Dr. Christopher Howard is the eighth president of Robert Morris University. A university with more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs , more than 5,000 students, and a 100 year history.
In this conversation, Chris and Aaron discuss the future of college, timeless leadership lessons, and Dr. Howard’s background.
Dr. Howard is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, a Rhodes Scholar, and a graduate of both the University of Oxford & the Harvard Business School.
He also offers an excellent challenge at the end of the conversation.
What Happens Now? by John Hillen
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Chris’s Challenge; Don’t become Glib.
Connect with Chris
If you liked this interview, check out episode 361 with Jason Wolfe where we discuss leadership, entrepreneurship, and how to build a great team.
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Watson: Chris. Thank you so much for doing this podcast. I'm really excited to be speaking with you.
Howard: My pleasure, Aaron. Thank you.
Watson: I want to start off by maybe just in, in basic terms, because most of the audience won't necessarily be familiar. As the president of the University here at Robert Morris, what do your responsibilities entail?
I think we can speak broadly about leadership, but you know, very tangibly, like what are you focused on? What are your goals? What is your kind of week to week life look like as the president of the university?
Howard: You got a couple of questions in there, Aaron, they're all very, very good ones. So what does a president of a university actually do?
Well, you're responsible for everything, but really have the power to do very little. You have to work through other people to get the mission accomplished. What are the missions that you need to accomplish? You need to make sure you're an ongoing financial concern, and this is a $130 million enterprise with upwards of 700, 750 people that work here between faculty and staff, 50,000 alumni, almost 5,000 students. It's a big enterprise. You've got to make sure that you spend less than what you're bringing in in terms of revenue, in terms of tuition, fundraising, other auxiliary enterprises. And that's the business of education on the one hand. On the other hand, you have a mission which is to help young people, help people in general, not just young people, help people in general, in many ways, understand themselves in the world, around them.
Whilst at the same time, giving them deep domain skills is a university that focuses on the professions, accounting, engineering, education, nursing. So when you see people like actuarial scientists, Aaron, when you see people like that in the world, you're interacting with them, they need to have deep domain expertise in their respective enterprise.
So we have to do, we have to educate and train them as well. Your job feels in many ways like a CEO, like I said before, making sure that the bills are paid, but by the same token, you feel a little bit like a general or an Admiral because sometimes when things happen, you're kind of the commander of the ship.
And also you feel very much like a governor or a pastor. Let me explain those. There are a lot of constituencies in a university and the key is to make sure not all the constituencies are mad at you at the same time. This is easier said than done. But having said that, because I mentioned before, your alumni or a constituency, your students are part of your constituency. Your parents are part of your constituency. So when I spend time with them, you know, whether it be Governor Wolfe or Mayor Peduto, or our Allegheny County, executive Rich Fitzgerald, we have a lot in common as we try to understand what our constituencies need, and also recognize that those are at loggerheads at time, they bump into each other, and that's where leadership comes into because you have to reconcile those things.
Use your mission as a North star to get us away, you need to go in terms of vision for the enterprise, for Robert Morris University. When I first came here, I felt that I observed it for three years or so that Robert Morris was a place that is big enough to matter yet small enough to care, big enough to matter yet small enough to care. So we are a university that's a national doctoral granting university with close to 5,000 people attending. So in many ways, you know, when we break bread with, or I break bread with Pat Gallagher over at Pitt or Farnum, CMU, we can feel CMU our Pitt-esque , because we're doing serious research, we just got a million dollar national science foundation grant, which is a big deal. We do things with Amazon with cloud services. We're one of the cutting edge universities in the country offering that to our students and to people that attend the institution.
But then sometimes when I'm doing, you know, when I go out in a couple of weeks to watch Battle of the air band for Greek life, it feels a little bit more like a smaller bucolic, liberal arts school. As you and I look out across the landscape it feels small and intimate, but it's big and mighty at the same time. So my vision is to make sure we're big enough to matter yet small enough to care, and that we're student-centered and that we're ensuring that we're touching these students lives so they can be successful in their careers and in their careers and in their lives.
Watson: And as you were speaking about the constituencies and this kind of, we could frame that as, as a problem that you kind of have to solve or manage or oversee, I'm reminded of, of a very good friend and he always uses the analogy of sharks and minnows. And when a lot of people are maybe an entry point of their career, they have all these problems that they're facing and it can induce anxiety and it can be, you don't necessarily have the skillset to deal with them, but as you gain more experience, and as you get more tools in your tool belt, you realize that your sharks are actually kind of minnows, even to your direct manager. And as you kind of continue to go up and you start to reorient your landscape of sharks and minnows, or what problems may be, depending on where you sit, and what it really sounds like given your position, and even the way you explain that answer is that there's this two pronged approach of the story and the strategy.
