163: Kevin Kruse, part 1: Great Leaders Have No Rules (transcript)

April 3, 2019 by Dani Mihaleva
in Podcast

Kevin Kruse

Kevin and I have been friends since we both wrote for Inc. and before I appeared on his podcast. I think that led to a more open conversation. This is two guys talking about leadership and love with examples of hardball, football and basketball coaching and things like that. Not to say that’s our only perspective on leadership. His book describes a contrarian view of how to develop yourself as a leader. But that talk about love recalls the blurb that I wrote for his book which is “If you want to lead so people love working with you, not just manage so they comply and the usual instruction isn’t helping you probably need some shaking up. Kevin Kruse wrote his book to provoke you into changing and growing. It’s filled with stories, research and personal experiences that’ll make you think and point to how to change and grow. He specifies how each lesson applies to work, home, family, military and more but most of all yourself even when no one is looking.” So that was the review I wrote. He also takes the environmental challenge seriously and shares views that I hear a lot. So water bottles are a challenge for him and that’s what he works on. In this episode you can hear how recognized experienced leader and teacher of leaders struggles with challenges everyone else does.


Joshua: Welcome to the Leadership and the Environment podcast. This is Joshua Spodek. I’m here with Kevin Kruse. Kevin, how are you doing?

Kevin: Doing great. Thanks for having me on.

Joshua: Thanks for being here. And before we started recording we were talking about leadership and we’re talking about the environment. And I said we got to start recording and so we’re going to just jump right into the conversation, if that’s cool with you, where we just were.

Kevin: Yeah. Well, I was getting excited because I was catching up on your shows and I saw that you know you had our mutual friend John Lee Dumas who’s very well known in the podcast world. You had him on for the third time and he gave you credit for like sparking him you know cleaning the beach of all the trash down in Puerto Rico. And I was just saying like, “How does it feel from your standpoint?” You are always very humble about this but like think about you know you triggered this beach cleaning down in Puerto Rico from New York City. And that’s one guest. And you know you’ve done this now over and over and over again. How does that make you feel?

Joshua: So, first of all, it makes me feel good like in the short answer to the question. But I want to distinguish that in my mind I didn’t get him to clean up the beach. What I did was I asked him to share his values and invited him to act on those values. And that’s a major difference than me… If I had suggested to him to clean up the beach, maybe I would get compliance and in the realm of leadership versus management that I would call management. But what I did instead was to ask him without even saying what he was going to do. And one of the great things about John Lee Dumas’s episode, the first one, was that when I asked him… Everyone should listen to that episode to get his words and what actually happened. But my memory of it is that I said, “Is the environment something you care about?” And he said, “Not really.”

And now I think that when he was thinking environment he was thinking… I think he interpreted the question to mean “What can you do about global warming?” which is a very different question that I asked. And so I believe that to try to lead someone without knowing their emotions what they care about, what they value, what their passions are. It’s like you’re at best guessing at what they care about and much more effective is to have them share what they care about and repeat go back and forth with them until they say, “Yeah, that’s it. Yes, that’s what it is.” And then they have the freedom and liberty and lack of inhibition to act on it and that I could not come up with something that would resonate with him as well as he can. That’s what was critical to me why I couldn’t say I felt good at the beginning. I have to say what I did from my perspective was as different as leadership is from management was what I did with him.

Kevin: Well, that’s a great lesson, great example and Josh, I want to underscore that because I remember that episode really, really well and I’m even going to say, don’t take this the wrong way, but at the start of that interview it felt like he was not very engaged, almost like he didn’t want to be on the interview and maybe he had a bad day, like maybe he forgot that he was going to be interviewed, maybe you know you talked him into it somehow. I don’t know but it felt like he wasn’t that good of a guest. He wasn’t really giving you much, short answers, didn’t seem really friendly. And then this was the turning point. He said, “Not really.” But then you probed and all of a sudden he realized, “You know what’s bothered me about the trash on the beach, the plastic on the beach.” and it changed, like his energy changed, the conversation changed and then again as we said you know we’re now here in the future it’s the third time you’ve had him on and he’s been cleaning up the beach. It is mind blowing the difference.

Joshua: Yeah. One of the things I point out to people is that John Lee Dumas you can go to his web page right now. I think it’s Entrepreneurs on Fire. Look it up. I forget the exact URL. And it says in the upper right corner how much money he’s made this month or I guess last month. And it’s always a six-digit number. So six-digit number times twelve is over a million dollars a year. The guy’s making millions a year. He could pay someone to pick up the garbage for him. Most people don’t like getting their hands on garbage. So why does he like doing it? Because he’s not doing it for me. He’s doing it for his own value.

So why didn’t he say that he valued it in the first place? Most people not just… Forget the environment. Well, don’t forget the environment. You know forget about the environment for a moment. Everyone cares about something, about lots of things. But when I share with you what I care about it makes me vulnerable and I say this a lot in class. Recently I realized how to really illustrate this well, like how do you get Superman. He’s invulnerable. You get Lois Lane because he cares about her. And once I know what you care about I can manipulate you, I can make fun of you, I can judge you, I can make you feel bad and so people protect these things. I think that’s what he was getting at when he said, “I don’t really care.” And then actually what he said afterward was maybe you could educate me. Now I don’t find education a particularly effective, education in the form of like giving people facts, a particularly effective way of leading people. And when something’s front page news all the time like he’s plenty well educated. I’m sure if I asked him you know, “What are the facts on global warming, the environment, because it’s not just global warming, I’m sure he’d have plenty to talk about. And I’m sure he’d be pretty knowledgeable. So for him to say, “Why don’t you educate me?” I felt like he was like, “Why don’t I prove wrong your things?” So I wasn’t going to go there. It’s about emotion and what people care about. And I wanted to get there.

Kevin: And that’s powerful. I just jotted down a note for myself the whole Lois Lane Superman thing. I’d never really thought about that. But yeah, you really want to get to somebody, you really want to influence somebody, you need to grab what they care about you know, not fight them with force or overwhelm them with your rightness or whatever it might be.

Joshua: Yeah. I found being right about things is a great way to not have a lot of friends. I say this as a PhD in physics and you know I can geek out as much as anyone but when I do it’s all this like, “Yeah but what about this?” or “But you didn’t think about that.” It’s not very social.

Kevin: Right. Right.

Joshua: And you know John Lee Dumas also inspired me back in the second episode. He was talking about going to the beach with his niece and his neighbors catching on and up until then… It’s funny I mean it’s a funny position where I ask people to act on their environmental values and every now and then someone would say to me, “What about you?” And there’s plenty of things I do but I ask people to do something they haven’t done before. And if everyone that I talked to got me to do something new, I’d be swimming in new things. I mean you know I’ve done like couple hundred conversations so far but sometimes you get so inspired you can’t help it. And John was talking about picking stuff at the beach. And until then I’d heard about plogging which you might have heard of but not everyone has. It’s like it’s a Swedish term and it’s when you run it’s picking up garbage while you run so it’s jogging plus picking up garbage and somehow in Swedish that turns into plogging. And I’ve been thinking about it and I was listening and I was like, “You know next time I’m going to go plogging next time I go running.”

