011: Tanner Gers, Conversation 3, Enjoying responsibility, full transcript

January 5, 2018 by Joshua
in Podcast

Tanner Gers

Tanner Gers:

In episode three we hear how Tanner kept going, he kept going until he hit a challenge that took serious effort. In his case he moved past doing things on his own to influencing others and they are not under his control so it’s a whole new set of challenges in leading other people. I should also mention he gave his TEDx talk between Episode 2 and 3 and he shares the behind the scenes perspective of a blind person standing close to the edge of a stage. So we’ll all have to watch it when he or when the TEDx people post it.

Notice that the more that he takes on these challenges I hear the more he likes it even as they get harder. You can expect that when you take on your challenge the more that you’ll love it too. Then you also hear him interacting with others and leading them with a vision for changing culture, not just changing one person here or there. I didn’t come up with that. He did. He’s not doing something he doesn’t want, as I hear he’s doing things he really likes. On another note, I want to point out that I created this podcast to create leaders. I’m happy for people to follow and improve their environmental impact by their standards, but I want to create leaders, people who after changing themselves take on their own personal challenge, lead others because addressing global warming, pollution, extinctions, resource depletions and so on. That means changing billions of people’s behavior. You can reach people that I can’t. There’s room for as many leaders as want to act here. If you listen to a podcast called Leadership and the Environment I anticipate that leadership is something you care about. When you listen to Tanner consider how you can lead and love what you do as much as anyone because we can sure use it. So I hope when you listen to it think to yourself, “How can I follow in his footsteps, how can I start with something small?” and see where it leads and see if you won’t also love taking on big challenges as well.


Joshua: And so people know we’ve been connected for about three seconds. No one has missed anything.

Tanner: So let me apologize really quick because my internet has been down since, today’s Friday, and it’s been down since last Thursday, not yesterday but last Thursday and it is not going to be up until Monday evening so I am out here at my apartment complex on their Wi-Fi, they were so nice to grant me access to their secure network. So I apologize for the extraneous background noise.

Joshua: Thanks for explaining, no problem. Actually you’re reminding me of someone who I interviewed yesterday for a second conversation and he was remarkably unaware of how his behavior affected the environment. And so his challenge was to use his cell phone half as much as he was before. In particular have some data. And you might say, “That’s really, like in terms of power use that’s very little”. I mean cell phones don’t use that much.

Tanner: Right.

Joshua: There’s a bit of a stretch for me to say, “OK” for that one. But I’m here to support the people, not evaluate what they’re doing and technically it is lowering your environmental stuff. And here one of the more how to put it, more extreme, no one of the more meaningful experiences. Yes, he broke his phone so he couldn’t use it and so had an easy time doing it but it really changed his behavior more than he expected. He started connecting to his wife more, he started going outdoors more, going to the beach more and all the stuff that like you didn’t expect and it’s making major changes so this change for you fits in with at least one other person, had a major change with a little thing. And he’s going to have a third one too.

Tanner: Yes. I would love to hear about the effect that being glued to your like trying devices how that sucking up the power of the power grid resources because that power has to be generate somehow probably not through renewable sources or generation, how that affects things in the long term. But yeah I mean I totally can relate to that because we don’t watch regular TV as it were. We don’t watch the local channels, we don’t watch the news, we don’t watch cable television, we will watch Netflix, it’s primarily for dinner like while we’re eating dinner we’ll watch Netflix and we like to watch a comedic show, just have a laugh. And so it has completely changed our dinner behavior because now we are engaging more in-depth conversations about our days and the post dinner, while we’re letting our food digest, the post dinner, their conversation continues instead of waiting for the show to end and so that’s interesting.

Joshua: Yeah, I think that that’s the goal of this podcast is my experience doing things to reduce my impact on the environment was really stopping doing things and it’s totally, that doesn’t represent what’s happening. What represents what’s happening is people connecting with each other by values and things like that and discovering more, that was always there.

Tanner: Yeah, totally and then in my motivational talks that what you just said resonates with me because one of the things that I say is the superhero inside me is inside you. Could blind people read before Brail was invented? Like that was already inside them, the capacity to do so was there. Could deaf people speak? Could they communicate before sign language was invented? That was already there, it just kind of took a breakthrough for a change, a shift in order for us to discover that greatness inside of us and I couldn’t agree more. That shift in behavior change can really allow one’s perspective to open up on something that was already inside of him.

