Transcript of Finding Happiness at Work
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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Gusto, modern, easy payroll benefits for small businesses across the country. And because you’re a listener, you get three months free when you run your first payroll. Find out at gusto.com/tape.
John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Bruce Daisley. We’re going to talk about his new book, Eat Sleep Work Repeat: 30 Hacks for Bringing Joy to Your Job. So Bruce, thanks for joining me.
Bruce Daisley: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
John Jantsch: So, I’m sure you’re familiar with the Eat Sleep Work Repeat meme on Reddit?
Bruce Daisley: I’m not, in fact. Get out of here. I chose the title based on a musical record, but go on.
John Jantsch: I was just going to say then, if you weren’t familiar with that then you’re probably not familiar with the song by the Ghost Years, I guess? Is that?
Bruce Daisley: No. So mine was based on, we was a attract by the EDM artist Fat Boy Slim that Calvin Harris, the other EDM artist remixed, and it’s an interesting one. It’s sort of got along winding lyric that’s like a story, and it’s about a gentleman who finds himself constantly out at the club. And the song is called Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat. So that was going through my head on one long commute and I changed it to Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat for my podcast, and then subsequently my book.
John Jantsch: Well there’s actually a song by that name, Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat, by a little known band, I’m guessing called the Ghost Years. So, now you’ll have to look all this stuff up. I’ve given you lots of homework.
Bruce Daisley: Amazing. Am I going to be looking at a lawsuit here? Like the Ghost Years are hitting me with a writ?
John Jantsch: I suppose it depends if they’re still together.
Bruce Daisley: What a way to start my day. Suddenly, I find myself in litigation. Thank you so much, John.
John Jantsch: So Eat Sleep Work Repeat was not all you’ve ever done in your life. I know it’s been a few years for you, but this is actually a bit of a departure from your previous career, isn’t it?
Bruce Daisley: Yeah, that’s right. I’ve just, this second, just a couple of weeks ago left, I was a vice president at Twitter for eight years, and then prior to that, I worked at Google, at YouTube for another five years. So yeah, I was sort of a senior exec at technology firms before turning my hand to this.
John Jantsch: Yeah. And I may have this wrong, but this book, depending upon when people are listening to this, is coming out towards the end of February in 2020. But this is actually a retitle of this book, right? It was originally called or The Joy of Work.
Bruce Daisley: Yeah, it was The Joy Of Work, in the UK and I zinged up with far fewer parochial English stories, and I’ve added some exciting US stories. Because it did quite well in the UK. I see it as like a cookbook for anyone who wants to improve their workplace culture.
Bruce Daisley: So say if you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, “There’s just something not quite right in my team”. And it might be that you’re the boss, or that you might be someone far more junior, but you just want to get things right. When I had that same curiosity, I discovered there were books and books and academic papers of research, done into how we can improve work. And yet, strangely none of it reaches any of us in jobs. So, became my focus. What could any of us do to use the science and the research available to improve our jobs? So that’s it. It’s a cookbook to improve the dynamic in our teams.
John Jantsch: So, I hear a lot of people blaming technology. You worked for a couple of those technology companies, that’s adding to some of the stress and disruption and whatnot. Do you think that, that’s really the case or is that just an excuse? Have things really gotten worse?
Bruce Daisley: Well, the unavoidable truth is that irrespective of whether technology is to blame, and I think the answer by the way is partly, but irrespective of whether the technology is to blame the technology we now have is the technology we need to deal with. It’s a little bit like, we’ve just joined election season and people say, “Oh, well I preferred it in this era, when this happened. I preferred it in this era and when this happened”. Sadly, we don’t pick and choose the era we live through. And so, the technology and the way that people are using the technology around us is just now something that we need to deal with. We can’t romantically imagine a more simple era because, simultaneous with us transplanting ourselves back to 19th century Britain, and imagine ourselves working in these archaic environments that we might see in a film. Simultaneously, there were a lot of other problems.
Bruce Daisley: So, the place we’re in, definitely technology contributes to the way that a lot of us feel overwhelmed by odd jobs. No doubt.
John Jantsch: Yeah. We don’t have to build our homes and kill our food, do we?
Bruce Daisley: Exactly that. And we’ve got antibiotics, we’ve got penicillin, we’ve got all manner of things. So, let’s count some of our blessings at the very least.
