Daniel and I had an unscripted, unguarded, very vulnerable conversation. It’s not often that two men on an Internet chat that tears well up and people get choked up. He actually ended up posting this interview on his podcast because of the rawness of the emotion that came up and so look at the notes for this podcast to get the links to his podcast to listen to that. This was also an early conversation where I totally dropped the ball on leading Daniel. If you’re here in part to learn to lead, you’ll hear me make some big mistakes that provoked resistance. He ended up doing the opposite of committing to a personal challenge. So I think it’s as important to share what doesn’t work for people listening to this podcast a lot they get to hear not just each episode that the evolution of this leadership style over time.
Joshua: Hey, welcome to New York City.
Daniel: Yeah, I’m not in New York City, funny guy.
Joshua: I thought you said you’re in New York.
Daniel: Not yet, I’m coming on Sunday.
Joshua: Oh, ok. Well, then not welcome to New York.
Daniel: Not yet. You can give me the welcome when I come.
Joshua: I am looking forward to meeting you in person at last.
Daniel: Wait, so I’m going to put video, okay fine. I always do pre-video chat just because it’s always good to see a face before we get on a show.
Joshua: So I’m doing something that I believe will take the podcast world by storm and maybe you can help it, which is that I record immediately and you don’t have to do this but because I don’t want to, what’s the word, ambush you. But I find that the first couple of minutes are the most interesting. And then after people say, “Okay we’re done” then people start talking natural again and they get all stiff in between. Do you find that to be the case?
Daniel: I do but what is me and I’m not going to toot my own horn but I’m, I try to be real all the time so you can hit record whenever you like. I’m not going to start putting on a script, I don’t talk from a script, I don’t have, I have no idea. And I’m saying this completely honestly I have absolutely no idea, Josh, what you’re going to ask me. I haven’t, I know I’ve got no idea what I’m going to talk about even. Some people come up with an agenda, right? I have no agenda. In fact I’m speaking in New York right, I’m coming to New York this week and I’m speaking in front of a thousand people.
Josh: And you don’t know what you’re going to say.
Daniel: No idea. No I don’t and my wife’s freaking out. She was like, “What did you mean? You could have…” No, no. Whatever comes to me in that moment then that’s me being the most real I could be, that’s it.
Joshua: So this is actually what I wanted to talk about because my impression of you…
Daniel: Are we on?
Joshua: Oh yeah, we’re on.
Daniel: Are we switching off the video then?
Joshua: For better quality audio, yeah, let’s do that. So yeah, I call this the Spodek technique which is to start it immediately. And then when we end also we have to end so that people get to hear everything so when we stop we really stop.
Daniel: So you are not going to tell your guests what you’re doing? You’re just going to do it without them knowing?
Joshua: Well in your case, when I mean you and I think it’s safe to say we’re friends.
Joshua: So yeah, with you I just say we’re on. Now, I give you the option if you wanted not to go on right away, you wouldn’t have to. I interviewed Dan Pink the other day and with him it was, he also agreed to do it. I said, you know, give them the option but…
Daniel: You can get in some trouble if you just kind of like, “Hey, by the way surprise! I recorded it.”
Joshua: Yeah, so now in your case I was pretty confident you’d be like, “Ok, no problem” and you just don’t ride into it. And I think a lot of people – people who don’t do podcasts they don’t realize how awesome the conversations are just before and just after.
Joshua: Like I’ve been joking that there should be a before-and-after-the-podcast podcast where people just take these things and…
Joshua: Yeah. So hopefully you’ll start doing this Spodek technique too.
Daniel: So you’re not doing an introduction? I don’t get like a fancy schmancy introduction today?
Joshua: Hey everyone, you are listening to the Leadership and the Environment podcast, it’s Joshua Spodek here with Daniel Gefen. How was that?
Daniel: That was lame.
Joshua: I will do a, I’ll do an introduction, record a different introduction before that which be like the, you know I don’t … There’s a name for it right, intro or something.
Now my impression of you from the outside is that you came out of nowhere and you just do a podcast that is like that, people don’t really do anymore which is like now it’s all like super produced but you just talk and it’s very interesting and you just talk like as you just said and you came out of nowhere. And where do you rank right now? It’s really high up.
Daniel: I think I’m in the top 50 on iTunes in the business category. And I was rated the top 26 by CIO Magazine for business podcasts which is cool but I just, I don’t know. I kind of, you know what, I posted on Facebook the other day I said, “It’s only a big deal until you’ve done it and then it’s not a big deal anymore.” You know what I mean by that? I don’t mean having kids. Obviously when you have, I’ve got four children so it wasn’t like child number two is like, yeah it’s not a big deal, had a child already. You know, obviously it’s a big deal every time but most things are not a big deal once you’ve done it. So for example, you know for me one of the biggest things was like getting featured in Forbes, It was like this magical like, “Oh my god” I’m like, “No I’m never going to get featured in Forbes” That was like too quick. And then one day I get a message from someone saying, “Hey by the way, I just saw you featured in Forbes” and I’m like “What?! How did that even happen?” It happens to be that somebody who interviewed me on this show was interviewed on Forbes and he mentioned me because I was one of his best guests he had on his show whatever and he basically mentioned my name and quoted me and whatever it was. And so suddenly I’m mentioned in Forbes and I’m like dancing and I’m telling everybody, ”Look, I’m mentioned in Forbes” and you put it on your bio and it’s all cool and then it’s not a big deal. It’s not a big deal, you know it’s like you do a podcast show and say, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m doing this” And then it’s just you doing a podcast show, not a big deal. It’s like you write a book, right, “Oh my god, it’s such a big deal! I’m going to write a book, I’m going to publish a book and it’s going be a bestseller”. And you publish the book and it’s like, “OK, I’ve done that now, it’s not a big deal”
Joshua: Now you’re one of the people who’s done that.
Daniel: You’re one of the people that, I’m still writing my book. So for me it’s a big deal right now.
Joshua: I mean that’s the weird, the way you feel with Forbes say.
Joshua: Like you’re just like, “Oh yeah.” I had a blog post about this, something recently similar which is that I think that the bigger an achievement is the more that it’s the beginning it becomes just the beginning. So if like I want to catch a bus and I run 20 yards to catch a bus, I get on the bus, cool, no big deal. If I run a marathon, then the moment I cross the finish line it’s like now I’m, this is the beginning of a new life that begins with having being a marathon completer.
Joshua: So little achievement is like, whatever, no big deal. But a big achievement, it’s like it’s just a starting point. And so the people who are the biggest achievers are constantly restarting over and over again.
Daniel: Yeah but don’t get me wrong. When I say it’s not a big deal. I don’t mean it’s not a big deal that you did it. I think it is a big deal. If you’ve published a book, it’s a big deal, if you’ve started your own you know whatever podcast show or you have achieved anything in life, they are big deals. But what I mean by it’s not a big deal is that mentally it’s not a big deal anymore. In other words, it’s not the mountain isn’t as big, it doesn’t look as you know unbelievable anyway, I can’t do that. You know what I’m saying? Like it’s not like… If you run a marathon so then running a marathon is now something that you’ve done and it’s something that you can do again. But for the first time before you’ve done it it’s just something in the distance, it’s something like, “Oh my God” and kind of like, unreachable like, “Oh my goodness”, right. That’s what I mean by it’s not a big deal, mentally it’s not a big deal, you know.
Joshua: So how do you feel about your podcast? I mean it’s you have amazing guests. You have a great ranking and it seems, I think it’s it seems from the outside effortless because you sound like you’re just having fun with people.
Daniel: Right, like I just had a billionaire on my show. That was the first time I’ve ever spoken to a billionaire and I happened to have had an hour with this guy and I was just talking with him like I’m talking with you. And it’s the weirdest thing. It’s actually quite surreal. Do you know what I mean by that? It’s a surreal thing, it’s like I’m just having this billionaire on my show and I’m just like chilling with him and then afterwards I’m like, “Hey, by the way Jeff, when you are in Israel we should meet up and do dinner” and it’s like. And he’s like, “Sure Daniel, Yeah I’m actually going to do it in October so let’s hook up” and I’m just like, “Sure, Jeff” I’m just going to hook up with a freaking billionaire, it’s like crazy. But it’s just not a big deal anymore because it’s happening and it’s happened and once that’s happened, then it just happened. You’ve done it right. You’ve just done it. Do you know what I mean by that?
Joshua: So you incorporate the stuff really… You incorporate the stuff into yourself very quickly. It rings to me, the words that come to mind for me are genuine and authentic. Like it’s just, it’s like the you of a year ago or 10 years ago or even maybe five hours ago might have been like, “That’s amazing, that’s incredible”. But the you now is just like, “That’s life. You know it’s a part of life and that’s a part of my life”. And I think a lot of people dream of being able to incorporate that stuff because it makes your life so full and rich as opposed to stopping yourself all the time.
