Our American Discourse, Ep. 5: The Art of Leadership in Precarious Times

The great leadership gurus usually tell a story of virtue rising to the top. They advise us to think positive, treat everyone with respect, and follow our moral compass. But we don’t have to look far to see leaders who turn this wisdom on its head. Negativity, disrespect, and divisiveness seem to be the order of the day. Were the experts wrong? Is good leadership dead? Surely there must be a more realistic way to understand the whims of the masses — and make straight their path once more. 

In this episode, we get a more realistic take on leadership from the contrarian guru Rob Asghar.

Mr. Asghar is a special advisor to the president of the University of Southern California, a University Fellow at USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy, and a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy. He is the author, most recently, of the book USC: A Transformation, 2010-2015, and before that, he authored the book Leadership Is Hell: How to Manage Well and Escape with Your Soul.

To listen to this episode of Our American Discourse, click the orange arrow in the Soundcloud player at the top of this post. Or you can download it and subscribe through iTunes, Soundcloud, or Google Play.

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“Our American Discourse” is produced by Aubrey HicksJonathan Schwartz, and myself, and mixed by Corey Hedden.

Our American Discourse, Ep. 4: The Ethics of Governing

Democracy is a dialogue. It requires our leaders to ask, to listen, and to react. Good governance thus hinges on conversation and consent—and whether we like it or not, conflict. Planners and policymakers have to balance competing needs, never more so than in today’s polarized environment. How do they do the right thing? Does such a thing even exist? Citizenship demands that we engage with these uncomfortable questions, especially in this troubled era.

In this episode, we find sagacity and even humor in the hard work of ethical governing with Lisa Schweitzer.

Prof. Schweitzer is an associate professor of urban planning in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. She teaches classes in city life and structure, justice in public policy, and public transit. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. She blogs regularly, provocatively, and wittily at lisaschweitzer.com.

To listen to this episode of Our American Discourse, click the orange arrow in the Soundcloud player at the top of this post. Or you can download it and subscribe through iTunes, Soundcloud, or Google Play.

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“Our American Discourse” is produced by Aubrey HicksJonathan Schwartz, and myself, and mixed by Corey Hedden.

Listen to My New Podcast on “White Trash”!

The Bedrosian Center at USC hosts a monthly “Book Club” podcast featuring professors and graduate students, and this month they invited me to join them to discuss Nancy Isenberg’s new book White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America.

If you’re interested in listening to our conversation, you can find it…

I’ll be returning to their podcast in a couple months to pick up the conversation with the related book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance.