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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!

Aug 1, 2018

In this episode, Mike Erwin, Founder of Team Red White & Blue (RWB), talks with Jim and Jan about how positive psychology and character affect leadership development. Whether it’s through his work at the Positivity Project, Team RWB, or teaching at West Point, Mike is clear on his purpose and serving others. He believes both that in relationship building and community, and the great power of solitude. Mike discusses the principles by which he organizes his life, and tactical and time management methods he uses to bring value, priority, and consistency into all of his projects.


Key Takeaways

[1:26] As the Founder and Board Member, of Team Red, White & Blue, Mike and his team created the standard to organize a non-profit, and to help veterans transition from active duty to civilian life. Mike’s original mission was to help veterans better understand their potential, and to build a team that is responsive and engaged. At its core, the organization is about helping veterans connect with other people.

[6:18] The average person in a day sees 30,000 brand impressions. Mike takes this information for Team RWB and uses it to set his mission apart, by developing a strategy that creates sustainable revenue. Team RWB encourages the members to share the story to create social agency, and reaches big corporations and foundations through brand strength and what every member associated with the organization represents.   

[10:35] Mike founded Team RWB in 2010, and was the Chairman until March 2017 and Volunteer Executive Director for the first two years.

[14:51] Solitude gives us the clarity, creativity, emotional balance and moral courage that is necessary for strong and powerful leadership.

[19:02] Psychology has only been around for 150 years, and gained traction on the heels of World War II. Studying positive psychology lets us in to a world of knowledge in what makes life more meaningful and purposeful.

[22:19] Give yourself a good four days to fully reap the benefit of solitude.

[30:18] Mike sums up his two day seminars with Day 1: Lead Yourself First and Day 2: Leadership as a Relationship. There is not a one-size fits all framework or perfect sound-bite for leadership, and Mike believes it is crucial to step back and invest in a leadership development program that moves the needle.

[37:44] Mike shares how he organizes his time and output of energy. Whether he is serving in the army reserves, nonprofit, education and business, he makes sure that everything he accepts and takes on mutually reinforces his core values and mission.

[43:12] If you want to do more and posses more focus while you are doing it, a tactical first step is to cut out the extras in your life that don’t serve a purpose.  Replace 30 minutes a day of social media scrolling, or passive TV watching, with an activity that breeds passion and purpose.

[51:50] Mike is committed to finding 30 minutes a day of uninterrupted time to read and spend time thinking big picture and analytically.  

Quotable Quotes

  • “We are hungry to reach more, to do more, to become better.”
  • “Can you develop a strategy that creates earned revenue?”
  • With solitude you gain clarity and moral courage that is necessary to lead.
  • Relationships are the number one driver of life satisfaction.
  • Before you can lead other people, you need to be able to lead yourself.
  • Life is too complicated and complex for everyone to be understood under one framework.
  • You must invest time and energy in the process of leadership development.
  • Ask yourself: “Am I adding significant value back to other people, and am I developing value within people?”
  • The long term success of our entire society is at stake. We must think less about ourselves and more about our community, team, organization and family.
  • You have to cut the noise out of your life.
  • The number one driver of a meaningful life is having a positive impact on other people’s lives.
  • Find time every day to read books that challenge you.


Twitter: @ErwinRWB

Instagram @ErwinRWB


Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude


Team Red, White & Blue

Character and Leadership Center

The Positivity Project

Run as One Seattle

Kim Cameron

Martin Seligman

Angela Duckworth



MIKE ERWIN is the CEO of the Character & Leadership Center, whose mission is to produce better leaders through a deeper understanding of positive psychology and character.  He also serves as the co-founder & president of the Positivity Project, a non-profit organization with the mission to empower America’s youth build strong relationships.  In 2010, Mike founded the veteran-support non-profit, Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB) where he still serves on the Board of Directors. He is the co-author of Lead Yourself First – Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude from Bloomsbury Press.  Mike deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan twice, and still serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves---assigned to the United States Military Academy at West Point as an Assistant Professor in Psychology & Leadership.  He currently lives in Pinehurst, NC, with his wife and their four young children.