Daniel: Yeah, and just to get practical here for those of you listening right, the takeaway here is essentially look at all the things you’ve accomplished in your life. Realize how they’re not a big deal anymore. And then tell yourself that if there’s anything that you’re scared of right now of accomplishing just realize that once you’ve done it – you’ve done it and it’s not going to be a big deal anymore. That’s the practical side of it. Do you know what I’m saying? Like, you don’t let the fear get in your way of taking the action you need to take because ultimately once you start taking the action the fear just dissipates and it’s not there anymore.
Joshua: I want to ask on a higher level. OK, so on a one time basis you’ll feel fear and then you’ll get over it once you act.
Daniel: Yes and no.
Joshua: I mean sometimes, I guess sometimes the fear will be realized and you’ll fall flat on your face and then, but you know, you dust yourself off.
Joshua: I want to…What about on a on a larger scale like, after you’ve done this five-ten times and you find that the fear doesn’t get realized or even if it does get realized, it’s not the worst thing in the world. In cases like… Then over time do you come to find that fear or anxiety as a sign that this is something you should do and makes it actually more attractive to do and the opposite like the opposite of what it once was?
Daniel: It’s interesting you bring up that point. I’ve done now a hundred and seven episodes on my show. So you would think that if I’ve done a hundred and seven interviews, then I should just get on the interview and I shouldn’t have any issue. I should just do it like I’m going to the bathroom. But I can tell you that every single time I’m about to get on with a guest I have butterflies in my stomach, I need to take a piss, like I’m nervous, I’m nervous. But the minute that we start talking meaning once I’ve done the intro and we kind of start getting into the groove, I’m fine I’m completely fine, I’m relaxed, I’m cool, but that five minutes just before we get on I’m as nervous as anything. But it’s crazy, but it’s illogical because I’ve done this a hundred and seven times and guess what? I haven’t failed once, meaning I haven’t messed up once, not once.
So like why would I mess up this time? What’s going to go wrong? And worst case scenario is I can edit something out if I sound like an idiot. So what is wrong? I don’t even know what the answer to that question is. Maybe it’s just an adrenalin rush you know. Who knows? Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me, that’s probably more what I think it is that this time I’m going to mess up and I don’t want to mess up with this guy because he like this guy is a billionaire and I don’t want to mess up with the billionaire because I want him to really like me, or “Oh this is Josh Spodek, like he’s famous and he’s got this whole and I don’t want to mess up with him” or “Oh, it’s this guy and I really respect him and I don’t want this one to be the one where I goof up”. Like maybe it’s the perfectionist in me that everything needs to just be perfect and so I’m nervous about it. I don’t know.
Joshua: I have a theory on this coming from evolutionary psychology. But first I want to get to that in one second. Do you know who Bill Russell is?
Joshua: So Bill Russell was a Boston Celtic, in the 60s I think, and they won a lot of NBA Finals, and he’s famous that he would throw up before almost every game out of nervousness. And I think he has more championships than anyone in the NBA, like arguably the best player of all time and in fact his teammates would get nervous if he didn’t throw up because they thought maybe he’s not really into this game as much.
Daniel: It’s good.
Joshua: And so you might not consider yourself at the Bill Russell level yet but even when you are if you still throw up just before every interview you’ll be par for the course. So I think that you know one of the first emotions when I started getting into emotional awareness and understanding like the human emotional system, not that I’m that great at it but I’m definitely farther along than I was, I started like the difference between anxiety and fear is interesting because I think a fear is it’s like a one it’s a very simple emotion. If a lion roars you feel fear, it makes you want to run away. No one regrets feeling fear of like, if someone’s chasing after you in the dark, you feel fear and you run away, it’s like, that’s clear.
Now anxiety I think is kind of a mix of fear plus enthusiasm or desire or excitement. So you feel anxiety… The big place where I felt it the first time I really notice it was when I wanted to go onstage. I did the [class plane business school] and before I went on I was, I both wanted to go on and didn’t want to go on. It’s not a one way thing like I want to…There is no part of me that wants to go toward a lion roaring at me. I just want to run away from it. So anxiety I think that I’m scared of being in front of the crowd and messing up, but I also recognize that if I succeed I’ll be, what’s the word, like looked up to. So I think it’s that mix of feelings that you’re talking about is that anxiety is and I think it comes from like we’re genetically, we want to be part of a group because that makes it safer. Our ancestors out you know in the African plains, humans we needed groups to stay alive because I don’t think we’re you know we’re not big like elephants or don’t have fangs and claws and stuff like that we’re pretty not that great except that we have groups. So I think if you’re doing something that could make you part of a group, you want to do it but if you could fail and get kicked out of the group, it’s very scary.
Daniel: You know what’s interesting that you really you actually touched upon something I don’t know if you realized. When you mentioned about the guy, Bill Russell, right, and you said that his teammates were worried if he didn’t throw up before the game because they were concerned that maybe he didn’t care enough about it. And I think you hit something there. It comes down to if you care about something or not meaning that if I’m nervous or if I’m excited or anxious about something what that means is that I care about whatever it is I’m about to do. If I didn’t care, then I wouldn’t have those feelings and so I think that that’s something just to take mental note of is the next time you feel that fear or you feel that anxiety just tell yourself, “You know what? It’s good I’m feeling this because it means I care about what I’m about to do. I’m passionate about what I’m about to do”. I’m passionate about the interviews I do and because of that that’s why I feel that way before, if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t feel it.
Joshua: So now you’ve given advice a couple of times, I feel like this is your… part of what you do is to help others like you’re not just entertaining. I think you feel like there’s, I don’t know, I think you feel like you’d like to share. I think you’re like, “Look, what I did you could do too. And you should.” And whatever is holding you back, that’s not, like don’t, like here’s a way to get over that. I feel like that’s a message from you. Is that like a big part of you?
Daniel: Yeah, I mean why would you want to keep things to yourself? I don’t know, I just feel like when you share something and you inspire other people and you impact other people, to me there’s no better feeling like I just get such a good feeling about it. You know when I’m able to share something with someone and it changes their life in some small way, what better feeling is there than that?
Joshua: I take that. I mean, that’s certainly one of the big appeals. Leadership to me is that I mean there’s different elements, there’s different aspects of leadership but big part of it is helping others to achieve what they want to find what they consider meaningful and purposeful and help them achieve that. And then they’re grateful to you and they share more with you and you like the more that you help them achieve meaningful things, the more they share with you what’s meaningful and then the more you can help them. Generally, the more you open up back to them and then they help you back, it’s friendship.
Daniel: Yeah. The truth is it’s selfish at the end of the day. You know I don’t think I’m selfless. I think I’m very selfish, I’m a very selfish person. That happens to be that when I help other people and I get feedback from them saying, “Wow, Daniel, you really helped me” that makes me feel good. And those feelings are selfish. I’m feeding my need or my desire to feel, like I am somebody. So in a way by producing my podcast show and by writing my book and publishing my book and getting on podcasts like this and sharing my expertise if you will or my experience and whatever else, I’m just selfishly taking. I’m feeling good about who I am and when I get e-mails or messages from people going, “Oh, I listened to your show, you’re such a great host” and they are just like rubbing my ego and it’s wonderful. It feels nice. It’s just you know of course I go home my wife takes my ego back down a few notches. But yeah and that’s why you get married, and then she brings me back up if I’m feeling down. So it works both ways.
But you hear what I’m saying? Like I don’t look at myself as some big like, “Wow, you’re so amazing, selfless, you really want to help everybody”. It’s just me trying to take, just me trying to feel good. That’s all it is.
Joshua: So what you’re saying if I understand right is that marriage is about regression to the mean.
Daniel: Oh, you want to pull that out of me now, do you? The marriage is all for…Yeah, I got married because I wanted someone to love me and I wanted someone to share… I wanted to share my life with somebody and to have a partner in life and she was attractive, that’s another thing.
Joshua: And all you had to do is love her back and love her first and then you got what you wanted.
Daniel: Pretty much, yeah.
Joshua: So it’s funny. I mean you talk about selfishness and I think you’re saying it not the usual sense but I think also, I mean I take for granted that as a social species we benefit so much from helping others that we can take, we have faith in ourselves that if we do stuff to help ourselves in the service of others that it all works out. And if we miss some of what we are we think that the zero-sum part then we start getting competitive. But I don’t know you…
Daniel: Can I give you an analogy? I really like this. Someone once said to me the difference between heaven and hell. This is the difference between heaven and hell. Basically we all go up, OK. And what happens is as we each get long spoons and we’re sitting at a banquet. And imagine there are two rows of tables, opposite each other and you’re sitting there and you’ve got, basically each person gets it’s very, very long spoon. And in your plate you’ve got food that basically just keeps replenishing so you can eat as much as you want. The only problem is that the spoon is so long that when you try to feed yourself with it you can’t, it’s impossible, the spoon is too long to feed yourself with it.
