Is your organization a little culty? with NXIVM whistleblower Sarah Edmondson (Transcript)

ReThinking with Adam Grant
Is your organization a little culty? with NXIVM whistleblower Sarah Edmondson
February 27, 2024

[00:00:00] Adam Grant:
Hey everyone, it's Adam Grant. Welcome back to ReThinking, my podcast on the science of what makes us tick with the TED Audio Collective. I'm an organizational psychologist, and I'm taking you inside the minds of fascinating people to explore new thoughts and new ways of thinking.

My guest today is Sarah Edmondson, who hosts the podcast A Little Bit Culty. She was a key whistleblower on the NXIVM cult, a racketeering enterprise involving sex trafficking, sexual abuse, forced labor and fraud. Sarah described her experiences with NXIVM in her memoir, Scarred, and in the docuseries The Vow.

I was originally talking with Sarah for an upcoming WorkLife episode on Charisma. But she had so much insight to offer that I ended up rethinking that and decided to feature our full conversation here instead. She has a lot to teach us about questioning leadership and how to tell the difference between a strong culture and a cult.

[00:01:01] Sarah Edmonson:
Before we get started, I just have to say that I've just finished a two month break from all podcasts, so I'm feeling a little rusty. It was a very cathartic, a very need, a much needed break of not talking about cult stuff for two months, although it does come up in conversation.

[00:01:18] Adam Grant:
Got it. So you, you think you're rusty on content as opposed to on conversation? That makes more sense. If you went on a two month silent meditation retreat or something, I'm like, “Yeah, talking could be a little bit weird.”

[00:01:30] Sarah Edmonson:
Yeah, and I wouldn't do that anyway. A, because I wouldn't be able to sit still and B, because I find that stuff a little bit culty, so I'm a, I, I am adverse to it.

[00:01:39] Adam Grant:
Oh, shots fired.

[00:01:40] Sarah Edmonson:
Yeah, sorry. Uh, like, they can be.

[00:01:43] Adam Grant:
I have so many questions.

[00:01:45] Sarah Edmonson:
Ha, I bet. I was in a cult for 12 years. I've been out for six, and apparently I love talking about it.

[00:01:53] Adam Grant:
Tell me about the cult you were in.

[00:01:55] Sarah Edmonson:
So I joined in 2005 what I thought was a personal and professional development program. I had a community of like-minded individuals. Ironically, a lot of the things that I've learned that you talk about in your podcast are things that we talked about in our cult: leadership, communication, productivity, overcoming limitations. All of those things were great. And in terms of what we did in the personal and professional development side of things, there was a community of people who were all striving to be the best versions of ourselves and build humanity and all these wonderful things.
And truly, it was an incredible community at a time, but there was always so many red flags, so many things that I didn't know what I was looking at, that were indications of something else going on that I couldn't see until it was too late.

But I eventually woke up, is sort of what we call it, recognizing what we were a part of was actually a cover for something much more nefarious, and that was an incredibly challenging and traumatizing time in my life when I realized that not only was this community the opposite of what I was telling people it was, and note that I was a recruiter for this group. I was going around telling people that the leader, who's now in jail for, for, uh, many different crimes for 120 years plus five years probation, that he was the most noble, humanitarian, ethical man in the whole world. And, um, turns out that was just a cover for him to sex traffic, manipulate, coerce, and eventually brand women with his initials, which is actually how I ended up waking up.

So that was six years ago that, um, my husband and I and a group of others went to the authorities that led to an investigation, which led to the trial and the imprisonment of Keith Raniere. And the last six years have been about healing, trying to share this knowledge that I've learned and trying to help other people avoid the same pitfalls.

[00:03:54] Adam Grant:
Obviously, terribly sorry that you went through that, but on behalf of many, many people, grateful that you came out of it and you've shared so openly.
[00:04:04] Sarah Edmonson:
Thanks, Adam. One of the things I've since learned is that you know, any group can become culty. Any organization can become culty. Any family, religion, government, institution, anything with a hierarchy has the potential to have an abuse of power, which is ultimately what the structure of a cult is, it’s somebody at the, at the top abusing power. I think that most people who are abusing power aren't gonna be worried about it. They just wanna continue abusing power, so it's good to question. I have to ask myself all the time, even as a parent, like am I being manipulative? Is this the best way to achieve results with my kids? It's a good question to ask yourself.

[00:04:42] Adam Grant:
When organizational culture researchers distinguish between strong cultures and cults, they usually say the big difference is tolerance for dissent. Are you allowed to challenge authority? Are you allowed to disagree with decisions?Are you allowed to ask questions? Sounds like that's a, a key distinction for you as well.

[00:04:59] Sarah Edmonson:
Absolutely. I actually recently did a TEDx talk, and I tried to give the five most important red flags and then five green flags. And one of the green flags was, “Can you ask questions?” And, and also, can you leave? You can leave the group without being shunned or excommunicated. Almost every high control group or cult has that built-in mechanism.

[00:05:23] Adam Grant:
Do you remember the first meeting you had with Keith?

[00:05:26] Sarah Edmonson:
My instinct was, “Who is this guy?” He just looks like a normal kind of nerdy, volleyball playing… He’s not the typical charismatic leader that I've since studied in other cult leaders.

But I think what he did do really well was he is really good at building rapport with people. And when you were with him, when he was focused on you, and especially because he'd been built up by the, what we call the Greek chorus, like all the people around him. By the time I'd met him, I had met many other people in the ranks of NXIVM, all of whom put him on this pedestal and talked about him as being like the smartest man in the world and the genius that created this tech, which is the terms that they used to describe the methodology that we did in NVIXM. The curriculum would be a more normal way of describing it. It's not technology, it's just a curriculum.

So we'd learned this curriculum and I'd had a great respect for him, believing that he'd created this. I since know that he stole it from probably your podcast and, you know, Brené Brown and a bunch of other people.

[00:06:24] Adam Grant:
I hope not.

[00:06:25] Sarah Edmonson:
But like the, the things, the really, the, truly the thing, a lot, so many of the things that we learned were, like, directly plagiarized from major thought leaders, including, like, Eckhart Tolle and Buddhism. And just like the tenets of how to be a good person.

I just didn't know. I was, you know, 27, I wasn't educated enough to know that he'd stolen from, like, cognitive behavioral therapy and neurolinguistic programming and all these things. Anyway, so I respected him. I personally didn't find him charismatic. There were a lot of other people around him I found way more charismatic that I was drawn into. But a lot of people, you know, were drawn into his little web, and I think the way that he used charisma was more about, like, connecting with you as a person and figuring out what it is that you wanted and you just would feel kind of special in the glow of his attention, would be the best way I would describe it.

[00:07:15] Adam Grant:
Wow. How did he do that?

[00:07:17] Sarah Edmonson:
I remember once towards the end, he was asking me about when I was moving to Albany, 'cause I lived in Vancouver. Which, by the way, is what kept me at a distance enough to be able to wake up when I did and not double down and remain devoted when everybody else did. He was holding my hand. So one of the things he would do is there was a physical contact, and it was eye gazing. So he was looking very deeply into my eyes. I felt, in that moment, for the first time, comfortable with him. One of the things that he would do is, and he was very strategic about this. He never directly said, “Hey, do you wanna come for a walk with me?” or do this or that with me. He would have people around him say, “Oh, you're in town. Are you gonna reach out to Keith?”

So then it would be coming from me, to be like, “I'm in town. Do you wanna go for a walk?” Which is usually how he would have one-on-one time. And I only did that a few times. And I remember, he couldn't find his way in, like he was, he was trying to like, figure out what to relate with me on, and, and it just didn't work. It was, uh, uncomfortable and I thought that was my problem.

But rapport was something that was actually taught in our curriculum. There was a module on how to be in rapport, how to build rapport with somebody, how to meet them in their model and connect with them so that you could lead them somewhere else. That was the whole point as a coach, but some people just have it naturally, like it's not something you think about. And then we'd have other coaches come in and they'd be, like, so awkward and really turn off the, um, new students. So we'd have to teach them how to do it. And so some people have it, some people don’t.

And I think that's an element of charisma, but it's just a tool. It's like a, it's like a knife in the hand of a surgeon or the knife in the hand of a murderer. It's who's wielding it and what's their goal.

[00:08:57] Adam Grant:
Charisma is not inherently good or bad.

[00:09:00] Sarah Edmonson:

[00:09:01] Adam Grant:
Um, it's a, it's a tool that can be used for good evil.

[00:09:03] Sarah Edmonson:
Mm-hm. Ironically, that is a line that I learned in NXIVM. It was when we talked about the concept of manipulation, we talked about manipulating in NXIVM, and I think this is something that sociopaths loved to do. They loved to like put it all out there so you'd never consider them to do the thing that they're talking about, and he was referring to manipulation, which is the same thing. It's also a tool, just like charisma, like you have to manipulate your kids to get them to brush their teeth. You know, you're going, “Hey guys, we're gonna listen to Elmo and it's gonna be so fun.” I'm like, “Brush, brushy brush.” Do you know the brushing song for Elmo?

[00:09:39] Adam Grant:
Oh yes.

[00:09:40] Sarah Edmonson:
So, so good. Technically that's a manipulation. It's not bad because you're getting 'em to brush their teeth. The, the bad part of it is when you get someone to be branded because they think they're part of a sorority, and it turns out you're trying to put their initials on you like they're cattle, so you can own them for the rest of your life. It's like the flip side. I have to make light of it, otherwise it's just too dark and awful. So, we can joke, just so you know.

[00:10:05] Adam Grant:
[laughter] I appreciate that. I have a colleague, uh, Jochen Menges, who, who did some research showing that basically when a leader is up in front of a crowd or an audience and is exuding charisma, that people often become awestruck and they end up sort of turning off their cognitive processing skills.

They might even be more muted in the emotions they express. And you know, he described this as, well, they’re in awe. He labeled it the awestruck effect. I read the research and thought, “Sounds more like the dumbstruck effect.” You're under a spell that literally interferes with your ability to reason, and I wonder if that describes some of what happened.

[00:10:44] Sarah Edmonson:
I think so. It's the same thing that happens in like a concert, a music concert, or even I've seen it in like a Tony Robbins and the break, where they're playing the, the rah rah music. There's a, a group adrenaline, cortisol, people have, like, an incredible euphoric experience. And then they link that to the leader.

They have a, an overwhelming body sensation, and then they think they got that from the guru or whoever is standing in front of the stage. So they start to feel dependency and they start to feel en-enthralled.

[00:11:16] Adam Grant:
Yes. I, I think what you're describing is what Emile Durkheim, the founding father of sociology called Collective Effervescence.

[00:11:23] Sarah Edmonson:
Oh, yes.

[00:11:23] Adam Grant:
Where a group aligns around a purpose, and they have a shared energy.

[00:11:29] Sarah Edmonson:

[00:11:30] Adam Grant:
What, what you're highlighting is the nefarious side of this, is feeling grateful to and dependent on the leader for creating that transcendent experience.

[00:11:38] Sarah Edmonson:
I found it even before I was in NXIVM. In my brief rave days, I was a raver for like all of 10 minutes, and the music and the drugs and the euphoria of that collective experience… We’re humans and we're tribal and we're looking for belonging and we're trying to find our place. And some people have that more than others. I'm certainly guilty of that. I was a camp counselor, and I started an acting support group. Like I love groups. I love to be a part of things, and we're looking for that. And then we're having this collective effervescent experience and then attributing it to the person who's in the front of the stage.

And then we have somebody like Keith who's like, “Oh, I'm not a guru. I'm just a guy.” And like, no, no. You know, this sort of like faux humble thing, which also made him more appealing because his whole thing was that we shouldn't be dependent on anything on, on the external world to be happy, which is also, you know, this basic Buddhist tenet. That, you know, happiness comes from within and we're like, “Oh, right. Of course we don't wanna have any dependencies except on NXIVM for the rest of our lives.”

[00:12:40] Adam Grant:
You're surfacing a couple other things that, that show up in the evidence on charismatic leadership. When you talk about this attribution that people make and the, the credit that they gave to Keith or to other leaders for creating that experience, we see that the same is actually true of charisma.

There's a classic paper on the romance of leadership, which basically argued that, um, charisma is not always a cause of group success. It's often a consequence. So you, you come into a group, you perceive them as magical or excellent or successful in some way, and then you assume, well, the leader must be charismatic.

[00:13:15] Sarah Edmonson:
Right. Yeah.

[00:13:16] Adam Grant:
And it, it sounds like that's a version of, of what happened where you came in and, and people were sort of painting the picture of, like, wow, you know, Keith built all this stuff that made NXIVM great, therefore he must be great.

[00:13:28] Sarah Edmonson:
Yes. And then you have a bunch of people that you trust. Like before I even met Keith, I was brought in by Mark Vicente, who had made this film called “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” Right, which was really big in the early 2000s. It was like spirituality meets quantum physics meets the human potential in a film. And I met him and I was like, I was, you know, I was a actress, and I wanted to do more meaningful work and here's this film that did that. And he's like, “Oh, if you like my film, then you may like this program I just did, the seminar that I just did, and it helps you to actually do the things I talk about in my film.”

So that was like, it hit all my values. It, I wanted to make conscious shifting media. I wanted to be aligned with people who were doing, doing more meaningful work. I was drawn into him. If I had met Keith Raniere at a, like on the street, I don't think I would've batted an eye at the end if he's like, you can take my program for $2,000. I’d be like, “Go fuck yourself. You're an idiot.” That wasn't the selling point. It was somebody else who I trusted.

[00:14:25] Adam Grant:
Your story about being drawn to wanting to join a group, um, having a, a thirst for belonging really tracks closely with the research on two different kinds of charismatic relationships.

They're usually called personalized and socialized. And the personalized charismatic relationships are, are basically about being attached to the leader to fill a gap in your own identity. So you see it among people who lack clarity about who am I, what are my values? And then they sort of identify with the leader. And in many cases are, are vulnerable to blind faith and unquestioning obedience to, to provide that sense of “This is where I fit in, this is where I belong, that's who I am.”

And then the more socialized, charismatic relationships are not about the leader, they're about the mission. Um, “I'm attached to this group for what it's accomplishing, for what it stands for.” I think your story complicates this distinction a little bit because it sounds like, uh, there, there were a lot of people who were drawn in for personalized reasons. You were sort of brought in for more socialized reasons, and that's part of what kept you at a distance. And I wondered what your reactions were to that.

[00:15:32] Sarah Edmonson:
If you were to put me in, in one or the other. I'd say it's the belonging one, although the mission part was definitely a highlight for me. And whereas my husband was like mission only, he really didn't care about the community or belonging. And he's definitely more of like a lone wolf in that way.

There's another component called, um, and just gimme a second. Oh, I remember now. Situational vulnerability. So you have another aspect, which is that depending on what's happening in the person's life, which is often a crossroads, it's like, more like what's happening currently for them.

For me, I was like, like, “Am I gonna be an actor? Am I not gonna be an actor?” Like what's my mission? What's my purpose? I know I have a purpose, and I don't know what it is. And when then, when I met Mark and I did the five-day, like, “Oh, this is my purpose. I'm meant to be a coach. I'm meant to help people, but to help bring this mission to the world.”

And I had the belonging, and I had a sense of community, and I could make a living. It was like, this is amazing. This, I felt so lucky. I felt like I was a part of the bestest, secretest, luckiest club in the world at the time. But most people hit something like that in their lives. They go have a divorce or they're like outta school, or they're moving to a new city, or they get sick and they're at a particularly low point.

It doesn't necessarily mean they're like a loser or they're weak, or they have low self-esteem. It's a situational vulnerability, and it's not always like, “Hey, take this seminar and get branded with a leader's initials.” It’s, “Come to a dinner party.” check out our book club. Have you ever campaigned for this political party? Do you like cold plunging?

[00:17:00] Adam Grant:
No, no, and no.

[00:17:00] Sarah Edmonson:
Yeah, yeah. I unfortunately love cold plunging, and I'm worried I'm gonna get into another cult. Most people think they're not susceptible, which makes them, I think, more susceptible. It's better to understand where your levels of susceptibility are so that you can spot the red flags and know what you're looking at.

Like if I had had the education I have now, I wouldn't have even signed up, let alone gone to my first five-day. 'Cause I would've been like, “You're pressuring me. You're using scarcity mentality and preying on my FOMO to make me feel like I might miss this train that's taking off.”

[00:17:29] Adam Grant:
Sarah, are you sure you don't have a PhD in psychology?

[00:17:32] Sarah Edmonson:
You know, my mom's a therapist. My dad's a psychotherapist, psychotherapist, former school counselor who's married to a psychologist, or his partner's a psychologist. So I have a lot of influence in my life. And also what I learned in NXIVM was basically plagiarized psych.

[00:17:46] Adam Grant:
So I wanna, I wanna turn the lens a little bit and ask you about your role as a recruiter in NXIVM. Uh, I think it's probably safe to assume that you used charisma to draw people in. Tell me how.

[00:18:04] Sarah Edmonson:
I mean, in retrospect, yes. I was never, like, thinking about that when I did it. I was never like, “Let me turn on my charisma so I can recruit you.” But I'm outgoing. I like to connect with people. I've heard that I make people feel comfortable. I like people. I'm a kind person. So that package together made me a good recruiter because I also really believed in what we were doing. I'm a gatherer. It's what I do. When I was meeting with somebody, and I either did it in a group session—like I was doing it in front of 30 people that other people would bring to an information night—or I was sitting with you—like, if somebody introduced me to you, Adam, I'd be like, “Adam, tell me about yourself. How can I help? What's going on for you?”

And I would just try to elicit what you wanted, what was stopping you from getting what you wanted, and could, showing you how the five-day or the, the tools would help you get that.

And I'd have to do that in a way that made you feel comfortable and not judged, right? Because we're talking about vulnerable stuff, and I think my charisma either drew people in and made them feel comfortable or didn't, for whatever reason, and I didn't recruit everybody that I tried to, but I did have a very high success rate.

[00:19:17] Adam Grant:
Is it strange now promoting your podcast—

[00:19:19] Sarah Edmonson:
Ugh. Yes.

[00:19:19] Adam Grant:
And saying, “Here, come drink my Kool-Aid about how you should never drink anyone's Kool-Aid”?

[00:19:24] Sarah Edmonson:
It's been a very, very challenging road actually, especially at the beginning when we're doing, like, sponsorships or, like, host-read ads. And I am like, “I am Sarah and I love this product and you should too.” Like, ugh, like sales is just so challenge.

[00:19:40] Adam Grant:
[whispering] It’s not a cult, I swear, you should just really like the product. It's great.

[00:19:46] Sarah Edmonson:
We go to this incredible resort in Canada, and one cabin was available, and I was telling people about trying to fill the cabin so I could have more friends there and somebody said they couldn't afford it and my instinct went into, like, my recruiting sales technique, which is to isolate and overcome.

Like, “Well, if you had the money, would you still wanna go?” And then the goal is to like help them find the money. And as soon as I start to do that, I thought, “I can't, I can't do this.” Like I don't wanna try to convince anybody to do anything that they don't wanna do ever again. A, ’cause that's what I was basically trained to do, and then B, um, I just had to drop it. Right? I just had to just stop right then and be like, “Okay, cool. No problem.” You know what I mean? It was like just this icky feeling of bringing people along to anywhere. So yeah, with, with the podcast, I'm very like, “Hey, we're on Patreon. If you wanna come, great. If you don’t, no problem.” I cannot do a hard sell. I can't push. It's a very challenging position to be in, actually, and almost didn't do it at all for that reason.

[00:20:46] Adam Grant:
I'm glad you did.

[00:20:47] Sarah Edmonson:

[00:20:47] Adam Grant:
And I love the title too; A Little Bit Culty is such a great hook.

[00:20:50] Sarah Edmonson:
Thanks. It's fun because there's, there are lots of things that aren't full cults, but they're definitely a little bit culty. And I can now pinpoint what specifically on that checklist we talked about earlier makes it culty. And then people can just decide, is it healthy? Do I wanna continue?

[00:21:06] Adam Grant:
So I'm curious about whether you've seen harmful charisma outside of NXIVM.

[00:21:13] Sarah Edmonson:
Oh yeah.

[00:21:14] Adam Grant:
Like did you ever have a boss, for example, who, who exercised it?

[00:21:18] Sarah Edmonson:
Yeah. Well, you know what's crazy is that I was part of an acting group, also in the early 2000s that I left just before NXIVM, because I found it culty. I had experiences with people before. I've had experiences with people after. I can spot it way more clearly now, but I still am a trusting person, and I'm constantly kind of like trying to check in on myself as like, is this my gut saying, you know, run for the hills because it has a trigger for me, or is there a truth in it?

[00:21:51] Adam Grant:
Take me back to your acting group. What was it that made this charismatic teacher a terror?

[00:21:57] Sarah Edmonson:
Oh, she was a nightmare. I mean, she really, she created this atmosphere where you'd like walk up these stairs and this, this whole brick and this little black room, a black box and light was on you, and you're like going there to grow. You're going there to be vulnerable and open up and if, if somebody's teaching you who has good intentions and wants to lead you to the next level, you, you have to do that as an actor. You have to like open up that Pandora's box and dig in. It's like therapy, right? You have to be willing to be open. So there's something sort of exhilarating about that.

And then she would make you do things that, like, went way out of your comfort zone. It was just really crossing people's boundaries. And if you weren't willing to do it, you weren't doing the work. You were in resistance. And so there was a level of, um, using her authority to get people to be incredibly uncomfortable to the point where they would like break down emotionally.

