Episode 46

Sustainability Leadership And Intrinsic Motivation With Josh Spodek

Episode Summary: Brian and Olabanji discuss sustainability leadership, intrinsic motivation, and systemic change with Joshua Spodek

Joshua Spodek PhD MBA hosts the award-winning This Sustainable Life podcast, a four-time TEDx speaker, bestselling author of Initiative and Leadership Step by Step, professor at NYU, published in the New Yorker, and leadership coach.

He holds a PhD in astrophysics and an MBA from Columbia, where he studied under a Nobel Laureate and helped launch a satellite (having emerged from some of Philadelphia’s most dangerous neighborhoods). 

His mission is to help change American (and global) culture on sustainability and stewardship from expecting deprivation, sacrifice, burden, and chore to expecting rewarding emotions and lifestyles, as he sees happen with everyone he leads to act for their intrinsic motivations.

To connect with Josh Spodek, go to https://joshuaspodek.com/ 

Resources mentioned in the episode:

“Quit Like A Woman” by Holly Whitaker https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45434420-quit-like-a-woman

“Lincoln” with Daniel Day Lewis by Steven Spielberg https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443272/plotsummary?ref_=ttfc_ql_stry_2#summaries

For more information on the project and to order your copy of the Carbon Almanac, visit thecarbonalmanac.org


Want to join in the conversation?

Visit thecarbonalmanac.org/podcasts and send us a voice message on this episode or any other climate-related ideas and perspectives.

Don’t Take Our Word For It, Look It Up!

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Featuring Carbon Almanac Contributors Brian D Tormey and Olabanji Stephen

Brian is a Real Estate Title Insurance Professional and Goat Farmer in the US.

Olabanji is from Lagos Nigeria, he’s a Creative Director and visual designer that helps brands gain clarity, deliver meaningful experiences and build tribes through Design & Strategy. He founded Jorney - a community designed to help people stay productive, accountable, and do their best work. 

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The CarbonSessions Podcast is produced and edited by Leekei Tang, Steve Heatherington and Rob Slater.

Transcript
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Hi, I'm Ima.

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I live in Scotland.

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Hi, I'm Jan and I'm from Canada.

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Hi, I'm Ola Vanji and I'm from Nigeria.

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Hello, I'm Leaky and I live in Paris.

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Hey, I'm Rod.

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I'm from Peru.

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Welcome to Carbon Sessions.

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A podcast with carbon conversations for every day with everyone

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from everywhere in the world.

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In our conversations, we share ideas, perspectives, questions, and things we

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can actually do to make a difference.

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So don't be shy and join our carbon sessions because it's not too late.

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Hello everyone.

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This is Brian Tomi and I'm here with Joshua Spodak, PhD, mba and host of

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the award-winning this Sustainable Life podcast and a four-time TEDx speaker,

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a bestselling author of initiative and the other book leadership step by step,

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a professor at NYU published in the New Yorker, and an amazing leadership coach.

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And he is here with us to talk about his projects and missions that he's doing

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to help make a change in the world.

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And myself, as well as my co-host, Olivan, are very excited to chat with him.

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Olivan, why don't you tell us a short bit about yourself and your

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engagement with the Carbon Almanac?

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Sure.

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Thank you and thanks Josh.

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It's good to talk to you today.

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Yeah, the Carbon NOAC is an initiative.

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Empowers everyone to be able to have conversations about climate change.

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With the carbon amac, what it does is you are suddenly empowered, right?

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You can go from zero to a hundred by just reading the first chapter of the Almanac.

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It's a collection of truths, data charts, and amazing stuff that allows

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you to understand, first of all what climate change is all about.

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Where we are at the world, you know, right now, and what you can do to make a change.

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So it's an amazing tool.

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I'm a contributor in the Carbon Armac I podcast here with some of the amazing

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people, you know, Brian, leaky Jen, and some of the, you know, some of the best

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people in the world that I've ever met.

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So, yeah, that's it for sure.

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Okay.

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Well speaking of doing podcasts, let's dive into today's with

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our fabulous guests, Josh.

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So Josh, you know, thank you for joining us.

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We're really appreciative of your time and I know you know, one of the

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interesting things that's already arisen in our conversation this morning

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is in order to help conserve power.

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You were like, Hey, let me May, is it okay if I go off video?

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Cuz that's gonna help me conserve power.

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Can you tell us a little bit why, you know, what brings that about?

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It's this, this journey you've been on for the last six months and our listeners and

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myself and Allon are excited to hear what you've been up to these past six months.

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Well, yeah.

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It's hard to figure out where to begin.

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I'll, I'll start at the end, but, but I'll note that there's a lot leading up to it.

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I didn't just decide to disconnect outta the blue.

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, but six months ago, no.

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I have to go back to, do you mind if I take a bit of a longer story

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because uh, yeah, please tell us.

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If you had asked me 10, 15 years ago about the environment, I'd say,

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yeah, it sounds pretty serious and someone should do something about it.

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Of course, my personal actions wouldn't make a difference, and

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only governments and corporations can act on the scale that we need.

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But I have faith that, you know, people figured out maybe I could work on some

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invention that might have some impact.

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Not much would make much of a difference.

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And I looked down one day at my garbage in my kitchen and realized

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I was producing a lot of garbage.

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I probably empty at least once a week, and I thought, well, maybe I can't change the

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whole world, but I mean this garbage, no one else can take responsibility for it.

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I am the only one who can, and I feel responsible to.

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You know, it took me like six months to implement the following idea.

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I thought, I wonder if I could go for one week without buying any packaged food.

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Cause most of the garbage was from food packaging.

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And it took me six months to finally say, to go from analyzing and

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planning and thinking like, what do I do day one, day two, day three.

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Eventually just saying, look, I'm not gonna die.

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I'll just start right now.

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And all these little questions of like, do I count food in my pantry?

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Can I eat that if it's packaged or not?

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And all these little things that, like once I actually started doing it, then

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I had to solve all these problems.

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And I thought that living in Manhattan with all these restaurants around

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that I'd be depriving myself and I.

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I found that, well, it took me, I mean, I made it.

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I made it actually two and a half weeks before I bought my

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first packaged food, which was surprisingly longer than I expected.

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I didn't know if I would make the week, and then over the next couple

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months I thought, you know, maybe I can't keep quite to zero for the whole

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time, but I'll do my best to, you know, get less packaging than I used to.

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And this led to getting a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables and getting

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from bulk, bringing my own bags.

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You know, this was the first time in my life that I boiled dried beans on

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the stove, which I'd never done before.

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So I'm, I'm not proud that I made it to my forties before doing that.

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But as I cooked more and more with more and more fresh stuff, I went

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from just having seen vegetables all the time to making really good food.