And there’s going to be two types of people: the people who are selfish and people who only think about themselves all the time – they will sit there and forever try to feed themselves with that long spoon and they will never get fed and they will be hungry forever. That’s hell. But the people who are givers and care about other people will figure out that actually the reason why they have a long spoon is so that they could feed the person opposite them. And here’s the cool thing. If you feed the person opposite you, then the person opposite you figures out that he needs to feed you. That’s the purpose of his long spoon or her long spoon and so you end up feeding each other. So heaven and hell is really just one place. It just depends on who you are and whether you get fed or not or whether you starve forever.
Joshua: I guess you can learn along the way.
Daniel: How cool is that? I love that analogy. Isn’t that great?
Joshua: Yeah, I’m picturing myself face down in my bowl just lapping it up.
Daniel: No, no, no cheating. You’re stuck in an upright position. There’s no way to do it.
Joshua: So what I’m not hearing in your voice is any sign of insecurity and that’s what usually people, I think that’s what motivates a lot of people to think of themselves first and I don’t hear that at all in you.
Daniel: You don’t think I’m insecure?
Joshua: I don’t hear it. I mean maybe when I’m not around.
Daniel: That’s a good question. I’m very comfortable in this setting. Like I feel like, I don’t know, I just feel very comfortable right now. Now, there are times when I’m not as comfortable. So like I might go into a networking event and there might be a lot of really cool people and, I don’t know, celebrities and there are in that setting I might get… Or whether that like it depends on the setting, it depends in the context of where I am. When you’re at home you’re always comfortable. You’re always comfortable in your own home. It doesn’t matter who comes to your house, it’s your house. It’s like it’s your fort. It’s when you go out of your comfort zone that I feel like I’’ become insecure. So for me maybe getting on stage in front of a thousand people I might feel a little bit insecure for the first few minutes until I kind of get into that comfort zone. But right now I don’t feel insecure because I’m in my comfort zone. I like doing what I’m doing right now.
Joshua: Have you met Dov Baron, by the way?
Joshua: When I spoke to him a week or two ago, he’s got a podcast, I’ll introduce you guys, he talked about how when he…He dresses his way, like he wears earrings and stuff like that. And back in the day he was invited by guy, a tailor or like someone in a fashion company invited him to speak and he was like, “Okay, should I look proper?” and he goes like, “No, no, no, just like that and don’t prepare anything”. And he didn’t prepare anything he came in and he just went right off the cuff in front of all these people dressed the opposite of how they would expect and floored them. And then got invited to give another talk and then decided, “OK, I should really do it proper this time” and he got his haircut and all the stuff and then he like ruined it.
Daniel: You know what? Let’s go back, I’m really glad you brought this up. Let’s go back to the beginning of this episode where you said that you wanted to do, you wanted to just record from the beginning. Without any warning you just wanted to have the pre-chat right, you wanted to have that pre-chat. And you said that the reason why is because you found that the pre-chat was where the most quality content came out of. And also the chat afterwards like the post-chat, the post interview. Why is that?
Joshua: Yeah, great question.
Daniel: Right. Well it’s exactly what we’re talking about because when you see the record button on you’re now on show and you know psychologically that people are watching you or people are listening to you. And that makes you uncomfortable for a bit and because you’re uncomfortable you start to kind of just try to put on a show and when you put on a show you sound, you don’t sound yourself and you’re not really affected. Now, after a certain amount of time you kind of forget about the fact that people are listening or you forget about the fact that people are watching or you just get comfortable with the fact that they’re watching you or listening to you and so you revert back to yourself. And usually that’s why, if you watch someone speak onstage they may start off a little bit sort of shaky or they may sound a little bit, you know, wooden but then as they get into the element you see them starting to drop their shoulders and get comfortable in their own skin and just be themselves and that’s when you start to really like enjoy what they’re saying.
So I like what you’re saying about the fact that the pre-interview is and I think that’s very true. With me the reason why my show is very natural is because I don’t do script. I find script is, it’s so unauthentic and people don’t, people could smell it a mile away, you can hear it, you can hear it in my voice when I’m trying to be someone I’m not and when I’m trying to put on a show you can hear it right. People are intuitive in that way. So like right now I just feel like we’re still in our pre-chat. I don’t even, I’m not thinking about the fact that there are people listening to this. I’m just having a chat with you and that’s it.
Joshua: Yeah. All right. One of the big things that I want out of the show is to make stuff like this accessible to people. Were you always like this or did it come with practice? Did you work at it?
Daniel: How to the know.
Joshua: So what were you like before and how did you change and how can other people learn from that?
Daniel: Okay. So when I was in high school I was bullied. And the reason I was bullied was, it was I guess, it was… So it’s interesting, I don’t know if I was bullied because I was a class clown or whether I was a class clown because I was bullied. Actually I’ve never really thought about that. But either way I got made fun of. I had big goofy teeth sticking out a mile long and people called me Bugs Bunny and I had a big mole on my face on my cheek and it had hair growing out of it. And so they called me spider face. I actually froze it off after a couple of years of getting tormented. And I was called Lanky because I was extremely skinny and tall for my age. I was also kept down a year because they didn’t have enough room in the year above and I was misbehaving so they kind of kept me down as a punishment whatever it was.
Joshua: Oh my God! They did that for themselves at your expense.
Daniel: Yes. And the worst part about it was that my younger brother was in the year below me. And so when I stayed down a year I was essentially in the same year as my brother. And so people would always torment me and say, “Hey, are you twins, are you? Are you and your brother twins?” and of course they knew the answer and I would say, “No, I’m a year older” and they’re like, “Oh, so you must be really dumb”.
Joshua: Oh my God, I’m going to cry.
Daniel: So I was called dumb, goofy, Bugs Bunny, spider face, you name it. I was just named Lanky, all these things. And so I was alone. I was a loner. I felt like a loner. And nobody really wants to be friends with the guy that everybody picked on. And so I kind of like the way that I masked it was I would be a clown. So I would jump on tables and make jokes and of course I got into a lot of trouble. The teachers would kick me out of class, I’d get detention. I was always in the headmaster’s office like that’s just how it was. And the reason why was because I wanted to put on a show because I wanted people to like me, like that’s it. I just wanted people to like me. And so that was my upbringing like that. That was me growing up and so much…
Joshua: You don’t sound like you are clowning around now. Did it evolve from clowning around and misbehaving into…That would seem to deflect yourself, deflect people from your internal self. But now I feel like you’re sharing your internal self.
Daniel: Yeah. But that took a long time, Josh. I mean that was like a whole process.
Joshua: Did you specifically work at it or just kind of happened?
Daniel: Yeah I mean first of all I read a lot of self-help books and getting married helped me as well. Just having somebody who genuinely loves me for who I am. Having children also helped a lot. You know when you have children you realize that your children will always love you and look up to you, not for any other reason, other than you, you, you daddy. And that is so powerful because, and like you can have friends, Josh, they could like you because you have money, they could like you because you’re famous, they can like you because you’re good looking, they could like you because you’ve got good connections, they could like you because whatever the reason is, you dress cool. But to find somebody who loves you just because you’re you, that’s rare. It’s very rare. And that’s why for me like having a wife and having children and I do have friends now that love me for who I am. It’s allowed me to be able to love myself, the who I am.
Joshua: If they love you for who you are then the less pretense you have, the more you stop putting on airs, the more love they would be able to feel and show. More selfishness.
Daniel: Pretty much, yeah.
Joshua: And you mentioned wife and kids and then came the friends. I mean I don’t have a wife and kids. Am I lost or are there other places where we can get it? I guess your own parents?
Daniel: You can get it from your parents, you can get it from your siblings. I mean families are always the first place to go, the low hanging fruit. Right. It’s obvious.
Joshua: They can’t get away from you.
Daniel: Right. And because they know who you are, you can’t hide from your mother. You could do all the things, you could do all the shtick you want, get a cover of Forbes magazine and you can do all this cool stuff and you could do a hundred million of those burpees and everybody thinks you’re cool but your mom knows who you are. She wiped your backside, she knows who you are. You can’t escape from her. When you go home there’s no show anymore. You’re just you and that’s it. And I feel like the more you can tap into that, the more you can start to be you when you leave the house. When you get up in the morning and you walk outside your door, you can be you and whoever doesn’t accept you for who you are, screw him. OK. Like who cares.
Joshua: I’m really glad you shared the part about where you came from because I think a lot of people would listen to you and say, “Well, of course he’s a natural. He was born this way”. Or somehow it’s this stuff comes without, “Oh she has it”. If I had it I would be like that too but I don’t.
Daniel: Josh, you know my father…
Joshua: Oh by the way, sorry, yeah, but that’s how I felt for years. That’s how, I mean if no one else feels that way, I certainly felt that way about other people. I felt like, when I was in college I remember going to bars and I thought everyone who was talking to each other all knew each other before they went to the bar because I didn’t realize that you could meet people without someone introducing you. I thought the only way you could meet someone is have classes together and then you get forced to know each other. And then you have fun together. I was like, “If only I took classes with more people, I might know more people,” not realizing like people are like in front of my eyes. They’re meeting each other. It was like I was blind to it.
