Nearly everyone treats acting on the environment as a burden or chore---especially would-be leaders who don't do what they say others should. They lead people to inaction. Effective leaders don't discourage. I find role models to inspire me. Vince Lombardi tops many people's lists of all-time top coaches. The NFL named the Superbowl trophy after him. His teams dominated the game. He shared the core of his ethos in a short essay, What It Takes to Be Number 1. It is an ethos of integrity, of finding your best and living your best. Acting on the environment in this time of crisis brought out my best and continues to. I am acting to bring out the best in you and everyone. I haven't accomplished what Lombardi has, so I'm sharing his message and applying it to acting on the environment. I won't tell anyone to stop spreading facts, figures, doom, gloom, and coercion, but I think they'll get more results sharing something more like Lombardi did. I believe it will be more effective. It will be a lot more fun too. Here's his essay: What it takes to be number one By Vince Lombardi Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay, and I don’t ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win. Every time a football player goes to ply his trade he’s got to play from the ground up – from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That’s O.K. You’ve got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you’ve got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second. Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization – an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win – to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don’t think it is. It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they are there – to compete. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules – but to win. And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat. I don’t say these things because I believe in the ‘brute’ nature of men or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour — his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear — is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.
Click here for the video of this episode ". . . but what I do doesn't matter . . ." Regular listeners know I can't stand this phrase. If you're like most people, you want to act on the environment. You want to make sure you make a difference and fear wasting your time or doing pointless work. I felt that way before I started the path that led to this podcast. Taking initiative overcame it. I wrote my book, Initiative, on taking initiative based on the course I've taught at corporations and NYU to stellar student reviews and videos. If you want to make a difference on something you care about to help a community and people you care about, the exercises in this book are the best way I know. Today's episode is a conversation with Dan Zehner, who did the exercises. Yes, I'm promoting the book, but to help empower this community. I didn't record it intending to post here, but found it so relevant to a world where one of the most common responses involves the phrase "but what I do doesn't matter" that I decided to share it here. Initiative teaches anyone to create more of what you love, get closer to your family and loved ones if you want, create community, develop social and emotional skills, connect with the top people in the world in your area. Went from below middle manager to realizing his dreams, spending more time with his family, wasting less time on uninteresting things, and going into business with one of the top people in the world to serve people and a community he cares about. He felt he had no other choice. He didn't see opportunities he now considers obvious. His world turned from scarcity and lonely struggle to abundance and progress with friends. Questions Dan answers What if I Don't have time? Don't have money? Have too many ideas? Have too few ideas? Can't focus? Don't want to start a company? Don't like to take risks? Don't know anyone who can help me? What if my husband/wife/family is my priority? What about all the problems in the world I should work on? How is Initiative's process different than all the other resources out there on entrepreneurship? What's wrong with other methods? What's the experience like? Where can I learn more details? Click here for the video of this episode
People often ask me why I don't live in the country. Here are the notes I read from for this post: They say you could live in nature This is a fundamental misunderstanding about my goals and read of situation About people, not CO2 or plastic New Zealand documentary home restorer Not about me getting away from problems Pattern: Mess -> get away -> others follow -> colony -> town -> city Not interested in contributing to the pattern that created situation Goal is to solve problem, including happiness, not help myself, certainly not at others' expense
The notes I read from for this episode: People don't want to do small things. They want to do things that matter. Stop telling people small things they can do except as part of everything. Find things that you care about, that you notice. And stop measuring against a global problem. Ask yourself if you care. Do you care when you see litter in your neighborhood, then pick it up. If you care, you'll get something out of it. If you care about sea level rise, do something big to act on it. For your values. Who cares if you aren't fixing the world's problems all by yourself. If you're improving your life, you'll enjoy doing it anyway. What does it do to you to know you're hurting others but still doing it anyway, no matter how much you can say doing different doesn't make a difference. What are you here for, to give up? To do what you think others shouldn't because they are too? Believe it or not, if you want to make a big, measurable difference, whatever you do will achieve it fastest and most effectively. In a world where billions are craving someone to follow, several of you who act soon will become leaders of your communities, companies, neighborhoods, and countries. Do you want a raise at work? Show you can take and fulfill responsibility. Show your values and live by them so they know you. Hiding what you care about and blaming others won't get you promoted. Listen to my guests who started companies, reached leadership positions in places like Apple, Google, and the Federal Government by taking responsibility and acting on the environment. They are the future. Be the future. Stop pussyfooting around with straws and excuses that the plane was going to fly anyway.
Here are the notes I read from for this episode I've said we don't have many role models. Well I found one. I was wrong. I'm going to tell you about a man I briefly mentioned in one of my episodes on Alan Weisman's book Countdown. He exposes the absolute self-pitying lie that what one person do doesn't matter. Also the lie that government has to act first, or corporations. On the contrary, the fastest, most effective way for them to act is for people to act first. Yes you, here and now can make a difference. This guy made enormous nation-size headway in the face of government lethargy and complacency on one of the most challenging issues. Most people won't even talk about population and most people enough to realize how it underlies every other environmental issue. Then most people can't stop their knee-jerk reactions to the same misconceptions. They associate it with China's one child policy Eugenics Forced sterilization and abortions Despite most fears and misconceptions, this man made enormous progress. He's not the only one, but I'm starting with him. From his biography's back cover: In Thailand, a condom is called a "Mechai". Mechai Viravaidya, Thailand's condom King, has used this most anatomically suggestive contraceptive device to turn the conventional family planning establishment on its head. First came condom-blowing contests, then T-shirts with condom shrouded anthropomorphic penises. Then condom key rings followed by a Cabbages and Condoms restaurant, When it comes to condoms, no one has been more creative than the Condom King. To equate Mechai with condoms or family planning alone underestimates the man and fails to capture his essence. Mechai Viravaidya is engaged in a relentless pursuit to improve the well-being of the poor by giving them the tools to lead a fruitful and productive life. His achievements in family planning, AIDS prevention, and rural development are a means to an end - the alleviation of poverty in Thailand. Mechai's journey From Condoms To Cabbages - from his roots in family planning to his goal of poverty alleviation - has spanned 34 years. Along the way, he has been labeled a visionary iconoclast and cheerful revolutionary. He is also an ordinary man from modest origins. From Wikipedia on Mechai: Mechai Viravaidya is a former politician and activist in Thailand who promoted condoms, family planning and AIDS awareness in Thailand. Since the 1970s, Mechai has been affectionately known as "Mr. Condom", and condoms are often referred as "mechais" in Thailand. From the time that he began his work, the average number of children in Thai families has decreased from 7 to 1.5. in 1966 started to work in family planning, emphasizing the use of condoms. In 1973, he left the civil service and founded a non-profit service organization, the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), to continue his efforts to improve the lives of the rural poor He used such events as holding condom blowing contests for school children, encouraging taxi drivers to hand out condoms to their customers, and founding a restaurant chain called Cabbages and Condoms, where condoms are given to customers with the bill. On PDA: The Population and Community Development Association (PDA) is a non-governmental organization in Thailand. Its goal is to reduce poverty through both development initiatives and family planning programs. Originally called the Community-Based Family Planning Service, it was founded by Mechai Viravaidya in 1974. In the early 1970s, Viravaidya was the Minister of Industry but became frustrated with the government's inability to implement a national family planning policy. In his work with the government, he identified a direct correlation between Thailand's poverty and population growth. His immediate concern was the high population growth rate of 3.2%, which equated to approximately seven children per family. Initially, the PDA sought to reduce population growth by focusing on efforts both to combat child mortality and to encourage family planning. Viravaidya deduced that family planning would not be widely adopted in Thailand if children did not survive. Therefore, his solution to controlling population growth, which was at 3.3%, was to target maternal and child healthcare. At the same time, the PDA made various methods of birth control accessible to rural populations. The PDA discovered that birth control pills were used by only 20% of the population because getting them required access to medical personnel. To target the remaining 80% of the country, the PDA invested in multiple initiatives - including the popularization of free condoms, increased access to birth control, incentives for women to not become pregnant, and slogans to encourage smaller families. The Thai family planning programs met notable success. By 2015, total fertility had dropped to 1.5 children per woman. Following on the drop in unwanted fertility, the poverty rate dropped sharply; from 32.4% in 2003 10.9% in 2013. The Population and Community Development Association has used many different strategies to promote its programs. Often the strategies are considered unique or creative. Some of these strategies include: Efforts to make condoms more accessible & remove the stigma associated with them, like Holding condom balloon blowing competitions Creating a Captain Condom mascot Making condoms available at associated Cabbages & Condoms restaurants in lieu of mints Educating children in school Having Buddhist monks sprinkle holy water on condoms Overseeing a "Condom is the Girl's Best Friend" campaign Having police officers distribute condoms in a "Cops and Rubbers" program Encouraging vasectomies by Making donations into a community fund for every vasectomy performed Holding a vasectomy lunch for Americans in Thailand Increasing the availability of birth control pills By utilizing floating markets to provide contraceptives/birth control pill By training of local shopkeepers to prescribe birth control pill Educating the population about HIV/AIDS By using of military radio stations Encouraging development By making micro-loans available to general villagers at relatively low interest rates, especially for villages that use contraceptives By creating village banks operated by (mostly) women within the village community
Here are the notes I read from for this episode, along with the text of the speech: You might know I gave a series of talks at NYU that preceded this podcast One of their themes was parallels between the US civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s and environmental action. Who would have expected it to succeed to the extent it did, however far we have to go? One attendee, a friend who is black, told me once I talked about it, as a friend he listened, but as he put it, as a black man listening to a white man, he disengaged. He advised me to drop the analogy or I'd lose more people than I'd gain. I took his advice but now disagree with it. However great the differences, the parallels are too great and if I lose people for how people view a white person discussing civil rights, one of us will have to learn and resolve the problem. Today being the day the US celebrates MLK's birthday, following my recent application of Henry V's St Crispin's Day speech to environment, I want you to consider a few parts of the I Have a Dream speech. Let's remember the context. 1963. Nearly a decade after the Montgomery Bus Boycott and many could say no progress had happened. No one could have known the Civil Rights Act would pass the next year and that King would become the youngest honoree of the Nobel Peace Prize. People did know that they were being jailed and lynched. People disagreed on strategy. Young men were being drafted and sent to die in Vietnam. Many had lost hope. Every step forward seemed to lead to a step or two back. King could have talked about the situation they were in. He could have debated what would work or not. He could have dwelled in the present. In other words he could have spoken like most today speak about the environment: doom and gloom, facts and figures. Instead he shared about a dream of a better future, which helped create it. No we're not done and plenty got worse for many people. Likewise we'll have to face environmental problems increasing for decades maybe centuries to come. But I think we should learn from him what motivates people and replace what discourages them with it. Today many speak and act with despair about the environment. Nothing will make a difference. Nobody cares. Too little too late. Let's pick up King's speech near the end
Here are the notes I read from for this episode: I recently recorded conversations with Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live Rewatched The End of Dieting and a part captured me About stopping a habit, the stages one goes through Though he talks about food and diet, the same stages and challenges appear in living by your environmental habits. He starts by talking about how when you start -- eating in his case or avoiding packaged food, not flying, etc if you act on the environment. He describes everything I went through, from feeling like I couldn't, like I made my way harder or worse, like others could do this, not me All the way to how I came to love it, find the old ways disgusting What he talks about the joys, he's speaking from experience that anyone can have, of more of what you love at less cost, more convenience, and so on. He says taste buds change. They do. You will find packaged food disgusting and fresh fruit unbelievable. That change will happen in other areas. You'll see buying packaged food unpleasant, same with unnecessary clothes You'll replace those things with spending time with people you care about, building projects, connecting with people. After the conversation. . . I don't know how it sounded when he said you would stop loving the ribs or cheesecake a la mode, or when he mentioned how people say I want to live fully, but that the SAD made your life worse When you identify your deep motivations and act on them, you'll go through that experience too and you'll love that you did. I recommend trying. Nothing is motivating me to influence you except that I think you'll enjoy life more after the change I believe you'll wish you had earlier. Why not start now? Sit with someone to help you follow the steps in my first TEDx talk and start improving your life.