And then I looked back and I realized I had trapped myself in the same way… I kind of relive this over and over again is that it’s so easy to say, “I am going to do X or Y or Z.” And then you start analyzing and planning and you can analyze and plan for a long, long time and never do. And I’ve been doing that because like how do you run and pick up garbage in New York City when every block you could spend an hour picking up garbage on that one block and I don’t want to just only stay in one block. And the solution is not to plan and plan and plan. It’s you just go and figure it out and you’ll figure out somewhat the first time and a little bit more the next time and then after a while it falls together. We had the term analysis paralysis and it’s so easy to get caught in that. And then talking to John was like he liberated me from that. So liberated is another way I feel after those conversations.

Kevin: Well, it’s two points for this. First of all, it would be funny for people to challenge you to do more than you’re already doing. You know when I wrote about our previous conversation when you were on my show you know that part of it was the hook of the guy who only creates one bag of garbage a year. So I think you’re doing your part but you also just triggered a leadership analogy. So this idea of which I hadn’t heard of you know like jogging and picking up garbage along the way like combining the two, first of all, great idea on its own but this idea of integrating a good practice into something you’re already doing. And I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately with the practice of showing appreciation, recognition. Recognition is one of the top drivers of employee engagement and it’s a great way just to be as a human being. And yet in all those employee engagement surveys out there one of the top things that comes up as something we all need to do better is showing appreciation. [unintelligible] say, “We’re not doing enough recognition.” or “I don’t feel recognized at work.”

But I never really thought about it in this like the jogging, the pickup. An effective thing is OK, so if you’re like me a type A, driver, task focused individual, introvert and it doesn’t come natural to you to be thinking about people and thanking them all day, what can you do? You can make it a habit, you can anchor to something you already do. And so for example, most managers have like a weekly staff meeting, a weekly huddle or whatever with their team members. But even if you now just combine the recognition with the team and just start every team meeting with you know 20 seconds of giving a shout out to somebody who deserves it, at least then you know one person once a week will always be getting recognized from you on your team and if you’ve got five, 10, 15 people you know most people are going to get into that hopefully it’s sincere recognition, they’ll get quite a bit of that and I never even thought about that. What I just thought of when you said, “Hey, OK. It’s kind of hard to remember to pick up garbage as you’re out walking in New York.” or “Now I’ve got to schedule time to go pick up garbage.” No, you’re jogging every day for 30 minutes or an hour. What happens if you stop once on the block or just the first you know one minute of your jog to pick up some garbage? Like now it’s become part of something else you already do. I mean it’s pretty powerful.

Joshua: Yeah. You asked the questions and I realized that John helped me realize that to answer the questions was into doing it. Like what does happen if you do that? It’s kind of interesting question and then you do it and the answers that I came up with through experience are different than what I would have anticipated because what it comes through experience is that it’s like you end up doing lunges at roughly random times along the way. And I didn’t expect that my quads would start burning as soon as I did.

And then this is funny, the social element. I want to be ostentatious about it without looking like I am because I want people to be like, “What are you doing?” so I can tell them. So far no one has stopped me but I want people to see that I’m doing it you know. And you have to answer the questions of like, “How do I decide which I pick up and which I don’t pick up? Like I could pick stuff up out of a puddle. I mean maybe someday in the future I’ll put some gloves on but wet stuff I’m not going to pick up. Cigarette butts and smaller too many of them. I’m not going to pick them up. If it’s on the other side of street, I am not going to pick that up.” But it’s kind of like you develop this… Yeah, you develop a habit and the habit kind of forms by doing, not by planning alone.

Kevin: That’s great stuff.

Joshua: I want to go one farther. What you’re talking about appreciation because one of the chapters in your book is on leading with love and some books love will work its way in but often they’re not going to start off by talking about like football or military as like the place where those things would be but it is and is gratitude… Have I made too big of a leap? I feel like love is like a step beyond gratitude or they’re kind of in the same field and it was one of the chapters that resonated with me and maybe I should take a step back. You’re coming out with a book now. We’ve hooked the listeners in by talking about our peers and stuff like that and now we can put that on hold for a second like focus on… It feels like it’s contrarian. You have people describe it that way like you kind of get in the face of people and be like It’s not what you expect but then when you read it’s about how to develop these things.

Kevin: Yeah. Well, that’s right. I mean it’s not from the book titled [unintelligible] Great Leaders Have No Rules to all the chapter titles, they’re intentionally contrarian and attention getting but hopefully not off-putting. And the reality is that I think you know I’m 51. I started my first companies which crashed and burned back when I was in my 20s but basically I’ve been doing this for 30 years, this business stuff for 30 years, and all of the stuff that I was taught from mentors or other bosses about management, the conventional wisdom it pretty much was all wrong, either didn’t work or it was actually counterproductive. And it was only in the last 10 years, maybe 15 years when I just paused to kind of say, “Wait a minute. What’s wrong with that conventional wisdom? What’s a better way to do it?” that I became better as a leader and my businesses took off.

And so that’s where the whole idea of the book is. I like to write so I do a lot of books. It is a great way to hopefully help people. But this is the biggest book I’ve done in 10 years. And yeah. So you’ve you had actually asked about the lead with love. And of course, when I wrote this was about two years ago and like the whole Me Too movement wasn’t as you know at the forefront and all the rest and so it’s kind of a weird time to be saying you know we need more love in the workplace but of course I’m not talking about unwanted love or HR violations. It’s about a way of feeling for your team members and leading. And the conventional wisdom was always… I mean I was told directly to my face by people like, “Leadership is acting you know you can never be or so you have to act like a leader.” I’ve heard others say, “Never get close to your people because, God forbid, you’ve got to fire them or you have to reprimand them, or you have to give one a promotion when there’s two that are qualified.” like never put yourself in that position.

And so for a lot of years I tried to do that. I’m pretty horrible at it anyway. But that is horrible advice. You want to do the opposite. You want to lead with love. And what really opened my mind to it… It’s funny we’re talking about like these little almost like magic moments that can lead to transformations. And I’m not a big sports guy and a legendary basketball coach John Wooden who is a college coach every year, he’d get new players and he would always do the first team meeting with the same speech and he would say, “You know I’m not going to like all of you the same but I will love all of you the same.” And it’s this idea you take it further you know you can hate someone and still love them. You don’t need to like them in order to love them. And it goes all the way back to this Greek concept of like Godlike love. There’s different kinds of love. This is like Godlike, like love for fellow you know person, kind, man and woman. And it’s like the common theme and all the great religions of the world. And at first that was hard for me to really take it to that level like I’m more Zenned out and in touch with my feelings these days. But leaders you should not be withholding attachment feelings or friendly feelings or love feelings in this appropriate way with your team members. I mean people can tell if you care about them or not. When they sense that you care it drives engagement sky high and it’s the right way to serve people, right way to serve people.

Joshua: That’s an interesting contrast of serving others and loving them. And I’m glad that you started off with… You started off with football.

Kevin: Oh, yeah.

Joshua: In the chapter.

Kevin: [unintelligible].

Joshua: Yeah. I thought you’re going to say you wrote it a couple of years ago because you’re in Philadelphia, if I remember right.

Kevin: I’m in Philadelphia, yeah, you’re right.

Joshua: I thought you’re going to say, “I picked Tom Coughlin because they won the Super Bowl then.” But since then Philadelphia has won because I am from Philadelphia.

Kevin: Yeah, well, right. So I had shared the basketball story but the one you’re referring to is… And again like you don’t need to be a New Yorker football fan. But Tom Coughlin was this coach of the giants who was notorious for basically being a hard ass, for being a jerk. It was almost comical because they had what they would call like Tom Coughlin time you know like if the players are supposed to be in the player meeting at twelve o’clock at noon, well, that wasn’t good enough. He would set the clocks like back or ahead five minutes so everyone would actually… You had to be five minutes early to be on time. Just crazy stuff. And then he’d fine you, he’d penalize you like there were hard rules and hard consequences that he tried to put in. And basically he destroyed the team for a while. You know he broke down the relationships, they were not playing well and it’s almost like if it was scripted for a Hollywood movie because they say people can’t change and you’d think this old grizzly football coach would not be able to really change. He did change. He saw that his way was not working and slowly he opened up, got closer to his team members, started hanging out and going bowling and doing these social things, relaxed on the rules a little bit and built some good relationships. They obviously turned the entire team around and to the point where he’s then giving speeches saying, “I love you, guys.” and they’re saying it back. I mean no one would have seen that turnaround. It was like a complete 180.

Joshua: Do you think he saw ahead of time himself? Or did he engineer it? Did he know what he was doing or did he get lucky?

Kevin: You mean in terms of the switch or…?

Joshua: Yeah because what I’m trying to think as a reader, as a practitioner, “Can I learn from him?” Because you’re distinguishing between love and what looks like love but isn’t really love is you know just being nice. He was not being nice. Right?

Kevin: Right.

Joshua: And it’s very easy to be nice and try to be liked as opposed to be likeable which is… That’s like the chapter before. And that’s very different things. And I think you’re illustrating like you can be really hard on someone and that’s actually coming from love. And that’s not to say like you should abuse your child. It’s like this is different. There’s a nuance there that I think you can probably say better than I can.

Kevin: Well, no. I think you have hit on the nuance and I don’t think for Tom Coughlin it was an all premeditated. I think he did what had always worked in an earlier age and that’s like with all of this contrarian wisdom. There’s a reason like where it came from, why it worked at the time it did. But then it no longer works and I think his style no longer worked. And it was only after not making progress and the pain, the discomfort of losing seasons and all of that that he finally changes. It was almost like an intervention. You know when the ownership of the giant said, “Hey, you’ve got to change your style or we might have to make an adjustment here. What you’re doing isn’t working.” When the captains of the players said, “Listen, you know we can’t support what you’re doing any longer.”, when they’re losing more than they’re winning I think that finally like it takes pain to change or a great pleasure or great pain. So I think was only when he had his own you know a Dark Night of the Soul or whatever they call that in storytelling you know the midpoint of that story where he looks in the mirror and says, “The problem is me and I must become a different better person to get to the heroic ending.” And he did it and not everybody can. I mean I think everybody is capable of it. I think everybody’s capable of it. I mean I hear again. It’s not in the book. I hear all the time, “You can’t change people. Personality doesn’t change.” I mean I look at my parents and my dad who’s in his late 70s now is an entirely different person than the person I knew when I was a kid and he was 30 years old. I’ve mellowed and changed in a lot of ways just in the last 15 years. I mean people do change but not everyone changes.

Joshua: While I was reading your book I was trying to think of the motivations to why you took the approach you did. It’s what you’re just saying there about people change but you have to see inside yourself to see things that you didn’t see before. You can’t just tell someone, “See something you never saw before. It’s always been there.” Is that why you took the approach you did to challenge people to get them from off the…? There’s a lot of leadership advice that probably gets a lot of clicks but isn’t that effective?

Kevin: Well, I think I do both. Like you know I’m a straight shooter so Josh, one of the first things I do think about when I think about article titles, blog post titles, book titles et cetera is OK, nothing happens unless you first have attention. You know you do not have the chance to teach someone or to help someone or to change someone if they don’t know you exist and you don’t know they exist. So all persuasion starts with attention and not to derail is too much but I would say you know a large explanation of Trump winning the presidency was his innate persuasion abilities and the very biggest variable in persuasion is attention. So now, for better or for worse, so if you want to get attention you need to be different. Like if you are the same, you and I probably both get people want to write a book, they want to do what we do. How do we start? And one of the things I say to people is listen if you want to write a book about goal setting, you want to go give a speech on goal setting, you want be a consultant about goal setting. If your plan is to tell everybody, “Hey, you need to do SMART goals. They are specific and measurable and blah blah blah.”, forget it because everybody’s heard it already. You’ll be like, “Wait a minute, I’ve already got 10 books on that subject. I already heard three lectures on that topic. It’s not original.”

And so even if you believe that goals are important and they need to be specific and measurable and whatever else, you need to come up with your own acronym, you need to come up with something that’s better than S-M-R-A-T. And so I am calculating in that I want to help people and I know I need to grab attention to do that. You know I’m intentional so the contrarian idea, the contrarian principles is sort of a way to say, “Hey, how can I get some more attention?” but it’s not so much to buy the book or to sell speeches or whatever. It’s really with the goal to hopefully grab attention so people will be interested in change. And in fact, I think I shot myself in the foot. Most people write books and you don’t make money from the books. You make some money if you want from speaking gigs but Great Leaders Have No Rules, there’s no company in the world, no big company in the world that’s going to hire a speaker to come in and say, “Hey, all your stupid rules are stupid. You guys are making a mistake.” So there’s no way like this will hurt my speaking revenue. This will hurt my ability to give the message out live at these kinds of events because no one’s going to pay money to be told that their 400-page employee handbook is crap.

Joshua: Well, they will if it works.

Kevin: Yeah. I don’t know. I hope. You’re less of a cynic than I am apparently.

Joshua: I think that you focus on the person. I mean this book is written for the individual. There is another style of leadership which is if you have a big division and you’re trying to figure out the strategy and planning which is like one too many leadership, I guess, and yours is like this is you as an individual and it’s personal.

Kevin: Well, yeah, I hope that individuals will go out and buy the book and talk about the book. I mean they’re not going to hire me to speak. But you’re right. Because I always say look you know we lead ourselves for self-leadership. We lead at home, we lead our kids, we lead in our relationships and because I’m talking about leadership boiled all the way down to influence. So we influence our teens and the no rules I don’t think parents should have curfews for their kids. I think you should have rules for your kids. Now I’ve got three kids there. They’re great. And maybe I just got lucky. I do not to want to jinx it. But I saw it coming back my father you know when I was young I had older sisters he was all about the rules and like there was a curfew and you know my sisters this was before they were old enough to drive like I think the curfew is 10:00 and I would watch as my father would start to get agitated at 9:50 and then 9:55 and he pacing at 9:58 and then at 10:00 he’s telling my mom, “I knew they were going to miss this curfew.” And then my sisters would come in at 10:05 and he’d be yelling at them and they would be lying, “No, my watch says it’s 9:55.” The whole thing was about what…. You know win every time you bump into rule, now you got me on this, it takes away the opportunity to make a choice, to make a decision. It prevents conversation. And every time you bump into a rule well, OK, all of a sudden if I’ve hit this rule that I didn’t have a say in, there’s no recourse on, it’s obvious that it’s your company, not mine, it’s your family, not mine. And so rules get in the way of conversation, rules get in the way of choice, rules crowd out values.

