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!
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Episode 000: the back story:
169: Srini Rao: Surfing and Creativity
Srini has run his podcast over 10 years, written several books, hundreds of articles, interviewing hundreds of researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, me, and more.
His business is helping people develop themselves -- to dream, to play, to create, to go on adventures, to find your path.
In this conversation we talk about his development and how he got to help others. It's more on the leadership development end of the Leadership and the Environment spectrum
If you aspire to more in your life, I recommend listening. He shares himself. We talk about surfing, writing, flow states, and daily practice, things that help you develop. Many people have gone through changes in their lives. Srini learned to share such changes with others so you can emulate them.
This was an early conversation, from over a year ago, but only made it through the editing pipeline now. I was still developing how to talk to guests acting on their values, so I sound clumsy. I find it reveals this podcast's development and mine.
Listening now, over a year later, having developed the technique to work with globally-renowned leaders that's become a TEDx talk on its own, it's almost painful to hear my clumsiness and Srini's generosity to play along.
But it also shows how to develop: try, practice, rehearse, iterate, listen.
As a professor of leadership, host of this podcast, and constant student of acting by my environmental values, I live and work in the intersection of leadership, education, and the environment.
Ken Robinson does too, but with a big difference: he's been here for decades longer, actively practicing in each. This episode approaches each of education, leadership, and the environment from several perspectives.
I can't say anything better than his voice carries the wisdom and vitality of someone who has worked here for longer and with greater passion than maybe anyone I've met and I'm in this world.
I'll keep this writing brief. Let's listen to Ken Robinson.
One last caveat: our schedules meant recording by phone, meaning the audio quality isn't like being in a studio, but I believe you'll find Ken's message transcends the medium and hope you listen for what he says, not the equipment.
Business, based on growth, loves the ideas of a circular economy and recycling because both promote more -- more consumption, more material stuff, more growth -- but may keep us on track to unsustainability, global warming, plastic, etc.
I'm a big fan of increasing efficiency, but recognize that it is not the same as decreasing total waste. You can make a system more efficient while increasing total waste.
The city of Charlotte contacted me about their Envision Charlotte program, which is one of the larger and more public American environmental initiatives.
I told them I'm cautiously optimistic and can't tell if what they're doing in the long run will decrease total waste. I'm not saying it won't but since few people get the difference between efficiency and total waste, few people are working on reducing total waste. I can't tell their focus from the outside.
They put me in touch with Amy Aussieker, their Executive Director, and we had a fantastic first conversation where I said the above and she was game for recording a conversation here. I admire her putting herself out there publicly.
You'll hear my first time challenging someone on these issues. I'm not sure where it will go, but I appreciate her openness and thoughtfulness. I hope I balanced my competing interests for the listener.
With some guests I have a hard time finding a quote to start the episode with. With Anand, I had the opposite -- at least half of what he said wowed me.
When I first saw him speak and saw the title of his book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, I wondered if someone at the elite event I attended would really challenge a community he was in. He did. You'll hear Anand in the first few minutes describe the starting point of the book.
His book shows how our society is leading people who believe they are helping. Though trying to decrease the inequities toward classes of people who, through no fault or lack of their own, lose out on society, they end up sustaining and increasing that inequity. That's just the book's starting point.
I highly recommend his book, especially if you're interested in helping others and want to make sure your efforts create the results you want. Intent alone is no guarantee. You might be caught by the same systemic effects they are.
It's more subtle than we can capture in our conversation, but we talk about the effects since the book came out.
We didn't have time to cover a point important to me: how a similar pattern happens in the environment -- that among the people and organizations most active and sincere in their attempts in, say, recycling, a circular economy, and carbon offsets. They too may be not changing the path we're on to more total waste but accelerating us on it.
Listen and see if you can identify the pattern and its results. Read the book to check the results of your efforts -- not what you hope results but what actually results.
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.
Anna is down to earth for anyone, let alone a gold medalist and Crossfit champion.
Watch her videos to see the contrast with what she does, her abilities, and how she doesn't have to be humble. She does something hard, that most can't do, like a clean and jerk or climbing a rope, then does as many as she can in a cycle with other hard things, to past exhaustion. She shows us what people are capable of, mentally and physically.
I hear from her that she wants people to develop for themselves what she does for herself, community being a big part of it. She talks about the value of coaching -- the intimacy and vulnerability in it.
