Beyond Busy is a podcast by Graham Allcott of Think Productive, author of the international bestseller How to be a Productivity Ninja.
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How to succeed as a workparent, with Daisy Dowling
My guest today is Daisy Dowling. Daisy has worked in senior leadership roles on Wall Street and has now left that behind to start workparent helping companies to best support working parents. She's also the author of ‘Workparent: Thrive in your career while raising happy children’. So, if you have kids or you're thinking of having kids this episode and Daisy's book are for you. We talk about how to support working parents, which organizations do it well, what to do if your boss isn't so understanding.
We talked about the Zeigarnik effect, how to think about money and also what it was like to leave the Lehman Brothers just before it collapsed in the 2008 crash plus much more.
Daisy talked about how to set up a dialogue between a manager and a working parent:
(What do you think organizations can do to support managers to change those practices and to, and to really make it more of an embedded cultural response?)
"So one thing I always advise managers to do and listen, most of the managers who I talk to are supportive there. They may not want to spend all of their time coaching working parents because they're busy or they've got their own kids at home.
And they feel a little bit overwhelmed themselves. So, sometimes they don't want to cross the line or get into the support and counselling business and I understand that, but the one really powerful thing that managers can do. It's small but it really works is to ask the people on their teams, open-ended questions to signal support, to signal the fact that the door is open, that this conversation has permission that you don't have to hide what you have going on as a working parent.
And as soon as you ask that, then. You're relating in a more human way. You're not making any promises. You're not telling somebody you can work at home five days a week, but what you are doing is putting yourself into a sort of a peer to peer conversation in which some problem solving can begin to happen."
We also touched on the topic of productivity and guilt for lack of it:
(I think, you know, that's also true of people's general sorts of guilt around how productive they've been, right?)
"What I also see a lot of people do, and this is kind of to the productivity point is they compare themselves to other parents, particularly to their own parents or to pass mentors kind of, you know, early-career role models.
And they say, well, they were able to do it. We are in a different productivity era, than our parents were, right? They, your mom or dad, may have worked full time. But he or she wasn't doing that with an iPhone in their pocket, that they had to remain glued to all the time, even while on holiday.
So the pressures are different. And now it's time to pivot and to learn some of the compensatory skills that allow us to kind of manage and live the lives that we want today with the current set of circumstances, the current environment that we have."
And we talked about the best way to interact with your children:
(The importance of blank space and, and sort of being able to create space for play and like play really comes from being spontaneous and having, and, and just having a few bits of art materials or dressing up stuff around you, but it's actually just about almost being bored or just having to muse yourself as a kid as well.)
"Well, one way is to kind of unschedule it and to do instead of to try to talk. So, you know, to just get down on the ground with your kid and start playing Legos, or to take, you know, a ball into the backyard and start kicking it around. And to have that be the connective time with your kid, that you don't have to be doing something that's outcome-oriented or asking your child, how was your day.
Because that's a very adult thing to do. Your child just wants to feel like they're not performing for you. They're just got your attention. They don't have t
Ready for Anything with Dr Samantha Boardman
This week on the Beyond Busy podcast we welcome Dr Samantha Boardman. Samantha is a clinical psychiatrist and she has a Master's in positive psychology, so her work joins the dots between all those different fields. She combines years of training in medical school and psychiatry with studies in the field of positive psychology. Samantha is also the founder of ‘Positive Prescription', and the author of a new book called ‘Ready for Anything'.
In this episode, we talk about resilience being on you, how to create uplifts in your mood, and many other practical ways to deal with stress and be happier in your thinking. Samantha kindly shares her background, her education, and the way she came to positive psychology.
She also said what was the reason to turn to positive psychology:
"It was about 10 years ago, I was seeing a patient who had this. Maybe she didn't qualify for a full sort of diagnosis of depression, but she wasn't, she wasn't thriving. She wasn't feeling great. She was having issues with her husband. She had three kids. She was exhausted at home. And we were trying to minimize the conflict with our spouse.
