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This Sustainable Life

Joshua Spodek: Author, Speaker, Professor

Do you care about the environment but feel "I want to act but if no one else does it won't make a difference" and "But if you don't solve everything it isn't worth doing anything"?

We are the antidote! You're not alone. Hearing role models overcome the same feelings to enjoy acting on their values creates meaning, purpose, community, and emotional reward.

Want to improve as a leader? Bestselling author, 3-time TEDx speaker, leadership speaker, coach, and professor Joshua Spodek, PhD MBA, brings joy and inspiration to acting on the environment. You'll learn to lead without relying on authority.

We bring you leaders from many areas -- business, politics, sports, arts, education, and more -- to share their expertise for you to learn from. We then ask them to share and act on their environmental values. That's leadership without authority -- so they act for their reasons, not out of guilt, blame, doom, gloom, or someone telling them what to do.

Click for a list of popular downloads

Click for a list of all episodes


Guests include

  • Dan Pink, 40+ million Ted talk views
  • Marshall Goldsmith, #1 ranked leadership guru and author
  • Frances Hesselbein, Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, former CEO of the Girl Scouts
  • Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize winning author
  • David Allen, author of Getting Things Done
  • Ken Blanchard, author, The One Minute Manager
  • Vincent Stanley, Director of Patagonia
  • Dorie Clark, bestselling author
  • Bryan Braman, Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagle
  • John Lee Dumas, top entrepreneurial podcaster
  • Alisa Cohn, top 100 speaker and coach
  • David Biello, Science curator for TED

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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Society & CultureSociety & Culture

Episodes

751: Erica Frank, part 1: Living More Joyfully Sustainably for Decades
4d ago
751: Erica Frank, part 1: Living More Joyfully Sustainably for Decades
I met Erica in a online meeting of academics who promote avoiding flying. A major perk for many academics is that universities pay for flying to academic conferences, for research, and for other academic reasons, of where there are many. In other words, they often fly for free. (As an aside, since academics learned about our environmental problems first, people flying free and often include many academics.)I found her comments valid, including a criticism of something I said, so contacted her afterward and invited her to the podcast. I also think people who hold Nobel Prizes are more influential than those who don't, in general, and a goal for this podcast is to bring the most influential people.The conversation was fun and a blast! She does more than research and promote less flying. She lived off-grid long before I started, for example, something we could bond on.More than any actions, I found her tone and attitude engaging and infectious. She enjoys living more sustainably. Most of the world acts like each step of living more sustainably means more deprivation and sacrifice. What do you know, they haven't tried it. Erica has, and found joy and liberation as I did.She is a role model. We can all enjoy sustainability as much as her and more than we enjoy life now, twisted up inside knowing we're hurting people (and wildlife). Enjoy our conversation. Join the club of living joyfully sustainably. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
749: Sven Gierlinger, part 1: Transforming the Culture of a New York Hospital Chain as a Chief Experience Officer
15-03-2024
749: Sven Gierlinger, part 1: Transforming the Culture of a New York Hospital Chain as a Chief Experience Officer
I heard about Sven through the articles below about the cultural change at Northwell, a chain of hospitals around New York City.I recommend reading the Post article before listening to this episode. It may read overly positive about the food, but Sven and I ate just after recording at the hospital the regular food they serve patients. It was incredible. I would never have dreamed food at a hospital could taste so good and look so appealing. I figured American hospitals had just capitulated and converted to doof.From a leadership perspective, I'm most interested in the processes and people behind changing a culture. Serving better food overlaps with the environment in that everyone knows and agrees high-quality food beats low-quality, especially at a hospital, and everyone knows clean air beats polluted air, but we created a culture that makes low quality hospital food and polluted air normal. Sven helped turn around a system and not just any system. Hospitals handle life and death, face heavy regulation, include doctors with special needs, and more things that raise the stakes. He has to deal with people, technology, finances, and everything.He seems to have succeeded. Can Sven be a role model for we who are trying to change global culture?Two articles featuring Sven:Washington Post: Hospital food is a punchline. These chefs are redefining it.Becker's Hospital Review: How one health system rewrote a menu and big cliché Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
747: Go Alan Go!, part 1: The drummer rocking Washington Square Park
17-02-2024
747: Go Alan Go!, part 1: The drummer rocking Washington Square Park
Regular listeners and blog readers know I talk about litter and how much we wreck nature, especially my neighborhood's back yard, Washington Square Park. Click the links below to see some of the worst litter you've seen, in a supposedly nice part of town.Today the opposite: someone who brings joy, fun, creativity, music, and dancing to the park. Alan began playing drums in the park three years ago and he rocks the place. Click to watch this video of him in action, though when he plays different music, he creates different vibes, so the video shows only a tiny slice of that magic.You wouldn't believe how much effort he needs to perform each time he plays. You also wouldn't believe how good playing makes him feel, and everyone else there too.If I report the awful, I'll report the awesome. Feel inspired to bring value to your community, even if it isn't designed for profit, though you should donate to his funds since he's a street performer and can use your support (I'll post a link when I get it from him). If you have to work as much as him, you'll love it all the more!Photos and videos of the park when flooded with litter -- the opposite of what Alan brings. Be prepared to cry.LGBTQ+ People’s Garbage and Leaving It Worse Than You Found It: The Pride and Queer Liberation Marches 2023Not only Pride and Queer Liberation: A Regular Day in Washington Square ParkAfter the Pride and Queer Liberation Marches 2022: Washington Square Park wrecked again. I could cry.“Pride Destroyed the Park”, Washington Square Park after a parade (Video)More Pride, Less Pollution in 2022 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
743: Benjamin Hett: The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic
22-01-2024
743: Benjamin Hett: The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic
Regular listeners know how I look for role models in similar situations to ours regarding the environment. We know our polluting and depleting are bringing us toward collapse, but instead of acting, we procrastinate on acting. We rationalize and justify our inaction. We abdicate our responsibility, capitulate, and resign to complacency and complicity.Humans behaved this way in the face of slavery, especially during and after the Atlantic Slave Trade, which led me to bring several guests who were experts on that period and people who acted against it.Humans behaved this way in the face of fascism too. I'm not comparing people today to Nazis, but to Germans who may not have been Nazis, and may even have opposed them, but continued paying taxes, supporting them, and not opposing them. This episode brings my first subject-matter expert in the field of the rise of the Nazis. I've written and brought guests on who knew some people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sousa Mendez, Raoul Wallenberg, and Oskar Schindler, but I haven't learned about the politics and conditions that led to Hitler's rise.Benjamin Carter Hett's book The Death of Democracy recounts that rise, to critical praise (of the book, not Hitler's rise), including new historical information.How could people watch it happen and not stop it?What can we learn from them to stop ourselves from procrastinating and watching it happen?What options do we have? What options can we create? Ben's home pageHis book: The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar RepublicHis page at the CUNY Graduate Center Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
742: John Brooke, part 2: American slavery transformed to today's industry and anti-stewardship of our environment
20-01-2024
742: John Brooke, part 2: American slavery transformed to today's industry and anti-stewardship of our environment
If John's specialty in deep history weren't valuable enough to understand how our culture's dominance hierarchy formed from the material conditions of the dawn of agriculture, he also specializes in American history, including slavery from before the Revolutionary War through to the Thirteenth Amendment.We start with his sharing what drew him to the two fields. Then I introduce what led me to want to learn from him. I share a main thesis of my book, starting with the journey that led me to see how today's industry and technology evolved from slavery. To clarify, I understand that machines and industry didn't help end slavery, but sustained the system, including its cruelty, just changing the mechanism.As I heard, my thesis is essentially accurate. He shared more history of how slavery evolved from before the Atlantic Slave Trade, through North American chattel slavery, how the framers of the Constitution handled it (or sold out on it), how it evolved with cotton, and more.If you are interested in how our culture still practices the cruelty that slavery did, though with more people suffering and dying, listen to this episode. Then read my book when it comes out to see how to channel the motivation to change that system to effective action.John's article on deep history, a short version of his book: Climate, Human Population and Human Survival Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
741: Tony Hansen, part 2: Volunteering hard labor creating meaning and generosity
10-01-2024
741: Tony Hansen, part 2: Volunteering hard labor creating meaning and generosity
You'll hear Tony's story of rolling up his sleeves and doing some hard labor. You'll also hear the labor being just the start of the reward. He shares about the less tangible but not lesser results in community, emotional reward, enthusiasm to do more.Given his leadership role and experience, we talk about the Spodek Method. I took the liberty of pulling some what he said and formatting it. Listen to the conversation for context for the full meaning, but here's some:You opened some doors. The idea [to act] was there but I'd come up with excuses for why I couldn't engage now. If [I'm] honest I'll be a whole lot more effective right now . . . than I might be in fifteen years time. It makes a huge amount of sense to do right now so I thank you . . .because I don't know if I would have acted on it. Now that I've committed to it, I will.Very few have done what you've done: changing diet . . . stopping air travel. . .[Those] not doing it:Don't recognize what it takesDon't recognize the benefits of it, andCan't credibly convince others.There's no better way than trying it yourself. You can then speak with authority and awareness, as opposed to just saying oh we should do this but not really intending to.Sometimes [we] require some form of awakening that . . . gives intrinsic motivation to do something, something different . . . through that action of doing something differently, you can build momentum. The Spodek Method is one of those tools to enable that awakening. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
740: Christopher Ketcham, part 3:  Inside the mind of an “ecoterrorist”
06-01-2024
740: Christopher Ketcham, part 3: Inside the mind of an “ecoterrorist”
I was reading Harper's magazine and Christopher's story was on the cover: Inside the mind of an “ecoterrorist”! It beginsIn the summer of 2016, a fifty-seven-year-old Texan named Stephen McRae drove east out of the rainforests of Oregon and into the vast expanse of the Great Basin. His plan was to commit sabotage. First up was a coal-burning power plant near Carlin, Nevada, a 242-megawatt facility owned by the Newmont Corporation that existed to service two nearby gold mines, also owned by Newmont.McRae hated coal-burning power plants with a passion, but even more he hated gold mines. Gold represented most everything frivolous, wanton, and destructive. Love of gold was for McRae a form of civilizational degeneracy, because of the pollution associated with it, the catastrophic disruption of soil, the poisoning of water and air, and because it set people against one another.Gold mines needed to die, McRae told me years later, around a campfire in the wilderness, when he felt that he could finally share his story. “And the power plant too. I wanted it all to go down. But it was only that summer I got up the balls to finally do it.”We talked about his doing the story, speaking with McRae, developing a relationship with him that involved his girlfriend and other people he knew. What's it like to hear your voice in an FBI file? Also, the media's and public's taste for such stories.Whatever your views on how to respond, if you understand or support people like McRae or consider them counterproductive (he knows he's a criminal), you'll rarely find such inside relationships with such remarkable people elsewhere.Chris's cover story in Harper's: The Machine Breaker Inside the mind of an “ecoterrorist"  (at archive.org) Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
739: John Brooke, part 1: Deep history and how our culture formed
24-12-2023
739: John Brooke, part 1: Deep history and how our culture formed
