Feb 1, 2017
Co-hosts Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos interview
Josh Spodek, an Adjunct Professor at NYU, leadership coach,
workshop leader for Columbia Business School, columnist for Inc.,
founder of Spodek Academy, and author of Leadership Step by
Step (launching February 2017). Josh talks about how academic
teachings failed to prepare him for entrepreneurship, and how
learning a theory is insufficient without practicing
it. They discuss
the critical need for emotional intelligence, and psychological
safety, and how they can be developed, and the techniques Josh uses
to strengthen them.
Listen in to learn more about leadership practices,
releasing passion, changing beliefs, and nurturing teams.
[2:59] Josh is concerned that academic education is
emotionally and socially passive. At Ivy League schools, Josh
learned was intellectually challenged, but he was not taught
socially and emotionally. Josh had trouble working with others when
he founded his first company. His leadership was ineffective during
the recession, and investors forced him out as CEO.
[10:34] Reading books, and learning theory, but not
learning how to practice the theory, you might as well read about
weights, but not actually lifting weights. Josh wanted a place to
teach leadership. For Spodek Academy, Josh researched fields that
show leadership, to learn from their techniques. He created
exercises, tested and refined them, to teach sensitivity to others’
[18:32] Joshua cites exercises by Marshall Goldsmith,
such as “FeedForward,” and “No, But, However,” that taught him so
much about listening and empathy. Small changes in behavior change
your worldview. Josh organized Goldsmith’s exercises, and others,
into a progression of learning, with each exercise being more
challenging, and all tied together.
[19:58] One exercise is to write down your inner
monolog, the voice inside your head — not what you’re thinking
about, but the actual words. A later exercise is to speak your
inner monolog. That’s scary, because people hear it. It turns out
to be authentic, and people respond genuinely. Further exercises
are to write your mental model (what creates the inner monolog),
and models of others.
[25:12] We’ve all been hurt. When part of your
identity is mocked, you can’t get rid of it, but you can hide it.
We don’t get hurt by casual acquaintances, but by people close to
us. We learn to close off our vulnerabilities. Leaders who learn to
get people to get past vulnerability to share their passion can get
them to engage in their work, for purposes about which they are
[26:50] Jim talks about psychological safety,
determined by Google’s Project Aristotle to be the number one key
performance driver of high performing teams. With psychological
safety, it is easier to have discussions in touch with your inner
monolog. Josh says Laszlo Bock’s research at Google revealed the
need for our educational system to educate to emotional
[29:47] Josh teaches adopting a challenging belief,
in Unit 2 of Leadership Step by Step. Unit 1 is
Understand Yourself. Unit 2 is Lead Yourself. A
leader needs to know that beliefs affect how people view the world.
Two people, looking at one thing, see two things. To change
motivation, change belief. Joshua describes changing the “dandelion
belief,” to the “burning building belief.”
[33:36] If you can look at a difficult problem from a
different perspective, and solve it that way, you have an
additional way to solve problems, or more intelligence. Helping
someone change a belief is simpler than convincing them of
something. The progression in the book is, understand your belief,
adopt a challenging belief, understand other’s belief, and help
them adopt a belief.
[37:48] Visiting North Korea taught Josh about himself. Seeing
pictures of Kim Jong Il everywhere, and tuning them out, made him
wonder what he tunes out here in the U.S. It hit him, that
advertising and brands are what he tunes out. We incorporate into
our reality things that are actually aspects of our external
culture. Sometimes it takes an outsider perspective to see it.
[40:48] Josh teaches entrepreneurs, when they find an
industry where everybody has the same fixed beliefs, it is a huge
opportunity, especially when the beliefs do not match the interests
of the market. The more fixed the belief, the more the opportunity.
Google is an example. Before Google were simple site aggregators,
like Alta Vista. Google tried to sell “search” for $1 million. No
Books Mentioned in This Episode
Leadership Step by Step: Become the Person Others Follow,
by Joshua Spodek (Available February
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
Goldsmith author page on Amazon
The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning
Organization, by Peter M. Senge
NYT Magazine, "What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build
the Perfect Team,"
article by Charles Duhigg
Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How
You Live and Lead,
by Laszlo Bock
Joshua Spodek is an Adjunct Professor at NYU,
leadership coach and workshop leader for Columbia Business School,
columnist for Inc., founder of Spodek Academy, and author of
Leadership Step by Step (launching February 2017).
He has led seminars in leadership, entrepreneurship,
creativity, and sales at Harvard, Princeton, MIT, INSEAD
(Singapore), the New York Academy of Science, and in private
corporations. He holds five Ivy League degrees, including a PhD in
Astrophysics and an MBA, and studied under a Nobel Prize
winner. He helped
build an X-ray observational satellite for the European Space
Agency and NASA, co-founded and led as CEO or COO several ventures,
and holds six patents.
He earned praise as “Best and Brightest” (Esquire Magazine’s Genius
Issue), “Astrophysicist turned new media whiz” (NBC), and “Rocket
Scientist” (ABC News and Forbes) and has been quoted and profiled
by ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, Fox, NY1, CNN, New York Times, Wall Street
Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Newsweek, Forbes, Esquire, The
Guardian, Nikkei Shimbun, Taipei Times, Salon, and more.
He’s an award-winning artist, marathoner, world-class
Ultimate Frisbee competitor, fitness fanatic, and world
traveler. He lives
in Greenwich Village and blogs daily.