Joshua: Yeah, for me in my book I talk a lot about the books, Mark Zupan’s GIMP, and Jean-Dominique Bauby’s Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Victor Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning. People look at these and I think they find these people inspirational. Now most people they’ll say inspirational but they don’t actually behave any different. But to me these people were not superhuman. They’re human. They didn’t do stuff anyone else couldn’t do. It revealed something that anyone can do. And that’s the big thing. And I think a lot of people look at others and say, “Oh, look at Tanner, he’s suffered some problem and he had to rise above. I didn’t have a problem. So I was not able to rise above”. Bullshit! You don’t need a disaster to reveal what’s already there. The challenge is to take it on and I think the environment is a place, just to bring it back to Leadership and the Environment, the environment is a place where you can care and you can act on things that you don’t have to. Even if you don’t have some problem because this is affecting everyone, everyone breaths the air, everyone drinks the water.

Tanner: Well, one million percent I mean we can’t just because someone doesn’t have an impressive traumatic event doesn’t mean they can’t observationally learn from someone else’s experience. The same thing has been what I’ve been communicating in our past podcast, which how I, it resonates so well with me, was through indirect observational learning where you just made me aware of what this small thing, this small change can do and that’s the thing, I was motivated at first but I was more inspired. I think I was inspired to take action, to make that change and I thought about touching base of you ahead of this because I did not succeed as well as I had in the past with my previous two challenges and I thought, “Oh man like, no, I let Josh down”. But really I just kind of let myself and the environment down.

And so I thought, “Oh you know maybe I should just give him a heads up and say I didn’t succeed” but me not showing up in my fullest, truest, rawest, vulnerable form wouldn’t be leadership, wouldn’t reflect what this podcast initiative mission is about. As tough as it is for me to say that I failed meaning I did not completely succeed, I showed up and especially with the environment, that’s part of it, right, like showing up to the recycling bin, what’s your recyclables, showing up with more, the bags, your reusable bags. I was happy to find out, though, that those Sprouts nearby and Safeway, I don’t know if you guys have those in the Northeast, Sprouts kind of like a lesser expensive whole foods and Safeway is kind of like a Kroger for fries or another restaurant chain that’s just like a typical grocery store. Both Safeway and Sprouts upon my question they do sell bags at their locations and Sprouts even will add them on to the bill when you’re checking out so you can get them right there. Unfortunately they were sold out which means that that’s good, they’re selling them. But I didn’t take the initiative to take the time out of my day to go to the customer service, talk to the manager and push like, “Hey like I’m so glad that you guys offer these at the register. I’m so glad they sold out right now. But what if I wanted to buy these bags, like what can we do, what kind of processes we put into place to make sure that we don’t run out of bags, like we wouldn’t run out of plastic bags?

Joshua: Like that’s a great point. Apologies for interrupting you but I’m going to take this moment of high tension and pause for a bit so that listeners are going have to wait a second because I’ve got to show you off and I’m very interested. Between last time and this time you’ve done a TEDx talk, right?

Tanner: Yes.

Joshua: I want to hear about that. I do want to hear about the bags and I do want to hear about this failure and from the listener’s perspective, I think a lot of them want to hear the failures as much as they want to hear the successes because they know that they’re going have their failures too and they don’t want, it no one wants to hear like, “Tanner did this, Tanner did that, Tanner is awesome”. I mean they do want to hear that but first let’s hear how awesome you are given this talk, I don’t know maybe you like tripped and fell and went a disaster, I don’t know, but I suspect it went awesome.

Tanner: Yeah, there were some definite wins and definite losses and when I say losses it’s like anything, so 100 percent is somewhat of a loss, right? It was a big W overall. I probably executed at 96 or 97 percent of my potential to make it perfect. If anybody is familiar with TEDx talk there’s basically this circular carpet that the speakers stand in and I was highly nervous about that because I like to move around when I talk and I thought to myself, “If I’m using the edge of the circle to face the audience, if I turn slightly a little bit, how am I going to know the front of the circle could be 3 o’clock, it could be 9 o’clock, you know eventually I could work my way to 6 o’clock where the audience’s position at 12 o’clock.” And so what I was doing was using the front of the stage, the edge of the stage as my guide. So people in the audience who knew me were highly nervous because they don’t travel with me, when I’m speaking at an event, so they don’t know that I’m very comfortable literally walking with half of my feet off the stage and…

Joshua:  You are like standing at the edge, your toes are in the air underneath them?

Tanner: Correct, yeah.

Joshua: Yeah, I can see why people might be nervous.

