Welcome to this week's episode of The Freedom Friday podcast. I have a special guest today, Steph Clarke. And this is going to be a little bit indulgent for me, because one of Steph's, she's been telling me offline, a bit of a hobby, although I'm sure it's a bit more than that. Is she curates books and insights for people. And if you've listened or observed anything I've done over the last 20 years, you'll know, I'm a bit of a bookworm as well. And so I'm really actually this might be a very private, you know, on the side of the wall conversation about some of the books we've all loved, but I'm really looking forward to that. So Steph, welcome. Welcome to the podcast.
Thank you. I'm looking forward to getting into some book chats with.
Steph, I start with the same sort of question every time, which is really this principle of with the work that we do in the clients that we do with usually people who are seeking freedom, you know, from something to something else from I have to to I choose to. And I'd be interested, we start there with the work that you do, whether it's the books or the l&d space, what do you observe people are seeking freedom from?
The first thing that came to mind was permission. Permission, permission? Yes. Okay. Yeah. Yep. And I think a lot of the instantly a lot of the team type work I do. And I work with leadership teams or functional teams to to help them have the hard conversations they need to or move in the direction that they need to. And, yeah, there's so much in there in the conversations and then same within the learning, or I would call probably the pure learning space or the learning reimagining space as well, is this sense of, I can't do these things because I am not allowed, I've been told no. And, and so much of that is perception rather than reality as well. Or is a hangover from another workplace, another manager, another leader, or another industry even. But these things really stick with people. And so there's this real sense. I don't know if this is an Australian thing, or if this is this is more pervasive than that. But this real sense of people not being allowed to do the things that they want to do at work in their teams, whatever it is, and probably maybe in other parts of their lives as well. But I don't get into that, so much. So that would be conjecture. I think, if I suggested that.
Well, we might get into that.
We'll save the conjecture for later.
Thank you. I'm going to go quite deep quite quickly, then. So it's speculation, right? Because we deal with human being there's lots of stuff that humans carry with them. But what do you what's your guess - best guess on - what do you reckon people are seeking permission for from who?
I think it's to do something different a lot of the time. And I wonder as well, how much of it is this sort of sense of learned helplessness or this sense of, if I tell myself, I'm not allowed to I don't have to do the scary thing. I don't have to change. I don't have to do anything different because I can be a bit of a victim to the fact that oh, I'm not allowed to, that's why I'm not doing the thing. Rather than actually, it's a bit frightening to do something that is different or bigger or smaller, or yeah, whatever it is that they want to do. And I think that the seeking permission from is probably more the leader. And again, that sometimes is quite. It's not necessarily specific to a person, sometimes it is. And sometimes that is that is absolutely, that is the case and you've got someone who's a real micromanager. Yeah, whatever it is. But I don't I think sometimes there is still that case of just because someone is micromanager doesn't mean you still can't do something and try something and see what happens and experiment around that. And then the the permission to is the is yeah, like I said to to do something different or bigger or more radical than maybe the system normally promotes or rewards or has happened before.
I'm interested if you have a view on not really interested the percentage wise but I wonder often at least often we actually seeking permission from ourselves for whatever reason. Whatever case whatever percent is that as I'm interested in the few observe that and what aspect of ourselves are we seeking permission from?
It's a really good question. I wonder as well if it's almost the I'm not seeking permission from myself, but actually it's it's me that's the one that's not giving myself permission. If that makes sense? That I'm not actually seeking permission from myself but that is who I'm really blocked by. But I think but I've externalised the seeking to someone else or the system or the person or the process or whatever it is. But I think you're right that there is it's yeah, there's probably more of it is is internal and people are afraid of repercussions. That's one of the definitions of trust I really like is the ability to be vulnerable without the fear of repercussion. And think is a bit of a mash up of Brene Brown and Amy Edmondson and a couple of others as well, it's a bit of an amalgamation of some of their definitions that they very expertly put together. But we think about it from from that perspective, that's what people are afraid of is that fear of repercussion, but not less around what that is. I think it's more that that idea of how that repercussion feels. I don't want to feel stupid, or I don't want to feel incompetent, or I don't want to feel different, or like an outsider to this group or whatever. And especially when a lot of organisations are still rewarding and recognising quite safe behaviour, you know, in terms of how people are working and what they're doing.
Yeah. I'm going to guess a little bit like you often when a client is describing someone. And I'm reflecting whether this is positive or negative, it's probably both. Almost the first attribute that comes out of the mouth is - he/she/they are smart. So it's like this gravitas around intellectual ability, you know, the really smart IQ type stuff. And I don't think they're referring to EQ, I think it's more IQ. And so I'm going to guess that'll be a safe thing to reward. Because, you know, there's a certain benchmark required to get in the organisation, the function, the department, the team, you know, whatever it might be. And so we're still, it seems, rewarding that aspect. Would you agree, have you observed that?
Yeah, definitely. And especially in the teams I work with, and this is probably more where it fits in the sort of team and the learning side of things is, you know, we're still recognising rewarding and therefore promoting people based on their technical expertise, putting them into these more leadership type roles and management, that leadership type roles and expecting them to be great at all the other stuff, all of those types of things that everyone's seen, we've all been there ourselves probably as well. But then also this sense of, Well, this this challenge, then, you know, a lot of the feedback I give to leaders of leaders, is that the leadership team, you've got via that, and it's normally probably more so at that functional level, rather than necessarily at an organisational level, though, certainly not exclusively that, do you see it in both, is that actually you haven't really got a group of leaders in your leadership team, you've got a group of people who are really great at what they do. They're good, they're nice people, all of those types of things. They're smart, like you say, but they don't necessarily have that leadership maturity, to challenge things to do something different. Because that's not why they've got to those positions. They've been there, they've got there because of the stuff they've ticked the box on or done well at rather than for what they've tried. And what they've probably messed up but learnt from. Yeah, that's not the stuff that gets people promoted. Unfortunately, in most places, again, there's obviously exceptions. And that's good. And hopefully, that is changing to an extent as well. But I think we're still promoting and rewarding people based on what they know what they can do.
And the irony is often therefore, you lose two people. You lose the expert in the field, whatever domain that is. And then you get the motivated amateur. And it depends on the client. It depends on the relationship. But often, if I have a bit of a rant, I make a suggestion in my broad Scottish accent to people leaders that if you haven't understood a little bit of human psychology, if you haven't read anything about behavioural economics, if you don't understand how behaviours shift and our habits development if you haven't read Brene Brown, Cialdini - any of those things you do not deserve the role of being a people leader, And they go Oh, right. Oh...
Yeah, yeah, I'm in the middle of actually this morning I sent off to print a workbook that I'm doing for launching a people leader programme next week actually is the first session and yeah, we're getting into better that and around just this sense of this is something you need to continuously develop and you need to invest in this is not something that you are going to walk out of the certainly not the first session setting up the third session setting up the stuff we're going to do afterwards and be fixed or be done or be be learned. This is something that will take practice and you're an investment of your own time energy effort as well if this is something you want to progress your career to work towards as well because that's not for everyone and that's that's okay as well.
Maybe you can help me actually on this because what I'm struggling sometimes to get through to clients that content covered isn't conntent learn. How do you overcome that? How do you help clients to see that, you know, you can go on YouTube and get the content, you can buy the book and get the content, I can do a PowerPoint deck and give you the content that is unlikely ever to change anyone's thought processes, mindset, behaviours, habits, etc, etc, etc. Yeah, but people who want the content. And I struggle with giving them what they say they want versus what I suspect, partly they need. And it's the application of that, and the experimentation and the test, etc, etc, etc. Do you have any ways in which you help clients understand and see that, that content isn't necessarily learning.
It's yeah, it's a really good question. It's one I still, like, pretty much every week, I am having some kind of existential crisis about for that reason, because yeah! I want to I still, I still think there is value in exposing people who have not read those books, or who have not been exposed to good people leadership and using that as an example before, to, hey, here's some different ways of doing this. Or here's some different perspectives on these things. Or here's three, here's three different people, experts in these fields, with three quite different approaches to this. Which one do you agree with? Which ones do you like and actually getting them to think critically about it. I think that's where there's value is when, which is not ironically, the either way, I'm kind of building this programme that I'm just was I'm in the middle of it at the moment is Here's three different thinkers on this. This one thinks we should throw feedback in the bin, this one thinks that should be structured this way. This one thinks it's more principles than then framework. What do you like? What do you like? What do you not like from those? What do you think is radically incorrect? What do you actually getting them to debate some of that as well and actually come up with their own perspectives. I think there is value. I think there is because that's just that's not done. And that's I think this is where we then move more towards the self - and again, it's a bit of a buzzword, and I don't really like it, but that kind of more social learning. We're actually going learn more from each other from that debate, than we are from me being like, and here is the feedback sandwich, which obviously, I do not condone. And that's one of the conversations is that goes in that goes straight in the bin is the feedback sandwich. But yeah, so actually getting people to think about that teach each other see what they've heard before, see what they've learned, see what they've picked, yeah, those types of things, and then actually adding a piece into the session, which I'm hoping they're not going to be listening to, because this is going to be a surprise that the session is, is a an open, kind of open source part of the session as well, where actually everyone has the opportunity to put something up on the wall that actually I want to run 10 minutes on, this is something I've seen before, this is something I've tried before. So they can actually teach each other as well. It's not just content with a with an agenda that I've come up with as well. There's an element is probably 40 minutes of that at the end of the session as well. Yeah. So I think this is kind of answering answering the question, but I think there's is then also coming up with a blend and more blended approach. So it's not just workshops in a room, people coming in and being passive and absorbing stuff. They there's, there's an element of those things where it's like, hey, let's come and share some ideas and think about what's what, what is relevant nowadays, what we've seen what we might want to put in the bin that we've seen before, what actually just doesn't hold up anymore. But also then thinking about what's the follow on? What's the coaching, what's the ongoing nuggets of information that they can be exposed to like, Hey, here's an article about this, like, Hey, here's something else every couple of weeks or whatever, and then giving them coaching access, because I think that's the, that's the big difference, I think, for a lot of people is that they then go off and they can't use it. Because they're like, well how do I, which is like the point you're making - So how do I actually do this? How do I do the thing? By giving them access to my time or your time? Yeah, whoever it is, that's the kind of host or sponsor or facilitator of that. You've got however many hours of access to my time booking you can book it in, here's the link anytime, within reason, probably not 2am. Then we will work through how you're actually applying this. And using coaching and those types of things as well to do that, because that's where the rubber hit the road is how people use, how people think about the problem they've got and then actually think about how to apply what they're learning with the thing with that and with the other individual in mind, because that's where again, we add the complexity of what works for one person doesn't work for another.
Yeah, I've come across the expression one size fits one. Yeah, yeah. Nice. Yeah. Which I think, you know, I have an education teaching background. Education Curriculum perspective, absolutely. Is the case. And you could argue I would argue, it's the same with diet. It's the same with all sorts of aspects, one size fits one. There's kind of general principles. Maybe, yeah.
I'm interested if you wouldn't mind and forgive me if I'm springing this question. I am sure you've thought about it, but I'm interested in your first thoughts. Going into a people leadership role, as we've talked about, kind of off the back of my rant about you should be doing if you were to recommend And you know, before you get there all as you get through and you know, it's ongoing. Are there any principles, books, authors, domains that you think are prerequisites for the complex arena of dealing with and managing and leading people?