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And I found that contrary to my expectations, I was spending

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less money when I was in a hurry.

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I could make food faster.

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It tasted better.

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I started in workshops up in the Bronx and in food deserts to help

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bring farmer's markets to other places, cuz I have easy access here.

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And it was just a pure positive in my life, not just a net positive.

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There were no downsides.

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I mean, except for that six months of really bland stuff.

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But that was kind of like my training.

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And I should also mention that that was eight, nine years ago.

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And along the way, I've emptied my garbage less and less.

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So my garbage today is I'm just about three years on one load, and it, it,

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it feels, even that feels like a lot to me because it's less and less.

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So most of that is from two, two and a half years ago.

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And again, this is just pure improvement to my life that I

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would've thought would've been a loss.

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And as much as the physical change is meaningful, my impact is just one person.

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Emotional and mental shift.

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That was the big thing because I started thinking, why did I think

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that this was gonna be so awful?

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What else in my life have I come to believe through cultural whatever would

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be awful, but might also be awesome.

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So a couple of years later, I challenged myself to go for a year without flying.

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This was after watching a video where I learned that flying.

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The guy speaking was British, so he said flying London to LA and

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back was a year's worth of driving.

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And I thought, again, I can't fix the whole world, but I can take

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responsibility for my stuff and I don't wanna pollute the world.

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I know that people are gonna be breathing in those fumes and people

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are displaced from the land to get that oil, building the plane, all

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the embedded pollution in that.

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And so I thought, I wonder if I could go for, you know, a week wouldn't be enough.

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I eventually settled on a year without.

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Again, same thing.

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I thought this was gonna be the worst year of my life.

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I thought, you know, family work, all these commitments, what am I gonna do?

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And I just saw everything as it came.

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And that was 2016 and I haven't flown since.

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And the longer I go without flying, the more flying just, it's just wretched to

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me, it just sounds like a terrible idea.

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Not just for the pollution, but for what, what it does to our culture.

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Anyway, that led a while later to, oh yeah.

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I was reading this article on how much, much of the world doesn't

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refrigerate like we do, they ferment and have different food systems.

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And I looked at my fridge and I thought, that's my biggest

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source of pollution right now.

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And I started thinking, I wonder how long I could go without using the fridge.

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What would I do?

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Do I have to learn to ferment and part of me something in my mind?

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That's that analyzing planning that takes a long time that just do it.

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So before I could stop myself, I went over and unplugged the fridge.

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And the first time I made it three months, then six and a half months.

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And now I'm in my second year.

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And I, I now, having made it a full calendar year, I'll probably, I

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may never plug the fridge in again.

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I'm not sure.

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And Oh, wow.

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Once my bills started coming down to my electric bill, there's 18

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to $20 that I can't do anything.

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That's just being connected.

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I guess I could completely just like tell ConEd to close the account,

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but I haven't done that yet.

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But as my bill started getting to like a dollar, $2 a month for the power that

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I was using, I started thinking and I put up a blog post a couple years ago.

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I wonder if I could get to zero.

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Could I go for one month without using any electrical power from the.

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And this is in Manhattan.

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And so I posted to my blog, can anyone help me?

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Does anyone know solar?

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I didn't know anything about solar.

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I mean, I knew what solar was and I have a PhD in physics, so I know power

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and energy and things like that, but I didn't practically know what devices I

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should buy and how do I connect them?

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And I, I live in a co-op building that's a big building, so I know that the

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coop isn't gonna let me install stuff.

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I, I get some light through the windows.

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No one answered to my blog post, but I just started going online and I mean

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Craigslist looking at what's used, and eventually I found out I should

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get a, a battery and a solar panel, and I got a portable solar panel and

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a portable battery because I can't do this a permanently, and I just bought

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them from used and figured I'll try it out and figure out how it goes.

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And I'm not trying to solve all the world's problems.

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I'm just trying an experiment to see if I can go for a month.

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Using the grid.

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So I guess one of 'em broke and had to get it fixed.

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But eventually on May 22nd, I had just made my stew with a pressure

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cooker powered from the battery, which was powered by the solar panel.

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And I was thinking, right, I got some stew that lost me a few days.

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I got 20% left on the battery.

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I wonder like next, what should I check?

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I don't really know how much power floor AMP is gonna use.

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I don't really know how much my computer's gonna.

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and I start thinking maybe I should wait until the ConEd bill rolls over,

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which is on the seventh of the month.

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And then I realized, oh, this is that thought that this is that analyzing

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planning that always gets in the way.

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Just, I know I'm not gonna die.

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I know no one's gonna get hurt.

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I'll find stuff out.

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This thought entered my mind, I guess I just started, so without

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any planning, beyond just getting the, the panel and the battery.

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I just said, all right, I'll start now.

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And I really had no idea how I'd make it past when I ran out of the stew.

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I didn't know how, how I'd make it past a couple days, but my goal was one

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month, and so now I'm in my sixth month and I had no idea how I would do it.

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I'm ending up going up and down the stairs.

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It's 11 flights up to the roof and back.

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So I do that twice a day, maybe three or four days a week.

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Well, the past few days it's been very rainy, so I haven't

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been able to do it for a while.

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I'm just solving things as they come and it's turning out as I kind of knew, but

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I knew intellectually, but didn't know until it actually happened was just fun.

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I'm getting in touch with the seasons and, and the sunlight and all sorts of things.

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And also, again, I should mention I am doing it for myself because I

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would like to reduce my pollution.

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I don't wanna hurt people.

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And I wanna clarify here, there's changing the world.

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But there's my contribution.

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I know that the pollution I cause is gonna hurt people in wildlife.

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So even if I can't change the world, I wouldn't wanna hurt people

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even if I can't change the world.

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But the bigger picture is that this is a leadership exercise.

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I don't believe that anyone can lead another person to live by values

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that they live the opposite of.

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And so, how else can I learn to do stuff without doing it?

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I mean, I have to practice.

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So I'm learning a lot of what works and what doesn't work.

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You know, the big challenges of changing global culture is not, do people know

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enough of how carbon dioxide traps heat?

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That science is very interesting, but it's our emotions, our stories, our images,

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our our role models, and that's culture.

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And giving people facts and numbers doesn't change that.

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Role models is a big thing, knowing what leads people.

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What leads people to say, what I do doesn't matter.

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When everyone knows that that's not the case, what leads people to say only

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governments incorporations can make a difference when we know that how to

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change governments is we have to act.

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That's like the finish line for government incorporation to act.

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How do we get there?

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That was a long answer.

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, but, and, and it, and it can branch in so many great ways

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cuz you've covered so much.

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But first off, thank you for doing all that leadership activity and it seems that

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you're really an experimental learner, writer, leader, you know, trying to.