We were trying to help her have less issues with her mother-in-law and her kids. And one day she came into my office. I'd been seeing her for about six weeks. You know what, sometimes I just dread coming here. All we do is talk about what's wrong in my life. And even sometimes I'm having a good day and I have to think, what can I complain about?
And it makes me feel worse and you know what I'm done. And it was this weird sort of wake up call to me that I had been. So laser-focused on everything. That is, you know, on her symptoms, on her issues, on her problems, on her chief complaint, in everything sort of radiated out from, from that, that I wasn't focusing at all.
And I actually hadn't been trained to focus on what actually sort of promotes well being even. Could I help her with some of these issues, find strength within her stress and find sort of meaning within the madness of her everyday life. And that got me to go. Back to school and I, and to study applied positive psychology.
That was the opposite of everything. One learns in medical school, in residency, in psychiatry, and it's really the study of, of health and wellbeing. And what are the factors that promote that and, and trying to now, I really, my, I think of myself as a positive psychiatrist and that I really try to.
Ameliorates symptoms, but also how can I sort of promote wellbeing and they're not mutually exclusive and the idea of wellbeing being icing on the cake. Oh, let's just get somebody to feel a little bit better. And then you can talk about that other stuff. And I think you can, they can really go hand in hand."
We also got an interesting insight on vitality:
"I think of vitality is this sense of this feeling of a liveliness and energy that, you know, sort of tells you that you are ready for anything. And it's the opposite of feeling sort of depleted or down. And I think people often think that happiness is the opposite of depression, but it's actually vitality and it's what we need to counter the hassles.
And it's something that then I think gives rise to little, our resilience, the idea of having resilience on a daily basis, not the big, our resilience, the are you know, the response. You know, big sort of bad stuff that can happen, but vitality is what fuels that everyday resilience. And it's, I think it's, it's really maybe undermining even our ability to feel strong.
And, and they're just little things we can do in our daily lives, like connecting and contributing something and challenging ourselves that are really the wellspring of vitality. And it's not in your head again, it's actually in your everyday actions."
The full conversation is available on the Beyond Busy YouTube channel. If you prefer listening, you can find the audio
The First 100 Days as CEO with Ndidi Okezie
This week on Beyond Busy podcast we welcome Ndidi Okezie. Ndidi is a rising star in the charity World, the CEO of UK Youth and a board member of three boards, including Centrepoint. In this wide-ranging episode, we chat about having courageous conversations, kindness and much more.
The conversation starts off with Ndidi's current plans and the mission of UK Youth:
'So UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empower to contribute to every stage of their lives. We are an open network organization. We have about 7,000 youth organizations and national partners in our network. Based on our new strategy, we are very much focused on unlocking youth work as a catalyst of change that we believe is needed now more than ever.
Fundamentally, we are a bit of a hybrid organization. So, we're an infrastructure body for the youth sector. We are a direct and program delivery organization as well. And, we're a campaign for social change. So collectively our work is to kind of build a movement of like-minded people who are determined to create a society that understands champions and delivers effective youth work for.'
Ndidi also reflects on the problem of youth homelessness:
'Well, if it's not school and it's not home, where do young people go? Because there's a question there about when home isn't a place you can go. What happens there? And when they're there, you know, there are issues with home. When you think about how young people end up homeless, there are so many different things that tend to happen for young people before that can happen.
And having that safe place to go is such an obvious thing. But I think the sad reality is as a society we can't answer if they can go to a youth club. They can go to a youth provision because we know that the majority of young people. Don't have access to that. I think now most people can understand and accept that young people are one of them, if not the hardest hit demographic coming out of COVID, whether it's from the economic perspective, in terms of job prospects, whether it's from academic learning, whether it's from issues around online safety.'
Then she shares what is like being a CEO as a black woman:
'I would love to think about it: well, you're hired to be a CEO and that's what you are. But the reality is that I am a black woman CEO, and actually each of those things comes with its own thing. And then you compound them together. And again, I've experienced the gender dynamic. I've experienced that through my own leadership journey where you are invited to speak on things because you are a woman. You're invited to feed into issues and topics because you're a woman. I've been invited to speak on issues on the race for many, many years.
