—Systemic change begins with personal change—

283: Nadya Zhexembayeva, part 2: The Reinvention Guru


Nadya indulged me in taking this podcast in new directions after listeners said they'd like to hear more unscripted conversation for a more human conversation. Before starting recording, we talked about the difference between celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and the 50th anniversary of walking on the moon. You'll hear that we spoke and got along swimmingly for a while. Then we began misunderstanding each other for about half the conversation, talking past each other. It wasn't my intent, but conversations like it happen all the time. Sometimes I'm in them, others I hear others get stuck in them. I don't know if you'll find it entertaining, tragic, or what. It was certainly frustrating in the moment, but Nadya and I were doing this not to annoy but to understand. By the end, we didn't wrap everything up, but I think we came out okay. Before posting I asked if she was okay with it and she responded with an enthusiastic yet. So by popular demand, you get to hear how conversations on the environment often go, even after years of practice, even between people who overwhelmingly agree with each other. I think she genuinely meant it about recognizing the process of coming to understanding, which she differentiates from agreement, necessitates the kind of conversation we had. I'm realizing I have to speak accurately every time, though I recognize that even then, people misunderstand each other. In any case, amid our talk about mines and litter, she took her challenge seriously and didn't give up on it. On the contrary, she added to it, and, as I heard, it augmented the rest of her life.

189: Nadya Zhexembayeva, part 1: Sustainability is not enough


Nadya and I mostly talk about business and sustainability. She describes what she saw growing up in the dissolution of Kazakhstan, where she saw the opposite of sustainability. I can't describe what she saw, but you'll hear the craziness of collusion, economic collapse, political collapse, and so on. She talks about how business works best when sustainable. I tend to agree. Tangential to what Nadya and I covered, when companies influence government to distort a market -- say with subsidies for fossil fuels, paying for a military to maintain supply lines that everyone pays for, roads that I agree I benefit from but don't use nearly as much as others yet I pay for, and farm subsidies for meat, I could go on -- unsustainable companies can profit. So companies that pollute but the public pays to clean up, or for other reasons we don't accurately account for their costs, can sustain themselves profitably while not have a sustainable business model. As a matter of accurate accounting, a prerequisite for capitalism, I support taxing pollution and extraction. I can't believe people who support capitalism aren't clamoring for these taxes, while relieving taxes in other places -- I'm not saying more taxes: accurate taxes. Anyway, Nadya loves business, as she describes and she cares about environmental sustainability. We talk about this sort of thing: accurately, mutually beneficially, creating value. I'm glad she values meaning and how we can create it for each other in the style of Victor Frankl. She talks about how we treat sustainability as a chore. It's not enough. She talks about he we need to create meaning in everything, certainly our environmental action. I agree. That's why I name this the Leadership and Environment podcast, where leadership means involving meaning, value, purpose, passion, joy -- missing from the conversation, crowded out by coercion, compliance, doom, and gloom.

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