151: Leadership Lessons from Poetry with Kirk Barbera

Ep151 leadership lessons from poetry Kirk Barbera TalentGrow Show with Halelly Azulay

Can poetry enhance your leadership skills? Poetry is an art form that can be both beautiful and obscure. But if we approach it in a purposeful way, it can also be a powerful tool to improve our communication skills, critical thinking and even our leadership skills. On this episode of The TalentGrow Show, media producer and editor-in-chief of Troubadour Magazine Kirk Barbera discusses how poetry can enrich your mind and help you articulate your vision as a leader. He reads us a compelling poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called “A Psalm of Life,” and guides us step-by-step through unpacking the meaning behind it. You’ll discover the link between poetry and leadership success, and how you can train your mind to look at poetry in a new, purposeful way. Listen and don’t forget to share this episode with others!

ABOUT KIRK BARBERA:

Kirk Barbera is a media producer for the future. Media has fundamentally changed. New methods, models, avenues and technology make media more accessible than ever before. Kirk has produced thousands of videos, podcasts, articles, books, novels, plays, and more. He is Editor-in-Chief of the literary magazine, Troubadour Magazine and the host of the Troubadour podcast.

A Psalm of Life”

What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • Many great leaders in history have been lovers of poetry. What can we look for in poetry to enrich or enhance our experience as leaders? (5:50)

  • Halelly and Kirk discuss how poetry helps you communicate, and more specifically, articulate a vision (8:11)

  • Kirk shares an analogy to help us understand how poetry trains the mind (10:12)

  • Kirk reads a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called “A Psalm of Life” (12:47)

  • An exercise in unpacking the meaning in poetry: Kirk leads us step-by-step (15:49)

  • Addressing the issue of different interpretations of poetry, and whether there are right and wrong answers (20:03)

  • What it means to live life fully and with purpose, in the context of the poem (22:32)

  • Connecting the lessons in the poem to leadership (27:25)

  • What’s new and exciting on Kirk’s horizon? (28:46)

  • One specific action you can take to upgrade your leadership skills (29:26)

RESOURCES:

Transcript:

Episode 151 Kirk Barbera

TEASER CLIP: Kirk: It’s not always going to make 100 percent sense right away, and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you. I just always tell that to people because people get a complex like, “I don’t get it! I don’t understand.” Forget it. I didn’t get it at first. I don’t ever get poems at first. It takes time and many readings.

[MUSIC] Announcer: Welcome to the TalentGrow Show, where you can get actionable results-oriented insight and advice on how to take your leadership, communication and people skills to the next level and become the kind of leader people want to follow. And now, your host and leadership development strategist, Halelly Azulay.

Halelly: Hey there TalentGrowers. Welcome back to another episode of the TalentGrow Show. I’m Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist here at TalentGrow and this show is brought to you by TalentGrow, which is the company that I started in 2006 to develop leaders that people actually want to follow. This episode is in celebration of summer. I thought we could do something a little bit out of the ordinary, and I am bringing to you poetry for leaders. My guest, Kirk Barbera, is going to help you see what’s in it for you as a leader to read poetry, and how to overcome the barrier that a lot of us have –d including yours truly – to reading poetry, because it is not something that comes natural to me, and I’m trying to learn it. Kirk is an amazing teacher and he has a podcast all about this so we’ll talk more about that. You’ll hear that in the show. He’s going to read a poem and we’re going to learn how to read it, how to understand it, how to analyze it and converse with it. I think that you’re going to like it, but I’d love to know what you thought afterward. Without further ado, let’s take a listen.

TalentGrowers, I’m here with my friend and colleague Kirk Barbera. He is a media producer for the future. Kirk says media has fundamentally changed. New methods, models, avenues and technology make media more accessible than ever before, and Kirk has produced thousands of videos, podcasts, articles, books, novels, plays and more. He is editor in chief of the literary magazine Troubadour Magazine, and the host of the Troubadour Podcast. Kirk also is on my team with the TalentGrow Show, usually working in the background and supporting the marketing efforts, and we are really excited to finally get him on the front end of the show and this is going to be an episode about a topic that is definitely a mutual for us, which is poetry for leaders. Kirk, welcome to the TalentGrow Show.

Kirk: Thanks for having me. It’s cool to really be on here for once. I like it.

Halelly: Well, before we get into poetry, I always ask my guests as you know to describe their professional journey briefly. Where did you start and how did you get to where you are today?

Kirk: Well, I’ve heard this so many times on your show and so I always think about this and how unusual it is for many of your guests and for myself, and I started selling knives out of high school. Did that for several years, did pretty good. I put myself through film school after and then I did a smattering of jobs. I was a literature teacher, I worked at a think tank, I worked in marketing for another think tank, and I just did a whole bunch of different things. But when I look back at the through line and the goals of my life from late teenager to today, it was always literature. I was always interested. I wanted to write screenplays and novels and short stories. That’s always been what I’ve done and a lot of these skills, I guess, looking back – now I’m 34 – trying to develop the skills necessary, the subsidiary skills necessary in our new, futuristic media world, where in a lot of ways you’ve got to do it all yourself. So learning sales and marketing and editing and videography and podcasting. All those things that are necessary to get my words into other people’s ears or minds as quickly as possible. That’s what I think a lot of my journey has been about.

Halelly: I agree with you that one of the cool things about my show, and I always enjoy that part – actually, listeners, I would like to know if you enjoy it – but I love to hear about people’s meandering paths because they’re rarely a straight line. It just shows that we’re all kind of on a journey that is purposeful in one way or another. It just teaches you lessons and shows you what you like and what you don’t like, what you’re good at and what you’re not good at, what you’re curious about and what you want to do more. I also always admire people who are sort of self-made. You kind of created a career for yourself that centers around your skills and your strengths that is unique. It’s not sort of cookie cutter or not a job that you look in the wanted ads and find this kind of a job. You just made it for yourself.

Kirk: Personally, as a listener, I think it’s a really great part of the show because it is a very interesting part of human life. The resume life. When you ask a question and it’s like a literary, poetic question, what is life? What is my life? Who am I? That’s such a difficult question to answer. Thinking about it and organizing your life and many people have different ways of doing this, but I think it’s an important skill to have to think back on what skills am I really good at? What jobs was I happy in? What jobs was I not happy in, and why?

Halelly: So today I brought you on because I figured it’s summertime and lots of us are thinking about what do we want to read on the beach or vacation or kind of doing things that are a little bit more adventurous. You have a show – I was a guest on your show, which I think at the time, I don’t know if you’ve changed the name of your show, actually?

Kirk: Yes, so it was an earlier iteration called Poems for People who Hate Poetry.

Halelly: At first I was like, “I don’t know if I want to put myself with that label.” I don’t hate it, I just can’t connect with it so well. It never really lands well with me, so I always feel like I’m missing something. It was just never an art form that I was very drawn to. But I do appreciate the role of art and life and I think that’s something we’ll talk about. You say that when we look at really great leaders, across history, a lot of the admirable leaders that we quote were lovers of poetry, like George Washington, Abe Lincoln, John Wooden, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and the list goes on. And you say that when we see a really truly epic leader, a lot of the times they do read at least some poetry. You mentioned to me before we started recording that one of those classic, best-selling, self-help books of all times, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill included numerous poems. So, clearly, you think that poetry is important for leaders. I’d love for you to talk about why. Why do you think that leaders need poetry?

Kirk: If you’re trying to be a leader and you’re using these guys as models, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Churchill, whoever it is, Abe Lincoln, if you have that, you should try to think about how did they think about life? Often the way they thought about life was filtered and improved in their literary endeavors. Jobs loved Herman Melville and Shakespeare, and you get this in his marketing, for instance. My point is, you emulate these guys and you learn from them. One thing to think about is don’t cut out segments of their life, one being their literary endeavors and literary desires. One thing I always think about is what are some common skills that are actually unique to leaders? If you think about what is a big challenge, a leader in an organization has when they enter, probably if you were to label two or three top challenges of getting a new project put forth, what do you think is one? Just out of curiosity, in your endeavors on your show, that has come up a lot as a challenge?

Halelly: Of course, in my job doing leadership development in organizations, I get asked about this all the time. What is leadership or what does leadership involve? There are so many different things. But one of the big ones that I think is definitely related to poetry here is that you need to be able to articulate a vision. People need to know what their goal is and they need to know where they’re going, how they’re doing it together and why that’s compelling, why they should work hard to achieve it.