Tanner: And you know the front row seats were probably like 10 feet away from the edge and it was it was a packed house. So there was this one moment in the talk where I do this kicking motion and I say, “This might seem like my dad was kicking me while I’m down.” My really good friend and his wife were there, and he like, “Ah!”, he jumps back. [14:21] his wife was making fun of it trying to play it off like he was just, had the jitters or he was cold or something. Yes that was…

But so here’s why I thought that [14:33] the talk went really well like me delivering the message I thought that off without a hitch but it might have been off center a little bit from the camera. The venue was very high and numbers only country club and apparently no one told the kitchen which was right to the wall that seemed to be made of construction paper, that we were doing a TEDx event so there was multiple loud noises that went on, something sounded like it literally crashed in the back of the audience, but like a pro you just keep going. And so that was the only thing is that I think that could have been a little bit more centered for the camera, I was paying a little bit too much attention to my right side or the left side of the audience if they’re looking at me from the side of the room, but I mean it was amazing. I had, I felt dressed really nice, I felt casual, comfortable. I really feel like I executed almost to the highest level of my potential, so it was fantastic.

Joshua: Awesome. Listeners could probably click there now. When do I get to see it?

Tanner: Well as soon as the event organizers A.D. post-production team puts it together, puts the final edits on it and submit it to the TEDx people or TED then we’ll all get to see. I haven’t seen it myself, so yeah I mean I can, I’ve got the day before [16:03] association headquarters, national headquarters here in the Phoenix area and they asked me to come in and speak. I didn’t have the full on talk but I did do half of it and I got that, my wife recorded that on video and very similar in delivery. I mean almost exactly the same, I’m just wearing different clothes. So if you want I can shoot over a private YouTube link so you can, if you want to post it on your site or whatever or just check it out.

Joshua: I’d love to see it. And yeah I mean we’re recording this in September but it’ll get released much later. Listeners will get to see it right away so I’m not getting any secret access they don’t get because in my podcast listeners come first. But this is going to be way later from now.

Tanner: Ok cool. Yeah. So I’ll shoot that over when we get done with this. Yeah. But I love how you pivoted at that really tight high tension moment. That was a pro that was a pro move right there.

Joshua: Always leave wanting more. I think the, yeah, it’ll be funny. OK so great we heard about the TED talk and you had a failure. All right well let’s talk again later.

Tanner: Until next time.

Joshua: Yeah. Ok so now let’s review, the goal was to set up a program if possible with these places in order to… What was your plan? And what were the facts?

Tanner: Yes, so the facts were that I committed to reaching out to the locals so I get excited. You know I dive in. So I originally committed to going to one grocery store in my area and making sure that they had no bags, reusable bags to replace the plastic bags and offer those at the register where the cashier would actively promote the users or the customers who did not have bags, did not bring bags with them would to actively sell those bags at the register in an effort to reduce waste and use of plastics, plastic bags specifically. So my goal was to touch base with one of those grocery stores and execute that up.

And then as I stuck more and more about it, I was like, “Oh, but this grocery store is right here, this grocery store is right here” so it’s like four grocery stores that are right near me and was like, “I can do those”. And I ended up going to two, since we last talked Sprouts and Safeway and Sprouts and Safeway, they’re the closest to my house and both Sprouts and Safeway confirmed that they do sell the bags at the store and Sprouts confirmed that they actually even sell the bags from the register. So setting up, I was just like the balls teed up for me to drive it down the fairway, for me to get them, persuade them, to lead them to make a difference and be environmentally conscious by actively asking people who don’t bring their own bags to sell them at the register as you would experience when someone says, “Hey you want to donate a dollar to this or you want to donate proceeds, do you want to donate to that charity…” So basically being a donation to the Earth.

Joshua: So what’s the failure? I mean you found out that it’s already happening.

Tanner: Well, they’re not actively because I’ve lived here since 2014 and not one time I’ve ever been asked about the bags.

Joshua: So you want to make them more active about doing it.

Tanner: I want to shift the culture, the corporate culture. I mean in the long term wouldn’t it be great if the entire corporate culture shifts and that’s what they do for every single person who doesn’t have the bags at the register? Like what kind of awesome media attention would that bring to them? What kind of awesome new customers and clientele people come out of their way to go to an environmentally conscious organization like that who takes a stand and saying, “Hey this is our culture. This is what we’re seeing for. This is what we do. Do you want to join us?”

Joshua:  Yeah, I want to have corporal punishment for people who don’t bring their own bags. That’ll get you surprised.

Tanner: Like a lethal injection or hey, maybe hang them.

Joshua: Yeah, just like something like lightly bruises.

Tanner: Maybe four Chinese finger traps.

Joshua: Yeah, not capital punishment. Just a little something that gets you to think twice. Now I’ve got to say because once it’s on the Internet it doesn’t go away so I’m not serious, I don’t really want corporal punishment for people who don’t bring their own bags.

Tanner: Joshua Spodek stands for his messages. If you’re killing the earth, we’re going to kill you. I’m just kidding, I’m completely kidding.

Joshua: So those are the facts of what happened. So how did you feel like, what was the emotional reaction, was it like futility or giving up or …?