And so all of a sudden my sisters coming in five minutes late at 10:05 it became an issue about power, about respect, about control, it got emotional and it broke down relationships, it hurt the family. Now I don’t have a curfew for my kids but I have a lot of conversations with them about it. If it’s a Friday night and my girls are going to some high school party, they’re in college now, but I would say you know, “What time are you planning on coming home?” And they would say, “Well, dad it is a really big party and it’s kind of far away. We’re hoping to stay a little bit late.” And then I would say, “Well, OK, you know that I love you guys so much that I worry and I cannot go to sleep at night until I know you guys are home safely. I’m just not going to be able to fall asleep. And remember, oh and your brother, I have to take him to that basketball tournament. I got to get up early. So I got to get up early already. I am not going to be able to fall asleep…” And then they’re like, “Yeah. All right, dad. How about 11:00? Is that OK?” Yes, fine. 11:00. And it’s a conversation that’s now anchored in caring and love and let’s work together you know to make this work for the entire family. It’s a whole different thing. And then whether they come home at 10:55 or 11:05 it’s not a big deal. They’re home at a reasonable hour. And the family’s made stronger for it. And so that again didn’t mean to derail it but that’s the thing it’s like I think that the contrarian titles and things that hopefully get people’s attention but this is all about an individual basis. Every chapter you could apply as a parent, you could apply as a friend, you could apply whether you’re a manager or not. And it certainly applies you know at work.

Joshua: I want to highlight that difference that it’s been a current thread all of what you’re just talking about but you really highlight it at the end of I think a lot of people think of leadership as something that happens at work and maybe if you push them a bit, “Oh, I guess it happens in politics, it happens in coaching, in sports.” but it’s everywhere. And do you also find that people generally tend to think… Like they pick up the leadership book and they’ll practice leadership skills because they want to get ahead in work because it’ll pay them better, I guess. But it’s everywhere. It’s like in every relationship it has the potential to be. And can you highlight more about that?

Kevin: So this is where people will hear that I geek out on leadership because I think leadership is a superpower. And if leadership is influence and you master it you now have influence over your own health, wealth and love, relationships. You now have a superpower and influence that you can shape your family. You can have it at work. Now I learned this the hard way, Josh, because so when back when I was a kid and my sisters were teens they were on the wrong path you know runaways, drugs, high school dropouts. I started drinking and smoking in the third grade and fourth grade and would have followed their path but there was something that kind of shook me and I was able in high school to stay focused with… I had discovered self-leadership and I became the first kid in my family to go to college and all this stuff. Great. But then I started a business. It failed. I didn’t know any about leadership at work. Then I did another one. It failed. Still didn’t know. It took the third one before I finally figured it out at work and I was like great, you know I got the self-leadership, I got this leadership work, I got the world all figured out. And then it was just over 10 years ago I sold a previous company for the biggest you know exit yet. I mean it’s like hitting the lottery you know life changing amount of money and that day I go home and you know I had signed the papers and the acquiring comes, I got it, “We wired the money over you, on your account.” and all this stuff and I get home and I say to my wife like, “Hey, you know crazy day, you know let’s just make sure the money is sitting there in our account.” She sits down, she opens up the laptop, she goes into the bank account, I’m standing looking over her shoulder and I see this you know millions of dollars are sitting in this account and I’m thinking like took five years, a lot of hard work, a lot of risk, a lot of people told me not to do it, a lot of people told me I couldn’t do it like this is amazing. It’s like hitting the lottery but not just luck like you feel like you earned a little bit. And then my wife says, “Wow, I could take half, leave you tomorrow and never work another day the rest of my life.” And then she laughed like it was a joke. And I kind of laughed. You know well, it’s funny. Then I thought well, even as a joke it’s kind of a weird thing to popped into someone’s head right now.

Joshua: I would agree. Yeah.

Kevin: Six days later, Josh, six days she sits me down and says, “All right, Kevin, we got to work on this marriage or I want to call it a quit while we’re young enough to find other people.” Six months later we’re separated. Six months after that she’s engaged to the guitar player at church while I had mastered the self-leadership, while I had mastered work leadership and I thought that’s all there was. I discovered that I had not been leading, I had not been influencing at home for five years and it broke up the marriage. Now anytime a relationship breaks up it’s not like it’s all anybody’s fault. There’s a lot of factors. However, I wasn’t even mindful of my role. And that’s why I say leadership really isn’t a choice. If leadership is influence, you’re either just leading in the right direction or the wrong direction. There’s research really clear on this. If you are a parent who makes it home to eat dinner four nights or more a week with your teenagers and I’m not throwing stones, I don’t always do it. But if you do, your kids are more likely to avoid drugs, avoid sexual promiscuity and unsafe sexual practices, their grades are higher and all the rest. So if you make it over dinner, you’re leading in a direction of you know what most would consider better you know kid practices, kid behaviors. But that also means if you don’t make it home for dinner four nights or more a week, your kids are more likely to experiment with drugs, experiment with sex have worse grades. Same thing with your marriage. If you have date night, if you make it home Thursday nights and go out on that date and really have good focus time, your marital quality will be higher, your marital intimacy will be higher. But that also means if you don’t make time for date night and I never did, your marital quality goes down, your marital intimacy goes way down. So it’s not like we just sit on the sidelines. It’s not like we could be neutral or infinite. You’ve got a choice. Your every action has an outcome. So are you influencing in the direction you want to be going in or is your lack of action or different action influencing into a negative direction? And so that’s where I do feel like people will look at this book you know in the bookstores and say, “Oh, it’s a business leadership book.” but hopefully the message will spread like, “Hey, this isn’t just about leading at work. It’s about all these unusual things we can start doing at home as well.”

Joshua: So you had to pay the price to learn.

Kevin: Yeah, right. Stiff price.

Joshua: Others can learn from your mistakes so they can make more minor mistakes or better mistakes themselves.

Kevin: That’s right.

Joshua: Now I want to ask you on a personal…[unintelligible] listen to my podcast you’ve heard the leadership. I wonder if you have advice for me to improve what I do on the Leadership and the Environment podcast?

Kevin: Well, you know I don’t know that I would have advice like I look up to you. One of the things you’re doing great is for example your daily blog habit which is amazing. And I like most people who do podcasts and blogs I often miss days or even a couple of weeks because I think I don’t have the time. And you’ve both made it a habit and given yourself permission to write a blog post that might be you know one or two paragraphs instead of me it’s like, “Oh, wait a minute. When am I going to have the time to write a fifteen-hundred-word perfect essay type thing?” So I mean I look up to you, Josh, as someone who inspires me to do more of those kinds of things and you know you’ve got amazing guests and all the rest. I mean I think you’re setting the example for the rest of us.