Kirk: You said that better than I was even thinking. I like that you focused on the articulate part. Communication, that’s how I thought about it, but articulating a vision is really challenging. That’s even more complicated, I think, than just even one-on-one communication or one-on-group communication. Really studying. I know we don’t like the word study, and I hated school, just like I hated poetry as well, until I was 28. I loved literature, reading novels and such, but not poetry, for some of the reasons I think most people have pushback on it. But, what I’ve learned is that if you stretch your mind to really go stanza by stanza – which we’re going to do with a poem today, briefly, A Psalm of Life, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and when you have that training and ask, “What does this word mean? How does it fit into this phrase? Why did he use this phrase? What is this analogy really trying to put across? What is this simile?” I know these are words that you might have had from school and you don’t like them as much, and that’s fine, and you don’t need to have the expertise right away to get started. But when you start just asking yourself like, “What does this mean, this line? What does this word mean?” It trains you to be more capable of communication. It gives you a better ability to actually convey your own thoughts, because you’re going into the mind and the thoughts of another, usually if it’s a great poem, a genius of communication and language.

Halelly: That’s a good point. I like it.

Kirk: One analogy that I think of, and I think of analogies all the time and I think one of the reasons I’m able to do this is because I read so much literature, so I’m constantly coming up with analogies and I play with analogies. I think a lot of people don’t do that. They have a certain thought in their mind and they don’t play around with it. Poetry helps you to be a little bit more playful with language. One thing I was thinking about, and this is just like thinking about for your show so this is brand new for me, but an analogy between the mind and the body. To me, it’s very obvious. If you train your body, you should train your mind. One way to train your mind is to read books. But an advanced way to train your mind, or another way, is to read poetry as well. Poetry is our form.

Imagine this scenario. Imagine you live in a world where everything is the same, sports are all the same, everything like that, but in sports or in the world, nobody has ever heard of or thought of or even tried lifting weights. So nobody does this. Then you join the NFL and so everyone, they can run, they can do pushups and air squats, but there’s no external weight. It’s just their body, calisthenics stuff. Then you go in there and you’re lifting 800-pound weights, like an NFL player. You’re sweating, benching 480, you’re a beast. I mean, how are you going to do in the world against all those other guys?

Halelly: You’re going to be much better!

Kirk: You’re going to crush them, right? People often ask me, “Do you have a book recommendation?” I don’t usually have book recommendations until I get to know you. But I do have a phrase that I like, which is if you read what everyone else around you is reading, then you will think what everyone else around you is thinking. So if you want to have an extra edge, I highly recommend reading things that are over 60 years old, maybe even classics of certain sorts, and really training your mind in a completely different way. That’ll give you an extra edge on what other people are thinking.

Halelly: Cool. I like it. It sounds like so far we talked about how having poetry can help you be a better communicator and also a more agile and creative thinker.

Kirk: Yes. And in that vein, maybe we could explore a poem briefly and get a taste.

Halelly: I’d love to do that. TalentGrowers, this is what Kirk does on his show, so we will link to that in the show notes and you can go and listen and learn way more than he can do on this show, but I thought this would be a nice exposure of something. It’s a little different, and when Kirk and I were planning for and preparing for this episode, I said I want a poem that’s related to leadership and that we can do something that seems relevant for you, TalentGrowers, and Kirk suggested a variety of them. I chose the one that we’re going to do, which he mentioned already, A Psalm of Life, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, because to me it was just the most resonant. It was easier for me to understand than the other ones, and I like the message of it. So, Kirk, you’re going to read it to us?

Kirk: Yes. I’ll read it. Hopefully you guys are motivated, and I just want to start by saying it’s not always going to make 100 percent sense right away, and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you. I just always tell that to people because people get a complex like, “I don’t get it! I don’t understand.” Forget it. I didn’t get it at first. I don’t ever get poems at first. It takes time and many readings.

Halelly: That’s good to know.

Kirk: Don’t feel bad. I’ll read it slowly and then we’ll go through it in a little bit. This is A Psalm of Life by Longfellow. And it’s got a little quote at the top that says “What the heart of the young man said to the psalmist.” Tell me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream! For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way; But to act, that each tomorrow Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act,— act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.

Halelly: What do we do now? How do we break this down?