Joshua: So you were going to say something.
Daniel: Oh my father, yeah, I never had a conversation with my father in my life while growing up. I never had like a deep man to man, son to father, father to son conversation. He was, I mean he’s still alive, but growing up he was emotionally disabled. That’s how I put it. He was emotionally disabled. He came from a home where his mother drowned in a lake when he was 13 years old and his father was a Holocaust survivor, the only survivor in his family. Like my grandfather was basically… Pretty much of all of his siblings, he watched his parents get shot in the head, he watched all of his siblings murdered. He was shot actually and buried alive and pretending to be dead until the coast was clear and he was able to basically run away. He went through hell, he went through absolute… This generation, we don’t know what real hell is on earth and my grandfather went through it. And so my father you can imagine, you can only imagine how my father came out by having a father who was a Holocaust survivor and having a mother who died when he was 13 years old. So he was motherless and fatherless essentially. So he didn’t know how to love, he didn’t know how to be emotional and he didn’t know how to connect. And so I grew up with a disconnected father.
Joshua: How old were you when you put that together? Because I think you’re speaking from a place of understanding him. I think a lot of people have come from a place of accusation or it takes a while to get the backstory of your parents.
Daniel: From a young age I think, probably when I was a teenager. My wife is always astonished because she knows my parents right obviously and she’s, my parents got divorced a couple of years ago and they both have their own baggage, both my mother and my father and I’ve always been extremely understanding of them, respectful and loving. And my wife just couldn’t understand, she’s just like, “I don’t understand how you were able to do that”. And I…
Joshua: “Don’t you hate them like anyone else hates their parents?” is that…
Daniel: No, not all.
Joshua: Is that her perspective?
Daniel: Yeah, she doesn’t understand like, why are you not… I feel sorry, I feel bad, I have empathy. I have empathy. My father grew up in a home without a mother and his father was like, come on, like… Why would I expect anything more? But, you know, and more than that, Josh. I decided at some point in my life, I decided that you’ve got to be the man, you’ve got to be the one to make the change happen because you’ll wait forever and more if you think that you’re going to expect other people to change for you you’ve got to be the one to make that change.
And so I got on the phone with my father as often as I could. And even if it was awkward, even if it was weird, I would get on the phone and I would talk to him and I would say, “How are you doing?” and it would be short and very like, you know, cold but I kept it going. And one day I opened up to him. He was telling me about money and how, you know, he just wants to leave money behind for his children and he wants to do this and I said, “Dad, stop. Stop. I want to tell you something. OK. I know, I know that you want to give me everything. And I know that growing up you bought me things and anytime I needed anything you always gave me it, but I want to tell you that I don’t want anything from you, I just want one thing. And you will make my world if you can do this one thing. I want you out of the blue to call me up just once in my life just to tell me that you love me. That’s all I want. I don’t want any money, I don’t want anything”. And he said to me, “You know that I can’t do that. It’s too difficult. I don’t know how to do that” and I said, “You know what? I believe in you. I believe that you can and that’s it”. And we hung up the phone.
And two days later I’m playing tennis and I get a phone call. And it’s my dad. Now, my dad, the only time he’s ever called me in my life was if there was an emergency. Either someone died or something really, really bad happened or maybe someone got married. Hopefully someone got married so I’m thinking, honestly I’m thinking when I see him calling me I’m thinking, first thing I’m thinking is, “Oh my God, oh my God! I hope everything’s OK” and I’m thinking…
Joshua: Did you forgot? I mean right now we just heard you say, two days…That was out of your head, right?
Daniel: Completely out of my head. I pick up the phone and I’m like, “Is everything OK?” and he goes, “I love you” and I almost dropped the phone. And literally, I cannot describe how I felt. I really can’t, like all the money in the world couldn’t buy that moment. You know, I did that, I encouraged him and I inspired him to do that. People complain all the time and they blame and they look at everybody else and they go, “Why can’t they do, why can’t they do it, why can’t…?” Stop it! Just you be the person to change, you be the person to do, inspire people, encourage people. Don’t demand, don’t wait for them, don’t expect, just be there for them. Open up.
My whole book that I’m writing, the reason I’m writing my book, it’s called The Self Help Addict, was because of… A huge chunk of my life I was a self-help addict. I was addicted to self-help because I wanted that secret key, I wanted that secret sauce, that magical pill. Just give it to me. It’s not out there. No one’s going to help you. Nobody’s got that key. They don’t, it doesn’t exist. You have it, it’s in you, it’s just, you need to get out there and be the person that you want to be. You need to be the person that goes out and produces. Stop consuming, stop trying to find something.
And that’s what my book is all about. I’m producing a book because I want people to produce. I want people to take responsibility for their own lives. Stop fantasizing and looking at Tony Robbins and going, “Ooh, stop drooling at Tony Robbins” for crying out loud. He’s a wonderful guy. But guess what? So are you. And the only reason that he’s on stage and you’re standing in the audience or sitting in the audience. The reason why you’ve flown halfway across the world and paid God knows what for a ticket to listen to him, you know the only reason why that is, it’s because he’s onstage and you’re not and you bought a bloody ticket. But you could be the one on stage. And guess what? Tony Robbins could buy the bloody ticket. Because you have it in you too, there’s nothing special about him. We’ve all got the same stuff. You just be you. People love you for that. That’s it. Oh man, it really got to me there.
Joshua: For everyone listening, I think I can speak for all of them. Thank you for sharing and for making yourself available like that. I think now we know why your show is doing so well. And how soon does the book come out?
Daniel: Oh man, that’s a tough question. I really hope it comes out within the next two months. I’m really pushing for it. I’ve written 35000 words so far. And I just need to, I need to beat the perfectionist out of me. That’s number one. And B, I just need to kind of like just organize everything and edit it and then put a front cover on it and that’s it.
Joshua: All you have to do is just edit, okay, so it’s going to be like a six months.
Daniel: I really hope not. I really don’t know.
Joshua: So people who hear this, I think even better, tell me if you agree with us that even better than hearing you and getting your story is that they will be able to have their story of their father, whatever it is in their life. I mean your goal and I would expect what the book is going to give is for people to do that themselves, not to be like, you might be an access point but ultimately it’s for them to feed the other person with the [47:54].
Daniel: The biggest reward you can give me, if you, when you read my book is to write me an email afterwards saying that you’re writing your own book. That’s the biggest, because then I’ll know I’ve done my job. I don’t want people to read my book if they’re just going to get inspired and then two days later they go back to the same thing. Like they’re not…
Joshua: That’s not that’s not inspiration. [48:20]
Daniel: Yes. Correct. Then I’m just another self-help guru and then I’m just like one of them and that’s not what I’m interested in, I’m not interested in that.
* * *
Joshua: Now I’m going to take one thing you said and pivot on that which is, you said you’ve got to be the one, you have to take charge and otherwise no one will do this for you.
Joshua: And now the show is called Leadership and The Environment and for me something happened, I mean I guess a big part of it was like the president that just got elected saying that global warming is a hoax and I said, “Wait a minute”. I have been waiting for someone else to lead in the area of the environment. And suddenly all my aspirations of wanting to lead, of like becoming like a Martin Luther King or something like that, suddenly it all shifted and I thought, “Wait a minute, no one is doing it”. People are doing stuff that I think is helpful in the long run but not helpful right now, which is like trying to pass laws and trying to educate, but it’s not changing people’s behavior. And suddenly I thought, “No one’s doing it. If I don’t do it maybe no one will do it”. And I thought, “Crap! I might have to do this and take a leadership role in this area”. And suddenly all the stuff about being like, thoughts of fame suddenly turn into thoughts of like large scale disaster and embarrassment and realizing flaws that are going to keep you from what you think like, “Oh, if I were in charge I could do that” but then you’re like, ”Oh crap”. This is really… We got to change the behavior of billions of people. I can’t do that. But if I don’t, who will? And then you think, that’s probably what they thought, they being the role models. Yeah.
Daniel: Yeah, well l was going to say to your point about the fact that they’re all going to laugh at me or they’re going to think this of me, whatever it is, nobody really cares. That is the harsh truth, the harsh truth is nobody actually cares about you. They care about themselves.
Joshua: Yeah, they’re busy…
Daniel: They are just busy caring about their own things and you might be the laughing stock of the town for about 24 hours but after that they’ll move on to the next entertainment.
Joshua: It’s even better than that or what has been in my experience because when I tell people it took me a long time to say this and even now people who listen to the show a lot, hear that every time I’m about to say when you have to say I always preface it and do all this ‘blah blah blah’, which is that I believe that we need a Martin Luther King, a Nelson Mandela, a Vaclav Havel, a Gandhi of the environment and if no one’s going to do it first I’m going to do it. And it took me a long time to say, “Look, I’m going to become, I am the Martin Luther King of the environment”. OK, maybe not at the ‘I Have A Dream’ stage but even Martin Luther King at the Montgomery bus boycott was not the Nobel Prize winning ‘I have a dream guy’. He was a grunt worker trying to organize people to take the bus or not take the bus, to walk.
