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Never Underestimate Your Enemy: Putin’s War on Ukraine

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky  , is a Ukrainian and a behavioral scientist. He shares why we should never go with our gut.  He believes that Putin went with his gut and attacked Ukraine believing it would be an easy victory because  he was able to attack Crimea in 2014. There was not a very strong international push and reaction against, Russia. And the, Ukraine Army, did not perform very well. And so, he judged that based on past trends, and the same thing would happen again and he, underestimated the enemy.

And so, those impulses to make decisions quickly without sufficient information. That's what a snap judgment is. And we do that because we're overconfident. Just like, Putin, was overconfident in this situation, people are also overconfident about who they marry and chose a partner without proper information.

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Bio

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is a world-renowned thought leader in future-proofing, decision making, and cognitive bias risk management in the future of work. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-proofing consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts, which helps forward-looking leaders in Fortune 500 firms, middle-market companies, and growing startups avoid dangerous threats and missed opportunities. He is the best-selling author of Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters, and other publications.

He was featured in over 550 articles and 450 interviews in Harvard Business ReviewFortuneUSA TodayInc. MagazineCBS NewsTimeBusiness Insider, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consultingcoaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies, and over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist. Dr Gleb’s father is, Ukrainian, and he immigrated with his family to the United States in 1991.

Putin's War on Ukraine

Myrna: Putin said that the reason he invaded, Ukraine, was because there were Jewish Nazis in, Ukraine. Everybody said that that was a ludicrous idea, because your president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish. So, educate us to what do you think was going on with, Putin. Why did the Jews come into the conversation?

Dr Gleb: The crucial thing, so again, I have a Jewish background and so does the current President of Ukraine, Zelensky, who has become world famous right now.

And so, Ukraine, and, Russia, and all that part of the world. A really important part of their heritage is fighting against the Nazi Germany in World War Two. So, if you think of the history books in, Russia, in, Ukraine, and Moldova, in Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, the United States, you have the 1776 revolution was like a fundamental episode in American history, kind of the founding in the Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, that part of the world, the former Soviet territories.

World War Two is really the crucial element that is in the history books as marking the rise of the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine. And so that was a fight against Nazi Germany. And that's part of the people's identity. So, whenever the political leadership is trying to scare people, and manipulate them into doing what the leadership wants, it brings out the specter of Nazis and labels everything bad on the Nazis. And so that when, Putin, was saying denazification. He's not speaking to us, he's speaking to his own people to justify the war. Putin, doesn't think that the world outside, Russia, will be convinced that there are any actual real Nazis in the, Ukraine.

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Does Putin war on Ukraine come from his gut?

Myrna: Thanks for explaining a little bit about what, Putin, is doing as far as his conversation about the Nazi Germany. But let's talk about you, you became a, risk management, and, decision-making expert, when we're talking about war, when we're talking about the pandemic, when we're talking about anything that has risks; that is where your expertise lies. So, tell us about this, risk management, and what is that all about?

Dr Gleb: Sure, happy to. So, there's a reason that my book was called “Never Go with Your Gut” Our, intuition, unfortunately, has been shown to lie to us very often. And many people trust their intuition. So, they think I should trust my, gut, that if it tells me something. That's what I should do. I mean, that's what, Putin, did when invaded, Ukraine.  He trusted his, gut, and we can see where it landed him?  In some very bad places.

Myrna: Yes, his gut told him that, Ukraine, would be an easy win, 6 weeks later, he had not made any progress.

Dr Gleb: You're exactly right. You can see that his, gut, was very wrong. And that's because he bought into these ideas, myths that you should trust your gut to follow your intuition. Despite the advice of many military advisors are telling him no to invade, Ukraine. Instead, Putin, sent his troops very quickly with unaccompanied tanks, paratroopers without sufficient support to try to occupy airfields around here to basically take the political capital. And that worked out very badly for him.

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Transform Your Mind Amazon

Putin underestimated the enemy

My background is in, behavioral science, which means how do we behave, and why do we behave that way, it is part of, cognitive neuroscience. How does the structure of, mind, shape what we do? And the interesting thing about that is that our, mind, is really not evolved for the environment. So, when we see what our, mind, is about, our, intuition, our, gut reactions, those parts of ourselves that are bound for the savanna environment when we lived in small tribes of 50 people to 150 people, and survive using the fight or flight reflex.

And so, we have certain, intuitions, that are shaped by that Savanna environment that various structures of our, minds, which cause our, mind, to be lazy, minimizing the work that needs to be done. That causes us to make very quick snap judgments and make decisions based on past tendencies and predictions of what would happen.

So, for example, with, Ukraine, when, Putin, was able to attack Crimea in 2014, there was not a very strong international push and reaction against, Russia. And the, Ukraine Army, did not perform very well. And so, he judged that based on past trends, and the same thing would happen again and he, underestimated the enemy.

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Podfriend Transform Your Mind Podcast

Why Putin Underestimated Ukraine

Myrna: Zelensky, was not the president back in 2014. Putin, underestimated the enemy, right.

