Jeff Brown host of The Read to Lead podcast has been reviewing leadership books, hundreds of them, and interviewing authors for years. I’m proud to say I’m one of the authors that he’s interviewed. In this conversation you’ll get to hear how he started. It’s a classic way that leadership projects start. He scratched an itch and kept going. If you’re thinking about taking on a leadership project I think you can learn from his experience. We talk a bunch about the value of leadership books, especially toward the end. He’s very passionate about it. And spoiler alert, this is the first of three episodes. The personal challenge that he takes on is not just something he’s going to do but he takes on a leadership role within his community. I have to brag here that he has interviewed and read hundreds of leadership authors and books and only now is he actually taking on this leadership role. All those books may be invaluable for something but for getting you to take on a leadership role and do leadership things my book or maybe this podcast did the trick. We’ll also hear the story about he and I running into each other virtually at a speaking event but I’ll let you listen to that from him directly. So, here’s Jeff.
Joshua: Well, I really want to talk about [unintelligible] because I feel like he stands apart from the typical podcast interviewee. And for you to interview someone like that I mean I guess you wrote a book so it’s natural that you would interview him. That’s not necessarily the case that he would go out and do the tour or whatever. Did you grow up listening or watching M*A*S*H like I did?
Jeff: I did. Yeah. One of my favorite shows, I remember watching the final episode with my family, my wife even earlier this year and recorded a bunch of the episodes [unintelligible] or whatever channel or the reruns are on now and sort of binged watched a bunch of them. This is all before my opportunity to interview him came about. But yeah, yeah. I grew up watching it and loving his work since I was a kid.
Joshua: Can I ask how it feels to be a peer of his? Like I mean I feel like you’ve been doing this long enough and successfully enough and you’ve interviewed so many people and read so many books that you would talk to him as a peer, I would think.
Jeff: I guess I never really thought about it like that but I liked the way that sounds. Yeah, that’s hard for me to wrap my head around honestly. I think in my own mind I don’t think of myself as a peer of his. I guess maybe others on the outside looking in who have been so generous in sharing the episode probably more so than any other interview Iâ€™ve ever done. Think of me that way but I have trouble seeing myself that way if that makes any sense.
Joshua: Well, I was trying to think of a way to kind of introduce you and also for people who haven’t met you before to say look who you are. And I think that was, â€œI think that that would establish you pretty well.â€
Jeff: At least in their minds if not in my own.
Joshua: Yeah, well, it’s for the listener, it’s not for you. You have a podcast called Read to Lead. And I met youâ€¦ You interviewed me for my book. And yeah, so people who want to know who Jeff Brown is go to his podcast. So, you mainly do leadership books. You’ve been doing it for quite some time. Before that you did a radio show or you did radio for a long time not just one show. How did you decide to start doing a podcast on leadership books?
Jeff: It started back in early last decade. I was in my early 30s at that time, Joshua, and not a reader of too many books. In fact, when I got out of school the decade before that I was like I donâ€™t want learn anymore. The school kind of taught me or stripped of me the desire to want to learn for some reason and so I spent the better part of my 20s doing anything but that. Then in my early 30s I was fortunate enough to be in a place where I had a leader who brought and encouraged us to read business books in the workplace and brought them into the workplace and we ended up going from that to meeting formally on a weekly basis to talk about the books we were reading. There was a team basically you know an internal book club inside the organization. And that’s where my eyes were truly open to some pretty amazing authors. People like Jim Collins and Pat Lynch [unintelligible] and John Maxwell and others and I just couldn’t get enough of it.
As I started to read more and more I found that my career trajectory began not going hockey stick like but it began improving dramatically in the sense that that because I was doing something that most of my colleagues weren’t doing, investing in my own personal growth and I was often the person tapped to lead certain projects or address certain factions within the company on different projects because a lot of times of the reading that I was doing.
So that continues to this day. But it was about four and a half years ago on my way home from work one day when I was tracking my reading goals and counting up in the car on my way home from work the number of books I had read so far that year and this was in late March. The number was like 10 or 12, something like that and I remember thinking or actually saying out loud in the car, â€œGee, that’s like a book a week.â€ And when I said that out loud to myself my mind immediately went to podcast. I’ve been kicking around doing a podcast but hadn’t settled on what I would do a podcast about and I realized my idea was right under my nose all along or I had thought about or thought of podcasts at that time as being typically weekly. I didn’t listen to too many podcasts that weren’t weekly at that time so obviously there are some that aren’t. But when I said that to myself, â€œI thought there’s my podcast idea Iâ€™m looking for I’m already reading a book a week anyway. I’ve just proven that. I love reading. I can’t get enough reading. I feel like more people need to be doing it than are and maybe I could in my own small way make a dent in that and bring more books to more people, help curate books for people, help them understand what they need to be paying attention to and maybe even sort of in audio Cliff’s Notes kind of form for those who this is all they are all the reading they’re going to do quote unquote. Maybe I could bring to them the key insights and ideas from those books in the meantime.â€
Joshua: Now you said something that I find intriguing that before you started doing the podcast here you were noticing that you were reading all these books and that was affecting your career and your life and it was improving it a lot. And one of the things that drove me to write my book was that a lot of the leadership books I saw as I frame it is they teach you about leadership but not necessarily how to lead. The analogy Iâ€™ve been using lately is it’s the difference between learning how to make art and art appreciation or history but now you could measure the change, you can feel that you’re improving. So I am presuming that you are starting with the best books at the beginning like Jim Collins and stuff like that. Can you talk about… Am I going too far one way to say these books are just about stuff that give you information but not reallyâ€¦ I mean I’d like to get exercises butâ€¦. How are they improving your life?
Jeff: Well, for me it was not just leadership books and I tend to agree with you that a lot of leadership books are about how to lead and the difference in your book is you go beyond that and that was eye opening for me when I read your book and so I don’t think you’re off the mark there. But around the time I began seeing this impact my career was around the time that social media began to take off so around 2006- 2007, just two or three years after I began really diving seriously into reading. And so, I began making it a point knowing that, or I feeling I should say, that social media was going to impact a lot of the industries including my own. I made it a point to learn everything I could learn about social media, about internet marketing because I knew that as a leader in my company I was going to have to wrap my head around those things.
And so as I did that and as I got better by understanding how these integrate with what we were doing I began being viewed as the defacto expert in the company on these areas. And so that’s when I began getting invitations to speak to the sales force nationwide or to speak to operations directors nationwide on these various topics to help them learn and understand what I had been putting time in at the office learning about. There were things that all of our stations across the country needed to understand and grasp and grapple with but there wasn’t really anybody doing anything about it. And as my direct supervisor began to see the effort I was putting into that and making sure that I was helping future proof our radio station to the extent that the word started spreading and I was asked to help other stations do the same.
Joshua: Was that pre-podcast or as a result of the podcast?
Jeff: Yeah, that was pre-podcast. My podcast didn’t launch until about 2013. So this was about five or six years before that.
Joshua: So, this was as a result of you reading all these books and putting what you were reading into practice and that was leading to you getting recognized for being above and beyond everybody else and asked to help others.
Jeff: Not just in my company. That began to spread outside the company locally and I began being tapped to speak at various functions to talk on the same topics because I was viewed as somebody who was quickly becoming an expert on them and proof of that was the things that I was doing at the company I was doing that were working. They were having an impact.
Joshua: OK. After a while it starts kicking and you start getting recognition, you have opportunities to speak and things like that. And I presume you like speaking but at the beginningâ€¦ I’m asking now because I’m thinking of listeners who are interested in leading, taking leadership roles especially leadership in the environment and at the beginning a lot of people think I’d like to do something but I don’t really know what. And now looking back it’s easy to say, â€œOh, you know Jeff did the thing that led to all this other stuff,â€ but at the beginning did you know that that would happen? And if you didn’t, what motivated you to put your valuable time and attention into something that you didn’t know that it would lead to anything?