Greenhouse gas and ocean plastic levels don't rise on their own. The cause of our environmental problems is our behavior, which results from our culture. The world's dominant culture pollutes, depletes, addicts, and imperially takes over other cultures. Yet each person wants clean air, land, water, and food.How did humans create a culture that manifests the opposite of many of their values? Why do most people defend that culture, resist changing it, and promote it, even when faced with evidence that it's sickening them, isolating them, killing them, and risking killing billions more within our lifetimes? If we can't answer these questions, we'll have a hard time changing our culture and therefore the disasters we're sleepwalking into.I've been trying to answer them. Learning about our ancestral past for 250,000 years before agriculture, why and how agriculture started, and what changes agriculture prompted tells us. John Brooke's book, Climate Change and the Course of Global History: A Rough Journey, starts to answer these questions. It's a book of deep history and environmental history---that is, going back hundreds of thousands and even millions of years, treating how environmental changes influenced human behavior.John and I talk about the field of deep history, how we learn the incredible detailed and fascinating histories of how environments changed and people reacted over many time scales. I would find the scholarship fascinating on its own, and all the more because it's relevant to our environmental situation today. Changes that started twelve thousand years ago started patterns that persist today. In fact, some of them are the dominant factors in how we interact with the environment, in particular how dominance hierarchies formed, what patterns they set into our culture, and how they persist.I hadn't heard of this field before his book. If you hadn't either, you'll love it.(He also studies American history including slavery and abolitionism, another relevant part of history. We'll cover them in our next conversation.)John's home page at Ohio StateHis book, Climate Change and the Course of Global History: A Rough JourneyA shorter article John wrote on deep history: Climate, Human Population and Human Survival Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
738: Jacqueline Bicanic, part 2: Sustainability doesn't cost time and energy, it gives it
20-12-2023
738: Jacqueline Bicanic, part 2: Sustainability doesn't cost time and energy, it gives it
People complain they don't have time, money, or energy to live more sustainably, I think because marketers see the demand so come up with things to sell people to address the demand. Since neither buyer nor seller understand how nature or systems work, the offerings don't help sustainability. Meanwhile, high demand and low supply means high prices, so people associate costing time, money, and energy with sustainability when they should associate it with their gullibility and ignorance.Jacquie didn't complain about costs, but she did say she was too busy. She was even busy working on sustainability. I suggested in our first conversation that cause and effect might be the opposite of what she expected. That is, I suggested that her busy-ness wasn't keeping her from nature but that her disconnect from nature was distorting her values to where she did many low-value things that kept her from what she valued more.I based this prediction on seeing the pattern many times. I think of it mostly in people insisting they buy takeout food (really mostly doof) and coffee to save time because they're so busy, but the ones who switch to sit down for meals and coffee find it gives them more time, not less.In our second conversation, you'll hear many things, including this pattern play out in Jacquie acting on her intrinsic values and seeing where it leads.I recommend connecting more with nature to help restore your values and priorities, which will create more time and energy in your life, allowing you to save money too. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
737: Michael Gerrard: Considering a stewardship amendment with a foremost environmental lawyer
15-12-2023
737: Michael Gerrard: Considering a stewardship amendment with a foremost environmental lawyer
I follow podcast guest Maya Van Rossum on her work on constitutional amendments protecting a clean environment. You may have heard of the legal victory in Montana, Held versus Montana, earlier this year (yay!), Montana being one of the three states with such an amendment.Maya appeared on a panel, Securing Climate Justice Through Green Amendments: The Held v. Montana Victory, that discussed that case. The more I learn, the more I realize that however impossible it may sound, we can't solve our environmental problems for good without amending the Constitution.On the panel with her was Michael Gerrard, professor at Columbia Law School, one of America's foremost environmental laws. In today's conversation we talk about the possibilities about a constitutional amendment banning unsustainability. Mark my words: we will make one happen. If you're like I was, you'll think of how impossible it sounds for a dozen reasons. How could it pass? How could it be enforced? How would we define sustainable? Would we return to the Stone Age. But the more you think about it, the more essential it will sound, which may take months of consideration, or did with me.Listen to learn more on constitutional law and the environment from a top practitioner and teacher.The panel Michael appeared on with Maya: Securing Climate Justice Through Green Amendments: The Held v. Montana Victory Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
733: Jacqueline Bicanic, part 1: Listener as Guest: Australian University Student, Very Active in Sustainability
25-11-2023
733: Jacqueline Bicanic, part 1: Listener as Guest: Australian University Student, Very Active in Sustainability
Jacquie emailed me that this podcast is inspiring her. She wrote that she'd "always had a spark of interest in sustainability, but I mostly followed the herd mentality and went about my life not really making a conscious effort & just thinking about ways I could reduce my impacts. In the last couple of years, it’s like jet fuel has been added to that spark and it’s changed the trajectory of my career aspirations, and had a significant impact on my life as a whole. . . It’s comforting to know that there are people all around the world who feel similarly to me, and it’s been inspiring to hear other peoples’ stories. I find this especially helpful on the days where I feel helpless/hopeless or even on low energy days."She asked me for advice, we got to emailing, and I invited her to be a guest, following the lines of other impassioned listeners who contacted me. You wouldn't believe it from her sounding natural and confident in our conversation, but she hadn't been on a podcast before.In our emails, she talked about how busy she was, which I hear from everyone, especially businesspeople, who say: "I'd love to work on sustainability. It's very important to me. I just have to do this one thing first, then I'll get to it." If you've felt that way, you may learn a lot from Jacquie and our experience doing the Spodek Method.Working on a podcast may sound like me talking to guests a lot. There's a lot of solo work, so I can't help but quote her from her first email again, since I appreciate her validating all that solo work: "Again, I’m a hug fan of the show and yourself. You’re an inspiration and a wonderful reminder that individuals don’t have to fix the worlds problems overnight by themselves." Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.