People care about the environment but feel “If I act but everyone else doesn’t, what difference does it make?”

Yet living by your environmental values brings joy, meaning, and purpose.

Leaders help create meaning. Creating it for acting on the environment is my passion.

This podcast is starting that leadership, changing systemic goals and beliefs from growth at any cost to enjoying what we have.

You’ll hear influencers 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

  • Vincent Stanley, Patagonia’s Director of Philosophy
  • Ben Singer and Ryan Rose, volunteers turning the podcast into a movement
  • Balint Horvath, host of the Hardware Entrepreneur podcast

Please subscribe and review on iTunes, Stitcher, PlayerFM, Castbox

Episode 000: the back story:


040: Which is easier, freeing slaves or not using disposable bottles?

April 18, 2018
Joshua Spodek is the host of Leadership and the Environment. He usually interviews guests and sometimes posts solo recordings. His solo posts are below.
Joshua Spodek

040: Which is easier, freeing slaves or not using disposable bottles?

This episode asks some personal questions that are challenging if you haven't thought them through enough to act on them. I think they'll help you live by your values if you do.

Which is easier, for a slave owner to free his or her slaves or for you to stop using disposable water bottles and food packaging, flying around the world, turning down the thermostat and wearing a sweater in the winter, and so on?

If you had slaves, would you free them?

I think most people would say it's a lot easier to avoid plastic than to free slaves, but they would also say they would free their slaves -- at least when no one can check. But they don't act environmentally.

If you believe you would make the difficult choices hypothetically, will you also make the easier choices here and now?

Show Notes

039: Vincent Stanley, conversation 1: business success through environmental support

April 2, 2018

Vincent shares several stories of Patagonia growing from a few dedicated outdoors people to discovering business growth, the usual ways businesses abandon values besides profit, and their not accepting that abdication of responsibility.

The company grew financially, its employees grew emotionally and socially, and its community grew numerically.

If you think you're alone in wanting to act, Vincent and Patagonia go farther. Vincent shares how the company made difficult decisions to protect the environment, its employees, its suppliers, their employees, and so on---decisions most people think would hurt companies financially---but didn't.

As someone who dislikes many major corporations for what many consider standard business practices, I find in Patagonia and its decision-makers role models we can learn from. Having been there from nearly the start, Vincent gives an inside view.

His personal challenge also differs from many others', but I expect you'll like it. Mechanically simple, I bet he'll find it insidiously difficult and incredibly rewarding.

038: RJ Khalaf, conversation 2: Making productive leaders from hopeless martyrs

March 29, 2018

RJ and I talk about the early success of LEAD Palestine, the organization he began to teach leadership to youths that most of the world abandoned in Palestine.

Where their environment made it natural to respond with hopelessness and what comes from it---desperation to the point of aspiring to blow oneself up---RJ is bringing social and emotional development to create hope themselves.

They happen to have been born into a world where leadership meant in politics authoritarianism and militarism, which bled into personal relationships. Nobody taught alternatives and those who acted on those models succeeded, however much at others' costs.

RJ is teaching an effective style of leadership built on personal skill. I can't help but imagine a lot of it came from my class, though, obviously he deserves the overwhelming credit for implementing it. Though the class he took with me was social entrepreneurship, that semester, several students showed great interest and initiative and I'd stay after class to teach and coach leadership exercises, sometimes for hours. Among those students, RJ stood out.

I also ask him about his personal role as a student barely older than the people he's helping, as well as his personal challenge of avoiding plastic bottles.

For a self-aware, thoughtful, active leader, the modest personal challenge increased his mindfulness, activity, awareness at no cost in time, money, or other resource.

037: Our first Leadership and the Environment Panel of Experts: April 3 at NYU

March 27, 2018

LatE Patagonia Liberal Studies logos

Do you care about the environment?

Do you care about leading?

The Leadership and the Environment podcast

NYU's School of Liberal Studies

invite you to improve both at a

Panel of Leadership and Environment Experts

Tuesday, April 3, 6pm – 8pm

NYU Silver Building, 100 Washington Sq E (at Washington Sq N), room 405

Free, register here


Vincent Stanley Vincent Stanley

Vincent, co-author with Yvon Chouinard of The Responsible Company, has been with Patagonia since its beginning in 1973, including executive roles as head of sales or marketing. Informally, he is Patagonia’s chief storyteller. He helped develop the Footprint Chronicles, the company’s interactive website that outlines the social and environmental impact of its products; the Common Threads Partnership; and Patagonia Books. He serves as the company’s Director, Patagonia Philosophy, and is a visiting fellow at the Yale School of Management. He is also a poet whose work has appeared in Best American Poetry.

Robin Nagle Robin Nagle

Robin's book, Picking Up, is an ethnography of New York City’s Department of Sanitation based on a decade of work with the Department, including working as a uniformed sanitation worker. She is also a clinical professor of anthropology and environmental studies in NYU’s School of Liberal Studies, with research in the new interdisciplinary field of discard studies. She considers the category of material culture known generically as waste, with a specific emphasis on the infrastructures and organizational demands that municipal garbage imposes on urban areas. Since 2006 she has been the DSNY’s anthropologist-in-residence, an unsalaried position structured around several projects. Her TED talk gives a quick overview of and more detail about her work.