I'm Happy to - And I'm glad you asked.
You haven't thought about this foever have you.
You've waited like 15 minutes to ask me for a recommendation. I'm ready. I'm ready for this one.
Yeah, actually, funnily enough, this morning, just on LinkedIn, I posted there are two books, I think that every manager and leader should read. One of them you've already mentioned, is that Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. It's deep. It's slightly abstract in places, I think it would be a real challenge for a lot of people and not from an intellectual perspective at all. I mean, from a - Oh, wow, this is very different to what I've seen as leadership, to what I have believed to be what good leadership looks like, and what is the new definition. And I think for all of us, as practitioners in whatever domain you're in, we absolutely have an imperative, to and a responsibility to keep updating what what is good. Because, I mean, I was looking through some content the other day, and just think about this feedback module I'm delivering as part of this people leader programme, I was like, wow, it'd be so easy for me to just be still rolling out the same feedback models and things that I've been seeing for 10-15 years or whatever. And there's so many more interesting ways of now thinking about that, that are now available. So anyway, so yes, so Dare to Lead, I think would be is absolutely one of them.
And then the other one - so that's the more like the people leadership side, on the actual kind of suppose line manager or leading people and maybe leading element of tasks in that as well, is Four Disciplines of Execution by Sean Covey, Chris McChesney, Jim Huling. It's quite a big project, that one I think that looks at it. And that one's really around getting things done, because so many organisations struggle with execution. And by extension, discipline, and focus with within within both of those as well. So I think actually, if you can balance the two, and I think that's why they balance each other quite nicely, because they're very complete books. There's loads of books available, fantastic books about thin slices of the people leadership experience. All the people leadership type, roles and responsibilities. But I think those two are just really nice, catch-alls. Like, if you want to get things done and if you want to lead people well, these two are great books for that.
Okay, thank you. What would be number three that didn't quite make the top two?
Oh, good one. I think it'd be something a little bit different around be something like The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, which is a book I recommend all the time for all different reasons. But I think when we think about leadership and organisations, they really are a gathering of people. And I think there's a lot in that book that as leaders, we can be thinking about, about why are we bringing these people together for this meeting, at this time? What is the purpose? How do we create an environment where that is possible? How do we think about the physical environment we're meeting in? How do we think about who's invited yet all of those different things. So I think that one would be a close one. And other one would probably be something which is actually a recent read, which maybe it's why I've got a bit of recency bias for it, but I think is, as an alternative would be something along the lines of Brave New Work, which is by Aaron Dignan, and is all about self managed systems and how to design an organisation that completely breaks all of the tropes and systems and pretty broken ways of working that we have grown up with and exist in the vast majority of organisations, which are still based on this, you know, Ford 1800s model. Which is everything else from that time we've pretty much put in the bin. There's stuff still lingering around unfortunately, from a societal perspective. But yet we still clock in at nine o'clock out of five and all of this sort of stuff. I know that is elements of that changing but the structure is still there.
Yeah. So despite, maybe you and I, I don't mean this in an hour, I'll get my normal rockers. This is our job. We read around the topics and we can present, you know, three different feedback frameworks. I think a lot of people would know, if not intuitively, informally, there is another way to get things done. There's a better way differently, faster, way more efficient way, etc, etc, etc. But we struggle, the organisations, like you said, seem to struggle moving away from these sacred cows, this, you know, 100 year old methodologies. And without naming names, necessarily, do you know of anyone that's actually made some progress on that? And if so, what are the sorts of things they've put in place to make those shifts?
In terms of what I've been personally exposed to, no, unfortunately not. I think there's there's elements of things that people have moved to. There's, I mean, there's elements of things, but it's still within it still has to exist within this hierarchy. And these sort of frameworks and things as well. I think there's some interesting stuff happening with organisation. I think the closest we're getting, which is, I don't know how I feel about saying this aloud. But the closest we're getting is probably organisations that have done more successful moves to agile. And there's, I'm not an agile practitioner, it's not certainly not my field of expertise. But I've been exposed enough to enough of it to kind of be semi-dangerous with knowing what it looks like and all the rest. I think that's probably the closest we're getting is organisations that have been brave enough, I suppose to go, you know what, this whole hierarchy thing, these people do these things all the time, that doesn't work, let's actually break that model and have slightly more fluid ways of bringing the people together, spinning up, teams, spilling them back out, once the project's done. That's probably the closest I've seen to that working. Again, what's really interesting is transforming a team into that, or an organisation into, that is is so much harder than just starting from that. Because you've got all of the relationships and links and all the rest that become very messy then when people have relied on them for a long time, and dependents, even bringing people in who have come from more traditional organisations. And then they've sort of thrust into this world that's very different. They're like, Well, hang on, but I want to be in charge all the time. Not just on this one project. Like that's, that's no. I don't want to be me, here. You ever Yeah. Everyone else down here. Yeah, that's, that's how it works. So I've seen and I have seen more organisations in the in my kind of work that I do, who have done bits of that, some of that all of that, and have struggled with or have struggle with some of those things. But when it works, it's actually pretty cool to see the discipline again, because a lot of the when it's done well and done properly, not this kind of half baked, or we'll just do we'll just break everything into two week blocks and call it a sprint and say we're doing agile like that. Yeah, that's pretty not quite the model. But when people have done it, well, even if it isn't part of the business, if not for the whole business, it's pretty cool to see how those teams operate quite differently and have quite a different experience to to others as well.
Another sort of, where am I went mine went was almost all there are the disciplines to agile. I don't mean, you know, what we're talking about other disciplines to play other disciplines to informal learning, kind of like they're kind of a yin and yang of if we're going to get rid of the hierarchy, we're going to blow the hierarchy up. And we're just going to work asynchronously, autonomously, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, are there disciplines to that, that you've become more familiar with or would recommend?