John Jantsch: A lot of organizations, especially in Silicon Valley, it seems, one of my kids actually works out in Silicon Valley and her job title is one of these, like head of hugging or something like that. I’m just teasing her. But a lot of these companies are getting these people that are in charge of the culture, for example. And I think there’s actually an era of personal accountability to your book, that sort of says, and I think you actually blatantly say culture is kind of a myth.
Bruce Daisley: Yeah. Well certainly I believe company culture is a myth. I believe that the idea that you can get a consistent feeling between the Chicago office, the Denver office, the New York office, and for it to be precisely the same, mandated on PowerPoint slides. Sadly, it would be wonderful if that were the case, but it’s simply not the case.
Bruce Daisley: So company culture is something of a myth. Team culture is far more realistic. And the truth of that is that people can find themselves working in adjacent teams in the same office, and have a very different experience at work. You might occasionally chat to someone in the lunch hall or on the way home, and you’ll say to someone “How’s it going?” And their experience can be completely different to yours.
Bruce Daisley: So I think generally, when we discover these good working environments, they generally exist at a team level. That’s not to say that companies can’t aspire to these things, but they need to be realistic in terms of what they can control.
John Jantsch: Yeah, because most employees, especially at larger organizations, their experience of the company is their boss or their team leader or whatever. So, that’s probably who’s dictating more about the culture than anyone else in the organization to that person.
Bruce Daisley: Very much so. People say when you try and identify if people have a good job, the fundamental thing that determines whether people think they have a good job is whether they have a good manager. So, managers have a huge bearing.
Bruce Daisley: Now, you might work for a company that’s giving you free perks and benefits. They might be providing you with a free smoothie, one Wednesday a month, but if you’ve got a wretched manager, then generally you think you’ve got a bad job.
John Jantsch: Yeah, for sure. You pick on another one, that I think is a falling out of favor. But there was a period of time when everybody was building these 200 people in one room, all sitting across each other from a table, and now we’re all going to be able to communicate better. Most people I know that work in those environments spend a great deal of their time trying to find some peace and quiet. You take on the open plan office as one of, maybe worse than social media, as far as a distraction?
Bruce Daisley: Well, more than anything else, I think a lot of us recognize the experience of thinking that we go to work early to get something done, or we feel like we can never get anything done because we’re beset with all these never-ending interruptions and meetings and emails and the open plan office … The day I discovered, sort of a veteran work, but the day I discovered that the science of open plan offices was so atrocious, it just was this revelation to me. So let me share with you John, the secrets of open plan offices.
Bruce Daisley: Number one, the biggest change that happens when organizations move to an open plan office is that the ratio of people who hate their colleagues goes up by 75%. So, if you’ve ever found yourself driven to distraction by the woman who sits behind you or the guy who sits next to you, then you’ll know that, actually that’s a regular occurrence with open plan offices.
Bruce Daisley: The strange thing about open plan offices is normally when we’re sold into them, people paint these beautiful pictures of accidental conversations and creativity, people sort of spontaneously coming up with new ideas. And in fact, what you discover is the next biggest thing that changes, is the volume of email goes up by two thirds. So really strange. That feeling where you’re emailing someone who sits three desks away from you, simply because we have so many more interruptions in those environments than we ever did in smaller offices.
John Jantsch: Yeah. It’s almost like taking employees and making them roommates at the same time, because they’re on top of each other all day long.
Bruce Daisley: No. Look, I’m pretty sure that will never escape open plan offices. But the organizations who seem to be making the best go of it are the ones that seem to be saying, “Okay, maybe you’ve got a laptop, we’re going to allow you to have quiet spaces where you can go and work”.
Bruce Daisley: In fact, if you chat to people who work in coworking spaces, the people who run coworking spaces so that people spend more time in their in the anonymous social sort of coffee bar style spaces, than they do at their allocated workstation.
Bruce Daisley: And it’s a good reminder, actually, we’re not uncomfortable with a bit of noise around us, but we hate it when that noise constantly interrupt us.
John Jantsch: Yeah. It’s funny, I, like you have written, actually, I’ve written six books. And I have written the book of them in coffee shops. I actually enjoy the noise. But to your point, nobody speaks to me. It’s just the noise around me. Some people can’t do that at all, but there is a difference, I think.
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John Jantsch: All right. Let’s talk about, since your book has a number in it, 30 hacks for bringing joy to your job. Let’s talk about a couple of them. The very first one is one that I’ve done for years, and it’s a this idea of monk mode. So do you want to unpack that one?