Joshua: So you might know that I’m going to invite you to, you have to be the one of… Well actually is the environment something you care about? Because if it is, I’m going to invite you to act on something there and I believe… Well first, is it something you care about? Is it something that… I don’t know, did you read the thing that I sent, because some people don’t see the link in it that says that I’m going to invite you to take on a personal challenge.
Daniel: I don’t think I did see a link.
Joshua: Well, you’re in for a surprise.
Daniel: Do I care about the environment? Of course I care about the environment, but I think everybody has their saying that they’re most passionate about and you’ve got to really focus on that. I feel like if you’re focusing on too many things then you’re not going to be as effective. And for me I feel like my space, like the place where I’m very passionate about, if you haven’t noticed already, is really getting people to take action. That’s my space. Like I want to be the guy who gets people to really take action, like I want to be the one that gets people to go from consumer to producer and that’s the space that I’m really focusing on. And I think that for me to focus on anything else would be a disservice to society.
Joshua: To my challenge, the challenge that I’m taking on is also how to get people to take action and it’s a place where as far as I can tell there’s no burning platform, there’s no hitting rock bottom like with addiction or something like that, there’s nothing that says like if you don’t act now, things are going to go to hell. And so how do you get people to act, to pollute less, to emit less global emissions, greenhouse emissions, to less resource depletion?
Daniel: You have to get emotional. You have to talk to people’s emotions because when you talk logic and you talk statistics we don’t really care. People just don’t care so much about that. But if you talk on an emotional level, then that’s what creates, in my opinion I think, that’s what gets people to take action.
So do you know when you watch a movie and there’s a father and son in the movie and then the father and son have this whole like, they’ve got this terrible relationship and they have a falling out and you know and then at the end of the movie they get together and they bond. Then it’s like the most beautiful moment and it’s wonderful. What happens, what goes on in your mind? You are inspired to call your dad. And again this could be anything, it could be your mom and it could be your spouse, it could be a friend or whatever it is. You suddenly get inspired in that moment to take action.
I got to call my dad. Why? Because you’ve been emotionally inspired, like it’s talked to your emotions. Now here’s the thing: a lot of people get inspired and then they let that moment dissipate. They wait, they say, “Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow”. Promise that tomorrow you’re not going to do it because they’re not emotionally charged anymore. Now it’s just a memory but it’s about taking action when you’re hot, when you’re in heat, when you are emotionally charged, that’s why we’re at charity events the best thing is to collect at the time when people are the most emotionally charged. So you want to play video that really pulls at the heartstrings and then people are crying and at that moment, that precise moment you want the guy to go around and start collecting the checks, because if you wait, then it wears off. And so I would say in terms of the, and this applies to the environment, as it applies to anything to any of you listening want to do, if you want to get someone to take action you’ve got to play to their emotions and then strike when they’re emotional in that moment. Get them to take action in that moment.
Joshua: So it kind of feels to me that if I want to get people listening now to act, then I want to get you to act.
Joshua: You said it’s not your big thing but if it’s something you do care about and I’m not asking, the personal challenge is not to solve global warming overnight or all by yourself or even to make that big of a difference but some difference on something that matters to you.
Daniel: Okay. So I hear where you’re going with this and I want to say something as well. Another thing that you got to realize, people need to realize is that you’re not going to win the world, you’re not going to get everybody to get gung-ho with you. It just doesn’t work for everybody. So you’ve got to find your audience. Instead of wasting your time and effort trying to convince the world, just find that small following of people who are like you, they are inspired by whatever it is that you’re trying to do. And they share the same passion and those are the people that you want to be spending your time focusing on because otherwise you just kind of, your energies are just going to get dissipated. We’ve only got a specific amount of time on this earth and we’ve only got a certain limited amount of energy. And so you want to use those well.
So you could spend time with me, Josh, you could try and convince me about why this is so important, this has to be a priority and this is but I’ll be very blunt with you. I’m a friend, I could be blunt with you. Don’t waste your time on me. Go find people who are really like, they get it. Those are the ones that get it already. Because you want to build that following, you want to build, do what you want to start. Don’t start with people like me who you’ve got to spend a lot of energy and a lot of time trying to explain why this is a priority. Do you know what I mean?
Joshua: Yeah, this is a big challenge. I think that this show over the course of, what I intended the show to be is I thought the format is two episodes, to have everyone on twice: the first one to talk about themselves with the guest and then to invite the guests take on a challenge and the second episode was to talk about what the challenge was like. And I thought that all the second episodes, all the second conversations were going to be all these people saying, “Wow, it was amazing, I didn’t realize it was easier than I thought”. You know there’s a challenge that had to take on. But then after I got through it was, living by your values means that you do what you care about even getting pass you know comfort and convenience and things like that.
What I’m finding is that I do get some of those but I’m also getting a fair number of, “I woke up the next morning, I was like I’m not going to do it” or “I did it until my wife said this is too complicated” or “I did it until I traveled and then I didn’t really know how to you know my world became more difficult to deal with”. And some of the people on the second ones are like, ”Alright, let’s figure this out. I still want to do this. This is challenge but that’s not going to stop me. It’s just I’ve got to get past it”. And I think those are really valuable for people who… I think a lot of people they take on a challenge. The first unforeseen thing happens and like, “Oh darn, I can’t do this. I give up”. And you know they’ve learned helplessness or something like that. And then, but I think one of the big things. So that’s all one part of the show.
I think what may happen over time is my evolution in my growing over longer period because one of the big things is learning from people who see things differently, like I just took for granted everyone would see things in a certain way or at least not too different from that from how I see certain things. And that’s not the case at all. And like when one guy said it was too much time to pick up one piece of trash per day. I was about to say because I do that, I was about to say, “It takes less than a second. You know you don’t have to go out of your way.” But I’m glad I did not say that because had I said that I would have missed that the reason there wasn’t time, that’s been what he said, but his other priorities and he believes that if he picks up trash then the part where he is of the city is going to be cleaner and people are just going to throw away more trash and that creates a perverse incentive.
Now I don’t see it that way but I’m not trying to motivate me, I’m trying to motivate him. And if I say you should do things for my reasons or you should evaluate things based on my values that’s going to shut him off. So that’s just one example of where I’m like, “Oh wait, I got to approach this..”. Now I see why no one does this because it’s this emotional minefield and people push back and if you come out of your way it’s going to be an all your way. You’re going to probably get more people to dig in their heels then and resist. I think this is why part of the reason, I think it got a lot of votes for Trump was people who are like tired of being told, “This is what you should value, this is what you should do, blah blah blah”. And a populist comes in and says, “Stop letting them tell you what to do”. I’m not going to tell you what to do. So yeah, I mean part of it is like I got to learn how to handle people with different values and different perspectives and not take for granted that it’s, that everyone wants the same thing and how to incorporate that into my goals and so forth.
Daniel: I mean like I said everybody has their emotional energy. Again it doesn’t have to be time that you could say, you said, “Oh it just takes a second to pick up trash”. It’s not about the second. It’s about the fact that I’ve got to mentally be aware of it and that’s mental bandwidth. And there’s only so much bandwidth we have to work with. I’m going to be thinking about how to be nice to my wife and how to be there for my children, and this business that I’m running and the podcast show and I’ve got to be mentally aware of the fact that I’m a religious Jew and I’ve got to I’ve got my duties and I’ve got so… There’s so many bits of information and things that I need to be mentally aware of on a daily basis and you’re basically telling me now that I’ve got to become mentally aware of something else, like another thing. And so I think it’s more the mental bandwidth than anything else than the actual time.
But like, you can’t do everything. You know I could challenge you, Josh, and say, “Why are you focusing on the environment? Why don’t you focus on cancer?” Do you know how many people die of cancer a year? Do you know how many children die of cancer? Do you know how many children are left without mothers because their mother died of cancer? Do you know how many…?I can pull at your heart strings and tell you why you should drop what you’re doing and you should go and you should be focusing on how to cure cancer. That’s what you need to be doing. You need to spend every freaking second of your life figuring out a way to cure cancer because cancer is killing people.
To get to the environment right now, the environment. OK. The environment has lasted this long but cancer is killing people right now. Why are you not focusing on that, right? And I could talk about poverty. I mean you talk about the environment. OK, there’s a bit of trash on the ground in New York. OK, that’s sad but hey there’s kids dying of hunger in Africa. What the hell are you wasting your time talking about the environment for? Why don’t you talk about the kids who go to bed starving hungry and they can’t, they die because they don’t have food and water. Why are you not focusing on that? You know I’m saying, what about child abuse? How many children get abused and you’re worried about the environment? Come on man! Where is your sensitivity, where are your priorities? Surely child abuse is more important. And I can keep going, Josh, I can keep going and bringing up every different, but if you do that then where does it end? Then you end up not focusing on anything because you’re just trying to save the world.