The one that I think is really interesting is, and I haven't seen this in practice, but I've read about it in some books, where they've talked where they've gone into organisations who have done this. So it's something like, An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan, Lisa Laskow Lahey and Matthew L Miller. A fantastic book, and probably more accessible than some of the other books as well, in terms of the slightly less academic than the others, which I've haven't finished the others for that reason. But the thing that they did well, one of the things they talked about in that book, I can't read which example it was, but one of the things they had from a learning example, which I always come back to as a kind of bit of a gold standard is having everyone's goals. Everyone's learning goal is not just like the thing that we were sent down by above that type of thing on the stone was. The thing is actually everyone's learning goals up on a board, on might be on a more virtual board at this point in time, that's, that's fine. But every day you have something you're doing towards that learning goal you have. And that can be something quite technical. It could be something quite non-technical, slightly more people leadership, like kind of skills, that type of thing. But everyone knows what everyone else's goal is everyone else is everyone else knows what everyone else is learning and developing at the moment what their development goal is, so they can help. So everyone can help each other achieve that and give feedback on that. And be like, Oh, hey, here's a great, here's a great opportunity for you - you go do this one because that'd be a great one towards your goal type thing.
Yeah. So for those that are listening, Steph that might not know what you mean by a learning goal. Can you explain what a learning goal probably what is it, and also what it's not?
Mm hmm. Yes. So a learning goal in just in the simplest form could be something you want to learn. Something you want to be able to do as a result of some intentional practice over a period of time or some formal learning. Yeah, it could be could be any kind of manner of things. So in that situation, in that example, from memory, there was one around being able to make a certain type of sale for example, it's like a sales type of thing like being able to sell to this particular type of business or selling this particular product to product that maybe you didn't know about beforehand. So for that person that might have been willing to learn what the product is. So I can go and do that by going and talking to some of the other sales reps. Or I can go and actually read the manual for the product or read the sales page, that type of thing, I can go and visit one of the customers who are using that or go and speak to some customers about what the benefits are those types of things. And then I could maybe have my sales calls or meetings observed by someone else who's more experienced than I am. And they could give me some feedback. And then I can and then once I'm doing those, those sales calls on my own for this particular product, I know I can sell that thing. And obviously, as long as the sale is successful, in nine times out of 10, or whatever is a good measure for that.
And so again, what is it not? I'm there's a reason I'm asking the question.
Yeah, yeah. All right. It's a leading question, and I'll get to it and get the right answer. So what it is not I'd say is the learning goal is probably not go on a course. And tick a box. Yeah. Is that the end? Was that the right answer?
No. But I'd love to pick up on that as well.
Okay, So learning goal is probably not and maybe this is part of a learning goal, but it's not a learning goal is I want to go on X course. I want to get my MBA. Going and doing that it's a very noble thing to do great. But that's probably not the learning goal. The learning goal is to be a better leader, be a better manager be able to be, able to be promoted to CEO. Yeah, whatever it is for that. So that's actually more your learning goal is that rather than that's just an activity that feeds into your learning goal.
So again, forgive the leading question. The reason I'm asking the question, I think many people mistake even if they've had learning goals introduced they mistake learning goals for performance goals. Right? Yes, yeah. So even in your example, I want to learn how to sell X two Y. Their distinction of whether they've learned something that is dependent on the outcome. And so they, you know, beat themselves up or, you know, go back to the permission question. Dependent on the outcome, not necessarily the learning that's taking place. Yeah. Sometimes they're, you know, what I've seen is sometimes they're separate. Yeah. And I would, I'm guessing you might feel the same. They should be separate.
Yeah. Learning Goal, they could link into each other. I suppose. Like, in that example, the learning goal was being able to do it. The performance goal is how many times you did it type thing.
So you mentioned, you know, learning, you know, going on a course. I'm guessing you're familiar with 70/20/10?
Oh, so what's your understanding and perspective on 70/20/10? Again, for listeners who might not know, would you give you an understanding of what you understand that to be?
Yeah, so 70/20/10 is the the old l&d type thing that is thrown around as a good l&d curriculum or whatever it is, whatever programme whatever you want to call it has 70% experience, 20% courses or formal learning of some description, And oh, sorry, sorry, 20%, coaching, and 10% Formal learning
and your perspective on it?
Look, I think it's one of these George Box, things of all models are wrong, and some are useful type things. And I think as a starting point, it's a useful reminder that not all learning comes from a course. And actually that should be in some ways, the last thing you're thinking about, maybe, but it's also the sort of thing that can very easily be probably weaponized into, oh, well, you know, we haven't got exactly 70% of this or that type of thing as well. And then then it becomes it becomes a bit of a tick box, rather than actually a useful guide or framework or principle to think about how are we creating a rounded learning experience for people? And the problem is as well is, it's one of the problems we have in organisations is that l&d can be the people who are called in when something goes wrong, because I'll go, we need to train everyone better, because one person makes a mistake, we now need to punish everyone. So that's, that's one problem number anyway. But it's then becomes this. And then then we and then we sort of forget that suddenly, actually, the business or the organisation or the the people on the ground have actually got responsibility on the experience part, which is the most of the learning. Now, some places are set up to do that fairly well. This setup actually, in more of a Learning Academy type model, that professional services generally do that fairly well. And there's a pretty structured approach to you go through the ranks, you learn these things, you're coached, you get feedback again, not always in the best way or yeah, there's obviously it's not perfect. But yeah, but then that sort of sometimes gets forgotten when then it's just like, Oh, we're learning didn't do this, or we didn't do the course. So therefore, how can anyone possibly learn type thing.
And the irony being we are, you know, whatever hierarchy or, you know, Ford model, you're in the 9-5, or the 8-8. There's opportunities every moment.
