world and how people perceive us. It's essential to being effective at leadership or any performance-based activity.

095: How Would-be Leaders Are Moving Us Backward

October 10, 2018

I want to differentiate between telling people facts and what to do or what they should do on one side, and leading them on the other.

I see a lot of people telling others what to do. Not a lot of people leading. Martin Luther King led people to choose and want to go to jail to create freedom. That's leadership. He had no authority over them. He didn't convince them to do it. He didn't change their values. He gave them a way to achieve their goals of equality and justice.

Well, we moved on that path since we haven't achieved it, but he led them.

While he also went to jail, I'm talking about more than leading by example. Even without going to jail, King led people. Eisenhower led D-Day though he didn't fight in it. In neither case did they just tell people what to do or just model what to do.

I'm talking about connecting with people's values -- what they care about -- and motivating people by their motivations, leading them to a better life, not just compliance.

Almost nobody is leading like that today. As a result, nobody is being led and we, at least in the United States and most of the world polluting the most, are keeping doing what created the problem, choosing not to act productively.

Of course, many people are acting productively, but it seems to me they would have anyway. They weren't led. The overwhelming majority of people won't budge from comfort and convenience without leadership.

094: Where Reason Fails and Leadership Works

October 9, 2018

Many people think if you just reason enough, you'll get to what's right and wrong in a way everyone will believe.

This happens in the environment and many other places in life. In the environment, you may believe we should pass a law limiting emissions. When you hear another person suggest that that law might hurt jobs, you might think if you convince the other person through reason, they'll come to agree with you.

Experience has shown me, and probably you, that trying to convince people tends to provoke debate. I'll show you why trying to convince others and change their behavior through reasoning usually backfires. Convincing and logical debate often leads people to reinforce their positions and dislike you.

They think emotion gets in the way and confuses us from seeing clearly what's right and wrong.

They don't understand reason, nor emotion, nor how the human mind works regarding judgment, which this post covers.

093: Want to win elections? Clean your neighborhood. Be a steward.

October 8, 2018

How do we elect people, including a United States President, who act on and steward the environment?

I'm going to present a plan that I believe can win the next election that transcends the usual divisions that led to today's political situation, political misery, feelings of futility, and filth that we live in in air, land, and water, as well as our bodies.

The links and images I referred to:

New York City's 1895 trash and sewage transformation

[caption id="attachment_10031" align="aligncenter" width="700"]New York City before and after a sanitation transformation New York City before and after a sanitation transformation[/caption] [caption id="attachment_10032" align="aligncenter" width="620"]New York City 1895: children play by a dead horse New York City 1895: children play by a dead horse[/caption]

Buzzfeed videos on getting fit

My electric bill

[caption id="attachment_10033" align="aligncenter" width="700"]My electric usage My electric usage[/caption]

Martha Graham's quote

Here is the quote:

The dancer is realistic. His craft teaches him to be. Either the foot is pointed or it is not. No amount of dreaming will point it for you. This requires discipline, not drill, not something imposed from without, but discipline imposed by you yourself upon yourself.

Your goal is freedom. But freedom may only be achieved through discipline. In the studio you learn to conform, to submit yourself to the demands of your craft, so that you may finally be free.

Over a year to fill one bag of garbage

Feeding 50 people with no packaging at under $3 per person

See the pictures of the event here. Note everyone enjoying themselves.

092: Paternalism and pride: why fly to Africa to eek out minor efficiencies when we waste hundreds times more?

October 6, 2018

First world people pollute hundreds of times more than third world people yet the material prosperity doesn't translate to greater happiness. Specifically, according to the National Academy of Science, "The striking thing about the happiness–income paradox is that over the long-term —usually a period of 10 y or more—happiness does not increase as a country's income rises."

We could reduce our waste by 75% while improving our quality of life, yet we claim we can't do it.

Yet we travel to the third world to change them!

Leaders are more effective when humble than proud. Paternalism rarely helps any relationships.

In this post I explore how we in the first world act with paternalism and pride to justify our extravagant, wasteful behavior, missing how we could learn from others.

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