Right. So it's not, it's never really been something I've been able to decouple. As a teacher, students would come to you because they could identify with you in certain things you've got speak on issues from a place of connection, whether that's a locality based on like London. What it is to work, grow up in particular environments all the way through to, you know, being African, being black, being female. So I think we all draw on all or aspects of who we are. I've never experienced a way where I just get to be the thing I am, as opposed to all of those things together. But yeah, I think again, the CEO level, I wasn't expecting it.
I, again, feel very naive walking into it. When my appointment was announced, I just cannot explain to you the reaction and the responses that I got, the messages, the people kind of reaching out like, oh my God, celebrating the appointment more than celebrating me. If that makes sense. It was like, oh my God, you know, a black woman is leading youth charities, you know, an organization and the third sector.
And this was all before everything tha
How to Raise Entrepreneurial Kids with Jodie Cook
This week on the Beyond Busy podcast we welcome Jodie Cook. Jodie is an entrepreneur, a powerlifter, and a writer. She writes regularly for Forbes and is also an author of a number of books including ‘How to Raise Entrepreneurial Kids'.
We caught her in a quite interesting moment in her life - she just sold her business JC Social Media. In this episode, we talk about this and her experience of leading the team through the pandemic. She also tells us why she's determined not to make plans just yet, how to get mentored by your heroes, and much more.
The conversation starts off with Jodie sharing the big news including releasing two new books.
Then they move the conversation to her first new book - ‘Instagram Rules'. Jodie kindly shares her story of writing this book and finding a publisher:
‘The story of how the book came about is actually quite indicative of how people can use Instagram right now. And that's the 'Instagram rules' that came about from an email in my inbox, from a publisher who I didn't know who said: 'I've got this book in mind. I've seen some of your writing on Instagram. Do you want to write it?
And I was just like: Sure! And so I think that was my first ever published book with an actual publisher. Because all the rest have been self-published. You don't need to ask permission and you don't need to just bang down the doors of publishers or anyone who you want to give you a chance. You can just create your own chances and Instagram itself lets you do that.
Just writing and producing and creating means that you can create your own presence, your own brand, your own audience. And then it means that those people that you thought were really hard to find and really hard to get in front of like publishers, agents, whoever else they come looking for you.'
She also shared her thoughts on online holy-wars:
‘I think being right does not matter. I think what's so much more important and what's so much harder to get right is knowing when to let it go and being able to let it go and being able to just be like and just go fine, someone else who can deal with that. That's not my battle. Cause you could, if you want to pick a fight with someone on the internet, you could do it every single minute of every day.
But what would your energy look like after you'd done that? It would be horrendous. I don't think the solution to anything is boom and bust. I think there are ways of having a healthy relationship with social media and perhaps the reason why I think that is because I ran a social media agency for so long that I had to find that healthy relationship with social media, because otherwise. I wouldn't have had a company.
So there's a way of taking the best bits without the worst bits. I'm sure of it. And one day I will convince you of that and we'll find an amazing balance where you can just be happy online.'
Later on, Jodie shared why it's better to focus on the present moment and experience, and not the plans for the future:
‘I have been the judge for a lot of different awards. And when you read applications, sometimes you have to almost strike through everything that hasn't happened yet. And so you have to be able to see past what we're going to do there. So we have plans to do this, or I have projections to do this. And it's not like you are discrediting anyone else's really exciting plans for their future. It's just that it has not happened yet. And what we want to focus on right now for you winning this award is what has happened.
So I find myself mentally doing it when I'm reading through them. And I think that it's really easy to get lost in some potential. And then, you know, if someone said, oh, you could get this million-pound valuation and you could get this funding and you could win this award and you could do all this stuff, but it's like, what have you actually done? And I think th
A World Without Email with Cal Newport
This week on the Beyond Busy podcast we welcome Cal Newport.