Oh, 100%. And I think that's the thing as well is that recognition of learning. And I remember this is years ago now someone came up to me who was probably in their first year of their career and as a graduate, and I was the head of learning at the time. And I said, for this, this particular division, and they said, Steph I've got a complaint. I was like oh good I was making a cup of tea, I was like, this is not what I need and make a cup of tea. So okay, go on. Steph, I haven't had any learning for the last nine months i've been here. I said, Oh right, aren't you doing your CA programme, your chartered accountancy programme? Oh, yeah, but that doesn't count. All right. Okay. What did you What did you sort of learn last week? Well, yeah, I was working on this or whatever. I was like, Alright, so what are you actually saying you haven't been in a course for nine months? Sure. Yeah, exactly. I havne't done any learning for nine months. So okay, okay. Right. Here we go. It was an interesting conversation, it was that. And again, that realisation that especially - yeah, this is someone who's just come out of university, who has been fed learning learning has been done to them for 20 years, whatever it is, since I started school. Because that's our that's what we think learning is and love your thoughts on that as well as a former educator or you know that as your background as well, because the, the education system just doesn't seem to set people up well, for that more self development tool learning. And the times that people tend to do that are usually at times when Oh, oh, God, something's gone wrong. And I suddenly need to learn something because I need to get a new job, or I need to do whatever it is, that's happened, or I'm about to get demoted. Or not not promoted because of that, because of my gaps in knowledge or something.
Yeah, I mean, scaling this is, which is a really tricky, challenging, gnarly problem. But they can adjust in time and just enough, aspect of it, you know, a blow a tire on my bike. I don't know how to do it. That's when the the YouTube video right there, if I can be bothered, because the easy way is to go, I'm going to give it up, I'll send it to the bike shop. I'll outsource the learning. As opposed to doing it for myself. And what I'm, I'm wondering, you know, I'd be interested in your views, thinking of the audience's that we deal with the organisation, small, medium, large individuals who are keen to grow and develop, do we have an education problem? And I don't mean forum, or do we have an education problem? Because so often I hear that even the most experienced HR and l&d professionals talk about something and everything as training.
Yes. And it's like, no, no, it's not right. If you were dogs, and I got a whistle and treats, then maybe I could train you. Yeah, it's so much more than that. Do you think we have an education problem with our audience?
Yeah, I think so. And I think we also have a, we have a reflection problem, I think that we're not stopping to reflect and at the end of each week, your people leader turns around to you an says, what do you learn this week? I mean, how great would that be? I mean, maybe this is like this, this utopian place that I'm imagining, but I don't know that I know, it does exist in particularly in more self managed teams, that that is part of the process. And I know actually, this is something that happens a little bit more in teams that maybe have the sort of discipline or the framework or structure of things like sprints and stuff like that, at the end of the sprint you do a bit of a retro and that should in some way cover. Yeah. Sometimes it doesn't. It doesn't cover some kind of what did I learn? What did we do wrong? What did we wouldn't be a testament and that type of thing. So the so I think, yes, we have, we have an education problem. I think we have a learning problem, I sorry, a reflection problem. I think we also have a curation problem. And one of the things I spend quite a bit of time doing in the learning projects I run and help clients with is curating content and just going, right if people want to go deeper into this, if people listen to something while they're walking the dog, or training the dog, or whatever it is, they want to do some training for themselves when they're training the dog, or while they're driving to wherever it is they're driving to that type of thing here's a podcast to listen to, here's a YouTube video, here is a book recommendation. Here's my summary of that book, if you don't have time to read, yeah, that type of thing. There we go it all starts to link in. But also or you know, for clients who, a number of clients have got access to things like LinkedIn learning stuff like that just going, alright, these three and I don't always do the whole thing. But you know, I can usually tell pretty quickly which ones might be good based on the teachers or the people running them and things like that. Hey, here's three LinkedIn learning courses if you want to go and actually take these ideas a little bit further, or hear some different perspectives on the stuff we've just we've covered during this programme or this session or whatever it is that we're doing. So it gives people a sense of being able to choose their own adventure and I think this is the other thing as well there's there's such a big gap. This is where I get a bit ranty around there is such a big gap between the learning experiences, and I use that very, very broadly in its broadest form, that people are exposed to every single day in the world, and what they are served up at work. And that piece on personalisation is hugely different. And again, yeah, like you said, the scale scale is hard when scale is hard personalisation at scale is harder. But that's when automation and stuff needs to come in and help we need to be using really good technology. And I think a lot of organisations are like, we've only got Microsoft, good luck, you know. And everyone else, everyone cries, a cries, a small tear. And then the and then the other thing is around the, the ability to to personalise, but also to, to pick and choose that just in time when we when we need it as well, oh, I need to know how to give feedback to someone just using that example of user or any user. All right, there's a course but it's something in six months time. Great. Yeah. That's, I think, yeah. So there's lots of things there. But I think yeah, that delta between what people can do and access and have and see in real life, in everywhere else in their life versus what they've got at work is a huge challenge at the moment. And then the ability to personalise and personalise at scale, and break it down into so it's, it's accessible when people need it.
I think there's an irony in what you've said. And I concur in in that, you know, imagine you and I were sitting down at the beginning of the end of the bar, anytime I said, you know, Steph, or you said to Pete, you know, what have you learned this week? I reckon because of this attention deficit economy we're living in, as the recipient of that question, whilst I'd love to have that conversation with you over a wine or a beer or a coffee our brains going, right - what do you need to hear? Well, I learned that, this, that, and the other. Can we just get on with it? Because Task, task, task, task , task. There is no time to reflect, because I haven't got the time. And the irony is I think, and I've been suggesting this to almost every client who'll listen is that I believe strongly that learning is a competitive advantage.
