Reviews and reflections from guest speaking recently

September 1, 2017 by Joshua
in Education, Exercises, Leadership, Stories

I recently guest hosted an online seminar for Park Howell‘s course in the Executive Masters of Sustainability Leadership program at ASU. The student reviews and reflections touched and inspired me. I can’t help sharing them.

I described and performed one exercise from my Leadership Step by Step book and course. You can imagine that if these results come from one session, how much doing all the exercises in the book or course would give.

Enough from me. Here are the students.


I thoroughly enjoyed Joshua Spodek’s perspective and angle he took to engage through experience to train leaders. I purchased his audiobook and listened to a bunch of it on the way into work today.

He focused on developing empathy. But his method of confirmation and clarification was the way to get there. Within the moments of clarification and confirmation he talked about “not imposing yourself or your views” on the other person. This was a critical moment and realization for me. I also loved his thoughts on “people don’t share what motivates them because it makes them vulnerable”.

In addition, Joshua brought to light that people are motivated by different things and at different times. Therefore, we may have to use someone’s anger, joy, sadness, fear, love or outrage to tap into their motivations and emotions. This can be uncomfortable.

Things I can easily learn from Joshua’s lecture and utilize are:

  • Being in the flow and disciplined is less taxing on your mind and energy than the debate of should I or shouldn’t I.
  • Leadership can be learned.
  • A script can be very useful. At first it may seem cold and filtered, but after you have practiced, it actually pulls the real you out from under it over time.
  • Your GOAL: is to make the person feel understood NOT for you to understand them.

The webinar with Joshua Spodek was a continuation of the high-quality speaker series we have encountered in this program. When we attended our first workshop and throughout our courses, Park has mentioned how to “own” a room or meeting. As time and our courses and studies continue, what becomes clear is owning the room is less about our brilliance (or BS) and more about empathy and understanding.

Joshua touched on the practice and method of Leadership by tapping emotions. He provided several examples of tapping emotions that people likely want to share but are not sure how to share or are protective of those feelings. The question of “What motivates people more: Anger, Humor, Outrage, Fear?” is interesting and timely especially with the sad and unnecessary polarization we are seeing in this country (Due to a lack of critical thinking skills IMHO).

Joshua has found the simple question of “What’s your passion?” can and does often open up an individual to discuss their motivation and passion. This initial question sets the stage for the core practice of leading with empathy. I can see how this method becomes more finely tuned with practice. The ability to Confirm through Clarification and the repetition of Clarification makes the person feel understood and reaches emotions and motivations anyone would understand.

Ultimately, the demeanor of the individual will change and, without employing any judgment and NOT saying “I understand you”, a leader can connect their passion to the task at hand. The idea of observation without judgment and suppressing the impulse to argue (Don’t argue!) is vital to this effort.

PS. I couldn’t help myself, I bought the book!


I really enjoyed Joshua’s lecture and thought he was an excellent guest for us. I was engaged with his entire discussion, but I think what stuck out to me the most was his description of the meeting with his mentor and how he applied the script that he took us through earlier in the lecture. It was so interesting to hear how he was able to use the script to guide a conversation, and take a 30 minute meeting into a two hour one.

I was glad that he took us through the exercise with Russ and Diane, and I also tried on my own last night when meeting someone new—and kudos to R & D because it is a lot harder than Joshua made it seem! However, the key point that I got from Joshua is that the other person’s motivations are most important and you need to figure out what those are and make them feel understood in order to effectively communicate your message. I think this is so very important and relevant for us, especially as we work through identifying our audiences and personas, and even more so in our future initiatives. The other person’s motivations will be our leverage (or the causal loop variable!) that we can use to help get them on board with our initiatives.


A lot of great insights from this week’s guest lecture, the framework presented for leading with empathy is powerful and effectiveness wad made quite clear in the session.

Highlights for me include:

  • The Goal is to make others feel understood
  • Understanding people’s emotional motivators is the key for influence
  • The emotion to tap depends on the person you want to lead

Joshua’s story on meeting an author he admired but not able to strike a meaningful conversation in introducing the use of scripts resonated with me. And believe employing the use of scripts is something that I can leverage better understanding the motivations of individuals and groups within my organization to connect their passions to my sustainability initiative.


Key take aways for me was finding out what motivates your audience then find ways to influence and create a vision around those passion. Another take away was understanding versus feeling understood. A person would rather feel that you know them and the purpose that they stand for. Like Joshua said, ” Seek first to understand”. We can engage in those emotions and motivations to build on that understanding of others.

Joshua talked about how people love to feel understood. They like to know that you care about what motivates them to get out of bed in the morning. I think this is key to getting a clear understanding of your audience.


“ah-ha” moment

  1. The moment Joshua explained why he blogs every day, I immediately thought of my personal struggles with working out. It’s easy to just skip a day and then two and next thing you know you’re 22 lbs heavier and in bad medical shape. I’ve already started to take his advice, I set a goal and have been “just doing it”.

The importance of clarifying and confirming to better allow that individual to feel understood

  1. I really valued our time with Joshua Spodek this week and the commitment he has made to ensuring people for understood. I have found a great deal of passion in helping people feel heard, understood, and appreciated (and have mentioned this before), but many times it is hard for me to articulate how I do this. Our conversation with Joshua not only helped me articulate the importance of this, but he provided me with a vehicle to do this. Although it’s a tad uncomfortable to ask someone what their passions are, I’m excited to practice this script with those I know and trust.

Joshua Spodek’s session on Empathy has had the same effect. Asking questions and making people “feel understood” vs me understanding them is subtle but significant. It has taken my conversations deeper and I have been attempting his exercise on my clients. Confirming and clarifying is like sprinkling pixie dust on relationships.

Without tools like this, true progress and significance would have been hard to come by. As bumpy as the road is and will be, I can now machete through the density of challenges with these skills and tools.

Learn to make Meaningful Connections

with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.

Including

  • Step by step instructions
  • Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
  • An excerpt from my book

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