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342: Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll, part 2: Sex

May 28, 2020
Behind the Mic episodes cover me, your host, Joshua Spodek. Listeners kept asking for more about me. Leadership is personal, so here's more.
Behind the Mic

342: Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll, part 2: Sex

For background, first listen to my first Sex, Drug, and Rock and Roll episode, part 1: Rock and Roll,  how Bruce Springsteen's Broadway show motivated me at last to share some episodes about me. Listeners have asked to know me. I tried to put myself in the background, considering leadership and nature the important parts of the podcast, as well as the guests.

Bruce sharing personal stories showed me the value of sharing, in his case about the man behind the music and in mine the man behind the podcast. In that episode, I committed to sharing more about myself and sank my ships, so, like Cortes, I couldn't retreat.

Still, weeks passed without sharing. I shared my fear to act with leadership guru and past guest, Dov Baron. I talk about his episodes possibly most for his committing so fully.

He said: "Here's the solution: I'm going to interview you as a guest on your podcast." I immediately saw he had the solution. Since seeing James Lipton being a guest on his show Inside the Actors Studio, I'd thought of copying the idea. I knew Dov would guest-host perfectly for why I loved him as a guest.

Today's episode is the first of three episodes he interviewed me for, each delving into parts of me I've feared sharing publicly. I think you'll enjoy them. Within the first few minutes, he asked what politically incorrect views I held and what people misunderstood about me.

Dov led me to share without my usual evaluating my words while saying them when talking about sensitive subjects. He spoke supportively, sharing about himself and giving views that enabled me to share what I usually protect.

Only in the third episode do we reach my most poignant fears, but Dov laid the foundations in these first few minutes.

This first episode is about my relationships with women, which I worked to change late in life in a deliberate, non-mainstream way. We cover how little intimacy I felt with them in my first few decades, then how my learning about vulnerability and support led to blossoming of relationships in all parts of life. My working on relationships with women contributed more to my leadership development than probably business school, where I took classes from top professors at one of the top schools for the field in the world.

I talk about how following mainstream advice and learning from women led me to feel shame and hide my most important parts. I also talk about how I feared mainstream views about how I overcame prejudices that came from mainstream society, since I overcame them through what the mainstream called misogynist. They call it pick-up artistry, but my experience, starting late in life, nearly 40, was the opposite of the common caricature. On the contrary, I first learned to open up with women, then with everyone---family, coworkers, everyone I met. I'm still often socially awkward and restrained, but less than before.

This first conversation with Dov is my first foray into conquering fears that people could hurt me, but also realizing it wasn't me they'd attack, but their misunderstanding of me. Listen to all three episodes to get the full picture. I thought the fears I mention in this episode were my big ones, but they actually set the stage for the ones in the third.

I can't express my gratitude enough to Dov.

I alternate between finding this episode cathartic from sharing deep, important things and obvious, like doesn't everyone have rites of passage. In any case, I feel liberated from having to hide these things.

I'm also disappointed that I live in a world that demeans what led to some of the most important growth in my life while supporting what actually led to me being withdrawn while feeling full of myself. Relistening to the episode, I could sense a new beginning. I could sense fading the fears in the puritanical culture of people attacking me. But now I feel strengthened to continue being myself despite the fact that they get parades and I don't, that people celebrate their sexuality while they suppress mine.

Still, the next two episodes go further.

Show Notes

341: NFL Tight End Chris Manhertz, part 1: Making your dreams happen

May 26, 2020

I love talking to professional athletes. Today I talk with Chris Manhertz, a tight end in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. We cover three main things and partly a fourth.

  1. Making the NFL never having competed in football. He played basketball in college, but made it, now five seasons in. I'd call it a dream come true except for the work it takes to make happen.
  2. Playing during a pandemic. Sports are hit as hard as anything. Athletes reach their potential. How is he responding? How can we all respond?
  3. The environment, of course.
  4. We just touch on philosophy and stoicism, which we'll cover more in our next conversation.

If you want to reach your potential, people like Chris Manhertz help. I hope the audio picked up his smiling and enthusiasm for acting and using adversity to prompt him to more.

I hope I didn't sound too selfish asking about what I find intriguing about the actual experience of professional athleticism, but I think others will find fascinating what I do---the inside experience of playing on a professional sports field, training and playing with professional athletes at the peak of human ability.

340: Michael Turner, DDS, MD: On the front line of Covid-19 in New York City

May 19, 2020

Want inside views of covid-19 in the epicenter of the epicenter?