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Take your values and figure out how to live by them.

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You, you recently interviewed AJ Jacobs, another, I think you know, famous

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experimental learner writer leader, and I'd liken some of the things I've seen in

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what you're doing to this other author.

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Gretchen Rubin has these four motivational tendencies that she

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writes about inhabit formation, and she breaks the people into four groups

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or your tendencies into four groups.

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And I feel like you fall very squarely inside her questioner one, which

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is sort of like having questioned about the world, but then like

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really being internally motivated.

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And I think I'm curious, you know, as you've been leading in these ways and

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sort of sharing your journey with so many, Do you have stories and, and sort of

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experiences with other people that you've interacted with, that they, maybe they're

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not that questioner, they're not the person who's going to go, just decide to

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unplug their fridge and see what happens, or just decide, no, let's do it today.

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I'm gonna stop using electricity today, even though my battery's at 20%.

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You know, they might be people who fall more into those other categories

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like obliger or upholder, or even rebel using Gretchen's uh, construct.

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Have you had experiences with some people and, and sort of, can you

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share some of those with us of people who may not be themselves in a place

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where they're, they're intrinsically motivated to go try and forge a new

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trail and experiment themselves?

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Can you talk to a little bit of that?

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One comes to mind, there's like, the people I want to lead are

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gonna be the people who can make the biggest difference.

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So these are gonna be.

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C-suite executives at major polluting companies, politicians, elected officials,

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also people in culture, singers, athletes, movie stars, television stars.

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These are the people that are the most effective role models.

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And there's one executive at this oil company, and I can't say who it is

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and I can't say where it is because we have a working relationship,

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but he, for the longest time, we.

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Keeping in touch, but not really talking about energy and pollution.

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But I really wanted to work with him.

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And so I've developed something called the Spock method, which is a, a way to work

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with someone to evoke their emotions and feelings and values around the environment

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in a supportive, nonjudgmental way.

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And then lead them to come up with a way for them to act on those emotions,

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on what the environment means to them.

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And this is a very different, subtle, Critically different thing than to

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say, here's what you have to do.

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It's what do you like to do?

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And how can you do something like that relevant to the environment?

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And by making it meaningful in that way, because they're acting on their

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values, not what the New York Times tells 'em they're supposed to do,

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or Greenpeace tells 'em that they're supposed to do, then big or small

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doesn't matter because they're gonna like it and they're gonna do it more.

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So he was resisting.

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I kept saying to him, let's do this photo method, because I think once

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you do it, you'll really appreci.

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The way that I work and you like doing more.

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And he was like, no, no, no, no, no.

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So we keep the conversation going and at one point he talks about

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visiting a relative and he sees something that he had read about that

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he hadn't seen with his own eyes.

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And that was that near this relative, it was his grandmother

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and, and there was a force near her where he used to play as a kid.

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And it didn't get cold enough in the winter.

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And there's a beetle that could continue to grow that normally

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would not grow because of the cold.

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And the beetle had just eaten up this whole forest.

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So I haven't seen a picture of it, but it sounds like it was just

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stumps acres and acres of stumps.

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And he was heartbroken because it was something as a kid.

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And so even though this was in a statement of something that mattered to

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him, and I walked him through the Spock method without asking him, but since

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it was out there, I could work with it.

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And he decided that the way he would act on this was that he takes a walk

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in the park near where he lives.

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What he committed to was to pick up litter in that park to keep it

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a little cleaner, and it evolved in the month or so that he was doing it.

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I think I forget exactly how long he was doing this to involve his daughter

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and his daughter started when he would go to the playground with his daughter.

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They would pick up litter.

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And people around them.

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At first were like, what's wrong with you guys?

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And then eventually they started picking up letter two and it became something

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between him and his daughter that was fun.

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So this is not an obligation, this is not in his mind.

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He's doing something that he enjoys, partly in reaction to the,

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the magnitude of the feeling he had when he saw the the forest.

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Because of this, he starts saying, all right, let's bring

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you into the company now.

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Let, and he's, he works with people in C-suite of one of the

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major oil companies in the world.

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And in order to bring a new leadership coach, it has to go

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through several steps that they have a lot of internal leadership

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coaching and a lot of inter practices.

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So we have to present how I work for their internal review

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to make sure that it works.

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We're working on creating this presentation.

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We're using past presentations of things that have worked

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and the usual corporate stuff.

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And the, the, the method, by the way, is in corporate speak, would be,

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this is a mindset shift followed by a process of continual improvement.

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And I start with a mindset shift with this photo method.

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And then the continual improvement is, you know, we always overestimate.

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Not always, but we tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, but

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underestimate what we can do in a year.

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And so lots of these little changes add up to a lot in one person.

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If you keep doing it right, you can't just do one thing and stop anyway.

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We get to doing this presentation and or we're forming it.

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And in the presentation we're putting all these numbers and how it works

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and past clients and things like that.

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And then he puts in, he says, here's this picture, and it's a picture of his.

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At a playground and she's standing there with a big smile on her face and

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she's holding up a piece of litter.

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He said that we are at the playground together and she saw a piece of litter.

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She was on the monkey bars or whatever, and she just runs

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over and picks up the litter and she's so happy that she's got it.

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And that goes into the presentation because what's gonna make this

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work at the company is not the numbers, the oil company.

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They know the numbers better than anyone.

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They know what works, what doesn't work, and so forth.

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What they don't know is that when they do this, they, the executives are

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gonna connect with their kids more.

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They're gonna love the experience on a human level.

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That is something that you can't fake.

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I can say to someone, You're gonna like doing this because it's gonna

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bring you closer to your family.

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It's gonna bring you closer to everyone in the world.

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It's gonna connect you.

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You know, most people think, oh fuck, I can't fly.

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I'm not gonna get to go see Machu Picchu.

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I'm not gonna get to see all these different cultures and

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I'm not gonna see my mom on the other coast and things like that.

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But when we see that taking others into account for everything that we do,

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because every the pollution, you pollute the air, you pollute everyone's air.

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We're all connected this way.

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That's a beautiful.

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That's not a burden that I have to take into account.

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Oh, every time I do something, I have to think about every other

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person on the planet that's glorious.

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And now he could show that from his personal experience.

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And you might say, well, picking up litter in the park is not a big deal.

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Well, I'm gonna be talking.

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Well, we can't be for sure, but looks like I'll be on a path toward talking

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to the C-suite of a major oil company.

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That could be some pretty big change, and that's why I don't

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think that you can get there.

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Genuinely, authentically living the values and enjoying them.