So the strategy is I have this budget, we need to allocate this in the appropriate way. And then the story of you're not necessarily implementing every single plan or even on the ground executing it, but the story of where we're going and why it matters is incredibly important for you to articulate so that it actually gets done. Is that accurate?
Howard: Very good points. I would not call any of the constituents minnows.
Watson: Fair enough. Fair enough.
Howard: Or typically wouldn't even call them sharks. I understand the analogy you're getting into and there's this whole idea of how you sort of scope your job and what what's important and what's not important.
That's interesting. I always jokingly say that it's easier being a sophomore president than a freshman president. So in my second presidency, I just, you know, I just saw some things and did some things well and not so well. I like to say I got a PhD in myself, so I'll learn from what I didn't do as well last time so when I come to this institution, I can understand, and I can anticipate better going forward in terms of sort of matching up strategy and narrative.
You're right. There's a lot of different levels you operate on as a leader of an institution because universities are just special. They're unique. Not that now I've worked in the corporate world as well. I've worked in the military government, et cetera. And not that firms or non-profits are not important.
There's something about a university that is soul stirring and uniquely American. You know, we're the only country where we have, you know, College sports to create that sense of identity and connectedness. It's essential. You know, we talk about Alma mater. That's your second mother, right? And so there's a deep human, sorta piece of our humanity that caught off and especially if you go in the traditional years, That that grows and it, and it is embodied in your university or college experience. So you're reconciling that with sort of the grand strategy of where higher education is going. How can you position yourself effectively to get the job done, this kind of the blocking and tackling of strategy.
So there's a duality, if not even beyond that and how you lead an enterprise like this effectively, and you'll never do it alone, you do it to and through and with other people in that, in that community.
Watson: Certainly. I'm excited to talk to you about the future of the university, but I want to start off with a little more of your past and take it back to flying helicopters and your military service.
Can you talk, I mean, most people's early career sharks and minnows would probably pale in comparison to that experience. Can you talk a little bit about what that was like and what you learned there that you carry with you now?
Howard: Oh, I'll go back to my time in the military. I would never be the person I was today, but for my time in military service. I was an army JRTC joint reserve officer training Corps, starting at age 14 or 15 when I was in ninth grade in Plano at that point vines high school.
I did that for four years. My brother who's a year older than me, big student athlete played football at Baylor, he's been teasing me. I'm 50 years old. He's been teasing me for, you know, 30, 35 years about Chris why did you put on a dog on uniform when you're 15 years old? I go, cause I wanted to. I've had a deep and abiding sense of patriotism, probably an overused term, but patriotism and wanting to serve my country.
One to whom much is given much is also expected. And so that spirit of service has imbued every decision I've taken, including becoming a university president, but through the air force Academy and through my time on active duty and in the reserve. So I learned discipline. I learned teamwork. I learned selflessness.
I learned this idea of mission first men and women, always. So to me, I would say driven can be a double-edged sword. I don't want to. Sound like I just driven to be driven, but mission driven because the mission is more important than me. I learned that in the military and then having had a brief career in aviation and having had a longer career in intelligence, it's been neat to see the tactical operational and strategic come together and places as far as Bhagwan Afghanistan to Tuzla Bosnia, and in many places and state side. So all that has informed my ability to, I think, make effective decisions for the organization and do it for the right reasons.
Watson: It seems like it's also an interesting balance where you had to be immensely impacted by going and visiting these different parts of the world.
And while you're certainly investing to cultivate a campus that students feel at home at and are welcome to, there's also a quintessential or arguably essential part of the education experience that is going and departing vastly from wherever it is that you may be from, whether you're a, Pittsburgher coming to Robert Morris or coming from all the other States where you source your students.
How do you kind of think about that in the context of the university?
Howard: Well, there's a great quote by Gorbachev, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former head of the Soviet union in the cold war. He says, travel, broadens the mind and loosens the bowels. That paints a pretty vivid picture for our listeners. But having said that, to be uncomfortable, to deal with discomfort, to be as Dr. Warren Bennis, who ran the university of Cincinnati, was a great leadership guru who just passed away a few years ago, to be the other is very compelling, and it's a great way to develop empathy.
