Found in 8 comments on Hacker News
spodek · 2019-12-05 · Original thread
Most books on leadership give principles and science, which don't hurt to know, but leading is a practice -- an active, social, emotional, expressive, performance-based field.

We learn to perform by practicing the basics in any field.

Leadership Step by Step gives a set of 20 exercises that teach the basics of leading yourself and others. If you practice, you'll develop the skills, experiences, and beliefs of an effective leader. Other books are like music appreciation. This book is like learning to play the piano.

Written by a PhD in physics (me) then started several companies, got an MBA, and teaches leadership at NYU to stellar reviews.

Leadership Step by Step:

spodek · 2019-11-05 · Original thread
I've never felt better.

I can count several years that were the worst of my life and it didn't make sense to go on -- my first year of graduate school when I got my life's worst grades, my girlfriend left me, I didn't have time for my hobbies, my roommates didn't pay bills in my name and broke my things, etc; also the year my first company almost wen bankrupt and I felt I couldn't trust anyone. Those experiences and getting out of them put my problems today in perspective.

I jump out of bed every morning. I love my work and the people I work with I'm passionate about my projects. There are hard challenges, but taking them on is the source of my purpose and gives me meaning.

I often feel bad and in those moments I wouldn't write like this. Sometimes I feel like giving up, but past disasters and my lessons from them tell me those moments will pass. My practices of regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sleeping a minimum that's right for me most nights are a solid foundation to build on.

I wrote my books on the NYU courses I teach that develop this lifestyle and

spodek · 2019-09-22 · Original thread
Decades ago three people independently said to me, "I've known you a long time but I don't feel I know the real you." I saw I was the common element so decided to change.

I learned social and emotional skills, which took years of social and emotional work. It didn't cost time or money, but since I was used to intellectual learning, I often felt hopeless, confused, and other emotions I'd never felt from learning. Most things I tried didn't work, but some did and I kept at it.

After a few years I found myself saying how nearly all my relationships after that work were better than nearly any relationship before -- with friends, family, girlfriends, coworkers.

I've concluded that the problem wasn't my work situation or social structures, but that no one taught me social and emotional skills of self-awareness and relationships. In the past, we learned them through things like sports, arts, free play, and other performance-based activities -- the things schools increasingly cut in favor of things amenable to standardized tests. I don't mean art history or art appreciation, but creating and expressing yourself where others will judge your painting, recital, stage performance, etc and you learn to handle it. Nor do I mean sports where adults control everything, but challenging yourself to improve, recovering from loss and failure, etc.

My publisher framed my book Leadership Step by Step as a business book, since it will probably sell more that way, but it's the book version of the course I teach at NYU to develop these skills. My point is anyone can learn social and emotional skills. When you do, relationships improve and increase in number when you want. People who do the exercises consistently tell me they thought they couldn't learn these things, especially not in a classroom. I felt that way when I learned them. I wish I'd learned them as a child, but it's never too late to learn them.

spodek · 2019-09-07 · Original thread
I teach at NYU. My courses are in book form too:

My friend's school that inspired me is Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. He's given TEDx talks and keynotes online:

spodek · 2019-08-07 · Original thread
I hope they help.

You might also be interested in my books, which teach the social and emotional skills of leadership, initiative, and entrepreneurship, based on courses I teach at NYU.


Leadership Step by Step:

One of my past students used the Initiative skills to teach the Leadership material to youths in Gaza Every situation is unique and it's just one project, but his project shows promise of teaching youths before they get caught up in violence. He tells me that the program helps change views of leadership from command-and-control, authoritarian to based in understanding and support, though I'm oversimplifying. I'm just sharing one example.

spodek · 2019-07-23 · Original thread
After my PhD in physics, I learned starting a company that I needed such skills and devoted myself to learning them.

Now I teach the social and emotional skills underlying leadership, entrepreneurship, and initiative at NYU (student reviews: and videos of them describing the courses:

I made book versions of the courses. Amazon makes the first chapters of each available free, which goes into more detail on what I learned and its value:

Leadership Step by Step:


spodek · 2018-05-11 · Original thread
I'll answer your question first, then suggest something I consider more important, having survived several life-shattering crises.

- The Tao Te Ching, especially Ron Hogan's translation (freely downloadable here:

- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby

- Getting Things Done, David Allen

- Gimp, Marc Zupan

- Thinking in Systems, Donella Meadows

- Leadership Step by Step, Joshua Spodek (full disclosure: me,

The suggestion I consider more valuable is to focus more on active behavior than relatively passive reading. Of course, still read. But it's easy to read more and more, telling yourself you're getting more perspective. You are, but nothing changes your perspective like actually moving.

Even if you don't know what will work best -- meditation, fitness, art, music, travel, cooking, gardening, starting a business, etc -- starting with something, even if you soon abandon it, will lead you to things you love and that develop you faster than reading alone. Plus activity will make what you read more meaningful.

I include my book because it's specifically a book of exercises that lead to developing social and emotional skills designed to build on each other.

spodek · 2017-12-25 · Original thread
Yes. If it doesn't break any rules to mention mine: Leadership Step by Step -- -- in particular Chapter 17, on how to make a meaningful connection.

Note that one of its foundations is that developing social, emotional, expressive, performance-based skills takes practice and rehearsal to go from mechanical practicing, like playing scales, to effortless, genuine, authentic self-expression. The same as in learning to act, sing, play an instrument, play a sport, military, and so on.

The book gives you exercises. It's not for everyone. Just reading it will help you appreciate the skills. Practice will lead to growth.

Fresh book recommendations delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday.