Leadership and the Environment

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297: RIP James Lipton, a huge influence and inspiration

Ep. 297

James Lipton, who started and hosted the show Inside the Actors Studio, died yesterday.


Here are the notes I read from for this episode:


I could talk about how much I enjoyed the episodes, his humor, and a few things I learned from his guests that only his interviewing could have elicited but I will go deeper, to share how fundamental his work has been to mine.


Many times I've said that if my courses existed before I went to business school and someone were teaching them, I would have taken them instead of business school and gotten more of what I valued. He helped me create them.


Context: I had taken leadership classes but, despite high grades from top school, I didn't know how to act.


Watched Inside the Actors Studio for entertainment.


Noticed great actors excelled at social and emotional skills, beyond what my professors could do.


Noticed they tended to have dropped out of school, been kicked out, or never enrolled.


How to resolve this conflict?


Also noticed names popping up a lot—Stella Adler, Lee Strassberg, Sanford Meisner, Group Theater, Harold Clurman, most of all Konstantine Stanislavsky.


Looked them up and learned of tradition often called Method Acting that grew in America from Russia.


Around recession because friend sold his business to take Meisner Technique classes.


Asked him all sorts of questions about it. He suggested taking it.


Realized actors didn't stop education. They switched style of learning.


Experienced new levels of learning social and emotional skills, relevant to all relationships, not just acting.


Taking it changed how I learned ASEEP fields, combined with learning about John Dewey and project-based learning, which led to how I teach leadership. Led me to start founding a school for leadership.


NYU ended up hiring me to teach, which led to my books.


The structure of how I teach and coach leadership, initiative, entrepreneurship, sales, and social entrepreneurship is Meisner Technique.


The exercises are similar, but drawn from their respective domains instead of acting.


Start with basics and build toward mastery with no big jumps.


Results include students consistently saying they didn't know they could learn these things at all, let alone in a structured class.


All this comes from James Lipton making known the style of learning from Inside the Actors Studio.


I since realized the structure exists in teaching to play musical instruments, to sing, to dance, to play any sport, improv, the military hence basic training, and all ASEEP fields.


In a totally other direction, since I interview people on the podcast, I follow him a lot—supportive, not confrontational, getting to know the person, though I don't do the quick end questions.


I went to see them record Inside the Actors Studio live twice. Sarah Silverman and Bryan Cranston. 5-hour events. I loved. I brought notes to leave to invite him to be a guest on the podcast. Spoke to several people. Actually, went to his office at Pace and spoke to people there, but nothing came of it.


Thank you, James Lipton for helping form two of the foundation stones everything I do rests on.


Blog posts of mine referring to James Lipton or Inside the Actors Studio:

More Episodes

7/10/2020

358: Bald Versus Plastic

Ep. 358
Here are the notes I read this episode from:People keep acting like I'm different, that they have to balance things that I don't when acting on the environment.So I'll share a recent decision I made. People I tell have sounded intrigued and delighted to hear it so I'll share with you.First sensed hairline retreating at 19.Not much for maybe a decade following, I don't remember.Maybe 10 years ago started using minoxidil.Don't know if works or not, but used as insurance. Not insanely expensive.Tested on thinning in back, so even less sure if it works.Over the past few years noticed it becoming my greatest plastic consumption.Thought more about stopping.Even stopping flying was reversible. Never decided to stop forever, just kept finding that it improved my life not to fly. Constraints breed creativity.Stopping minoxidil not reversible. Might not do anything. Might go bald. I don't want to go bald. I like my hair.But I'm pitting purely my vanity against reducing plastic pollution.Last bottle of last 3 month supply was running low. Kept thinking about it. Risk balding, but maybe no difference.Last American president elected bald was Eisenhower. Have to beat Hitler to get elected. Women complain they get judged by appearance, but men do too.Felt helpless, yet also recognize the alternative is simply to live with my genes. What chemical shitstorm is in that stuff anyway?But the bottom line was every time I've chosen to live by my environmental values, it's improved my life. I used to have faith, but faith is belief without evidence. Between avoiding packaged food, avoiding flying, picking up garbage daily, plogging, all of which I thought would worsen my life, they've all improved it.So I made a deal with myself to flip a coin. Heads I'd keep it. If every 3 months I flipped, eventually I'd have to end.I started making deals with myself -- just get to 50 years old. It's so little plastic compared to everyone else. Just one more time. I found out you can buy the raw ingredients on Alibaba. What if I found a great price? Rite Aid had almost half off online. Another place even lower prices, but then more packaging.So I flipped the coin. Tails on the first try. I made a rule only flip a coin when I can't decide any other way, then never reverse that decision or it undoes the value of coin toss's decisiveness. Still I started bargaining with myself.Are you getting how hard I found this decision? I was deciding in the moment a choice to affect me possibly for the remaining several decades of my life.I didn't refill. I still went to Rite Aid intending to buy another box, against the coin toss, but the low price was only online. I was going to break my rule, but didn't because of circumstance.Within a day I could feel new breeze on my forehead. Maybe coincidence, but maybe I'll end up bald in a few months. Maybe it will recede a bit and stop. Who knows?I don't see a path to this choice improving my life, but I'm going with it. Talk about your first-world problems, right? But everyone goes through similar decisions too. Should I buy the coffee on the way to work in the disposable cup? Should I take a subway or shared ride?We all do mental gymnastics to rationalize behavior we know is against our principles. I do. My difference today versus me years ago is that I've moved my balance toward stewardship. Each time I do, I find it improves my life. Before long I find role models beyond where I am. I learn from them, for example Bea Johnson, whose family of four produces collectively less trash than I do.The world will see the results.Some relevant posts of mine:Choose easier by visualizing choices, part IChoose easier by visualizing choices, part IIWhy are decisions hard?How to ChooseHow to decide among close options
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