A Nobel Peace Prize winner, a couple Greatest of All Time candidates, Olympic medalists, An Americas Cup winner, bestsellers. . . I’m the weak link!

October 22, 2018 by Joshua
in Leadership

In an under two-week period this month, pursuing influential people for the podcast,

  • I met one of the greatest golfers of all time, Gary Player, at the Gary Player Invitational golf tournament, along with a few other greats and Michael Douglas. I actually shared a golf cart with Mr. Player. I’m scheduled to record a conversation with him for the podcast.
  • I met a Nobel Peace Prize winner and invited her to be a guest. She shared her email and I’m emailing her about it.
  • Bestseller Eric Schlosser introduced her. I invited him to be a guest. He shared his email and I’m emailing him about it.
  • I met Dawn Riley—the first woman ever to manage an entire America’s Cup syndicate and the first American, man or woman, to sail in three America’s Cups and two Whitbread Round the World races—at Oakcliff Sailing Center and recorded a conversation with her.
    • At Oakcliff, I saw my first Olympic class sailing races, including several Olympic medalists.
    • All the racers came back to Oakcliff afterward for a barbecue. Taking in as much as I did, I didn’t think to invite any of them to be guests, but I’ll follow up with Dawn.

Between Gary Player, a Nobel laureate, a multiple New York Times bestseller (on the list over 2 years), an Americas Cup winner, and Olympic medalists, I’m the weak link in my world.

My goal is to bring them to you on the podcast.

Why influential people?

Influential people set cultural standards. While a minority of the public may permanently change their behavior, as long as DiCaprio, Gore, etc behave a certain way, the majority will see their behavior as normal, and will view flying less, eating less meat, etc as experiments, after which they’ll return to the norm. Almost no public figures are meaningfully changing their behavior.

As long as Google’s top 3 executives have 8 airplanes between them (that story is from 2011, so not sure how accurate today), people will aspire to follow that behavior and say things like, “I simply must get to work, and there is no other way,” without considering alternatives. Would Mr. Money Mustache himself speak so complacently? This community has slightly different norms as a result of his can-do behavior.

Moreover, when influential people justify behavior contrary to their goals and principles, they promote the thinking, “In principle I shouldn’t fly so much, but this time it’s worth it.” Since everyone believes what they do is worth it, they lead everyone to keep doing what they’re doing. Most Americans think things like, “I support lowering greenhouse emissions, but the SUV is safer in an accident. I’m not going to risk my child’s life for climate change,” which is specious and self-serving and deprives them from living by their values, but if fits with the behavior of their role models.

(I talked about this in more depth in episode 95, How Would-be Leaders Are Moving Us Backward)

That’s why I believe getting role models to live by their values is so important. Not for their emissions, but for creating community norms.

Americans used to associate cigarettes with Humphrey Bogart. Now we associate them with cancer and few actors will smoke in public.

Making excuses robs us from a life living by our values. Not smoking is better for most people than smoking. Same with not polluting. Kicking the habit is hard, but sustaining it is easy.

Wikipedia on Gary Player:

Gary Player DMS, OIG (born 1 November 1935) is a South African professional golfer widely considered one of the greatest golfers ever. Over his career, Player accumulated nine major championships on the regular tour and six Champions Tour major championship victories, as well as three Senior British Open Championships on the European Senior Tour. At the age of 29, Player won the 1965 U.S. Open and became the only non-American to win all four majors, known as the career Grand Slam. Player became only the third golfer in history to win the Career Grand Slam, following Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, and only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have performed the feat since. Player has won 165 tournaments on six continents over six decades and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.


More about Dawn Riley:

  • 2004-2007, General Manager K-Challenge America’s Cup 2007
  • 2002, IC45 world champion
  • 2000, America True CEO and captain, America’s Cup
  • 1999, Winner again, Santa Maria Cup
  • 1995, Team captain of America3, the women’s team in the America’s Cup
  • 1993/1994, Skipper of Heineken, the only all-women’s entry in the 1993-94 Whitbread round-the-world race
  • 1992, Pitperson for America3, winner of 1992 America’s Cup and first woman to have an active role on an America’s Cup team
  • 1992, 1st place in Women’s Cup in Portofino, Italy
  • 1992, Winner, Santa Maria Cup
  • 1989/1990, Watch captain/engineer on Maiden, the first all-women’s team in the 1989-90 Whitbread race


More on Eric Schlosser:

Schlosser’s recent book, Command and Control (2013) reveals the details of America’s effort to prevent nuclear weapons from being stolen, sabotaged, or detonated by accident. Command and Control was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize (History), a New York Times Notable Book and bestseller, a Time Magazine Top 10 Nonfiction Book, and won the Gold Medal Award (Nonfiction) from the 2013 California Book Awards. Schlosser has spoken on the subject of nuclear weapon safety at the United Nations, the US House of Representatives, the Parliaments of the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Norway, the Sandia National Laboratory, and the headquarters of the National Nuclear Security Administration. His New Yorker article, “Break-In at Y-12” explores the risk of nuclear terrorism by telling the story of three Catholic pacifists who broke into one of the most heavily guarded nuclear weapon facilities in the world. It was later expanded and published in book form as Gods of Metal (2015) in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.

As a filmmaker, Schlosser was involved with two films that premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival: he was a producer of Command and Control, a documentary based on his book and directed by Robert Kenner; and he was a co-creator of The Bomb, a multimedia piece about nuclear weapons. The Bomb featured a film projected on large screens fully surrounding the audience, animation, lighting effects, and the live performance of an original score by The Acid, an electronica band. Entertainment Weekly called it “A stunning, avant-garde approach to a plea for nuclear disarmament…a unique and dazzling event.” The Bomb is available to view on Netflix, iTunes, Vimeo, and Amazon.

Schlosser’s first book, Fast Food Nation (2001), helped start a revolution in how Americans think about what they eat. It has been translated into more than twenty languages and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for two years. His second book, Reefer Madness (2003), looks at America’s thriving underground economy. It was also a New York Times bestseller. Chew on This (2006), a New York Times bestselling children’s book, co-written with Charles Wilson, introduced young readers to the health effects of fast food and the workings of industrial agriculture. Schlosser’s next book, The Great Imprisonment (Tim Duggan Books/Crown, 2018), will describe how the United States came to have the largest prison system in the history of mankind—and how that system affects every one of us.

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