Michael has been working at the front line of Covid-19 in New York City.

He's also my brother-in-law who has known me since the 80s. I started the pattern of bringing people to share inside views of my work with my mom's episode, which I encourage you to listen to.

He shares inside views on the flaws and weaknesses of both.

He starts by sharing stories only surgeons can---for example, of saving someone's life on an airplane. You know in movies when the plane captain asks if there's a doctor on board? It happened to Michael when he was the only doctor on the flight---then just starting. He says he didn't fully save a guy's life, but it sounded close. Based in New York, he also treated a Victoria's Secret model and famous actors and singers.

Then we covered the pandemic. You'll hear how he risked his life to conduct surgeries of patients with Covid-19, inside views of doctors fed insufficient information seeing the pandemic dawn on them, dealing with government, and dealing with the looming threat of having to choose who might live or die. Most of all, hearing the inner sentiment that drives a care giver to go into harm's way for another person's health.

Then we talk about what brought me to invite him: his seeing me change over the years. I got more than I expected and different views than my mom.

It's two conversations---one on the front lines, the other personal, both meaningful, both honest and candid.

339: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams: Food Matters

May 18, 2020

Brooklyn Borough President means Mayor of Brooklyn. If Brooklyn separated from New York City, Eric Adams would be the mayor of the third most populous city in the country. If it separated from New York State, he'd be Governor of more people than 15 states.

In this episode you'll hear why in 2013, Adams was elected Brooklyn borough president with 90.8 percent of the vote. He shares his transformation from his diet causing him to nearly losing extremities and vision to loving food they way I do.

We cover the gamut of food issues---politics, education, business, history, but most of all family, community, and personal joy, community, and connection. It's hard to keep in mind hearing him how far he came in only three years---meaning have far you can go in three years if food isn't the joy to your life it is for him.

People like him are why I created this podcast. The environment and food lack leadership. When you bring effective, authentic, genuine leadership to the environment and food, look at the difference. You'll hear how fast and thoroughly he changed and the passion and conviction he speaks with. You can imagine how deliciously he eats.

Do you doubt he will make a difference?

I can't believe people think one person changing doesn't make a difference.

338: Abbey Ryan, part 1: Technique and Mastery Through Practice

May 13, 2020

I consider leadership a performance art and the environment the most beautiful thing around. Abbey and I talked about beauty, art, performance, teaching, technique, craft, and everything that goes into mastery.

She has little experience with burpees. I have little with painting, but we connected on mastery. I think I can safely say we both look forward to our next conversation. Just after stopping recording we both commented on how much we enjoyed connecting on what underlies all fields amenable to mastery.

Abbey has painted a painting daily since 2007. As someone who has done burpee-based calisthenics and written blog posts daily for nearly as long, I couldn't wait to talk to Abbey about the personal growth, community, connection, self-awareness, self-expression, and so on that come from a daily practice.

I learned about her from podcast guest Seth Godin's book Linchpin, but watching her videos (links below) showed me the beauty of her work. More than that beauty, I enjoyed watching her connections with people learning art from her.Do you want to make an activity you care about a pillar of your life? Why care about classics and masters? Listen to Abbey.

337: Why we feel miserable under lockdown

May 9, 2020

I discuss the connection between perceiving lack of variety in food made from scratch and feeling miserable and bored under lockdown, despite having access to all the world's art, music, literature, and culture ever recorded and more material abundance than kings only a few generations ago, despite our material abundance being only slightly less than a few months ago.


