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533: How to Identify and Eliminate Friction with Roger Dooley

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Roger Dooley says: "Ask: 'How can I make your job easier?'"

Roger Dooley talks about how eliminating friction at work can lead to better productivity.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The cardinal rule of friction
  2. How to reduce the friction of meetings
  3. How mistrust creates friction

About Roger:

Roger Dooley is an author and international keynote speaker. His books include Friction: The Untapped Force That Can Be Your Most Powerful Advantage and Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing. He is behind the popular blog, Neuromarketing, as well as a column at Forbes.com. 

He is the founder of Dooley Direct, a consultancy, and co-founded College Confidential, the leading college-bound website. He has an engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from the University of Tennessee.  

Resources mentioned in the show:

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Roger Dooley Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Roger, thanks for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Roger Dooley
Well, happy to be here, Pete. Thanks for the invite.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m so excited to dig into your stuff. And I understand that you currently operate as a behavioral scientist but that was not always your path. You started as a chemical engineer. Can you tell us how did you cross over and do you see some natural crossover ideas between the two?

Roger Dooley
Sure. And to clarify, I only play behavioral scientist on the internet. I am not actually a behavioral scientist. Although, I do write a lot about behavioral science and certainly try and convey some of the ideas from great scientists to business people in ways they can understand. But, yeah, I did start off life as an engineer, a chemical engineer, and only did that for a few years. But, Pete, I think that being an engineer and training as one kind of gives you a worldview, a way of looking at things, that serves you well regardless of your profession. You really sort of have to deal with reality.

Engineers can’t do stuff based on faith, or based on, “Well, this seems like a good idea,” or even sort of argue their way through it. If they’re going to build something, it’s got to stand up and not fall down. I was a chemical engineer and, if you’re designing plants or reactions or whatever, they simply have to work. So, if you can bring that same kind of thinking to the pursuit of business and other topics, I think it’s still valuable.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. I’m with you. And so, one such concept is friction and we’re going to go all over the place with this. But why don’t we kick it off by sharing how do you define friction and why do you say it’s the enemy of business?

Roger Dooley
Well, the simple definition is any unnecessary effort to perform a task. And the reasons it’s the enemy of business is because it is everywhere, even where we don’t see it. If we saw it and recognize it, there’ll be a lot less of it, and it’s funny, because people think they see it.

A couple of years ago, I was getting ready to speak at a conference, there was a mastermind, a group of very smart people, and the organizer wanted me to record a promo, he said, “Okay, I want you to share your best idea in advance.” I said, “Okay, I’ll do friction.” He said, “No, no, no, everybody knows about friction. You got to do something else.” So, I humored them and I did something else, but there is that attitude that we know all about it, that, yes, okay, you have Silicon Valley trying to make things frictionless and so on, but the reality is, in our daily life and daily interactions with businesses, there is a lot of friction both as a customer and as an employee.

Think of all the bad processes you encounter on websites and mobile apps where you can’t figure out what to do, or you try and do something and it doesn’t work. And within companies, there is perhaps even more internal friction in the vast majority of companies, according to Gallup, something like 85% of employees are disengaged with their employer, they aren’t actively engaged, which means they’re not going to be loyal, they’re not really going to deliver that great customer experience, and a big reason is so much of their time and, more importantly, effort is wasted.

It’s wasted by meetings that don’t get anything done. It’s wasted by dealing with emails that they really don’t accomplish anything, bad processes internally that waste their time, rules, ways of getting things done that don’t make sense. It’s just amazing how much time is not really productive. And people realize that, and if the company is not working to cure that, then it’s no wonder employees become disengaged.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so I think you’ve done a fine job outlining some of the key examples of friction that we all encounter and what can be at stake with regard to engagement. Could you maybe make this come alive for us with a compelling story in which you saw the power of friction in great force?

Roger Dooley
Well, I think maybe the best examples are ones that our audience is familiar with, and I’ll give you two from business examples dealing with customer experience and friction and also with the invisibility of friction.

One is Uber. Nobody thought about all the friction there was in the taxi process. Taxis were pretty much unchanged for, I don’t know, 50 years or so, and people just accepted that they were the way they were and occasionally you might get aggravated if you couldn’t find a taxi at all on a rainy afternoon in Manhattan or something. But most of the time, we just figured, “Okay. Well, this is the process. This is the way it is. There’s not a better way.”

It wasn’t until Uber came along with such a smooth experience, even from hailing the ride in the first place, to paying them at the end where there is no payment process at all. That’s the easiest process when there is no process. You just get out and say goodbye. Suddenly, people’s eyes were opened, and they said, “Whoa, wow, those taxis really weren’t that great, were they?” And that accounts for Uber’s tremendous popularity and also of their somewhat smaller competitors. They just changed this where people had not even seen it to begin with.

And I think the other sort of mega example is Amazon where they have put so much effort into minimizing customer effort. There’s many reasons why they’re successful, but that is one of the biggest ones. When you ask people what drives loyalty, they may give you, say things like, “Well, boy, a really outstanding experience, having my expectations exceeded.” Research shows that what drives customer loyalty are low-friction experiences, minimum customer effort.

Gartner, the big research company, did some phenomenal research that showed when people had a high-effort customer service interaction versus a low-effort, the high-effort customers were 96% of customers who had a high-effort experience were likely to be disloyal compared to just about a tenth of that for low-effort customers. When it comes to repeat customers, 94% of low-effort customers were likely to repurchase compared to just 4% of high-effort customers.

And we can see that at Amazon. They have gone out of their way to minimize effort starting with one-click ordering. Way back in 1998, they patented one-click ordering that I know I thought at the time that’s kind of goofy. He can’t really patent that, can you? Well, it turned out they could. And when Barnes & Noble implemented it on their site, Amazon and Barnes & Noble got in a huge legal battle. Ultimately, Amazon prevailed after spending millions of dollars to defend that patent. And what did they accomplish with that time and trouble and expense? All they accomplished was forcing their competitors to add one tiny little click to their process.

Now, if you talk to the average IT person and say, “Well, gee, I have to click that, it’s only three keystrokes,” they’d say, “Oh, hey, three keystrokes, who cares? It’s nothing.” For Amazon, it was worth that huge legal battle to defend disadvantaging their competitors by a single click. And beyond Jeff Bezos and other smart guys, Steve Jobs saw that at the same time he was launching his music store, and he didn’t try and fight the patent, he didn’t try and come up with some kind of workaround. He went to Amazon and paid them a million dollars so that he could implement one-click ordering in iTunes. And we know how that worked out.

So, to me, Amazon does it in so many different ways. They came up years ago with frustration-free packaging. They saw that people were really frustrated by these plastic clamshells that you can’t open with your bare hands. They’re great for retail, I guess, because they’re sort of hard to steal and they show the product off. But when you get the thing home and you’ve got to use some kind of sharp instrument to get them open…

Pete Mockaitis
And their plastic is sharp. I cut myself with the plastic I’ve cut.

Roger Dooley
…and they’re terrible for the environment. Yeah, if you don’t stab yourself with the knife you’re using, you stab yourself with the plastic shard. And Amazon said, “Well, we don’t need that.” They came up with frustration-free packaging. Just simple cardboard packages that you can open with your bare hands, they’re better for the environment, very minimal risk of injury. And the amazing thing is this, not only did people liked the packaging better, Pete, but there was a 73% reduction in negative feedback on products that were packaged that way. So, people actually liked the products better that were packaged that way.

They have focused on this since day one. Way back in 1997, Bezos was talking about frictionless shopping, and one of my favorite quotes is from Jeff, he said, “When you reduce friction, when you make something easy, people do more of it.” And that is pretty much the theme of the book, and it’s a lesson that not everybody has learned.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, I appreciate you sharing all these examples, and it really does resonate in terms of in many, many different implications and applications of when you reduce friction, you make it easier. Like, podcasts have been around for, I guess I should know this, but more than 15 years and, yet, it’s only the last few years that they’ve “exploded, taken off” like all these things. And, in many ways, that’s just because it’s become easier. Like, there’s a podcast app natively on iPhones.

There is plentiful bandwidth available from your cellular towers as opposed to Wi-Fi so that you can just listen anywhere, no problem, without really stressing so much like your data limits. It’s like a tiny fraction. You don’t need to worry about it. Whereas, several years ago, you might say, “Ooh, I’ve only got one or two Gigabytes a month.” Well, now more people are having more. So, it totally adds up that there’s less friction, the more people will do that thing.

So, let’s talk about, now zooming in on the workplace, how can we apply some of these principles so that we get more great stuff done, so that our teams are more effective? What do you see are some of the top sources of friction at work and the best solutions for lubricating it?

Roger Dooley
Well, I think, often, organizations that start off lean and mean and very effective where people are totally engaged and working really hard, they tend to grow if they’re successful, and the bigger companies get, often be more bound by rules and procedures and processes they become. And to some degree that’s necessary. If you’re going to have a large organization, often you do have to have some standardization and processes. You do have to have guidelines for new people and so on. It’s sort of goes with the territory, and that’s okay. But often people, managers in particular, don’t even know why they are doing things.

There was one, I’m thinking it was by Bain, but I’m not sure if they ask people about which rules they were following that were either pointless or wasted their time. And so, a bunch of employees said in this survey, they nominated various rules. And what they found was that half the things that people mentioned weren’t even rules at all. They were simply the way things had been done, and they’ve been done that way for so long that they had somehow become codified into a rule. And people didn’t think it was a good way to do it but they just kept on doing it because they thought that that was what the company wanted.
I think meetings are a horrendous waste of time. Fortunately, I’ve been an entrepreneur for probably, I don’t know, 35 years or something, and I had a brief stint of a few years where I’ve built a business and ended up joining a very large company that purchased that business as part of the deal, and, by and large, it was a pretty good experience. They’re good people and certainly not as dysfunctional as many businesses but they had some of the typical big-company problems, including meetings. And I had a person working for me who’s a product manager, and she was a smart person, but she was not really succeeding in innovating new ideas, and we talked about it, and she said, “I don’t have time.” I said, “Well, why?”

We looked at her schedule and she had as many as 32 hours of meetings in a typical week, which is insane because how much time after that do you have left for productive work or, as Cal Newport would say, deep work, which is what you have to do if you want to be creative. You’ve got to have that time set aside. And, instead, it was difficult to keep up just with the flow of paperwork and stuff, and email, and everything else, and the meetings. That is not an atypical situation. Stats vary on that but many, many people spend half, or two-thirds of their time, in meetings. And you simply can’t be doing deep work when that’s happening.

Now, meetings can be very useful. If you can bring a team of people together and discuss something quickly, reach a conclusion, establish a course of action, that’s really valuable. But so often, they become just sort of institutionalized and people come and they really don’t accomplish much. All the people that attend really don’t have to attend. They’re there because, well, something might come up that would affect them and so on. And you can even go down the list.

But, to me, the one question that can help people uncover where the sort of least-productive highest-friction aspects of a job are to ask a simple question of one’s people, and that is “How can I make your job easier?” Now, a lot of people have never heard that question or have never had a boss ask them that question because they’re basically used to a boss saying, “Well, how can you get more done? How can I help you work harder?” And that is what people expect but that is not really the question.

When you ask people that question, it does two things. First of all, it can help you identify bottlenecks or bad processes that are wasting time that you can’t see but your people can see. No manager can really understand what everybody that works for them is doing or having to cope with, at least in most cases, unless they’ve done that particular job. But when you ask the person who’s doing it, they know where the problems are. And not only that, when you ask them that, you are showing them that you are on their side. You are not the boss saying, “How can you work harder and get more done?” Instead, you’re asking how you can make their job and, by extension, their life easier.

So, to me, it’s a double win. You find those friction points and you also help increase the engagement of that employee because once they believe that the company cares about them and is trying to make their job easier, not just make them work harder or be more productive, then they can feel that bond and be more engaged.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, I dig that. And so, that’s a powerful question right there in terms of, “How can I make your job or your life easier?” And so, I think in the realm of meetings, what sorts of solutions have emerged when people approach that problem with that question?

Roger Dooley
I think that there are any number of approaches. First of all is to, I mean, there have been some sort of mechanical approaches, like saying, “Okay, no-meeting Mondays,” for example, or in one extreme case, “Meetings only on Wednesdays” where they really wanted to cut down on the number of meetings. And those things can work and they can help. I think that really expecting each leader to manage the meetings they are responsible for and to view them from a standpoint of having a big impact on the people that they invite.

Another sort of interesting little technique is to limit the number of people that can be invited to a meeting. Yet another one would be to show the cost, sort of have a cost factor for each person. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be down to their salary level, but show, “Okay, if you’re going to invite a senior engineer to the meeting, that is worth 123 bucks an hour or something,” so that people could see the cost of the meeting that they’re calling.

And scheduling software is great, things like Outlook and some of the other tools that are available that let you easily connect. If you recall the old days where if you wanted to set up a meeting, you, or somebody working for you, would have to call around and try and find a common time, and you get a couple people lined up, and another third person can’t do it then, so you have to kind of change the time. With a scheduling software, it makes that easy. The problem is it treats any time that you are not in a meeting already as available for scheduling, so blocking out time and that schedule for deep work, saying, “Okay, I’m not going to be available during these times.” Now, assuming that you have the ability to control your life that much, that’s another great technique for ensuring that you’ve got the bandwidth to do good work not just go to meetings.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. So, that’s great when it comes to meetings. Can you share what are some other common causes of friction at work and common solutions for them?

Roger Dooley
Well, okay, one thing to clarify, Pete, in my book, I do not deal with interpersonal friction. That’s sort of either a boss or the passive-aggressive coworker, that sort of thing. Those are real issues but those are not the kind of friction that I deal with. That would be a whole another book, and that book has been written too, I think. But the idea of finding rules that people are following, that they find unproductive, is a good one. Asking people, if they can eliminate one rule, what would that be, that’s wasting most of their time or is most annoying to them?

I’ll give you an example from my own experience. Again, this is with that big company that I worked for for a bit. They had an expense reporting process like every large company, and I would travel on business occasionally, and even though I was a VP-level person, as they brought me in, I had to report even the tiniest expense if I want it reimbursed. So, if I bought a $2 coffee at the airport, then if I want to be reimbursed for that, I would have to not only put that on my expense report, but I would have to furnish a receipt for that. And this is way beyond IRS guidelines. IRS guidelines do not require that. They set some limits on which expenses required documentation and which don’t.

This really was super annoying. It added a lot of time to the expense-submission process. I know I lost a bunch because either I just didn’t get a receipt, or I lost the receipt, or something, and I always wondered if anybody looked at that. And, one time, I found out that they did actually looked at that when I stapled a quarter-inch of little papers to my expense report, somebody did look at it because accounting came back and said, “Oh, hey, you do not have a receipt for this $3 item here.” I don’t know where it went. I had it when I was doing the report, but it got lost somewhere. So, not only was it wasting my time but it’s wasting somebody else’s time who was reviewing all those.

And then, to cap it off, they came up with a solution to make it more efficient, where there was an electronic process that you could scan these receipts, take photos of them, you could then attach these JPEGs or PDFs to your electronic document, and it would go into an electronic workflow, and it was all wonderful except that was very efficient for the accounting people because you were documenting it in a very clean electronic way, you were assigning account numbers that were really cryptic to the average person, like, “What kind of expense is this?” You’ve got all these accounts that have accounting names, and you can’t really figure out where it goes.

So, basically, what they did was created a process that was efficient for them, but for the employee made it even more onerous and inefficient. And the point is, there was not a reason for this. Ultimately, I ended up asking the financial guy after he had left the company and I had left the company, I said, “Why did you guys do that? That seems crazy.” “Well, they did not trust the employees not to cheat on their expenses or put stuff down that they didn’t actually spend.” And, Pete, that brings us to the issue of trust, which I find underlies a lot of friction inside companies.

Roger Dooley
Now, I know you’ve had Paul Zak on the show, and his book “Trust Factor” is really amazing. And, as you know, he found that high-performing organizations have high levels of trust. And the converse is true too, and obviously if you’re asking your employees to submit $2 expense receipts and then denying expense reports because they forgot a $2 receipt, there is not much of a trust factor there, and this is limiting the performance of these organizations.

So, looking for those things, there is a great story in my book from GE way back in the Jack Welch days before the turn of the last century, and they asked that question that I mentioned, “How can I make your job easier?” to a group of union workers in manufacturing, not the most cooperative folks in dealing with management. And one guy spoke up and said, “Yeah, I handle sharp metal all day at my machine and I wear out a pair of work gloves every week or so. To get a new pair, I’ve got to shut my machine down, leave the building, go to another building, go to the tool crib, fill out a requisition form, find a supervisor to sign the requisition form, take it back to the tool crib, where then they will issue me the gloves, and I go back to my building and my machine, and that can take an hour or two depending on how hard it is to find a supervisor where there’s a line at the tool crib.”

And it turned out that the reason they had this rule was because they were afraid that people were going to steal gloves. So, the solution was put a box of damn gloves by the guys’ machine. And it turned out, he did not steal all the gloves every day, and they saved hours of time per week, plus they established that, “Okay, we trust you. We’re not making you go through this horrible procedure because we don’t think you’re going to steal a $2 pair of gloves.” It’s crazy.

So, I think that when you look at those procedures and see how many are based on lack of trust, when you fix those, not only are you saving time, but you are indicating that you trust your people.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, that’s really resonating, that many rules come about from lack of trust. And so, underneath it all, if you have the trust in place, then you may not need those rules. That’s great. So, I love your question there on, “How can I make your life and job easier?” I’d love to get your view on what are some other ways that we can spot friction and common means of reducing it?

Roger Dooley
Well, I think that spotting it in the customer experience is both easy and potentially a trouble point. We have so many metrics now from our digital tools we can see where customers are slowing down, whether they are clicking on stuff that shouldn’t be clicked at because it can’t be clicked on.

Roger Dooley
If they are bailing out of a process, there are so many tools we can use that can give us some of this friction information. We can also ask them. But one thing that I’ve seen is even as we try and improve customer experience, and I call this the Heisenberg effect because Heisenberg says, “You can’t measure something without changing it.” He’s referring to subatomic particles, and I apologize in advance to any actual physicists who would say that’s an oversimplification of his Uncertainty Principle. But, basically, what I see happening is people try to measure their customer experience and end up affecting it.

Net Promoter Score is a decent metric, that’s where you ask if somebody is likely to recommend your company to someone else. And it’s, certainly, better than doing nothing, but sometimes the way people try and capture that is you go to a website with the intention of getting something done, you want to place an order, you want to get some information, what’s the first thing you see? A damn pop-up that is asking you if you want to do a survey when you’re done. Nobody clicks yes.