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Actually, if I go back to that first time when I was avoiding packaged food

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for week, there was a part of me that wanted to hate the experience, that

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wanted to feel miserable and realized if the cure is worse than a disease,

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I would take the disease and just say, well, if we go down, we go down, but

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at least I'll have fun and join the I.

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I kind of wanted that to.

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Because it would've been so much easier just to say, I throw out my hands.

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What can I do?

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Only governments and corporations can make a difference.

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I can't make a difference.

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But that was wrong.

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It's a much better life.

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Living humble to nature than there's a quota came from Abraham Lincoln.

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I actually, I gotta say cuz video uses so much power.

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I'm reading a lot more books these days because I'm not watching videos and I've

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read two biographies at Abraham Lincoln.

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and both.

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Great.

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I can't believe I've made it this long without learning

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more about our 16th president.

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Well, America's 16th president.

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I'm American and it's, I'm not gonna say it word for word I, but it says The

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worst thing you can do to yourself is to do something that you know is wrong.

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Once you do something you know is wrong, you have to

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convince yourself why it's okay.

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You have to suppress and deny and twist yourself up inside and.

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I mean, Lincoln knew what happened when people did that, but we have

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a culture built on polluting.

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Knowing that we're polluting, knowing that it's wrong and internally

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twisting ourselves up to say, why?

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Oh, our, the plane was gonna fly anyway, or, what I do doesn't matter, or only

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governance in corporations can make a difference on the scale that we need.

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It twists us up it that is not.

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I could only have found that out by actually living this way

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and finding the glory in it.

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I dunno if I've gone too off, too off topic or to a side, to any sidebar.

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I think this is beautiful and, and we're, we're, that's what

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conversations are all about is figuring out and finding out where they go.

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You know, I think a lot of what you're talking about in this example of this

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executives and sort of his resistance, maybe having conversations about how to

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think about things, but then you sort of like maybe without his awareness

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leading him down, this pathway speaks a little bit to, I think something

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that seems to underlie so much of.

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Your writing and your leadership is, is behavior change and pattern changing.

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You know, even the term, you know, this sustainable life, like it's about.

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Changing those patterns and, and you recently had a fabulous podcast

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interview with, with Holly Whitaker.

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The, the author of a book quit, like a woman that explores her pathway to forego

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alcohol or rather live a sober lifestyle.

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And, and in that interview, you, you dig a lot into the correlation

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between alcohol addiction.

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And our addiction to fossil fuels, or maybe rather our addiction to the belief

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that the things we can derive from fossil fuels faster, this cheaper, that,

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easier, that is itself an addiction, an addiction to that feeling and belief

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that that life will be easier or better.

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Can you share some thoughts on like this idea of behavior change and, and that

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mindset change and, and the correlation over to other kinds of addiction?

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where when we step back, you know, Holly refers to alcohol as sort

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of like our modern day cigarette.

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Right.

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And can you step back and help us think about our patterns and behaviors

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as, as in our lives and how those are themselves, addictions and how we might

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consider changing those behaviors?

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Yeah.

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There's lots of definitions of, of addiction and I don't claim

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to be an addiction specialist.

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A lot of it is that it's something around choosing something that, you know, has

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long term, uh, adverse effects for the short term reward, and maybe some attempt

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to try to stop, an inability to stop.

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A lot of people connect them with chemicals like drugs and

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alcohol and, and nicotine.

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The, the specialists recognize things like gambling and some we'll say

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video game addiction and social media.

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Different experts will qualify these things as, as addictions as.

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And when you're addicted, you know, you make these choices that you wouldn't

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otherwise, and it's very difficult to get out someone who's addicted heroin.

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If you suggest to them that you'll, you'll enjoy life more.

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Earning an honest living, a sleeping regularly exercise, eating healthy,

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they're gonna compare that to the jolt of pleasure that they get.

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That works every.

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and they're gonna look at the withdrawal and say, no way am I gonna

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do that, that that sounds square and I don't wanna live that way.

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This is, this is a better life now.

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Somewhere deep inside, maybe they feel otherwise, but it's very difficult to, I

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mean, if a, if the person who's addicted has not themselves said, I'm addicted and

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I want to change, the big thing is to get them to where they say that themselves.

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So I wanted to talk to people.

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Are experts in addiction.

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And in Holly's case, she drank a lot of alcohol and then stopped.

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And then her book I highly recommend because whether you've

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been addicted to alcohol or not, so much of what she says rings true.

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And so much of her attitude is so, like she talks about how

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alcohol was such a positive thing in her life until it wasn't.

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Her, how do I put it?

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Outrage at the world, at a system around us, which says, I mean, it's

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normalized and made even adorable.

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Like you, have you ever seen like the shirts that say like, mommy's

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drink champagne or Chardonnay because babies cry or they have these cute

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little phrases and stuff and she was seeing like how much society condones

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this and even their attempts to, to hold things back, drink responsib.

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The first word is drink responsibly.

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The arb modifies it.

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They're still saying drink . That's the way of like, reducing

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drinking is to say drink.

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And our world is like that.

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And she goes through and learn.

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I mean, she eventually learned about how alcohol, what it does to

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the, to the body and what it does to a culture and things like that.

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And, and, and, and the book is really engaging.

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So I really wanted to have her on.

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She, she's as engaging in conversation.

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So how do.

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If we're addicted to things that fossil fuels bring, I mean most people, if

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I propose to them a voting packaged food, they, I mean, I used to have

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ice cream in my freezer always.

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I always had ice cream in the freezer, and I always had snis of a handover, pretzels

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in my cupboard because I loved them, and I couldn't think of going without them.

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And I always thought, I'm eating too much of this stuff.

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But when I finished the package, I'd get.

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Mm.

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Now those things are disgusting to me.

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Like I, there's not enough money in the world to get me, to get

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me to eat a spoon of ice cream.

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It's just not, not gonna happen.

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Mm.

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I've just, it's, I mean, it really, it goes to the disgusted center of my brain.

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And she had that too.

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And, but I gotta tell a story that's not about Holly.

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Definitely read a book if you're trying to see how you can get around to change your

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behavior to where it's something where you feel like, I know this is hurting others.

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I know it's hurting myself, but I can't stop myself when we

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do something we know is wrong.

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We convince ourselves why it's not, and we suppress the part

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of us that says otherwise.

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But I gotta tell the story about one time I was walking.

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Washington Square Park, which is around the corner from me.

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It's sort of my backyard and I pick up litter every day.

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And since the pandemic, when the heroin, meth, fentanyl, and crack

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addicts started really populating the northwest corner of Washington Square

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Park, which is supposed to be, you know, a really desirable area in the world,

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but I mean, they were encampments of, of people and, and fentanyl and meth.

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People who use this stuff just throw garbage every.

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So I told myself, I'm not gonna retreat from this.