Tanner: Well, I felt like I let you down, I felt like I let myself down, I felt like I let the purpose down, I felt like I let the environment down and especially when it was so like, low hanging fruit I think that we often do that, right, when we get so close to a goal we see the end zone. You know when we’re on the five-yard line and all we have to do is just push a bit further and score. Sometimes life, not necessarily in the game, but sometimes in life we just stop pushing, and I think that’s what happened right there.


Joshua: All right so people don’t like to let others down. Does that mean you feel bad? Do you wish you had done this?

Tanner: Oh. I totally feel bad. I feel horrible about it.

Joshua: So do you wish you hadn’t done it?

Tanner: I wish I would have prioritized my time better and sacrifice whatever was going on when we were at the grocery store in those two different days to follow up and get the conversation started, because even if it’s just a conversation getting started, to me that’s progress. If I would have had that conversation and they’re like, “Oh, we can’t do that. Oh, we got to run that to corporate blah-blah,” at least the message is being communicated that this is what our customers want and it’s, wars are not won in a single day.

Joshua: It sounds like, when I was younger, I see a girl and I want to go approach her and then I don’t and after I am like, ”Oh, I can’t believe, at least should have tried, at least I should have said something” and then you walk away like, “Why didn’t I say it? Why didn’t I do something?” kind of like that.

Tanner: Exactly like that.

Joshua: All right, we said that wars aren’t won or lost by single battles. So is this the end of the story or what?

Tanner: Totally the end, I have totalized myself, I’m in my shell. I don’t know if I’m coming out.

Joshua:  I’ll let you actually keep going.

Tanner: No, that was it. Yeah, of course I’m going to keep going. It’s going to be something that, again I make a priority, I think this conversation, right, like having the decency to step up and say, “Hey I did this wrong, like I could’ve done this better”. I think it’s like the first step. And so the next step is to just do it. We talked about last time that, maybe inside of me there was a little bit of this going on. We talked about last time that we are inherently, instinctually, averse to social influences and norms of what’s acceptable. And while you and I both logically know that what I am going to do, what I attempted to do is acceptable and should be done across the globe. I was still at some deep core level, I think maybe a little embarrassed to do it. And the only way to beat fear down or any derivation of that embarrassment asking a girl out, shine it, it’s whatever you want to label it as you need derivation of fear. The only way to beat that runs through that is with reps, repetitions.

Joshua: Practice. Yeah.

Tanner: Yep. You have to drill down.

Joshua: Sometimes doing a simpler version, I mean for me it’s like, the best way to solve a hard problem is to solve an easier problem. Keep developing the skills, keep developing the skills and then apply what you learn with the easy one to the harder one and then the harder one won’t be as hard.

Tanner: Yes. Yeah a million percent, yeah I mean before you can do a burpee you got to be able to do a push up.

Joshua: Yeah and actually when I first started doing before the Leadership and the Environment podcast, I have access to lots of graduates of my courses so I started doing. I was like, “Alright we need a Martin Luther King, we need Nelson Mandela. How did they get the message out? They give big speeches.” I am going to give speeches to dozens of people and I hadn’t yet influenced one person and here I’m trying to influence dozens of people and that was a mistake or it was a bit off more than I could chew and so I had to go back. I was like, “I’m failing”. I’m talking to all these people. I’m stepping on all of these emotionally intense landmines people pushing back and saying, “Josh, well you know you can’t tell us what to do and stuff like that”. And then I said, “This isn’t… “.I haven’t even influenced one person and I’m trying to lead dozens. I’ve got to go back. Let’s do one on one and I would do one on one.

And then one big change happened, when one of my students took it on himself to take my personal challenge. One of my personal challenges is to pick up a piece of trash every day and put in the trash can or recycling bin, which sadly I usually don’t even have to cross the street, leaving my apartment in New York to find trash, sadly. Anyway he took upon himself to pick up 10 pieces of trash per day, for a month, and then he went to this great transformation, great meaning meaningful and big and much bigger than I expected and that got me to say, “All right, let’s do one on one for a while”. And that led to the podcast. So sorry for the long stuff but like, yeah I bit off more than I could chew, I felt like I failed. I felt like someone, there’s a blog post of mine that says, “I’m not a total failure”. When I found out that, like I thought I hadn’t influenced one person or all and a few people tell me, “Actually, you had influenced us”, I figure out I’ve told you this before, “We had change our behavior, but we didn’t tell you.”

Tanner: Right. Yeah, I mean you never truly fail unless you truly and ultimately decide to just give up, right. And so we, in every single moment we’ve always got the choice like the things that we don’t have choice is that like what our heart will be and that our lungs will breathe. But we have choices over our voluntary actions. And even though we’re scared to make those voluntary actions or maybe even just communicate our doing them, like those individuals didn’t share with you that they were already doing it. Isn’t that what leadership is? It’s doing something and just doing it, doing it to do it, and not to talk about it, not to gloat about it, leading by example.

Joshua: Yeah, and that’s why one of the reasons I picked Leadership and the Environment, partly because I care about it, I mean my study of science began with an    appreciation of nature and to me a physics degree is not about hard equations and working in the lab, although it is that. It’s really about finding more and more beauty in nature. For me that’s like the biggest thing but I think everybody cares about nature. Everybody wants clean air and clean water. And of all the places we can learn the skills of how to lead it, let’s call it leadership skills and all the social emotional skills, experiences and beliefs underneath that, you can learn them in different areas. I learned them in entrepreneurship, I learned them in business, I learned them in relationships with girls, with family. I think one place where we can learn all these things is with respect to the environment because it’s so much about changing your own behavior, influencing others around you and of course I feel it’s also an urgent need, I think we don’t have as much time as people think we do and I don’t think we will get the straits that we’re in. So that motivates me.

But it’s also a place, right… I think anyone can do what you’re doing, what I’m doing to help impact the environment less meaning influence each other more compassionately, more empathetically because the environment is, it’s not just an abstract thing, it’s we all live in it, we all breathe the same air, all the same water and I think this is a place where we can all learn leadership skills: self-awareness, empathy, compassion, how to create meaning and value and purpose and importance, how to take initiative, how to take responsibility. All of these things apply in this area and we can all learn them here. That’s why I picked this area to put my stake on the ground and work on and entrepreneurship - not even goes for, business - not even goes for, religion – not even goes for… But I think the environment ties us all together literally and figuratively.

Tanner: Yeah, it makes me think, you just said something, a couple of things that made me think of these couple of things and I’m sure you’re aware of the second one but maybe the first is I am taking a break from nonfiction, I primarily only read nonfiction and I’m reading Stephen Pressfield The Virtues of War, a novel about Alexander the Great. And it’s completely fictional but I’m just got done with this epic battle scene and where the Alexander’s Army is taking over the Persians and running off the cane, the Persian king and it was like 200000 to 40000, the Persians versus Alexander’s army. And Alexander’s army ends up winning and then they like basically killage this town and soil the legacy that that day was. And it kind of made me think about the ownership and the responsibility and the labeling making you aware of behaviors as such with those, I’m sure you’re familiar with the second part where there is that France sized piece of trash in our ocean, that a group is trying to identify it and claim it now as a country and like even made its own stamps. Are you familiar with this?

Joshua:  Yeah, how the Pacific gyres are producing this. It’s not like you can’t walk on it. It’s like, and I think there’s more than one, I think several where [29:56] but I’m sure it’s grown since then. And I have to mention is that in 2050 they project that there’s going to be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

Tanner: Right. I saw that in that article too. And so it’s like, so we’re making these great innovations right here on Earth or we’re making these huge breakthroughs like Alexander ‘s army did, overcoming these amazing things and yet we can just so easily in the wake of all this greatness, this innovation, this growth and these advancements just soil the thing we… The essence of what we’ve just done. And so when you were talking about that it made me think of those two things how we can just, when we’re not aware of the damage that would cause, we are not aware of the impact that we’re having. It’s really easy to just kind of turn a blind eye and dump it in the ocean where no one’s hanging out.

Joshua: And beyond being aware, we can be aware and still keep doing what we’re doing, which is why it has to be a big component of it not only because that’s what has an effect on global warming or pollution and extinctions and things like that, also that’s where we get our experiences from. Awareness alone, have I said too, the thing about, if you’re interviewing someone for a job and they talk about awareness. I keep telling people about. The environment and they say you know I’m becoming more and more aware all the time although they will say very aware. Now I could push on them and I don’t think that they’re as aware as they think they are but what I usually say is, imagine you’re interviewing someone for a job and you say, “Ok, for this position we need someone who has at least five years of experience in, I don’t know, programming in C.” And you said, “Do you have five years of experience?” and they say, “Well I don’t have experience but I have five years of awareness of C”. It’s a joke.

Say you’re going to have a surgery and you are going to be the surgeon, I want to make sure that before you do the surgery on me that you have experience. “How many surgeries have you experienced doing this?” and they say, “Well, I have awareness of this procedure but I’ve never actually done it.” You’re like, “Next please I’m not going to have you [32:00] me”. I mean like I’m aware. I’m like aware to greenhouse effect, pollution doesn’t matter. It doesn’t ask you if you’re aware. It depends on, let’s pick the greenhouse effect of one thing in the environment. It depends on greenhouse gas level, which results from our behavior, not from our awareness.