I’ve got that on slides that I do in my speeches, and I’ve shown that pop-up, or an example of that pop-up, to thousands and thousands of people, and I always ask, “Who actually clicks, ‘Yes, I’ll do the survey’?” And in all of those, I probably have like two or three people raise their hands and everybody else doesn’t. Nobody does that. So, you are annoying 100% of your customers to get a return of a fraction of a percent of them, and the fraction of a percent that answers is probably not representative.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, exactly.

Roger Dooley
They’re probably already pissed off at you for something and they’re looking for any opportunity to tell you that. And even worse, these things like hotels, or airlines, or cruise lines send you after your experience, I mean, normally I delete those things. I stay in hotels a lot when I’m traveling for speaking and such, and every time I get them, “A brief survey about your stay.” And I found these surveys are never brief, there’s always a million questions.

But I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express which enabled me to be on your show today. I’m significantly more intelligent because of that. And I found that the lighting in the hotel that I stayed in was kind of strange. It was cold lighting temperature, felt very industrial, and not warm and cozy, so I said, “Okay, I’m going to tell them about that. Maybe they don’t know that.” So, I actually opened the thing when they said, “Tell us about your stay,” and there were a few questions. Everything is on a scale of one to ten. Can you really rate whether your front-desk experience was a 7 versus an 8? You’re forcing people to really think about this, which is cognitive friction or cognitive effort that’s wasted with those fine gradations.

But, again, I get into it and I answered the first few questions. Then I get to this thing. It’s like a 10×10 matrix, asking me to rate all these different things and one big thing, again, from a scale of one to ten, and things like the pillows, the electrical outlets. And I didn’t even notice these things. I didn’t want to talk about them. I tried to skip over that so I could get to a form field that I could just type in my comment but it wouldn’t let me. I had to answer every single question to proceed with their stupid survey. And so, I just bailed out of the whole thing. It was just too much effort.

And when you make customers work like that, you are actually affecting their customer experience negatively when maybe they did want to tell you something but you just made it too difficult for them. United Airlines, I’ve been a 1K for five years and I have a special customer service line I like to dial into. It’s answered immediately every time, always with a competent US-based representative, so it’s a great service. But, amazingly, even though they recognize me when I call in, a little robot voice says, “Hello, Roger,” because they recognize my mobile phone.

And then before they connect me with a representative, I have to listen to a 15-second recording asking me if, at the conclusion of the conversation, I would like to answer a survey about the experience. And in order to say no, even though I’m on my mobile phone I’ve got up to my ear, I cannot use a voice command. Up to that point I could use voice commands to ask for a representative, but I have to take the phone away from my ear, open the dial pad, and click 2 to decline to do the survey.

And the crime in this is that these are their best customers, their most loyal customers, their highest-revenue customers, and they are slowing down every customer service interaction by about 15 seconds, at least, because of their desire to ask about the experience. I was tempted to say, “Yes, I’ll answer the experience,” and then say how annoying their little message was, but I suspect if I did that, that would not be an option. They would want me to rate the representative on whether he or she was helpful and so on. So, we see this just all the time, and companies are not aware that, even as they’re trying to make their service better, they’re making it worse.

Pete Mockaitis
Boy, there’s so much in there, and I appreciate sort of like the broad span of examples. It’s sort of like, “Who are you making things easy for? Are you making it easy for the employee who processes that data?” “Yeah, we sure are. They’re able to say, ‘Cool, I’ve got my 10×10 matrix, I could see that pillows are really our problem here so effortlessly because of how that survey was formatted so I can just get right to it.” But you’re making it very not easy for the end party.

And so, it’s sort of like if we were to flip it around, the easiest possible thing they could do would be to say, “Hey, what do we need to know about your experience at our hotel?” And you can say, “The lighting was ghostly weird and I didn’t like it.”

Roger Dooley
Yeah, you’re exactly right, Pete. What I advocate is maybe a very simple checkbox. If you’ve seen those things at airports or other kinds of facilities where…

Pete Mockaitis
The happy face?

Roger Dooley
…they have like three or four emojis ranging from happy to sad with neutral in the middle, “How’s your experience?” People can relate to that. They don’t have to think about it. They can choose the happy one or the neutral one almost on autopilot because they know what kind of experience they had. And then give them a big empty blank space where they can say whatever they want. The problem is this doesn’t fit neatly in spreadsheets. It’s hard to take those answers. It takes extra effort, so that’s why I think companies don’t do that. They like to have that granular information of, “Hey, our pillows are up 10% from last year.” But that isn’t really helping the customer.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. And, in a way, I guess I always come back to it doesn’t really take that much financial investment to turn that into something more usable because, you know, a temporary employee, an intern, could go ahead and say, pull themes out of these data, and then tell you, “Hey, out of 200 responses, 14 of them were about the pillows, and 70 of them were about the lighting.” It’s like, “Okay. Noted.” That took you some effort but not a lot of costs for that time to get there. And, boy, I, too, love those emojis. I love them so much I took a photo. And so, that can give you your quantitative stuff real quick. And then you really do need to get out of the way to provide an opportunity for that feedback.

And you got me thinking right now, I ask people to email me, “What do you think about the show?” pete@awesomeatyourjob.com. It’s like, “Can I make it even faster and easier? Like, tap a button or a link in the show notes description in your app player, and then write two words.” You got my wheels turning, Roger.

Roger Dooley
Right. You said you took a photo, I did, too, and I posted it on Facebook and said, “This is what survey should be like,” because it was like a three-button, three-emoji set of buttons. And a bunch of people immediately replied and said, “Boy, I never touch those because they’re outside the restroom, and I see all the people don’t wash their hands.” But if it’s a digital thing, you probably don’t have to worry about contamination.

Pete Mockaitis
We’re really covering our bases here. I love the thoroughness. Well, you tell me, do you have any further tips on when it comes to identifying and eliminating friction? Any top suggestions you want to make sure to cover before we hear about some of your favorite things?

Roger Dooley
Well, sure. I think there is something. We talked about Net Promoter Score, and I don’t have a problem with Net Promoter Score. I don’t think it’s the sole answer to whether you’re doing a great job or not, but it’s better than doing nothing for sure. There’s also something called Customer Effort Score that is designed in the same way that NPS does, measure how customers perceive their effort. And it is the perception of effort that counts.

You can say, “Well, boy, we’ve got best-in-class processes for our digital customers. We’ve looked at the competition.” They are not measuring you against your competition. They’re measuring you against Amazon and Uber and others. So, if somebody thinks they had a high-effort experience, that’s what counts. Even if yours is best of your breed, it doesn’t matter. If they thought it was high-effort, it was high-effort. And that happens to be a product, like Net Promoter Score is a product. You don’t have to use that particular product. But measuring customer effort in some way, I think, is good, or customer perception. Google does that.

I had a support session, I need some help with Tag Manager, which I would say is a pretty high-friction product if you’re not highly technical. And after it, they did not ask me a lot of questions about the person that helped me. They asked me whether I found the experience to be effortful or not effortful. I don’t recall the exact terms they used. But I thought, “Wow, this is really brilliant.” I see so many companies, after you complete an experience, they’ll ask you about it. And they won’t ask the right questions because I don’t think they want the answers.

I had a really awful interaction with my internet service provider where I could not find online what speed I was paying for, and it turns out that that information is not available online. You have to get it from a representative, which is bizarre to begin with. But I went through this conversation. The representative was fine. She’s very helpful and it was just their bad process. I had to come up with a four-digit code from an invoice and all this ridiculous stuff just to get the information, the bandwidth I was paying for. It wasn’t like I was trying to hack into the account. I just want to know what my speed was because I wasn’t getting it. And it turned out I was not getting it.

But, at the end of the process, they say, “Would you like to comment on this?” I was ready to comment at that point, having wasted 20 minutest just to find out my internet speed. So, instead, they did not ask me about what I thought about their company, whether I’d recommend them or anything like that. They asked me about the rep, whether the rep was courteous and helpful. And then they gave me like a thousand characters to talk about the representative. This is not the problem. I think that they did not want the answers to the real questions. They don’t want to ask people would they recommend them because they know that, typically, not just my particular one, but, in general, internet service providers and cable TV companies are at the very bottom of customer satisfaction scores, and so they don’t want that data. They ask about the rep.

And if you’re mad and you ding the rep, “Well, hey, okay, that was the rep’s problem.” It’s crazy but I think that asking simple questions and honest questions is the way to go. And ask about effort, then give people a chance to explain why. If they thought it was high-effort, it doesn’t seem like it’s high-effort, give them a chance to explain. You may find out that there is a reason for that customer it did seem like a lot of effort.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, Roger, that’s so much good stuff. Now, can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Roger Dooley
Well, I will go to Richard Thaler, our Nobel Prize winner in behavioral economics, and he sort of echoes Jeff Bezos, but he actually won a Nobel Prize for this. He said, “If you want to encourage some activity, make it easy.” And that, I think, is a very powerful quote. It is repeated by behavioral scientists in various ways, but he is the voice of authority on that.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, now, could you share with us a favorite book?

Roger Dooley
Yeah, there are so many. I would have to go with “Influence” by Robert Cialdini just because it’s the basis for so much. And if you read just that book, you will understand a lot about human behavior and, in particular, about how to change that behavior, about how to be persuasive and be influential.

Pete Mockaitis
And could you share with us as well a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Roger Dooley
Probably a Pocket would be my number one. Pocket app, which is a reader app that when you see an interesting article someplace, you can save it to Pocket for later consumption. And this really increases your productivity in two ways. First of all, instead of being sidelined when you’re in the middle of something, and you see an interesting article, and pausing to click through and read it, which will interrupt your flow, you can just save it. So, you are staying in the moment, but not necessarily losing track of that article.

And then when you read it, Pocket strips out all of the unnecessary stuff, all the ads, the sidebar stuff, the links and everything else so you just see a very simple article. You can switch to a web view if you prefer, but they give it to you in a bare bones view as a standard. So, again, you aren’t distracted, you can consume it pretty quickly. And then you can consume it at your leisure. So, to me, that is a huge timesaver. And if somebody is looking to be a little bit less distracted in 2020, that would be a good place to start.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite habit?

Roger Dooley
Well, building on the Pocket habit, every day after breakfast, I will sit with my dog on the couch and he will typically snuggle up. And I don’t know if you discussed that with Paul Zak, but when you snuggle with your pet, you both see a boost in oxytocin, so that’s one part of the good habit. And I read articles that I’ve dumped into Pocket over the last day and so I get some little productive time while I am snuggling with my dog. So, it’s a win-win.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks?

Roger Dooley
Yeah, I think the theme of my book “FRICTION” can be expressed in a simple sentence, and that is, “Friction changes behavior.” And to build on that, even a little friction makes a difference. Going back to Jeff Bezos and one-click ordering, it was worth so much to protect that one tiny little bit of effort for Amazon, but people just don’t realize that. If you realize that by eliminating tiny, tiny bits of effort, you can be more successful. That’s really important.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Roger Dooley
The easiest place to start would be RogerDooley.com, and there I’ve got links to my other content, my blog at Forbes, my neuromarketing blog, my podcast is there, and my social profiles are linked, so a pretty good place to start.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Roger Dooley
Yeah, I would try and find at least one element of sort of pointless friction in what you’re doing, something that you can control or perhaps bring to the attention of somebody who can fix it. It can be something small. Maybe it’s a rule that doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s a process that you can see a way to improve, it’s just that nobody has improved it. And even if it is not in your own organization, maybe you’ve had a bad user experience or a customer experience someplace else, don’t be afraid to call it out.

If it’s not within your company, call somebody out on social media and say, “Hey, look at this on your website, or in your mobile app,” or whatever the problem was, and there’s some chance that it will get fixed eventually. I found that I’ve done that a lot, and oftentimes it does not happen very quickly, but a couple of months later, I go back and, hey, they’ve fixed that. Now, was it my input? I don’t know. But, to me, I think it’s always worth trying.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Roger, this has been so much fun. I wish you much joy and little friction in your years to come.

Roger Dooley
Well, thank you, Pete, and I wish you, too, the same. And I really appreciate you having me on the show. It’s been a blast.

532: Achieving More through Smart Energy Management with Molly Fletcher

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Molly Fletcher explains how to expertly manage your energy to accomplish your best work.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The key to better energy management
  2. Smart ways to beat burn out
  3. Why self-care shouldn’t make you feel guilty

About Molly:

Molly Fletcher is a trailblazer in every sense of the word—now a CEO, she shares unconventional techniques that made her one of the first female sports agents in the high stakes world of sports.

Too many leaders, teams, and organizations are stuck. Instead of achieving greatness, they remain stagnant, failing to reach their potential. That’s where Molly Fletcher comes in.

Items mentioned in the show

Thank you, Sponsor!

  • Freshbooks Cloud Accounting Software gets you paid twice as fast. Free trial (no credit card required) at freshbooks.com/awesome.

Molly Fletcher Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Molly, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Molly Fletcher
Well, it’s a pleasure. Thanks for having me, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m excited to dig into so much of your wisdom associated with energy. But maybe, first, if we could go back in time, could you give us an exciting story from your adventures as one of the first female sports agents?

Molly Fletcher
Well, gosh, how much time do you have, man, because there are a ton?

Pete Mockaitis
I want a one-minute anecdote that will amuse and delight.

Molly Fletcher
Well, knowing your audience, I think probably some of them are moments when I found myself often as the only woman in the room, and whether it was the room being my office which was often the range at PGA Tour events or behind the plate at big league baseball games during batting practice, there were so many moments like that, that I found myself in walking practice rounds and I’d be mistaken as the wife, right?

I remember once, somebody looked at Matt Kuchar and said, “Are you kidding? I thought Sybi, his wife, I thought she had brown hair. Where’s Sybi?” thinking I was the wife, not the agent. So, there was lots of moments like that and I always try to tell people those were moments that I always try to reframe as gifts that were positive because I was different and I was being sort of noticed, if you will, as somebody that was a resource to my athletes in that way. And being different can be wonderful and it can be a gift, and so it was reframing those moments and also having great relationships.

My guys were often, probably 85% of my athletes were men, and I always try to ensure that my relationships with them were so strong that they always had my back. And I remember once being at a minor league ballpark, and about three or four of my athletes had run over during batting practice and we were talking about business stuff and all kinds of different things, and all of a sudden the manager started yelling at one of the guys, “What are you guys doing? Let’s go, man. Let’s quit hitting on that lady behind the plate, right?”

Pete Mockaitis
“Quit hitting on that lady.”

Molly Fletcher
Yeah, actually, I think the guys said, “That chick.” And my guys always had my back and I’m super grateful for that, they said, “Look, no, man, that’s my agent. We’re talking about stuff.” But there’s a ton of stories, Pete. I’d probably bore your listeners with them.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, no, I think that’s just enough to set the stage, so thank you. And we’re going to dig into some insights associated with energy management, which I think is so, so important. I feel it every day. But maybe to kick us off, could you share with us a story that really shows why this stuff matters and can make a world of difference?

Molly Fletcher
Well, I wrote a book called The Energy Clock, which you’re referring to, and it’s just released January 1, 2020, and I wrote it because when I was an agent for almost 20 years, I watched athletes and coaches, the best of the best, do what they did. And what the best did was they were really intentional about the way they managed their energy because their level of sort of energy, their level of energy was integral to their ability to perform, and those two things went hand-in-hand, and the best athletes recognize that. They recognize that those two were tightly knit together.

And I remember I had a minor league ballplayer who was a first-round pick, he came out a complete stud, and early in his career he comes out and there’s a lot of opportunities for appearances, autograph signings, endorsements, commercials, all kinds of stuff. And I remember that he was young, and he was sort of beyond his years, in my opinion, and he looked at me, and he said, “I know this, right? If I go out and do what I know I can do as an athlete this season, everything else will work out. Everything else will work out. Like, if I go out and hit and do what I need to do in the field, and I stay healthy physically and mentally, and I’m rested, then everything else, all these opportunities will exist and maybe tenfold in a couple of years, so I’m going to lock in on doing what I need to do to perform at my best.” And he did.

And I think when I got into the business world, more specifically now, we run negotiation trainings, and I speak and write and we consult with businesses, what I saw was there’s such a connection between the way that I saw the best athletes and coaches perform and the way in which they managed their energy, and the way we, as business people, can be equally as intentional about the way we manage our energy so we, too, can perform in the work that we do at the highest level for us as individuals.

And so, that’s the premise of the book and the reason that I think it’s incredibly important for all of us so that we can show up and lead, we can serve our customers and our clients better, we can solve problems better, but we can’t do any of those things if we’re fried.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, completely agree, and I love that story because it shows right there and there, “Hey, I’ve made a decision, there’s a lot of opportunities,” and you might call them distractions, “a lot of places I could put my attention. But if I put the attention toward the thing that truly matters, being energized, alive, uninjured, performing well on the field, then that sort of unlocks everything.” So, I’m big into the 80/20 principle here, and definitely energy management falls neatly into the vital few vastly important 20% of things.

So, let’s dig into it. You’ve got your own experience working with athletes and folks. Can you tell us, as you’re doing your research and putting this material together, did you make any surprising or striking discoveries along the path?

Molly Fletcher
Well, I think the biggest one would be we see people that wake up every day and they’re busy, they’re going and going and going, but it’s like, a friend of mine told me the other day, velocity without a target means nothing, right? And so, I have seen, over and over again, people get to maybe the end of their lives where they have maybe chased the wrong stuff, and they’ve been busy, and they’ve been doing what they do but maybe they’re not fulfilled. And, to me, there’s a really big difference between achievement and fulfillment. And what I hope this book does is it helps people find fulfillment, which to me is what many of us are really after. We’re not really after external things.

And so, the intent of the book is to try to help people get really clear on the things that give them energy, and then how to be intentional about being systematic and intentional about walking those things and the way that you live your life every day so that you can show up and perform as your best because there’s nothing that breaks my heart more than folks that wake up and they’re not delivering the kind of value to the people that matter most in their lives. And part of it bubbled up in lots of conversations with friends and after keynotes from the stage or businesses that we work with.

And I remember distinctly, I was with a client and we were up at her, I guess, sort of her cottage, and we were sitting there. We were out on a boat and we’re having a great time, and she sort of started to share, and a little bit break down, that she was just exhausted, she said, “Look, my relationship with my daughter isn’t where it needs to be. My husband, we’re not as connected as we typically have been.” And she’s like, “And this new boss I have is just difficult, and I’m working all the time, and I’m travelling too much,” and she’s just venting, right?

And I’m listening, and I said, “Well, gosh, man, tell me this, what are you chasing?” And she looks at me and goes, “What are you talking about?” And I go, like, “What is this all for? Like, what are you chasing?” She goes, “What do you mean?” And I go, “Is it a promotion? Is it money? Is it another opportunity? Like, is it a car? I mean, what is this all for?” And she kind of got tears in her eyes, and she said, “I have no idea. I don’t know. I’m just going.”

And that was when I said, “Gosh.” And so, I sort of invented this energy audit thing that’s in the book, and it helps people get really clear on, “What are the things that give you energy? What are the things that are neutral? What are the things that drain your energy? And then, how can you be intentional about ensuring that the things that give you energy are a part of your daily life?” Because I believe if we aren’t intentional about giving ourselves the opportunity to live in a space that allows us to do the things that lift us up, then we can’t really serve the people that we lead and our customers, etc.

So, there’s lots of moments like that that caused me to want to take this thinking and what I saw worked with great athletes and coaches, and bottle it up in a way that connected to business people.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that is powerful and I’m just going. I mean, that’s, whew, that is a powerful sentiment, and I think I caught myself in there certainly from time to time.

Molly Fletcher
We all have. We sure all have, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
And that’s really great to say. And velocity without the direction is just you’re just going, as opposed to hitting a particular target. So, that seems like that’s one huge takeaway right there, is to have some clarity there on what are you, in fact, chasing and why does that matter to you.

Molly Fletcher
Absolutely. To me, having a really clear purpose that you filter things through is important, and there was a lot of moments in my life. Part of it for me is my parents really were my energy clock. They always helped me keep it set, and for that I’m so grateful, and my husband too. And so, what I hope this book helps people do is set their clock in a way that is sustainable, that it drives performance for them, whatever that might look like for them. It’s different for everybody, and that’s okay. I’m certainly not suggesting that I know how people can show up as their best selves.

But when we can create a system that’s sustainable, we hopefully get to our 90th birthday party, and we turn around in the room and everybody is there that we’ve nurtured in our lives. What always breaks my heart is people that go hard and they’re not quite clear on what they’re chasing, and then they get to the end of the days even, or the weeks, and they don’t have the energy for the people that matter most in their lives, and then potentially those sort of things unravel. And that’s that gap between achievement and fulfillment that I think is important to delineate that I think this book helps people solve for.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, let’s talk about when you say clock. Is there sort of an overarching metaphor or framework you’d like to orient us to here?

Molly Fletcher
Well, there’s things in all of our lives that give us energy. They are the things that when we’re doing them, time sort of stands still, or that after we feel better about who we are and how we feel, how we show up. And whatever those things are for people is different, but what I think is incredibly important is to be intentional about protecting that time. And that’s the correlation. I think there’s a really tight correlation between energy and time, but time is finite, right?

We have so many hours and minutes in a day, and I think if we’re not intentional, and what I’ve seen so much about protecting the things that give us energy, then we find ourselves, we don’t do them. And, over time, that leads to burnout, it leads to chasing the wrong stuff, it leads to disheveled, you know, folks that maybe aren’t their best selves. And so, what the book helps people do is get intentional and clear about the things that lift them up, and then protect that time in their calendars, and they color code those in green.

And then the things that are neutral in your life, and we take people through, it’s called the audit, and then the things that are neutral in their life, they’re not the things that necessarily lift you up but they don’t necessarily drain you either, right? But they’re a necessary part of the way that we show up and live our lives. And so, those things that are neutral, those are orange.

And then there’s the things that drain us, that are really exhausting, and those things are red. And I believe leaders, great leaders, will find that most, 80% of their calendar, we want to make sure is green. And leaders often have a little bit more control of their calendar and so they can be a little bit more intentional about protecting that time traditionally, because if we don’t protect it, if we don’t identify where we want to put our time, trust me, somebody else will.

It’s a little bit of what Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, and some of the best coaches the book talks about, which is control the controllables, right? Control what you can control. And controlling our energy, to me, is something that we, if we’re intentional and disciplined about, we can control it, and it helps us show up as our best.

Pete Mockaitis
So, there you have it in terms of thinking about the activities in your calendar. Is it filling you with energy? Green. Is it neutral? Orange. Is it a drain? Red. And shooting for 80% plus, green. So, now, let’s zero in on you mentioned something that fills you with energy. You said that time stands still and there’s an audit. I guess, so what are sort of the key guiding questions or indicators you look to in categorizing these things? Because I imagine that for some people it’s just obvious, like, “Oh, my gosh, when I go for a morning run with the dog, it just fills me with energy and it’s a delight.” But I think that there are also probably some surprises, like, “You know what, that meeting really sucks every time.” So, how do you kind of raise this more into your consciousness and get the clarity on the categorization there?

Molly Fletcher
Well, I would tell people, like, if you’re sort of listening to this, and you’re thinking, “I wonder how this applies to me,” I guess I would tell people, who maybe their energy clock isn’t set, to me, they don’t  have the time for the things that matter most in their lives. So, that would be a question I would ask them, “Do you have the time for the things that matter most?” And that’s obviously incredibly important because this thing called life is not a dress rehearsal, right?

And people who maybe don’t have their energy clock set, they feel distracted maybe, they’re disconnected, they’re probably exhausted, they find themselves maybe reacting and blaming and behaving defensively. So, I would say that, at a high level, if somebody that’s listening feels that way, what setting your energy clock allows you to do is to have the energy for the things that matter most, to feel energized and fulfilled and focused and connected, to anticipate more, to be curious, and to be comfortable being accountable in your own life.

So, I would say to anybody that’s listening that says, “Hi, I want to feel more like…” what I just said, then you ask yourself, “What are the things that give you energy? What are the things that lift you up?” And so, we could do it, Pete, with you right now. So, what are the things that give you energy? What are the things that lift you up in your life?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure thing.

Molly Fletcher
Are you open to that? I don’t want to put you on the spot.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah, that’s good. That’s good. Well, family time, good connecting with my wife and kids, prayer, spiritual time is swell. I’d say discovering stuff. I think that will often get really lit up in work in terms of it’s like I’ve discovered an opportunity, and I am excited about the implications of it, I’ve got several creative ideas for how to make it happen, and I’m just exploring and running after it. And I find that’s just…it gets me fired up. I’ve got some friends who tease me, like when I’m explaining one of these things to them, my hands are…

Molly Fletcher
Going?

Pete Mockaitis
…jumping, and they say, “I’ve got some things up here and I’m going to put them down here,” is what my hands are doing. Yeah, those are some of things.

Molly Fletcher
Okay, cool. And so, like family time, get me inside of that. What does that look like?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure thing. Well, so we’ve got a two-year old, and almost a one-year old, their current ages.

Molly Fletcher
Wow, you’re busy.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure, yeah. It can be really anything. I mean, reading stories is fun. I think it’s fun when all four of us are kind of on the same bed at the same time.

Molly Fletcher
Yeah, totally. Sure.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s nice. I don’t have to move too much, to sort of chase, “No, no, don’t put that in your mouth.” You’re more relaxed.

Molly Fletcher
Right, sure. What about discovering new stuff, like curiosity? So, that means you’ve got to make the space to have time to read and to have the head space to do that. That takes time.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s true. And as we talk about it, I really do. I think if I look at my day and I see it’s full of meetings, and I guess I would not count a podcast interview. In a podcast interview we’re discovering things so that kind of fits the difference. It’s meetings in terms of kind of administrative matters. It’s like, “We’re going to cover this, we’re going to ensure we’re all…the status of that.” I’d say when I look at a calendar and it’s full of that, I go, “Aargh, where do I get to play and explore and discover? I don’t see that time on this day.”

Molly Fletcher
Right. So, prayer, family time, discovering new stuff. And then what are the things that are kind of neutral for you, right? They don’t necessarily get you excited but they don’t really drain you either. I mean, they’re just sort of there, they just exist.

Pete Mockaitis
The first thing that comes to mind is sort of tidying my desk and email. They don’t fire me up but it really does feel good when they’re done. It’s like, “Oh, I’ve got a clear space. Oh, I’ve got a clear inbox.” I don’t have to worry that I’m leaving someone hanging somewhere.

Molly Fletcher
Sure. Sure.

Pete Mockaitis
So, I guess those are neutral.

Molly Fletcher
Got it. And what about what are the things that really drain you, that are just exhausting? Like, you just talked about, just to clear stuff on your calendar, it sounds like that might be something that’s in the red, that’s a drainer for you.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, I think that when it comes to things that resemble, I don’t know, this whole world of, like, this resemble accounting, bookkeeping, compliance, regulatory, insurance, those things. I understand these are necessary for the law and for taxes and for fairness.

Molly Fletcher
Sure. Sure.

Pete Mockaitis
But, boy, just sometimes it feels like the opposite of the new, creative, discovery, innovation. It’s just like making sure you’re not breaking any laws.

Molly Fletcher
Right. Right. And so, accounting book, operational kind of things is what I’m hearing you say, right? Some of those ops tight things that you have to do when you run a business.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, but at the same time I really do get a kick out of sort of identifying a great process and clearly documenting and explaining and training and disseminating that in terms of, it’s like, “Okay, now this is handled by somebody else forever.” That feels great. And, “Oh, that feels good that I have gotten to the bottom of this kind of puzzle.” So, when it comes to operations in like a process formulation and training sense, I kind of can get into it, but in terms of the, “Oh, let’s read the ins and outs of the exclusions on this insurance policy to make sure this is the right thing that I’m buying,” I go, “Ugh.”

Molly Fletcher
Yeah. And what you just said is awesome, and that’s what’s important is to say, “How can I maybe create a system to make this more efficient, these drainers? How can I create a process? Or, maybe, is there a way maybe in which I could delegate that to someone else, that that’s something that gets them excited, that that’s a gift for them? And that’s maybe something that I can hand to them.”

And so, inside of that audit, we identify, “How do we make sure that for Pete, that every day he’s got some prayer in his life, that every day he’s ensured that he’s got enough family time that fills him up, or every week?” Some days, I’m sure, you travel and you’re out, and there may be days when you’re not getting that time with the one- and two-year old, right? But how do you get that back so that maybe by the end of the week you feel whole that you got those things that lift you up in your life? And then what are those things, that discovering stuff, that curiosity, that lifts you up?

And so, what I think is important is to say, “How do you ensure that you take the prayer and the family time and the discovering stuff, and you’re intentional about blocking those off on your calendar in green, and you really protect that time so that it doesn’t get taken with an advent scheduling, a podcast interview with somebody over maybe a moment in which you needed some time to discover stuff?” Or there’s always time that you find yourself works well after the kids wake up from a nap if you can have that little 15 minutes of those things that lift you up with the kids.

So, it’s saying, “Well, how can you be intentional about putting those in your calendar in green, the desk and the email?” You know, one of the things that we know is that we can go from things that are neutral to things that lift us up, and we can go right to things that drain us. This is a fluid system in our lives. We can go right from a red, things that drain us, to a green immediately. We can shift right from one to another. So, what I try to encourage people to do is, “If we know that we’ve got things in our lives that we need to do that are in the red zone, how can we bake a green in front of it so that when we do drain ourselves a smidge when we’re sitting inside of that red zone, that we haven’t taken ourselves to an E where we’re empty, or maybe just half-full because we’ve given ourselves, we’ve lifted ourselves up a little bit in advance of those moments?”

Pete Mockaitis
That’s interesting. When you talk about empty and filling, it kind of is crystallizing it a bit more for me in my brain in that it’s a little bit more than just, “Hey, try to have more things that fill you up and fewer things that drain you.” But, also, kind of strategically considering the timing, the sequencing, the balancing over a day and a week. And so, do you have any pointers there with regard to, I think that was a nice one, in terms of, “Don’t go red, red, red, red, red or you will enter E”? You got me going now, Molly. Just paint a picture, what is E look, sound, feel like for people when you hit empty just so we can trigger some recognition, like, “Oh, yeah, that’s probably what’s going on here.”

Molly Fletcher
You know, I think you’re feeling really drained, you’re maybe really scattered, you’re disconnected, and just, generally, you’re frustrated. Those are the feelings that often go with when we find ourselves in that red space. And in the book, I have a sample calendar, and what I recommend people do is they literally, part of this comes down into anticipating the controllables in your life, and saying, “How can I go out…?” If you look at my calendar, I go way out, 30 days out, and I protect those things that give me energy. So, I would protect, if I was you, that prayer time, that family time, that discovering stuff time, I would actually block that out so that nobody can grab that from me.

And then I’m going to look really hard at the reds, and say, “Can I give these away to somebody else? Or can I be more efficient with them?” And then I’m going to look at the oranges too, and say, “How can I potentially be more efficient in this, in these areas of my life so that I can move through them more efficiently, more quickly, to get myself to a green?” But it’s about being intentional, and it’s about anticipating, and then looking back at the end of a month or the end of a week, and say, “How did I do?” Really evaluating, “How did I do? How do I feel at the end of the week? And how well did I execute against showing up with more green in my life?”

And I think there’s things that are inevitable. Like, if I’ve got to fly home. So, for example, one of the examples I actually used in the book is that my daughter was in a play early in the morning one morning and I really wanted to be there. To me, I want to be that parent that when my child looks out, I’m there. That’s really important to us. And so, I had to take a red-eye home from Vegas to get to the 8:30 a.m. play.

So, I’m in a red to get to a green to be able to be there in a moment that I wanted to be connected to my daughter. But that was a very intentional decision to say, “I’m going to wear it. I’m in a little red here but I’m going to be really intentional about when I’m in Vegas I’m going to get a massage, I’m going to get my workout, I’m going to minimize the number of calls that my team schedules for me during that window so that I can fill myself up so when I land, I’m not an E for this play, that I’m maybe at half-full but, still, I’m there, I’m present, I’m locked in, and I’m excited certainly, and feeling fulfilled to be able to show up in that way.”

So, it’s all about the way we prepare for these red moments so that when we shift, and maybe we’re at that play, we’re not on E but we’re still in a green zone, and we’re half-full, not on E. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis
I hear you, yes. And, Molly, as you sort of kind of let us into your mental process, it’s very helpful. Thank you. I’m wondering if you catch some resistance from folks as you’re teaching this in terms of, “Oh, well, you know, you got to sacrifice and it can’t all just be about me and what feels good.” I’m curious, like if you catch some resistance, what does it sound like, and how do you respond?

Molly Fletcher
Yeah. And it’s interesting that you say that, Pete, because I actually felt that myself. I always felt like, “You know what, to fill your cup, your own cup up, is super selfish, and that isn’t right. It’s not right for me to go take an hour and get a workout in even though that takes me, and is a green for me.” But what I found is that if I can take that time, and I think we’ve all got to be respectful and careful and intentional about…I’m certainly not suggesting that a green is seven days a week, 24/7, if you want to have friends and family.

But what I realized is that if you don’t give yourself the things that give you energy, you can’t give it to anybody else in your life that matters most. So, I’ll give you a real example. I speak about 60 days a year on performance, and I had gone, I had like eight keynotes or something. It was a lot inside of a short window of time. I can’t remember the number, but let’s say it was like eight keynotes inside of like 13 days, which is sort of a lot. And it was Philly to Vegas to California, back to Miami, to Detroit. I mean, it was just a mess of kind of all over the country.

And I’d flown my mom in because our girls, we have three girls, and they were young at the time, and so I had flown her in to kind of help my husband with the girls. And I was sort of like five or six end of the eight, and I was exhausted. I mean, I was just exhausted. And I miss the girls, and I miss my husband, and I felt disconnected, and I felt drained and scattered and disconnected and frustrated and all those things that I referenced. I was in the red. But, yet, I’m paid to show up and be green because that’s my thing.

Pete Mockaitis
No one wants a tired keynoter.

Molly Fletcher
Right. So, I remember so vividly calling my mom, and I looked at my calendar, and I realized, “You know what, there could be a way that I could get home and I could get a little bit of family time and still honor every obligation that I had. If I had a board meeting, and if I left that board meeting just 12 hours or something earlier, I could get home, I could have a little bit of time with my girls. I could feel reconnected a little bit, get back on the plane and go do what I needed to do.

And it was a little bit of fire drill to make that adjustment but I thought, “I need to do this. I need to do this because I need to feel connected to my family in order for me to keep going.” But it was a window, when I came back, so I did. I came home and I pulled my kids out of school and we went and got a picnic, and we got ice cream, we had lunch. I showed up at their lunchroom and they looked at me, and they’re like, “Mommy, what are you doing here?” And I said, “Hey, I talked to your teachers. We’re good to go. We’re going to take the afternoon.” And they were in like third or fourth grade so I could do that, right? They weren’t going to fall significantly behind.

And we did, and then I got on the plane, and I went to the next keynote, crushed the next three, came home, and that’s when I looked at my mom, and I said, “I’ve got to create a system so that that doesn’t happen again.” And so, that was the beginning of a lot of this stuff, and I literally took my keynote calendar and we took weeks, we blocked them out, and we put red lines on the weeks with my team, and now I typically do two, at most three, inside of a five-day window. I’m really careful if I have a week with three that the next week, I only have one. And so, part of that is having the discipline to say no, which is really hard.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, money that does not enter your bank because of your discipline. It is hard.

Molly Fletcher
Right, but the messaging, I think, is when I’m saying no to something, I’m saying yes to the things that matter most. And so, with the clarity around the things that lift you up, it gives you the confidence, the courage, and the discipline, at the end of the day, in order to have the courage to say no to something because you know, “I’ve gotten really clear on this at a time when I wasn’t feeling pressure to make a decision. I’ve gotten clear on what matters most. Now I’m going to have the discipline and the courage to say no inside of these moments.”

And this showed up for me a little bit when I was a sports agent. I had a team of nine agents, I had 300 athletes and coaches, and my strategy then was to try to fill their cups up so much when I could so that between 6:00 and 9:00, when I was home, and my girls were needing me, whether it was homework, or prepping for bed, or a tough conversation that they wanted to have, or stuff going on with their friends, or you name it, I could let those calls go to voicemail because athletes will call you 24/7. But I had gotten clear on, “I’m going to fill their cups up so much when I can so that when I need to honor my kids and my husband, I can do that and I can do it with confidence because I’ve filled them up so much in the other moments that they respect that window of time that I’m honoring my family.”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, this is super handy. And so, I’d love to hear, as you’ve taught this to many folks and they implement it, can you share some of the recurring discoveries in terms of, “Wow, I overlooked this,” or, “It turns out this little thing makes a world of difference for energizing me”?

Molly Fletcher
Yeah. And that’s why I do this work, right? It’s the emails, it’s the notes from LinkedIn, it’s the stuff that people send on Instagram and Twitter, I mean, that is why I do this. It’s so fulfilling. I had somebody the other day that said, “I just did this energy audit with my husband. Both of our calendars are color-coded now. I am so excited to lean in 2020 sort of in this new way.”