Oh, I if you can, if you if you know how to learn, you're unstoppable.
That's the quote - write it down. So even just on that, Are there things you've come across that help people learn how to learn?
I think a bit of role modelling is useful. People can't be what they can't see. And I think there is a really, yeah, some of best leaders I've worked with have been voracious learners, readers. And again, they don't have to be doing a course every week or you know, anything like that. That's not, but also that breadth like, choose something you're interested in. Go learn how to make sourdough - maybe actually, there's a bad example in 2022. Something else? Okay, something else. But something was not reminiscent of the last couple of years. But yes, go and learn anything, because, and just spend that time just going, oh, how is this useful to my job as a salesperson? Whatever it is, because finding those and I think it was in one of Dan Pink's books, I might be wrong, it might be maybe it's David Epstein's Range, which is a fantastic book, I love that book. But in whichever one it was, they were talking about how the ability to think in analogy, and metaphor is really useful. So being able to it must be in Range actually, because they were talking about how you can bring in different perspectives or different views from other disciplines into other disciplines is an incredible learning advantage as well. Because you are then being able to not just learn different things or different skills, but actually to then think about, ah, me if I stopped doing ceramics the last couple of years, it's wondering, my learning hobbies has been like, how is shaping this clay like shaping a person? Yeah, or like learning or yeah, whatever it is. So being able to kind of think about those things. Or the fact that in ceramics, one of the things I loved which was a real kind of, oh, cool - that's a cool like, analogy or link is in the middle of the studio I go to there's the what I call the slop, slop bucket of shame, where when your thing goes wrong, you peel off the wheel and you go and chuck it in there. Big splash. And everyone you know, someone will see you do it. And inevitably someone will look up and be like, oh, yeah, we've all been there, you know, kind of give you get there kind of like the, the the warm, warm, eyeroll type look and you know, we've been there together, I had to throw one in there a minute ago, that type of thing. I just think in an organisation that slop bucket a shame would be out the back, you'd have to walk through all sorts of corridors to get there. It'd be a real cloak and dagger thing to go and put it in there if you'd made a mistake. No one would sympathise with you, it'd be real this you know, you'd have to go and hide it or it's in there in the studio it's in the middle of the room. Everyone sees you go and go plop a put it in there. And it's a bit of a celebration in some ways. Yeah, that one didn't work. Move on to the next one.
But I'm probably paraphrasing but I believe that Buckminster Fuller said to master metaphors is to master life. Oh, nice, I like that. Which, you know, I love and you know, again, if I can somehow use things in parallel things at the edge things that are completely the opposite to help people as you said, How does reading that book helped me with managing people? Not the content, but the process I go through and all of that stuff. Yeah. And I convinced that everyone is desperate to learn. But, we don't reflect we don't give ourselves the time the systems are not set up. People leaders don't know how to how to do it well. but if somebody did it properly, and spent some discipline - not a lot of time but disciplined time on it, it would create daylight between them and the competition.
Absolutely. And I think the biggest thing, actually, and this is probably in your in your wheelhouse as well, Pete is one of the best things you can do to learn is to teach. Like any opportunity, you have to teach, and yes, there'll be the you probably do this all the time, all the time anyway, you would teach someone how to access something in a system and you started to get, you know, get off the ground. Yeah, that type of thing. But any excuse to teach something is is a learning opportunity, because you learn so much more by teaching. And there's so many there's great organisations around as one called Laneway Learning here in certainly here in Melbourne, they are expanding a little bit into some of the other states as well, if you're in Australia. But what they do is anyone can teach anything. So I've taught things with them - I've taught slow cooking, I've taught breadmaking, I've taught how to start a podcast and talk for fun, which was well it was a few years ago, I cant' remember what it was now meal planning how to meal plan. So it doesn't have to be anything related to your work at all. I mean, the podcasting one slightly is for those examples, but doesn't have to be anything related to your work. But just that that discipline or that skill of being able to take all your knowledge structure it in a way, and that is accessible to people to also know your audience to think about where are they starting from? What questions might they have? How do I build that into the content? How do I start here and end up there? What's the what's the process of doing that is just such a powerful learning tool, and then doing something to get really uncomfortable, which might be not where people are tempted to start, that's okay. If you want the for bonus points would be to go and do something uncomfortable. And this year, I've been doing improv classes. And really, when I read the blurb for the for the course, I thought who didn't know about that? And I thought, oh right, that's it. Buy, spent, take my money. That's that was that was a sign that I was thought oh, no, that's something I should do. Because it's very easy to go and get another professional qualification and get qualified in something else. Another certificate here. It's yeah, knowledge. Exactly. It's it's easy, but something where you've got to actually put your whole body into it is something else altogether.
Totally. And you know, as a bit of an aside, my eldest daughter, who's a psychologist, as a bit of a side, it's not a hustle, but more of a side interest in doing improv because she hated it. She was nervous. And ironically, there was actually some research in the background that shows things like doing improv actually can help anxiety and depression and confidence and all those sort of things because it is embodied. Yeah. And even from an agile perspective, physically or mentally, the ability to go and take anything that Steph gives me and turn it into something or nothing, and keep going. Boy, that's a skill not many people have.
Yeah. And if you're a tree, you're a damn tree, like, you've got to be that tree. If that's the role you've been given in that particular scene, you are a tree. Yeah. And just being able to sort of hold that and be like, Oh, okay, well, I guess I'm, I guess I'm a tree.
Steph, I'm really conscious of time, but I haven't really indulged myself in some of your books stuff so can I ask you a couple of questions about that. How did you get into that?