Here are the notes I read from for this episode:
  • Yesterday recorded episode with Rob and my stepfather
  • Talked about food variety, said mine lacked variety
  • Only tried three times
  • People always see theirs as varied, others as not
  • People say I don't like Chinese or Indian, billions, huge variety
  • I see McDonald's and Taco Bell as same
  • Count Chocula versus Froot Loops
  • I made something with broccoli versus zucchini or cauliflower as different
  • I see industrial food as the salt, sugar, fat, convenience treatment
  • Add sugar versus add salt, people see as different, but to me corn flakes and Fritos are basically the same
  • Supermarket carries same things year-round. Seems like variety because at any given moment lots of choices
  • But once the prime pleasure becomes salt, sugar, fat, convenience, same to me.
  • Because there's the raw flavor, which can differ, but we've reduced that variety to monocrops so only a few varieties of mango here, despite abundance in nature, and zero radishes for most people
  • To me variety among apples is huge, which I cherish
  • German beer law -> abundance and just local ingredients is huge compared to their four
  • People lived since dawn of our species on local ingredients
  • When did we become so entitled that we should get anything we want whenever, wherever?
  • What's so bad about not having berries every damn day?
  • A farmer nearby wants to provide food for me and you
  • Instead a large part of your money goes to Saudi Arabia for fuel, Madison Avenue for advertising, Wall Street for finance, and Venezuela for farmer now not feeding their people
  • So my parents, who have lived here for over a decade, say there's nothing available local this time of year
  • It's like someone who played loud music their whole lives to deaf saying there's no bird songs
  • The human aspect is important to me. I would probably eat meat, which until just before this time of year would be our option, and we'd cherish it, not take it for granted and ship from all over the world
  • Then treat with salt, sugar, fat, convenience
  • So no, I don't consider Filet-o-Fish as different than a burger, nor Taco Bell as different from McDonald's, Olive Garden, etc
  • They all treat the raw ingredients as commodities.
  • I want to treat them as a painter treats paints on a palette or a musician treats notes on a scale. A piano has 88 keys. A trumpet three valves.
  • No variety?
  • Let's get to bigger picture.
  • I've also come to see our educational system as equally tone deaf
  • Some will see history as completely different subject than economics
  • Or even humanities as different than science
  • Even there, most humanities people will see math and physics similar
  • Most science will see history and philosophy as similar
  • To me, if they all teach the same skills of reading, listening, taking notes, analyzing how they teach to analyze, but not to learn their own values and create own skills, teaching the same compliance
  • That most Americans or people in East and West, when confronted with new problem, can't help
  • Mandela, in prison 27 years, lived more free in 10x10 foot cell with forced labor than people today.
  • How do I know? Because he created his happiness despite few raw ingredients, yet people today with much more comfort, convenience, and variety feel depressed and bored.
  • I learn from Thoreau, who lived off the land. Read Walden and Civil Disobedience. People today miss the point by saying he interacted with people. He found that being put in jail for not paying taxes to avoid
  • supporting slavery and an unjust war made him more free.
  • People who emerge from our educational system learn dependence, not independence. Rob complains about system and as best I can tell spends his time in solitude trying to find how someone is causing his problems rather than appreciating nature that no matter how we try to dominate it, will never go away nor be weaker than us.
  • With zero evidence constructs a world view that Chinese labs were trying to hurt him. Mandela learned to relate with and help the people imprisoning him, realizing the problem wasn't the people, but the system
  • People make themselves depressed, despondent, angry, and such unable to apply their compliance and analysis to understand a situation beyond what school taught.
  • Victor Frankl lived a life of more happiness and bliss in Auschwitz, or Jean-Dominique Bauby, the guy from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly who suffured a stroke that led to him devoid of voluntary control of any muscles except his left eyelid and who wrote a book that became a bestseller and a movie that won awards, He did it by connecting with the people around him.
  • They lived more variety and happiness than people today who want to riot when they only have access to all the food in the world, all the world's knowledge, video to anyone and everyone, all the art, music, literature, movies, ever recorded
  • As well as the tools for themselves to recreate those works or even make their own
  • So go ahead and call my bowl of cereal one day with a bartlett pear and the next with an anjou pear lacking variety while your Wheaties different than your Spaghetti-os, which I see as the same
  • While you complain, plan to riot against people suggesting you live with slightly less material abundance than yesterday, by your own prideful boasting greater than kings of only a few generations ago, and sink into depression and rage
  • Miss out on seeing that the same process happens with travel as with food. Just as they industrialize food to produce what superficially looks like variety but beneath the surface is monotony, people's actual experience of Italy versus China have become as different as different sections of Disney World, while they can't see the nuance between going on a bike camping trip versus spending a week to learn bike mechanics. Or they can't see that spending a week on a meditation retreat might change their lives more, despite probably less emissions, than crossing another item off a bucket list that is actually less photogenic than the million pictures on the net, that they degrade by going and also degrade where they came from.