And if they didn't do that, then they weren’t, like, real actors. And she would say something to me like, you know, “I see you're angry,” or something like that. And I don't feel like I'm angry. And then she'd be like, “Everybody, do you see? Do you see Sarah is being…?” Like she turned the group against you and you kind of would have to just admit that you were angry to like, get through the exercise. Um…

[00:23:11] Adam Grant:
Either that or she's really pissing you off.

[00:23:13] Sarah Edmonson:

[00:23:13] Adam Grant:
By accusing you of an emotion you're not even feeling. Well, now I’m angry.

[00:23:15] Sarah Edmonson:
Right. Yeah. No, and I, and you know what, ironically, I had the same kind of pattern in NXIVM where it's like, and that, now I understand about gaslighting and all these different terms that I didn't know at the time, but she used people to be her minions, to do things for her. And you were always in the, the group then became not about acting, but like, “Am I in her favor or not in her favor?”

And she didn't abuse everybody. A lot of people got great treatment, and I do think she was a skilled acting teacher in terms of getting people to the next level and was able to coach people. But then other people, she would like abuse severely, and they thought that there was something wrong with them. ‘Cause these people can't be total dicks to everybody because then if you walk in and see everybody treated poorly, you're like, well, I'm not gonna be a part of this. You have to see some people being respected and being taught properly and so that when it comes to you and you get shit, you're like, “Oh man, I really screwed up. There's something wrong with me. I gotta work on that” Right? There, there has to be a balance.

[00:24:10] Adam Grant:
What is it that concerns you about charismatic leaders?

[00:24:14] Sarah Edmonson:
It's a currency that it's, the value is disproportionate to what it is. I do think that unfortunately, to be a leader or thought leader or to be in this, in the public space and to inspire and move people, you have to have a certain amount of it, otherwise people don't tune in.

[00:24:32] Adam Grant:
I think a, a lot of charismatic leaders, like, I guess there's some telltale signs for me. You know, one is that they're preaching instead of teaching. Uh, another is that they're promoting themselves instead of their ideas.

[00:24:46] Sarah Edmonson:
Yes. One of the things I always tell people is, is Google them. If you see a leader or a group and you're not sure if you type in like, “Is blank a cult” and anything negative comes up… if there's a lawsuit or there's allegations or bad press, where there's smoke, there's usually fire. And if you ask that person about that and they say, “Oh, that's just a jilted ex lover, she's crazy,” red flag. How they treat their opponents is a real telltale sign for me.

And also like, is it consistent? How, how are they with the people around them? How are they with the wait staff at a restaurant? Are they totally kind and with you and present. And then they're like, “Hey, I need some water.” You know? And they can turn it off and they're being flippant. I don't like that.

Kind people, good people are consistent. They don't use it as a tool. What were they doing before this thing? What's their background? What’s their training? It’s okay to obviously make money off a product. That's not a problem. Um. Did they create it? Are other people involved? Where's the money going? Ask the questions. And if you ask the questions and you get shot down with any kind of gaslighting, you're made to feel ashamed, that’s a major problem

[00:26:00] Adam Grant:
Well, thank you Sarah. This has been incredibly insightful. If you decide you wanna go down the, the PhD route, let me know. I think you could contribute a lot to the field, but I, you're already adding a lot of value in the public discourse regardless, so—

[00:26:15] Sarah Edmonson:
Oh, I appreciate that.

[00:26:16] Adam Grant:
May not be necessary, but one day.

[00:26:16] Sarah Edmonson:
Maybe one day, yeah. When maybe when the kids are a little bit, bit older.

[00:26:23] Adam Grant:
What Sarah drove home for me is that we need to think more carefully about the attachments we form. Our highest loyalty belongs to principles, not to people or places. The most important form of integrity is fidelity to our values.

ReThinking is hosted by me. Adam Grant. This show is part of the TED Audio collective, and this episode was produced and mixed by Cosmic Standard.

Our producers are Hannah Kingsley-Ma and Aja Simpson. Our editor is Alejandra Salazar. Our fact checker is Paul Durbin. Original music by Hansdale Hsu and Allison Leyton-Brown.

Our team includes Eliza Smith, Jacob Winik, Samiah Adams, Michelle Quint, Banban Cheng, Julia Dickerson, and Whitney Pennington Rodgers.

[00:27:15] Sarah Edmonson:
You are gonna be shit talked. Oh, can I swear on this? You're gonna be trash talked.

[00:27:19] Adam Grant:

[00:27:19] Sarah Edmonson:
Okay, great. I have very bad potty mouth. It's something I'm working on as we speak. Still striving to be the best version of myself.