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I go pick up at least three pieces of litter in Washington Square Park

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just to make sure I'm there and the people see me caring and acting.

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And so I'm going pick up litter.

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And this one particular day I'm walking through and there's not

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even a lot of people around, but when I go pick up something, this

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guy sees me and he says, thank you.

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And he's a construction worker.

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He is wearing one of those bright yellow vests, somehow off duty.

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He's holding onto the helmet.

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And I don't know what he's doing there, but we get to talking and I start talking

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to him about why I pick the stuff up and I say, you know, it's nice to pick up

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the litter, but what it really does is it helps reinforce not to buy packaged food.

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I tell him about how, you know, at that point I'm maybe two, two and a

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half years into one load of garbage.

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And he's like, wow, that's amazing.

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And I also say how one of the outcomes of this is that by eating fresh fruit

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all the time, I can eat as much as I can stuff down my throat because it's.

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Low caloric density.

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You know, you can't eat that much.

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I mean, you can't get fat eating spinach.

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So, and he says, well, I wish I could do that, but I can't.

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And he indicates that he's obese and he points to his belly

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and he is like, I can't do it.

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There's nothing I, you know, I'm too far gone.

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I'd like to be able to eat that way, but I can't.

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So I point him over there at the meth and fentanyl people, and they're

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out of earshot, but we can see them.

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And I say, you know, those people over.

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Are addicted to fentanyl and meth and things like that.

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And he goes, yeah, I know.

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And I say, I talk to them and they tell me that they can't stop

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what they're doing, can they?

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And he looks at me and you can see the gears start turning and

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he says, you're right, I can stop.

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I didn't tell him he could stop.

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I asked him if they could, and they, you know, I think he knows that they can.

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And I think he knew that he was using the same excuses that they.

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And then a funny thing happened.

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He gets out some money from his pocket and he's like, take this.

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And he hands me a $20 bill.

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And I'm like, no, what I, what are you talking about?

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He goes, take this.

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I'm like, no, I'm not gonna take your money.

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I don't need it.

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And he goes, it will be more valuable to me, the lesson if

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you take this money from me.

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I'm like, if this benefits you, fine, I'll take it and I'll

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give it to some worthy cause.

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And he goes, no, no, spend it on yourself.

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Enjoy it.

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So now the intellectual awareness that you can stop is different than

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being able to stop being able to stop.

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And the, you know, people go, they stop and then they, they,

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they're in recovery and then they, they, what's the, what's the word?

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They not remission when they go back again.

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And, you know, it, it's a cycle.

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It's, it's difficult, it's challenging.

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It helps a lot to have role models.

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It helps a lot to have support, you know, giving people facts, telling a

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smoker, here's what happens to your lung.

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Or a drinker, here's what happened to your liver.

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It's not nearly as effective as being a role model, showing support,

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non-judgemental support, compassion, but really having gone through

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it yourself is a really big aid.

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Giving people facts and numbers not gonna help, not gonna hurt.

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I mean, that helps after they've changed, but getting to where they choose to.

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That's a much different facts and numbers don't help that.

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I mean, they're not gonna hurt.

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And sometimes there's someone who's ready to hear it, and that fact might

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be just at just the right time, but much more about emotional support.

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Listening, listening to understand, going, you know, meeting them

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where they are, things like that.

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And having done it yourself, that's, I mean, that's why I'm unplugging.

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Not for, yes, for the individual thing.

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Yes.

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Because I don't wanna pollute other people, other people's

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air and water and, and world.

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And if you look at, I mean, ugh, it's heartbreaking to see the

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pictures of se Ghana where, where a lot of e-waste goes, or just the

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mountains of garbage in other places.

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And people look at that and say, well, they should have better sanitation.

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I'm like, who's profiting from that?

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That's, that's where I, you know, I wanna go to the boardrooms of

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the people who decide to extract.

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And form the plastic and things like that.

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Now, that's not to say, you know, that's not the only thing to do.

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We have to stop ourselves.

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I certainly support Extinction rebellion@threefifty.org for

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protesting and things like that.

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But something that I saw missing was how do we lead the most influential

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people with the biggest delta possible?

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Yeah, we gotta do it ourselves first.

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Gotta walk the walk, yeah.

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And find the joy in it.

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I mean, there, there's nothing in me that.

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What a burden, what a chore.

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I'm so deprived.

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What a sacrifice.

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I mean, except in the sense of, of I've had a bunch of

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religious people on the podcast.

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I've had evangelicals, Trump supporters, hardcore red state politicians, CEOs

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of very polluting companies, and there's, the reason I mentioned this

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was in the, in the, certainly in the evangelical community, the word

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sacrifice is a very positive thing.

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So I do sacrifice in that sense.

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Or the Michael Jordan.

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, like he's, he was the first one there and last one to leave from every practice.

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Was he sacrificing?

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I think he really enjoyed it.

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And so in that sense, I'm sacrificing if there's a noble part of it or sacrifice.

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If, if, if people who leave the party early to go home and they have to feed

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their dog or walk their dog or take care of their kids, that's not sacrifice.

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I mean, it is, but it isn't.

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So in that sense, yes I am because it's very reward.

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But it's not, I'm not giving anything up.

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In fact, I, I wish that I had started earlier and had not bought into the social

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cultural beliefs of what you do, doesn't matter, and all those lies to support

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here looks at the quote Abraham Lincoln.

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Nothing is more damaging to you than to do something that you believe is wrong.

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That's where the, that's where, that's where the, the, the.

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Conflict interruption begins.

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Yeah.

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It's this, this theory of cognitive dissonance where like

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your actions and your beliefs are, are in contrary alignment.

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But then you start to as, as you talk about in many of your writings and

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things start to like just convince yourself why the actions you did do

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are actually the right ones after all.

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And this idea of sort of like explaining it to yourself afterwards,

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that we all do, you know, that's one of the powers of our brain is to.

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Soothe that dissonance with, with a new explanation, a new,

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a new response afterwards.

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Now there, there's this fabulous book by Professor Brian, uh,

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Wein, who digs into this concept.

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The book was called Mindless Eating, and he digs into this idea of choices made

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during like moments of consciousness where you're stepping and you're

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sort of in your, what are my values?

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What are my choices?

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What am I thinking about, what I'm choosing to?

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And he focuses within the eating construct on what can you do in

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that moment of consciousness that will have influential impact.

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You know, when you're in all those mindless moments, when you're just

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sort of going through your routines and just doing things, you know, you had a

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great little thing about talking with someone who you know, was like, well,

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how do I give up these Keurig pods?

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And you're like, just try it.

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You know?

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What, how would you take, what are, what are some of your ideas that you

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might share with our listeners about.