  • Or even as my stepfather describes meeting the people or the land in faraway places, while missing out that his very own childhood created the same results by going places on foot, miss out that the variety and diversity of people is everywhere.
  • My greatest recent vacation was the day, just to see if I could, I got on my rowing machine and rowed a marathon---that is 26.2 miles.
  • You would say I didn't leave my apartment and with disdain say I missed seeing Macchu Piccu or some other thing beyond my physical horizon, while I found myself, physically, emotionally, and made myself more able, more creative, less needy, physically, emotionally, intellectually.
  • It wasn't just a day but a journey, since a month earlier I had rowed half a marathon for the first time, that feat a couple months after seeing people do it during the crossfit games, which I found researching a guest on my show who won the crossfit games after winning a gold medal in the Olympics, whom I met from another guest on the podcast from several months earlier who had won the Americas Cup, whom I met from learning to sail, which I learned to cross the Atlantic because I challenged myself not to pollute by not flying.
  • While most Americans seem unable to put two and two together to see the opportunity to create the joy, happiness, bliss, community, and connection that someone the Nazis tortured, that Apartheid tortured, and whose stroke deprived of voluntary control created.
  • You think they're dead. Some of you probably think they're dead white males, as one entitled student described my heroes including Mandela, MLK, and Gandhi. I find them more alive than probably you find alive most of your Facebook connections including possibly your spouse, as Rob tells me many people are looking to divorce as they meet their partners more.
  • So go help bankrupt your local farmers, saying they can't provide you with food in the winter and help support despotic regimes and a system making more de3spotic regimes, lying to yourself that you aren't contributing to it
  • And lament that after the vaccine everything will return to normal despite connecting with people around you more, as the guy I mentioned to Rob that my step-father and I talked to yesterday told of finally learning that his son was languishing in school, but flourished when his own father actually spent time with him.
  • His father said he wouldn't go back to the old way.
  • He could have learned about his son any time. Why didn't he? He was busy. He had time for things not his son but not his son.
  • Compliance-based education may have resulted in a child getting an A, but not knowing his father, or rather knowing his father doesn't have time for him but does put him in a place that bores him.
  • Teaching below him more likely led to him getting a low grade, not high, less factual understanding which nobody cares about anyway, and shoved down learning experientially value, meaning, and purpose, connection, family, ability, creativity, initiative, and what makes life abundant.
  • Now he has less, but he's finding more, he's creating more.
  • He says, as you have the capacity to, that he would have changed earlier, had he known.
  • Reverting back to before means you are passively accepting the compliance and impotence that supports those regimes, keeps you stupid however vaunted your degrees and able to regurgitate information but not tell the difference between radish varieties to where you call salads with two different varieties lacking variety
  • And you would have reacted as I would on mentioning putting pears in cereal, that I won't because pears' flavors are so nuanced and delicate that I would rather eat my oats plain in order to savor the pears
  • Except when they're in peak season and so abundant and cheap that I feel richer than a king when I indulge in them, appreciating the abundance of nature, not the scarcity of soul in your supermarkets and convenience restaurants, however crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, and your prepared restaurant meals full of pleasure bereft of feeling.
  • Now watch your farmer sell his land and pay some Saudi prince while you make yourself powerless to love and spend time with your child when restrictions decrease and you can do what you want.
  • Go complain and use your compliant, entitled dependence to turn greater material abundance and prosperity into emptiness of meaning and purpose and feel superior to my walking four miles to meet a guy in person who can tell me where my local farmers will sell me a rutabaga you wouldn't deign to eat as it lacks variety, while my life overflows with abundance of meaning, purpose, sensory delight, and even amid this tirade love.
  • I have to admit as I write and speak the word love that I'm hit with humility, what little I have, that my poor rhetoric and reflection have led to a tone accusatory and condescending.
  • Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm fooling myself. But I'm sharing not to put down but to invite you to try, not sample or visit, but sincerely, authentically, and genuinely try to live this way for a while.
  • Maybe start with food. For a week or two go for nothing packaged, no added salt, sugar, fat, nothing made extra convenient. Cook everything from scratch, maybe more than a week or two, until you master it, which may take months and will make you as sore as someone using muscles for the first time in their lives, but when strengthened will enable you to achieve more than ever.
  • I predict you'll wish you had earlier, that you'll connect with your world, community, and family more than you thought possible, that you'll open yourself to learning, growing, and connecting.
  • If after you master local foods you return to Cracker Barrel, please teach me why, because I'll have something to learn from you.
  • I predict instead you'll want to share what you've learned with others, and you'll be able to do the greatest thing anyone can about our environmental problems, greater than not flying, greater than avoiding packaging, greatest of all: you can lead others---people, communities, corporations, and governments -- to love, honor, and steward nature, which includes us.