Kirk: I know at this point you’ve probably heard it and maybe listened to it a couple of times, but if you’re a listener listening for the first time, one thing to always look for is did it resonate on any level with you at all? Even if you don’t understand it all, which you probably won’t, did it feel good on any level? If it did, then it means it’s a good sign to read it again and now take the time to go through it. If it didn’t, move on. You want to find poems you actually like, and I think this is so important. Because if you don’t, you’re going to get the wrong mentality and just not going to read any poems and miss out.

Halelly: And then it’s like, “It’s good for you medicine. Take it, it’s bitter! Good for you!”

Kirk: Exactly. So find the stuff you want. Then, now that you like it – I’m going to go ahead and assume you like this poem.

Halelly: I did.

Kirk: I do what I call converse with verse, or stanza-by-stanza breakdown. All you really need is a dictionary and your mind, and maybe Google. Google can help too. This is where you actually just think about it. One thing to think about is, it starts off, and everything in a poem including the title, is important. This is A Psalm of Life. I had heard the word psalm, of course, but when I first read this poem, I wasn’t 100 percent familiar. I don’t come from a very religious family, so I wasn’t super familiar with psalms and what they actually are. A psalm is essentially a sacred song. It’s a song that if you go to church, there’s a whole book of psalms and you would read it. Something about the glory of God or of this, but it’s a sacred song. It’s an important song. So this is a sacred song for life. That’s the structure of this, the framing of this whole poem. Then you have what the heart of the young man said to the psalmist. This is the framework. A young man, it’s his heart, is saying this to a psalmist. You can think of, I picture like an 80-year-old church-going man on stage, a priest, who is reading psalms, like a psalmist. Does that make sense?

Halelly: Yes.

Kirk: That’s the kind of framework we have. Now, what does the young man say? He starts by saying, “Tell me not in mournful numbers. Life is but an empty dream.” So, what do you think he means by “mournful numbers,” and if you don’t know, that’s okay. I have something to start us off with, but I thought I’d ask you, Halelly.

Halelly: I don’t exactly know. The only thing that comes to my mind, but I think this might be just a stretch, is numbers are your age. You go up and up in age and you’re sorry that you’re getting older because you’re going to die.

Kirk: I think that’s part of it. Tell me not in mournful numbers. So, the way I think of it is, I think there’s an aging component, like you’re saying, like life is but an empty dream. We’re all going to die. And it’s all about the afterlife, is what I’m getting from this. Mournful numbers, like if you do the numbers, everyone dies. Look at the trillions of people who have died. That’s our fate. This is a young man, right? The heart of a young man. He’s like, “Don’t tell me these mournful numbers,” that yes, you have the numbers – trillions of people in the afterlife. Fine. Don’t tell me it’s an empty dream. “For the soul that’s dead that slumbers and things are not what they seem.” I think what he’s saying there, it simply is speaking that if you live like that, you’re already dead.

Halelly: Yes!

Kirk: So if you live like, “Oh, let’s just wait for the grave, because that’s where the important stuff happens,” then you’re wasting your life. Now, a prose person, if I was writing an essay, that’s how I would write it. But a poet talks about the soul is dead. He talks about if you slumber with your soul and then things are not what they seem. So, I think this is kind of questioning the mournful numbers that we just heard about. It’s like, yes, you have the trillions. I have one. But things are not what they seem. The one is important. That’s how I look at this.

But, I think you were on the right track. Even if you interpreted it slightly differently, we’re getting older, I’m counting up the numbers, but you know, it sounded like when I said the soul is dead that slumbers, that this resonated with you when I said you’re already dead if you act that way.

Halelly: Yes.

Kirk: I think we were on the same page, even though I might have had a slightly different interpretation. That’s fine. That’s good, but we were still on the right path to get it.

Halelly: I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong answer. You sound to me like you’re saying, generally, whatever it means to you is okay. I remember certainly in school, you get a bad grade if you didn’t produce whatever the teacher would think is the right answer, so I think that self-judging and feeling inept about reading poetry probably comes from there.

Kirk: This is why I call it converse with verse. It’s an interesting question you bring up, and just real quickly, I think there are multiple perspectives. But the idea of a perspective is that we can be looking at the same object but from different planes, different places. So you could be on top of a mountain and I could be right in front of the object. We’re going to see it differently. If you could be on the left side and I could see the right side. We’re looking at the same object, but looking at it from different perspectives. The question of conversing and kind of the discourse, going through something, is me learning your perspective. I think your perspective isn’t one I thought of, but it’s actually very related, the idea of aging and dying, obviously. Me, I thought of a whole bunch of dead people, people in the grave, all those skeletons. It’s talking about the same thing just from a slightly different angle. So by talking about it, this is what I hope people will do with poetry – talk about it and we see where the similarities are. That is thinking, by the way. That’s what thought is. Integrating these different elements.