And I think empathy is sort of a, one of the, the amino acids are the building blocks for leadership is the ability to put yourself in somebody else's shoes. So if you have had to be the other, it's easier to appreciate what the other's going through. And so with our global engagement office here on campus, whether it be receiving students from abroad from, I did a pizza with the president from a few, a few weeks ago, and I had a young lady from Mumbai, a young man from Nepal and another young lady from Beaver County. It was great to see that sort of spirit here, but whether they be students coming here and we have a pretty significantly large international population for the size of our campus, or it'd be sending students abroad for either a year or a shorter faculty led enrichment program, or even our men's basketball team going to play in Ireland for two weeks, it teaches them how to be the other and it, and it's a great stepping stone or building block for their, you know, deepening their humanity and making them better leaders.
Watson: Certainly. The other core aspect of this experience, one could argue, is the preparation for the working world, the time beyond the university, a big part of that is entering the private sector for a lot of the students.
How does your time in private sector inform that aspect of the curriculum and optimizing for students who will eventually be in the working world?
Howard: Well personally, there's a pace in the private sector for better or for worse, because it's just a real, it could be triple bottom line, but the main bottom line is profitability.
If you're not a profitable enterprise, you will go out of business and everybody's going to be sad. And so if you're dealing with firms, whether it be fortune thousand firms, fortune 500 firms, or even mom and pop shop, it doesn't really matter your ability to understand the trade offs and sacrifices you need between your strategy or marketing or operations, et cetera, to be an ongoing concern is a mother's milk. And on the private sector, when you come to the higher education sector to bring that impetus, that sense of a bias for action has served me well. It kinda set me apart as part of my leadership portfolio that some presidents who have never experienced private sector don't have, it gives me a point of connectivity with many people because most of our alumni go into, like you said, and I'll come to in a second go to the private sector.
So it makes it, you know, it gives me a lingua franca is at war with a lot of constituencies that maybe some of my colleagues don't have. I'll mention real quickly, we have a strategic plan called RMU 100. We turn a hundred years in 2021, and we have a one pager that is steals our strategic plan down to one page.
It's just easy to, as much longer than that. Well, we have a one pager. And when I showed this to CEOs of top companies in the Pittsburgh region and beyond, they just sort of do backflips, they go, wow, you get it. You get us. We don't have that much time. We've got to get to it. So that's been, that's helped me out personally. In terms of a university, Aaron, we have always focused on the professions.
So it used to be, you know, Robert Morris or Bobby Moe meant business. We sort of all visited. We set up as the Pittsburgh school of accountancy in 1921 in downtown Pittsburgh. And then it became the Robert Morris school, Robert Morris business school, the Robert Morris school, all for profit in business and accounting, and then became a junior college nonprofit.
Then we became a college, a university, regional university, and now we're national doctoral granting, but we've gone from accounting and finance and management and marketing to other professions, nursing health administration, actuarial science, teaching, engineering of every flavor you can imagine.
And so Bobby Moe, I like to say has gone Bobby pro.
So compared to many other schools, bigger and smaller, we have an eye to getting you into your profession and an effective way and an efficient way. And it's in our DNA. And so we're particularly good at that.
Watson: And that's so important because by my estimation, there's kind of two directions that the curriculum of these universities can go.
And sometimes it's some of both, it might be, you know, we have the only school for bee agriculture, or we might have the only school for something incredibly specific that we can just completely separate ourselves from us as having that sole curriculum. And then there's also the direction of steeping the curriculum and the focus in these broadly applicable skillsets.
I can plug an accountant into a fortune 500 corporation. I can plug it into a small company. I can plug it into a nonprofit like it's a broadly applicable skillset. And most of the other ones that you articulated either have that or something like nursing, we're facing a cliff, statistically, it's the median age of the average working nurses over 55.
And you can see a huge generation graduating if we're not going to replace those with all robots, we need humans to provide something that is fundamentally predicated on care and interest in one another. So that, that's something that I've noticed before and you articulating, I think, will really speak to what's happening here at Bobby Mo.
Howard: Well, you know, there's a fine line, and it's I think an important balancing act between preparing people for very specific jobs and careers, many of which are morphing as we know them. So we have lots of accountants that are associated Robert Morris and their alumni base, some are like Morgan O'Brien, who wants people's gas or rich Harshman runs ATI.
They were trained as an educated as accountants here, but when they were CEOs of their respective companies, chairman of their respective firms, it's not the specific accounting skill that they're looking forward to these overall global leadership skills and managerial skills that, that, you know, in other schools they say that's kind of comes from the liberal arts.
We say, we're gonna, you know, you only have so many resources, we're going to tip toward the professions, but we're going to do something called communication skills, which is kind of like our core curriculum, our not too liberal arts, where we do argumentation, rhetoric, public speaking, et cetera, things that are going to allow you to be effective no matter what jobs out there, because, you know, I think I always laugh and I'll say I'm going to go Uber or something.
Or I might hop in my car and use ways, or I'm gonna Google something and all these different words that weren't even in our vernacular, you know, if I said I was going to Google you 10 years ago, you might punch me in the nose. I mean, I don't know what that was. So my point is that we need to prepare people for careers that are not yet been identified.
Yet we still need to be the human capital sort of engine of these careers that we need right now because of what you said, the graying of the baby boomers passing on, or what have you and retiring. And these things, everything from, from nursing to, occupational therapy and not just in the health sciences, but other jobs out there.
So it is a constant battle of. Understanding you need some specificity, but you also need general ability, I'm going to call it a growth mindset, so that you can understand larger sharks so they can become minnows to you later on so to speak.
Watson: I love when people use my metaphor. Another aspect of that, that's really interesting and it speaks to the need for institutions to Quicken their pace.
As you alluded to earlier is a book that has been immensely impactful on me. I've referenced it before in the podcast will be familiar to some listeners is called The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly, and one of the forces or kind of frameworks that he leverages is there will still be accountants. There will still be all these kind of traditional professions, but they will operate as a human in tandem with an artificial intelligence, with a highly capable computer sidekick.
For lack of a better-
Howard: Jarvis from Ironman.
Watson: There you go. And the notion that that can sound scary, that can sound daunting. That can be incredibly disruptive for many parts of the community. It's actually the next generation that grew up with the device or the multiple screens that are going to have the easiest time adjusting to that new reality.
Have you seen that to be true? Is the students like that?
Howard: That's very powerful. So I'll go back to my time at University of Oklahoma when I was director of a leadership center and a vice president there and I was teaching more actively than, than I am now. And I used to, and I had a class. It was the leader in you, the leader in us, it was for our top grade, our top honors students, many of whom went on to get pretty elite scholarships, roads and marshals, et cetera.
And we were reading some great books and talking like that, and I kind of came to the conclusion, Aaron. I said, you know, I'm a big Lincoln fan, right? I'm actually reading a biography of Frederick Douglas right now. And just interesting watching how Frederick Douglas and Lincoln steel sharpens steel throughout the civil war as they kind of, they both grew wiser through the whole sort of enterprise of the war.
But I mentioned that because Lincoln who's this deeply wise human being wisdom wit read the Bible cover to cover, read Shakespeare, even though he was ever formally educated. He was, he was actually a very soulful individual, very smart individual, but I thought if you could be Lincoln and have Google. Wow.
And this was, you know, 10, 12, golly, this is probably 12, 13 years ago. This is when Google was, you know, all that. Now we know there are other things that are much more advanced between AI and machine learning, everything, you know, sort of the, you know, that you're kind of alluding to, but that whole idea that is this deep understanding of the human condition, coupled with hyper technology.
Wow. So I agree, you know, this Jarvis for those people that like the Marvel universe or, you know, if you're lost in space computer, you know, having something there that helps accelerate and deepen your ability to process data. We do it some already, you know, between the internet of things, between, again, just our smartphones, our computers, or what have you, but something that is sinked up to you, I'll mention something right now.
Again, it's already happening to some extent. So when I'm on my, my GABA galaxy phone, my family teases me. I don't have an iPad. I went with the guys it's similar. It's cheaper when it serves its purpose. So, and I'm sure it's happened to you as well, but I type an email and then it anticipates the next six words.
And all I have to do a swipe right a little bit. And then I'm onto the next one. So it's already doing that for me. You know, you can imagine what's going to happen next when I can say write that thank you letter to Aaron. It just writes a letter and gives it to me for a final proof because I need to see it.
But once it shows it to me 105 times, 106 times, it's going to be pretty doggone good. So I like what you're saying. And I'd also like to say that we're getting there. We're tapping to us right now and it's not scary. It can be scary for some people, but it's rather empowering. I write faster emails now.
Watson: So, I wasn't expecting you opened it an excellent door for me here. As we talk about someone like Lincoln or some of these wise characters from history, how have you gone about becoming more wise in these areas? You you've adopted the technical tools. You've tried to, you know, Keep up with the pace of change as we all are, but is it, you know, whether it's books that you read or specific efforts that you've made over a career in different industries to get to where you are now, you've got to have a degree of wisdom.
What concerted efforts have you made to make inroads in that direction?
Howard: When my friend wrote a book called, Oh, golly. It's by John Hill and he's going to kill me. I can't remember the title of it, but he talks about sagacity. I love that word. It's like becoming a Sage and Sage is wisdom. It's these are all proxies for the same sort of thing, for the same concept.
But, you know, one of the concepts of turning experience into insight. And I had another friend who, Chris Wilson, who's a defensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and speak at my classes years ago when he was coaching in Oklahoma, he's always say you need to do a lot of STL habit, have a real BS.
So S T is self-talk and BS is your belief system. So you need to have some thou shalls and thou shall nots. You need to turn over in your head, whether it be in prayer, meditation, walking down the street, I do it when I work out, and you need to try to do your best. I sort of helicopter up, take your life.
And then this is, this is like yoga is easier to do later than it is when you first started doing it. Not that I'm great at yoga or anything like that, but the principle is these things get easier and it's that constant synthesis of, how am I doing? Right. Running the tape in your head and then saying, what am I going to do differently?
I'm going to stop, start, continue. And I'm, you know, one of the things I've been pretty good at since I was a kid is, like I said, getting a PhD in myself, my belief system, my self-talk and, you know, at my age now, and having seen as much as I've seen, I'm pretty good at sort of self-correcting autocorrecting. But it's taking, like you said, it's taking these books, you know, the thesis, from the book or from the article or the blog or the podcast or the newspaper article, but also the meeting you had with the chairman of your board or your senior leadership team, or that student on the street or whatever, or your wife or your kids, and trying to mash all that stuff up and say, What is the lesson?
What can I distill out of this to make myself a better leader, a better human being going forward? Again with me, it is, I'm a morning workout guy and I kind of go in, it's not, I got friends that meditate, like, really know how to meditate and I've tried it. I'm okay. But it's kind of a form. A buddy of mine told me, he said, you know, you can kind of meditate when you're working out too.
So I kind of do, I'm going to be things in my head and I, and then there's a crystallization that happens to me in the morning where I just kind of, it all kind of comes into focus. I kind of have had made sense of, and I like to use this phrase, sense-making, I've done some sense-making of my life and now I can use that to move forward.
Watson: Gotcha. It's a constant... battle isn't even necessarily the right word, but it's the type of thing that you churn more and more in the direction of trying to become wiser. And it's like, you're actually fighting against yourself to some degree, whether that's with meditation or just in general, because, you know, my dad's one of the wisest people that I know, and I ask him like, How did you become wise?
It's like it's experience, it's these kinds of frameworks. And I just, I get it a little bit more than I used to, but it's the type of thing that takes patience. It takes faith. Like when you're talking about belief system of any shape or form, you have to have faith that that belief system will serve you well.
And so as you piece those things apart, it's something that this podcast has contributed a lot on my own end, but it's something that I'm constantly in pursuit of. So I appreciate that.
Howard: Well, the journey is the critical part of it, right? I mean, there's a great story of the person who scoring on a great trip and he's traveling over the mountains and Hills of Europe and the journey is to go to an Inn, you know, in journey to this place. And then the person shows up there and they realize that journey to the Inn or the end was less important than the journey itself. It's The idea of the Greek legend of Sisyphus, pushing the rock up the Hill and never gets there.
You know, if you think about faith, if you're Christian or you're Buddhist or Muslim, whatever, Jew, what have you. No one ever perfects their faith and there's no rabbi or Moolah or preacher or priest that stands up says, I'm done. I perfected this. I have all enlightenment. I know all the answers.
No, but that cathartic sort of effort to try to be, which is a very Aristotelian library concept of the good life or of discernment. That's what makes us human. Right? Just that whole process of trying to do that. And if we give up on that and we don't have self or life reflections, and if we not try to become autodidact where we teach ourselves, we don't have a growth mindset.
Is that the book from the Harvard professor that she wrote was very, very compelling book that she wrote about growth mindset. And that's when we're not, that's when we're less than human, right?
Watson: Absolutely. Chris, this has been fantastic. I feel like I could do this eight more times with you, and that would be an absolute treat for me, but we gotta be respectful of your time.
We got to start aiming towards wrapping up. Before we ask our standard last two questions, is there anything else that you were hoping to share today that I didn't give you a chance to?
Howard: No, Aaron, I appreciate the time and I commend you on your journey and let me be a part of it. And, it's great to sit down with people who really care deeply, and it's evident. First time I met you through our mutual friend, Jason Wolfe, and I know my podcast was much better than Jason was. I mean, jeez, but I'm glad to be a part of it. And as you ask me these last questions I'm going to be Lincoln on Google. Cause my friend John Hillen would kill me if I did not mention the name of his book. It only take me two seconds.
Watson: Certainly. So what I'm going to remind the audience is that I'm going to try and get links to all the books that Chris mentioned in the show notes for this episode, so that you can follow along and, and deepen your wisdom a little bit as well.
But the other thing that we're going to also share in those show notes are the links to best connect with you, to learn more, not just about Bobby Mo, but also about Dr. Chris Howard.
Howard: Okay. And the book is called What Happens Now by Dr. John Hillen. So I did Google that and John's been a friend of mine for 30 something years.
So he'd kill me if I didn't say that I'm actually in the book too. So really be bad if I didn't say it's a very, very thoughtful writing. The best probably way to follow me or stay in touch with me would be my Twitter handle is @DrChrisHoward, and they can keep in touch with me and interact with me on social media.
That's probably the best way to.
Watson: Beautiful. That will be, as I mentioned in the show notes for this episode, as it is for every episode of the show, you can scroll up and down in your podcast player to find that.
Howard: What we'll do also here, and I'll send you that one pager on the strategic plan and people can look at that and be wild. Like the CEOs are that we have all of our next five-year plan on one piece of paper and how we want to move forward.
Watson: And when you show the CEO's that I'm guessing that the wow factor comes from every company's in a competition for talent. We see it at our company Piper, but across the board, if someone is particularly skilled, that does so much more than just like handle some of the workload, it frees leaders up to go ascend a little bit higher and chart more of the course and put more systems into place. So I'm, I'm sure that that's where the wow factor comes from.
Howard: Well, yeah, you know, a plan is a common point from which to diverge. And so it gives us enough guidance of where we want to go to where, when things go to heck in a handbasket, we still can be striving toward it. And to have that sort of as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr would say, simplicity on the other side of complexity. Is something that I think we all sort of strive for is like this, like having a house it's less cluttered. You know, it's sort of, I think it's something to be proud of.
Watson: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for all this information, all these links.
I want to make sure that people connect with you. And I also want to make sure that we give you one more chance to issue an actionable personal challenge for the audience to set us off.
Howard: Don't become glib. It's easy to become glib. You know, there are things that are happening around us and our society, whether you're on the left, the right, the middle, whether you're you're black, you're white, you're green, you're purple. You're straight. You're gay. Doesn't matter. We get very, very cynical. But understanding that this country is one that has seen the darkest hours and great deprivation and always come out on top. Winston Churchill said that Americans can be counted on to do the right thing after exhausting, all the other alternatives.
And, you know, again, this is not an indictment of anybody in the political spectrum, but all that stuff happens and people get down and then they get apathetic. They don't, they disengaged. They just go back into their own little shell. Don't do that, because the greatest answers, the way we're going to move forward as a country is we working together, engaging recognizing the humanity in each and every one of us to come up with better solutions to these daunting problems. So don't get glib and don't give up.
Watson: I love that. One of my favorite recent reads is by Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life. And in that he articulates that in order to really do great for others, and be a great individual is to recognize the darkness within, you have to look inside yourself, recognize that darkness and its existence in order to really reflect in the opposite direction. And so I'm curious as you give that advice and you strike me as a precisely the opposite of glib or cynical man, when have you been the most cynical and what did you do to emerge from that point?
Howard: Yeah. I've had a couple of episodes in my life that have been pretty dark. I had a plane crash when I was in flight school years ago, and that was pretty daunting, and another one that we want to go into is many specifics. We've all had a professional setbacks, but one thing I try to do is go out and help somebody else.
You know, you think you have it bad, look at he or she. Don't feel sorry for yourself because unfortunately, no matter how bad it is, somebody has it worse. And if you can spend a little time getting out of your own head and trying to help that other person out, whether their situation be worse than yours, the same, or even better, it reminds you that, of the great things in life, which is just great source of love, which is just giving. And so I have had situations where I remember a really tough day, years and years ago without going to the specifics. And we all, my wife and I, we went to a soup kitchen at my, at that point. We only had one son. Now we have two. And we went to a soup kitchen and it just kind of perspective
Watson: Makes your sharks look a lot more like minnows.
Howard: Amen, brother.
Watson: Thank you so much for doing this.
Howard: Thanks a lot, man. My pleasure.