A Proven Method to Bring Your Passions to Life (and Work)

Joshua Spodek

Our culture is in a crisis of initiative.

People everywhere in all walks of life feel stuck in their work, hobbies, and social lives, but they see the alternatives as too big and challenging, so they endure just bearable limits. We celebrate entrepreneurship in top-rated television shows, magazines, movies, and biographies, but fewer and fewer people are actually starting companies. What has gone wrong, and how can we break free and take the lead in our own lives?

Joshua Spodek, PhD, MBA, author of Leadership Step by Step, shows us the startling truth: The TV shows, movies, books, and courses that celebrate entrepreneurship have turned it into an artificial performance competition, not only subverting it to serve their promoters’ interests but undermining real initiative with myths and unattainable ideals. Worse still, our education system, far from helping us break free, leaves us with fewer options and less self-direction. Courses in business often skip over the hard part or leave students stuck in theory without any practice.

In Initiative, Spodek presents a practice-based method, not ideas or abstract principles but a sequence of concrete exercises that will lead you to discover and develop passions and take initiative—even if you don’t yet know what you want to take initiative on. Spodek’s Method Initiative exercises have been tested and refined over years in his popular course at New York University. Spodek illustrates the problem and the solution with stories of students in his course who have started with only a vague idea—or not even that—and have taken initiatives that have transformed their lives and the lives of others.


“Few of us know before we start what we will love doing, yet how can we start if we don’t know what to do? The best answer I’ve seen to this catch-22 is in Joshua Spodek’s new book, Initiative: A Proven Method to Bring Your Passions to Life (and Work)… To get to Carnegie Hall… you have to play a lot of scales and musical exercises. Spodek’s book is the scales you play to reach your version of Carnegie Hall. You don’t have to use his ‘scales,’ but I do love how simply he has laid them out.”

“Whether leading or following, you need to read Initiative. I have long yearned for such a book—the most clear and persuasive on personal development and leadership I’ve found in sixty years of adulthood. Spodek’s focus on initiative and reflection matches what I found effective serving in and leading organizations from a few people to over 15,000 Marines and Sailors. He illustrates key ideas with meaningful examples and helpful practical exercises. It’s lucid, succinct, easy to read, and deeply profound. It has earned a prominent place in my library.”

“Many congratulations to Josh Spodek for Initiative! I loved his comparison of Shark Tank to the dog show. The common ‘wisdom’ of expecting passion to automatically lead to action only works if you’re amazingly lucky. Initiative gives you a powerful tool kit to explore your interests and passions and create what makes you excited to work—how to make your own luck. No more Monday morning blues. If you work through the exercises here, you’ll stop saying ‘somebody should fix that’ and become the one who does, to the world’s benefit, and especially your own.”

“The disease is helplessness and inaction, and Joshua Spodek has the cure: Initiative. By taking initiative, we can connect with our passions and with people who can nurture those passions into actionable ideas that make money, create happiness, or maybe even change the world. Spodek starts off with some hard truths about today’s business environment, then follows up with Method Initiative, a series of exercises that will help you identify your interests and create those connections that lead to success.”


“Joshua Spodek restores the humanity, soul, and passion to the entrepreneurial spirit that built our nation. With simple steps and diverse stories, Initiative walks you through finding your passion and bringing it to life with confidence.”

“If you’ve ever wanted to start a project but weren’t sure how, Initiative is the missing piece. With effective, step-by-step exercises and engaging real-life stories, this book will show you how to become someone who can start projects you love from scratch.”

“Why do people with the most education often feel they have the fewest options? Joshua Spodek offers a brilliant critique of the ways our education system kills students’ initiative. In a step-by-step fashion, he goes on to show you how to regain yours. A ‘remedial class’ everyone should take!”

“Joshua Spodek found what was missing from entrepreneurship! Initiative shows why most entrepreneurial resources are counterproductive for people outside Silicon Valley. Then it shows actionable steps based on real-life results, illustrated with real-life stories from Joshua’s decade-plus of research, teaching, and coaching. You will discover skills, confidence, and passions you always knew you had.”

“Initiative, action, and passion comprise one of the most important and overlooked virtuous circles in life. This book is your guide to implementing an empowering, world-changing feedback loop no matter what your age, interests, or professional calling.”

“Joshua shows that not only are many of our fundamental entrepreneurship practices wrong and misguided, they can be downright counterproductive. What works for TV shows or Silicon Valley actually inhibit the rest of us from acting on passions that can get us promoted, hired, and funded. Initiative’s surprisingly simple steps and real-life profiles of people who started from nothing show you how to bring them to life.”

“Entrepreneurship is my jam! It’s disappointing how TV shows, movies, and universities discourage people from following their FIRE. Initiative cuts through the hype and myth. Joshua Spodek gets it and this book is proof. Initiative shows you what works and how people are implementing change in the world today.”

“We endure far more than we have to at work, and yet there we sit, stuck. What holds us back from yanking ourselves out of our malaise? Joshua Spodek knows, and knows what to do about it. He unlocks the ultimate power—initiative—through insight and powerful exercises to give you the experiences, skills, and beliefs needed to get things going, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish. Take the initiative to buy this book—you won’t regret it.”

“Another thought-provoking, life-changing book from Joshua Spodek. For anyone who wants to take the initiative to launch a business, get a new job, or change the world—this book is for you.”

“I’ve seen many people create greatness in their lives and work. Initiative teaches you how, by doing. Its real-life stories of people of diverse backgrounds and interests make the exercises and principles accessible to diverse readers. Its vivid imagery makes challenging concepts simple to understand and visualize.”

“Joshua Spodek’s Initiative enables everyone to imagine more and to do more through simple, effective exercises, illustrated with profiles of people who did them. Imagination spurts action that leads to change, and Initiative helps point the way with systems in government, education, and business.”


Joshua Spodek is a TEDx speaker, professor at NYU, host of the award-winning Leadership and the Environment podcast, a columnist for Inc. magazine, and author of the #1 bestselling book Leadership Step by Step. He holds five Ivy League degrees, including a PhD in astrophysics and an MBA from Columbia, where he studied under a Nobel laureate and helped build an X-ray observational satellite with the European Space Agency and NASA.

Joshua left academia to found a venture based on his invention that showed animated images to subway riders between stations. Today, he teaches and coaches leadership and entrepreneurship at NYU and at Columbia Business School, and has spoken at Harvard, Princeton, West Point, MIT, BCG, PwC, S&P, and IBM. He has appeared on every major network, and has been featured in New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. In its “Genius” issue, Esquire listed him among the “best and brightest”; NBC has called him an “astrophysicist turned new media whiz,” and Forbes and ABC have called him a “rocket scientist.”

Joshua has done burpees daily since 2011 (129,000 and counting at the time of writing this book), takes sixteen months to produce one load of garbage, and hasn’t flown (by choice) since March 2016. He blogs daily at and makes his courses available online at

ISBN 978-1-7330399-0-1
$19.95 CAD $16.95 USD
Published May 21, 2019
6 × 9 258 Pages
Paperback, ebook