Halelly: Okay. Let’s keep going.

Kirk: “Life is real. Life is earnest and the grave is not its goal.” I think this is kind of saying similar things. We can kind of go through this. “Dust thou art, to dust returnest.” That, you know, I think he’s having the conversation with the psalmist and saying that’s not the case. Life is real. It’s earnest. It matters. I’m going to skip that stanza.

Halelly: That wasn’t too hard to understand, and you have to live your life.

Kirk: Exactly. Live your life and I think that’s an important part of this poem and of life. “Not enjoyment and not sorry is our destined end or way.” Now, the way I take this is, the young man is starting to get more confident. And he’s saying this is what it is – it’s not enjoyment and not sorrow is our destined end or way, but to act. It’s not about pleasure, it’s not about sorrow, it’s about action. That each tomorrow finds us farther than today.

Halelly: It’s not just action. To me that also says developing yourself or growing. So you’re not just focused on the momentary pleasure or the sensory experience of every moment in an isolated vacuum, but recognizing that the purpose of life is to keep growing and developing and improving and taking actions toward that, so it’s like the different in positive psychology where you talk about the difference between hedonism and living life with purpose, which is different. It is still happiness, but it’s not that momentary happiness. It’s long-term happiness.

Kirk: When you think about it in the context of the entire poem, so we’re not going to go through all the stanzas for time, but if you think about the entirety of the poem, what does the poem end with? To me, a poem is like a puzzle and you have to use the totality of the poem to unlock each of the lines. So the poem, remember, ends with the lives of great men. The young man talks to the psalmist about what life is, and what you just said is very relevant to it’s about building a character. What kind of character? Great men. Why? Because they remind us – this is toward the end of the poem – great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime.

Halelly: They give us like a role model or an example. And they leave a legacy behind.

Kirk: And departing leave behind us footprints on the sands of time. Now I love that saying. That’s actually a famous quote that you’ll find a lot of people in speeches will use, leaving footprints on the sands of time. That is one of the things that makes poetry special, is that it give you those kinds of visuals that also represent something abstract, like a legacy. Footprints on the sands of time really leaves an impression.

Halelly: It’s really nice.

Kirk: Perhaps another sailing, a forlorn and shipwrecked brother seeing shall take heart again. I think one of the things the poem is saying is we’re getting this idea of this sacred song of life, and the purpose, overall purpose of life, is to build a good life. One reason for that is this legacy idea. This idea of the purpose of it is that, one, it’s good in of itself – that’s what sublime essentially means – we can make our lives sublime. It’s basically grand, admirable and beautiful in and of itself. For its own sake. By the way, I know that because I looked these things up. I recommend, we’re not going to go through the whole poem, so I hope you go through and look upwards. Even if you think you know what the word is. But the point is, I think that is a big part of what this song, this sacred song is. It’s for this great man and for the great man or woman in you. The potential that you could be bringing out, if you live life this way.

Halelly: I also see that. There’s almost like he’s listing reasons for why you should pursue life, as an end in itself, and not just as a means to an end of afterlife or just sort of live in apathy and not care. Like don’t be dumb-driven cattle. You can be a hero. He’s sort of calling on us to be our best selves, which is part of my mission, is to help people actualize themselves and be their best self. This idea of action and that the people that we admire, he’s sort of reminding us, those that you admire, those great people, it’s because they lived in a way that is like that. Take heed and notice their example and be that person for others.

Kirk: Exactly. I think it’s an end in itself, because he’s relating it to a psalmist, and the idea of what a psalmist might say is, the afterlife is important, he’s saying that it’s life that’s important.

Halelly: Almost like talkback. He’s talking back to the psalmist.