So a few years ago, when I started a new role, it was my first kind of proper leadership type role. With Yes, I was leading people before that, but in terms of the actual title and things, and one of the partners who I was going to be working with and wanting to impress was that oh, so what have you read recently? I thought, oh, no, no. Oh, dear. And luckily, I had read something. I can't remember what it was. But I read one thing he was, oh, have you read this read that and was like, no. And I thought, all right, well, this is game on. Game on Tony. So then I went and read loads. And then I got to the point where I'd read loads, and I don't do things, tend to do things by half. So I've read lots and people then were like Steph, what book do you recommend for this? Or what do you recommend or what what was this book like? And after a while, they will start to blur into the other when you start reading and reading a lot in that kind of nonfiction and business space. So I thought I need a way to easily be able to catalogue and curate all the books I've been reading. Why not start a podcast? That seems like a terrible use of my time. So that's what I did. And nearly four years later, I'm on episode 184 went live this morning. Oh, yeah. So there we go and so I've been reading a lot of books ever since.
One of the questions
It is to scratch my own itch like most good ideas.
Yeah, absolutely. One of the things mistakes I've made in doing this podcast with the quickfire questions at the end is what's a book that's changed your life and people go, oh Pete I wish you'd give me some time think about that. So I'm not going to leave it to the I'm going to ask you now, given your extensive curation and interest in, you know, in books, not that the but what's a book that's perhaps changed your perspective or life and in what way?
I think would actually be one I've already mentioned. So it would be Priya Parker's The Art of Gathering. And I think it came, I read it at a time and I think some of these things, it's the timing, isn't it, or whatever. I mean, genuinely, it is, it is a great book. But it also came at a time when I was really thinking about how do I, what's next in my facilitation work that I'm doing? Like, how do I level it up? Like, what am I what, where can it go? And it was this it was the book that I read, I thought, this is the work I want to do is it is the facilitation of bringing, I love the learning part of it as well. But that kind of delivery element of learning or of bringing people together. It's yeah, I was like, that's, that's that's my kind of, if I'm a tea person, like the sort of length the sort of deeper one is facilitation for me. And that was the the reminder that that that is why.
Interesting. Any book that you've put down within a couple of pages, you've thought now not for me.
There's a few that I wish I had. But there's quite a few books, excuse me. There's quite a few books that I have thought this is trash. And then I've carried on reading for so I can talk about it on the podcast, so I can stop other people having to having to go through that same pain. I think Patrick Lencioni's work is great. I really like his models. I really like his approaches and theories. His books absolutely dire. Like I cannot stand those leadership fables like they're so fake and so awful, I just cannot bear it. But the if you use the leave the first probably 100 pages or so cuz they're not that long. And the last sort of 20 to 30 pages are actually talks about the models, the ideas, great, just just go straight to those. They're great. And then the worst book I've ever read in the kind of nonfiction category is the 5am Club, which was horrendous.
Well, because the idea is really in the title.
No, no. I'm on board the 5am clubber idea of getting up early. That's fine and I like that. But the book itself is just Oh, it's just dreadful. It's again, it's that fable kind of style. It's so fake. It's so over the top. And it's and to the point that I just think how is this inspiring to anyone, because it's, it's, I mean it's just dreadful. But also just the fact that it's so contrived, that you just think this doesn't happen in real life. So this has meant to be inspiring, and people are reading and being like, Oh, I could do I could be that this person, no one's ever going to be like that person because these people don't exist. And unlike good fiction that really takes you somewhere. And I think sometimes good fiction can take you can be as beneficial as good nonfiction. But good fiction that can take you somewhere and show you a different perspective or show you someone else's life or show things that maybe you just wouldn't have access to is great. But that kind of trite kind of made up fable kind of stuff in that kind of nonfiction category is just diabolical. In my peronsal opinion. Yeah.
Well, I'm so glad and grateful that you went there. It would have been so easy for you not to but I'm really glad. Now, do you believe everyone's got a book in?
Um, yes. Should they write it? Maybe not. I don't know.
Everyone has a book in them. Everyone's got it. Like even if it's a memoir, or an element of you know, something to share, or lesson or whatever. I imagined I just, yeah, why not? I mean, I would never stop and say everyone shouldn't write a book. Yeah, but I think what you does it need to be a best seller wver? Probably not. But does it mean if it means that you can reflect and get something down and share something with the people around you or the people going after you or whatever, then fantastic. I think there's also a lot of books that should be essays. That someone got a publishing deal and had to write a couple and then suddenly there's a very great 100 page books stuck in their 300 a very average 300 page book.
Yeah. I agree. And what about your book?
About my book? It's probably the question. Probably the question I get the most to be to be determined, I guess. Yeah, you I think if I wrote If I Yeah, if I did one it would be very it wouldn't be long pros. It would be something a bit different. I wouldn't want I don't want to just add to that noise. I don't think I'd want to do something unique and unusual.
Steph, so on that I'm conscious of time. A couple of quick things before. Where can people get ahold of you see what you do? If you just tell us that and obviously we'll put that in the show notes as well.
Yeah, the best place to find me hanging out is on LinkedIn. So I'm Steph Clarke on LinkedIn Clarke with an E on the end, unlike this guy here, he's got no E. Because I am apparently so we started we will literally one minute in little backstory here. We were like one minute into our conversation. I was like, oh, Pete, we have the same surname. And actually Pete like, as my dad's name is, oh, this is really weird. Because you're like my Dad. And then Pete was like, Oh, by the way, Clark without any is like the Scottish scholars and Clarke with the E is like the English poor person. So that was that was good. We've managed to make it through the whole episode, though. So it's still still smiling. So we're good. Yeah, so anyway, LinkedIn. Website? Yes. So it's yesand.co, which you can go and find, which is going to change soon. So yes, we can put a link to that as well.