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Actionable changes that they can make and commit to in, you know, quote unquote

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moments of consciousness when they're stepping back and saying, okay, how

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I wanna lead a more sustainable life.

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What are things they can do in that moment of consciousness that are

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actionable, that can have a meaningful and positive, positive, sustainable impact?

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Well, I gotta, with the ke one, I didn't say just, just try it.

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What happened with her was, that was a reporter who did a story on

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me and after the story she came back and said, I wanna do this stuff.

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and what can I do?

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And no, she didn't say what she could do.

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She said, I don't really know what I can do about my Keurig cups.

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She had a Keurig machine at home.

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Mm-hmm.

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. And she was like, I don't know what to do.

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And I said, well, I can't say exactly what to do because I haven't solved that

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problem because I don't drink coffee.

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But I know the process is, you know, go, I forget exactly what I said, but

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something like, see if you can go without for a week and here's what I think will.

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Again, I can't say for sure.

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I think one is it might be that you stop drinking coffee and you just don't need

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it anymore, in which case problem solved.

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It may be that you find another solution because people have been

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making coffee for long before Keurig machines were around, and you'll

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figure out what other people have done.

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And I don't know, maybe it'll be something like some French press and

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she says, oh, I have a French press.

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Someone gave it to me as a gift.

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It's in my closet.

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Okay, so here's how not to stop using Keurig.

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Keurig, uh, single use disposable.

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Keep using them.

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Here's how to stop, stop . She had the solution right there.

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But as long as we pre, you know, if we are ever gonna get a jet that can fly,

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or an airplane that can fly across an ocean carrying a bunch of people, you

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know, I had the, the chief engineer of an electro plane company on, and

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it looks like it's never gonna happen.

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If it's gonna happen, there's like with, you know, maybe stopping

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over in Greenland, but then you have these huge constraints.

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but it looks like it'll never happen.

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But if it's ever gonna happen, here's how not to get there.

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Keep flying with jet fuel.

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It's like the worst thing to do to, to get off of jet fuel is to keep using jet

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fuel and to keep supplying that system.

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So to, in those moments of consciousness, when we recognize even

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someone who is heavily addicted to some of the most addictive stuff.

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So, you know, a heroin user might, might think they might have a

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moment of clarity where they think, I really wanna stop this.

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We.

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I mean, in my case, it's this.

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If you have that mindset shift, you have to start a process of

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continual improvement and expect that it's gonna take a while.

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I'm something like 10 years into genuinely, authentically acting

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on my values here, and I'm still, I'm still taking, I'm still

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filling up loads of garbage.

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I haven't gotten to zero yet, and it's, I'm, I'm gonna be

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a long way off, but I hope.

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The next person can see that you can live in Manhattan and

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unplug from the electric grid.

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And even if you think you can't make it past two days, you can

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still make it into the six month and who knows how much longer.

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I hope the next people can take maybe three years or one year to

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do what I've done in all this time.

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And I hope that, you know, one of my biggest hopes is that people

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will hear, you can unplug over half the world lives in, in cities.

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And most people, I would think would feel like I did on May 21st before I started.

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Can't be done.

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How would I even begin?

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What could be done if a lot of people, or even if some people

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think you can do that, I wanna try, that's the beginning of a movement.

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And you try and you fail and you try and you fail and you try and you fail

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and you try and you succeed and you bring someone else along the next time.

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But I think you have to start with intrinsic internal motivation.

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If it's extrinsic, oh, New York Times says I'm supposed to avoid straws.

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I don't think that's gonna.

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It's gonna reinforce the feelings.

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Like when I hear someone say, here's one little thing you can

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do for the environment, here's 10 little things you can do.

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I'm like, why?

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Say little.

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Mm-hmm that implies you don't wanna do it.

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No one says drink less.

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Driving Mondays no one says seatbelt.

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Tuesdays you say, always drive if you're gonna drive, drive sober.

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Always that not easy way into it.

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What I focus on is intrinsic motivation.

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What are the passions?

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When you think of moments of yourself in the environment that really matter

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on the beach, on the mountain, in the forests with the pet at the

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park, what are the emotions there?

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Act on those emotions.

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It may lead you to do something really big.

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People on my podcast have said, I'm gonna go vegan right now.

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People have said I'm not, I'm, I had one executive retired and she said,

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I'm not gonna buy clothes for a year.

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Wow.

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I talked to her a couple weeks into it and she not only was not buying clothes,

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she was getting rid of clothes that were in her closet that she didn't wear.

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And she was, this is even funny.

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She was even going through her, seeing the simplicity that brought to her

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life, the improvement to her life of getting rid of needless things.

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She was going through her Rolodex or whatever, you know, her computer Rolodex

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thing, and she was getting rid of contacts that weren't valuable to her.

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Wow.

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And so, You know, if you look on my blog, you'll see, you'll see a

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bunch of stuff on the Spock method.

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If you just listen to episodes of my podcast, that's, I really think the best.

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The best way to start is to find what's inside you that matters and act

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on that applied to the environment.

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That's not enough of a description of Theo Method, I would say values

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first and then acting on those values.

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And so like people digging into themselves to finding.

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Like what are my values?

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Right?

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And a lot of what she said is communicating to people that,

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Hey, what are your values when it comes to even the environment?

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Like what are your values?

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And, and when you do that, then what next?

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What action are you going to take?

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And, you know, just take that action.

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So it's pretty amazing.

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And I wanna clarify intrinsic values, not extrinsics.

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Cuz if it's just like, I don't know, I wanna do nice things for the world.

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That's not gonna do it, that, you know, definitely act on those values.

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But if for these, it has to be like in a moment when you are, I mean, when you are

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in the environment and it really changes you, you know, maybe it was that one

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time you were on the beach and the sun just hit the clouds and just that way.

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Or sometime you're on a mountain and you climb it yourself or whatever.

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Like how do you feel then and there and those emotions?

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Act on those emotions.

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Most people, when I ask them what the environment means to them, almost across

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the board, their answer is what they read about, about how the environment is

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all falling apart and all this outrage.

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And then they start getting into how governments, corporations should change.

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And it's all, you know, it's become common that we show how much we care

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by expressing more and more outrage.

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That's not their experience with the environment, that's their experience.

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Reading the news or watching videos actually in the environment.

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It takes a while for people to get there for a lot of people until they

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do, and then it's, they open up and it becomes really very meaningful.

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But so it's not just to say, oh, I'm so outraged, or I care about my kids.

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Of course you care about your kids, but that's separate from you care about

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the environment before you had kids.

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It really takes a lot of, how do I.

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I mean experience to really walk people through this, getting

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them off of, how do I put it?

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You know, the cocktail party conversations where we show how much

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we care by our outrage, but it's not really, it's not, it's still focusing

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on everyone else should change, but I still, you know, but I shouldn't.