And what I think people find is the clarity in itself is incredibly powerful. Even just when we did this with you, the clarity around, “Here’s the things that really, really lift me up. And if I had all those things in my life, one to two, maybe all three of them every day, imagine, would I be a better husband, would I be a better father, would I be a better leader, would I be a better community?” All those things, what we hear from people is, “Yes, here’s the things that…”

I take a gentleman that I’ve renamed in the book, his name is Frank in the book, but it was a real person. But when we took Frank through this, it was incredibly powerful because now he’s clear on the things that lifts him up, he’s been disciplined and intentional about protecting it on his calendar, and now the byproduct of that, inside of usually 20, 21, 30 days, is a person who’s showing up better at work, showing up fulfilled at home, showing up more connected to the people that matter most, more energized for the clients that they serve, the customers, for the team members that they work with. So, those are the stories that we hear.

And what’s really powerful is when people get really clear on the things that drain them, the things that, for you, the ops kind of stuff that you don’t love, my hope and dream and prayer and wish is that you hang up from this podcast, and you go back and you go, “You know what, I’m going to try to find a way to either delegate this or create some better systems so that this shows up a little bit less in my life.” And maybe there’s still a role for it in your life as a business owner, right, we need to be aware of those things, “But how can I maybe dial that back a little bit and then obviously my week looks a little bit better?”

So, I think this is something that works for the whole person not just a business person, and certainly it can work for somebody that works out of the home, as a caregiver in the home. I mean, this is a powerful thing too. And I think it’s incredibly important for men and women that are at home caring for their family are super intentional about that or resentment kicks in in a big way.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I hear you. Well, so then I’d love to get your notion. So, we talked about some doing the audit and getting particular about your own unique things. Can we hear about a couple common discoveries in terms of, hey, a lot of people seem to have discovered that, I don’t know, it’s a nap, or meditation, or eating apples with peanut butter. Is there any little something that makes a big impact that shows up for a lot of people?

Molly Fletcher
Yeah, that’s an awesome question. One is to create an opportunity with somebody that you trust and that wants nothing from you but for you to be your best self, for them to hold you accountable, for them to have access to your calendar, to have access to being able to connect with you about how this is going. So, somebody that you’re willing, we hear from people that they have shared this with, told them that this is something that’s important to them, that they’re leaning into and that they’re trying to do, and that every 30 days, “Would you ask me how am I doing as it relates to setting my energy clock and keeping my clock set? How am I doing?”

And we have, by the way, if you go to the EnergyClock.com, there’s all kinds of resources for folks when they buy the book both as individuals, as teams, and as leaders, that they can access, that helps them sustain their energy clock, so accountability. And then having monthly check-ins with their accountability partner at least every month where they can check in and assess how they’re tracking on keeping their clocks set, because that’s the most important thing, right? It’s not they read a book and they feel great for a week. We want to change behavior over the long haul. And so, we find that when people have accountability and then a system with that accountability partner that works best for them, that the sustainability is just better.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Lovely. Well, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Molly Fletcher
No, it’s just I’m super passionate about this. It’s fun to talk about, so most importantly I hope this conversation helps people.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Molly Fletcher
One that comes up for me right now because I just saw it on the wall of an office for a company that I’m speaking to, is, “Treat every customer like they’re your only customer,” is I think kind of a cool quote. That one comes to mind.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite study, or experiment, or bit of research?

Molly Fletcher
I just interviewed Shawn Achor on my podcast, and he anchors a lot of the work that he does, and he wrote The Happiness Advantage with a lot of research. And I love that conversation because he talks about gratitude and joy. And the research that he’s done over 55 countries on it, which is incredibly powerful, and how I thought this was staggering, Shawn said, “Molly, in the 55 countries and all the work that I’ve done, I found that if people do at least one of these three or four things, the gratitude journal, identifying the things that bring them joy…” if people do one of the three or four things that he mentions, they find themselves happier, and he measures that.

So, I’m super intrigued with the work he does. I’m a big fan of all of the research that Brene Brown does, Adam Grant. I read all of their stuff, everything that they do, and I’m grateful to call them friends. So, they are probably a whole lot smarter than me, right? They’re working inside of a lot of institutions. I’m not a researcher at all so I lean on other people for that, so I’m grateful for their work that I can lean on.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Molly Fletcher
The Alchemist is one of my favorite books. I just think it is so cool the way that it’s just a powerful read. I’ve read it several times. That book is one of my favorites. Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism I’m a huge fan of, The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr, I love. Those are a couple that come to mind. And, of course, all the work from whether it’s Adam Grant to Shawn Achor to Susan Cain. I’m a big fan of anything they put out, I grab and read.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Molly Fletcher
Just because it’s on my mind, obviously some of the stuff that we’ve talked about really helps me show up in the work, that I do better when my clock is set. I feel like I’m a better leader. So, that is a tool that I certainly do use myself personally, that my team uses, that we all use it, that I think helps us certainly. I’m grabbing my phone right now. I would say, probably, another one would be Slack. My team and I use Slack, and that’s a tool that we use, and I find it drives some efficiency which is powerful.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite habit?

Molly Fletcher
A favorite habit would be the gratitude journal or the five-minute journal. I do that whether if I’m travelling, I use my app. If I’m home, I try to write into my book. I like writing it better. But that, to me, is a pretty powerful tool. I love the five-minute journal.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you often?

Molly Fletcher
One would be, “When you ask for the business, you get advice. And when you ask for advice, you get the business.” That one is a big one. People love that one. And I also reframe it for young people that are listening, “When you ask for a job, you get advice. When you ask for advice, you get a job.” That one is powerful too. That would be one that people really connect with. When you ask for the business, you get advice. When you ask for advice, you get the business.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Molly Fletcher
MollyFletcher.com, there’s all kinds of stuff that leads into the book stuff. Of course, our workshop business, our negotiation training programs, all of that comes out of MollyFletcher.com.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Molly Fletcher
I would challenge them to set their clock, to get really energy clock, to get really clear on the things that lift them up, the neutrals, how to be more efficient, and the drainers, or delegate those, and set it. Find somebody to help hold them accountable every 30 days. And my hope and my prayer, and what we’re seeing with the people that we work with now is somebody that shows up more fulfilled and more connected to the things that matter most. So, that would be my challenge.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, Molly, this has been lots of fun. I wish you much energy in the weeks ahead.

Molly Fletcher
All right. You, too, Pete. Thanks for having me on and thanks for the work that you do.

529: Finding Greater Success and Fulfillment with Dr. Daphne Scott

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Dr. Daphne Scott says: "I'll never have enough time to do the things I don't want to do."

Dr. Daphne Scott debunks harmful myths to explain how to build a healthy relationship with success.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How your ambition is sabotaging your career
  2. How to end the vicious cycle of stress
  3. How to easily fit meditation into your daily routine

About Daphne:
Dr. Daphne Scott brings two decades of real world coaching and corporate development experience to her work with organizations, teams and individuals. She combines strong leadership abilities with highly-trained facilitation skills to bring individuals and teams into greater relationship, creativity, and ultimately, success.

Daphne is a Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher, a Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), certified Hendricks Coach, a founding member of the Conscious Leadership Group, and a member of the International Coaching Federation. She also holds a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a Doctorate of Science in Physical Therapy from Andrews University. Daphne is the Chief Culture Officer at Confluent Health and was previously the Director of Leadership Development at Athletico Physical Therapy.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Daphne Scott Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Daphne, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Daphne Scott
Oh, thanks so much for having me, Pete. It’s my pleasure.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m excited to dig into this conversation as well as learn a bit about your sketch comedy tour in the past. What is the story here?

Daphne Scott
Well, I like to say that’s almost where it all started. It’s not actually the total place where it all started, but I did improvisational theater at the famed Second City in Chicago for quite a while, about three to four years, and then went on to travel with a sketch comedy group that traveled around the United States and we’d do all kinds of festivals and write funny sketches and think we were just hilarious and, yeah, that’s where it all started. And that translated into many of my skills that I have in facilitating groups now.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m curious, was there a particular sketch that just was the hit, it got more laughs than the others, not that you can perform the whole thing for us, but maybe give us a taste, what was the premise?

Daphne Scott
Yeah, there were two that were really big hits. One was called Amish pornography. By the way, I need to give acknowledgement to Nick DeGrazia, who was the founder of the group, The Comic Thread. Amish pornography, which was the theme song to Space Odyssey 2000, so bom, bom, bom, you know, the whole thing, and it was just simply two people, it was him and myself and we’re dressed up as Amish sort of folks, and we’re just simply…he is removing his suspenders very slowly and all I’m doing is lifting up my skirt about a half inch at most while this whole song plays all the way through. So, it’s just literally us standing on stage facing each other in this elaborate, much elaborate sort of setup of this Amish barn and that was always a really big hit because we didn’t say anything. We really weren’t doing anything but it was just this idea that this would be really what Amish pornography kind of would look like, if you could.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, clever. Clever.

Daphne Scott
It’s very clever.

Pete Mockaitis
Risqué.

Daphne Scott
Yeah, yeah, very, very risqué. And then there was another sketch which was based on the movie Braveheart and it was about this grandfather who was very obsessed with the movie so much so that he thought it was real, and it just culminates in this great hijinx of him torturing his grandson, and it was very, very funny. So, those are a couple. Those are a couple, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Mercy. Well, I love comedy that’s just a little bit out there and I think Key & Peele, my personal opinion, are the most amazing sketch comedians I’ve bumped into. Netflix has a new series I Think You Should Leave which is a sketch comedy show, and it’s amusing, it gets me some chuckles.

Daphne Scott
I have not watched it yet. I’ll have to check that out.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Cool. Well, so let’s talk about your modern-day programming or what you’re up to these days. You got some stuff called Waking Up A Leader. What’s sort of the main thesis or point behind this?

Daphne Scott
Yeah. so, I like to say my latest book, it’s my only book, but it is my latest, so, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Your first book.

Daphne Scott
Yeah, it’s my first book, also my latest book. Yeah, so Waking Up A Leader, really, the essence is this combination between the transformational skills that leaders and, by the way, people who want to be great at their jobs, need to have on board as well as the skills, some of the transactional skills, that are really helpful for leaders to have on board. And it’s specifically about looking at how we relate to sort of these five domains of our life, which seems to be these areas, especially in work, that can take over.

So, the five relationships that we’re having are our relationships to time, money, our self, our identity, how we see ourselves, and friendships, and then, of course, the very well-known unknown, in how we relate to the space of the unknown. So, that’s really what the book is about at its root.

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing. Well, I love a good framework, you know, breaking that into five key ingredients. And so, I understand, in your own story, you had some relationships that seemed a bit out of whack. Can you share your tale?

Daphne Scott
I did. Yeah, so good. That’s a really nice way to say it, out of whack, absolutely. Well, I started, when I wrote the book, really started with in terms of the five relationships, the relationship to time, that’s always a big one for clients at work and with myself. I had much the same experience that all of us have had, which is feeling often as though I never had enough time to do things I really wanted to do and never have enough time playing guitar. I didn’t have enough time to write comedy, these sorts of things that I enjoy doing outside of my working world now. And, of course, I never have enough time getting my work done. That was one in one big relationship that had to change.

If I got, really, to the root though of what was happening, it was really there was this particular way that I was just relating to how I saw myself in the world, who I believed that I was, and also who I believed I needed to be to be successful. And I needed to be a person who had no less than 50 responsibilities at any one time, I needed to be a person who ran from thing to thing, and got more degrees and more certifications, and took on more responsibilities and all these sorts of things that I had created in my mind, by the way, as these marks of being successful.

And ambition took over and so the story progresses, my story progresses, a little bit through the book. And I really had to work to shift that relationship at the root, that really what was happening. And it’s intentional that the relationship to the self and the identities in the middle of the other four, in the book by the way, I discovered that that’s what’s going on the whole time.

Pete Mockaitis
Boy, yeah, so intriguing. So, you felt that you didn’t have the time to do the things you really wanted to do from the guitar to the comedy. And what the holdup there was you had some ambition going on that said that you needed to tackle X, Y, Z. So, can you really zoom in there in terms of sort of what’s going on in the experience of your life and the feelings there in terms of frustration or overwhelm, etc., as well as sort of the internal dialogue that’s kind of propagating that?

Daphne Scott
Yeah, oh, man, so good. You’re getting right at it, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you.

Daphne Scott
Again, I think, well, I’ll just kind of talk about through, I love what you said, the internal dialogue because this is really what, at the core, is what’s happening for all of us, is if we paid attention long enough, and this is really the beginning of the book, if we pay attention long enough, we start to realize that we’re giving a lot of attention to thought that’s happening, the things that we’re telling ourselves. Really, there’s a whole part in the book around the stories that we tell ourselves, right?

So, when I looked at how I was organizing myself and my life, and by organizing I mean sort of my energy, my time, my thought processes, how I was taking care of my physical body, my emotional, mental, spiritual wellbeing, and I was really wiring that all altogether. It was based on sort of these root sort of experiences or these ideas, one that I had, first of all, let’s just take this, that I have to be an ambitious person to be successful, that I had to take on a lot more work.

And what was starting to happen was, when I really paid attention to my experience, I was really creating sort of this idea that, “One day I would arrive. One day I would finally get there, I’d finally reach the finish line,” which is really at the root, underneath all that, is this idea that things are permanent, that I would finally get the title, or the promotion, or the money, or one day I would finally have all the time that I wanted, then I could be happy, then I could relax.

And the idea that, even once you had those things that they would stay permanent, it’s really the root, if you paid attention, to all of our suffering. It’s really the core that we’re going to finally get this thing, then, and only then, can we finally be happy. And then when we have it, that it’ll last forever. And once I saw the truth of that, that was years and years and years, by the way. I make it sound like, “Oh, it’s one day, it happened.”

But once I started seeing the truth of that, I started unhooking myself and having a different relationship with myself. I started relating to this idea of time differently. I started relating to this idea of money. That was a big one. I don’t know how much you’ve encountered the idea that you can’t leave your current job that you’re making so much money on and go find another job that could pay you just as much. You have to stay in your current job because if you leave, you’ll be broke, so you stay but feel miserable. And I was really working through that relationship.

And so, the more that I kept paying attention to what I was really telling myself, the more that I kept paying attention to my feelings and how, also, transient they were, one minute I could be really feeling great, happy. The next minute I could be not so happy. And I started realizing, “Wow, maybe these things that I’m blaming on the outside of me, maybe there’s more going on in the inside that I need to pay attention to.”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s intriguing. So, then the lie is, “Hey, one day I’ll have X, and then it’ll be all gravy from there on out. I’ll have it, it’ll be there, it’ll be permanent, and happy days are here.” So, that’s sort of the falsehood that you’re entertaining and it’s causing some troubles. And so, how would you articulate the contrary truth in terms of how is it really, and how should we really optimally operate?

Daphne Scott
Yeah. Well, great question. It’s tricky in a way because there’s the inherent reality, inherently things that are true but they’re not inherently true, right? So, it is true on one level that it’s good to have some cash. Like, if you’re going to have a business and we want to have a job, and it is true that that’s good. We need to keep the lights on, probably that’s all true. And there’s some truth to money, right? I’d sound like a complete crackpot if I was on your show right now and be like, “Look, money is not real.” It’s just that it’s not inherently real. It’s not the thing that’s going to ultimately, one day, get you the peace, calm, joy that you ultimately desire, that people are really looking for in their life.

And so, when we really look at the idea of money, yeah, there’s some truth to it. It’s reality. If we look at time, it’d be weird if I was like, “Oh, don’t concern yourself with time. It doesn’t really exist.” There is clock, that we had an appointment today, right? It’s helpful. But if I start to believe that it’s inherently true, that that’s all there is, and I start wiring my life around that, I really start to create a lot of suffering for myself because the clock just does what the clock does, it’s a convention, it’s helpful to a certain degree, but time and space are really, in the inherent reality, they’re not dependent on the clock. So, how I choose how to relate to that clock really actually sets up my experience.

I can be sitting quietly reading my book and feeling really, really great about everything. I can also be quietly reading my book and feel really stressed out and overwhelmed. Same exact thing on the video camera but very different experience, right?

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing. So, how you choose to relate to these things makes all the difference in terms of how you’re feeling and operating, and your ability to be effective in your job, and more broadly as well.

Daphne Scott
Yeah, exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
So, can we dig in, then, in terms of what are some best practices and worst practices in terms of relating to each of these five key things?

Daphne Scott
Yeah, such a great question. And this is where the transactional part of it, sort of what sounds very transactional, transactional-sounding, fits into this whole thing, so I really, really love the question. So, let’s talk about time. Yeah, totally true, time, we use it, it’s a convention. The clock is a convention. I don’t have to feel at the effect. One o’clock is no different than 3:00 o’clock. It’s not doing anything to me sort of idea. That sounds great, right?

It also helps though if you know how to put stuff on your calendar, it also helps if you do some planning week to week. And what I really like to tell people is when I sit down and I review my calendar two weeks out, for example, review my list, so I work from a list every day, it’s one of the actions in the book, I really see that as a mindfulness practice because I know that when I do that thing, when I review that calendar, when I have my list up-to-date, and I’m keeping track of things, and I know what’s coming, I relax. My mind is clear.

Even if I day full of appointments, when I look at that on Friday, it’s not going to happen until Wednesday, I know these are the things I need to be prepared for, these are the things that I’m planning, that are coming. Even looking back on the calendar, for example, a week can be really helpful. There might be meetings, and I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t grab that one. I told that guy I’d get him that thing, and I didn’t write that down. I need to write it down.” So, we really start to relax.

And so, I think that is one around the experience of time. That is one of the key practices that if people really are willing to just slow down to go fast type of idea, right, it really starts to shift our relationship and how we experience things.

Pete Mockaitis
And the practice is simply maintaining your calendar and a list of things and so that sounds like a prudent thing to do. And so, what would you say many astute professionals do instead of that that’s causing them problems?

Daphne Scott
Yeah, so good. That’s just so great. So, let’s see how this fits together, right? So, imagine this, imagine if believing that you don’t have enough time, I’m sure you’ve had that experience before, you don’t have enough time, and you’re starting to believe that. Now, if you already start to believe that you don’t have enough time, that’s like your operating system, what’s it like to think that you’re going to sit down and review your task list and your calendar? Right, exactly. You’re like, “I don’t have the time to do that. I just have to get things done.”

