Leadership and the Environment

Share

322: Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, part 1: Rock and Roll

Ep. 322

Growing up in Philadelphia in the 70s meant Bruce Springsteen was a part of my life. I’ll always remember a fan in a promotional radio b-roll clip from one of the classic rock stations saying excitedly, definitively, “He’s the best, he’s Bruce. . . He’s the Boss!”

One of the earliest albums I bought was Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ. My high school girlfriend’s older brother saw every show of his he could. I loved the Beatles most as a kid, but I’ve come to appreciate Bruce more over the years. I don’t know anyone else who does anything like him, so raw, open, and honest, yet able to fill stadiums for weeks on end—not in music anyway. Maybe Muhammad Ali. If Woody Allen kept making movies at the Annie Hall level? Fellini? Malcolm X? I’m sure there are others that did the same but didn’t speak to me as personally. Billy Holiday?


 

I didn’t know his show Springsteen on Broadway was on TV. I watched it and couldn’t believe what I saw—how touching, personal, and meaningful a rock star could make a show. He spoke and sang so personally, the performance defied what I could imagine anyone expecting.

The New York Times review, ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ Reveals the Artist, Real and Intense, described it well so I won’t try. Besides, you can watch it.

Wikipedia summarized critical reactions:

The New York Times said “as portraits of artists go, there may never have been anything as real—and beautiful—on Broadway”.[19] Rolling Stone noted “it is one of the most compelling and profound shows by a rock musician in recent memory”.[20] The Guardian observed “there’s a fragility and a new light cast on the songs and his relationship with Scialfa, as if he stands in her emotional shadow”.[21] Variety reported the show “is as much a self-made monument to its master’s vision and hurricane-force ambition as it is to his life and career, and it bears the mark of a self-made man who’ll write his own history”.[22]
On June 10, 2018, Springsteen received a special Tony Award for Springsteen on Broadway.

In his words:

I wanted to do some shows that were as personal and as intimate as possible. I chose Broadway for this project because it has the beautiful old theaters which seemed like the right setting for what I have in mind. In fact, with one or two exceptions, the 960 seats of the Walter Kerr Theatre is probably the smallest venue I’ve played in the last 40 years. My show is just me, the guitar, the piano and the words and music. Some of the show is spoken, some of it is sung. It loosely follows the arc of my life and my work. All of it together is in pursuit of my constant goal to provide an entertaining evening and to communicate something of value.

Inspiration

Why the title of this blog post: The Joshua Spodek Show?

I’m writing in the throes of inspiration to stop holding back important parts of my life. People keep asking more about me, what motivates me so much to what they see as extreme, but seems normal to me.

My paychecks from NYU and the corporate world kept me from sharing about the sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Meanwhile, the more I shared, in drips and drabs, the more people appreciated what I shared. Sharing intimate parts of my life led to more coaching clients seeking more rebirth and growth. I haven’t considered these hidden parts meaningful since I thought everyone lived their versions, but I loved hearing Bruce share his on Broadway and realized I loved hearing him share himself his whole life.

Meanwhile, the virus decimated my speaking and workshop business despite it revealing the world’s catastrophic lack of environmental leadership. NYU’s culture of academic, theoretical, compliance-based education increasingly clashes with my active, experiential, project-based way of teaching they give lip service to but don’t practice.

What have I got to lose?

Restoring nature requires change on his scale. Can I do it? I don’t know, but not by holding back.

Last year a couple volunteers who helped with my podcast persuaded me to change the podcast name to the Joshua Spodek Show. I held back because I considered the overlapping topics of leadership and the environment the foreground and myself the background.

For that matter, I sat down years ago to tell my mom, sister, and others close to me about my partying, the girls, and how influential they were in making me me. Nobody had a problem. I still held back.

Springsteen on Broadway led me to say fuck it and share myself. I’ll follow the advice of people who believed in me and the mission that’s swept me up and change the podcast name. I have to figure out how in WordPress and the podcast hosting site so it might take a while. I’m not sure if I’ll try to figure out how to start or just dive in and scuttle my ships like Cortes.

I hope I don’t fuck up. Wish me luck.

Here's the Risky Business scene on video.


