Leadership & pop culture transcript

Daniel Ridge: One of the great things about popular culture is that it is an essential part of our shared culture. This means that people from most walks of life quickly recognise pop icons like Darth Vader Bilbo Baggins, Captain America and Harry Potter. More often, we know their stories too. We know that Yoda is a patient mentor, Darth Vader has anger issues, and that hobbits make great travelling companions. Today's guest, Michael Urick, proposed the pop icons such as these can be looked at in terms of their management leadership styles and used as tools to discuss decision making, exerting influence and workplace performance.

Well thank you so much for joining me today.

Michael Urick: Daniel, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

DR: The books that you've written for this new series use popular culture to discuss leadership and management. What got you started on this project?

MU: It's kind of interesting. I had always used a lot of pop culture in my classes, and I found it to be very effective in illustrating organisational behaviour and leadership concepts. And so I'd gotten a little bit into doing some research, more like pedagogical research and the appropriateness of using popular culture and then publishing some articles for how to use popular culture and specifically what elements of popular culture to use. I consider myself to be a bit of a nerd in a very positive sense, I'm saying that, and so I enjoy looking for organisational behaviour and leadership concepts whenever I watch or experience a piece of popular culture. And I always think wow, I can write something about that, about how, you know, I could use that in the classroom or how we can teach something related to leadership, using this and so, two of my most favourite pieces of pop culture are of course Star Wars and JRR Tolkien's work, including Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. And so, I'd published pieces, little shorter article pieces on both those areas in the past. I thought wow, it'd be really cool if I could do something bigger, longer, and as it turned out, Fiona had reached out to me, Fiona from Emerald Publishing, to write a book on generational issues in the workplace, which is something that I researched a lot in as well, and I said yeah I can do that, I'm excited to do that, but I also have a couple of other ideas, and these ideas were related to how I can take some of what I did for some of the smaller articles and expand on it and really dig deep into how leadership and organisational behaviour is in some of these areas of popular culture. And, you know, I started telling her about the two ideas that I had, one being Star Wars and one being the works of JRR Tolkien. I kind of thought maybe she would laugh me off the call but what ended up happening was, she said, I think it's great, it’s a great idea. And, you know, she said this could sound like a series and so from there, the series was really born, and I’m very excited about it, you know, writing these books, was just fun. Sometimes you sit down and do some writing and you think, I got to slog through this. I really got to work at this but so far the books in the series have been very effortless to write because it's just your revisiting pieces of pop culture that you thoroughly enjoy, and talking about theories and concepts and ideas that you really care about and get you excited too. They’re a lot of fun.

DR: Yeah well, as a reader the books are really engaging because it's something that everybody can relate to, you know. We've seen these movies, they are part of our culture so you can kind of see, you know yourself in some of these movies. I was thinking, you know, so for Star Wars, when that comes to mind, you know, I can definitely see lessons about leadership and mentorship and mindfulness. Can you give us a few examples from the movies that you used to teach these qualities?

MU: A lot of people actually don't like the film, the eighth episode, The Last Jedi. To me, there is an excellent example in that film of leadership. Yeah, I was doing a seminar where I was talking about that film and people were saying, well, there's so much failure in that film. How can you say that's a good way to explore leadership? And I said well, to be a leader is to fail sometimes. That's what happens, you're not going to be right 100% of the time, but it's about how you pick yourself up and move on and learn from it. And so, as a leader, you're learning a lot yourself, and you're also teaching others. You're mentoring others. That's part of what being a leader is. And so we see that a lot in that film, there's the character of Luke Skywalker, for example, some people view his characterisation to be not in line with what they expected from the original trilogy. Well I think it’s great. He went years and years trying to save the galaxy and all of a sudden, bad things keep happening no matter what he tries to do to stop it, and he becomes a little bit jaded and so when a Rey seeks him out to be his mentor, he's reluctant to do that. I think there's a very real example of what can happen in organisations. I worked so hard, I worked so hard, and it seems like we always still have problems. And rather than confront those problems, yeah, I just want to just kind of do my job, put my head down, I don't want to train the next generation. And so, we see that I think as a regular occurrence that happens in organisations. So, I use that as an example of kind of what not to do. In that film I also use the example of mindfulness and not multitasking. I don't want to give away too many spoilers but at the end of the film, Luke Skywalker, in essence, puts himself in two places at once, the very, very symbolic to me of multitasking. And it turns out that, you know, he kind of passes away, he's expended too much energy. So as a really very real example to me saying don't try and multitask too much. Keep focused on what you're doing because you're not going to be able to manage all this stuff if you keep doing too much. And so, to me, that particular film shows a lot of examples of mentorship and learning, and the dangers of multitasking. Also, with the character of Rey, she is somebody that is seeking knowledge, that wants to learn. Luke is an experienced Jedi. She wants to learn from him. It shows this great mutual mentorship relationship. Luke is this jaded curmudgeonly experienced Jedi at that point. And Ray is now seeking knowledge, wants to learn. Well, she teaches him to perhaps be more optimistic. She teaches him to come back and help her cause out, and so she learns from him, and Luke learns from her and so it's a very interesting dynamic and I think it clearly shows mutual mentorship where both the mentor mentee pair learn from each other.