And I think that’s the problem, it’s people have this save-the-world syndrome. I’ve got to just save you, I’ve got to be everything to everyone, I’ve got to do everything, it just doesn’t work. So you stick to your thing. If this is what you’re passionate about then, that’s amazing and I highly respect you for it but don’t expect everybody else to join you because they’re doing their thing. You should be encouraging everybody to be their own leader and be passionate about what they’re and make their change in the world, make their impact in the world and what they’re doing. But I promise you, Josh, that there are other people who their mission is also to save the environment and you need to be finding those people and you need to discover those people because you’re going to get a lot more done and accomplished out of that and trying to just preach everybody else to convert them to your side. Sorry, if I’m a bit harsh but that’s just what I believe.
Joshua: This is what this show is for. Well I hope that it didn’t sound like I was…
Daniel: Oh no, not at all.
Joshua: I think a lot of people hear that even if you don’t say it, like a lot of people when you say the words, say global warming, a lot of people will immediately think, “Oh, someone is going to tell me what to do, someone is going to make me feel guilty” and they hear it whether you say it or not.
Daniel: Of course, that there’s going to be some sort of feelings of guilt, right, because people feel like you know they’re part of the problem if you’re not part of solution, then you’re part of the problem, right. And so there is this element of guilt that people feel guilty about things but you know you can’t avoid that. You can’t avoid that because just by you taking a stand, just by you taking a stand and doing what you believe in, you’re always going to make other people uncomfortable. It’s just the nature of the beast, it’s how we work psychologically. One person’s success could be another person’s jealousy. Do you know what I’m saying? You can’t change that and there’s nothing you could do about it. And for crying out loud, please don’t stop what you’re doing just because you might make someone feel jealous or make someone feel guilty. That’s not your problem, that’s their problem. As long as you’re doing the right thing and you genuinely believe that you’re doing the right thing, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or feels.
Joshua: So this is a big learning experience for me which I appreciate it like, and the learning hasn’t happened yet. I have to go back and listen to this several times and figure out what to make of it because it’s, on the one hand it’s a challenge for me and my goals, but on the other hand if my goals are preventing me, I don’t even know what to say except that I appreciate and thank you for sharing what you shared because you are not the only one who is like you and this isn’t much me learning about people as anything else.
Joshua: I’m kind of at a loss now as much as when you’re talking about your father. But I mean the purpose of my bringing people on is like to learn from them. I mean you know I hope to get people to take on these personal challenges. But…
Daniel: What’s your goal?
Joshua: Can you give some context? I assume you meant of the podcast.
Daniel: No. Yes, obviously that’s part of the goal. What’s the ultimate goal?
Joshua: Of my life?
Daniel: Yeah. What are you trying to do?
Joshua: Well I mean, it’s not too different from what you said before. It’s to create a feeling of emotional reward for myself that I believe comes from being a social creature and helping and supporting the people around me. I feel that that is like the most meaningful stuff that people can do.
Daniel: But you focus on the environment, you could be doing many other things and I described some of that before. Why the environment? So why that?
Joshua: Because in other areas… Because it didn’t… I believe that the stakes are high that what’s missing, I believe no one is doing and there’s not a lot of time and…
Daniel: What’s missing?
Joshua: What is missing is people changing their behavior on an individual level. Actually, not just their behavior but their beliefs. I think that people perceive changing themselves to exit the mode that they grew up in of you know, there’s plenty of atmosphere to go, if I pollute it doesn’t really matter.
Daniel: What do you want people to do?
Joshua: To go through, to realize, to change that view or to have experiences to see that that view, yes, it’s a challenge to change that mindset and you describe that mindset. Once it shifted to ultimately empathy for other people that what I do affects other people, to realize that yes, you have to go through challenge but on the other side the challenge is a more rewarding, more empathetic, more compassionate life connecting with other people that it’s you, whatever you think you’re going to give up you’re going to get back more, way more.
Daniel: What does that look like practically, Josh? What does it look like practically speaking?
Joshua: On an individual level it’s that people try to, people say, all right, pick something that matters to that particular person. So if someone cares about the litter on the ground at first they might feel like, “This feels weird, this feels awkward, like I’m bending and I pick up trash and getting dirty,” to then they do it enough that after a while they’re like, “Why didn’t I do this before? I wish other people did this. I wish I’d started doing this before”. This is, I’m making the world a more beautiful place. I like what I’m doing and I wish I want to do it more. And I’m glad that I do it. I mean I can see from my personal experience and people have heard this before on the show is that like I took on a couple of challenges, one of them was say I went to, I challenged myself to go for week without eating, without buying any food where I would have to throw away packaging afterward because I notice that most of my garbage was coming from food packaging.
And there was a good six months to a year of just eating really bland steamed vegetables and taking a long time to cook but over time as I kept at it I started realizing like, “This taste better with that, that is better with this” and I realize how to repair stuff. And you’ve got these e-mails from me, I’m constantly sending you when you’re out I’ll make you dinner. It’s really, ok, I can see if speaking for myself it’s incredibly delicious, more delicious and than anything I’ve ever had in my life before. Now I’m cooking for my personal tastes and other friends’ tastes are different but people generally like this stuff. And so what began as, before the mindset shift, what began as like a real challenge it was hard and bland and tasteless and awkward and embarrassing if people came over, has become one possibly arguably one of the best things I’ve done for my life that it’s told me that living by my values, even when those values go up against the way that I’ve been doing things for a long time, makes my life better. That by myself [72:26] it means more good.
And I believe that there’s nothing special about me in this area. I mean I have my particular tastes, my particular focus. But I think that you wrote a blog post on becoming the top 5 percent, you talk about physical fitness. You talked about taking action to make yourself what you want to be. Something like that. And everyone should read your blog, so…
Daniel: I actually haven’t been blogging so much but yeah.
Joshua: It was there, I mean I read that it was like I like this like, this is I believe I’m doing this and not waiting for others to tell me what to do. I mean I was doing that most of my life and there’s been a monotonic secular progression toward not…
Daniel: I want to challenge you for a second. And by the way this is going to be really raw so feel free to edit this out. And you don’t have to answer this either. Why didn’t you get married and have kids?
Joshua: Well, it’s not entirely my choice. There has to be another person involved in that.
Daniel: Well, I mean yes. Yes of course there is. But I mean don’t you believe that populating the universe is important and integral to continuing the human race?
Joshua: It is but that doesn’t make it my responsibility.
Daniel: Oh and that’s why I asked you the question because exactly what you just said is what I believe most people who are not doing what you’re doing in terms of the environment, they’re saying the same exact thing: it’s not my responsibility.
Joshua: Yeah. They have their values. I have my values.
Daniel: Right. So in other words you know that happens to be your biggest priority. It doesn’t mean it’s not a value it just means it’s much less of a value. Obviously you, Josh, you value continuity of the human race. Right? Obviously because hell that’s why you’re doing what you’re doing essentially you’re being very selfless because you’re, like most of what you’re doing today isn’t going to be, the results are not going to even be appreciated within your lifetime. Like the ozone layer and all this stuff, all that is mainly for future generations. You’re not going to really reap the benefits. You could eat as much canned food and packaged food as you want in this lifetime and you’ll be fine, you’ll die and that’ll be that. But it’s the future generations that you are concerned about and you’re investing in them. But if that’s the case, then why don’t you have children? Because if nobody had children then there would be no future generations so you’d be pointless and what you’re doing. And so that’s the same logic that people could use and say, “Yeah, well you know what, it’s not going to make a big difference if I don’t pick up garbage, it’s not going to make that big of a difference if I don’t pick up garbage”. But your logic is, yeah, but if everybody picked up garbage then the world wouldbe a better place and if nobody picked up garbage…
Joshua: Here I have to interrupt you, it’s not my logic because I don’t, it’s future generations are…They do have some importance to me. But that’s not what, I had that for a long time. What got me to do the podcast and got me to take on the risk of becoming a leader in this area is that I think that people, it’s people right here right now, they will, if they make this shift they’ll be glad they did. Now I take what you’re saying. If I understand you correctly I agree that to try to motivate people who are not interested in this is not going to get anywhere. And so I’m not trying to push on people like that. I’m trying to avoid trying to motivate people who don’t already feel some motivation like this already. But for people who do it’s not just about future generations, it’s about their lives in the moment that I think in the same way that someone who eats junk food, I believe that if you start eating broccoli and cauliflower and stuff, yeah for a while it’s not going to taste nearly as good. But after a while when your taste buds recover from all the sugar and stuff like that you will find apples much sweeter than Ben & Jerry’s and you will have more sweetness in your life even though you are having less sugar and fewer calories.
And broccoli will never taste, if you eat a lot of Doritos, broccoli will never compare with Doritos. But if you stop eating Doritos after a while and you learn how to cook and prepare the stuff, by the time you start really getting the broccoli and vegetables and so forth, you’ll look at Doritos and say, “What was I thinking?” So that’s not a future generation issue although that is an issue but I think that people are getting messages all throughout society, they’re just saying bye bye bye and all the usual stuff and they’re just settling in and living lives of quiet desperation, unexamined lives and all the stuff that the [77:42] that have stood the test of thousands of years and still ring true that this is an area where they can improve their lives right here right now.
