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The Leadership Podcast

The Leadership Podcast

Why do we do this?

We interview great leaders, review the books they read, and speak with highly influential authors who study them.

How we do this?

#1 We interview great leaders.
#2 We review the books great leaders read and write.
#3 We have fun!

Apr 25, 2018

William Deresiewicz, award winning essayist, critic, and the writer of Excellent Sheep, joins Jim and Jan and shares his perspective on the need for solitude in the interconnected age, social and emotional learning, and which interpersonal skills are crucial to moving forward in the future.  


Key Takeaways

[4:33] In order to be a real leader, you have to be able to think and create space around the ideas.

[8:18] What William calls the “waitress principle” emphasizes the tendency for managers to lead without listening, and push the ideas away from those who really are in the front lines of what is happening.

[10:54] There seems to be a push to imply that everyone has to be some type of leader, and if you aren’t interested in leadership you must be a follower. Good thinkers and intellectuals don’t have to automatically be pushed with the label as a thought leader.

[13:33] The educational system now generally produces the type of person who is afraid of taking risks, doesn’t know how to make decisions on their own and relies on doing what someone else tells them to.  While ambitious and talented, students need to learn more how to take control of their own thoughts and lives.

[20:22] William discusses how the meritocracy from the 1960’s has now led to the present day  created creditantled arts race that puts the interest of the country ahead of individualism.

[29:57] We have come to believe that education is all about the job market. While that is clearly important, social and emotional learning is also crucial to developing sound future leaders.

[37:50] It’s not fair to say kids these days don’t work hard or have an interest in leadership. They they have been thrown into an economy with no stability and security, and under the lead of employers that may not show commitment or leadership principles they can follow.  


LinkedIn: @William Deresiewicz

Facebook: @WilliamDeresiewicz


Twitter: @WDeresiewicz


Quotable Quotes

  • Solitude is the essence of leadership.
  • “My only experience in leadership has been resisting other people’s efforts to exert it on me.”
  • In order to really think, you have to be able to be alone.
  • We don’t all have to be leaders.
  • Successful adults do not lead linear lives.
  • I’ve learned to agree with being disagreed with.
  • Ask yourself why the term and concept of leadership is important to you in the first place.



William Deresiewicz is an award-winning essayist and critic, a frequent college speaker, and the best-selling author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life.


Books Mentioned in this Episode

Excellent Sheep

How to Raise an Adult

Kids These Days

On Political Correctness