Jeff: Honestly, I didn’t know that my love for these topics, my love for reading was going to lead to this explosion, for lack of a better word, in my career. It’s just that as I began cracking open these books and something again I hadn’t done at any time in my adult life. It was like a revelation to me, Joshua, when I first began diving into some of these books. I thought, â€œWow, for about 20 bucks I can learn from some pretty smart people? Why haven’t I done this before and why aren’t more people doing it?â€ And that to me was the motivator. My mindset went from â€œThank goodness I don’t have to learn anymoreâ€ to â€œOh my gosh! What was I thinking?â€
Here I have a chance to learn from people much smarter than me and much further down the path for me every single day just you know in half hour or an hour of investment every day. And so to me that was the motivator why not want to have a learning mindset, why not want to be a lifelong learner, why not want to get up every day and be the kind of person who is working to improve themselves all the time? So, to me it was about personal growth and self-improvement as much as anything else being the motivator.
Joshua: So that raises the question of why didn’t you do it earlier? But then the answer to that is probably you didn’t read the books yet and you didn’t know.
Jeff: Well, I was self-absorbed frankly. I mean I spent the better part of my 20s only involving myself in things that brought me personal enjoyment and regardless of how that impacted anybody else. So I was very much a consumer of entertainment driven whether thatâ€™s music or movies, more entertainment, things of that nature, just what can I read about or do that just allows me to sit back and take it all in. And in my 30s it’s shifted from the more consumption let’s-feed-my-lizard-brain dynamic to what if I instead use this time to make myself a better person rather than just consuming for consumption sake.
Joshua: I’m glad you’re sharing this. And just to give you context, I’m envisioning a typical listener of this podcast as someone who has a sense that they would like to do something in the environment but they have something that they want to do but they’re not… Like you said they’re probablyâ€¦ I figured you say self-absorbed, more about entertainment and yourself. I think a lot of people in the area of the environment are thinking of comfort and convenience, or not thinking, actually they’re not thinking, they’re just you know choosing comfort and convenience without thinking about it. They have a sense of like thereâ€™s probably something that I want to do. And you stumbled on the books, it sounds like. Did it unearth something that was already there?
Jeff: I think so. I think it had laid dormant for a decade or more. You know I was initially introduced to some pretty awesome books and authors when I was around 20 years old. But I don’t think I was notâ€¦ I read them but they didn’t have the impact they would have 10-12 years later. I think in large part because I hadn’t matured yet to the point of appreciating books of that ilk. People like Zig Ziglar and Og Mandino, Ken Blanchard and folks like that. It wasn’t until I was you know in my early 30s that in the end they came at me again through a different leader, through a different mentor that I went, â€Oh my gosh, I’ve been missing out!â€
Joshua: Did you mature and that made the books accessible or did the books mature you or probably like a cycle that bothâ€¦
Jeff: I think it was my maturity in having the good fortune to be led by a mentor who helped bring me away from some of that more self-absorbed type of behavior and thinking more like, â€œWell, what kind of legacy are you going to leave?â€ Even though I was fairly young he got me thinking more about kind of what long term effects do my actions take and what am I doing that’s changing the world for the better not just how can I get something out of this?
Joshua: Now I see what sounds like a bit of a paradox. You were self-absorbed and then you got stuff to make you a better person. But I feel like you also were doing something to share with the world. How do you go from self-absorbed to saying that’s different when it’s becoming a better person?
Jeff: Yeah, good question. Yeah, for me I began blogging around that same time and so one of the ways I wanted to share that impact was through my writing and so I started a blog around 2008 and began sharing what I was learning. I started doing book reviews at around that time and even did, you probably can still find on the Internet some YouTube videos where I was reviewing books at my desk at work and just trying to help againâ€¦ This all predated the podcast helping open other folksâ€™ eyes and minds to what was out there. The smart people who were sharing their insights relatively inexpensively. You know I saw the statistics on reading and the number of those who pick up a book on any sort of regular basis and you know the numbers are fairly abysmal and a lot of it’s you know fiction reading, not that there’s anything wrong with reading fiction, but few people pick up books anymore to learn all that much. The numbers are really small. And I just looked at that and thought, â€œWell, that used to be me. That’s not me anymore and I can’t seem to get enough. What are some things I can do to make more people want to discover what I’ve discovered?â€ And so that’s where the podcast started formulating.