Okay, cool. So just to kind of round this off, I'm going to if you're okay, I'm going to ask you, I'm probably going to keep the book theme if that's - kind of quickfire questions. Audible, Kindle or physical?
All three for different reasons. Okay. Is it gonna be like we can like give you background on Yeah, no.
Why audible? Why Kindle, why physical,
Audible, really only for autobiographies read by the person typically, memoirs, that type of thing. Because I fall asleep, listening to audiobooks and I like to make notes and audio, but I find it really hard to make notes listening to Audible audiobooks, like to read, quite a visual person. So I just find this stuff doesn't stick. So if I'm reading something, cuz I want to learn from it, it has to befit. I love read listening to audio books that are autobiographies, that I'm just going to enjoy it and enjoy the story. Kindle because it's just more convenient. So that's my kind of go to I normally buy things on my Kindle first and read them that way. And then if I'm like, actually, this is something I want to reference a lot more actually lend out to people or take to workshops or anything like that. Then I'll buy the physical copy as well. Yeah.
Right. Okay. physical copy, keeping it clean, or scribbling notes all over it?
Scribbling notes, folding pages, scribbling notes. I don't always scribble in all books, but I will definitely I fold pages all the time. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Nothing sacred for me.
Well, I can't tell you how many people will come across go Oh, you can't do that!
Back to that permission question. No that's what they're there for.
Yeah, I'm with you. What's the first book that you remember buying?
Oh, first book. I remember buying I can't remember buying it.
And I don't mean as a child. I mean, you're in this field
Okay. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Okay. Um, probably, I think it was it was recommended to me that we got it. And I can't remember I ended up buying it. Or maybe someone gave it to me, but it's first one is probably that is probably "Who Moved My Cheese". That was probably 15, 13 -14 years ago. Yeah.
Probably still contains some interesting metaphors to apply.
I think it probably does. Yeah, probably especially around that permission piece. Actually. Yeah.
Are you start at the beginning - and end the end? Or are you dipping in?
For nonfiction, Yeah, I tend to go all the way through, there might be some like actually Four Disciplines of Execution. I read the first section in the new version, those have been updated one recently, which is the one I've got. So I read the first section. And then I kind of skim through the two sections, which is more apt application for certain specific types of teams. So that one was a bit unusual. It's probably the first one I've done that for a long time. Fiction. I will skip to the end, because I want to know how we where we're going and I will read the last. Ah, yeah. Oh, yeah. I'll read the first kind of I don't know auarter, and then be like, Oh, wonder where this is going to go read the last page be like. Oh, wonder how we get there, then carry on. I'm a terrible human.
Yeah, you are awful. Final question. It's a bit of a double barreled question, because I've just realised this might not be a quick answer, but I'm interested. Any books that you wish you'd written or any book that we should have turned into a film?
Should turn into a film? I don't know about that one. I might have to have a longer thing about that one. The book I'd wish I'd written. It's probably some of this. Some of the ones I'm reading at the moment around really radically rethinking work. So when I read this stuff by The Ready by Aaron Dignan. I'm looking over there because it's over on my bookshelf. Brave New work, I just think ah, a wish this is the work that I had done to get to the stage of being able to then share this with being exposed to just very different ways of working I just find that so and I have done for quite a while is think anyone who's doing something radically different. I'm like, Ah, so good, and especially that kind of system stuff. I find that really interesting as well. How do we actually design intentionally designed ways of working or systems with discipline that allow us to actually do the work without the unintended consequences that exist in heavily in the work that in the way we're working at the moment,
an extra bonus question for me. Have you counted how many books you've got? Oh, not
recently? No, I think when we moved Yeah, I think I did when we moved house a couple of years ago. Because I was boxing them up. I know it'll be a couple of 100 in, in physical form. And including like cookbooks. I've got a lot of cookbooks actually, as well, at one point actually had more cookbooks and nonfiction like physical books. But on my Kindle version, I haven't got my Kindle mic, probably at about probably over 100 of a thought. So
yeah, I got another question. Because I mentioned to you offline, I'm in a different location today because we've got some buildings next door and normally my background is my books in my studio. I had them randomly placed, but my EA strongly took upon herself to actually order them for me now and then it can a colour format.
Oh, no, that's worse.
So how have you got your group stored then?
Not either those two ways. The classic like the library, classic alphabetical by surname and then chronological or I've got multiple ones by an author. So they'll go like older to newer letter. C
an you spot if someone's coming in and being naughty and shifted books around?
Yeah. Or if I've just had a moment, I've forgotten the alphabet. But it was that I spoke to I spoke to someone a little while ago, who's I think granddaughter had put their books into colour, like the rainbow kind of order. Yeah. But he was then he didn't know what colour anything was. So like the book, so he then had to like Google a photo of the book first, before he knew how to then go and get it off, where to go and get it off the shelf.
Yeah, well, because the irony is I didn't realise at the time, but I remember the book by the colour of the spine. Oh, yeah. Okay. Yes. actually helped me. Yeah. So if you'd says, if you've got a book on X, I go, yep, that's a white background. Red spine or black spine, yellow spine I go, Oh, here's the yellow books, the Red Book. So actually, yeah, it made it a bit easier.
Yeah, yeah. No, I like my alaphabetical one. Quite, quite disorganised. I'm not I'm not you know, I'm not I'm a very organised person. I'm quite a messy person. So I think actually, just having the books in chronological order is some level of some semblance of non messiness that I can I can muster sign of a genius. I think, wow, there we go. We'll just leave on that I think. No more questions.
I'm really grateful one for your time and two for just the authenticity in what you've shared. I'm sure anyone listening would pick up a truckload of knowledge. And of course, we'd both be poking them going on, how are you going to apply it? So again, thank you very much for your time.
Thank you. Thanks, Pete. And really good, interesting, different questions I've been asked before so I appreciate that.