Joshua: Well, now wait, I’m learning from you though because you have great guests. I mean you’ve these posts that are really big posts like the industry looks at like these are really important things like your list of good speakers and so forth.

Kevin: Well, I choose my shots and I make a lot of friends but I think you’re doing the same thing. I mean we you know we have a lot of mutual friends like Dorie Clark in New York and she’s a great example, another great example of someone who has a huge network built from the right reasons meaning she just will help people. She’ll help strangers. And that’s how she helped me with something years ago and she became a friend for life. So you know I think that what you’re doing by its nature takes some explaining. People think, “What Leadership and the Environment? Is this about being a vegan or is this about leadership or is this…?” like they don’t know. And what I find is that again maybe is cynical but people go back to what they know and they want quick fixes. So I want health, I want wealth, I want love, I want to get rich, I want six pack abs or whatever. And you actually you know you have six pack abs and you know people need to discover you in order to realize all that you have to offer and what the show is about. But that’s only thing I say it is you’ve got a unique show and it’s not going to fit people’s traditional categories that they already have in their mind.

Joshua: I’m playing around with this idea of love and challenge because just before talking to you I was talking to a longtime friend I haven’t talked to in like 20 years. We’re teammates in college and sports. And I took the opportunity to… I don’t do it on this podcast but there are times and I’ll just vent and rant and it’s totally ineffective I believe. And so he’s you know partner at Bain and he’s like a big time. Well, now he’s not consulting anymore. He’s moved on to other things. But you know [unintelligible] one of these places like they’re very good at developing leadership and developing things and others and making them effective and so forth. And really he listened to me vent and his response, everyone’s response is usually it’s like, “Well, what about you?” or “What about this?” and arguing back. In he’s like, “You know, Josh, I hear the kernel of what you’re saying. I think it’s this.” He picked out what he’s trying to say and offered to help me… He didn’t actually offer. He started to help me to think of how to make it effective. I don’t know. I really look forward to… [unintelligible]. Talking to him for the first time in 20 years and I’m like, “How about a rant?” And he makes it into something to improve on. And I think he sensed… I don’t know how this is going to sound because I don’t normally talk this way. I think he sensed that it was coming from a place of love even though it sounded like a self-serving you know “I just want to get this out off my chest.” which is like all about me not about you but underneath… Maybe a lot of rants… Now you’ve got me thinking.

Kevin: No, but Josh, you hit on a really good point and that’s what I like. Like you said the phrase like “coming from a place of love” and like Kim Scott who wrote the book Radical Candor talks about giving feedback from a place of caring. And if there’s a rant or there’s feedback as a manager, as a leader, that’s coming from frustration or negative emotion or whatever it is, well, then that’s unhealthy. That’s a rant and you’re being negative, your bumming people out, your firing off the wrong neurons you know in your brain and all the rest. But if it’s coming from a place of love and caring and frustration about trying to help other people or to get better whatever it is, then that’s just emotional honesty, that’s just being emotionally honest with someone who you trust or who has earned the right to hear it. I think there is a big difference and I think again in this crazy world of so many relationships and communication and noise emotional honesty can be a good thing. It can be a good thing.

Joshua: Well, I think in terms of effectiveness you really have to be careful because it’s easy to say… Here’s what gets me it’s like I’m just being honest. Well, being honest that’s still can be about you. And people can feel like… It’s really hard to put the other person first. Really hard. I mean it’s easy when you agree but it’s when people disagree is that’s one that counts, that’s when it’s really important.

Kevin: That’s right.

Joshua: And I can tell you that yes, it’s coming from a place of love in the sense of this environmental stuff for me… Yeah, there’s certainly an aesthetic beauty of the environment that’s important to me but to me but to me it’s really a sense of responsibility to others and how my behavior affects other people. Nonetheless what I was saying with him it was still like… Well, people weren’t there to hear it so I can say it was from a place of love and it was also… I think a big piece of love is wanting the other to benefit you know even at your expense and that’s not where I was when I was saying it.


Joshua: So I’m going to get back to the environment and what we talked about before. So you know what I like to do here and actually this is going to be interesting because you’ve listened to a lot of episodes and I want to do the process with you. And even when you know what’s going on I think the environment is something people care about enough and actually people care about lots of things enough that it doesn’t have to be just about the environment. But when you think about the environment, what do you think about? What does it mean for you?

Kevin: Well, we had talked about this previously not being recorded and if you had asked me that cold, you know I would have had a similar answer to John Lee Dumas. It’s not that I didn’t care but I would just say that it really like global, the climate change stuff and how it’s gotten politicized you know pisses me off like I do care. I care about the planet. I care about the environment. I care about the animals that have to live on the planet but I’ll add, Josh, that the first time we talked about this and I thought I’m a guy who cares a little about the environment. And this was so embarrassing to me. I know you did not mean this to be. We were on video talking and I was drinking from a plastic water bottle in my own home. So it’s not even like I had the lame excuse of like, “Oh, I was out on the road and just was so parched I had to go into the 7-Eleven and buy a bottle of water.” I was in my own house and it was just so convenient to have these pre filled you know this is a story I’m telling myself to have this by the door and my kids would take it on the way of school. I was very embarrassed that when I realize I’m having this conversation with you I was drinking from plastic water bottle.

And so you don’t even know this. Like you’ve not officially challenged me yet but just from that pre interview talk when you were on my show like a year ago almost or half a year ago whenever that was I changed and I stopped buying the disposable plastic water bottles and now you know like I’m grabbing it right now, I’m drinking from a reusable water bottle and have gotten pretty good but that might tease what a challenge would be. And that sparked even more like one of my three kids in particular Natalie is extra attuned to the environment. And you know, Josh, it is kind of popular right now like the no straw thing and all that but she awakened me to that that I was not aware of. And to the point now where I don’t just tell the restaurants and things like, “Hey, no straw, you know no, thank you.” kind of thing but I was in a hotel, I travel a lot and their little water area like in the lobby for people was all with water and coffee and it was all plastic cups and plastic stirs. And I tweeted to the CEO while I was standing in there, I took a picture that “Hey, I really love your hotel. I spent a lot of money here every year. What would make it even better is if you guys at least switched to paper cups you know paper or recyclable stirrers and not plastic.” You know it’s still like it’s a lot has happened since the last time we talked. And I know there’s a lot more I could be doing but you already had that effect on me from the very first conversation.

Joshua: Well, that’s a lot of stuff that happened from one water bottle.

Kevin: Yeah, yeah. And that was never like I know you’re really cautious like you never try to make anybody feel bad or guilty like you’ve told me like, “I’m not trying to make people feel guilty.” I did feel guilty not you know I made myself feel guilty when I just became aware of the conversation I was having with you, felt my values a little bit more and then looked at the plastic water bottle, I’m like, “OK, this is absolutely ridiculous.”

Joshua: So the words of the emotions that I heard, I heard shame, I heard guilt, I think if I remember right but I don’t feel like the action that you took came from them. And of course I also heard a connection with the children and I guess they’re leading you in some sense. So it feels like there’s something there that you didn’t actually come out and say of the caring. Where’s that coming from? Is there a root for it?

Kevin: I don’t know if there’s a root for it. You know I think that it’s interesting. I think you know change comes from emotion, not logic. And I think that when I think about what triggers emotionally this change and ongoing change and like you know I eat maybe ninety-five percent plant based and that was a change that happened about three years ago. And then like the water bottle thing was more recently but if I think about so why did I decide to go plant based and all the rest like what anchored it it would be a logical decision that I wouldn’t stick with. But then what would anchor it is like the visual reminders. I mean you just go on Instagram and look at the islands of plastic floating in the ocean. And when you get back from throwing up in the trash can it has had an effect that makes it easier for you not to drink from a one-time use plastic water bottle. And I think with a… Similarly, like people hate the documentaries about you know animal cruelty and our food supply and all the rest but they’re pretty effective. I mean you actually become educated but not in a read it logical fashion but see it and hear it and all of that. I think it’s anchoring and oddly like if I’m trying to get in touch with my feelings, well, where’s it coming or what do I care about, it seems like I care more about like just the animals and the planet than the humans. You know the strife among you know politically et cetera among humans like yeah, I care, but like animals you can’t blame them. They’ve done no part of this. They’ve had no part of this problem, this craziness on the planet. And so in some ways I just feel like that guilt about making that negative impact Mother Earth and the animals more than I guess the value of nature and the animals even more than other humans.

Joshua: So it sounds like if there’s a negative impact that we’re having then, there’s a positive thing that’s there that’s being negatively influenced. And I guess it’s animals and nature on its own. When you say that to me I’m thinking sunsets and rainbows and the things about nature that we really love.

Kevin: Yeah. I think that’s part of it. You know I think about the irony here is I’m not a huge outdoor guy like if my friends hear this podcast, they’re going to start laughing you know because like when you talk about rainbows and sunsets like yeah, that’s great and I love those and when I travel I try to see those from great places. To me it’s more like hiking you know in the woods and just like even right now I’m in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and you know out the backyard you know we’ve got deer and fox and just seeing them out there and you know and I’ve also you know you see or I’ve seen plenty of negative impact on animals you know just from bad stuff like you know getting caught up in the in the plastic netting. You know I’ve seen that around my house. You know animals getting trapped in construction sites. I’ve seen like crazy stuff of animals interacting with human’s impact in nature. You know and I think if anything like that has anchored me more on some of this than anything else.

Joshua: I think that there might be something that you’re… There’s a lot of people out there that might react to what you’re saying and say you care about animals more than you care about people. And I don’t think that you care about animals more than you care about people. Although one might interpret it that way. Or maybe you do. I’m not sure. Is there a distinction or is it…?

Kevin: I don’t know. I mean look, Josh, there’s a lot of innocent people out there too. You know humans are animals. We are animals. So I mean I think we’re in that but I just think day to day you know I don’t think so much about, “Oh you know I shouldn’t use one time use plastic because it’s hurting my fellow man. I think about one time use plastic choking whales.” You know that’s just the way my mind works. I’m not really thinking about the longer term like I mean logically I think about it but it’s hard to have that emotional feeling like we need to stop climate change because my great, great, great, grandchildren might die from it. Well, I don’t know those people you know they’re not here yet. So it’s hard to have that emotional connection. When I see you know there’s people living on an island in the Pacific that are going to have to vacate because the ocean’s rising. I do care about their plight and their situation. You know so it’s like the more immediate impact is what gets me more than the longer term impact.

Joshua: OK. So humans we haven’t at least the humans that you and I talk with haven’t been impacted so much. If I’m reading you right, and tell me if I’m getting wrong, it’s not necessarily the animals but it’s the here and now.

Kevin: Yeah. I think that’s probably right. I’ve never thought it through. You can see the here and now on animals much more than you see it on humans. So you know it gets popularized as well. Oh my gosh, shrinking icebergs and polar bears starving to death like you start to see the short term more immediate impact I think on animal life more easily than you see it on humans and in a dramatic way. Because OK, you know if you live in Miami Beach and now your house is getting flooded every year and never used to, boo hoo you’re a rich person that’s got to move inland. So it’s hard to get emotionally triggered in the short term because humans are coping you know and not taking the right action globally but like we have coping mechanisms. Animals don’t. So I think it’s more just that is that you see in nature a polluted stream where all the garbage you know out there you see the animals you know getting impacted by climate change or garbage or plastic or whatever that is. So I think it is just more the immediate effects that are more triggering for me.

Joshua: OK. That makes a lot of sense and because I didn’t feel like you’re neglecting people and now when you say it in the way you said it I’m thinking animals are like the canary in the coal mine. The effects are visible. If the effects hadn’t been visible, it might not be a big deal. But now they’re visible and unignorable and I feel like that’s what’s triggering you.

Kevin: Canary in the coal mine. A really good analogy on that.

Joshua: As I was saying it, maybe more literal than that.

Kevin: Yeah. Right. Exactly.

Joshua: So now I see when you look at that water bottle then you’re thinking, “I’m doing these things that are revolting or that are…”

Kevin: Right. Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s all identity. Like identity is the most powerful thing that drives our behaviors, for good or for bad. And so if my identity is to live in a way, you know to live in a reasonable way… So now I’m qualifying because like you can always do more. But like my identity is that I am a good person. You know I’m a progressive, I’m a good person when it comes to the planet. And if I’ve got a freaking water bottle on my desk, that is in conflict with my identity. That tells me I’m a jerk. So that’s a pretty easy change you know pretty easy change. But Josh, where I get confused is there’s always more. So for example you do this amazing thing which is you won’t get on an airplane because of the carbon footprint. Is that right?

Joshua: In a couple of weeks I’ll start year four without flying.

Kevin: OK. There you go. So you have made this decision or you have this value and have this practice of you won’t get on airplane. I get on a lot of airplanes. And so I know that if I really cared about the planet, I wouldn’t get on that airplane. And so I don’t know. When you mentioned like well you could spend all day long cleaning up one block in New York City and you and I are stead having this conversation so I feel like what are the tradeoffs or how far do you go. Like how do you navigate that kind of pros and cons?

Joshua: Well, there’s a couple of things. To answer your most recent thing, the last question is I think it’s the same thing about what I was saying earlier. I could ask questions forever. Ultimately I have to do something that will give me the answers more than thinking. And so the not flying came from… I gave myself a challenge of could I go for a year without flying and that itself emerged from a challenge I gave myself to go for a week without packaged food. And so the acting is what gets the questions answered. Otherwise you can go on in circles forever. And as I said I had to relearn that over and over again in my life. John Lee Dumas got me off of it with the plogging and got me to do stuff.