Joshua: That rings so true for me. For me it is things like what started is not avoiding packaged food and avoiding flying but transformed into discovering fruits and vegetables and loving the flavors and cooking and discovering community around here and trying to travel all over the world and having such joy and wanting to share with people. I’m glad your podcast has been around a lot longer. I can’t help but, I’m going to get myself in trouble here, but you said that reading my book opened your eyes or you said that my book had an effect on you. And now you’ve read a lot of books, you have reviewed a lot of books. Anything you can say about mineâ€¦ What was the difference? Am I being too vain to ask?
Jeff: Well, no I don’t think so. I mean I think it’s you really went out of your way to help readers take the next step and apply what you’re learning as you’re learning it and to understand actually how to do that in a tangible way which most books frankly don’t do. And so, I guess if I were to boil it down to one thing, it would be that.
Joshua: Well, when I pass leadership sections of bookstores I will pick out a couple of books if I see ones that I haven’t seen before and I browse through and I say this book is about leadership, this book is about teaching you to lead and almost never they have anything active in it. And when they do it’s usually a few disjoint exercises here and there and not something that comprehensively works together. You’ve read a lot more than I have. Are there others that come to mind that are like that?
Jeff: Yeah, the answer to that question is yes. Can I name them? Oftentime probably not without doing a little bit of research but they are rare I mean probably I could count on in the hundred and eighty-five interviews that I’ve done for the podcast probably only need a couple of hands, maybe even just one hand to count the number that do that.
Joshua: OK. So, I can’t be too far off when I say that these books are not out there which is what motivated me. And actually, I kind of think that Akshay must’ve been the one who introduced us.
Jeff: Oh, yes, yes. I think you’re right. Yes.
Joshua: I think you know he is incredibly driven and his book is I think people can go to his site and order his book and get free versions. Now you know more authors and I feel like he’s going to be a New York Times bestseller. He’s got that drive and he’s doing everything he can. Do you read that also?
Jeff: Do I see that is what you said?
Joshua: I just feel like of all the people I’ve met like he seems the most likely his first book to make it to New York Times bestseller.
Jeff: Yeah, I totally agree. Definitely heâ€™s a driven person. One of the things that impressed me about him was just how just well put together everything was from the site to the things he supplied me with prior to the interview. Just really seemedâ€¦And of course, also I’ve watched some of his YouTube videos and speaking engagements as well just really, really polished and definitely, to echo what you said, definitely a driven guy. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he doesn’t see that New York Times best seller opportunity come to fruition eventually.
Joshua: And now I want to start switching over to the environment. I started alluding to it and although I kind of also want to tell this anecdote about the last time we spoke I was at the library in New York City and you were probably at your home and it was this crazy thing that happened. I don’t know what it was like at your end but from my end, it was like a really busy day and I got lost on my way to the library and then at the library is hard to find a room and the room there was I supposed to go to the spill out room because I showed up late because I was lost and I was like, oh man, I wasn’t really in a good mood. And then the sound kept going off on your microphone. So for people listening. I went to my friend David Schriner Conn’s event and Michael Shine’s event at the New York Public library. And when I walked in you were projected on the screen like really big. And I was like, â€œHow doesâ€¦ Do you guys know each other? Did I meet you through each other?â€
And then your sound kept going down and they kept asking trying to get someone to come in and fix the sound. And while the sound was down for you, you put up your screen which put me up on. Instead of having your face on the screen, you shared your screen instead. And suddenly I see David talking and behind David is me and then after your sound is back on air, after Davidâ€™s finished talking, the woman who organized the event Helena she said, â€œWe should all do likeâ€¦ We should learn from Jeff that we should become the person who others follow.â€ And I was like, â€œThat’s my book.â€ And then I said like, â€œHey, that’s my book.â€ And you said, â€œIs that Josh?â€ It was this really crazy event that went from like a terrible day for me to being invited up. Now she’s invited me to give a talk and it’s going to be in January. I went to the most recent one that she had and I couldn’t stay for the whole thing but as Jon Lee Dumasâ€¦ Like I was talking to her and then she was right there and I was talking to him and it was my first time actually meeting him. I just told the whole story from my side. What was it at your side? I mean it must have been surprising.
