Leadership and the Environment


329: John Perkins: Touching the Jaguar

Ep. 329

A great joy of podcast success is talking to people who changed your life. I read John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man about ten years ago. I couldn't put it down---as much from the writing as the stories and content. It led me to see the world differently, especially government, corporations, America, money, what my taxes support, politics. It recalled Upton Sinclair and Henry Thoreau.

He is about to release a new book, Touching the Jaguar. He's written several books on shamanism, his experiences relevant to shamanism from before his economic hit man path, how the worlds interact, bringing them together, and showing how they are relevant today---including during a virus.

If you're here just after I posted it, listen for the workshop he's offering April 29th.

On a personal note, I hope you share what happened with me listening to him. I thought of the fears I've been facing lately, for example sharing my past on this podcast, if you listened to my episode Bruce Springsteen inspired to start talking about Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. I can't imagine I'm the only one holding back from facing a fear and acting on it that I know it's time for.

John talked about changing perception and things that might sound small, like tweeting or emailing companies about actions of theirs you don't like. Almost everyone I talk to says little things like that don't make a difference so they don't act. They're letting their beliefs limit them---what they do, how they live.

As I understood John, he's saying that those beliefs and actions build on each other. They did with George Washington, as he describes. They did with everyone who made a difference.

I recommend listening with the question in mind: What am I perceiving that I could perceive differently?

John's announcement for his workshop:

Dear Friends,

When I wrote Touching the Jaguar, I had no idea that the coronavirus was on the way. However, it seems now as though the jaguar was reaching out to touch all of us, because when you order the book, you also receive a free workshop that is perfect for this time of crises and opportunities. 

I didn’t know about the virus, but I did know that our world is in trouble.

A shaman in the Ecuadorian Andes with the wonderful name, Maria Juana, was asked by a participant on one of my trips, “How do we save the earth?” 

Maria Juana laughed. “The earth’s not in danger. We humans are. We’re causing problems for all species. If we get to be too much of a nuisance, Mother Earth will just shake us off, like so many fleas.” She pointed up at the mountain that hovers over her home. “Twenty years ago, that volcano was covered with a big glacier. The glacier’s gone now. Mother Earth is twitching. She’s demanding that we listen.”

I think about that whenever some place in the world is struck by a hurricane, earthquake, fires, or another “once in one hundred years event” that now happens every year or so. The earth is twitching.

This virus is the biggest twitch yet. It impacts everyone on the planet. It’s time to reexamine who we are as individuals and as a species. 

This workshop is all about that. It’s about transformation – yours and the world’s. The book won’t be in stores or delivered from online vendors until June 16. However, because we are facing the coronavirus and other crises now, I want to offer you a jumpstart before the end of this month on techniques for transforming your fears into actions to change your life and the world. Although normally $297, this workshop is yours free when you order Touching the Jaguar. In addition, you will receive two other bonuses, as described at


I look forward to joining you at the workshop and hanging out with you and the rest of this powerful, magical, life-changing Touching the Jaguar Community.

More Episodes


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

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