And so, people are playing whack-a-mole, they’re not grounded in, “What really requires my attention right now? What’s really most important right now?” and they spend an awful lot of time sort of rethinking things because you didn’t have it written down and you’re having to go back and sort of re-plan the thing that you’re going to do next. So, that’s what I want professionals do, and this is where I think where the mindset and the understanding of our attention and how we train ourselves to pay attention and how we work with the mind, where that fits in with the very practical thing that we talk about, which isn’t really rocket science, right? Like, review your calendar.

But when you get these two things working, kind of working against each other, it creates a ton of stress for people. So, yeah, that’s really how this starts to wire, sort of congeal itself into creating a lot of overwhelm and not the best practices for folks.

Pete Mockaitis
I see. So, sort of like a vicious cycle in terms of, “I don’t have time. I need to go ahead and do this thing,” and, thusly, they don’t take the time to plan and setup the calendar and that list, and then things get all the more out of control. And so, is it a similar kind of a pattern with the other four relationships? Can you maybe show us how that plays out with them?

Daphne Scott
Yeah. So, there’s sort of this common myth, this sort of mindsets that we get into, let’s take money, for example. And this is probably one of my favorite ones, honestly, because I work with very successful people, and it’s fascinating to me, and I ask them, “How much money do you need?” It seems like a reasonable question. None of them have an answer.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s fascinating. I want to dig into this a bit just because I know exactly how much money I need.

Daphne Scott
Yeah, me, too.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, I guess, I don’t know, I sort of thought that was something that people who were interested in growing wealth knew. So, tell me a bit more about this. So, you’ve got dozens of clients, and you’ve asked them this question, and zero have told you a number?

Daphne Scott
Yeah. So, they struggle to have a number, and what’s really sort of lurking underneath all of that is, in some instances, they’ve had enough for a really long time. And it really starts to back them in a corner mentally, sort of in a way, because they start to see, like, “Wow, if I have all the money that I say I needed and that I wanted, then why am I not spending more of my time living my life the way that I really like to live it?”

Pete Mockaitis
As opposed to spending time to generate more wealth.

Daphne Scott
Yeah, right.

Pete Mockaitis
Gotcha.

Daphne Scott
Which is fine but that’s not in and of itself a problem but, exactly, it’s sort of the way they relate to it. And so, the common myth that we all start to believe is that we need more. We need more money will ultimately make us happier. More money. And, by the way, when you get as much as you need and want, then you get to play the game of your fear of losing all of it.

Pete Mockaitis
Right, yeah.

Daphne Scott
Right? So, you’re never settled, right? So, we’ll look at that. So, you start getting into this mindset around this, and this starts to drive that quest for more, that quest for greed, which lends itself to everything from people not spending time with their families, people not taking care of themselves, their physical wellbeing because they’re working all the time, to really, really horrific sorts of things, like creating fraud, defrauding people in the company, or stealing, all these sorts of things that we’ve read about in the news.

And so, when we have sort of this relationship with money, that the only way we’ll be happy is we have to have more, we’re not clear. We don’t have clarity around what is enough individually, and then even in our businesses, what does that need to look like. Leaders, really, and people in their lives, really get swept away then with this constant run on this treadmill all the time, and we’re not never going to get there so it creates a lot of stress for people.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Daphne, can I really put you on the spot here?

Daphne Scott
Yeah, totally.

Pete Mockaitis
Can you talk about what is enough? Can you share, for us, personally, as you thought through these things a lot, what is enough time, money, self, friends, unknown for you? And why?

Daphne Scott
Yeah. Well, enough time for me is me, really, lives in spending my time the way that it’s truly in line with my values and my purpose. And I want to tell you, again, it’s not a straight line. I think, in my experience, and I feel like I live in my genius 95% if not 100% of the time with my work, but it’s not a straight line. People are asking me to do things all the time, different things, things that, by the way, would be great. I wish I had the space to just say yes to everything on some level.

But then there’s the part where I know it’s not mine to do, and I had to really work it through in my life at getting very good at saying the word no. And I know if I go do it, my energy level won’t be that great. It ultimately won’t bring me the fulfillment that I really, really know that I can have. And once you start having that in your work, it becomes pretty palpable when you’re not doing it.

So, not matter what, when it comes to time, what I know is that I’ll never have enough to do the things I don’t want to do. And so, as soon as I start aligning myself with doing a lot of things that I don’t want to do, we just become more and more unhappy. There’s that. So, what’s enough? What’s enough time? I have all the time in the world to do the things that I want to do and never feel constricted around that.

Around money, it really was a matter of looking at, “What’s the wealth that I know I want to have to live a reasonable life and to be able to, obviously, pay my bills?” Now, my lifestyle is a little different. I don’t have children, by the way, so that changes some things for people who have kids, you have more responsibility in that way. But it was really a matter of setting up my life so that, quite frankly, where work wasn’t costing me more money. And I think when we start looking at life in that way, when I understood that the place that I was spending my time, how I was doing my work was really my energy, my life energy, and it was the only energy I had, it’s the most valuable thing that I do have, how do I really want to be “spending” that, and is there cost on the backend that I’m not paying attention to.

And then, on average, they say, the research says that once you hit about 80,000 to 90,000 a year, your positive emotion, access to positive emotion, doesn’t really increase that much, even up against people who are multimillionaires. And so, I really started to look at that, and I‘m like, “What is it for me to live my life in a way that can really allow me to retire ‘early,’ to have some financial independence? And what does it look like for me to set my life up that way so that I have more flexibility around my time and my money? I’m not in debt. I’m not walking around with the most heavily-marketed product outside of crappy food and the United States’ credit. What’s it like to just not be living like that?”

And so, I really started setting up my life that way and realized how much money. When you choose to live on less money, guess what happens to your retirement account? You need less.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, certainly, yeah.

Daphne Scott
You don’t need as much. So, yeah. And then, around my ambition and what that needed to really look like, and where was I out of my integrity with myself, meaning where I wasn’t in wholeness and driving myself in a certain way where I’d gain 30 pounds, my relationships are really falling apart. I even make this comment in the book, like I had all these great degrees and certifications but all my plants were dead, not taking care of things in my life, and not keeping friendships intact both at work and in and out of work.

I think one of the things I really landed on was that I was spending, and still do, a good deal of my energy, my life energy, working, that I love it. And to think you only have acquaintances at this place where you spend 40 or 50 hours or 60 hours a week, that gets pretty dry. And so, what was it to really understand and to live into, really, cultivating friendships and keeping track of people, and not just seeing people as a sort of a means to and end, or, “They’re just going to help get my done and then I’m going to go home”?

Yeah, so that was all of them except the unknown.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, let’s hear it.

Daphne Scott
All right. Well, the unknown, really, the thing that I landed on with the unknown really has a lot to do…are you ready? It almost sounds like the buzzkill of the show, but really has a lot to do with death. I really got in touch with the reality that it’s coming, I just don’t know when, but it is coming. And I had a meditation that I was taught by one of my teachers, Stephen Batchelor, this is in the book. But it really is taking a close look at, and really sitting in this question that, given that is unknown, or given that it is known, that I will, one day, take my last breath, I will one day have taken my last walk, I will have one day pet my dog for the last time, given that that is true, but given that I don’t know when that is, now what should I do?

And that was really the meditation that started to unhook me quite a bit from being sucked into that myth that things were permanent, kind of letting me get outside of myself a little bit to realize that this whole thing that I’m doing and existing isn’t just about me, like other people matter, other people are here.

And so, given that, what should I do? Is it me going to be about me just accumulating more ambition, more degrees, more, more, more, knowing that this is all going to come to an end? Or is there some other way that I might want to be organizing my energy and spending my time, which is finite in that regard? For lack of a better explanation.

So, it was all these things together, how we relate to all these things together. And, interestingly enough, these were the things that I kept watching my clients struggle with. It was the same sort of thing, and I’m getting in these coaching conversations about, “Wow, I get it. I, too, have had these struggles.”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m intrigued then, so when you do that meditation, so given the fact that I’m going to die, therefore, what shall I do?

Daphne Scott
And given the fact that I don’t know when that is.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. What sorts of action items tend to pop up over and over again for yourself and others when they engage in this?

Daphne Scott
Yeah, that’s great. One, it’s interesting because I’ve been doing that meditation for years, and one interesting thing, I think you’ll find this very curious because I find it curious, when you sit in it, it’s the ideas to let any answers come to you, and sometimes nothing phenomenal shows up, you’re just kind of doing your meditation. But one thing that does consistently pop up for me is the word rest. And how it lands is not like rest, like, “Go take a vacation.”

It’s more like a resting with what is. It’s more like a call to be with what is, which I think is probably a balance to my personality type, which is the unconscious or a part of my personality type is to want to be in control. It’s wanting to make sure things are going to happen. It’s wanting to have things turn out the way I think they should, right?

And so, there’s more to this theme of rest, be with what is right now, and more of this call for stillness, being still. And even in the midst of activity, having a sense of stillness, in the midst of us having a conversation, having the sense of stillness that there isn’t something that I have to make happen or that has to happen in this moment. So, that is a thing that comes up pretty reliably for me.

And then there’s really simple things like it can be I’ve done the meditation and just a simple thing will pop up, like, “Take care of your car.” Like, there might’ve been something that I was avoiding doing, and it finally just says, “Look, it’s time to go take action on this. Enough dragging your feet to have the thing.” So, it runs the gamut for sure.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, all right. Well, so then we talk about rest, I’d love to get your take on are there some particular self-care practices that really seem to have a lot of bang for your buck in terms of much rejuvenation in not a lot of time?

Daphne Scott
Yeah. Well, again, this comes back to time for sure and how we relate to it, but I will say that, undoubtedly, there are two things that we know really impact people’s physical health. So, if we start to recognize, a few things I want to say about that, leading up to it, that the body, it’s what allows this being over here to move around. It doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to nature. It will ultimately do what it’s going to do.

However, if we really start to look at what allows the body to really function well and to be in its best health, hands down, there are two things that have really been shown over and over again. The food that we eat really matters and getting some sleep. And, again, those aren’t really sexy things, right? Like, we are looking for sort of all these sorts of magic bullets, this sort of one-stop shop-type of thing.

And, for sure, in my own experience, when I am eating very healthy, meaning I’m staying away from processed foods, I’m staying away from foods that are laden with sugar, processed stuff, they’ve pulled all the good nutrients out of it, you’re eating out of a box kind of thing, staying away from that stuff, eating as healthy as you can, and getting, for me, it’s about seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Those two things really trump just about everything, anything that I could do.

And the science really has shown us a lot, I think, over this many last, you know, especially this last 10 years or so, although the media will try to grab all these weird sorts of things to try to tell you differently, but there’s just no substitute for that, I think, for the physical body. And this fits into our mental and emotional wellbeing. The body and the mind work together. And so, if we haven’t taken care of the physical being, and we haven’t made sure that we’re well-rested, and made sure that we had plenty of sleep, we act real crabby.

Like, the examples I love to give is, and especially people who have kids really get this. It’s like if you have a baby, let’s say the baby is one and a half, one years old, they’re not really talking, they’re non-verbal, and they’re crying. I’ll ask people in a group, like, “Tell me what your checklist is. Like, what do you go through if your baby is crying? You’re starting to analyze why is the baby crying. You have a checklist in your mind.”

It’s really great because parents will say things like, “Well, are they hungry? Do they need their diaper changed? Do they need to sleep? Do they need a nap? Do they need to move around?” That’s the other one as far as the body is concerned is getting regular movement. And I point out to people, I’m like, “I don’t know why we made this weird jump that just because we had a little body, and then it became a big body, that we don’t still need those same sorts of basic things.” We need to have good food, we need to get good sleep, we need to be well-hydrated as far as taking care of the body.

So, I think that really is something. And I could go on all day about sleeping. But that is really one of, really, a significantly-overlooked part of our health. For all of the emphasis that we can put on exercise and all these other things, I think sleep is what I watch people really skip out on. And all you have to do is pay attention to how you feel after you’ve been sleep-deprived for about one or two days, and we’re just aren’t in our best space. We’re just not going to be. The body is really running on empty so we really have to keep that gas tank full, and I think those are two of the big ones.

And then the third, of course, that I’m a huge fan of is meditation and learning how to pay attention because I think that is really at the root. When we can keep working with the mind, which is kind of the mind is really all we have, when we can keep working with the mind and training the attention in a certain way and teaching it how to pay attention, then we’re more skillful, actually, at noticing when things are getting off for us, we’re more skillful at noticing, “Wow, I am feeling like I need a bit of a break here,” then we can take action on things a little bit more clearly, and we’re aware of how we’re relating to things, too. So, I think those are the big three.

Pete Mockaitis
And when you say meditation, what do you recommend people do to get that practice up and going?

Daphne Scott
Yeah, a few things. I will tell you Headspace is probably one. If you’re going to sort of go through the app route to learn, I am a huge fan of Headspace. Andy Puddicombe is the guy that put that together, and it’s such a great app. You can do 10 free sessions, and then there’s a nominal pay part to it that you can do. People can also access my meditations on InsightTimer. InsightTimer is a free application. And, actually, there are hundreds of meditations on there, and teachers too, and I have sort of an intro, a couple of intro meditations that people can do. But I think any of those are really good places for people to start so that they can sort of be guided through a process.

And then some people really like guided meditations and listen to them consistently. I kind of mix it up. I don’t do as much guided, I do a lot more just silent meditation. And I’d like to say a word, too, about one of the other forms of meditation that we probably need to talk about a little bit more. We talk about being seated and meditating a lot, that’s I think what most people imagine, right? But there’s walking meditations, and you can meditate and walk.

And I’ve even noticed in my own teachings when I work with people, I don’t talk about that probably as much as I could and probably should because learning how to sit, most of us are just not used to being still that long so that can take a little bit longer. Whereas, I find if people learn how to meditate and how to do a walking meditation, that can be just as beneficial. And so, you can use all these different postures, sitting, lying, walking, and be in those different positions, which I think is really good too. So, Headspace, a big fan, and my meditations are also on Insight Timer, too.

Pete Mockaitis
And if we’re doing a walking meditation, how does that go in practice?

Daphne Scott
Yeah, a couple of ways to do it. One, the way that I teach is, and the reason I like this is because it doesn’t take a lot. You don’t have to walk five miles to meditate. You can just do it in a space of about 20 feet long, which means that people can do it sort of in their office building or in their place of work too. But you find a stretch, about 20 feet or so, and the idea, the basic premise is that you’re putting your intention, and this is the basic premise of any meditation, but you’re putting your premise on what it is that’s really happening in that moment. And we really bring the attention to the feet, because you’re walking, and noticing what each step actually is like, and noticing that, like, “Oh, my right heel is touching the ground. My right toe is lifting. The bottom of my foot is touching the ground, and then my left leg is moving.”

And, really, bringing your attention to all of those moment-by-moment nuances as you’re just in this space of going from one side of the room, if you will, to the other side of the room, and then just simply turning and going back the other direction. And so, the idea is just bringing the attention and awareness to, “Oh, this is I’m stepping now, and this is the next step, and I’m doing that.” And so you’re using the walking and the stepping, and literally the foot making contact with the ground, as the anchor just like you might with the breath if you are using seated meditation.

Yeah, give it a shot. I think you’ll like it. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. If you haven’t done it before, it’s pretty cool. It’s a nice way to do it. And I think people really do enjoy it because you’re moving. I think people kind of can feel a little constrained when they’re sitting at first, and then do a combination of them, which is great. Yeah, it works pretty good.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. Well, Daphne, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Daphne Scott
No, I think that’s good. I think we got through the whole point.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Good. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Daphne Scott
I love the quote, it comes from Aristotle, but, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Yeah, I’m a really big fan of that quote, and I think because it brings me back to being mindful, it brings me back to being aware of how I’m organizing myself, how I’m moving through the world. And when I get on autopilot, I’m not paying attention, how I can be unskillful sometimes. So, yeah, I’m a big fan of that quote.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite study, or experiment, or bit of research?

Daphne Scott
Oh, my gosh. I’m going to cite, there’s two. I have two favorite research articles. I’m going to totally nerd out now. By the way, I was a physical therapist and did clinical research in my first career. But one of my favorite articles was an editorial that was written by a pretty popular physical therapist at the time, Tony Delitto. And he wrote this article, and it was basically titled such, “Stop Looking for the Magic Bullet.” And he was writing about treating low back dysfunction in the United States, and how people were just trying to find this one cure-all, like people will just take a pill and they’d be rid of all their back pain.

However, that article really shifted my awareness of life in general, of how much time I was spending trying to find that magic bullet. And it was really what we were just talking about, Pete, around, “I’ll finally be happy when…” “If only…” And that article, I think he wrote that, I mean, I want to say it was like 1998 or something. It might’ve been 2001, but that always stuck with me even though it was very clearly around back pain. It was very clearly around clinical science. The idea, the premise stuck with me for a really long time, even till now.

And then the other study was done by Killingsworth, and it was on looking at how people are relating to what they’re doing in the moment and if that really matters. The idea is that our minds wander all the time and does it really matter? Does it matter if we’re really present? Everybody tells us it matters, but how much does it matter? How much does it really impact our experience day to day?

And so, they did this amazing study where they did experience sampling and they had these over 2,000 subjects, and they give them, it was an app on their phone, and they sort of could interrupt them through the day, and say, “Hey, what are you doing? Are you thinking about what you’re doing? And how much are you enjoying what you’re doing right now?” And so, they just collected all these variables from these people, and what they found was pretty amazing, actually.

First of all, this might not surprise you but, of course, when people are doing something that they enjoyed and they were fully present with it, they really enjoyed it. Interestingly enough though, when they asked people, “Hey, what are you doing right now? Are you liking it?” people are like, “Not so much.” “But how engaged are you with it?” And they’d be like, “Fully engaged.” And they’d say, “How much enjoyment are you getting? People reported just as high of positive engagement as they did when they were doing something that they actually enjoyed.

And what they really found, and this I think really comes back to the premise of my book, is that it’s when people were fully present with what they were doing, it didn’t matter as much. The actual content of what they were doing wasn’t driving how much wellbeing they were having in the moment. It literally was how present they were to what was happening that was really impacting the outcome of their enjoyment, positive emotion, and feeling engaged with what they were doing.

So, I thought that that study was very, very telling about the importance of how present we are in our day-to-day actions and our day-to-day life basically even when we might be having a difficult conversation with someone. The more present we are to it, the more benefit we can get out of it. So, those are two of my favorite studies.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Daphne Scott
My favorite book, I would have to say, I’m going to cite this one, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Have you heard of this book or read this book?

Pete Mockaitis
I have not read this one, no.

Daphne Scott
Oh, my gosh, okay. So, it is some of the most beautiful writings by Dillard, Annie Dillard. Some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read in a book. She opens up with this description of this tomcat that she’s living in sort of this kind of wooded shack type of thing, and this tomcat that comes into her room, and she just gives this amazing description of what this animal is like.