Jeff: Yeah, definitely it was an amazing coincidence I guess is the way I would put it and I put you up on the screen since my audio was going out and I thought well rather than people just know staring at my face while they’re fixing this, why donâ€™t I just you know promote my show and put my latest episode up on the screen from my website and it just happened to be you. And I had no idea you were there and in the audience when I did that. So when you spoke out and I realized you were there I just thought, â€œOh my gosh, what are the odds that you happen to be the most recent interview I did, number one, and number two the fact that you’re actually sitting there in the room.â€ So I was blown away. I think Helena or Helaina rather is one of my clients, I’m helping her launch her podcast and I was near there weekend or two before and she had wanted me to attend in person but the weekends didn’t line up for when I was there. And I said, â€œWell, why can I just be piped in from my house?â€ Little did we know that the internet connection on their side was not going to be very good. As you mentioned, there are all kinds of breakups and I was not heard most of the time as I understand it but at least I was able to participate a little bit and have that awesome coincidence happen for you and me and to know that helped you in some small way makes all that worth it.
Joshua: Yeah, it was a crazy thing that happened. I’m very happy about it. So going into the environment. So, you read the overview of this podcast and one of the things I do is ask people at their option to take on a personal challenge. Before I do that, I’m curious what’s yourâ€¦ When you think environment, I mean when you saw Leadership and the Environment what do you think of when you think of the environment?
Jeff: Well, when I think of the environment I think of all the trash we create, landfills and things of that nature. I think of you know how it’s difficult for me to get in my car and get on the highway and not have somebody in front of me toss a cigarette butt out the roof, it just gets under my skin like you would not believe. It’s been a while but I remember being at the grocery store and going in my car and a smoker, I don’t mean to pick on smokers but a smoker had apparently decided next to their car to just dump their ashtray, right next to my car these was just as big pile of cigarette butts. And I thought, â€œWho does that? Oh my gosh. I mean how hard would it have been to just get up and go to a nearby trash can?â€ I mean at least they I guess they didn’t dump them one at a time on the highway. They at least put them all in one place making it easier to clean up. Maybe that’s what they were thinking. But I went when I think of the environment I think of you know the landfills and recycling and all the things that we as a society and culture consume and the trash.
Joshua: And this is all different from global warming like a lot of people think of global warming first because especially with hurricanes and things but trash and litter and it’s a totally separate, not totally but a fairly separate issue. And I can’t help but think of a couple of things. One is that the way you talk about it one of the views when I think about New York City the first thing I think of is usually like the big cultural things like MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum Columbia and NYU and Lincoln Center things like that. But from another perspective I think of the island used to be covered with trees, there was wildlife all over and streams and things and now it’s covered over and of course when I think about it from a human perspective, from a cultural perspective I think of all the institutions and buildings and stuff we built all this and it’s amazing. From another perspective, everywhere we go with rare exception we just painted over and leave cigarette butts because why not.
You grew up alsoâ€¦. Probably seen that it’s called the Crying Indian public service announcement. I would guess we have accelerated our pollution since then, not decelerated.
Jeff: Certainly no.
Joshua: Well, let’s talk leadership then. Are you interested in taking on a personal challenge?
Jeff: Sure, sure.
Joshua: So, the idea is there’s a few not rules but guidelines that I’ve developed over a bunch of interviews cause a lot of people think, â€œWhat’s the point of doing anything if the whole world doesn’t change, what does it matter what I do?â€ So, it’s not something you have to change the whole world overnight. It can’t be something you are already doing and it can’t be something that you’re going to get other people do. It’s something you personally do yourself. It’s about evenly split. Some people come on and they are like, â€œYou know there’s something I’ve been wanting to do.â€ Some people are like, â€œI have no idea what to do.â€ Do you have anything in mind of what might be something that you’d want to do? I mean it’s generally in the short term and it doesn’t have to be big but it does have to move the needle you know nonzero. You know I hope that when you do it you can think of it as short term but I hope that you think about it while you’re doing it maybe considering doing it long term or permanent but that’s not required.