Bruce Daisley: Yeah. The idea of monk mode is that, strangely, we seem to find that, firstly the whole of work is something of an illusion. The idea that maybe we’re going to work 40 hours a week, that each of those 40 hours is as equally productive as each other. We imagine that we’ve got a five by eight grid of those hours, and that each one of them will be equally valuable. And what we discover when we actually plunge into measuring what people work and what they achieved is that these are not equally as productive.
Bruce Daisley: So what you discover then is that our secret is unless we’re going to work longer and longer, and that seems to be one of the unfortunate mistakes that a lot of us make, but if we’re not going to work longer and longer, working out when the good stuff is, it seems to be a pretty vital component. So when are the sociable hours? When are the productive hours? And it seems that for most of us, our most productive hours are in the morning.
Bruce Daisley: So one of the one the hacks that a number of people have found real benefit from is almost carving out a time before we open our emails, a time before we turn our podcasts. Maybe twice a week when we carve out, I met one guy who called it his most important thing, he called it his MIT, and he would write on his board every day, what was his MIT. And he wouldn’t do anything else until he’d finished the 90 minutes that his MIT had taken him.
Bruce Daisley: But this monk mode morning, this idea that like a monk, we have no interruptions and we focus on something, is one of the hacks that I’ve seen to be most effective. And the strange thing about the monk mode morning is that we can accomplish in uninterrupted time, far more than we ever realized.
Bruce Daisley: So one of the things that I’ll be guilty of is I know that I’m going somewhere in three weeks and an I need to write a presentation, but I’ve known this for a long time and it’s sat at the top of my to do list. And yet, when I come to actually do it, as long as I don’t have 50 other browser tabs open, as long as I don’t have too much other distraction, actually, a really productive hour can make a big dent in that. And so, that’s the idea of monk mode, removing these distractions, removing these punctuations and actually getting to focus our energies on something seems to be one of the best ways to get more out of our time.
John Jantsch: Yeah. And I suspect we all underestimate how much weight that presentation that you had to make was actually causing on the rest of your thinking and the rest of your focus because you were putting it off. You knew you had to do it, it was causing stress. I think that’s probably a really underestimated element of that.
Bruce Daisley: Yeah. You know that thing that’s sort of dogs your to do list? That you see sitting there. I promised I’d get back, I promised I’d get back, I promised I’d get back. And over time, it’s becoming more and more of a burden on you. And that’s it. Sometimes to say, right … I’ve seen a couple of people who say, “I can’t carve out 90 minutes every day, but I’m going to do 60 minutes, twice a week”. So it’s finding whatever works for you, but what you often discoveries those 60 minutes, twice a week, can be the most productive gaps on your calendar.
John Jantsch: Yeah. I think if we’re all being honest, and we did assign a dollar value to each hour that we spent every day, that probably the 80% of our money is made in 20% of our work, or the old saying.
Bruce Daisley: Absolutely. Well here’s the strange thing. How I found myself self doing this. I’m not sure if you identify with this, but I was coming home, I used to have a day, on Mondays, which was laden with meetings. I had seven hours of meetings on Monday. And I would come home and my inbox would be creaking because of all of the email, and I’d feel, “Wow. It’s the start the week and I’m already hours behind”.
Bruce Daisley: And I used to sit every Monday night at my kitchen table, sometimes with a cup of tea, sometimes with a glass of wine, always with some sort of music playing or TV playing. And I once took stock of the fact that I’d spent three or four hours, sitting at this kitchen table and I took stock of how little I’d actually done. And I thought, after an exhausting day, you’ve added to your tiredness by sitting at that table for four hours. You should have just switched off, watched some TV, gone to bed early. Instead you sat at that kitchen table for four hours. So tomorrow, you wake up even more tired.
Bruce Daisley: I think that’s the critical thing. Being more honest about what we’re actually doing and what we’re giving ourselves the illusion we’re doing is an important step on fixing these problems.
John Jantsch: So one of the hacks that I wasn’t going to cite, but since you mentioned it, sleep. Better sleep, more of it is a hack, isn’t it? That we need to adopt?
Bruce Daisley: Yeah, very much so. The reason why I feel so strongly about it, I set off, I had this maybe sort of patriarchal desire to make the people who were working for me happier. Whether it’s my responsibility to make them happier or not, I don’t know. But, they looked so miserable that I was intent on trying to bring some smiles back to their little faces. And I set about trying to make people happy.