Dr Gleb, He not only, underestimated the enemy, but the, Ukrainian army, which was very much strengthened, both by, Ukraine, itself and by Western Arms, military arms during that period, and he underestimated the strength and resolving of the international response, which was very strong.

Myrna: Putin, underestimated the enemy, because, Ukraine, is not part of NATO, so he felt they won’t get any help. He made a lot of bad calculations.

Dr Gleb: We need to learn that our, gut, often is not to be trusted. There's a reason that about 50% of marriages end in divorce. Because people tend to trust their gut their intuitions about marriage.

Myrna: You're right we marry somebody because of your, gut feelings.

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Transform Your Mind Luminary podcast

Never Go With Your Gut feelings

Dr Gleb: Yeah, you should make a more evaluative and calculating decision. And it feels very weird for people to hear this if they should make a calculated decision about who to marry. But if you don't think through your decision, you are not going to make good choices. Let's say you want kids, are you prepared to raise your children as a single mother if you get divorce? Since the divorce rate is 50% and most times the women are taking care of the kids, you have to think this through before you get married.

If I'm the woman, I don't want to be the sole caretaker of the kids. If we have kids will need to divide up responsibilities. 50% right, otherwise, so one of the most common periods for people to get divorced when you look at when people get divorced is the first year after having a child which is pretty terrible.

And so, those impulses to make decisions quickly without sufficient information. That's what a snap judgment is. And we do that because we're overconfident. Just like, Putin, was overconfident in this situation, people are overconfident about who they marry.

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Transform your Mind Podcast Index

What is the impact of Russia's war on Ukraine in the US

Myrna: Let's get back to the war on, Ukraine. What do you think is the impact of, Russia, war on, Ukraine, on Ukrainians, and then on the Russians living in the United States?

Dr Gleb: So, Ukrainians like myself are definitely devastated by it. And we feel very strongly a lot of anger, a lot of frustration. And there's especially this very weird dynamic where we're all part of the, Russian, speaking community, right. I don't speak, Ukrainian, all, I speak is, Russian.  But there are many, Ukrainians, who don't speak the, Ukrainian, language, especially for ones who come from more from eastern, Ukraine.

And so right now, many, Ukrainians, are in the weird position of speaking a language that is associated with an enemy and that is their cultural heritage. And that's been the position I find myself in. So that's like a really strange and weird dynamic. And there's a lot of sympathy and empathy for the people in, Ukraine, especially with people like myself, I have family there, and I'm really worried about them.  So that's kind of, Ukrainians, and our experience.

Now I also have a lot of, Russian, friends and interests. My wife is actually Russian. She's from Moscow, and I have a lot of other Russian people in my life, and I know that their main feeling is shame. Shame for what, Russia, is doing. People are burning their passports, just putting lighter fluid on their passports and burning them and expressing a lot of shame and grief and frustration. Feeling that they can't ever go back to, Russia.

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Transform Your Mind Podcast Player FM

Discrimination against Russians in the US

It's sad to see that there are some people in the United States who are expressing discrimination against, Russian, people. And of course, it's really hard to tell someone who's, Russian, from someone who's, Ukrainian, like me, because we are speaking the same language, and have the same culture.

The Russians who are here are specifically up left, Russia, they do not want to be covered by that. So, it's very important to not discriminate against them and to be supportive of them.

Myrna: How is the war on, Ukraine, going to affect relations in the future? Is there going to be some hate there between, Ukrainians, and, Russians? Do you think that divide is going to be permanent?

Dr Gleb: Yeah, I think that this divide is going to be there for several generations, because having this situation with just this brutal military conflict, especially some of the terrible, war crimes, coming out of Kharkiv, and other cities.  Civilians are being executed with their hands tied up and then being shot. That's a horrible thing. And of course, other terrible things like, rape, and so on, but just the killing of civilians without any particular reason.

So, discovering those things is especially bad and just the shelling of Mariupol killing all those civilians. It that's pretty terrible. I think the scenes especially of the brutal atrocities and, war crimes, in Kharkiv,  is going to cause a lot of just hatred for a very long time.

Myrna: So horrible to imagine and witness. Putin, is a, psychopath. He is exactly like Hitler.

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Transform Your Mind Podcast Pandora

Is Putin a Psychopath?

Dr Gleb: People like, Putin, who are arrogant, narcissistic, psychopaths, who just feel that they're entitled and they're grandiose and they're ambitious, and they go with their gut. And then they make some pretty bad decisions that may harm all of us.

Myrna: So, what can the US do about, Russia's war in Ukraine? You haven't. You have some advice for the political powers?

Dr Gleb: Sure. So, I think one of the really important things to think about is how are, Ukrainian, citizens dealing with it from a humanitarian perspective, and to support, Ukrainian, citizens from a humanitarian perspective.  I think that's very important. And what the United States does now will be remembered for a very long time, because the United States has been in the global eyes, it has been weakened in a number of situations, foreign policy wise.