Jeff: Well, as I look around you know I live in a subdivision where the houses are middle-class neighborhood, houses are not like some of those middle-class neighborhoods where they’re practically run on top of each other. There’s a good amountâ€¦ We have like one acre lots. For example, you know there are nice and spaced apart and there’s the various trash pickup services that come you know on Wednesday or Friday depending on which one you contracted. But there’s no recycling pickup of any kind where I live. Now there are nearby what’s calledâ€¦ Iâ€™d say nearby they’re not always that close to being where you live but convenient centers where recyclables can be taken. But it’s something that a lot of us don’t take the time to do because it’s not convenient. And so, whether it’s plastic or whether it’s cardboard or whether it’s cans or whatever rather than just putting all that in the trash and having it picked up that way something that I would like to get better about it and more consistent it is picking out those things rather than throwing them away. Putting additional trash bins in the garage or additional bins in the garage labeled you know plastic and cardboard and et cetera et cetera. So that at the end of a week those can be taken up and driven to one of those nearby convenience centers rather than always just throwing everything in the trash and having the waste management company pick it all up and have it all go into a dump and get piled on everything else.
Joshua: OK, it sounds like something that you’ve been thinking about for a while.
Jeff: Yeah, because as I look around the neighborhood I mean this is a fairly there’s gosh I can’t rememberâ€¦ I’m talking over 100 homes in this subdivision if not more. Might be almost 200 in the subdivision has grown over the years and is probably about 20 years old now but it’s been added onto and added onto. But it really pains me that unlike some other areas that I’m familiar with there isn’t anything like that and so because of that most people just don’t do it. I mean most people just put everything in the same place and gets picked up by the trash people. And so I look at that as business start. Is there a business opportunity? Is there something I need to do about that or find somebody who can come to our neighborhood and offer that as an option so more people might participate in it if it’s going to be picked up and made convenient for you, would you be more likely to do it?
Joshua: Well, I’ve found that leadership and entrepreneurship are very closely related.
Jeff: That they are.
Joshua: So how long do you think it would take for this toâ€¦ Say you started now or soon, how long would it take before it would kick in and you’d have an experience that you could share with the listeners?
Jeff: Well, assuming that I made it a point to practice it on at least a weekly basis, maybe a month I guess.
Joshua: OK. I’m also thinkingâ€¦. I started to review some of the challenges that come up with people because a lot of peopleâ€¦ One of the big challenges that people faceâ€¦ The two ones that I see most are other people like someone decides, â€I’m going to do X Y or Zâ€ and then when they interface with others sometimes the others put friction back and a lot of people don’t foresee that when it happens so they don’t really have face it and they don’t want to be preachy but they don’t want to give up either and now you’re just doing it with your own house. I don’t know if you have a family?
Jeff: A wife and three dogs but no kids.
Joshua: OK. So, I have a feeling there’s going to be some interface there. Maybe she’s supportive, maybe she’s not. I don’t know. Sometimes it works out really well. For me when I take my compost to the farmer’s market I’ve found that people who bring their compost it always leads to an interesting conversation. And so I enjoy if I’m in a hurry I just dump it off and go away but if there’s people there because it takes a certain type of person in New York to keep your compost we usually put in our freezers and then we carry it like half a mile to the farmer’s market and chop it out there and like OK, we got something in common and we can see what we’ve been eating but a lot of times it’s more like, â€œWhy are you doing that?â€ They see you doing something that they maybe feel like they wish they were doing but they’re not. Or maybe they feel like thereâ€™s moral thing to it. And the other big challenge is when people travel is that then everything falls apart when their environment that they’re not used to. That may not be as much of an issue for you.
Jeff: No, I don’t think so. Yeah, yeah. I would love to revisit this in a few weeks and report back.
Joshua: I’m getting at my calendar and today is October 5. Want to talk November 5th which would be Sunday or maybe that week if you prefer during the week then
Jeff: How about the week of the 5th, maybe 6th through 10th somewhere around that.