Number one means reaching your potential. If you're interested in reaching your potential, putting people like Anna in your peer group, not as abstract heroes, I think helps you reach your final goal.
If the environment matters to you, your goal is likely far off with no guarantee we'll reach it. Anna shares how to survive such challenges and emerge a champion.
As an aside, some guests inspire me, usually on the second conversation, when I hear their environmental activity. Anna inspired me before we spoke. Researching her, I saw that at the 2018 Crossfit games the athletes, not in her division, had to row a marathon on a rowing machine. They all looked happy to do it, so I decided to try it. Never having rowed more than 7,500 meters at once, I first rowed a half-marathon. Then a few weeks later rowed a full marathon.
That's what happens when you put gold medalists in your world.
Kevin and I have been friends since we both wrote for Inc, and before I appeared on his podcast, which always opens a conversation.
It's two guys talking about leadership and love with examples of hardball football and basketball coaching and the like. We talk about leadership from the vantage point of his new book, Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business, which came out yesterday. I wrote a blurb for his book, which gives an idea of our conversation:
If you want to lead so people love working with you, not just manage so they comply, and the usual instruction isn't helping, you probably need some shaking up. Kevin Kruse wrote his book to provoke you into changing and growing. It's filled with stories, research, and personal experiences that will make you think and point to how to change and grow. He specifies how each lesson applies, to work, home, family, military, and more, but most of all yourself, even when no one is looking.
He also takes the environmental challenge seriously and shares views I hear a lot. Water bottles are a challenge for him so this episode features a recognized, experienced leader and teacher of leaders struggling with challenges everyone else does.
My prediction: he'll face challenges he didn't expect, he'll feel like giving up, he won't give up, and he'll learn more than he expected. Specifically what he'll learn I can't say, but we listeners will hear how someone who writes about how to handle challenges handles challenges.
I got an email that Bob Langert, McDonald's former head of Corporate Social Responsibility, wrote a book on his experience in over two decades at the corporation.
With my goal of seeking to reduce how we're diminishing Earth's capacity to support human civilization, I see places like McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Exxon, and Monsanto, to name a few, as places with the greatest potential.
Many protest them, which I consider important, but I also believe they could use help. I don't know how many large organizations can change without outside help. Am I the one to do it? I'm not sure, but I can't ignore their potential for change.
I read the book and scheduled a conversation with Bob. My goal is to understand the man and his experience to find opportunity for help, if desired.
I took more notes on his book than any other, a lot critical or challenging. I opted to make my goal with the conversation meet the man, not debate or criticize. If you think I should have acted otherwise, let me know.
My goals, as ever, are, regarding the environment: to lower our effects that threaten life and human society and on leadership: for people to find meaning, value, purpose, joy, growth, and so on.
I feel compelled to share personal context since I want to support the man but not imply I support the company, while still trying to support some of its changes, if sincere. I last ate meat in 1990, which would have been about the last time I spent any money on fast food. I've avoid packaged food and food with fiber removed for about four years and counting.
I pick up a piece of trash per day and McDonald's is up there with Coca-Cola and Starbucks as the greatest sources of litter. I've watched the McLibel documentary multiple times.
I stopped in one the other day to charge my laptop and one of the closest ATMs to my home is in a McDonald's, so I find myself in them periodically. I don't like the place.
I worked in a Burger King on the Champs-Elysees during my first summer in Paris, in 1989.
Katie continues the line of world class sailing champions who have translated their athletic success to leadership in their sport, business, and beyond.
What success? How about three America's Cups, including being the youngest member of the first ever all-female boat, two around the world races, as well the famed Sydney Hobart and Worrell 1000 Extreme Catamaran Races.
She's also a lawyer and is president of the Rising Tide Leadership Institute.
She just got back from Olympic racing in Miami, which followed placing second in the Sydney Hobart race, sponsored by Ocean Respect Racing, who promotes reducing pollution.
We talk about seeing plastic in the remote ocean as well as in much greater density closer to shore, especially America's shores. Around the world sailors see parts of our planet farthest from human establishment. Sadly, I've found it's a standard response that they've all seen plastic human junk however remote they've traveled.
She also describes waves towering over her boat's 81-foot mast---that is, higher than an 8-storey building. How would you like an 8-storey building crashing around you?
Staying calm in a situation like that sounds like a tall order, but what you want in a leader.