Cal is the author of ‘Deep Work' and ‘Digital Minimalism' and this is his second time on Beyond Busy. Last time we discussed the evolution of knowledge work, how social media compulsion has shifted in recent years and lots of other things. In this episode, we talk about his new book ‘A World Without Email' and why it is so hard to make time and space for deep work. Cal also shares his own strategies on how to beat it.
The conversation starts off with Cal and Graham talking about how they've dealt with the pandemic and how we finally got used to the new normality. Although, Cal tells us he is lucky enough to have some not-online-guests in his studio in Washington DC to record podcasts soon.
Then they move to Cal's new book ‘A World Without Email'. Cal shares that he actually paired his other workpiece ‘Deep Work' with ‘A World Without Email' so they work as a tandem. He also talks more about the main idea of the book: The Hyperactive Hive Mind.
'The hyperactive hive mind workflow was enabled by email. So, you need email for the hyperactive hive mind workflow to be possible, but it's not equivalent to email, and it's not a necessary consequence of having that technology. So, what is it? Well, it's a mode of collaboration and office work, where you say we will primarily work things out with unscheduled back and forth ad hoc low-friction digital messages.
That's a very distinctive mode of collaboration. It emerged following email spread there haven't since been additional tools that implement the hyperactive hive mind even slicker. But it's that way of working that I think has a lot of problems that we underestimated and it's the villain of my book. And it's an important distinction because again, email is a tool I'm not super interested in, right? I mean, I think it's useful. It replaced a fax machine. It replaced voicemails, but the hyperactive hive mind that it helped enable. That's a real problem.'
Cal also shared his personal productivity tips in Trello:
'I use a different board for every role that I have so I break up my professional life into different roles. There's a role as a researcher. There's a role as a teaching professor. There's a role as a writer because when I'm looking at one context, they only want to be thinking about that context. I have cards for all the different things.
I need to do obligations for those different roles. And they're categorized on different columns that keep track of what their status is so I can look at this thing each week and figure out what's going on. What should I be working on? Where can I put the information? This is a key one. Oh, here's a nugget of information related to a project that I haven't started yet, but I want to work on soon for my writing.
Now I know what to do with it. I go to that board. I go to that card. I put it on there. Another key innovation of these boards is waiting to hear back from the column. So, okay. I'm waiting to hear back from this person about this. I'm waiting to hear back from my web developer about this. You have a post in the ground for each of these here.
It's here. I'll see it. I don't have to remember it. You know, when I'm looking at this board. I'm waiting to hear back, look at that card and waiting to hear back from this person about this. I never heard back. It's been three weeks now. I know to actually ping them or to nudge them to see what's going on.
All of this makes a huge difference. We're used to this idea that, well, it's all just kind of in an inbox and Slack and we just kind of go after it and figure it out. But it is cognitively so much superior to segregate these things into their own isolated context and deal with each thing when you deal with it.'
The full conversation is also available on the Beyon
Creating Positive Change with Phoebe Benta
Phoebe Benta is the guest of this week's episode of Beyond Busy.
Phoebe is the national president of JCI (Junior Chamber International). She's also the founder of North West Charity Awards and she also has a day job! Phoebe is a Global Digital Events Manager at Atos Medical.
The conversation starts with Phoebe's background experience and JCI.
'JCI – Junior Chamber International. We're a global nonprofit membership organization for young people, 18 to 40. And we have approximately 200,000 members across the world. JCI's mission is to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change.'
Graham then shares that he was involved in student volunteering.
That leads the conversation on to empowering leaders: why it is important to learn by doing:
'I think for me, from my experience with JCI, the learning by doing part in leadership, that's been absolutely amazing. And just given me a lot of different ways to try new roles without being like in a paid job, but you're actually doing these things. I think that's really important.'
They also talk about such topics as post-COVID interaction, handling two jobs at the same time, dealing with burnouts, the importance of pep talks, and others.
The full conversation is available on Graham Allcott's YouTube channel.
Graham Allcott is the founder of the time-management training company Think Productive
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