Joshua: It’s pretty open for me. And mornings work better for me.
Jeff: Yeah, I can do Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday morn.
Joshua: How about Monday the sixth and I think you’re an hour earlier than me, so if I did 10:00 a.m. my time, 9:00 a.m. your time, would that work?
Jeff: That would work.
Joshua: Great. Then after we hang up you’ll get a calendar invitation to set it up. I want to go back to something you said earlier about the books and as a word that popped up that I made a note to come back to about the environment because I wonder if it’s related and the books you ask yourself what kind of legacy â€œDo I want to leave?â€ that to me raises the stakes. I was like that’s pretty big. And you’re not old enough to be a retiree who is like thinking about you know think about legacy that way. I don’t think about leaving a legacy yet. I mean is that something youâ€¦. Can you tell me more about that?
Jeff: Yeah, I just through that process, through that transition and the maturation process I realized, I recognized, Joshua, that I had become just a consumer of stuff whether that was entertainment or whether that was you know food you know whatever I mean I just you knowâ€¦ I didn’t worry about the wake that I left and what negative or otherwise impact it might have on whoever came after me. And through that maturation process my eyes were opened to that and I wanted to be more involved in somebody who’s creating than just somebody who’s consuming. There is nothing wrong with consuming. I mean I hope people consuming. I hope people consume my podcast. I hope people consume this podcast. I hope people consume your book. But I wasn’t really a creator of anything apart from just you know going to work every day. And I decided that it was time for me to begin being intentional about that. And that’s where this sort of love for reading began. And that love then lead as I said to creating the podcast and realizing that maybe my place in life is helping other people foster love for this too and help more people get their [unintelligible] and more books and act as a curator at the same time help them understand because there are a lot of great books and not a whole lot of time. Maybe I could be that person who helps people understand what to pay attention to.
Ad so as I look at sort of legacy I hope that folks and they think of me if I were to kick the bucket you know tomorrow, that they would think that I was the person who maybe encourage them to do something that they really didn’t think was going to matter a whole lot but actually did once they followed through. I hope to be somebody who has maybe introduced some folks to some books they would not have otherwise found. I was interviewing somebody yesterday whose book I thought was sort of a you know a diamond in the rough. It’s been out since March and I don’t think a lot of people read it and it was a book I really enjoyed. And I see part of you know my legacy being you helps others find those kinds of books not just the famous people, not just the names everybody knows but those lesser known names that need you know one extra push or one extra set of eyes what they’re doing.
So I just think there are a lot of really, really smart people, people far smarter than me who you know 80 some odd percent I think it’s a number of us say we have a book in US [unintelligible] I think it’s the most recent that I read. And so I have a high regard for those who actually get it done, who actually get a book published out there into the world. If you’ve taken the time to do that and you’ve put the effort into the blood sweat and tears not 100 percent but most of the time I find that you have something that the rest of us need to hear. And so that’s what I want to try to do and that’s what I want to be remembered for.
Joshua: Wow. So if I hear you right, it’s bringing together books that people might not have heard of but the people put their heart and soul into and are valuable and getting that to other people that wouldnâ€™t have gotten it otherwise. Do you getâ€¦
Jeff: You know this probably. I mean there are plenty of books that should have been far more successful than they were. You know a lot of times the ones that do get attention are it’s kind of like movies anymore. You know I sometimes wonder if Hollywood can put out a film that hasn’t already been done a thousand times or isn’t some sequel or something else. And a lot of books are just sitting on shelves collecting dust and I think that’s a shame and especially business books and leadership books and books about personal growth. I just know that books on those topics have done more for me than just about anything else I’ve done, any amount of schooling I’ve had I think. And now being on the other side of it I just have trouble understanding why more people don’t see that.
Again, I was one of them at one time but thankfully not anymore. But I want to bring more people to the other side of that chasm.
Joshua: Fantastic to hear that passion, not just passion but acting on it. And I wonder how often do you get word back from readers and authors to say my book cut more presence than I would have otherwise? Or I read a book that I wouldn’t have otherwise? I mean I know that I’ve read comments on your podcast of people writing back and saying really amazing things. So do you get a lot of that? Do you get it as much as you like?
Jeff: Well, [unintelligible] to be more, sure. One of the things I started in February was a book club basically with about 60 or 70 listeners in the book club right now. And we select a book usually democratically. Initially, when I started this I thought I would be the official book selector but I have found value in either nominating books or letting members nominate books and us voting on those that together determine what books were going to feature. And then we spend a month reading those individually. And there’s a private Facebook group for ongoing discussion. There’s a book summary that everybody gets about mid-month and at the end of the month we all come together for about an hour and discuss the book as a group and we use Zoon which I know you’re familiar with that allows you to break everybody up into smaller groups in real time which we benefit from and so we might have a say 30 on live call and we’ll break those folks up into smaller groups and I have discussion leaders I’ve designated in advance who go through and ask a series of questions and I’ve createdâ€¦
And so the whole point of that is to help people go beyond just listening to a podcast about a book and learning what’s in the book or reading the book and learning what’s in the book but actually putting the books concepts into practice and that live meeting that in virtual meeting is about going from I guess you might say intention to implementation and sometimes we have the authors meet with us. And so instead of having a break out session we did this last month with Jay Papasan, co-author of The One Thing with Gary Keller and Jay spent an hour with us fielding questions from listeners in the group on the topic and concepts laid out in the book and helping each of us apply similar concepts to our own unique situations. And so this to me goes a step beyond the podcast or just bringing books to people’s attention and helping them find great books to read and goes to the level of say OK, now here’s what to do with that information. Here’s some help with doing something with that information.
Joshua: So, a listener who wants to be a part of that is this an invitation for them to request to join your group? First, it’s readtoleadpodcast.com and so everyone should go there, starting I recommend with episode 179. What if they want to join your mastermind group or the book club?
Jeff: Yeah, similar domain it’s readtoleaduniversity.com and registration is actually open right now. That’s not always the case but the next time it opens prices will go up a little. It’s only twenty-five dollars a month so it’s not too awfully expensive but it is a bit of a time commitment. It means reading a book a month and that’s hard for some people, it means you know being committed to meeting about it, to be prepared to talk about it and to really want to do those things, to want to take these books for reading and change your life with them. And so if you’re really serious about personal growth personal development, then it’s probably a good fit. But readtoleaduniversity.com is the website.
Joshua: Okay, great. And I can’t help but think next time when we speak after you’ve done the personal challenge I’m going to revisit some of what you said about the legacy that you talked about with the books and how you made it active and how you were helping others and getting people to pay attention to things that they wouldn’t have otherwise. I’m curious if something like that will happen with the recyclingâ€¦ It sounds like a real pain that you’re feeling. I hope that this will help relieve and I bet a lot of people have that. I mean [unintelligible].
Jeff: I would like that.
Joshua: Anything I didn’t think to ask before wrapping up?
Jeff: No, no. I think you were very thorough. I appreciated the questions as unlike any interview I’ve ever participated in and it was refreshing.
Joshua: Yeah, I tried to get people to share what they care about and then part of that being presumably is something environmental. And so I’ll talk to you in about a month and I look forward to hearing how things go.
Jeff: Well, thank you, Joshua. It was my pleasure. Again, thanks for asking and I appreciate you coming on my show as well.
Joshua: Talk to you in about a month. Good luck.
Jeff: All right, Joshua. Thanks. Bye.
I love hearing about projects like his. I hope people take advantage of his reading group because you could hear the passion that he has for the books and that he shares and that’s what leadership is about. Itâ€™s about creating meaning, bringing out meaning and passion that people already have. And that’s why I know that when he takes on this challenge for leading his community with recycling. As I’m recording this now I’ve already heard the later conversations and he takes on a big leadership role and it goesâ€¦ Well, I’ll let you listen to the later episodes. You’ll like what you hear. I’m also very gratified about his comments on my book Leadership Step by Step, over 95 percent five-star reviews on Amazon available any time, little plug, and books in general. That passion is just tremendous.
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