336: Julian Guderley: GreenPlanet BluePlanet

May 7, 2020

If you measure an interaction with someone by how much it affects and improves your life, my conversation with Julian was profound. Why? His conversation led me to start meditating regularly---something I've considered for year but never implemented, until the morning after our conversation.

Longtime listeners know I've meditated for nearly 15 years. I've chosen infrequent deep dives---5-10-day retreats with no reading, writing, phone, internet, or talking---finding that I've gotten most of the value of daily practice from my other sidchas. The morning after our conversation, I started and have kept going since. I credit Julian's conversation.

I met Julian after hearing an episode of his podcast featuring Wen-Jay Ying, an entrepreneur who founded one of the CSAs I get my vegetables from in New York. I learned more about his podcast: he hosts well-known guests to speak about the environment and human views on it. He focuses on emotions, leadership, action, authenticity. He also does solo episodes sharing his thoughts. He coaches on leadership.

In other words, he works similarly to me. His voice is different, though, so you'll hear from Julian a different approach to similar topics. One of my first observations from his talking was on the speed of my thinking, which could be more relaxed. I predict Julian will get you thinking too.

I recommend listening to my episode on his podcast.

Talking to Julian put me in a different frame than usual, more introspective. I'm not sure if it's coincidence so soon after my Springsteen episode and my episode with my mom, or maybe an effect of the global lockdown. It's led me thinking more openly of the lockdown as an opportunity, not to detract from the experiences of people in pain, dying, or risking their health for others who are.

  • What might come of our time locked down?
  • What will happen on its own?
  • What won't happen unless we take responsibility?
  • How can we serve others?

335: Rhonda Lamb, part 2: reversing food deserts

May 6, 2020

The quote you just heard was Rhonda's description how showing people how to cook the way I showed them could save time and money for people to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables.

After Rhonda and my first conversation, I recommend watching the video of my going to the Bronx for the group Rhonda assembled at a church for me to demonstrate cooking my famous no-packaging vegetable stew.

This conversation came shortly after that potluck. Rhonda and I share hear how that event went. One woman said you couldn't cook that way up there, but then everyone else said it was possible. Rhonda knew everyone there, so listen to our episode to hear her read.

Rhonda sounded to me upbeat about her Bronx community finding value in learning this way to cook from scratch. She says the transition takes time, but that once started, the transition would happen.

On a personal level, I feel vindicated from people repeatedly evaluating my suggestions that this style of cooking could help people by my identity---or rather their perception of it---instead of how it could help people and communities.

There's no question that different neighborhoods have different access to food versus doof. My questions to you

  • Do you accept that difference?
  • Do you consider it fair?
  • What are you doing to change it?

I don't think we have to accept it. I'm helping change it. I'm helping reverse the trend of doof producers extracting money from communities with less defense to their manipulations. They claim to offer convenience but make people dependent, creating lifestyles to spend less time with family to work at low wages.

I recommend you help this process instead of sustaining what McDonald's and Starbucks are doing---perpetuating poor health and impoverishing people and communities.

Rhonda and I have become friends, over vegetables. She met my mom, I met her son and community. Food brings people together---in my experience, more when you meet the farmers and prepare fruits and vegetables from scratch.

334: Jethro Jones, part 2: Biking in -40 degrees. Why not?

April 30, 2020

This episode starts off strong with Jethro's matter-of-fact description of riding a bike in minus 40 degree weather. He's a principal going to school, but could be talking about radical mountain biking. I don't remember my principal being this badass. I don't remember anyone talking about activity like this so understated. I wouldn't be able to hold myself back as he does.

Tell me if you don't laugh when he talks about what the cold does to his tires. You'll notice we recorded a long time ago when we talk about Greta Thunberg.

Listen to the end, especially after he talks about his daughter, where we get into what actions like these are about. It's about meaning and purpose and living an intentional life of those things---how accessible those things are, yet today's world makes it easier to live passively, losing meaning.

I learn from every guest, but Jethro led me to some new places. He came to me with this commitment, from listening to other guests. Unpacking that clause, ". . . then what I do doesn't matter" hit me listening to him. If a clean environment means something to you and you say things including the phrase, " . . .what I do doesn't matter . . ." about something meaningful---first, it does matter. Where we are now is the result of people's behavior.

Second this is your chance to create meaning in an area of importance. You don't have to ride a bike in Fairbanks, but what can you do?

Everyone talks about what they can't do. Well Jethro---a regular guy---rode his bike to work every day, including in -40 degree weather. What can you do?

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