What I really love about the book is she literally would just go and watch. She’d sit out on this rock or she’d go out into the woods and she’d sit there, and she would just watch the most simplest of things, like a bug crawling across the grass, or the way the light was changing with the sun, and she would just write about. She writes about it.

And, to me, the book is just so representative of what it is to be fully present and what it is to really notice the tiniest of things that we sort of don’t give much attention to in our day-to-day existence. So, it’s one of my favorite books. I’ve read it like four times. Yeah, it’s not a leadership book, right?

Pete Mockaitis
But, in a way, it is. And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be more awesome at your job?

Daphne Scott
Yeah, a favorite tool. I use for my project and task management, I use the app Asana, and I’m a huge fan of their approach. It’s a flexible enough system. I practice quite from a productivity standpoint, tasks management, mindfulness of my stuff, David Allen’s approach in Getting Things Done, and that app works really well because it’s flexible enough and lets you set things up that way. It has great project-sharing tools and they have an app on the phone where I keep track of things with my assistants, so I really, really like it. And that’s pretty much my go-to for sure outside of my fancy pen. So, I do have some fancy pens that I like.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, tell us what brands. What do we get?

Daphne Scott
Well, I have a Mont Blanc pen that I really, really love. It’s a fountain pen but it has a cartridge in it instead of having to old-school put ink in it, and it’s like my favorite. And it’s black and it has a red cap. So, Mont Blanc is if I’m going to use a fancy pen, I will use that pen, yes, yes.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite habit?

Daphne Scott
A favorite habit. Meditation for sure. And reading in the morning. My ritual in the morning is I wake up, I do get a cup of coffee, that’s my favorite thing, and then I read for about 30 minutes, and then I do my meditation for about 30 to 45 minutes every morning. So, that’s my ritual. Those are my favorite habits for sure.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular piece that you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you often?

Daphne Scott
Yes. I think there are two. The biggest one was a statement I said earlier which is you always have all the time that you need to do the things that you want to do. That really lands for people. And you’ll never have enough time to do the things you don’t want to do. So, that one really lands for people. And I think the other thing that really lands for people is when I really allow them the space to discover that nothing is permanent. That’s a game-changer.

And once they realize it, they’re really trying to strive to keep things the same, hold onto the good times, keep away the bad times, which, by the way, isn’t a horrible thing for us to be wired that way. But I think what really lands for people is when I’m really telling them and getting them to understand that they don’t have to worry about the good times staying around or the bad times staying around, that nothing is permanent. So, that seems to really resonate.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Daphne Scott
I would point them to, they can go to my website www.WakingUpALeader.com. That’s where they can find the book. And, of course, the book is also on Amazon. And then they can message me there, and I also have a 10-week online leadership course, too, that they might want to check out if they’re interested in getting some of those really key critical skills to leading and living your life that could be helpful.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Daphne Scott
Yeah, I think my challenge that I would love to give to folks today to be awesome at their jobs is sit down once a week, clean up that list, and take a look at that calendar. That would be the challenge. Sit down once a week 30 minutes and see what happens. Just give it a shot. Give it a try. Yeah, that’d be my challenge.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. Daphne, it’s been fun. Yeah, I wish you great luck when it comes to all the ways you’re waking up and making it happen.

Daphne Scott
Yeah, thanks, man. This is super fun. I really appreciate the conversation. Thanks for having me on the show.

527: How to Boost Energy through Greater Mental Clarity with Chris Baréz-Brown

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Chris Barez-Brown says: "You'll be amazed where your brain can take you."

Chris Baréz-Brown shares high-impact approaches to boost your energy for more fulfilling workdays.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The surprising root of our energy problem
  2. The tiny change that massively boosts productivity
  3. A powerful way to lower stress and find clarity

About Chris:

Author and global event speaker, Chris has over 25 year’s experience in coaching, and counts multi-nationals such as ITV and Sky amongst the clients he’s helped transform their business, from a personal level up. He has interviewed senior business leaders including Apple’s Steve Wozniak and regularly coaches on leadership style at global events like Leadercast.

Chris recently created a new social enterprise programmed called Talk It Out, which has been proven to help reduce stress levels and increase self-awareness.

Resources mentioned in the show:

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Chris Barez-Brown Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Chris, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Chris Barez-Brown
Hey, it’s absolutely a pleasure to be here, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I am so intrigued. You have taken the bold step of naming your business Upping Your Elvis. Please explain.

Chris Barez-Brown
Yeah, usually it raises an eyebrow or two to that. So, the name was actually inspired by Bono. So, when he was doing his third-world debt campaign, he used to want to go in organizations and work with and play really fast. So, he used to ask what I think is a great question, he just asks people, “So, who’s Elvis around here?” Now, if you ask that question, people are going to always answer it because what you’re really asking is, “Who here is a bit of brown, a bit of a maverick, they get stuff done, they got loads of energy about them?” And they love every minute of it. Now, I fundamentally believe that business needs more Elvis now than ever, and I know that we’ve all got a bit more of Elvis to bring. So, that’s what we do.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, certainly. Well, energy, I mean, hey, I’m all about having more of that. Can you paint a picture for us, what’s sort of the current state when it comes to energy levels in the workplace? And, yeah, what’s to be done about it?

Chris Barez-Brown
Well, I think the biggest problem is that we’re just not designed for business, and business is not designed for us. So, if you think about the way that we’re programmed, yeah, we’re designed 50,000 years to be hunter-gatherers on the Savannah and, therefore, we’ve got quite interesting programming as far as our brain is concerned, the way we react to stuff.

The business world in which we live right now is changing so quickly and it’s very hard to keep up with the dynamism of what’s going on when we are 50,000 years old. And, therefore, we have a few problems, like we don’t like change, we can’t focus for more than 90 to 120 minutes a day deeply. We’re not actually designed to sit down. We’re designed to move.

A lot of our design is making sure we have habitual patterns and routines we do every single day. And if things are changing fast, we’ve got problems. So, I think we’ve got some work to be done on our energy because we’re just not dealing with the way the business is speeding up.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, understood. Well, so then maybe to paint a picture in terms of what’s really possible for us, could you maybe share a tale of someone who wasn’t feeling it so much, they didn’t have a whole lot of energy, but then made some changes and has been enjoying the fruits of those labors?

Chris Barez-Brown
Yeah, so I was working in Basille last summer and a guy came up to me, and he said, “Chris, you’ve changed my life.” And I’m like, “Good. That’s a wonderful thing to hear, but can you give me some details?” And, basically, I haven’t seen him for three years. And when I was working with him, I shared how I manage my time and he had basically taken the principle of that and applied it to his.

It tells the story that basically he works in drug development, which is obviously quite a big job, it’s very complex, lots of moving parts. But what he did was he just stepped back from it and realized there’s two main things that he does. The first thing that he does is he spends lots of time doing deep thinking, and it’s all creative, it’s analytical, it’s looking at lots of data and working out what the answers are. And it’s quite cerebral stuff.

The second thing that he does is he runs lots of things internationally. Now, what he was doing before he met me was mixing those two functions up throughout the day, but actually they need two quite different energies and quite different approaches. So, what he now does is he walks the dog first thing in the morning, and I think this is a key thing for us all to do. Go outside, spend some time in nature thinking about, “What is your big thing you need to deliver that day?” Because if you don’t work that out when you wake, it ain’t going to happen. So, that’s the first he does.

The second thing he then does is he spends the morning at home doing that deep work, the thinking analyses, all of that great stuff, and then he goes into the office and he spends the rest of the day doing things. He reckons he is 500% more productive as a result of it and a lot happier because he’s not scrapping around so much trying to make different energies meet when it’s almost an impossible task. So, that’s a simple example of how a very easy behavioral practice can change the way we work.

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing. And so then, what do you think are the key reasons behind why these little changes make all the difference? Five hundred percent, I mean, that is substantial.

Chris Barez-Brown
That is substantial. Well, it’s all about really having great awareness of what makes us tick and how we function. And, actually, with awareness, it comes in very, very simple things, but we do them every day all the time. And the fact that they are things that we do repetitively, such as have meetings, learn and get feedback, think creatively about stuff. It’s stuff we’re doing on a daily basis. If we get just 10% better at doing those, there’s always an exponential impact over a whole year. So, I’m a massive believer in little things that you do every day that make a difference rather than the big, tricky, complicated things that actually a lot of the big change programs are focused on over the years.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, I’m with you there. And I’m intrigued by one of the little changes you’ve been exploring lately. You’ve got a Talk It Out program. Please explain. What is this all about?

Chris Barez-Brown
Yes. So, Talk It Out is a creative exercise that I first wrote about in my first book in 2005. And we’ve taught it to thousands of people and it’s great for getting insights and ideas. So, basically what you do is you grab a buddy and you go for a walk, and one of you just talks flat out about whatever it is that you’re trying to work on while the other person just listens. Now, if you do that fast enough and long enough you run out of conscious story and then you start to get into your subconscious. So, it’s great for an unearthing more of your creative genius.

Now, we’ve done that many times for ideas and creativity, but time after time people are coming back and saying, “I’ve got great insights, I’ve got great ideas, I’ve got more clarity. But you know what, I just feel better.” So, we’ve realized there was potentially some therapeutic benefits to this so we’ve researched it with the University of Bristol, and it turns out, to no surprise, it reduces anxiety, it increases happiness, and as a lot of people described, it just feels as if a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.

So, the way that we’ve been thinking about it with the University of Bristol is we’re great at looking after our bodies with exercise and nutrition. This is a very simple thing you can do for your mind to make sure that, with all the complexity and demands on our attention, we just get the focus of the right stuff, and we give ourselves a chance just to breathe a bit more.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, certainly, that sounds great and that’s really intriguing. So, you say after the first few minutes. Explain. We sort of drain the conscious stuff, and then we’re into new territory. How does that work exactly?

Chris Barez-Brown
Yeah. So, if anyone says to you, “So, how’s life?” you will tell them the conscious story, and it’s a story you would tell your family, your friends, it’s, “Oh, work is okay. It’s a bit busy, dah, dah, dah. The house is fine. It’s great to see the kids. Boom, boom, boom.” It’s that kind of conscious story. Now, as long as you’re telling that story, you are stuck in that 5% to 10% of your conscious brain.

Now, we know that there’s so much processing that’s going on in our subconscious. Actually, if you want to tap into what really makes you tick, tapping into that subconscious is the way forward because there’s a lot of stuff that’s going there that’s beneath the surface, that it often takes the way we think and the way that we feel without us being aware of it. So, if we can flush that out, we will start to understand what’s really going on for us, and rarely is it the conscious story. It’s usually some stuff that’s a bit surprising, it’s hidden away.

By bringing it into consciousness and by bringing it into the light and talking about it with somebody else, we can look at it in the cold light of day and then deal with it, and say, “Well, is this something that I want more of in my life, the less of in my life? Is this something I need to fix? Is it something that I just need to live with?” But if you leave it just in the subconscious, you’ll never know. You’re just often walking around, going, “There’s something bothering me but I don’t know why?”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, understood. And so then, that’s intriguing because you have that dedicated time. And you recommend a specific amount of time. How much is it?

Chris Barez-Brown
I do. So, the whole process, we pack away in an hour, but you do 20 minutes each way and, obviously, there’s little setup beforehand, and then after 20 minutes you just need to land where you’ve got to, and then you swap over, you go the other way. And the beauty of it is, if you do it with a buddy, you both get a chance and, therefore, there’s a real connectivity that comes from that.

And one of the biggest issues we’re going to be facing over this planet over the next 20, 30 years is actually loneliness. And loneliness has a massive impact on our wellbeing. And what we hear time and time again from people doing Talk It Out is, “Yes, I feel better. My anxiety has dropped. I’ve got more clarity but I also then feel so alone.” And that’s the beauty of, therefore, doing it in a partnership.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, so then, let’s hear it. So, we got 20 minutes of each side, and then some setup. And so then, how does it go down? Is it just sort of like, “Okay, you talk, Chris,” and then away you go or are there some prompts, some structure? How does it go down?

Chris Barez-Brown
Well, so we’ve got some digital stuff that people can access online for free just to teach them how to do this because this is a charitable arm so we’re trying to get this out to as many people as we can. So, it’s all structured. If people want to check it out, you can find out on TalkItOut.org or Upping Your Elvis, there’s information about it. It’ll just give you a little setup.

So, if you haven’t done this before, it’s good to just get a warm up in. If I’m facilitating a session, I’ll often get a pair just to go for a quick one-minute walk in either direction and just rant about something just to get used to walking and talking. You then come back and then at that point, you set them off and you’re taking turns, say, “Whoever wants to go first, rants.” They can talk about any aspects of their life.

The key thing is it’s something that is on their mind. It might be health, it could be relationships, it could be work, but the key thing is they shouldn’t be filtered. They’re just talking flat out and as honest as possible, and actually with a bit of pace because you don’t want to talk too slowly or you don’t run out of conscious story. So, that’s the brief, it’s as simple as that.

Now, their buddy, their brief is great because all they’re listening for is changes in energy. So, if the person talking slows down, speeds up, gets stuck, starts swearing, those are the things that are interesting. So, we pick up on those energetic changes really well. We’re not listening to everything that’s said, we’re just looking for the energy changes. And those are the things that give us a clue that they said something interesting because that’s how the subconscious talks to us.

So, when you stopped after 20 minutes, your buddy just goes, “Hey, here’s a few things I noticed,” and they just play it back. They’re not advising you, they’re not coaching you, they’re not telling you what to do, they’re just saying, “Look, I just thought these may be interesting.” And then you have a chance to land it. And, invariably, when people land it, they’ve definitely got more clarity.

If you rant for 20 minutes about your life, you will get more clarity. A lot of people get some key insights into things that are holding them down and actually blocking their energy. And a lot of people come away just going, “You know what, I’ve got some actions from that. This is what I’m going to be doing differently from today,” which I think is a pretty productive use of 20 minutes.

Pete Mockaitis
Now, when you say land it, what precisely do you mean there?

Chris Barez-Brown
Well, the challenge with doing any subconscious exercise, and actually the same could be said of dreaming, we often wake up in the morning, we’ve got this dream in our heads, and we go, “Wow, that’s amazing. I have to tell my friends at work.” We go to work and we can’t remember anything because, actually, when you’re in the subconscious, by definition, that’s not part of your conscious activity.

So, what you need to do when you’ve gone through this rant is make it conscious. So, you, therefore, need to listen to your buddy, what insights they’ve had from your rant, and then you’ve got a chance just to articulate where you’ve got to, “So, after just doing this exercise, what I’ve realized is this, or what I’d like to pay attention to is this. This is the headlines of my output.”

And, actually, by articulating that, it helps you access it, sorry, plumb it, write it into your memory so you’ve got something you can work with into the future. So, it’s as simple as that. It’s just a simple way to make sure you are using the insight that you’ve got.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, when you say you can talk about anything just so long it’s something on your mind and you are talking completely honestly, so then I guess I’m curious, have you started to notice some themes in terms of…? Because it’s kind of unique, frankly, to have the opportunity to rant about something for 20 minutes without interruption.

Chris Barez-Brown
Sure. Yeah, it is.

Pete Mockaitis
So, I can how there’s some therapeutic benefit to that. So, when people are handed this opportunity, what do you find are some key themes that get talked about and maybe are suggestive of we need more opportunity and environment to be able to discuss these things more frequently?

Chris Barez-Brown
Well, there are the classics that come out. So, being overly busy and not really living life as much as people want to, not tapping into their passions, people still talk about work-life balance quite a lot. There’s a fair amount of people who are looking for more meaning in their life, which is an ever-present one as it should be.

Most people just tend to find there are certain elements in their life that need a bit of order. We have a lump of people that come around going, talk to me saying, “Hey, I’ve got a problem with a relationship,” and it’s very top of mind, and they get straight into it, and they find that that works. Interestingly, a lot of people go and say, “Well, I just talk about life.” They don’t know what their issue is they want to crack, but the subconscious will help them get there.

So, as they talk, it changes topic to topic to topic until they find the thing that’s got some energy and then they go deep. So, it’s interesting the way the brain works, right? It kind of finds the true blockages and the true things that hold us back if you let it off to lead long enough.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, understood. Well, so then, I’m curious, if we don’t have Chris and company facilitating these sessions, how do you recommend we get started in enjoying some of these benefits on our own?

Chris Barez-Brown
Sure. Well, I would check out the digital support that we’ve got on the website, so Upping Your Elvis or TalkItOut.org. It’s got everything there. It’s got instruction videos, it’s got a little step-by-step guide, but it’s incredibly easy. There’s lots of things I’ve taught in my life that needs manuals and training and practice, this is not one of them.

We are all brilliant at walking. And guess what? We can talk while we walk. In fact, most of us talk much better while we walk because we process kinesthetically. There’s a great research study by Stanford that shows that when we walk in our natural gait, our creative spikes by up to 60%, 6-0 percent, and that’s because we are accessing our subconscious.

So, we’ll often find, when we’re walking, we just get more clarity and more things come out, so there’s not a great deal to it. The important thing is, and this is the golden rule, whilst you’re talking and your buddy is listening, your buddy just listens. That is the golden rule. As long as people are doing that, it’s good. If they start chipping in and having a conversation, which is really tempting, you’ll not going to get the depth and it’s just chat. So, beyond that there’s very little you can get wrong. Just have some fun with it and you’ll be amazed where your brain can take you.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, so that seems like a powerful approach to boosting energy certainly. What would you say, in all of your research and experience and working with clients, etc., are some of the other really big high-leverage activities you’d recommend folks engage in to boost that energy?

Chris Barez-Brown
That’s a great question. We just spent the last year doing what we call energy experiments where we will do ourselves what we hope what our clients will do. And we’ve done everything from using different kind of strategies for sleep, fasting, some fitness stuff, digital detoxes. And, interestingly, there are some of those that just resonate more than others, one of which is a morning routine.

And morning routines, I don’t know what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years, but I had no idea of the power of a morning routine. And yet the more I research it, the more I realize all my heroes and heroines were already doing it just quietly but the secret is now out. So, my belief of why this is so important is when you wake up, it is the one time of the day that you own. Now, that is the moment that actually is, as long as you stay away from your phone and you don’t look at anything digital, you have a chance to get your energy right.

So, we’ve been doing some experiments with some very simple things as part of a morning routine, one of which you’ve got to hydrate when you wake up. So, we wake up very dehydrated, so drink a pint of water with some sea salt in it, high-quality sea salt because you need the electrolytes to take it on, and you should do that on waking.

