Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen

Dr. Martin Gutmann - Why Haven't You Heard of Roald Amundsen?

December 09, 2020 Scott J. Allen Season 1 Episode 36
Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen
Dr. Martin Gutmann - Why Haven't You Heard of Roald Amundsen?
Show Notes Transcript

Martin Gutmann is a lecturer at the Lucerne School of Business, Switzerland. He was previously the Managing Director of ETH Zurich’s Swiss School of Public Governance and Professor at the American Graduate School of Business, Switzerland.

Gutmann has a Ph.D. in History from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, USA and an Executive MBA from IE Business School, Spain. His writing has appeared in Journal of Contemporary History, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Journal of Modern European History, and Journal of Contemporary European History.

Select Publications by Dr. Gutmann

Quotes From This Episode

  • "I can't think of another human activity in which one person's success stands so far above that of all the other contenders...he is the absolute superstar. He's the outlier in terms of polar exploration."
  • "The other thing I’d say about historical cases is often we can be more accurate in assessing the role of the leader versus contributing factors in the successful or unsuccessful outcome. Because we have the perspective of time, so we have a more neutral mindset. But in many cases, there are also better sources available. And we’ve had time to look at those sources. And we can see the long term implications of the decisions that were made."
  • "When we think of expeditions, we think of the leader standing at the helm, shouting directions and waving at his crew as the ship weaves in and out of the ice. We think of movement and danger and split-second decisions. In navigating the Northwest Passage, the real challenge was wintering. You know, this waterway froze solid. There are only about one to three months, if you are lucky, where you can move. So you had to expect to spend nine to 11 months frozen in place."
  • "He made a point to avoid what he called irksome discipline. And he picked individuals who had particular skillsets so that they could have a sense of autonomy and ownership over a particular domain of the expedition. So one of the guys he took with had no meaningful arctic skills. But he was super jolly and he was a great cook."
  • "And when we look at what he does, he’s an authentic leader long before this becomes an 'in' concept. And he knew that he would be stuck with these men in this cramped space for years. So they were not just his subordinates and his employees, they were his friends. They were his family."

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Other Episodes Mentioned 

Note: Voice to text transcriptions are about 90% accurate. 

Scott Allen  0:00  
Everybody today on the podcast, I have Martin Gutmann. He is a university lecturer at Lucerne School of Business in Switzerland. He has a lot on his bio, and he's going to talk a little bit about that. He's a historian, and we are going to explore some fun nooks and crannies today. I can't wait to jump in. Martin, tell our listeners a little bit about you. And then we'll get we'll jump in.

Martin Gutmann
Sure. Thanks very much for the invitation. I'm very happy to be here. What's the saying on American radio, "longtime listener, first-time caller" captures my role here today. But yeah, so as you said, I'm a historian by training, but for a number of reasons. I've worked in management departments of one variety or another for close to a decade now. And so, I still do a lot of traditional historical research and teaching. But the audience or the type of student that I have is very much the manager or the management student. And that's a particular place to be it's also a fun place to be, I would say...

Scott Allen  1:15  
Well, so I was really excited. Because when we first, when we first connected a few moments ago, we found out that we have some roots in common in Minnesota, which is awesome. We grew up in areas close to one another. So it's always fun to speak with another Minnesotan or at least someone who's familiar with Minnesota and historian. So how did you come to being really interested in leadership as a historian? Would you take us through that path a little bit?

Martin Gutmann  1:52  
There's two experiences that laid the foundation for my interest in leadership. The first one is, when I wrote my dissertation, I was interested in foreign. So non-German nationals, experts and intellectuals in particular, who joined the Nazi SS, this terror organization that was involved in all the most brutal crimes of the regime. I was particularly interested in how they helped construct this ideology and how that manifested itself in the institutional culture. And as a historian, you're not trained to think in terms of influence or motivation, organizational design, organizational dynamics, all these terms that you would use in management sciences. Yeah, steady talk about agency structure causality. But below these different vocabularies? There's a similar core question, which is that how does an individual shape a social process? And how is that individual, in turn, shaped by the group? So I didn't appreciate this at the time, but my dissertation work provided me with a good foundation to examine leadership later on in my career. 

Scott Allen  3:19  
And so you did your PhD at Syracuse if I'm correct. 

Martin Gutmann  3:23  
Yeah, that's right. 