The notes I read from for this episode: Service and giving back using Jason McCarthy GORUCK guy on Jocko. Friend, Dan Zehner, knows Jason Told me about his episode on Jocko Willink's podcast One section resonated with me because it described what I feel He speaks as a veteran and starts by describing owing Jason says elsewhere in the conversation that military service isn't unique in providing these results. Other kinds of service do too. The sense of service and stewardship, and the depth and meaning of teamwork and community seem similar. I hear how most people describe the interaction with the environment, grasping to reusing disposable cups. They sound like they feel shameful and guilty, as if someone else and not their behavior, was causing the feelings Listen to Jason. Wouldn't you rather sound like him? Beyond feeling better about personal action, think of the potential to lead, to create that feeling based on effective results in others Imagine helping transform American and global culture, or your local community, to become clean, to foster and value stewardship, community, and connection Who wouldn't want this? The recording starts with a question of Jocko Hear how much Jason wants to share the meaning and purpose of this activity By the way, speaking of Dan, we became friends over his doing the exercises in my book Initiative, which led him to create his life's dream project, meeting the top people in the field in the process, and partnering with a dream partner. I'll include a link to his blog, where he is recording his experiences doing the exercises. If you want to do something meaningful with your life and haven't found a passion to build it on or how to bring it to life or your work, I recommend my book Initiative. Do I sound passionate about my work? This podcast resulted from what it teaches. Post-episode He talked about building a bridge between worlds, giving back. Maybe I'm projecting, but I see stewardship, especially environmental stewardship, overlapping with what he talked about. It's service. We who have acted on our environmental values have to build a bridge to because judgment, guilt, shame, facts, figures, doom, and gloom aren't what we're about, or at least not what I'm about Stewardship for me is joy, community, connection, meaning, value, importance, purpose, and passion. The stories I know of people who have acted bring out those things. Let's make environmental action more about these things. I consider it my responsibility.
Here are the notes I read from for this episode: If you are thinking of doing something to act on the environment, go big. Instead of thinking the littlest thing you can do, think of the future and go big. What's the biggest thing you can do? Not for others. For what you think is right. For how the future will look back on us. For how we look back on slavery. Would you free your slaves if you were born into that system as a slave owner? How huge a change, but what else could you do? Don't you expect you'd feel good about it? What can you do on that scale here, affecting billions and all future generations? Think big. My experience suggests not flying for a year, endeavoring to buy no packaging. Don't turn on your air conditioner or heater all year. You get the idea. Not straws. Selling your car, as Dov Baron did. Not buy clothing for a year like Lorna Davis. Pledge never to eat animal products again like Tom Szaky. You get the idea. Not straws. I predict you will love the results and, however big your commitment, you will consider it small after you do it and want to do more. Your community will admire you for it, emulate you, and make you a leader. You'll probably get hired or promoted for it.
This episode describes how I train corporate and institutional leaders in environmental leadership. Here are the notes I read from: Talking with more and more corporations lately, describing how I work with them Putting it here for easy reference You'll see among podcast guests many corporate and institutional people Lorna Davis of Danone C-Suite Dominic Barton 3-time Global Managing Director of McKinsey Beth Comstock, former CMO of GE (when Fortune 5), on Board of Nike Bob Langert, former Head of CSO at McDonalds Vincent Stanley, Director of Patagonia, where he's worked since 1973 and professor at Yale School of Management Tensie Whelan, Director of NYU-Stern's Center for Sustainability and Business, former President of Rainforest Alliance Col. Everett Spain, West Point's Head of Leadership Col. Mark Read, West Point's Head of Geologic Engineering Marine Corp 3-star General Paul Van Riper Michael Werner, Google's Lead for Circular Economy, formerly similar role at Apple Gave two talks in 2019 at Google, another at Citi and other banks, IBM, Boston Consulting Group, Coca-Cola, Lululemon John Lee Dumas, entrepreneur Dov Baron, leadership guru Marshall Goldsmith, Dorie Clark, Alisa Cohn, #1 coaches Behind the scenes, developed a lot with coaching clients at McKinsey, Exxon-Mobil, Columbia Business School Guest on MAGAmedia.org, a staunchly pro-Trump site, which talked about me supportively on 3 consecutive episodes Very business friendly because business can benefit from this Most common response is: I thought it would cost money or take time but it saves money and time. Most of all for the executives I work with, it replaces not knowing what to do when you have to act but fearing being called greenwashing or hypocritical for the company, it boosts morale and gives a competitive advantage. Think of how Patagonia can charge a premium. Context: most companies hear demand from customers, employees, shareholders, and media to be more sustainable. Almost necessary for top talent. Patagonia doesn't have to advertise new positions. Exxon has to pay top dollar Just today I talked to a guy who runs a business Exxon wanted to hire. He quoted them a high price because he didn't want to work with them. Action usually comes from junior employees. They're younger and face more of their lives with potential catastrophe and they've invested less in old ways Easy to think senior decision-makers can just change, after all everything points to acting Decision-makers are often most vulnerable We've all heard people and organizations called greenwashing and hypocritical However well-meaning, accusations make choice for executives easier not to act and risk losing job or company value, even if they want to act They think they have to be perfect, an impossibly high bar They only have to show they are doing their best, a lower bar, but they have to show they are doing it genuinely and authentically. I enable this, as you can hear from the conversations with the executives I mentioned For example, Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia behaves far from perfectly, but he hides nothing. As a result, people support him for his flaws instead of attack, because they see themselves in him If you act without sharing yourself, people judge your actions against perfection. If you share yourself---that's what leaders do, they allow themselves to be vulnerable---then they support you I've refined my technique over hundreds of projects with executives and leaders in business, politics, culture, eduction, military, etc I will describe two parts: the building block, which I describe in more depth in my first TEDx talk, which describes the environmental leadership process with one person. One person won't change a culture, so I'll describe the second part, which uses many building blocks to transform a corporation. The Building Block The building block is a 4-step process to ask what people care about, have them create a way to act on it, make it manageable, and add accountability, where they report how it went It goes well and they want to share. They know that when they share what they care about people connect with it. If their employees just heard, we're going to use less plastic, well that might mean they're trying to save money If they hear their CEO sharing trying to do his or her best, they see him or her doing what they want to do themselves. By supporting the CEO, they support themselves. So they don't attack, they support. Building corporate culture with the building block Still the CEO is one person. I do the building block with a team including several executives and a few junior people who will implement the results. We pick an audience to hear the recordings, which could be just the team if they're private, employees if their goal is mainly morale, clients if their goal is sales, the public if PR. The point is someone has to hear for accountability and to motivate depth, but the team chooses for its goals. I do the building block with all ten people (could be half a dozen or a dozen). Most tasks take 2 weeks or a month I meet with them in a month, ask how it went, how it affected them emotionally, their relationships. They always learn. Then I do the building block again, this time restricting the task to in the office. We meet again after they finish their second task. Now they've collectively done 20 tasks, the second usually bigger and more rewarding than first Third meeting we meet as group for a half to full day exercise Based on experience and teamwork, this exercise leads them to create a team exercise based on experience, that the company will implement, usually led by the two junior people who have been part of this engagement from the start I don't know the company. I don't create the project. They do. I'm like a basketball coach. I don't put the ball in the hoop. The experienced people do. I know how to lead individuals and a team to face and overcome the unique challenges of environmental leadership -- feelings of shame, guilt, helplessness, anxiety, futility, and so on. When they bring to company a project, they aren't saying do as I say, not as I do. They're saying: hear my humanity and struggles. I did my best, grew to learn, and am sharing joy and discover with you. Community, connection. Conclusion I'll leave off here for now, but I wanted to share the professional, executive work I'm doing. If corporations and governments aren't involved, we'll get almost nowhere. I want to engage and activate them so they love acting, get competitive advantages, boost morale, attract talent, etc for acting more sustainably. If they don't their competitors will, so why not enjoy it and act first?