Bruce Daisley: And what I discovered when I was doing extensive reading on happiness was that there are two things that make us happier, full stop, period. There are the two things that make us happy. And so I thought, well, okay, let’s at least cover these. The number one thing that makes us happier is to sleep more. And sleeping seven and a half to eight hours sleep a night makes us more happy.
Bruce Daisley: In fact, if you were to measure this, Prozac achieves a a 1.8 shift on the 51 point depression scale that this created. A good night’s sleep moves us eight points. So, a good night’s sleep, be sure of four or five times better than Prozac. So sleep is by far the best thing that any of us could do.
Bruce Daisley: The second, I’m not sure how helpful this is, but the second way to make yourself happier is to spend time with happier friends. And the more we spend time with happier people, it does appear to have an impact on our own happiness, our own psyche.
Bruce Daisley: So, that old mum wisdom that used to be sort of surround yourself with positive, happy people. There seems to be some clear benefit to what your mama told you.
John Jantsch: So, you’ve broken up the hacks into personal and team and then leader. I’ve written a book recently that has 366 separate pages, thoughts. It’s a day a page. And so, I always get the question in my interviews, what’s your favorite one? And I’m like, you want me to pick one of those as my favorite page? But you only have 30, so I’m going to ask you. Did you have a favorite hack?
Bruce Daisley: Yeah, very much so. So here’s what I set about doing. I set about thinking, how can I make work better? How can I make these miserable souls I’m surrounded with look like the less burdened. I wanted them whistling on their way to work. So what I discovered very quickly is that there are a lot of things that companies do wrong, and some of the things that companies do wrong intentionally and some of the things that companies do wrong unintentionally.
Bruce Daisley: But I found myself reflecting on all of the management, all of the advice I’d ever got. And there was one image that was indelibly in my head, and it was the sanction, it was the scolding of a former boss, who’d said to me once, “Now’s not the time to be seen laughing”. And we were in a particularly unfortunate time, things were tough at work and he said, “Please don’t be seen laughing when the big boss walked past”.
Bruce Daisley: So it stuck in my head. And as I was there thinking, right, this is the time to research what’s the rights and wrongs of work, I thought, well, I must investigate this one. And truthfully, I was thinking, I was just going to lay out the science of why he was right, and then get back to the other things that we could do. And what I discovered was that the science of laughter is far more emphatic in what it advises, and it points very resolutely in the opposite direction to what he said.
Bruce Daisley: So he said, “Now’s not the time to be seen laughing”, which I guess suggests, in bad times we don’t want to be frivolous, we don’t want to be distracted. We may be don’t want to be unfocused. But if we look at people who have prevailed in difficult times, very often it’s humor that characterizes their behavior.
Bruce Daisley: If we wanted to go back to Churchillian maxims, “Keep calm and carry on”, and the whole blitz spirit that my country men had, was very much anchored on sort of an irreverent humor. But we also see through army deployments. Servicemen will characterize their time as being filled with laughter. Firefighters often describe the laughter that fills some of there really intense moments. And so laughter seems to have this incredible capacity to reset our resilience, for sort of helping us to feel more able to deal with stark problems that we’re faced with.
Bruce Daisley: So anyway, I found myself really charmed with the science of laughter.
John Jantsch: Yeah. And that ends up as a hack in … I probably won’t be able to find it. It’s just called Laugh. Okay. There you go. Awesome.
John Jantsch: So Bruce, tell us where we can find Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat, and more about you. I know you have a podcast by the same name as well.
Bruce Daisley: Exactly that. So I’ve got a podcast, you’ll find it’s eatsleepworkrepeat.com, if you go to that podcast, I’ve tried to interview some of the leading psychologists, neuroscientists who’ve done work in this field. So, any of us who maybe find ourselves trying to build the culture in our kid’s soccer team or in our own workplaces. Or maybe we’ve got our own company and we want it to be the place that we always dreamed of working. That was my mission. How could I make this into 30 very simple interventions that are proven to work?
John Jantsch: Well, Bruce, thanks for joining us. And we’ll have a links to the book and links to Bruce’s podcast and website in the show notes. So hopefully, I’ll run into you. I assume you’re going to spend some time in the States, promoting the book.
Bruce Daisley: I am. Yeah. I’m in New York in the last week of February. I’m in SF and then Austin in early March, and then back in the summer. So yeah, absolutely. All my events on the website.
John Jantsch: Well, thanks for stopping by. Hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road, Bruce.
Bruce Daisley: Thank you so much for having me.