And I think it’s what, the book, you want people to write a book. This is, to me this is a book and if people’s thing is to write their book, if that’s what their thing is then they should probably work with you but if their thing is the environment I think that, I hope to be a resource for them to start with a personal challenge, work their way through it or not and hopefully the guests that I have in the show, who at least one of them will have the same challenge that any particular listener has that maybe someone will… All they need to do is come up with the idea but maybe someone else comes up, maybe someone comes up with the idea but they can’t make it past the first challenge. Well hopefully they’ll be guests who gets the one challenge and maybe, and so forth you. Do you get the idea?
I hope that people for whom environment is their thing and environment not just number of carbon dioxide molecules per million or something like that but how it affects other people is an element of empathy and compassion in this because the environment is an abstract thing I think it’s really how it affects other people and they feel empathy for wildlife also for them that this is what, this can be a point I think for a lot of people where they turn their life around. Where they stop saying, “I deserve, I’m entitled”. Why? You know I want to fly, but I don’t want to pollute, it’s someone else’s fault that they haven’t invented an electric plane, I mean a solar powered plane. It’s not my fault there’s no solar powered plane. I just want to do what I want. I don’t want to pollute. It’s your fault not mine. People don’t say exactly like that but I’ve heard people say things pretty close to that and the flipside is, well it’s, it would be really hard not to fly but if I really value that you know maybe I’ll take a challenge.
Daniel: You are not flying?
Joshua: Yeah. So I’m in like month 18 of not flying. And I used to fly a lot.
Daniel: Are you going to the toilet?
Joshua: At the moment? No, I mean yes…
Daniel: You use the toilet facilities. That’s what I mean. Right. Well, I mean I’m pretty sure that using the toilet facilities is definitely not as good for the environment as if you were to go out back and actually, what’s the word, to the soil to defecate?
Joshua: Yes, defecate.
Daniel: But it does something for the soil, what does it do it? What was the word…
Joshua: Not pesticide but fertilize.
Daniel: Fertilize, fertilizes the ground.
Joshua: Everybody up until now is like, “Hey this is really interesting conversation and these guys are idiots”.
Daniel: No but seriously. Why using a toilet facility, a modern toilet facility and not going and you know replenishing the universe right? I can go on I’m not…
Joshua: I know, I know…
Daniel: What I’m here to do though is just to question you know, how far… Yes. You’ve decided to do that. But why expect I guess everyone else to do what you’re doing?
Joshua: Because I’m not expecting everyone else to do what I’m doing. I’m doing what you’re saying of, I want to help, the target audience is people who want to change their behavior but haven’t figured out how and because the systems we grew up in are pretty difficult to challenge and even if you really don’t want to pollute or at least want to minimize it or lower it a fair amount, it’s really hard because people put lots of friction and you hit lots of unforeseen things and it’s easier to keep doing what you’re doing and we have, we live in environment. I don’t mean environment, we live in a culture or at least I live in a culture where it says just buy stuff, just consume stuff and people’s reaction to things is just buy more. And the government like ever pushes on growth, GDP growth, population growth, all the stuff that is going the opposite direction. So you’re swimming upstream pretty hard and I want to offer a resource that is helping you if you want, if you already, if you know that you want to pollute less, if you know that you want to emit less greenhouse emissions or if you want to do something environmentally related. But it’s hard. This is a resource to help you change.
And I came across a quote just after deciding to do this podcast. It’s a cultural change. This is a corporate environment. This changing culture is a suicide mission. It’s up against frictions all over the place and internal stuff that people don’t think about until you push on it and then they get really angry and things like that. And but that’s part of what I’m taking on but I’m not trying to change people who don’t want to be changed. But I know that some examples that motivate me or tell me that it’s possible, the big ones when I was a kid the three big ones I think of a lot are, when I was a kid seatbelts were viewed as like the opposite of not macho. They were like people would argue like, “I don’t want to put on a seatbelt, it does affect me and my business”. And now I don’t remember the last time I went in a car and people just didn’t put on the seatbelt without thinking about it, it’s just, you just do it. It’s like an automatic thing. There’s no mental, the mental shift happened. There’s no mental effort. It’s just you. You get in the car and put on a seatbelt.
Likewise when I was a kid smoking was a lot closer to Humphrey Bogart. Now it’s a lot closer to a diseased lung and people, it’s like in the 70s the average person smoked, if you tried to get the average person not to smoke, that would be really hard, really, really hard. To get the average person today not to start, just to stay not smoking is trivial like most, I don’t know many people who smoke and even the ones who do are like they make a point of going away from people so they’re not bothering you with the smoke and stuff like that.
And then when I was a kid, the other big one is when I was a kid I used to say, “Give me one for the road” meaning I’m about to drive, give me some alcohol and that mental shift has completely happened at least in the United States. I mean I guess people drink and drive but if you overtly say I would like a drink to prepare for me to drive right, you’re walking on thin ice. And that was in some part, to some part it happened because I don’t know if there’s any central leader on these things but people made an effort on these things and it changed. And I don’t think it’s impossible. And I think that at the far end of making a mental shift is an ease and a self-awareness and an empathy. That’s what I’m trying to help people reach who want to go that route. If I exhaust all of those people in the world, then maybe we would move onto the next group. The not low hanging fruit of people who are, I don’t know.
And ultimately I poo-poo all these people who are like trying to pass laws without popular support, which I routinely call authoritarian. And I believe that trying to pass a law without popular support people are going to push back hard on it. But in the long run I do want legislation that says if you what you do affects, the laws are there to regulate behavior that affects other people and this stuff does affect other people. But to try to pass a law that people are not, that their behavior is not in sync with the United States is not in sync. The behavior of Americans is not in sync with polluting less and lowering greenhouse emissions. It’s like the price of gas drops a penny, everyone’s like let’s get another SUV. I’m not overstating it. But ultimately I want to make it so that legislators have an easy time passing legislation so it’s so much harder to hurt other people through behavior. You know our extra analogies have to get accounted for.
So I’m not trying to impose, at least I hope that I don’t sound like, I believe I’m not trying to impose my values on others but I believe that there a lot of people who share these values and can use support and can use perspective and want to know that it’s not just because you are not going on an airplane everyone else is, even if everyone else in the world says, “The plane was going to fly anyway,” you know that you did make a difference and that supply and demand does affect the price of tickets. And you know that if everyone else is saying, “Why does it matter what you do?” you know that if you change, then that will enable other people change and you living by your values and you taking responsibility for your actions matters to you and that’s what integrity is. And you don’t have to share my values but still living by your values will make your life better. That’s what better value means. You know, evaluators, to find the value is good. So you make your life better when you live by values. Values may change and so forth and different people have different values.
But that’s what I’m trying to get at is people have inside them what they care about and we live in a world where I find that it’s difficult to change when most people prefer not to even face the consequences of their actions on others. Now some people really don’t care, that’s their business and some people say, “Well, there’s nothing we can do” and I really believe that the best thing I can do is to have the most fun that I can and if that means traveling in a Humvee that means driving a Humvee right. I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to people who believe that what I do will make a difference even if it doesn’t make a difference it’s what I feel is right. But I do think it will make a difference. That’s how I feel.
And I’m very strongly motivated by Man’s Search for Meaning that people who, even when they didn’t get enough food to live on would still share food with others, that there is more meaning to be found in helping others than in just the physical pleasures of enjoying, driving an SUV or whatever that sometimes when you give up something it actually is getting yourself more than you thought you might have been giving up. The material loss is more than offset by the emotional gain. That’s why Victor Frankl could write about bliss and love in a context like Auschwitz. No I wasn’t there, I wasn’t… You know I’m talking out of my beyond my experience. But I think that why he wrote it, a part of why he wrote what he wrote was to so that people didn’t have to go through what he did and could create meaning and purpose in their lives. And that’s I’m talking about.
Joshua: I’m spent. When we spoke on your podcast you were extraordinarily, well for you probably it’s just natural, but for most people beyond what most people’s capacity or skill at listening and I felt like you really just you made me feel very comfortable sharing what was important to me and that what you’ve done now, I feel like “Who’s the guest on this episode?” And but it’s also stuff that I’ve been wanting to say. I don’t really know how to put it out there because I feel like on a podcast I should do less talking. Now I’ve just indulged myself in talking a lot. But you make people feel comfortable allowing themselves to be vulnerable. And if people are listening and saying “What the ****? Who does Josh think he is? But I’m worried about that but I’m also thinking, “Yeah, I’m talking to Daniel.” Although that did work out when I wrote my, when I did my video testimonial of your podcast which people I know who saw it were like, “Josh, that’s really funny” and people who are like, “ What? You’re weird.”
Daniel: Yeah. No. I was like [90:37] you loved it or you really hated it. Yeah. Cool. This has been very interesting.