DR: Yeah that's cool. I hadn't thought about that. I can see how that's practical in the workplace. Thinking about the workplace too and this mentorship, can you tell us a little bit about intergenerational mentorship? I know that's something that you've worked on in other places.

MU: One of my major areas of research is on intergenerational interactions, and, you know, I'm convinced that in organisations one of the biggest challenges we have is getting people to communicate better with each other. You know, there's a lot of talk out there about generational differences and that sort of thing and how real they are, how real they're not, well, to me, my own personal belief informed by research is that a lot of these generational differences are exaggerated, but they're real in the minds of people engaging in the interactions. So, whether you can measure that or not, people enact stereotypes and biases and these interactions, age based stereotypes and biases and these interactions, which is, is kind of challenging because we actually want to see knowledge transfer happening between age groups. So younger people come into the workplace, maybe not as much experience but new ideas, innovative thoughts. More mature individuals in the workplace have experienced have a lot of background and expertise that they've developed over time they really need to share with younger employees to help prepare them for decision making roles.

DR: Do you think there's a problem where the older, experienced mentor has trouble relating to the younger, new employee?

MU: It could be. There's a variety of challenges I think that exists between younger and older breakdowns. I think, relating on both ends, a younger employee relating to a more mature employee and vice versa I think happens so there's instances, I think, sometimes where younger employees might not know how to ask for help or feel shy about asking for help or feel like they've failed if they need to ask for help. And so, I think then that you get some stereotypes from that of, oh this younger person seems like they're a know it all and they feel like entitled for this etc. And so regardless, I think there's a breakdown in communication that occurs. If we don't fill that gap, if we don't fix that breakdown, we're not going to see knowledge transfer happening which needs to happen for organisations, critically, to survive. And in the case of Star Wars, we see a lot of intergenerational mentorship happening if you look at the case of the Jedi, for example, it's oftentimes an older Jedi paired with a younger Jedi, and you see mentoring happened between those two individuals and learning . Of course, there are a lot of examples in Star Wars where that didn't work out so well on that particular pairing. But if you look at some of the positive examples of Star Wars that did work, you know Rey and Luke, for example, Yoda and Luke, for example, you see some characteristics of some mentoring relationships that might be useful for real world leaders to explore in their organisations.

DR: Another big aspect of Star Wars that comes to mind when I'm thinking about the original trilogy especially I'm thinking, how they form a team, you have Leia and Han and Luke and Chewie and they're all in the Millennium Falcon, they're going out on this mission, you know, so what definition of a team from Star Wars can be applied to management.

MU: I think a lot, and, you know, if you go even back to the classic stages of team formation from Tuckman, the classic research there. I always love watching a film and seeing how a lot of the characters of the film just form a team as a textbook example of that, you know, I do a lot of that in my class whenever I get to teamwork, I'll show an example of a film and we walk through the five stages of team formation, and certainly it happens in Star Wars, I think it really, clearly happens, where I talk in the book of Rogue One with a team where the five stages are forming, storming, norming, performing, and a journey, clearly seeing the context of that one movie, the team progressed through those five stages. Yeah, the interesting thing is with Star Wars, that's kind of a prequel to the original trilogy, but they start the team that Luke and Han and Leia and Chewie become involved with, in essence, they're part of that team so the team just kind of keeps on going. So I think it's interesting to look at teams from those five stages from that concept, but I also think the benefits of teamwork, how teams work together so if you look for example at the Battle of the second Death Star. Luke is on the Death Star, Lando is in the Millennium Falcon leading the attack and space from that ship, and Han and Leia and Chewie are on the ground on Endor, and they're helping to destroy the shield generator, so they're they're split up. They're a team, but they're all doing different tasks related to their knowledge and skills that would be best suited for those individuals working with a team, different physical locations, but they're working together so that we can accomplish this big task of bringing down this Death Star, and it all works together in tandem. That's really what teamwork is all about. Yeah, working at the same times there's a temporal aspect of time. There's a physical aspect of different location, but their skills, their knowledge, their abilities, their expertise are aligned so they're in crucial roles that make that task happen.