Keep away from everything digital, get your heartrate up, just a little bit of exercise, and then I think sitting outside, as I mentioned with the guy walking the dog, and just getting clear on what your big thing is, is just an invaluable thing to do because you know autopilot is going to kick in, you know you’re going to get caught up in busyness. But if you get that direction right first thing in the morning, at least when it does, you’ve got a chance and you’ll succeed and achieve something useful.

So, that is one I absolutely love and that’s where we get uniform feedback that that is super useful. But a personal passion of mine, and I’m going off of one slightly, is cold water immersion. I don’t know if you’re into that, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’ve heard of it, and I’ve seen it. Tell us more.

Chris Barez-Brown
So, I go into it through Wim Hof, the Dutch guy is known as Iceman a few years ago, and I live by the sea so cold water is not hard in Britain. But the benefits of getting into the sea, especially around December, like it is now, just seems to be fantastic at doing all sorts of things for you. Very, very good for you physically, very good for you also mentally, I find. It tends to clear things out, makes you incredibly present, but it’s an extreme one, Pete. So, I’m not going around making my clients do that. It’s one that I personally really enjoy. If I start the day with a jump in the sea, I know I’m going to be fizzing.

Pete Mockaitis
Hotdog. And, now, so I guess I’m thinking about motherly wisdom, “Oh, don’t get super cold. You’ll get sick.” That does not happen to you?

Chris Barez-Brown
Well, no. I mean, it’s actually good for your immune system. So, by exposing yourself to cold, chances are you’ll get less sick. I know lots of people that do it every single day of the year, that it’s almost a religion to them, and they are the fittest people I know. You rarely see them with a cold, you rarely see them run down. So, no, I think quite the contrary.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Understood. Well, so we’ve got a few of them, a few of those approaches, so we got the morning piece, we got the hydration, we got perhaps a dip. Once the morning has passed, so what are some of your top recommendations for keeping energy flowing the rest of the day?

Chris Barez-Brown
Sure. So, there’s a couple of, I think, ignored moments. Well, one is lunchtime. It’s amazing how many people work through their lunch and they don’t take a break. Our lunchbreak is the equivalent of five weeks holiday a year, and yet people just keep working through it. And five weeks holiday, I think, most people would really relish so we should take that. And it’s important because it’ll help us reenergize but, actually, we can use that time really well for us. We can do stuff that fill us. So, we can learn something, we can connect with people, and give ourselves a boost again for the afternoon.

Personally, a little bit of exercise is great at lunchtime. So, using the lunch also to reflect on the morning and then set an intention for the afternoon, I think, is a very clear thing to do. I’m also, and I have to confess, Pete, I’m a cheeky napper, right?

Pete Mockaitis
Cheeky?

Chris Barez-Brown
Yeah, I sneak off and have a little sleep when I can in the afternoon. And what I learned from Nick Littlehales, a sleep coach, is that we’re not designed to be monophasic in sleeping. So, this whole idea of having eight and a half hours every night in one big block is not the way we’re designed. We’re actually designed to be polyphasic, i.e., we’re going to sleep more than once in a day. And, therefore, if you feel as if you need a little top-up, a little nap during the day is actually what our body often craves.

So, I’m a big fan of actually going away, just having a little quiet time just to refuel. In fact, I had one just about an hour and a half ago. And I’ve been working about 11 hours flat out, I’ve been up very early this morning, had lots of stuff to do, and I just need a little boost before I talk to you. So, a little nap and here I am.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes. Well, thank you and you sound great, and energetic, and more. Well, tell me, Chris, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Chris Barez-Brown
Anything else I want to mention. Well, I think, as I said at the beginning, the whole game here around energy is threefold. Number one, it’s about awareness. We need to understand what makes us tick, and actually learning the way our biorhythms are like, and when we have our peaks and when we have our dips, and what we can do to play with those, I think, is really, really important.

I think, then, understanding how that’s kind of deployed on a daily basis to make sure that the leakages don’t happen through excessive meetings, through spending far too much time in the weeds, answering emails, all those things, is key to our success. So, awareness and topping up, that’s one and two really important, but the deployment is the thing that, I think, makes all the difference because it’s so easy these days to just wake up and be buffeted by demands. And learning how to manage things so you’re working on your agenda is the key.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, now, can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Chris Barez-Brown
I suppose one of my favorites is, “Not everything that counts can be counted.”

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you.

Chris Barez-Brown
I like that one. I like that one because, in my business, I’m sure you come across the same thing, it’s all about ROI. Everything is about the number. It’s all about the money. And yet the stuff that makes people tick in organizations is the stuff that you can’t count. It’s about joy. It’s about love. It’s about the stuff that brings people to work to do extraordinary things. There’s nothing to do with our salary. And I find that in every walk of life, not just in work but in homes and in life. And I think we need to remember sometimes, not everything is about spreadsheet.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite study, or experiment, or bit of research?

Chris Barez-Brown
I presume you’ve read Lost Connections, the Johann Hari book. There’s so many studies in there. And I know that the book is all about depression and anxiety, and how you can find hope, but I just think it’s like a manifesto for living. It’s got so much stuff in there that basically can help us have an insight and to have every day work for us.

And there’s one piece of research in there that just pretty much slayed me. If you are intensely lonely, the impact on your body as far as cortisol and adrenaline, is the equivalent or more of being hit in the face by a stranger. And when you hear facts like that, and you start to think, “Well, what are we doing to help people get that connection?” I think that takes me to quite profound places and it makes me think that actually we need to do much better work on this planet and within organizations to get them to hook up on stuff with meaning.

So, that was one that certainly had a big impact on me.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Chris Barez-Brown
One of my favorite tools, and this isn’t directly for my job, is my guitar. It’s not that I go on stage and play it, that’s certainly not what I would make everyone do. But I travel quite a lot, and what I find is that 20 minutes of playing my guitar in my hotel room is the best way for me to get my energy back. It takes me to a different place, it de-stresses me, there’s a creative output, and, therefore, it helps me get in the right place to do the work the next day. So, I would say my favorite tool is my guitar.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And how about a favorite habit?

Chris Barez-Brown
I would say being outside with my dogs is my favorite habit. So, I’ve been out with them three times a day. Each time I have gone out with a headful of stuff. Each time I’ve come back with it nice and clear again. And walking in nature, playing with dogs who love you beyond your worth, and just remembering the simple things in life, I think, is incredibly grounding.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you often?

Chris Barez-Brown
I suppose the one thing that seems to connect with everybody, that they sometimes forget, is that a third of our days on this planet are work days. And if we’re not loving every minute of it, it’s a terrible waste of life. And I think sometimes people forget the joy and the playfulness of the work that they do, and it becomes way too serious. And, often, when people connect to that statistic, they go, “Oh, fair point. Fair point. Am I making sure I’m properly living my life through my work? Or is it just a way of paying the bills?”

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Chris Barez-Brown
Yeah, come to the website UppingYourElvis.com or Barez-Brown.com got all the information on there. And if anyone wants to play with us on Talk It Out, and help us get out into the world, we’re doing it all for free. We just can’t do it on our own. So, any partners who want to play, we are here with open arms.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Chris Barez-Brown
You know, I think the key thing is that when you get your energy right, which you do through morning routines and looking after yourself and clearing your diary and making sure you’re working on the right stuff, I think it’s then incumbent upon us all to be more kind. So, my challenge would be, once a day, grab somebody in your life, and just tell them what you love about them. And I think what you’ll find, if you do that, you’ll get so many benefits.

Number one, your relationship with that person will get better. Number two, it’s karmic so you will find that you will get a little bit of love back, which we all need. Number three, what you’ll start to find is that you’ll program your selective attention to see just more good. And I think that’s a great personal benefit and you’re doing that will make the world a bit better. So, find one person per day in your life, it could be a work colleague, it could be a family, your friend, say to them what you love about them, and your day will be that much more shiny.

Pete Mockaitis
Chris, thank you for sharing the good word. And good luck in all the ways you’re upping your Elvis.

Chris Barez-Brown
It’s a pleasure. Thanks for having me on, Pete. It’s been a real joy.

523: How to Create Lasting Behavioral Change with Dr. Kyra Bobinet

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Dr. Kyra Bobinet says: "Mindlessness is the new mindfulness."

Dr. Kyra Bobinet explains how to close the gap between intention and behavior to form better, lasting habits.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Powerful behaviors that build life-changing habits
  2. Just how long it takes to form a habit
  3. Quick ways to ease stress and anxiety at work

About Kyra:

When it comes to health engagement, Dr. Bobinet has 5 words of advice: be caring, authentic, and useful. As the CEO-founder of engagedIN, Kyra devotes her life to helping people crack the code of how, what, and especially, WHY we engage.

Kyra has founded several healthcare start-ups, spanning behavior health, population health, and mobile health. She has designed behavior change programs, big data algorithms, billion dollar products, mobile health apps, and evidence-based studies in mind-body and metabolic medicine. All of her designs, whether for at-risk teens or seniors, are rooted in the belief that true caring is our greatest value.

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Dr. Kyra Bobinet Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Kyra, thanks for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Kyra Bobinet
Absolutely. So much fun.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m excited to dig into your wisdom because you’ve spent a lot of time studying something that I’ve wondered a lot for quite a while, and, apparently, it’s called the brain behavior gap. Can you first tell us what is that?

Kyra Bobinet
Yes, sir. So, everybody will recognize it as, “I know what I should do but I don’t always do it.” And that’s the difference between what you know what you should do, your brain, and what you actually do, which is your behavior. And it’s kind of this fun, humorous aspect of being a human that we all face this issue in trying to get ourselves to do things that we don’t end up doing.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, I have wrestled with this question ever since I remember in high school marching band, and toward the end of the summer, we had what we called band camp, which the movie American Pie has ruined the idea of band camp for people. But, anyway, we’d spend just about eight plus hours a day, Monday through Friday, for a couple of weeks just working on the marching and the playing, and I thought, “Man, we made a huge amount of progress in terms of putting that show together,” and I think, “Boy, what can I accomplish if I could just hunker down and work that much solo on something?” And I still don’t I’ve cracked the code on how to actually do that.

Kyra Bobinet
Oh, dear, yeah. It’s such an interesting thing to listen to people’s stories of trying to sequester themselves there. It’s almost like a runaway dog running away, your puppy, it’s like, “Come back, come back,” so it’s really crazy.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. Well, so tell us, what makes it difficult and what should be done?

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah. So, the reason why this happens is we have, basically, two gears you can think of it in our brain. One is our fast brain I like to call it. It equates to Daniel Kahneman’s work on System 1 thinking. All the autopilot, all of the mindlessness, all of the stuff that happens by habit and without thought, that’s kind of fast brain. Think of tying your shoes, brushing your teeth, yadda, yadda. And then there’s this slow brain which is the sort of ideals, the problem-solving, the hard kind of mechanics, and decision-making, and willpower, and all that juicy stuff, but that’s in short supply. So, if you were to take a ratio, the fast brain is like 95% of what we do, and the slow brain is about 5% of what we do.

And so, oftentimes, the slow brain gets its ass kicked by the fast brain, and we’re just doing the normal distraction things or the things that feel good right now, the immediate gratification, and the slow brain just doesn’t have a chance. So, everything that we deal with as behavior designers, and that I’ve learned to do with behavior change, is to work with those two gears and get them to align.

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing. And so, I guess I’d love to hear maybe a story associated with someone who had something they knew they should do but weren’t doing it, and then they enacted some approaches to see some cool results there.

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah, absolutely. The general principle that people can take away is make the good stuff faster and make the bad stuff slower. So, one of the amazing stories came out of Google where they had an M&M problem, and they offer a lot of free food, and there’s even jokes here in Silicon Valley about the Facebook 15, or the Google 15, almost like in college when you gain 15 pounds because you have so much free food and just endless trough of food.

So, they were having this problem with M&Ms, and they decided that they had to create some barriers, some friction, if you will. And so, they took them from eye-level bowls that were open with a big scooper, and they put them in jars, closed them up, and put them down by your knee caps. You had to kind of squat down, which a lot of people weren’t willing to do, and then monkey open the jar, and get in there, and then they had like a little tiny scooper.

And so, that’s one example of kind of putting friction in between you and the autopilot that will probably not serve you. So, whether that is the snooze alarm, some people have a real problem with hitting snooze. And so, how do you create that friction for yourself to not hit snooze? Do you move the phone away, your alarm with your phone on it, away from you further? Those kinds of things. And people, once they understand how this works, they get really creative. It’s just amazing to me.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I love that on so many levels. When you said M&M problem, I was thinking of the rapper, I thought, “Are they playing Eminem too loudly? Oh, no, no, the chocolatey treats that are high-calorie. I can see it.”

Kyra Bobinet
He’s brilliant. He’s absolutely brilliant.

Pete Mockaitis
No, I think that’s quite brilliant in terms of making them hard to access. And I’ve done that before in terms of if I’ve got a six pack of delicious beer and I want to drink it more slowly, I just try to really put it deep in the back of the fridge so I have to be pretty motivated and committed to kneel down and reach through and make it happen. And, sure enough, it makes the six pack last more days.

Kyra Bobinet
Exactly. Out of sight, out of mind.

Pete Mockaitis
So, that’s great and very well-articulated to make the good stuff faster and the bad stuff slower. So, that’s reshaping the environment. And I’d love it if you could give us a few more examples of some smart moves that have helped people out.

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah, absolutely. There’s this concept called The Ulysses Contract, and this is from a colleague of mine, David Eagleman, who’s a neuroscientist at Stanford. And he actually talks about this with respect to getting yourself to do the thing. The Ulysses story is very famous in The Odyssey, where he, basically, is on a ship and he really wants to hear the siren sound so he has his sailors lash him to the mast of the ship so that he doesn’t jump overboard which is what the sirens make you do, and then he stuffs all of the men, the sailors, with wax in their ears, or cotton, I can’t remember, and so they can’t hear the siren sounds. They’re navigating the ship and he’s able to enjoy the music without that.

So, what Dr. Eagleman talks about is, “How can you put yourself in a situation where you absolutely have to do the thing?” So, oftentimes, when people purchase something, a cruise or a trip maybe that makes them take vacation because they’re really bad at taking vacations or taking time off. Daddy-daughter dates, even date nights with your spouse, those kinds of things are kind of these Ulysses contracts. They’re things that, once you commit to them, you put so much into it that you have a disincentive to bail out, in that way you kind of prevent your future self from making the wrong choice.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m thinking if we zoom into workplaces and professionals, how have you seen some additional approaches play out in that particular context? So, we’re at work, we want to do more of the good stuff, less the bad stuff. What have you seen work out well for folks?

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah, absolutely. So, all of us have had this what we’ll call phantom invites that we put on our calendar, right? I call that behavior fantasy, where you have a standing promise to yourself in the future and you just shoot right through it. It’s just so many times you break up with that promise with yourself so that it doesn’t actually even get your attention anymore. All of us have that, whether we put workouts there, or go to sleep early, or only work on the report until here, or even start, like procrastinators like myself, starting something is the hardest thing to get yourself to do.

So, you’re kind of wrangling yourself into that. There’s a number of different strategies, so you can actually create social accountability, which is kind of a consequence. If I tell somebody to hold me accountable, I set a deadline for that person then there’s a social element, and our brains are extremely social so we will, most times than not, get that done or get close to that deadline that we set for another person because we’re obligating ourselves, again, in the future in that kind of Ulysses contract way.

Another thing that people do is create a reward system for themselves. So, that could be an emotional reward, that could be giving themselves a treat of some kind. Hopefully, it’s not going to work against your health in any way. But if there’s something you’ve been really wanting to do, a freedom, a delight, just a little celebration that you want to send that signal of dopamine and even oxytocin, which is another reward chemical, to your brain by really making it a point to celebrate and create a reward system at the end, much like you would train an animal.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, please, share some examples of great rewards and celebrations. And we had BJ Fogg on the show earlier who had some great perspectives on this, and I think it warrants some elaboration. So, we want to be careful that it doesn’t sort of work against other goals, like, “Oh, it’s going to be a delicious Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup,” or something, I don’t know, with high calories. But what are some great rewards and celebrations you’ve seen really work for some folks?

Kyra Bobinet
Yes. So, the best ones are in context, meaning that they’re related to the actual effort itself. So, if you are trying to get something out on a deadline, then to basically build in a lazy day for yourself the next day. And in most cases, and in most workspaces, you can kind of take it back a notch for a little while and go for a long walk, or take a little extra time, or even do something different on your break if you have a really rigid break system timing-wise.

So, those kinds of things where you feel like you’re free, and you’re in control, and you’re the boss of yourself, and you’re not really tying yourself to the dutifulness which so much of us do at work, as being dutiful to others or to your team, and, really, just doing something nice for yourself. And I think it’s the hardest thing in the world for people to do to really have a moment of selfishness that really helps to signal to themselves, “Hey, I’m here for you and I’m taking care of you.”

And that, really, I find in all the people that I interview in research, they really stop rebelling against themselves when they have those little treats that they give themselves.

Pete Mockaitis
I like that. Well, so we talked a bit about behavior change and shaping the environment. Let’s talk about, specifically, habit formation. You talked a bit about the celebration-rewards piece. Could you maybe orient us to the overall science behind habit formation?

Kyra Bobinet
Yes. So, this is super fascinating. I started out in workplace stress reduction in one of the programs that I created. I created a mindfulness program that was kind of the first in class when I was at Aetna and has since kind of been taken up by Headspace and Calm and some of these apps. So, those are all really great and I’m still a proponent of mindfulness. But I find that unless I can make something as mindless as tying your shoe, it’s not going to survive your modern life.

So, we have a new model we need to really follow of behavior change, which is habit formation, vis-à-vis unstoppability, being unstoppable, being the ability to just keep going and going and going. And one of the things I found in my research on habit science is that there’s a new area of our brain that’s been characterized called the habenula, and that’s a mouthful. But it’s, basically, in charge of two things. One, it is a detector of you thinking you failed. So, if you think you failed, I could throw you in an FMRI machine and this part of your brain will light up, right?

So, the second thing that it does, if it lights up, if it gets turned on like that, is it kills your motivation to try again. And this, to me, was shocking and kind of the reason why you see people do really, really well in terms of changing their behaviors, they set goals, they track them, they do all these things, and then, one day, including this happened to myself, including one day you just stop doing it. And I had patients like this, and I would say, “So, what happened?” And they would literally blink and look at me blankly and say, “I have no idea.” They don’t know how they go there because it happened subconsciously so the person doesn’t even consciously know that they lost their motivation. They just don’t do it.

