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

  • Jordan Harbinger, Top 5 podcaster, North Korea tour guide
  • Marquis Flowers, Super Bowl competitor New England Patriot
  • Scott Mautz, Inc. “Top 50 Leadership Innovator”, bestselling author, ran $3 billion P&G business
  • B. Jeffrey Madoff, Director, writer, professor & producer of Victoria’s Secret Road to the Runway

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

Episode 000: the back story:


063: Technology won’t solve environmental issues and you know it

July 13, 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

063: Technology won’t solve environmental issues and you know it

I recorded this episode to follow up my blog post, also titled Technology won’t solve environmental issues and you know it. This podcast covers a few more angles, but click there if you like a written version.

Show Notes

Coming soon.

060: Consistent change creates big improvements; Robbie Samuels, Part 2

July 10, 2018


Right off the bat you can hear my joy to hear how composting has changed Robbie’s life. I used to see composting as an odd thing that I probably should do but didn't know how so didn't. I think most people see it that way, especially if they don't have gardens.

In this episode Robbie shares about composting and giving slop for pig feed. He talks about how he loves the idea that what would be trash goes instead into the soil.

His enthusiasm to act more is apparent, but I want to make sure he acts on his values---what he cares about, which leadership concerns, not just complying with something I suggest, which is more the domain of management. Leadership leads people to do more because they want to. Seeking compliance based on authority often provokes resistance---the opposite of leadership.

Consistent change, even if small at first, can create big improvements. What big changes will come up? What’s next for Robbie? Listen.

061: The Rainforest Alliance, United Nations, and NYU-Stern: Tensie Whelan

July 9, 2018

Tensie is helping unravel my preconceived notions of academics focusing more on facts than action.

Maybe because she was President of the Rainforest Alliance. Maybe because I met her when she brought the U.N. Secretary General to NYU. You'll hear other global organizations and people she's influenced, led, and collaborated with in a remarkable and effective career so far.

She brings a new perspective on leading organizations to this podcast, as I've mostly focused on leading people. She shares stories that massive change is possible. She lived it. She talks experience, not just theory.

She also shares practical advice and histories of what worked and what takes more patience since it's not easy. Always dealing with people. Some points you'll hear from her stories:

  • Effective leadership is rarely, if ever, about being right.
  • Empathy helps lead people and organizations. You have to understand organizations as you do people to lead them.
  • It's hard in practice---emotionally, internally. Maintaining integrity while empathizing with people doing things you disagree with.
  • But if you want change, being effective is more important than venting.

A younger, angrier, less skilled me would only think to protest organizations I disagreed with. As she shares, confrontation is still important, but also to engage and lead.

Hard work is exciting.

062: Business and systemic change: Michael Lenox, part 2

July 9, 2018

Michael's book tour was taking him to China, up and down the U.S. east coast, and across the country, but he kept at his commitment. Tell me if you don't hear him smiling in talking about it.

He said it was easy, but many people considering the same action put it off.

His book covers systemic change, focusing on the role of business. I find that his personal action brings in a missing piece of what you can do here and now.

Partly acting here and now achieves something, but individual actions don't achieve that much, as he points out and we all know.

More importantly, acting here and now leads to acting on bigger, more effective things. People who don't start little things never reach big, effective things. People who do, do.

Maybe most of all, acting on your values on whatever scale improves your life. When the action take no time or other resources and make you smile, why not?

059: The domino effect of creating change; Balint Horvath, part 2

July 6, 2018

Balint took on one of the bigger challenges on this podcast---one that nearly everyone knows the value of, many mean to do, but few do. He cut his beef intake from almost daily to once a month.

How did he do it? How did his body react? His relationships? His health? Would he do it again?

He shares how he became more aware of the different forms of protein and how his eyes and palate opened up to new tastes and dishes. He shared how it affected his relationship with his girlfriend.

Most people I talk to know beef as one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, resource depletion, and other environmental effect. Balint shares some numbers he's long known but didn't act on, such as how much water beef production takes, which caught me off guard.

Still, his main thrust is not water use or gas emissions but his taste, health, and joy.

058: Sailing, fishing, conserving, and the snap of halyards: David Allen, part 2

July 4, 2018

David and I talked about the ocean, water, and sailing in this conversation for a couple reasons.

For one thing, we find open water beautiful.

For another, he helped spark my interest in learning to sail as a way to cross oceans without burning fossil fuels on the scale that flying does. Last time we spoke he mentioned an event in Europe next summer that gave me a deadline to take sailing lessons, which I did. He grew up sailing, which led us to talk about it.

For another, his challenge was to eat less fish and to take more care about where the fish came from.

Most guests find their challenges easier than they expected, leading them to wish they'd done it earlier, or, if challenging, a rewarding challenge that enriched their lives.

David was no exception. Hear how he improved his life and lowered his environmental impact at once. Also hear him talking about halyards and other sailing talk.

057: The power of relationship building; Robbie Samuels, Part 1

July 3, 2018

What happens when you start with your passion and what you care about?

Robbie Samuels is also a podcaster who has created great relationships through his show. He shares how he learned. He sounds like a natural, but he didn't start that way.

In this episode we discuss the value of the skill of creating meaningful conversations with influencers. We talk about relationship building skills, which Robbie builds his podcast and business on.

We then discuss the challenges and joys of composting and how Robbie has brought into his household. Where many people see problems and give up, Robbie sees potential to build relationships. Listen to how much he laughs.

Leaders don't see other people as problems.

Robbie's "Ten Tips for Conference Connections" is

His social links:

056: The joys of leading a movement; Jeff Brown, Part 3

June 29, 2018

Can you enjoy leading a movement to change a neighborhood?

In this episode we dive deeper into Jeff's experience leading the charge to bring recycling amenities to his housing association.

His voice reveals and exudes the emotional reward the challenge creates for him and how he’s creating relationships with his community.

I don't think there's any question that this activity is not the end but the start -- of action, connection, and fun.

As a leadership author, I can't help but repeat that Jeff has reviewed hundreds of leadership books. He could have taken this leadership role at any time, but books about leadership don't develop leadership skills, experience does, which is why my book and podcast teach leadership experientially.

055: Our first Leadership and the Environment Panel of Experts

June 26, 2018

Below is the audio from Leadership and the Environment's first expert panel, held April 3, 2018.

For context, here is the announcement, followed by the recording.

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 listen in our first ever

Panel of Leadership and Environment Experts

which was held on Tuesday, April 3rd at the NYU Silver Building


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

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