DR: Well I was struck that you have a chapter on the Dark Side of management and particularly Darth Vader's transactional style. What do we have to learn from the dark side?

MU: Many managers end up going to the Dark Side because they see that, and I'm trying to be nice. I'm trying to be transformational. And I'm not getting anything out of it, you know. Transformational is sort of a long term investment; transactional you can get some short term performance relatively quickly, but it won't last over time. And I think that's what we tend to see with transactional leaders. Yeah, if you're always just going based on rewards or, in Darth Vader's case, punishment alone, and you're not being more transformational in nature, well, eventually your employees are going to get burned out and eventually they're not going to be as motivated as they might be otherwise. And I would even suggest that once that person's influence is gone. So when Darth Vader is not physically in the room or near his followers, their performance really suffers. Yeah, he's leading by fear and so when that fear is gone, there's nothing else to motivate those individuals, and I even speculate in the book that this is why I believe that Stormtroopers are such poor shots, because they're not motivated properly. They're just motivated through transactional leadership. Well that's not really going to be the type of leadership you're going to see the highest performance over time as opposed to more transformation or servant leader approach.

DR: If we’re looking at the Jedi as sort of an ideal manager what are the big conclusions that you can come to from that?

MU: There's a lot. There are so many in fact the final chapter of the book really summarises what some of the major conclusions are but you have to mentor, you have to facilitate the team and serve your team, you have to have strong values, you have to, in essence, be, you know sacrifice and be disciplined to perform well for your team. You have to be able to work with a diverse group, you have to be inclusive. You have to learn from your failure, you have to not be upset by your mistakes, but learn from them, you have to be wary of transactional styles, alone, you need to mix that with transformational in servant leadership approaches. All those things are some of the major themes that I explore throughout the book, and I would say that there are some, the major takeaways is really 10 or 11 takeaways from the book in terms of guidelines for what I view from my interpretation of Star Wars and from my understanding of leadership theory, 11 things that we can do to help us become more like a Jedi manager.

DR: And so one of the big ones out of that?

MU: Again, be a mentor, make sure that you're disciplined, avoid that transactional style, make sure you're inclusive, facilitate a team's performance, you know, it's not just all about you, but it's about making sure the team wins, making sure the team performs well. Those are some of the major ones that I would suggest are themes throughout the book.

DR: Yeah, well, if we turn to your second book the Leadership in Middle Earth, I know there are a lot of Lord of the Rings fans are kind of anxious to hear what you have to say. What comes to mind for me is teamwork, especially, you know, you have this group of diverse people that come together to form a team, so how about we begin there with that book?

MU: Absolutely. You know, it's kind of interesting because that term fellowship, Fellowship of the Ring, that's that's kind of another term for team in some regard.

DR: Yeah, exactly.

MU: So, a lot of what Tolkien writes about really is teamwork and team phenomena. And the thing that really gets me, you know, again, we can go through Tuckman's five stages, but the thing that really gets me about the phenomena of teamwork in Tolkien's work is, why do people join the team? What's in it for them? What motivates them? You know, and we explore this quite a bit in the book. You know, friendship is part of it. So, if you think of the characters of the Hobbit, they want to join the team because they're friends. And so there's that personal aspect of it. So when you think about team composition, you want to think of that relational side of things, you know, will these people get along well together, but there's also that danger of nepotism then, okay, if I'm only thinking about putting people on the team that know each other. Are we missing out on valuable knowledge skills and abilities that would be better suited for this team? And so, we think about team composition. I think with regard to, to the fellowship into teams in general. But again, going back to motivation, you know, thinking about, well, if I am successful in this team and I destroy the ring, what's in it for me? Yeah, maybe, conceptually, I can see, yeah, this dark lord fell and you know all the Middle Earth isn't going to be in ruin. Okay. But if you look at Boromir of the rings, he has different motivations as to why he wants to join the team. He's trying to use the ring to battle, he's not involved or he's not as keen on trying to destroy the ring, as some of the other members of the fellowship and so you see competing goals competing motivators for why want to join the team. And that's what I love about especially the Fellowship of the Ring part of Lord of the Ring as you see that all play out. Why are people sticking together? What happens when people have different conflicting goals? And ultimately, the end of that book the fellowship disbands. The fellowship breaks up. Now ultimately they learned a lot through being on that team together too with perhaps the exception of Boromir, they came to the same conclusion in terms of what good activities are they formed a similar mental model so that the ring is ultimately destroyed even after the fellowship disbands and goes their separate ways.

