Episode 41: Peter Block On Ambition, Authenticity, And Community [The Amiel Show]

One of my favorites interviews of all time!

In the consulting field Peter Block is a giant. His book Flawless Consulting–now in its third edition–taught us how to show up in client relationships with authenticity, rigor, and an eye for potential pitfalls.

Peter also influenced a generation of managers with his book The Empowered Manager. Today, he brings his passion to building local community around people’s assets.

In this interview, Peter and I walk through the trajectory of his career–his earlier years as an ambitious internal consultant, the decision (unusual at the time) to start an external consultancy, how he learned to build relationships with others despite being a self-described “loner,” and the questions and commitments that have pulled him in and shifted how he works.

For a serious conversation about big ideas and a full life, this was a heck of a lot of fun.  Enjoy–and share widely!

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Highlights

  • 5:00 Getting into the field by accident & influence of Chris Argyris
  • 12:30 A loner finds connection in Gestalt and T-groups
  • 16:30 Early years of restless ambition and almost getting fired
  • 22:30 The risks of being authentic
  • 25:30 Influence of Werner Erhard, language, and speech acts
  • 31:30 The Philippines—working with citizens and loving it
  • 37:00 Taking two years off to raise kids
  • 42:00 Peter tells me, “You’re amazing. You frighten me.”
  • 47:30 Why focus on gifts rather than deficiencies
  • 50:30 John McKnight’s work on asset-base community development
  • 58:30 Contracting in place-based communities

Listen to the Podcast

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Authenticity–putting into words what you see happening–is risky.

–Peter Block   Tweet this quote

As soon as you acknowledge your gifts, you become accountable.

–Peter Block   Tweet this quote

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Skills that are easy and effortless

What skills come easily and effortlessly to you? Are you currently getting paid to use them? These questions don’t only matter to consultants like me who choose what services to offer and how to price them. They are also relevant to people within organizations. Indeed, the strengths-based movement in talent development (Gallup, Marcus Buckingham, etc.) is based precisely on this premise. 

Below is a post I wrote earlier this year for my personal blog. It describes my discovery of what may be my greatest strength and my astonishment that I hadn’t thought of it during a two month period of trying to identify my greatest strengths. Go figure!

May this story entice you to explore your deepest strengths, particularly those you may be overlooking precisely because they involve so little effort.