Scott Allen  3:24  
And what did you find that that's really interesting? So these are individuals, if I'm not mistaken, who were not in Germany, but they were energized, quote, unquote, by the mission, and they joined? Is that accurate? 

Martin Gutmann  3:41  
That's right. That's right. And the post-war interpretation in their countries of origin was that they had been either, you know, criminals or mentally unstable, and that that was the reason for their joining. But when you actually go and look at the sources, the records that they left behind, and all the other material, you see that they were actually well connected in their pre-war societies in Denmark, and Sweden, and Switzerland, in Holland. And it was really a matter of conviction. And the other side of the story is that they became very active shapers of the SS, and its various crimes. So I think this tragic episode in the 20th century is a part of the German narrative, but it's also more complex. There are, or were a lot of willing helpers from a lot of other corners of the world.

Yeah. And I had a fun conversation with Barbara Kellerman. Probably, oh, gosh, it's a couple of months now. And in that podcast, we discussed you know, these three she calls it the leadership system. You know, the leader, the followers in the contexts, and, and I think as she said, sometimes the followers are just as bad or worse than the actual leader. They kind of know what they're signing up for at a certain point. And they're energized by that. And that's obviously, in certain situations are a good thing. But another search situations just toss toxic and damaging and destructive.

I couldn't agree more. And I think it's also important to realize that, you know, we think of leadership often as taking place in the domain of organizations. We admire leadership being an essentially good thing. But of course, it has been used for terrible purposes as well, about influencing people. But the aim can be anything from good to bad to completely banal.

Scott Allen  5:54  
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And so what were a couple of themes from your dissertation? I'm probably making you think back here a little bit. 

Martin Gutmann  6:06  
This was a long time. 

Scott Allen  6:06  
If you're like me, I don't know if I can answer that question right now. But are there any themes that you took from it? And then and then that kind of sparked this interest in ways and leadership? Huh?

Martin Gutmann  6:17  
Well, actually, you know, I did this work on the SS on the Nazis, and put that aside, had a lot of other experience was involved in some other research projects. But the other foundational experience for me is actually more personal. So I try to seek out spaces and activities in which I am challenged both physically and mentally. So I'm, I was a very keen, amateur mountaineer. Nothing newsworthy, but I spent a lot of my time off in Alaska or in the Alps, doing these very long, challenging routes.  And these activities, I think they require a lot of care and planning and preparation. There's a lot of science; there's a lot of tinkering. But at the end of the day, there's...the fight is in your head. 

Scott Allen  7:13  

Martin Gutmann  7:14  
And in those moments, what can turn this suffering, and this overbearing desire to give up into an actual growth experience is the bond that you have with your partners. And so here, too, I developed a real appreciation for the power that we have to influence each other.

Scott Allen  7:37  
Yeah, yeah. Well, and especially again, if you as I read the ultra, ultra Alpine marathoner, correct, yes. Okay. So I don't even know where to begin with how to define that. But I know there are mountains, and running involved for an ultra doesn't sound very fun at times. 

Martin Gutmann  7:57  
So utlra just means longer. Ultra can mean a lot of different things longer than a marathon. Yeah. And but they're taking place on trails in the mountains. And you know, this is the sport I practice now because I've kids and don't quite have the time to commit to mountaineering anymore. And I used to run long distances as training for my climbing and mountaineering. And now I do it as my primary activity if you will.

Scott Allen  8:29  
So it's so admirable. Well, what is the longest Ultra Alpine marathon that you've run?

Martin Gutmann  8:50  
Back in my 20s, I ran a couple of pretty long trails, 80 kilometers or so. Wow. Now I'm a bit more measured, and I was training for a 50-kilometer run. This past summer, it got canceled due to Corona crisis. So I'm looking forward to doing it next summer.

Awesome. Awesome. Well, and so you've not only challenging yourself through the mountaineering, which I have great respect for, by the way, I love. I have not myself experienced it, but I love watching the Dawn Wall or Meru or Alex Honnold, free solo, I've had a couple of climbers on the podcast one and climbed K2 to Sarah Safari. She has climbed, you know, the tallest peak on six of the seven continents. And so I just have so much respect for that work pushing oneself to their limits. Adventure has been, it seems to be a theme in your personal life. If we look at some of the work that you just published, it seems to be a theme in that work. How did you get to the point of writing this book, historians on leadership and strategy?