More Episodes

6/3/2020

343: Chad Pregracke: One River, One Piece of Garbage at a Time

Ep. 343
Many people suggest people as guests who are doing "environmental things". They don't know my strategy with this podcast, which I describe in my solo episode Clarifying my strategy. The crux is that I focus on leadership and bringing leaders to the environment before focusing on the environment. I consider our behavior the problem to change. Environmental degradation results from behavior.Most people are trying to make some process more efficient, like making cars electric or use less plastic in some process. That's management. It accepts the values of a system that pollutes, and generally augmenting and accelerating it: Uber doesn't decrease miles driven. It increases it.Chad started Living Lands and Waters, a non-profit where people get in the river and clean garbage. It started with just him and grew to huge. Here are some videos profiling their work.I looked at what Chad does and can see what others might: one person won't make a difference, even the organization won't, it doesn't scale. Silicon Valley wouldn't get it.Read former guest Anand Giridharadas's Winners Take All to get how sickening "doing well by doing good" is. Anand treats the problem of contributing to the problem while feeling you deserve thanks for acting like you're solving it. He on economic disparity, not the environment, but the pattern is the same.Chad shows the joy, community, and connection in doing the work---that is, he's changing the values we act on. You can tell because he works himself, with his hands. He doesn't tell others to do it instead, in part because he enjoys the work. He met the woman he married picking up garbage.I heard a guy doing what everyone says is tilting at windmills, enjoying it. He's changing culture by living the change and bringing others on board.In a world many people throw up their hands and lament that they can't make a difference, he's enjoying himself and cleaning the world, leading others to change. If you say, "But it's not enough," well, do your equivalent. He outperformed his expectation and he's enjoying himself.I brought him on because I envision a world where, like him, everyone does their part. That's cultural change. Cleaning the world and keeping it that way means changing culture. You can be jaded and holier than thou. Or you can get your hands dirty, work, and enjoy a life of stewardship, responsibility, joy, community, and connection.Living Lands & WatersSome videos profiling their work
5/29/2020

342: Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll, part 2: Sex

Ep. 342
For background, first listen to my first Sex, Drug, and Rock and Roll episode, part 1: Rock and Roll,how Bruce Springsteen's Broadway show motivated me at last to share some episodes about me. Listeners have asked to know me. I tried to put myself in the background, considering leadership and nature the important parts of the podcast, as well as the guests.Bruce sharing personal stories showed me the value of sharing, in his case about the man behind the music and in mine the man behind the podcast. In that episode, I committed to sharing more about myself and sank my ships, so, like Cortes, I couldn't retreat.Still, weeks passed without sharing. I shared my fear to act with leadership guru and past guest, Dov Baron. I talk about his episodes possibly most for his committing so fully.He said: "Here's the solution: I'm going to interview you as a guest on your podcast." I immediately saw he had the solution. Since seeing James Lipton being a guest on his show Inside the Actors Studio, I'd thought of copying the idea. I knew Dov would guest-host perfectly for why I loved him as a guest.Today's episode is the first of three episodes he interviewed me for, each delving into parts of me I've feared sharing publicly. I think you'll enjoy them. Within the first few minutes, he asked what politically incorrect views I held and what people misunderstood about me.Dov led me to share without my usual evaluating my words while saying them when talking about sensitive subjects. He spoke supportively, sharing about himself and giving views that enabled me to share what I usually protect.Only in the third episode do we reach my most poignant fears, but Dov laid the foundations in these first few minutes.This first episode is about my relationships with women, which I worked to change late in life in a deliberate, non-mainstream way. We cover how little intimacy I felt with them in my first few decades, then how my learning about vulnerability and support led to blossoming of relationships in all parts of life. My working on relationships with women contributed more to my leadership development than probably business school, where I took classes from top professors at one of the top schools for the field in the world.I talk about how following mainstream advice and learning from women led me to feel shame and hide my most important parts. I also talk about how I feared mainstream views about how I overcame prejudices that came from mainstream society, since I overcame them through what the mainstream called misogynist. They call it pick-up artistry, but my experience, starting late in life, nearly 40, was the opposite of the common caricature. On the contrary, I first learned to open up with women, then with everyone---family, coworkers, everyone I met. I'm still often socially awkward and restrained, but less than before.This first conversation with Dov is my first foray into conquering fears that people could hurt me, but also realizing it wasn't me they'd attack, but their misunderstanding of me. Listen to all three episodes to get the full picture. I thought the fears I mention in this episode were my big ones, but they actually set the stage for the ones in the third.I can't express my gratitude enough to Dov.I alternate between finding this episode cathartic from sharing deep, important things and obvious, like doesn't everyone have rites of passage. In any case, I feel liberated from having to hide these things.I'm also disappointed that I live in a world that demeans what led to some of the most important growth in my life while supporting what actually led to me being withdrawn while feeling full of myself. Relistening to the episode, I could sense a new beginning. I could sense fading the fears in the puritanical culture of people attacking me. But now I feel strengthened to continue being myself despite the fact that they get parades and I don't, that people celebrate their sexuality while they suppress mine.Still, the next two episodes go further.