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Yeah.

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See if I ask someone, do you feed your dog regularly?

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Do you change your baby's diaper?

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No one feels guilty if I ask them that, and I say, do you take into account

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how your pollution affects others?

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People are like, oh, stop making me feel guilty.

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I'm like, I'm not.

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If I ask you if you feed your dog, to me it feels very similar.

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Why would we care more about our dogs than about people

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just because they're far away?

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Just because I feel like I can't make a difference.

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Of course, I can make a difference about, about my personal actions.

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So when we get to a point where when someone asks, you know, are

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you doing all you can, people feel like, oh, I'd like to do more.

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What more can I do?

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What?

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What more awesomeness can I bring to my life by caring more?

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Acting more about people live and let live, do unto others

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as you have them do unto you.

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Leave it better than you found it.

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If I give.

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I mean, for me, it doesn't feel like giving up anymore.

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But if I give up flying and in return I get to live by the value of do

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unto others as you would have them do unto you that trade is worth it.

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Because the contrary is doing what Lincoln saw was the worst

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thing you can do to yourself.

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And, and when you do it, the glory that comes with it, the, the, the

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feeling of oneness, of connection of we're in this together.

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That's what being human means.

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It is not.

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I wanna go to Machu Picchu, you can't stop me.

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I'm just gonna go.

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My mom lives on the other coast.

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What else can I do?

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I have to go see her.

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That's a really hard problem.

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That's really hard to solve, but the only way we can do it is by facing it.

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Speaking of, you know, like deep seated change, but on big change,

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you know, one of the things that you've put forward is this idea.

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A constitutional amendment to, you know, here in the US to actually ban pollution.

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And at one point during one of your sessions on this, you, you say, if a

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genie offered me the opportunity to just immediately have this constitutional

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amendment, which creates sort of a new law of the land in place, but without

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popular support, I wouldn't wish for that.

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And it, it feels like some of what you're saying here comes back to that concept of.

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It has to come from a place of of deep rooted internal intrinsic, and you're

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almost speaking about the population itself as needing to like come to that

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place of perspective and our convers conversation and our perspective

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around things to shift so that it's not weird and odd and problematic

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that a father and a daughter are picking up a piece of litter in a.

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And that people don't react.

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What are you doing?

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That's weird.

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That's crazy.

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But in fact, that's normal and celebrated and commonplace and that big shift.

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While we're on the topic of, of, of the constitutional amendment construct,

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you know, for, for our United States listeners, any words to share on that?

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I mean, it, it's some really compell.

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Thought work that you've put into this, this construct.

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I am not interested in any action.

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That is not a fair democratic process.

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And this really hit me.

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I was up at Columbia University's, this is where I got my PhD, this Lamont Doherty is

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one of the big research centers there, and I was up there and, and giving a talk and

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I was talking, one of the scientists and the scientists are saying, we gotta get

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to these senators and tell them this stuff so that they can vote, blah, blah, blah,

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you know, to, to vote on some legislation.

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I'm like, You gotta get popular support If you're trying to sneak around the

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public and say, look, we know what's right and we're gonna tell the senators

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what's right and they're gonna act despite the fact, despite if everyone's

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going around buying SUVs, the senators are going to go with the public.

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And if you try to go around that, well, you know, the oil company is

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a lot better at it than you are.

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Everything has to come.

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And if you try to pass a law that, that the public, that the public

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doesn't want, like say prohibition, you, the public's gonna go against it.

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That's gonna work against you.

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The, so if you want to have, if we want to pass legislation for a carbon tax or

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pollution tax or various things like that, but we don't first get popular support

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and, and how can you get popular support if you yourself are funding through

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buying the plane tickets and buying the plastic bottles and all that stuff?

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If you're funding the pollution, you are funding the opposition

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. So that's not gonna work.

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You, we have to change ourselves first.

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That's why, that's why I describe government acting is the finish line of a.

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Which itself is then the beginning of yet another marathon, but at least that one

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you're going downhill instead of uphill.

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But the reading about Lincoln led me to see, you know, I started learning

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more about the passage of the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery.

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This is what the movie was about.

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The morning.

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They didn't know that it was gonna, the movie Lincoln with Daniel Day

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Lewis in an amazing acting role.

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And they didn't know it was gonna pass even the morning of.

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It was a huge talk about what s a bipartisan polar polarization.

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It was hugely, the issue of slavery was hugely divide.

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There was a civil war.

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Right?

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This is as, as as Republican versus Democrat as you can get.

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Although switch back then, and I doubt you would find any politician today who

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would suggest repealing that amendment.

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I mean, talk.

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I mean a hundred percent agreement.

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I, I'm sure there are a few people who'd say, let's bring back slavery.

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There are people like that, I guess, but I've never come across one.

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And you're right.

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I doubt any politician.

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No politician is gonna get elected to office by saying,

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let's repeal the 13th Amendment.

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So one morning unexpectedly, I just woke up and thought, oh, and I also

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recognize, he described as I think the King's solution, he realized that there

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had been decades, centuries, of federal legislation, judicial interpretation.

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I mean, the Dred Scott decision I was reading about, I, I

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I learned about in school.

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It said that Africans were never supposed to be citizens of this country.

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It's widely regarded as the worst Supreme Court decision of all.

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Mm-hmm.

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. And, but that's what happens when you don't have popular support.

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Federal legislation, state legislation, judicial interpretations.

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Executive orders.

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Even the Emancipation proclamation he recognized would not endure past the war.

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It was a wartime act.

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I mean, it was stronger, but it was like an executive order.

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These things don't work when the population is split, but a

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constitutional amendment I view as different than legislation.

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The Constitution is what constitutes America,

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and legislation follows our values.

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If we try to.

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If we create legislation or create technology first and hope that that

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will change our values later, that backfires the same technology in one set

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of values will have a different outcome than in a different set of values.

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I mean, the cotton gin is, is like my big example here, but Eli Whitney's cotton gin

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allowed more output for the same labor.

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That could mean less labor, it could have mean less slavery.

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But the people who are using them didn't value less slavery.

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They valued more profit, more power, so they used it to get more power,

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and it's regarded as one of the major contributors to the Civil War.

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The same technology could have gone one way, but the values of the people

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wielding it, they didn't value that.

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They valued power and money.

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So I don't want a constitutional amendment.

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Like if someone said you could just get a constitutional amendment, then I know that

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most people in this country, including most environmentalists, would oppos.

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They would, they would continue doing what they were doing.

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So step one is go to the people, start with myself, start with ourselves.

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And if, if I don't wanna do it, what am I gonna, what, what, where am I gonna

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get by passing a law that other people shouldn't do it when I'm still doing it?