Unknown Speaker  11:25  
So as I said, I had these experiences that piqued my interest in leadership. But then, as I started interacting with students in management programs, I noticed that there was a bit of a gap that needed to be filled. It's rare for historians to write about leadership. But it's not rare for historical examples to be used in Leadership Studies, whether an academic nature or a more popular variety. I actually just read this morning in the popular leadership book that there are 80,000 biographical leadership studies, most of them historical in nature, books about Napoleon and Churchill, the likes. Yep. And this makes sense like humans are storytellers. By nature, we crave stories. It's a way to make sense of the world but also reflect on ourselves. And history has the power to inspire people. Yeah. But have you Scott ever watched ER with a friend who is a doctor, or a heist movie with a friend who is a cop?

Scott Allen  12:32  
Yes, yes. And there's a great clip back to mountaineering. There's a great clip of Alex Honnold, watching famous mountain climbing scenes from, you know, whatever film Cliffhanger with Sylvester Stallone, and, and there's a Tom Cruise, one of the might be Mission Impossible, where he's climbing and Alex Honald's like, "Yeah, no, not a thing, or, yeah," this is pretty good.

Martin Gutmann  12:57  
I need to watch that. It's good.

Scott Allen  13:00  
Yeah, it could be in the show notes.

Unknown Speaker  13:02  
So you know what I'm talking about? Yeah, this is a bit of how I feel, as a historian, reading some of these historical case studies. There is some effort to get the details right. But the overall feel is sometimes the overall context is sometimes not as nuanced, nuanced as a historian might like it to be. Yeah. So one example, you know, if you're on LinkedIn, which I know you are, yeah, you probably see this famous ad, by Ernest Shackleton, the British explorer, it pops up on my LinkedIn feed a couple of times a year with a quote about how great he was as a leader. men wanted for hazardous journey, low wages, etc. Yeah, a great example of leadership. The only problem is he never wrote it. It doesn't exist, and you can go back to the times where it was supposedly published. It's not there. Yeah. And now, I mean, that detail is not essential. But there are some details in the historical context that I think are really important for the leadership lessons that we draw out of them. Yeah. So another example is the chapter in my chapter on Roald Amundsen. Yeah. In this book "Historians on Leadership and Strategy." One of the pieces of information I stumbled upon, was that he decided to use a small 13 horsepower petrol engine in his ship. Hmm, that's the kind of detail that you may just skip over because it seems insignificant. But in 1900, this is the age of steam. So this needs to be contextualized.

Scott Allen  14:51  
Oh wow.

Martin Gutmann  14:52  
This is a very risky decision because this highly combustible fuel, but he's done bringing, but at the same time, it has a much higher energy density than coal. And it enables him to maneuver in a way that's bringing a classical steam engine, whatnot. So I think these details need to be put into the proper context before we can draw out any lessons from the cases. And so my goal with this book was simply, let's get a bunch of historians together. Yeah, none of them actually are active in the leadership scene, but they're absolute experts in the time periods and the character of stuff they're writing about, well, and let's have them write about a leadership challenge without trying to advance any particular leadership theory. Just lay out the case. And then allow the reader to read into that. Take out of the cases what they want.

Scott Allen  15:51  
I love it. I love it. And so you had mentioned Roald Amundsen. I've never heard of him as a polar explorer. So tell us a little story about this gentleman. What were his adventures about? it?

Martin Gutmann  16:05  
I can't think of another human activity in which one person's success stands so far above that of all the other contenders really mean he is the absolute superstar. He's the outlier in terms of polar exploration. Okay, yet, when we look back today, in a lot of these leadership cases, we see Shackleton. We see Robert Falcon Scott, John Franklin, these British captains, and this disparity really fascinated me. So to give you just a little bit of an insight into this guy, the Northwest Passage is this sea route through the Archipelago of Northern Canada. Yeah. So from the Atlantic Ocean over to the Pacific and Europeans had long speculated that it existed. But no one had successfully found it and navigated it. And after the Napoleonic Wars, the British got very serious about finding it because this was a time of peace. And the British Navy didn't have much to do. But they had a lot of capacity. A lot of captains, a lot of ships. Yeah. And so their senior civil servant, this guy, John Barrow, decided finding the Northwest Passage is a task for the British Navy. And he put everything they had into it. He sent some 20 expeditions, all superbly funded and equipped, really, you know, that the British they were the masters of the sea that detect technical know how they had a talent pipeline. They had dedicated suppliers, but in this endeavor, they failed sometimes spectacularly. And then, in 1903, you have this young, poor, completely unknown Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, yeah, sets out with a measly crew of six in a converted fishing vessel that was old by this point. And he succeeds. Yeah. And so we need to know what is it that this guy did?