Kirk: And I think it’s important that he says the heart of the young man, so it’s like this is what the young man wants to say. The emotion. That’s one thing that poetry does really well is it conveys emotion in concrete words. I like the be not like dumb-driven cattle. I think this is always a danger. When we think about leadership skills and what it means to be a leader, this, I think what this poem represents and what it says is part of it. Inspiring the people to live their best lives and to be better. What your mission is, I think it doesn’t matter what leader you are – it doesn’t matter if you’re a sales leader, if you’re a leader of a financial group and everybody is CPAs or whatever, it doesn’t matter – part of your job, I think that is separating the engineer from the chief engineer that oversees all the engineers is bringing out the best in those individuals. That’s one, if we were to isolate one important thing that a leader does, I think that’s it. That’s what this poem is about, is the young man or the young leader speaking to this idea of not making the most out of your life, not building the character within yourself. I think that’s kind of the message of this poem.

Halelly: Great. Well, Kirk, this is really interesting and I wish we had more time, but as you know we don’t. I’m glad that we were able to go through a whole poem like this together and I hope that TalentGrowers have enjoyed it. They’ll probably check out your show to learn more about those other poems that you break down like this, Conversing with Verse. Before you give one specific actionable tip, what’s new and exciting on your horizon these days?

Kirk: Troubadour Magazine, I have our fourth edition of the e-magazine coming out, where we compile great, mostly I’m focused on romantic literature from the 19th Century, but we’re focused on that. Short stories and poems, and there are occasionally some new ones, like modern ones, of people I’ve met over the years publishing today. The purpose of it is to help you gain a broader perspective on literature and kind of increase your abilities. That’s the main thing that I’m working on. TroubadourMag.com.

Halelly: All right. What’s one specific action that you recommend that TalentGrowers can take today, tomorrow, this week, to upgrade their leadership skills or their own literary skills, however you want to take this?

Kirk: I think the easiest thing, based on what we’ve talked about, is either go online or go to Barnes and Noble and get just a generic book of poetry, that holds a bunch of different poems. Especially if it has it categorized by topic, and just every once and a while, flip through it and just read. If you don’t like it, just move on. But I really think everybody needs to have a really big book of poetry. I like big compilations of poetry over the decades or over the centuries, starting with Shakespeare and going on. I wouldn’t start with Shakespeare, but I’d just buy that and flip through it and just every once and a while see if you like anything.

Halelly: Then you just read, and should you do something? Should you journal? Should you make margin notes? What should you do?

Kirk: We try to model this today. Like I said, the first thing is read it. If you like the sound of something, then read the poem again and again and get a dictionary and break out some words. Try to do what we did in asking those questions. In general, you want to look for stuff that, for whatever reason, just the words could sound pretty. That’s it. That’s all you need. Just an entry. If it doesn’t do anything for you, just move on. And don’t force yourself to like something because you heard it was a great poem that you’re supposed to like.

Halelly: Yes, good. That makes it so accessible. I really appreciate you Kirk. I know people are going to want to stay in touch and learn more about it, so what’s the best place to follow you online? Where they can stay in touch?

Kirk: It’s mostly TroubadourMag on Facebook, You Tube and the website. Those are the main ones.

Halelly: We’re going to link to that in the show notes. That’s it for time today. I really am glad that you stopped by and shared that with us. I hope that TalentGrowers liked it. I don’t know, guys, let me know what you thought.

Kirk: Thanks for having me on.

Halelly: Thanks Kirk. That’s it. TalentGrowers, I hope you liked it. I am so curious to hear what you thought, and I’d like to know, also, if you read the poem and want to talk with me more about any of the stanzas we did not discuss because we were running out of time, or if you have another poem that you really like for leadership, kind of like salve for the leader’s soul or how you’ve used poetry or literature in general in a unique way, as a leader, I’d love to hear these stories. Please, let me know. I love to hear from you.

A little note, this is August here, August 2019, if you’re listening to this in real time. We’re going to take a vacation break in August, but rest assured, you will still receive a new podcast episode every week in August and what’s going to happen is I’m going to rebroadcast three interesting and important or unique episodes from the archives of some of the shows in the earlier days of the podcast that I think maybe you may have not heard or it’s been a while since you heard them, so that you can have new content to listen to each week while I am on vacation. I hope that you like that and I look forward to hearing about that from you too.

That’s it for another show. I’m Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist here at TalentGrow, and this is the TalentGrow Show. Thanks for listening, and until the next time, make today great and make the summer great.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the TalentGrow Show, where we help you develop your talent to become the kind of leader that people want to follow. For more information, visit TalentGrow.com.


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