Now the bigger question of… Broadly I would say if you have to fix everything before you do anything, you’ll never get anything done. You know you’re not going to be able to start anything. And I used to think little things were so small they weren’t worth doing. And so when I first heard about straws I was like if the entire planet stopped using straws it doesn’t really change much at all. I’ve changed that view a lot. There’s a client of mine who works at a big company that burns a lot of fossil fuels. And he started picking up from me like bringing less garbage into his house. And so one time we’re on a coaching call and he tells me how it took him three weeks to take his garbage out. And I’m not coaching him on that. I’m coaching on… He’s a science background. he’s moving on to leadership and so I’m helping with that. Later he tells me how the skills that he learned in getting less garbage into his house he used to make decisions at work but there are those decisions affect like all of Latin America for this company. So I’ve changed my view that from a leadership perspective it’s not carbon dioxide is not causing global warming. Carbon dioxide is a molecule that bounces around. It has no volition. It can’t choose what it does. People seem to be able to choose what we can do and it’s our behavior that’s causing the carbon dioxide and methane and so forth and plastic in the oceans and so forth. And it’s our beliefs and things. It’s us our behavior that’s we can do something about that. The rest is effects of those things. And that’s a matter of skills. And I teach behavioral change and what I’m getting at is that it’s the skills that you develop. If you thought that little things didn’t make a difference, you’d have to say that learning scales would never get you to Carnegie Hall because scales nothing like playing Carnegie Hall. And yet as far as I know everyone who plays at Carnegie Hall played more scales than anyone else. And it’s the skills that you develop. And so you’ve got to start with where you are. If you don’t know how to play piano, you start with the scale. And if you don’t know how to act, you got to start with this simple acting exercise. And if you don’t know how to act on the environment, you start where you are and if straws are where you are, start with there. But if you don’t do the little things, the big things will always remain big. And if all you got is little things, start with the little things. Just if you want to play at Carnegie Hall, you got to play some scales. If you want to play Wimbledon, you’ve got to start with the ground strokes or even just like what is a racket, what are the rules of the game. You’ve got to start with where you are. And every now and then someone who just was avoiding bringing packaged food into his home decides something for all of Latin America that happens to save the company a lot of money but also happens to have a more benign effect on its Latin America policy. And so we all affect a lot more than we think. If we don’t have the skills, we never will.

So you might say that you have less plastic in your home but I hear that you’re exercising skills that as you keep developing them you will master them and then they will become like all skills… As far as I can tell, with skills when you master them they become effortless, they become how you operate and they become an expression, an extension of yourself and you do them because it feels so natural that what else did you do. Just like you’re going to see a rock star perform on stage. That person had to train and train and train and training but now they’re just being themselves and you love seeing them have fun. That’s what it becomes. It’s like great performers have fun in what they do. Yeah, it takes a lot of training, probably big butterflies before they go on stage or to perform once they’re out there, they’re having fun. I’m having fun. Like not flying is not… I went through a lot of work at the beginning because I just knew how to do a lot of jobs and you know there were things I couldn’t go to. But then I replaced it with community and people around me and connecting with… I mean it’s what you replace it with and you replace it with things that you value more. So that’s my long answer.

And so let me go back to you. So now we’ve talked about a lot of the disgust and the shame and the guilt but that seems to be coming from what you felt you were contributing to that was against your identity and you didn’t like that and so that motivated you a lot. And I think I’m hearing you’re up for another and so you know the constraints I put on… If you’re up for acting on this part of you, thank you for sharing, because it put you out there and so you know it’s not to fix all the world’s problems overnight and it can’t be telling other people what to do and it can’t be something you’re already doing, although you keep doing those if you want, and has a measurable difference so education and awareness are fine but something that is materially measurable.

Kevin: Well, this was what I was going to ask you, Josh, is like this you know I wish I hadn’t changed from our first conversation because it makes this harder because… Where do I fall down on the plastic water bottles is I’m really good now like in the home environment and now we just have them ready to go even for the kids instead of grabbing you know the pre-filled one people fill it up. That’s all good. Driving around neighborhood – it’s all good. I travel a lot and that’s where it falls down. I seem to be forgetting and it makes me think I’m not you know valuing it enough and not creating a habit out of it. If I head to the airport, then I’ve got nothing with me and I go through TSA and then it’s like whoops, I need water for the airplane and I’ll go buy a couple of plastic water bottles and I drink them on the airplane and I get to the hotel, I’m really thirsty and so I use plastic water bottles and like for four out of the five days while I’m on the road I’m back to using the one time plastic and I’ve never carried through this habit of like bringing an unfilled water bottle through in my luggage or you know strapped onto my backpack or whatever through the TSA check and then filling it up somewhere inside the airport and then just carrying it around. I mean part of me is like, “Josh, that’s cheating because I already picked the water bottle thing and kind of did that.” But the reality is I’m horrible like I’m still using the water bottles when I travel. And so that’s the first one that would come to mind is like let me carry this through to all the travel times that I’m using the water bottles.

Joshua: Well, that certainly fits all the criteria that I have of if it’s not something you’re already doing, then it’s something new and has some measurable material difference because you’d be not getting new water bottles. And I can tell you, the professor in me, if I get a question like that from a student in class I’d say, “Well, try for a week if you can and come back and tell us how it went.” That’s exactly what the podcast is about. And I can tell you that you can answer me better. I’ll tell you this. If you don’t allow yourself to get water bottles when you travel, I can guarantee that you’re not going to die and you’re going to come out with awareness. If all you do is just simply not get any water when you’re out and only water fountains and then when you get to the hotel drink with the cup that’s… There’s a mug in a hotel room or just put your hand under the faucet you know you’re not going to die and you’re going to come back and give answers that you can… You’re going to be able to answer your questions better than I can.

Kevin: All right, cool. Well, that’s my new challenge then. Get this to the next level.

Joshua: And how long do you think it’ll take for it to sink in?

Kevin: Well, I get on my first airplane on in two days but like I would love to have this go for a couple of months and check back in and say I like because you know it takes and depends on how you count it months to sixty-seven days to form a habit. I’d like to check in at like two or three months to say how it’s going.

Joshua: OK. So after we get off let’s schedule the next conversation for then if that’s okay with you.

Kevin: Yeah.

Joshua: Oh, by the way, one of the things I say to a lot of people is that one of the big challenges is travel is when things aren’t as much under your control. The other big challenge is people. Maybe you’ll be travelling and you’re traveling with someone and they come back and be like, “Hey, I got you some water.” And I don’t know the answer. Different people handle things in different ways. What doesn’t work is to say, “It didn’t work. I give up.” but some people are like totally hard line like, “If someone buys me a hamburger. I’m not going to eat it. I don’t eat meat.” But some people, “My mom is like if someone offers it I’ll take it. But I generally don’t eat it.” And but some people are like, “I tried it. I failed. I can’t do it again. I’m a failure.” I don’t know what strategy works for you but that last one generally it’s not long term effective or it’s long term effective but not at getting results one wants.

Kevin: Yeah. No. Good reminder on that. I’m not an all-or-nothing kind of person on that.

Joshua: So you jumped into one of the bigger challenges like you’re doing it when you’re travelling so you’re saying maybe it’s not big enough but I think you’re saying that but I don’t see it that way.

Kevin: All right. Good. Good.

Joshua: And then I will comment that I don’t think I’ve touched a water bottle of any type in I mean years. I take it back. I was at a restaurant the other day and I had a water bottle on the table. It was a wine bottle that had water in it. I don’t know if that counts but…

Kevin: I don’t think that counts.

Joshua: I haven’t put a water bottle in a bag or carried a water bottle with me for five years – 10 years. I don’t know. I’m very mystified where people decided… When I was a kid bottled water was in as far as I knew it was viewed like this European hoity-toity thing that was like “Why do you need bottled water?” And somehow, I don’t know when it happened that people felt like if they went for longer than some, I don’t know what amount of time… Did they feel like they’re going to die? I don’t know what. and I’m very mystified by this. I guess the change happened because the marketers… To me it seems the marketers won. They’re like, “We’re going to sell bottled water. We are going to sell you something that you can get for free, in fact, your taxes pay for and it’s generally just from a different tap.” It’s rarely from the stream and or from Fiji and who knows how much fuel was used to get it there and now we’re learning with the plastic leaches into stuff.” It’s totally mystifying to me.

Kevin: I agree that I don’t know where it came from but I think there’s a difference between the branded bottled water experience and the general hydration. They are probably related but then hydration for health movement or whatever because I think people… But maybe this was the brand story it’s like, oh, we used to be a country that just consumed Coca-Cola like sugary bubbly stuff. Water is so much healthier than that. It’s like that’s the thing you want to do is now you’re walking around or at a restaurant and you’re ordering water. Maybe that’s part of it. Then obviously the marketers did a great job. I don’t understand why people are willing to pay for something that especially in developed countries the stuff that comes out of your tap is often cleaner than what you’re buying in the bottled water. But anyway…

Joshua: Sorry I have to interject because if drinking water is a healthy alternative to soda and the reason most people drink bottled water is to avoid soda that means that soda is normal and this is the alternative and which is even more of a marketers win than making water normal.

Kevin: Definitely. Definitely. I mean all the way from the start. But I think there’s a subset of the water like I’m a subset of the water drinkers who push a lot of water. You know my previous book was about productivity and time management and like there’s not a lot of good research about, “Oh, you know eight glasses a day. And by the time you feel thirsty you know it’s too late.” There actually is not a whole lot of good research to support those kind of claims. But there seems to be decent research around when you wake up in the morning, you’re about 1 percent dehydrated just from you know expiration and stuff overnight and decent studies showing that dehydration every percent more does impair your ability to focus, to I.D.A., willpower you know all the mental deep focus kind of things, decision making. And so I do think water…. I push a lot of water because I do think it helps me to feel more energized and to think more clearly and I think it helps me with appetite control a little bit as well. So I like drinking a lot of water but I don’t get why anybody thinks it was ever a good idea to pay one to four dollars a bottle for you know like said something from springs on the other side of the world that’s now been trucked in and now has plastic in it and stuff.

Joshua: When you’re saying that it helps I.D.A. I’m like how many people who… That’s the reason for…

Kevin: No, that’s not that many people. What I was going to get at was like how many people who are trying to improve their mental skills or mental faculties also have a smartphone with them which is like…? That effect is not going to be one percent effect. That’s going to be a bigger effect.

Kevin: Very big effect. I totally agree. Yeah. But that goes back to, not to derail it, but like I am fascinated by you know there’s always more to do. You know so OK, I’m drinking water but now I should also shut my smartphone out. OK. I’ve done that. That’s cool. But I should also play binaural audio beats at a certain decibel level because that helps. OK. Now I’m doing that. OK but I should also get up every 50 minutes and get my cardiovascular rate going. OK, I am doing that. Like there’s always more and I don’t have the answer you know why… You know you are the most environmentally conscious person…

Joshua: Not conscious. Sorry to interrupt. It’s behavior, it’s not a mental thing. Everyone cares, as far as I can tell everybody cares, everyone’s aware, everyone’s conscious. It’s behavior. That’s…

Kevin: OK, so you have the best behavior of anyone I’ve ever met and yet there’s always more you could do like if you’re currently living in a 200 square foot apartment to try to minimize your footprint, well you can always live in a 100 square foot apartment or you can always say, “I’m going to live in a cabin in the woods and grow my own vegetables and that would be even less of a footprint. So I don’t know.”

Joshua: That’s why leadership is the first word in the title because it’s not just environment. It is leadership and you’ve got to start where people are.

Kevin: But this is like a real Kevin to Josh question like “Where do you stop or start?” Like you know I always struggle with that.

Joshua: I didn’t even plan any of this. It’s all…

Kevin: You’re not event thinking about it. It is just how you’re doing.

Joshua: The biggest change probably was when I gave myself the challenge to go for a week without a packaged food and I really had no expectation that it would go anywhere. I didn’t plan for it. And if someone told me then that not long from then I would go for 16 months to fill one small load of garbage, I would have been like, “No way. That’s not possible.” And what got me there was not about trying to… Yes, it’s related to environmental issues but what really made it happen was how delicious the food was, how much money I was saving, how much more it convenient was. People think eating healthy is expensive. Not knowing how to cook is expensive and cooking from scratch it takes me less time because I cook lots of meals at once. You know actually I want to talk through the siren outside. My pressure cooker finished cooking while we were talking and it’s just sitting there. I’ve got a stew, it’s probably like five meals with the food. And so most of the cooking happened while I was talking to you. And so I chop vegetables, that was maybe 10 minutes chopping, and that’s five meals so we’re talking…. 10 divided by five, so it’s like two-minutes prep time per meal. Very convenient. Whereas if I’ve had to go to a restaurant every time… I don’t know people who get multiple meals at a restaurant and take stuff in a doggy bag. But that’s a whole other issue of all that packaging.

Anyway. I want to wrap up not because I don’t… Because I want to start next time where we are now with your experience. Anything I didn’t think to ask to bring up this time that we wouldn’t get you next time or any message directly that you want to get to the listeners?

Kevin: Well, the only messages like you did it better than I did which is you know all of this conversation is actually a leadership conversation. And that’s what the point of my book is it’s you know whether you know you’re just trying to influence yourself in your personal life or whether you’re trying to have a better family life or have a positive influence at work we are all leading all of the time and so whether it’s about you know closing your metaphorical open door policy or loving people who you might not like. All of this is really just a leadership issue that can be applied anywhere so I think it’s all wrapped up together.

Joshua: And Great Leaders Have No Rules comes… Is it already out or is it not out yet?

Kevin: April 2. April 2.

Joshua: So April 2 available everywhere I take it?

Kevin: Yes.

Joshua: And can you share where people can find you and things like that?

Kevin: Yeah. Absolutely. So you know again any online Amazon.com, bookstores. All that’s good. And then for myself you know my company is called Lead X. It’s leadx.org. Anybody that goes to leadx.org you can get a free trial of all kinds of leadership training and coaching online. And of course you can just email me kevin@leadx.org or I’m on social media. Love to chat. I’ve got the Lead X leadership podcast where you know a lot of the… Josh, you and interview a lot of the same great people and I don’t ask them about the environment but I have good conversations.

Joshua: Kevin Kruse, I look forward to next time and thank you very much.

Kevin: Thanks, Josh.


My prediction – Kevin will face challenges he didn’t expect. He’ll feel like giving up. He won’t give up and he’ll learn more than he expected. What he’ll learn I can’t say but I can say that we listeners will hear how someone who writes about how to handle challenges handles challenges. In the meantime, Kevin’s book is Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business.

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