Joshua Spodek: Founder, Spodek Academy

My NativeAdVice:


Joshua Spodek, bestselling author of Leadership Step by Step, is an Adjunct Professor at NYU, leadership coach and workshop leader for Columbia Business School, columnist for Inc., and founder of He has led seminars in leadership, entrepreneurship, creativity, and sales at Harvard, Princeton, MIT, INSEAD, 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 NASA, co-founded and led as CEO or COO several ventures, and holds six patents. He earned praise as “Best and Brightest” (Esquire'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, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He has visited North Korea twice, swam across the Hudson River, and has done burpees every day since December 2011.

How did you get into the industry?)

Teaching and coaching leadership and entrepreneurship followed

•    Starting companies

•    Getting an MBA (and finding they didn't teach that effectively)

•    Learning and developing how to teach more effectively—actively, experientially

Leadership and the environment followed from seeing that people are trying to lead governments and institutions but not people, except through counterproductive means like legislation without popular support, education through facts, and guilt and blame. None of these ways leads to people changing their behavior. Awareness doesn't lower CO2 emissions. Behavior does.

Any emerging industry trends?

Schools are slowly learning that teaching about leadership, like through lectures, case studies, and writing papers, doesn't teach you to lead. Practice does. If we taught piano like we teach leadership, we'd put people in classrooms and lecture musical theory at them for years before putting their fingers on keyboards.

As far as I know, my books and courses are the only methods to teach this way now. Others educators will follow my lead. In the meantime, people who don't take my courses will look for jobs from the people who do.

In the environment, the overwhelming trends are rising greenhouse gas and human population levels. People talk about lowering them, but they continue to rise. Most of what we're doing now isn't working. What is working isn't working enough. A lot of it makes people feel good while not working, which promotes complacency.

The big missing trend is leadership—to lead people to change their behavior, not just say others should change theirs.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Check out

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

My inspirations for teaching actively and experientially are

•    Constantine Stanislavsky, whose revolutionizing teaching acting is my model for revolutionizing teaching leadership and entrepreneurship

•    Marshall Goldsmith, whose active, experiential leadership exercises form my models for my exercises

•    Chris Lehmann, who founded the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia is my model for creating a practical learning community based on active, experiential learning

•    Henry David Thoreau for living by his principles, closer to nature

•    Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel for inspiring revolutionary changes in power, beliefs, and behavior for entire nations against what looked like overwhelming opposition

What's next for the Business in the near future?

Teaching and coaching leadership: my book reaching bestseller has led to lots of corporate interest: I expect growth of keynotes and executive education—that is, teaching my courses in corporations

In leadership and the environment: my podcast, which I expect to draw prominent figures and celebrities.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

My book, Leadership Step by Step, was the first of several. The next will be Entrepreneurship Step by Step, Relationships Step by Step, Sales Step by Step, and so on.

I've done about 60 podcasts this year, which have created phenomenal relationships and deals, so I expect to do more.

I'm increasingly invited to speak in public, which I expect to increase.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

I love teaching at Columbia and NYU, but universities are bureaucratic and political. Many professors have poor leadership skills.

I've unexpectedly found that I like teaching and coaching in corporations—many are more conducive for learning than universities. Yeah, I said it.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

I created a page for the Native community——with an example exercise from my book—How to Make a Meaningful Connection—with annotated videos showing me doing them with my mentor, leadership guru Marshall Goldsmith, and an excerpt from my book. That page will answer this question better than I could here.

How do you motivate others?

Read my book or take my courses!

... and do the exercises.

Then you'll learn how. It's like asking how to play piano: play scales and do the exercises. My books and courses give you exercises that work.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Read my book or take my courses!

... and do the exercises.

Then you'll learn how. It's like asking how to play piano: play scales and do the exercises. My books and courses give you exercises that work.