Awareness is nice but if you stop there or even less, if you use that as a target and you get to 90 or 80 or 70 percent of them and think, “Well that’s a passing grade”, you’ve missed the point. And you know leadership is much more about integrity, I mean to me leadership honors integrity and follow through leadership. They don’t just talk about it, it’s over. So for me it’s big if people treat, people believe that they treat awareness as a milestone but I believe that they usually, actually treat it as a target and are satisfied with even partial achievement of that target, whereas if it’s actually a milestone I’m like, “Great, let’s keep going”. Once you get awareness keep going but I think a lot of people like, “I got 90 percent awareness. That’s like an A, right?” 90 percent. Because a lot of the leadership is belief and I want to make sure that to me the belief that awareness is a nice stepping stone but only if it’s just a stepping stone, it’s not the target.

Tanner: I wonder if like, when you were describing that it was like a wonder if we could dumb it down like even more or make it more relevant, right. Because someone who hasn’t had a surgery, doesn’t really have medical issues, that they might see they can see like, “Oh yeah you really want to have someone who has experience not awareness of surgery”. What if you are like, “Yeah, I’m aware of the Internet, Google and the e-mail but I’ve got no experience in that. Like how silly would one sound? How on the cutting edge like, “Hey why don’t you pick up the phone”. “You know what, I’m aware. Yeah. But I’ve got no experience using it.”.

Joshua: Yeah. So awareness is nice yes. I’m not opposed to awareness, I’m opposed to stopping at awareness.

Tanner: I’m aware of grocery stores but that’s…

Joshua: If you are aware of hunger, I mean you want to eat.

Tanner: Right.

Joshua: [34:08] Like, “Oh, I am aware that I am hungry, I’m aware that there is food over there.”

Tanner: Oh, I love it, that’s even better. You have to stop the hunger, you better eat something.

Joshua: Yeah. All right so I want to shift a little bit away from the bags and the store. Is it spreading to other parts of your lives? And if so, how? And other relationships or things like that?

Tanner: I think that it will over time, these little things over time add up to big differences. I can’t remember if we talked about it but like the more that I have started talking about this term, this thing that I call the Karmatic effect and the Karmatic effect is basically just the good juju, the good karma, the goodness coming back to me that the universe is sending back to me because of my prolonged over time long-term decision to provide as much value and give as much as I can of myself to other people, despite the priorities that I’ve identified for myself to achieve today. And I do that because I’m only one person but the influence that I can have on someone else’s life and the influence in my giving to them will hopefully be contagious and contage them, to give to others and provide value to others. And so we experience this domino effect of giving and value. And so I feel like I’m experiencing this Karmatic effect in my life and my business right now, where so much is coming at me, so fast and bringing it back to the environment, the more that I start to use bags, the more that I start to recycle or continue to recycle, the more that people see this behavior in me and the more influential that I become, the more lives that I touch and the more contagious that behavior is going to become.

We all look to people, we all look up to people and we emulate their behaviors, we try to replicate their success, we observe them and mimic them in attempt to be more like them and I think that my continued use of that is going to have a ripple effect. I’m just a pebble but in the ocean maybe that ripple is going to touch other lives. So that’s what I think right now, I think about, we’ve talked previously about my getting an electric car. We didn’t weigh in on the alternate, you know say OK it’s electric, so it’s not putting out like carbon emissions but what about the carbon emissions that were created to generate that power? Yes is it the chicken or is it the egg? And other. So you know my intention is to continue experientially not just becoming aware of these behavior changes but experiencing and applying these changes into my life and then knowing that, as I see this Karmatic effect coming back to me knowing that that will also carry over my behavior change in my own life will hopefully influence a paradigm shift or behavior change in someone else’s.

Joshua: You know this reinforces a perspective that I’ve been picking up lately and listeners have probably heard me say it a couple times before but to do little things, when people say like, “Here’s 10 little tips that you could do” it implies that people don’t want to do it but you’re saying I think you’re saying you want bigger changes because when you know that a change is going to improve your life, you don’t want a little change, you want a big change. I don’t want little improvements, I want big improvements. And I feel like you’ve made that shift, like your awareness is at a certain level but there’s a lot more that you could find out and if there’s some scientists saying, “Here’s the doom and gloom” and stuff like that like you better or if there’s some journalist saying, “You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to be like that”, that’s not as effective, I think, maybe that’s effective with some people and I’m trying to effect. I believe that there are a lot of people who are like, once they get the feeling that this change improved my life, I want more changes, I want to discover more because before I stopped flying, before I stopped eating packaged food, the idea of cooking from scratch was really complicated to me. Now the idea of cooking from scratch is like incredibly delicious and convenient and I get to eat so much and not and still like lose body fat which is what I enjoy. And so I want to have more changes like that.

