What do you do?
Carl Pope is Executive Director of the Sierra Club. Since Pope’s appointment in 1992, Sierra Club has added 150,000 new members, bringing the total membership to 700,000. Pope has a distinguished record of environmental activism and leadership.
Prior to his work with the Sierra Club, Pope served on the Boards of the California League of Conservation Voters, Public Voice, National Clean Air Coalition, California Common Cause and Public Interest Economics, Inc. He is the co-author of Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress, and other books including Hazardous Waste in America and Sahib, an American Misadventure in India. Pope was educated at Harvard University and spent two years in the Peace Corps in India on graduation.
Question: Beyond a simple title, how would you describe what you do?
Carl Pope: Well hmm. That’s a good question. I mean I can tell you what I do on a daily basis. I can tell you . . . I mean I raise money. I talk to the media. We’ve got 800,000 members; 34,000 active volunteers; 450 staff people. I’m kind of the mahout who sits on top of the elephant with this thing in my hand called an ankus. And I poke the elephant in the left ear if I want it to go right. And maybe the elephant goes right and maybe it doesn’t. And I’m not in charge of the elephant. I’m quite clear on that. The elephant’s a lot bigger than I am. But I think that my craft is how you take public values and the attitudes and temperaments of leaders in our democracy and make those leaders do what the public wants, whether or not it’s for that reason or not. I mean my job is to take what the public wants government to do and somehow cajole government into doing it. And that’s an imperfect craft, and the last couple of years have been interesting. A lot of things that were pretty predictable have gotten much less predictable.
Recorded on: 9/27/07
Directing the Sierra Club is a bit like driving an elephant, says Carl Pope.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.
- Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
- Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
- If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.