Scott Allen  18:07  
Yeah. What do you do? What do you do so? So there's that there's a famous kind of Simon Sinek story where you have the gentleman who is well funded to create the airplane. And then you have Orville and Wilbur, you know, who are not, but they have passion and the energy and the enthusiasm. So what did you find? What is it about him?

Martin Gutmann  18:26  
There's a lot to find there, really, and I should say to you know, his success with the Northwest Passage wasn't a fluke. There's four goals in this age of polar exploration, the two passages, the Northwest and the Northeast, and the two poles, the North Pole and the South Pole. Well, Amundsen accomplished all four goals in his lifetime. Three of them. He was the first to do. It's extraordinary.  So in terms of the Northwest Passage, I like to think about what john Kotter tells us and others about management and leadership. The former is, you know, dealing with complexity and the ladder dealing with change. And in this challenge of the Northwest Passage, you really need, or in this challenge of the Northwest Passage, you really needed the utmost competency in both domains and others. Munson had that. Like when we think of expeditions, we think of the leader standing at the helm, you know, shouting directions and waving at his crew. As the ship weaves in and out of the ice. We think of movement and danger and split-second decisions. In navigating the Northwest Passage, the real challenge was wintering. You know, this waterway froze solid. There only about one to three months, if you were lucky, where you can move. So you had to expect to spend nine to 11 months frozen in place.

Scott Allen  20:37  
Wow. Wow.

Martin Gutmann  20:40  
And that's the challenge. You know, in fact, one British Captain James Ross, he had spent been to winters frozen in place, decided to cut his losses and go back. When the ice finally released his ship, he could sail for two days before he was frozen in place again for another year.

Scott Allen  21:01  
Oh, my gosh.

Martin Gutmann  21:04  
And you have to imagine these winters complete isolation, near-total darkness. And there are no real meaningful inputs, it's brutally cold. So that's the management challenge. You got to pack everything you need before you leave harbor, everything you need to survive and function for years. 

Scott Allen  21:23  
...for years. 

Martin Gutmann  21:25  
But it's also a leadership challenge, right?

Scott Allen  21:27  
Yes, yes.

Unknown Speaker  21:28  
You got it. You got to maintain the motivation of your men, not just to hang in there during these months. But when the eyes finally relent, they have to be motivated enough to keep going and known. So this, you know, this requires vision and the ability to sell that. And in the Second World War, this famous quote by an American general who said that the American army doesn't solve its problems, it overwhelms them. This is how the British Navy tried to solve this problem. These ships that they use, the HMS Erebus and the Terror, two famous Arctic exploration ships, were originally so called bomb ships. They were huge, heavily reinforced, so that they could take the recoil from these mortar shells that they fired. Yeah, john Franklin, one of the famous British explorers, had a crew of 128 they had experience in every conceivable profession, except one Arctic hunting. And you can see how that story ends. They had a library of 1000s of books, 100,000 pounds of canned meat to dynamite to blow the ice and Arsenal, weapons, and everything else. They took off in 1845. And we're never heard from again. Wow. And on the leadership side, the British tended to go with good old rank and navy discipline.

Scott Allen  22:56  
Yep. Yep. Well, and so tell me more about Roald. So yeah, six, sorry, six individuals, six individuals total. It was a crew of six.

Unknown Speaker  23:10  
It was a crew of six plus him. He's an entrepreneur. Yeah, totally. This is not the Norwegian Navy. That's sailing. This is Amundsen using his inheritance and all the money he can borrow. He's heavily indebted when they sail. And six individuals who he's essentially paying to come along on this journey, but handpicked by him. And when we look at what he does, he's, he's an authentic leader long before this becomes an in concept. And he knew that he would be stuck with these men in this cramped space for years. So they were not just his subordinates and his employees. They were his friends. They were his family. And he made a point to avoid what he called irksome discipline. And he also picked individuals who had particular skill sets so that they could have a sense of autonomy and ownership over a particular domain of the expedition. So one of the guys he took with had no meaningful Arctic skills. But he was super jolly. And he was a great cook. 

Scott Allen  23:10  
Oh, wow. 

Martin Gutmann  23:11  
No, I must have figured this guy is going to keep us all happy, as I'm sitting there. And, you know, he wasn't afraid to make a fool of himself. They had a lot of fun together. But at the same time, everybody felt intuitively that he was in command. And in terms of planning, it's also the same kind of entrepreneur...prototyping is way forward, using a lot of old Intuit and Norwegian technologies where that seemed more appropriate, but also taking some newer things such as the engine, so not stuck in any particular mindset. And so he set off with his small crew in 1903.

Scott Allen  24:57  
Yeah. How old is he at this time, is he is 31 years old.

Martin Gutmann  25:05  
So he's a pretty young guy.

Scott Allen  25:07  

Martin Gutmann  25:08  
And they have to sail. This may be apocryphal, nobody knows for sure, but they sail at midnight in the summer because he hears that some creditors are descending on the harbor to impound his ship.

Scott Allen  25:24  
Yeah, that that might be, you know,

Martin Gutmann  25:30  
exactly could be a bit of an indulgence.

Scott Allen  25:33  
But it has the story.

Unknown Speaker  25:34  
it has the story. No, he was in fact in debt. The creditors were after him. The question is just if his nighttime escape was necessary or not, but it makes it makes for a good story. Yes. So they sail and manage the way around Greenland into the Canadian Archipelago. And rather than just push on until the ice and scenario stem, he deliberately seeks out a safe place to winter, foregoing a few extra days of potential sailing. Yeah. And they stay there for two years. He deliberately seeks out contact within wit to learn from them about hunting, to also have some social contact, and a lot of what he learns in terms of building igloos, in terms of clothing and hunting, he's able to use on his later expeditions, and are a big part of his success there. So There's greater openness, you know, then then we see in the military domain of the British here.

Scott Allen  26:34  
Oh, yeah. So he So literally, he spent two years in that spot to learn.

Martin Gutmann  26:39  
Yeah, after the first winter, they could have continued on. I think that's a testament to how high the morale was that he decides that we're going to stay in the winter. He also had some scientific experiments to carry out because he had promised this to some of his funders. And so they stay there regarding the magnetic north pole, which was nearby. And he stays true to that commitment as well. And then, in 1905, they sail out of this little natural harbor they had found. And in August, they run into a whaler from San Francisco, which means they had made it around to the other side. Well, they had to spend one more winter north of Alaska. But at that point, they're back in known waters. And they did it. 

Scott Allen  27:32  
Wow. So why is he overshadowed? Why have I not heard of him? What is that? Three, three of the four, he was the first. Any accomplished all four? 

Martin Gutmann  28:10  
No, that's a great question. And I can only speculate, you know why he's not more well known. Yeah, I can think of three reasons. The first one is I think we tend to equate great leadership with a great challenge with near-death events with heroin conditions. And his expeditions, compared to the British ones, were drama free. Hmm. They were, at times, downright boring. Yeah. So that's, that's the first one. The second one is this is the time when the British Empire is at its zenith. Hmm. The Royal Navy and the Royal Geographic Society, which also sponsored some of these expeditions, saw Arctic exploration as their game, and they did not look kindly on this Norwegian nobody. Wow, moving into their territory. And there's a deliberate campaign to prop up the image to inflate the image of these British explorers, Franklin, Scott and Shackleton primarily, and downplay the achievements of Amundsen. So we often hear the British referring to the remarkable luck that Amundsen had on all of his journeys. Yeah. And the final one is, he was not a good self-promoter. Okay. He is the kind of leader who is best in the field. At home. He was a very private person. He was kind of awkward. His English wasn't particularly good. And so when he went to speak in London and the US, he could do it, but it wasn't quite as captivating as some of these other Arctic heroes who were used to being in the spotlight, were public figures. You even see this In his own accounts of the trips. He downplays a couple of hairy situations. If you then go and read the accounts of his crew, they're much clearer about how certain events unfolded.

Scott Allen  30:18  
Real quick, how did his crew Martin, how did they? How did they speak of him? What could you find on that front? I mean, this must have been of the three this particular trip was three, four years.

Martin Gutmann  30:32  
Yes, they started in 1903 and arrived in San Francisco in 1906.

Scott Allen  30:40  
Okay, and then they didn't get home for another.

Martin Gutmann  30:42  
Yes, yeah.

Scott Allen  30:43  
I took Yeah, I'll see you later. Honey. You know, it's

Martin Gutmann  30:45  
exactly...No, so they're, they're gone. They're in it for the long haul for sure. They speak very positively of him. One of the crewmen refers to the Northwest Passage trip as a pleasure cruise. Well, at least the first part. You know, of course, there were some tense moments, there was a lot of bickering, but it seems to be more on the authentic level. Yeah, the kind of bickering and disagreements you would have between colleagues who are doing something together. Yeah. But they also clearly refer to him as the leader. There's no doubt that they respected His judgment, and at the end of the day, he did what he asked them to do.

Scott Allen  31:30  
What a fun story. What a fun story. 

Martin Gutmann  31:55  
You had mentioned a little bit ago that leadership hasn't necessarily been a focal point for historians. And I find that kind of fascinating because, at least from my perspective, the Roald Edmondson story is a leadership story. That's just the lens through which I see what you just said. And so bring me into the context, of historians where the leader may not be that focal point. And why that is.

This has changed a bit, okay. Originally, history was the discipline that examined the quote-unquote, great men, and it was usually men that they examined. Yep. And what they had accomplished. And in the last 100 years, the discipline has transitioned to focusing a lot more on broader structures, economics, environmental factors, all of these drivers, and contextual dimensions that channel or constrain the actions of individuals Hmm.

The president of the American Historical Association, Bernard Bailyn, in the 1980s, introduced this concept of latent and manifest history, by which he meant manifest history is the events or the trends that contemporaries were aware of. Okay, the things they discussed things that were on their minds. But then there's latent history, all the trends and the drivers that they were not aware of or whose significance they did not understand. And I think most historians would say that these latent aspects are just as important in determining the outcome of any event as are any manifest aspects. And therefore, I think most historians would say that the ability of any one individual to shape events is constrained at the best of times. And so that's a bit of the mentality that you look at the social dynamics of social structures, rather than any individual. With that said, you have some great leadership books. I think one of the best books on leadership, best in the sense of deeply analytical and insightful, is Ian Kershaw's two volumes study on Hitler.

Scott Allen  36:28  
Ah, okay. This,

Martin Gutmann  36:30  
this is one of the key questions of the 20th century, how could this catastrophe, how could this crime happen? Yeah. And he does a very good job of placing the role of Hitler as an individual within a lot of other dynamics and trends. But of course, he, Kershaw doesn't frame this as a leadership book. 

Scott Allen  36:55  
No, no. 

Martin Gutmann  36:57  
But it is.

Yeah. Yeah. I love it. It's just it's so much, it's so much fun to think about. And so how do your students in business in the College of Business or the School of Business, how do they respond to some of these cases that you're sharing with them?

They tend to respond really well, especially if it's then also paralleled with some contemporary theory or perspectives. So it's really a nice compliment. I find I often teach with colleagues who have a background in psychology and are, you know, the real experts on leadership, which I am not. Hmm. The other thing I'd say about historical cases is often, we can be more accurate in assessing the role of the leader versus contributing factors in the successful or unsuccessful outcome. Yeah. Yeah. Because we, we have not only do have the perspective of time, so we're a bit in, you know, we have a more neutral mindset. But in many cases, there are also better sources available. And we've had time to look at those sources. And we can see the long term implications of the decisions that were made.

Scott Allen  38:57  
Yeah, yeah, no, that's great. I had a conversation with Mike Roberto. And he, he writes cases. And he said something, and I named the episode I'm a storyteller because he said, the beginning of the, in the process of the episode, he said, You know, I'm a storyteller. And whether that's a case on Trader Joe's or a case on the Columbia disaster, or he did a famous case on Everest, and there's a simulation you can do with your students through Harvard Business Publishing, which is a fun experience, Martin, if you haven't done that. Try it. It's interesting. 

Martin Gutmann  39:31  
But that sounds good. Since I haven't, I probably won't get to climb Everest at this point. So

Scott Allen  39:39  
I don't know what you want to at this point with those traffic jams that I see. Oh, man. So Martin, I'd never heard of that book about Hitler a two-volume series. I'll put that in the show notes. Are there any other seminal pieces that you think people should explore? And what are you reading? Streaming? What are you interested in right now?

Martin Gutmann  40:16  
We just cancelled our Netflix subscription. There's a couple of different things that I consume in terms of entertainment. Yeah. Because I have some American roots. But I'm not living in the states anymore. I tend to listen to a lot of NPR, some of their specific podcasts. It's nice to feel connected also to Minnesota. And listen to MPR with the M, not the N. And so that's the one thing. I'm reading a lot about Sustainable Development Goals right now. Good. There, too. I'm involved in a project were trying to link up or bring in the historical perspective for contemporary policy issues? 

Oh, I love it.

Scott Allen  41:28  
So maybe, you know, for the goal that's around sustainable energy or water. What's the historical kind of perspective on that particular? SDG?

Martin Gutmann  41:40  
Yes, I'm involved in editing a volume, which seeks to sketch the history of each SDG before, it became an SDG.

Scott Allen  41:53  
Oh, wow.

Martin Gutmann  41:53  
We call it the backstory. 

Scott Allen  41:55  
Okay, I love it. 

Martin Gutmann  41:56  
And it's, you know, there's the good, the bad and the ugly, yeah, in all of these backstories. But we've been aware of these problems that are encompassed in the 17 SDGs. For a long time, we as humans and we've tried a lot of different things to get a handle on them. And it's important, I think, to dig up and present that historical context to the people who are working hard on the SDGs on a daily basis. I should probably mention, I mean, I haven't really mentioned anything I listened to or read. Let me think about something. Ah, I'll say I can you edit this better yet? Earlier on? Yeah. Yeah. I love reading Scandinavian crime, drama. Scandinavian thrillers. Okay. In particular Norwegian ones. This has nothing to do with Roald Amundsen. But they've got some great authors. Maybe it's the dark and cold up there that some of these...

Scott Allen  43:02  
Didn't black metal come from Norway as well in Sweden?

Martin Gutmann  43:07  
That seems very possible.

It is cold and dark. Yeah. Well, a guest of mine, David Day, when I asked him what he was streaming, and you will be familiar with this. And then I mentioned to it a guest, Eric Guthey. But it was the bridge the story about so so I'm becoming familiar with this space for sure.

Yeah, actually, the bridge brings us back to your first question about me. You know, I have these roots in Minnesota. But I grew up in Sweden. My mother's Swedish. And I grew up right on the coast where "the bridge" from the series The bridge now stands.  There just wasn't a bridge when I was growing up.

Scott Allen  43:50  
So what are a couple of titles that listeners could explore these Norwegian thrillers that have stood out for you?

Martin Gutmann  43:57  
I love books by Jo Nesbo. You'll have to put some of these. He has a series of books about the detective Harry Hole. Okay. And they are fantastic. The other thing that I listen to quite regularly is the How To Train Your Dragon series. Because my kids have three kids, they absolutely love them. And the audiobook narrator has the most outrageous Scottish accent. He's super funny. And so we listen to this all the time. The whole family loves it. And, of course, that is a bit of a leadership story as well. Oh, yeah. You know, this, this reluctant hero who has to grow into this role of saving humanity and inspiring his followers. So yeah, it's definitely highly recommended even for people who don't have kids?

Well, I didn't realize I mean, I've seen the animated films, I believe it's more than one film. And then there's, of course, the TV series. So that's been on. I've listened to that in the background as I was working or pounding away on writing something. But I didn't realize there were audiobooks as well.

There are, and I highly recommend them. Okay. They're spectacular. 

Martin, I can't wait till you and I can have a cup of coffee at the foot of a mountain, and I can learn some more. You know, the International leadership Association next year is supposed to be being held in Switzerland.

I will make sure to be there.

Scott Allen  45:42  
Yes. So your neck of the woods. Absolutely. I

Martin Gutmann  45:45  
I hope you can be there.

I'm hoping I can be. I hope so. Because that's high on my list as a place to visit. Thank you so much for the conversation today. We have a lot to digest and consume. I will put links to your book in the show notes. And I just can't thank you enough. So thank you for the good work that you're doing. And thank you for exploring leadership in this way. I couldn't agree with you more that there's a very, very direct, really cool connection to your work and Leadership Studies. I think it's a lot of fun. Thank you, sir.

Thank you very much. A pleasure to be on. 

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