Joshua: Yeah. It’s Yeah. And you’ve done more episodes than I have, I’ve done a bunch of interviews none of them have gone live yet. So I haven’t gotten feedback from the world. I’m still you know I want to do a launch so that I get lots of listeners. I’m in uncharted territory but I believe that what you talked about earlier, you have to speak your truth. I mean you didn’t present in those words. But what are you doing if you’re not?
Daniel: Right. No, I really enjoyed that. I actually thought it was right. I was in my element. You know I really, actually I liked it so much that I would like to if you could if you could send me like the audio, the raw audio. I’d like to edit it out like edit piece of it and use it for my own show, if I could.
Daniel: And obviously, I’ll mention, obviously that fact that it’s your show interviewing me but it will be cool to just have that on my… Actually, probably I’ll post it as one of my episodes because it was really good. I really liked it.
Joshua: I would be honored. And then I will claim that I’m your second repeat guest.
Daniel: Yeah, pretty much right.
Joshua: Well, now I’ve completely exhausted my reserves.
Daniel: Yeah, you feel spent. And that’s good. It’s good.
Joshua: Yeah. Actually I’ll share something. I’ve noticed that the word exhaust, exhausted has I believe two meanings and one of them is if your boss ask you to do something on a Friday evening and you got to stay late and you really hate it, you feel exhausted and you feel like, “Ah, what a mess”. There’s also exhausted if you’ve played a competition to the full extent of your abilities like at the end of a marathon you’re exhausted. And that’s a glorious great feeling. I imagine having kids who get you exhausted a lot and probably not the same exhausted that you feel when your boss makes you do something. And so this is the second exhaustion.
Daniel: It’s a good exhaustion.
Daniel: This is, this was quite a long episode.
Joshua: Yes. We’re actually, we’re a little over 90 minutes so if people are listening I guess they are, I guess they found this really, I don’t know, cathartic maybe, more insightful. I don’t know. Is this the type of conversation you have, not exactly like this but like you have conversations of this depth and richness if those two adjectives would describe it or [93:25]
Daniel: Candid, candidness or what do you, what do you mean?
Joshua: Yeah, I mean I guess most of my life growing up I would have very superficial conversations and I didn’t, there was a lot of my growth in the emotional area and relationship area. One thing that spurred it of many was a time when, now it’s a distant memory but it was maybe several week period when three separate people independently told me, “Josh, I’ve known you for a long time but I still don’t feel like I really know the real you”. And it really sucked to hear something like that, to think, to realize that the people I knew the most we didn’t really know each other that well and I was tremendously dissatisfied, tremendously like “What’s wrong with me?” and it took years and years and years of working at it that I think I’ve improved a lot in these areas by what I consider valuable and important. And yeah, increasingly I have conversations like this, like we’re at the end of the day people will say, “Josh, you should record this. You should post this”. It’s just like a regular conversation I’m having with someone. Yeah. And I take that to mean that they don’t have the conversations like that with other people.
Daniel: Well you know it’s funny you say that, Josh, because I’ve actually many times thought to myself I need to record my conversations with myself. I’ll literally have conversations with myself, afterwards I’m thinking “Oh damn! I wish I could have made that into like an episode. You know I wish I could have recorded that”. So maybe that’s something that I could do. Maybe it’s something I should take away and maybe try to implement in my life is to try and document myself talk. Hey, you know what? That’s a really crazy idea. What if I start a new show called Self Talk and it’s basically Daniel documenting his self-talk. Every time I have a little self-talk with myself and be…
Joshua: Or make it, you can make it. What do they call it? Not crowdfunded, crowd sourced so that anyone can do it.
Daniel: Yeah, what anyone could do is self-talk, interesting.
Joshua: And they could tag it so that you could go on and you could listen to, like listen to someone’s self-talk about …
Daniel: It’s brilliant.
Joshua: Because you go into, you really go into yourself, you really go deep when you have those self-talks. I find that I really, my mind like opens up and I’m having this incredible insightful conversation that nobody is there to hear and it’s kind of a shame because I could document that and then I could also listen back to it when I need to.
Joshua: So actually it’s an exercise, it’s a couple of exercises in my book is, one of them is to write down your self-talk.
Daniel: Well because writing it down [96:13]. Because writing it down I feel like already takes you away from what you’re doing. I feel like when you’re in self-talk mode you’re in a flow and if you break the flow it’s gone.
Joshua: So I was just going out of the range of the microphone to get my book because, I told you the first exercise but there’s another exercise which is to speak your self-talk. And the reason was that I wanted to, now we’re so far over that I’m like. All right. Whoever is listening is like they’re really into this, so there’s an exercise called Your Authentic Voice which is to speak that, the reason I’m getting my book is because the longest quote in my book is of a student who did this exercise and do you mind if I read it to you?
Daniel: How long is it?
Joshua: It’s three paragraphs.
Joshua: “Well spring break was a great opportunity to practice authentic voice on others and practice my inner monologue. My friends and I went on a road trip to Charleston and it’s imperative to know that I was the only girl on the entire trip. I was definitely self-conscious and embarrassed just to talk out loud my thoughts to college boys who love to poke at me already, to poke fun at me already.
The first time I tried it was 2:00 a.m. on the way to Charleston when it was my shift to drive I thought was the perfect time to introduce test and practice my authentic voice. Also especially when the guys I was with were sleep or half asleep. It was funny because I was whispering my inner monologue partly because I didn’t want to wake them up but also because of a large fear that they would judge what I would say. But honestly my thoughts were mostly based on the road, but honestly my thoughts were mostly based on the road, “I need to merge now. Great, this car cut me off, etc”.
Later throughout the trip we went to the beach a couple times and as we were walking around and exploring, that’s when I was my most genuine and real with my friends. I’ve known these guys since sixth grade and I’ve already had deep moments with them. But what was different was I got to speak out my exact thoughts at the exact moment, not past thoughts and opinions. This was when I was most vulnerable with my friends. And it actually caused them to reveal some things that were in their minds too. It was a raw moment for us as friends as well as a self-actualization of my authentic voice. It’s intriguing to me how developing an authentic voice is what separates leaders from followers. By being proud of who you are and voicing your own opinion, that’s what distinguishes the strength of a leader and being confident in the decisions you make. I didn’t realize how something so small like revealing how your mind operates can truly change how people perceive you and interact with you.”
Joshua: I read that I was like I was like, ”Wow” like I love reading stuff like that and the effect it has on people. I’m looking forward to listening to your podcast on your voice and if it is a crowdsourced to putting mine up there too.
Daniel: That would be cool. I wonder what the, I guess I’m going to come up with the easiest way to do it. The easiest way to do it because if you stop trying to make it complicated it doesn’t work. It’s going to be very simple. Yeah maybe Anchor FM, maybe using something like Anchor FM I guess…
Joshua: It seems to find an engineer to do it.
Daniel: Yeah. Oh my God. So it’s 9:15 p.m. here in Israel and I’ve still got to produce an episode myself.
Joshua: So let’s wrap this one up. And well let’s say, let’s pause this until next time on your show or my show and I’m going to listen to this one several times.
Daniel: Yeah, please send me the raw copy. I’m going to use it.
Joshua: All right. Well, thank you. And I tell you in New York because you’re going to be coming, you’ll be here in weeks and looking forward to seeing you there.
Daniel: I’m going to be there and that’s when, coming Sunday, this Sunday. All right. So…
Daniel: Tuesday night we’ll actually get to meet each other in person.
Joshua: And the invitation is open. I don’t know you probably have a very busy schedule but to come over and try this food that I just talked about.
Joshua: Yeah. It’s a bit of a packed schedule because I’m only there for three, four days, three days, really tight one, yeah. But I look forward to seeing you at the event, it will be amazing. And yeah.
Joshua: Me too. And we have to wrap this up because there’s no talking after we hang up so when we hang up, we hang up because those just get everything. That’s the Spodek technique.
Daniel: OK fine. Done.
Joshua: Done. I’ll see you in a few days.
Daniel: I’ll see you then. Looking forward.
Joshua: OK, bye.
Daniel: Bye for now.
* * *
Making it this far tells me that you found this conversation entertaining or cathartic, maybe educational. On the education side for me the big thing was how I lost him. I think when I started talking about the environment I think he picked up that I wanted something from him. This was an early conversation since and I’ve picked up on how not to do that but a big thing in leadership that I found is if you want to lead somebody, you have to put their interests first. And I did not unearth his passions what he cared about the environment. And so it was something that I was asking from him and he wasn’t interested in that. At that point everything changed to me talking about the environment. I got to share a lot and I’m glad he’s a great listener and interviewer but as far as leadership goes the leadership was over by that point. So this was a big learning experience for me. As for what he shared about his father I don’t think I have to speak about anything there. I think that spoke for itself. I met with him a couple days later in person and more came out. I’m glad that you listened this far and I hope that you got as big a learning or cathartic or entertaining experience as I did.
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