RJ Khalaf RJ Khalaf

RJ is a senior at New York University pursuing a degree in Global Liberal Studies with a concentration in Politics, Rights, and Development and a minor in Social Entrepreneurship. Recently named one of NYU's most influential students by Washington Square News, he is the President of the NYU Muslim Students Association and is a Dalai Lama Fellow. RJ is the founder and director of LEAD Palestine, an organization that aims to inspire, motivate, and empower the next generation of Palestine's youth through a hands-on and fun leadership-based summer camp.

Joshua Spodek Joshua Spodek

Joshua PhD MBA, bestselling author of Leadership Step by Step and host of the award-winning Leadership and the Environment podcast, is an adjunct professor at NYU, leadership coach and workshop leader for Columbia Business School, columnist for Inc., and founder of

Free, register here

036: Bryan Braman, Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagle (who composts): World Championship leadership

March 26, 2018

I created this podcast to bring leadership to environmental action.

Who leads?

As much as I value science and education, scientists and educators rarely lead effectively. We've mistakenly looked to them for leadership for too long. For science and facts, I see looking to them, but motivation? I don't see it.

Besides, the science is overwhelming and everyone knows enough facts. Even if you doubt global warming, you don't want mercury in your fish or litter on the beach.

How about a man who got over 100 million people to stand and cheer, winning the Super Bowl?

Today's episode features Philadelphia Eagle #50 Bryan Braman, about to block a punt in this picture.

I predict you'll find yourself happily surprised at how much he cares and acts environmentally---to say nothing of his humility and dedication to give his all on the field, starting years before the game.

Does his achievement sound relevant to the environment: giving, acting for an uncertain goal, caring, teamwork, enjoying the challenge?

The challenge now is to motivate action among people who care. Listening to Bryan renews my faith that our greatest joys, memories, relationships, and achievements come from trying, working, challenging ourselves, and persevering, not comfort and convenience.

By the way, we met at 50 Cent's midtown Manhattan recording studio, so Bryan is in with the elite of communities that few environmentalists have accessed, let alone influenced.

I'd love a Super Bowl ring, but Bryan shares that the work to get there is the reward. This picture looks sweet and what I learn from Bryan is that you can achieve the same feeling for yourself. All you need is to value and enjoy the challenge.

035: RJ Khalaf, conversation 1: Leading in the West Bank with the Dalai Lama

March 17, 2018

I encourage you to review RJ's leadership program in Palestine for yourself. Check out

RJ Khalaf is my youngest guest so far, still an undergrad at NYU, but achieving beyond student status. He took my social entrepreneurship classes.

In this episode, you'll hear RJ on his passion and success: a leadership program that teaches leadership skills to Palestinian kids who would otherwise throw stones or worse, as you'll hear. He makes it happen at the New Askar refugee camp, which has been around for more than 50 years.

RJ says he feels in over his head, but he's acting on his values. He teaches leadership to come from kindness and care. He acts with integrity, discipline, compassion, vision, and things leaders twice his age often lack.

The camp students and mentors love the message.

You'll also hear about his environment challenge---one many listeners can probably relate to, but few have acted on.

Read the transcript.

034: Joshua Spodek: Before, Living by Others' Values

March 15, 2018

After sharing my "after" stories about after taking on my environmental challenges, in this episode I share the "before" situations.

033: David Biello, conversation 3: "It's easier than you think"

March 6, 2018

David shares what happens when you act on your values:

Act on your values -> better life -> act on your values more -> yet better life -> etc

This cycle is the opposite mainstream society suggests---that environmental action distracts from getting ahead, costs more, or whatever excuse.

Acting on your values distracts from living by others' values---in particular, the values of people and institutions trying to influence you most. Who are they? Top ones I think of include:

  • Ads trying to sell you aspiration
  • "Food" companies trying to sell you sugar, fat, and salt
  • News media selling you outrage, fear, and offense
  • TV and movies selling you violence and sex

and so on.

Your first steps away from it reveal how rewarding and, after the initial struggle, easy continuing is.

David shares his challenges, struggles, and reflections

You still have to start, which David shares.

Conversations with people who have acted, as David has, differ from with people who haven't. People who act are less defensive, less "what about you", more thoughtful, and more enthusiastic to act more.

Once you start, you'll find many reasons to continue. The ones not to continue---lethargy, complacency, conforming, etc---are ones you probably want to grow out of if you listen to a podcast with the word "Leadership" in the title.

What's next?

You can hear David on the verge of taking on greater challenges. What will he do next? Will his changes influence TED?

Listen to hear what he starts considering for more living by his values.

Read the transcript.

032: David Biello, conversation 2: "Way better than I expected ... and easier"

March 5, 2018

David challenged himself to reduce his meat eating. His result? Right off the bat, he said he found it way better and easier than expected. He felt good and wants to do more.

What are you waiting for?

Chances are your choice to live by your values will be easier and you'll want to do more---if you act.

You'll also hear from David how he made it work---using his community, choosing his beliefs, considering his goals, and so on.

He feels physically better.

This conversation set a tone for the podcast of finding joy in the change.

The value of acting and involving others

You might wonder why he didn't change earlier. He knew the issues and felt the motivation before. He's the Science Curator for TED! He knows the top people in the world who present on this in the most compelling way.

Yet he sounded happily surprised at his results.

That's the value of acting, not just talking and thinking. Sharing with others engages and attracts them to help. You have to lead them, not accept their criticism based on the values of a system you are rejecting.

As you think about your values and a challenge to act on it, his experience implies you will enjoy it more than you expect.

Read the transcript.

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