DR: So, this must be something that a manager has to keep in mind, how to balance a team and how to motivate them right?

MU: Absolutely. And so when you think about how to motivate and balance a team you're thinking about things like team composition. Who do I put on the team? I want a good balance of this team needed to get along well. And so yeah, maybe having some friends on the team, etc. But also we want to make sure that we're being inclusive. We also want to make sure that we have the right knowledge skills and abilities for this team can actually perform, so we think about team composition, just the same way as the fellowship members were chosen for this particular team. We also think about motivation. Everybody is motivated to perform on a team differently. Each individual is motivated by something different, sometimes as motivators align towards help us accomplish team goals like destroying the ring. Sometimes we might have someone on the team that is not motivated by that and wants to take the ring for themselves to use, so you have these different competing motivators as a manager. It's about understanding what makes your followers tick. You know what's making them perform and work well together on this team, are they aligned, are they not? Is this going to cause some conflict later on down the road? And if so, how do I manage that so these are very real concerns for leaders and managers Absolutely.

DR: What were JRR Tolkien views on leadership?

MU: He had a lot of views on leadership. Actually, I think some of them are very implicit through his writing. For example, it seems to me from reading through primarily the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. He doesn't look at a leader is necessarily the strong or the wise or the powerful, you know, if we if we go through a traditional definition of leadership, it's somebody who possesses influence. And he always kind of sets up the underdog to eventually be the leader of the story. The hobbit Bilbo Baggins in the prequels, the Lord of the Rings, is the leader, I once got in trouble at a conference by saying that I was doing a presentation on leadership and Lord of the Rings and someone talked to me after the session. I don't believe that Bilbo Baggins was truly a leader in The Hobbit, I said. Absolutely he was. In fact, Tolkien even labels him at one point in the book, he says, Bilbo Baggins became the true leader of this of this quest. Yeah, paraphrasing there but he labelled him as the true leader so it's about how the underdog emerges to be influential, and I think that's a major view that Tolkien has of leaders, is that you don't have to be wise and powerful and all-knowing to be a leader. You don't have to be that person that everybody looks up to. Even a hobbit can be a leader.

DR: Well then leaders can also be made in a group.

MU: Absolutely, my favourite of Tolkien's books is actually The Hobbit because it's pretty simple, but it also shows learning. You know, Bilbo has a pretty extreme character arc there where he doesn't want to have anything to do with his quest at the beginning. He wants to stay in his comfortable hobbit hole, and not leave the Shire where he's comfortable where it's home and he doesn't want to seemingly learn much new. Towards the end where he's the leader and he's helping these dwarves reclaim their kingdom, engaging in a battle of wits with a dragon and negotiating between multiple armies. Yeah, he has quite a character arc where he learned to be a leader through the adventures that he's had, so I would say this another one of Tolkien's perspectives is that you can certainly learn to be a leader. I think another of Tolkien's thoughts on leadership, is that we're true leaders don't necessarily want to be a leader. A true leader rises to the occasion. That's not to say they shy away from being a leader when they're called but that is to say they don't hold on to power needlessly. They don't seek power needlessly. They rise to a leadership role because they're needed, their uniqueness is needed in that particular role and that's what makes them truly effective in that role and then whenever they're not needed anymore, they go back to the Shire and they live out their life again, they resign, of their leadership role as they need to. So it's kind of one of those things where a leader emerges when is needed is not unwilling to relinquish power when there might be someone better to serve a leadership role.

DR: I'm sure there are examples of the bad use of power. So I know that Lord of the Rings, a lot of it is based on power and people who are seeking power. So, what role does power play in terms of leadership?

MU: Yeah, it's kind of interesting that you know, it's the, the One Ring of Power, right? So, power gets thrown around a lot in Tolkien's work, you know. Another one of Tolkien's beliefs about leadership, he explicitly stated is that no one should really domineer over somebody else, especially those people that want to seek that sort of thing. So, you know, again power can come in a variety of different forms. Going back to French and Raven’s very classic approaches to power, what Tolkien I think was saying he used this through several examples, is that those that are most influential have multiple bases of power, and probably have that referent base of power. In other words, that likability factor, they're able to elicit an emotional response from somebody. They're well liked on a personal level. Yeah, they might have expertise. They might be an expert in some way, but they can learn that too, and they can grow in their expertise through being relatable, through being likable people can teach them things and they can learn things just by being around somebody. That's the case of Bilbo. On the other hand, you have somebody like Saruman who's very negative in terms of how that person uses power. They're deceptive. They're a great communicator, they know a lot of lore of Middle Earth so they have expert power, but that's really almost all they have. You know, if you think about coercive power. Yeah, Saruman tries to punish people, so they might have a little bit of that, but they're really not able to reward a whole lot. They don't have that legitimate authority they used to have because they're no longer the head of the White Council, like Saruman used to be. He's removed from that role, but it still has the extra power maybe still a little bit of coercive of power but without that referent power, that person is not really sustainable in terms of being influential into the future.

DR: There's a part of your book that I really liked it's about wizards, kings and hobbits. These different creatures or beings have different relationships to leadership and to following. Can you tell us a little bit about that how they differ?

MU: The wizards themselves are oftentimes labelled as being wise. Tolkien talks about that word a lot, to be wise, and the hobbits are characteristic of the way the Tolkien portrays them oftentimes unwise, not as worldly yet, they're open to learning. Sam, for example, the hobbit, is very much interested in learning about new cultures, and very much interested in serving others, and so they use that sort of simple practical wisdom, and that openness to learn and try new things, to become more leaders. Tolkien calls Sam at one point in some of his writings outside of the Lord of the Rings, as his view the main protagonist in the series. And so, it's kind of interesting because when you first meet Sam, he's a gardener. He has no aspirations to becoming a leader, has no aspirations to really leaving the Shire, but he does when he's called upon and he does and he helps his friends in doing so and as a result, he's able to build his power that way, you know, again, instead of Saruman, the wizard who wants to hold on to power. He seeks power. He wants to become one of the rulers of Middle Earth, and doing so, he doesn't really develop that, that referent power, and he's removed from his legitimate power of being the head of the White Council so he loses some of that. And so, that particular chapter that you're talking about is really a juxtaposition. So that's not to say that every wizard in Tolkien's work is negative in nature. Gandalf is a great communicator. Gandalf is somebody that is wise and powerful in a traditional sense, but also as a very positive leader, and so there are those two separate wizards who possess very different basic power. And I would argue that Gandalf does have that referent power. He's able to relate to others in a way that Saruman can't, that helps him become more effective in his leadership role. You know the Kings, I contrast Aragorn and Thorin in terms of their base of power again. Aragorn is very relatable, has that referent power. I think really where the difference between Aragorn and Thorin lies, though, is probably in their use of transactional versus servant leadership. Thorin is kind of regaining his kingdom, is going to help others out, certainly, but he's kind of ambitious. He's doing it mostly for himself, and he's doing it in the transactional nature, you know, okay, if you do this, I will reward you with this treasure. All right, there's not really transformational or service oriented in the way that Aragorn is everyone's kind of like, okay, yeah, I'm the rightful king, but also, you know I'm going to wait till it’s right for me to claim that kingship. I'm going to prove myself first and I'm going to work with the fellowship, I'm going to work with you to try and have this team succeed. And then as we succeed, if it seems like the right time and if it seems like I'm needed in Gondor then I'll reveal myself as the king. So it's very much more service oriented in nature and Thorin, yeah. Similarly Bilbo and Frodo. Yeah, both have referent power. But again, it's that servant oriented side and that transformational side. Towards the end of Return of the King, you know, Frodo says oh, he's, he becomes too addicted to the ring and he says I'm not going to drop it in the fire. So he's no longer really acting as a server and in that sense he's thinking, Okay, this is what I want to do myself. I'm keeping this ring for me. So, he becomes more self-serving as opposed to worrying about others and the fate of others, whereas Bilbo seems to care about others in terms of his success. He cares about the plight of the dwarves, he wants to help them. He rescues them from a variety of situations that would have basically ended their quest had not been there. So it’s slightly different in terms of the focus, I would say with regard to the level of success of those characters,

DR: One section of your book that really struck me was about celebrations. I hadn't really thought of celebrations in terms of leadership. What's good and bad about celebrations?