I’m sure there are a lot of people listening who are thinking, “Yeah maybe I’ll do this, I’m not really sure, I guess my friend…”. I want to set up a context where people see lots of people changing, so just for yourself, influential people and yes – failing, but a lot of people know. I think the more successful you are, the more you know that you can’t stop failure from happening, you can’t stop things, you can’t make sure everything goes your way, you can’t stop unforeseen things from happening. It’s not whether they happen or not, it’s how you recover from them, what you do about it, do you resiliently stick to it or maybe you have to do something different but you don’t just give up. And I hope that people, if they’re listening and they haven’t done anything that they feel like, it’s an opportunity, this is like you get to join the club of Tanner, you get to join the club of people who enjoy the stuff and then the more that you do it, the more you’ll want to do it.

Tanner: Yeah, it’s like, in the psychology class that I’m taking right now we’re talking about the reason why people would take action. I forget the name, the term there’s three words and it’s like the cost and reward. So there’s three things. Oh yeah. They want to reduce the negative arousal that one gets when they observe something so the stronger. There’s three reasons why they would do, they would take action as one is they want to reduce the negative arousal because they have a strong attachment to something. So everybody’s heard the term ‘tree hugger’ and so that tree hugger will have a strong negative arousal, a strong attachment to the Earth and doing everything they can, so naturally they’re going to take action. Two is when there’s a life or death situation and I think that those people that you mentioned earlier that probably respond to fear based motivation, maybe that’s why, that’s something that they would respond to. And then the third is and this is, this is probably the majority of people, is that when the cost is low and the reward is high, people act, but when even it’s balanced where the cost is equivalent to the reward, people do a cost benefit analysis and they’re like, “Basically I don’t gain anything by doing this. So why spend it, why waste my time if I do nothing? To me I’ll have the same amount of achievement or feeling or reduction of negative arousal for X topic or X situation.”

And so I don’t think people understand how low of a cost is to do just one thing and how the long-term reward comes back around them. Again it’s like it’s back to that Karmatic effect where the value that I’ve been putting in for years, over a decade in other people’s lives is in my opinion really starting to come back to me since before this. But people have a hard time understanding that costs that people put up to date for a reward that seems so miniscule down the line. And you can relate to this. I always relate to this. I know when I’m working out what I’m selling and negotiating contracts when I can pull people out of a quarterly or 90 day mindset, right, then the costs within this 90 days seems so much lower when I can get their attention and perspective on the life time.

Joshua: I like how you are talking about these changes, that a couple months ago you hadn’t even had your first change in the environment, so now you’re like a pro.

Tanner: Right. I don’t know about a pro, maybe I’m a, yeah, I’m a competitive amateur.

Joshua: I think the message is that it doesn’t take much to get to where, I think a lot of people think, “Oh, do l have to learn all the science, I’ve got to learn all the backgrounds”, no you don’t have to learn all this because…

Tanner: You don’t have to worry about that. Just get some bags and then take them out, take them with you.

Joshua: That’s what I’m trying to get across. We’ve been spending so long thinking the message has to come from scientists or from politicians or and every time it goes to journalists they’ll want to sensationalize it. But that’s like saying you got to know exactly how a lung cancer works to know to not smoke or to know how alcohol affects your nervous system to know drink and driving is better not to do and that message I think has been missing and that’s what we need not… I think what’s necessary is not more doom and gloom scenarios. It’s important to know what the consequences are of business as usual. People what you’re doing and making it apparent that the way I put it put it for myself, my life is better, by my standards it’s better. I think by anyone who goes through similar changes will find that their life is better too. And yes like, you feel like you failed. I felt like I failed many times, I wanted to give up many times but sticking through is worth it. I’m getting out when… The more that I am finding out, the more than I want to put into it.

Tanner: I think too that the environment is like this thing that we can’t really quantify like how much our individual impact is making. And that brings the rewards like super low and the costs are respectively super high and it’s like how many people can we get to show up to our funeral, like no one will ever know.

Joshua: Yeah. That’s interesting.

Tanner: [43:36] that is? But all we can see is the cost. And so we’re investing, investing, investing and spending, and spending and that cost, that cost and the reward is something we will never ever, ever truly know.

Joshua: Yeah, we know we didn’t all die.

Tanner: What does that mean [43:52]?

Joshua: Well all we know is that we didn’t all die but that might have happened away. I mean I guess some people say, “Well what’s the worst that happens if we act on this? Well we’ll have cleaner air and water and we’ll have more solar and things like that. But how bad is it, how bad could it be?” But some people I don’t know if they don’t feel, it it’s not really tangible to them.

