Leadership and the Environment

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267: Seth Sheldon, part 2: Inside the United Nations

Ep. 267

Before we spoke, Seth implied he didn't do as much on his challenge as I expected so I expected a short conversation.

I think it's important for listeners to hear that even people who win Nobel Prizes taking on global thermonuclear war have a hard time taking on new habits, even ones they want, like reducing their waste.

I'm not claiming changing habits with environmental consequences are easy, though I believe nearly everyone will find doing so, when acting on internal values, rewarding. I think they'll be glad they did. But few will find starting trivial.

So if you've identified a value you haven't acted on but want to---environmental or otherwise---I hope you forgive yourself if starting is hard. Or if keeping it up is hard. You're still in league with greats. Experience tells me you'll prefer trying to not trying, however hard it seems. Same with trying again if it doesn't stick. Sometimes you have to try the same thing again, others to learn, revise, and try in a new way.

Seth and I ended up having a wonderful conversation about different ways of motivating people, so it was rich and full. I hope you'll enjoy this inside view of how people working on global problems and local, grassroots efforts do things.

I thanked him in the recording, but I'll call out what I consider leadership---to allow himself to sound vulnerable to others, to share what others might call weakness or failure. He also preferred accountability, which effective leaders like. Accountability gets the job done.


On a personal note, last time I cooked him my famous no-packaging vegetable stew, this time I shared some mulberries I foraged, which were more delicious. I don't think I can beat nature's raw ingredients.

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More Episodes

7/5/2020

356: I was assaulted again this morning. Can I talk about it?

Ep. 356
While I was jogging (actually plogging) along the Hudson River around 7:30am, a person not wearing a mask stepped into my path, blocking me, saying the person's shoes had been stolen. The person seemed to let me pass, but then threatened me and threw a bottle that shattered at my feet as I ran past. I kept running, the hair on the back of my neck standing up and my adrenaline high. I don't know if the person had a weapon.I describe more and some of how it affected me in the audio.I was first going to say I was threatened since he didn't touch me. I'm not a lawyer so I looked up the definition. According to FindLaw.com's page on Assault Torts and Injury Law:legal scholars define assault as an intentional attempt or threat to inflict injury upon a person, coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm, which creates a reasonable apprehension of bodily harm or offensive contact in another.Notice the words “attempt” and “threat” above. In tort law, assault does not require actual touching or violence to the victim. We use another term for the touching or contact: “battery.”Here are the notes I read from:The story from this morning runningHappens all the time, not daily but throughout my lifeI don't think he did it because black, but I suspect were I not white it may not have happened. Can't say this time.When I stayed in AtlantaFriends say, you can say to us but careful with othersShared about mugged childhood, but still happeningMaybe there is a secret white suburban life I don't know aboutRecently white friends have started sharing how they've been muggedConsistent with Dov's saying how sharing stories will lead to others feeling they can share tooThat's all background. Here is my point: every time I bring up suffering or being threatened, while I may get some listening, the other person always says, remember others have it worse---not that person, not even someone with their skin colorSo they don't know from experience but they're telling me as if I haven't heard before, and they're presuming to know my experienceI don't know anyone's experience but mine, but everyone absolutely everyone dismisses it without asking, presuming it's the caricature in the mainstream.When I hear white people talking about BLM, George Floyd, there's always this mea culpa. Maybe they are guilty, I don't know. I never hear them speak about their problems. Maybe they have no problems, maybe I'm unique, but that people open up with me when I share and they hear I'm not white supremacist or racist---though in today's world white people even mentioning race without saying how they are allies or something making up for guilt or things like that---then they tell me about their experiences, but they insist on my respecting their confidence, which of course I do.So much of what I hear from white people sounds so similar andinauthentic, I don't think they're being open, honest, or candid. Maybemany are as privileged as they say, but people have told me about being attacked, their lives threatened with weapons, and so on.I think about risks maybe not every day, but all the time. And when Idon't, some guy walks into my path, throws a bottle at me, and threatens me.For a while I feared sharing messages like this because people mightsuspect I'm turning into a white supremacist. I came to terms that ifpeople think that about the opposite, I can't let their preconceivednotions hold me from acting for equality."White Like Me," Eddie Murphy's Saturday Night Live sketch I referred to
7/2/2020

354: Harvard Global Health Institute Director Ashish Jha, part 1: Front Line Pandemic Leadership

Ep. 354
If you've followed sensible, expert advice on the pandemic, you've probably read or seen Ashish Jha in the New York Times, The Atlantic, CNN, Washington Post, and everywhere. On Tuesday he testified to the US Senate.He's Harvard's Global Health Institute's Director. Over 200,000 people have taken his online Harvard courses, which you can for free. Over 80,000 took Ebola, Preventing the Next Pandemic and over 120,000 took Improving Global Health: Focusing on Quality and Safety. As it turns out, we were college teammates on the ultimate frisbee team.I'll link to a few top articles by him. With so many interfaces between the pandemic and us---health, government, research, policy, etc---you can read a lot of his views and experiences from different sources.I wanted to bring the personal side of leading on the front lines and top levels of a pandemic---how do doctors and public health experts feel about people not following advice, facing triage decisions, how to be heard, and what affects a doctor personally. We talk about leadership, the intersection between the pandemic and the environment, which overlaps with his directorship and courses, and more.By the way, he created his Ebola course five years before this pandemic and predicted much of it, as did many. If predicting what's happened so far isn't enough reason to follow his advice, I don't know what is. Let's wear those masksAshish's faculty profileCoronavirus Testing Needs to Triple Before the U.S. Can Reopen, Experts Say, NY Times article quoting AshishIn the W.H.O.’s Coronavirus Stumbles, Some Scientists See a Pattern, NY Times article quoting Ashish Pandemic Expert Dr. Ashish K. Jha ’92: “We Will Get Through This.”How We Beat Coronavirus, The AtlanticHere's the reason we are still shut down right now, CNN video