And so, one of the things with habit formation is that if you practice, and if you practice and practice, you’ll find something that you can get to go. You can close that brain behavior gap, get yourself to practice, and practice, and practice. And as the brain responds to that repetition, what it does is it creates almost like a highway. It lays down the asphalt so that you can drive even faster. So, that behavior goes faster and faster and faster, and it becomes part of your fast brain, that autopilot mindlessness area that we talked about at the beginning. So, that, to me, was just amazing and shocking, and so it completely changed the paradigm of how to change a behavior.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. And I think there are all sorts of implications there, the habenula, you’re thinking you failed so it kills your motivation to try again. I guess I’m imagining then, one implication may be that you want to maybe reduce the size of the thing you’re trying to habituate so that you don’t fail, you keep on winning again and again and again, and building that highway. Is that accurate?

Kyra Bobinet
You know, that’s the safest thing, and I know BJ, who’s one of my mentors, is really into making it small. I do think that you can really get a higher percentage of shots on goal if you start with small. But I’ve seen people start out with something big if it works for them. To me, the thing I’m drawing from the science these days is what matters most is if you find the thing that turns you on, and that works for you, that fits into your life, no matter how big or small it is, usually it is small especially with somebody who’s a little shaky in their confidence in that particular area, which is what BJ is really good at. It’s just like getting that wheel to turn in people, and simplifying it, and making it tiny. He calls his program Tiny Habits even.

So, I do believe that that’s a really good kindergarten place for everybody to start safely, but I also noticed in my own research that the more important thing that we found is something called the iterative mindset, that we’re calling the iterative mindset, because we found people who changed their habits, big habits, big lifestyle habits against all odds, but they did it by finding their experiment, by looking at it as an experiment, and then iterating or tweaking and tinkering with it until it worked for them. So, maybe you can kind of see that as a small change too.

Pete Mockaitis
Understood. Well, and while we’re talking about laying the highway, I guess maybe I’ve seen all kinds of different ranges quoted in different places. But how long does it take to form a habit? Is it 28 days? Is it 66 days? Does it depend, and what does it depend on? Can you lay it down for us?

Kyra Bobinet
Well, Pete, I just so happen to be nerdy enough to know the answer to that.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, please.

Kyra Bobinet
Actually, you know, about four years ago, I asked myself that same question, and I had my neuroscience team really, really scrub the scientific literature and put together a model based on the evidence that was there. So, actually, it takes one full year to fully, what’s called myelinate, which is that pavement in the brain that makes it superfast, electrical signal can go way faster, for a new habit to form, and that’s with fairly, daily, if not multiple times a week, repetition of that habit.

And so, what happens when you have a highway after about a year is that you’ve got now two copies of the same behavior. You have the old copy of, in my case, I used to go through the drive-thru all the time as just an easy way to get a meal, and as I broke that habit, my competing habit, my adult one-year old habit, was to cook at home for my kids. And once you have that cook-at-home thing, you can still go through the drive-thru, you still have that old highway. And most people don’t understand it. It’s not that they’re not patient about building the new highway, it’s that they make the mistake thinking the old highway is in disrepair.

Pete Mockaitis
So, a full year. Interesting. And so then, I imagine that’s like a full-blown highway and myelination is there. Kind of intermediate step before that or how do you think about that?

Kyra Bobinet
Right, there’s hope. There’s hope, Pete. Yeah, so what we know from the science is that around eight to ten weeks there is this kind of automation that starts to kick in, so it starts to feel easier and easier, more automatic. And then over the time that you do it, you’re basically sending so many signals to your brain of, “Hey, this is my new normal,” that your brain makes it feel more comfortable.

So, over the course of that year, you’re going to get more and more comfortable, it’s going to become more and more you as opposed to not you, and it’s going to get more and more automated, you can  use less and less brain energy to make it happen. So, that’s where the mindlessness really kicks in. To me, we should all be looking at mindlessness as the goal.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s fun. It’s a fun when you think about that mindlessness, which almost sounds like a bad thing to be avoided. And, today, mindfulness is everything. Obviously, mindlessness is the thing to pursue but it makes sense in this context, and I appreciate that. So, very cool. Well, so then, I guess there’s many, many habits one might choose to build. I’ve heard some cool research or thoughts on keystone habits, you know, habits that can sort of unlock a whole lot of great results. Tell us, when it comes to a well-designed life, what are some of the habits that tend to really do have some powerful ripple effects?

Kyra Bobinet
You know, the more I do this, and we’ve been building a software around this, and what we’re finding is that it is literally a matchmaking exercise between that person at that time in their life based on everything they’ve tried before, or they’re burnt out on, and what they’re open to, and what can kind of reengage them, and then what excites them, what fits their life, what fits their schedule. It is almost like that old adage where you’ve got a floating circle in the ocean, and an ocean turtle, a sea turtle, just happens to pop up their head right in the middle of that circle. That’s kind of how bullseye it has to be.

And so, I think that right now what we’re facing is, “How do we sift through all of the millions of options in any particular topic area and really find the thing that works for us, that works for me right now that’s going to, again, turn me on, that it makes sense to me, and it really is interesting to me?” And just having that, I call it, seeking behavior is the most important thing it seems.

And there’s another neuroscientist that I really admire, he passed away a couple of years ago, named Jaak Panksepp, and his conclusion was that there were seven emotional channels in the mammalian brain, we’re mammals. And he noticed that the number one most dominant emotion was seeking, seeking behaviors. So, think Google, think online shopping, think looking for a mate, looking for a job. That power of that looking is itself very therapeutic and positive for us.

Pete Mockaitis
Boy, that feels like another hour of conversation right there. Wow!

Kyra Bobinet
We’ll get a part two.

Pete Mockaitis
So, the seeking is the strongest of the seven, and it just seems there’s a lot of implications to that. What do you think are amongst some of the biggest when it comes to folks who are trying to become awesome at their jobs? If the seeking behavior is among the strongest of those seven emotional channels, how do we make that work for us?

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah, I mean, obviously, the tribe that follows you is of that ilk. They’ve already won that particular contest because they’re seeking, they’re taking in new information, they’re leaning into more and more answers for them, and they are perusing all the wisdom that you’re sharing on this show and the people that you bring on this show. So, basically, they’re locked in there. I think just hearing it might just be another validation of that. Keep doing that, you’re on the right track. That’s exactly what we all need to do.

And, in fact, it should be probably a red flag in that case for this audience that if you stop seeking, maybe look at that. If you get stuck in your career, or in your progress at work, then look at seeking first. Did you lose seeking? Did you lose curiosity? Did you lose spending time wondering about things and opening yourself up? Because that’s where that next round of growth would lead you to.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s powerful. Thank you. Well, so I also love to get your take when it comes to automating, building good habits and breaking bad habits. Are there any particular behaviors? You mentioned there’s a matchmaking situation, but any sort of small behaviors you recommend we might start doing right away to make it easier to develop these highways?

Kyra Bobinet
You know, in the habit science, there’s two variables that stand out as the most important. Number one is time, the time of day or the time after or before. Your brain understands time as sequences, like, “I do this before I do that,” you know, “I shower before I get dressed.” And it also understands things in terms of time of, “I do this on Sundays,” time of week, time of day. And so, if you’re trying to do a habit and you haven’t anchored it in time or how your brain understands time, it’s likely going to get lost in the wash of your life and distractions. So, that’s one thing I would say.

The other thing that the science is saying is that location is huge. We also understand, “I do this in my car. I do this at my desk. I do this when I go to the cafeteria.” Those kinds of triggers, they’re called context cues, are the thing that really helps to anchor the habit in space, if you will. So, you’ve got time and space, and then there’s the social element, too, which is, “I do this with these people.”

So, one of the reasons why it’s so hard not to be good, some people call it, I don’t call it that, but at a birthday party to not eat cake when everybody else is eating cake is that your brain is saying, “Oh, I eat birthday cake with other people. I don’t just go to the grocery store and throw it in my grocery cart usually by myself. Happy birthday to me.” It’s very social.

So, those are some three ways that I think if somebody who’s thinking about a habit could strengthen it and could really help them to select the right one for them.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, with all this talk about environment and habits, I’m curious in terms of what have you seen in workplaces are some of the, and I know it’s going to be a special fit in matchmaking, person to person, but what are some of the most prevalent bad things in habits and environments, and good things in habits and environments that you’re seeing in workplaces today?

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah, I would say the most troublesome one is the stress habit that gets turned into gossip and toxicity. So, most cultures don’t have, I’ll call it, an anus for the stress that gets built up there. Pardon, I’m a doctor so that kind of word is available to me.

Pete Mockaitis
It might be the first time where the word anus has been uttered on this show. Thank you, Kyra.

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah, the listeners are like, “What did she say?” So, yeah, I said anus.

Pete Mockaitis
You mean, you’re screening it out I think is where you’re going with this, yeah.

Kyra Bobinet
I said anus, yeah, exactly. Let’s say it a couple of times. So, yeah, we need some outlet for all the stress and friction. And people are moving a million miles a minute, they’re going from meeting to meeting to meeting, or they’ve got production schedules, or they’re stocking shelves like crazy, whatever your job is, and you are going back to back to back to back. Most people can’t even find time to go to the restroom at their modern work, right?

So, all of that creates all this friction and all of this like angst and rumination that the brain is going through, and then there’s not a real good mechanism that needs to be designed for really, “Whew!” exhale, the anus, you know, pooping, getting it all out. And so, that then turns into backbiting, gossiping, cannibalizing each other, that sort of thing. And so, I would say that what works for everybody is to engineer some downtime in the middle of the day to find ways to give yourself a mental break. And this is where mindfulness comes in really good, and your three deep breaths, and you literally reset your brain. And you just have to remind yourself how to do that or get your attention to remember to do the good thing that you know to do.

So, those kinds of mechanisms, I think, are universal. And then there’s sort of little productivity things that people, I would say there’s different segments of productivity tricks and hacks that people have. There is the procrastinators, like myself, who need to have external deadlines to bump our noses up against. There’s people who are super diligent, who are maybe introverts who need that quiet time away. There’s people who are extroverts who need to go and pull together a bunch of people and talk everything out.

And so, those are some ways that I see are mushy but could be more clarified if somebody were to take the time and kind of almost journal or articulate for themselves, “What kind of person are you? What kind of worker are you? When do you see yourself really shine and really turn on?” And I think that’ll help people understand some of the habits that are maybe positive and maybe toxic for them.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s lovely. Thank you. And what are some of the most encouraging great stuff that you’re seeing there?

Kyra Bobinet
My heroes these days is a company called Workday, and they do HR technologies, kind of SaaS platforms. But the thing I like about it is that their people who are in charge of their employee wellbeing are focusing on rumination because one of the good things that’s come out of the mindfulness research of late in the neuroscience side is that we know now that if your brain is on loop in an area called, forgive me, dorsolateral PFC, which is prefrontal cortex. It’s basically kind of if you look at your forehead and you kind of go an inch to the right or left, there’s two little areas there that are basically causing you to focus on yourself.

And rumination is, “Oh, did I do that right? Oh, what does she think of me? Oh, am I going to get fired? Oh, when is my performance review? Am I ever going to get rise up in this company? Do I need to look for another job? Does so and so like me?” all that rumination. And what they know, what Workday is dealing with is training programs, and discussions, and wellbeing initiatives to help people deal with that rumination, because that has been tied to, again, going back to MRI studies, to feelings of depression, feelings of anxiety. We have an epidemic of anxiety these days because of the number of triggers our brain sustains that throws us into rumination on a daily basis.

So, I think the modern workplace is really how do we design for freeing ourselves from these brains kind of loop tendency to get into rumination sequences, you know?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, Kyra, I’m fascinated by, boy, I’m counting some research associated with how our current levels of anxiety are just like wildly higher than they were a generation or two ago. And so, that’s whole another conversation.

Kyra Bobinet
Well, what are you seeing in that? Because you live this every single day. You live and breathe in this industry and in this area.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I think I heard a talk in which someone said that, in particular, I think they were talking about teenagers had levels of anxiety just sort of like normally like in terms of their day-to-day experience that were comparable to, I think, sort of veterans suffering from PTSD. And I said, “What?” And so, that was eye-opening. So, I’ve got two precious kiddos under two right now, and I’m thinking about their future, I was like, “Whoa! What is going on there? That’s intriguing.” And I’ve yet to do my seeking of many answers there. But you brought up something intriguing there with regard to, hey, we have so many more triggers now for rumination that lead to anxiety. So, could you unpack what are some of those big triggers we’ve got now that we didn’t have before?

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah. So, we have so much exposure, right? So, let’s say, take a typical Western person in the U.S. for example, and even before they start their first meeting or activity at work, they have listened to or watched a million things that could’ve triggered an emotion in them. So, all that residue is kind of spinning around in their subconscious, and that’s going to lead to rumination if they do not do something consciously and mindfully about it. So, if they ground out and say, “I send compassion to that war-torn area I just heard about,” or, “I just heard about the fires in my area or a tornado that happened in the Midwest,” or any of those things. Like, it does land in the brain. And even if you think you’re tough and you move on, it mulls around inside.

And so, that’s the kind of fodder or tinder by which this rumination fire just starts to burn, it starts to go and go and go, and it’s subconscious. So, what happens is that you don’t even notice it until maybe, I’ve talked to executives who suddenly have panic attacks on a work trip, and they’re the most solid person in the world, and they’re super extroverted and things like that, but that’s how it’s affecting us. It’s just that constant touch on things you can do nothing about but you have an emotional response to.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, thank you. Part of the mystery is in place there and I appreciate that. Kyra, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Kyra Bobinet
Pete, what I stand for at this point is just making people unstoppable. For me, the most significant thing in my career so far has been really understanding how iteration and iterators never fail, and they’re in all kinds of industries. So, the one thing I really care about is just really helping people to wake up to that fact, the fact about your brain and how it works, and it helps you get around the habenula and all the little things that blow up in your face. And that, to me, is revolutionary in terms of people’s success at work and in life. And I’m just super stoked about that conversation and that concept and people making that their own as well.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah. So, kind of along those lines. I had a mentor and he used to have this really interesting voicemail because I’ll call him sometimes for some moral support, or, “How do I do this?” And his voicemail said, “Hi, this is David. I didn’t catch you right now. I’ll catch you later.” And he said, “Don’t ever give up no matter what you do,” and then he hangs up. And that’s my favorite quote of all time.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s lovely. Thank you. And how about a favorite study, or experiment, or bit of research?

Kyra Bobinet
So, for me, it is the iterative mindset study that we did. Again, we’ve been building up this research for a couple of years now on the Walmart Project, and we found that this iterative mindset existed in people who succeeded but then we did, we took a huge chance in broad daylight, in front of our biggest customer, it’s the biggest professional risk I’ve ever taken, and we did this study to see if we could get people to adapt this mindset and if it would change their outcomes.

And we actually found that we could get them to lose weight at the regular one pound a week, a healthy pace, and that they have habit formation that was statistically significant, and they had mindset formation that was statistically significant. So, to me, that was just delightful and really following the science and reading all of the homework before that really helped us set this up for something that was going to work out.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, boy, that’s powerful. And maybe if we could hear one sentence on how would you articulate, characterize the iterative mindset as oppose to its alternative?

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah. And the credit goes to the MacGyvers of the world. This is something that even though I’m putting language to it, this is found in nature. So, people are just so clever, and it’s so amazing. So, these are people that work for Walmart, lower socioeconomic status, they have every stressor every time and money constraints in the world, family not being supportive of them, and they changed their health, they changed their lifestyle to be healthy against all these odds.

And what they all had in common was this iterative mindset, which is two parts that we can tell. Number one is they see what they’re trying next as an experiment. It’s not like this do or die. It’s not a goal. It’s just, “Hmm, maybe I’ll play with this a little bit. Maybe I’ll practice this a little bit.” So, they see it as a practice, they see it as a non-consequential experiment, that’s part number one.

Part number two is when they need to change something, either because a life disruptor came in, they had to move away from their favorite gym, or their shift changed and they can no longer do what they were doing before, cooking for their kids, whatever, they would iterate. And much like tech here in Silicon Valley, that iteration, that relentless iteration of, “I’m just going to iterate and tweak and tinker until I find the next thing that works for me,” made them different from everybody else because everybody else goes, “Oh, I failed.” Boom! They hit their habenula. Boom! They stop trying without even knowing it. And, boom, they quit, they quit trying. And that is the biggest problem.

And every time I talk to clinicians or people who’ve changed their lives, they recognize this pattern, they’re like, “That’s how I do it.” So, I know that it’s real, I know that it’s natural, I know that it’s not like high academia, but it’s something that everybody can do to make their life better. And, in fact, I haven’t met a single person who has made their life better who didn’t do it in this way.

Pete Mockaitis
Powerful. Thank you. Now, could you share with us a favorite book?

Kyra Bobinet
Yes. So, my favorite book that I read every night with my husband, just one little passage because it’s teeny tiny, it’s called Tao Te Ching with Steven Mitchell as the interpreter. And I just love it because it kind of messes with my sense of reality. It says, “Do without doing.” And that’s just one of those come-ons, that’s like, “What? I don’t understand.” So, I like making myself feel like I’m confused and I don’t really understand this deep profound philosophy stuff, but I still like to take it in and try to chew on it a little bit.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Kyra Bobinet
So, for me, I use a couple of things. For my to-do list, I like the Clear app, and I only look at the top three things every day because your brain only understands, so that’s a three. I also have been using Otter lately to write my new book, and that just transcribes all my words because I’m better at talking than sitting down and making myself write, and that’s one of those Ulysses contract things.

And then I also, every year it’s coming up now, I’m going to do another vision board for 2020. So, I actually do a vision board. I do it with just a big Sharpie and a big nice piece of poster board, and I put it up for the year. And pretty much everything that happens in the year follows that vision board.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And how about a favorite nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you frequently?

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah, I think that the one that’s been really resonating with people lately is mindlessness is the new mindfulness because we know we’re busy, we know we’re distracted, and we know we have to, if we’re going to change our lives and change our behavior, we have to get it to a mindless state.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch with you, where would you point them?

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah. Well, we have our company website EngagedIn.com. Our product website is FreshTri.com and then my namesake website, you can always say hi to me, DrKyraBobinet.com. I love to hear from people.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah, there’s no reason to stop trying, that’s my message is just be unstoppable and get around your habenula. And what I said about the iterative mindset works for you or you need to even tinker or tweak that to fit you or the way you think, do it, because there’s no reason to stop these days. And if you find yourself getting stuck, just shake it off and realize you can iterate your way out of it.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Kyra, this has been so much fun. Thank you and good luck in all of your adventures.

Kyra Bobinet
Yeah, thanks so much for having me.