I wanted to wrap up by asking if you had a message, I mean a lot of what you just said was I have a message for people who are listening? You know it could be advice or just sharing what happened or I don’t know, like to tie things up, what would you want to hear if you were listening to you?

Tanner: Yeah. You know I think that the world does go through cyclical environmental changes. Like we’re probably aware of the ice age, even though we haven’t experienced it. I think that people are aware of the concept of global warming whether or not you know that we are experiencing it. And I think that the cost reward ratio can really come in this perspective when we start to consider you know the earthquakes in Mexico, when we start to consider these humongous hurricanes especially with someone, myself having family in Houston and knowing that they could have died and people did die. And that not just homes are destroyed but people’s works are destroyed and the economy is destroyed. Because what happens if a week after the hurricane goes away your work environment was completely demolished and your employer has nowhere to bring you, has no work for you to do.

And if you can’t see that cost that we’re experiencing right now and the potential reward the upside of doing something so simple as in getting a bag that’s reusable, as in taking recyclables to the recycle bin. If you can’t justify what we’re experiencing right now and actively changing that with something so simple as what I just described then you should get your pulse checked. And yeah I’m distracted with that swimmer. But you know I think that’s what I want to say is that, please, please stop thinking about how inconvenient this is and start thinking about the long term rewards that we might be able to experience in the future because we’re definitely experiencing an elevated negative right now.

Joshua: To me the key word there was ‘reward’, you know we’re experiencing stuff that from people who were doing stuff long before we were born. We didn’t ask for this but it’s here. We can’t change the past but we can make something incredible of it.

Tanner: Yeah, you know and I think to bring it home too, is like I’m not mad at my grandmother for smoking and drinking throughout all of her pregnancies, three of them, smoking and drinking and she was a nurse and she was smoking and drinking throughout her pregnancies because she didn’t know that that was wrong. That was bad. And just because the people before us didn’t know that it was wrong or bad or even the ones that do know today that are continued to do it doesn’t mean that I can’t actively, proactively exercise every day, that I can’t make the decisions to eat right, that I can’t make the decisions to not smoke and not excessively drink. I can proactively take control of my life today regardless of what’s come before me. And I implore you, I encourage you. I hope that you join me in this battle of supporting our environment despite what’s happened in the past because what’s better than that is what we can do right now to create a better future.

Joshua: Bam! I’m going to leave it right there. And that was a really powerful statement and it didn’t take much for you to get there. I’m going to leave it right there. And I’d like to wrap up and let the listeners get everything so I guess you and I will probably connect again on personal stuff. Hopefully you’ll be in New York soon.

Tanner: Yeah. Let’s wrap when it’s just us, not that I don’t love everybody that’s listening.

Joshua: And get to eat some food and prepare it together. This is our third time so I’m interested. At some point you’ll make some progress and let me know because then we’ll probably do another recording at that point too so people can hear what’s happened next. I suspect that the bags will happen and that will not be the end of it.

Tanner: Yeah I hope that if you guys don’t hear a fourth recording, please haunt me down, I live at Phoenix, Arizona. I will expect the lynch mob to be coming after me, if you don’t hear from me.

Joshua: So he’s looking for accountability. I think that’s leadership. That’s when you know something is something you want, you want accountability. I like that. All right. So we’ll talk again soon. Thank you very much and I look forward to hearing how the bags and what it comes next, what goes on there.

Tanner: Thanks for your continued leadership, Josh, I appreciate you.

Joshua: Thank you, talk to you again soon. Bye.

Tanner: Bye.


I love how he’s taking on way more than he began with at the beginning and way more than I suggested. I didn’t come up with a lot of things he’s doing – with the grocery stores and the bags, he did. He’s not doing something he doesn’t want. He’s doing things based on his values which make his life better. You listening to this podcast tells me that you care about leadership, the environment and both. You can create in your life as much leadership, as much community, as much passion, as much of the things that you care about as you want. The opportunity for greatness, love, community and whatever you want is there, if you start.

I hope that as you listen to Tanner that you think of the possibilities, that you think of the potential for leadership in the world at whatever level that you want. Tanner started with avoiding plastic and small little things. Yes, it led to less pollution but the big picture is it developed him as a person, as a leader. He found as much potential as he wanted and you can see that he’s continued to find more. I don’t doubt that when he contacts me for episode 4 that’s going to be something big. I don’t doubt that he’ll find much bigger practices maybe flying less, definitely leading more people and loving it. I hope one day that you listener will tell me about what you started and how it grows. What matters is doing and sustaining, not how big or small that you start, as long as you act on your values but as long as you act and keep going.


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