Let's say what happened in Afghanistan, that doesn't look good and everywhere in Syria, many situations. So, this is a chance for us to redeem ourselves, and to really show that we are the leaders of the free world, and to really provide a model of how the world should act toward, Ukraine, by helping rebuild, Ukraine, is incredibly important.

Right now, Russia, is focusing on, Eastern Ukraine. I think there shouldn't be a lot of efforts to rebuild the, Western Ukraine, at least with something like the Marshall Plan that was instituted after, World War Two, where the United States helped rebuild Europe after it was devastated by World War Two, something like that.

People ask, how much is going to cost? It's definitely going to cost money, but think about the longtime term, the kind of goodwill we will get from all the people in, Ukraine, the people around, Ukraine, in Europe and elsewhere who will see the United States rebuilding a country that was devastated by foreign affairs.

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Google Podcast Transform Your Mind

Rebuilding Ukraine

Myrna: The United States, what about all countries in NATO?

Dr Gleb: We're talking about what the United States can do right now. I certainly think the countries in NATO, it would be nice to help, but regardless of what they do, it's very important for us as the leaders of the free world to help rebuild, Ukraine.  NATO aren't the leaders of the free world. We are the leaders of the free world.

So, we should model the kind of behavior we want to see. And we should make sure by supporting, Ukraine, and building up, Ukraine, as a democratic country, we should make sure to support democracy around the world, because right now, we're very much facing threats to our democracy.  Threats not only from, Russia, but much more importantly, China, other countries that are authoritarian regional countries that are not behaving very well.

And so we want to build up democracy and that means building up, Ukraine, and especially as the war winds down, and of course, at the same time supplying, Ukraine army, which we're currently doing. I think that's great. I think we should continue doing that and build up on top, but I certainly don't think we should put any of our forces in there. I think we should provide them with weapons.

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Deezer Transform Your Mind Podcast

Putin's failure to defeat Ukraine

Myrna: The United States is also accepting, Ukrainian refugees.

So, we allow, Putin, to go in and destroy this country, and then somebody else has to rebuild it. How do we stop him from doing it again, or any other country from doing it? Is there a way to stop that? I mean, Putin, should rebuild, Ukraine.

Dr Gleb: For sure, it's easier to destroy than to build. That's first of all, and I think what will prevent him from doing it, again, is the, sanctions, that will degrade, Russia's economy, and ability to build more modern weapons. That's what we need to worry about, about, Russia, having more modern weapons, and by using pretty harsh, sanctions, which I think it would be good if the, sanctions, were ramped up more that will that will punish, Russia, and prevent it from going to war easily. Again, the future will also demonstrate to other countries like China that they should not be invading countries.

If you look at the Chinese messaging, communication, propaganda, they're very much pro-Russian. So, we want to make sure that we have very strong, sanctions, on, Russia, in order to discourage China and other countries from trying anything like this in the future.

Myrna: It is great that, Putin, did not succeed, because if people are still watching it, you know what I mean? It wasn't a successful venture. It was just a very costly venture, destroyed, the whole country, killed innocent people, and he didn't get anything. He didn't possess the land.

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Podbean

Sanctions to punish Putin

Dr Gleb: You absolutely right Myrna that's very important. So, that's coming in part from our military help, which is great. And also, the, sanctions, are helping.  We need to keep the, sanctions, but it is very important to rebuild, Ukraine. Nobody will do it if we don't do. And so, this is the crucial thing that I think I want to point out that we really need to work on rebuilding credit. If we want democracy to flourish.

It's very easy to say democracy is great, and it will flourish naturally. But we see that's not the case. China, Russia and many, many other countries are authoritarian. And if we want democracy to win instead of authoritarianism, like in China and Russia, we need to build up democracies after they're devastated by authoritarian states.

I think is really important for to see happen in, Ukraine. On the one hand, I think we definitely want to welcome refugees, Ukrainian refugees. I don't think we should mandatorily support from coming here. So, there's a natural filter system for the only the most capable and dedicated ones coming here because it takes a lot of money to come to United States.

So, we'd not have a program or evacuation like an Afghanistan, where we support people, Ukraine.  I think we want to welcome, Ukrainians. And also more controversially, I think we should really want to welcome those, Russians, who are leaving, Russia.

Myrna: How can listeners get in touch with you for, speaking engagements, your book, your articles, your social media handles etc.

Conclusion Putin's War on Ukraine

Dr Gleb: Well, my book “Never go in your Gut” is available on bookstores everywhere and there's an audio book for people who like that. There's digital and physical to check it out, find the normal Amazon, whatever you want. My own resources are going to be at www.disasteravoidanceexperts.com. There's my contact information for all the people who have any questions about anything.

I said that are interested in this sort of engagement, consulting coaching, speaking and so on. There are my blogs, videos, podcasts, audiobooks, ordinary books, online courses, check those out. And there's a free online course and assessment on making dangerous judgment better so to help you avoid those dangerous judgment errors.

So, if you want to take an assessment of these, cognitive biases, as part of an online course, check out a free course at www.disasteravoidanceexperts.com/subscribe.

Additional Resources

How To Turn Your Pain Into Power