—Systemic change begins with personal change—

068: Tensie Whelan, part 2: “You’ve got to do what you believe in”


Tensie and I talked about wine, creating and changing habits, and eating bugs, which happens when you work with the Rainforest Alliance. We also talk about dealing with people when you change, influencing them, and perspectives that make these things work. The people she influences run multi-billion dollar companies. Tensie described and lives the point of this podcast: a lifetime of acting on your values, what you care about, not imposing on others, and having fun. I didn't hear a whisper of guilt, blame, doom, gloom, helplessness, despair, or what many people associate with acting on the environment. I talk to a lot of people who say that they're doing all they can for the environment---usually people still with a lot of easy changes they'd probably like once they did them. Despite all she's done, she found something she could work on. However modest, it didn't stop anything else. On the contrary, it led to more---more self-awareness, fun, interacting with others, and leading others. When you expect the change to improve your life, you find more. Why wouldn't you, as Tensie did? Read the transcript.

061: Tensie Whelan, part 1: The Rainforest Alliance, United Nations, and NYU-Stern


Tensie is helping unravel my preconceived notions of academics focusing more on facts than action. Maybe because she was President of the Rainforest Alliance. Maybe because I met her when she brought the U.N. Secretary General to NYU. You'll hear other global organizations and people she's influenced, led, and collaborated with in a remarkable and effective career so far. She brings a new perspective on leading organizations to this podcast, as I've mostly focused on leading people. She shares stories that massive change is possible. She lived it. She talks experience, not just theory. She also shares practical advice and histories of what worked and what takes more patience since it's not easy. Always dealing with people. Some points you'll hear from her stories: Effective leadership is rarely, if ever, about being right. Empathy helps lead people and organizations. You have to understand organizations as you do people to lead them. It's hard in practice---emotionally, internally. Maintaining integrity while empathizing with people doing things you disagree with. But if you want change, being effective is more important than venting. A younger, angrier, less skilled me would only think to protest organizations I disagreed with. As she shares, confrontation is still important, but also to engage and lead. Hard work is exciting. Read the transcript.

3 responses on “Tensie Whelan

Leave a Reply

Sign up for my weekly newsletter