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No one's gonna vote for that.

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No senator's gonna vote for that.

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No state is gonna ratify that.

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Not when we're paying for the opposite.

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So we've gotta change ourselves.

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But in, in the long run, I'm divided right now as to whether to present

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it as, as a symbolic idea that, that we could strive for or actually

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to say, let's get that amendment.

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Let's get to a place where our culture says that amendment

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makes total sense to me.

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It does.

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It's crazy for a lot of people to think of a world where known pollutes.

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And I've asked a lot of people, can you imagine, and I you listening

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to me right now, just not just you guys, but everyone listening, can you

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imagine a world where nobody pollutes?

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Most people I say that ask cannot imagine a world where nobody pollutes.

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They can, I mean, if they can, it's usually post apocalyptic after some

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Mad Max outcome where we're living out of the dirt, which is actually.

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We did live without pollution up until, you know, roughly speaking,

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around 17, 1800, we used lead pipes, which would pollute, but

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by and large we didn't pollute.

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And in that time we went from something like a thousand individuals homo

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sapiens, to just about 1,000,000,006 continents living above the Arctic

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Circle in that time finding.

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Anesthesia and septic systems and systems of hygiene.

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We got had the germ theory of disease.

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We don't have to leave any of that stuff up

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and vaccines, so people think we have to return to the stone age to not pollute.

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That's that's a failure of imagination.

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And that failure of imagination is one of the biggest problems.

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It may be our biggest problem if you ask someone to pollute less.

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When they believe that the end result of polluting less, is it atopic hellscape or

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return to the Stone Age where mothers are dying on childbirth and 30 years old age

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and no hospitals and everyone's dying.

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If you get a cut, then you have to amputate because a gang green antibiotics

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existed long before pollution did.

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But if that's the vision that someone has, they'll be like, oh yeah, sure.

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I'll go without straws for a little while.

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Sure.

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If that makes you happy.

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That's where it ends.

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Cuz I'm not gonna go any farther than that.

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I don't wanna give up.

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I don't wanna have to live in the mud and die at 30.

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And that's unable to imagine the world had actually lived, the world that brought us.

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Buddha and Laa and Aristotle and Shakespeare and Bach and Jesus.

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Mohamed.

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You guys got me going.

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It's, I hope I don't sound too high horse.

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It's really, there's a glory.

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There's a fun and a freedom and, A greater connection to family and,

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and community that it, it's rousing.

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I've never read a bunch of facts that got me there and you know,

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just avoiding packaged food and then just going for a long time.

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The joy of eating an apple is really great.

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I can't overstate it, and that's what I'm sharing.

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Thank you.

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Thank you so much.

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It's been a pleasure talking to you.

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I feel very inspired and I'm sure that Brian and leaky here are also

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inspired by a lot of what you shared.

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Was just wondering if there are any last words that you'd like to leave

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before we close out on this episode?

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Well, I'm gonna riff on you saying you were inspired.

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One of the things that got my podcast started was Seth himself being a guest

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on my podcast and actually went up.

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I gambled and I said, I'll go to where you are.

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And I took the train up, he met me at the train station and he was coming from

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the farmer's market carrying a whole load of vegetable like these vegetables

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and recorded together at his place.

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And he's very infectious, you know, of like, I wanna do that too.

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And very inspirational in that way.

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Also activating people.

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And so I'm gonna see if I can activate people listening to this on my podcast

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and in my leadership consulting training.

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I like to work with very influential people.

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Bring them on the podcast to act on the environmental values so that others can

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say, oh, someone that I know is doing it.

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If people listen to me now know, you know, CEOs, especially polluting

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companies, elected officials, star athletes, star singers, star actors,

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people with large followings, and they do not have to have experience or.

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In environmental anything or sustainability, anything.

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Most of 'em don't.

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Then I'd love to have them as guests on the podcast, or if they're in

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an organization and they're looking themselves to change that organization,

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they could use this mindset shift followed by continual improvement themselves.

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And I would like a coach, put them in touch with me and I'd

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love to have them as guests.

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I'd love to work with them and help them change so that they

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feel the joy that I do and share.

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And that intrinsic motivation and that fun and freedom and joy and community and

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purpose, and that that's what leads us.

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Yeah, there's a sense of obligation, but really coming from intrinsic internal

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joy, I'd love to help them get there.

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And so if they go to joshua poddar.com in the upright corner

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is to contact and connect with me, and that's the best way to.

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That's awesome.

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That's awesome.

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Thank you so much.

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And I'm doing this inspired from Seth cuz he's so much, I wanna do that too.

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Like, oh, I wanna bring my friends in on it.

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He is an infectious personality and that power can be powerful.

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It's, it's that multiplier effect.

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Yeah.

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And, and isn't that what we need to get?

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A lot of people started.

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I think that's exactly what we need.

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Thank you so much, Josh.

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Again, I'm sure that everyone listening to this has also been inspired and, and will

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be inspired, you know, listening after on.

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That's so great, and I feel like we should do this again, right?

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So I'm looking forward to another conversation with you sometime.

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Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today, and see you next time.

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It's been wonderful for me.

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I hope I didn't talk too much.

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You've been listening to Carbon Sessions, a podcast with carbon

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We'd love you to join the Carbon sessions so you too can share your

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This is a great way for our community to learn from your ideas and

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If you want to add your voice to the conversation, go to the carbon

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About the Podcast

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Carbon Conversations for every day, with everyone, from everywhere in the world.

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Carbon Almanac

When it comes to the climate, we don’t need more marketing or anxiety. We need established facts and a plan for collective action.

The climate is the fundamental issue of our time, and now we face a critical decision. Whether to be optimistic or fatalistic, whether to profess skepticism or to take action. Yet it seems we can barely agree on what is really going on, let alone what needs to be done. We urgently need facts, not opinions. Insights, not statistics. And a shift from thinking about climate change as a “me” problem to a “we” problem.

The Carbon Almanac is a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between hundreds of writers, researchers, thinkers, and illustrators that focuses on what we know, what has come before, and what might happen next. Drawing on over 1,000 data points, the book uses cartoons, quotes, illustrations, tables, histories, and articles to lay out carbon’s impact on our food system, ocean acidity, agriculture, energy, biodiversity, extreme weather events, the economy, human health, and best and worst-case scenarios. Visually engaging and built to share, The Carbon Almanac is the definitive source for facts and the basis for a global movement to fight climate change.

This isn’t what the oil companies, marketers, activists, or politicians want you to believe. This is what’s really happening, right now. Our planet is in trouble, and no one concerned group, corporation, country, or hemisphere can address this on its own. Self-interest only increases the problem. We are in this together. And it’s not too late to for concerted, collective action for change.