MU: There's a lot. There's a lot of celebrating in Tolkien, by the way. One of the things I love about Tolkien is he's not shy of saying, okay now all my characters are going to go grab a beer and smoke some tobacco together. It's kind of a cool thing about Tolkien I think. Doing so brings people together, you know. That's where they meet Aragorn, while they're sort of on the road, having a brief moment of celebration, at the inn of the Prancing Pony. But beyond that, if you look at even how the dwarves recruit Bilbo in The Hobbit, to join their quest, it's very celebratory. They're getting together. They're getting excited about, you know, going back home. They're getting excited about going back to their kingdom. They're celebrating. They're singing, they're feasting. Now, in that case, they're kind of raiding Bilbo’s food and his beer and his wine, but they're still having a good time and they're feasting and so in a way that's not too dissimilar from a kick off meeting to a project that many organisations might have. Okay, we have this project. Let's talk about it but let's have a good time. Let's do this kick off event. We're going to get everybody excited about it. It's celebratory in nature. At the end, there's a coronation where Aragorn is made king. It's a celebration. So, celebrations help us not just to have fun and enjoy ourselves, but especially in the case of the dwarves and Bag End, Bilbo’s home. They're celebrating while they're coming up with a plan for how they're going to get the job done. And so certainly celebrations can have that element to it as well. 

DR: Right, so they serve as an opening and as a closure to a project if you look at it that way. I think what's great about both these books, the Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, is that you take popular culture and you bring in questions about leadership and management, and it's accessible to a wide range of people. I’m wondering how it fits in with students and do you think this is something that teachers can use in the class?

MU: Actually, I’m developing a couple of supplementary materials for professors to go alongside the book, so some PowerPoint slides and help to summarise these books as well as a sample template syllabus, that instructors could use with regard to how to incorporate popular culture into their classroom activities, but certainly teaching using popular culture is something that I've done for a long time, and something that I believe that others can use as well. You know, I've actually found it very effective for this reason. And you have a group of individuals in your classroom all with different experiences from all walks of life, all coming from different backgrounds. And let's say I want to illustrate a theory using a case study. Well, let's say that my case study is related to manufacturing. You might have somebody that's worked in manufacturing this case really relates well to. You might have some there's no interest in work in manufacturing that's just turned off by this. You might have somebody that isn't quite sure of what they want to do with their job or has not had a lot of work experience and so having a practical example of a real world organisation to them, just seems different or seems like something that they can't relate to right away. But if you're able to use an element of popular culture which multiple people might have experienced already or if they have the experience can easily experience through viewing it, you know, some clips in class or through streaming it on your own after class as part of an assignment, it's pretty relatable, quickly, and it's something that I think is easy to illustrate some themes, pretty clearly. You know, whenever I go see a movie, I think people that go see movies with me sometimes get frustrated with me because they'll sit there and I'll think, well this is about organisational behaviour and I'll talk to them about theories of OB as we're watching this film. And they're thinking okay this is like a superhero movie or this is like a cheesy sci fi movie. You don't have to see org behaviour and everything, but I do, and I think that if we can make it clear to students that these concepts exist in pop culture but not just in pop culture, in the real world phenomena that we're seeing on a daily basis, I think using pop culture to help them see how often this stuff comes into play, so they can understand it and see it also in the real world whenever they're exposed to that phenomenon, it can be quite powerful. It's kind of cheesy if you think about it, it seems like, you know, with everything going on in the world today, it's like okay we're going to learn leadership through popular culture. Is that really the most effective way? I would say absolutely because if you do so in a fun environment, it's relatable. It can help us to illustrate some pretty complex theory in quite frankly some pretty dry theory, in a fun way, and then hopefully these books and the way that I use pop culture in the classroom, then pushes students to not just say, Okay, how did you see this theory play out in this piece of pop culture, but no, it's put yourself in the shoes of this character, or even better, you're in an organisation, and you have to put together a team, you have to put together a fellowship. How are you going to choose who you're going to put on this team based on what you've learned through Tolkien? How are you going to mentor somebody that might be new to your organization based on how you saw Rey and Luke interact? And to me, for those reasons, popular culture can be quite powerful.

DR: Yeah, well it's all really interesting, thank you so much for coming in to talk to me about this.

MU: Absolutely. Thank you for having me Daniel. I really appreciate it.

DR: Thank you for listening to today's episode. You can find a transcript of this show as well as more information about Michael Urick and the book series on our website. I'd like to thank Fiona Allison for her help with the show, and Alex Jungius of This is Distorted.