Welcome to In The Company
I’m thrilled to bring you the latest offering from the Of Kin studio – a podcast about humanising work, and understanding how we work from the inside out. For quite a while I’ve wanted to lift words off a screen and make them into soundwaves but I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to talk about and with who. But when I dug into the things I care about most in my life, it’s really helping others (and myself) understand what makes us thrive, and bounce after a fall. Because let’s face it, no one gets through this life without face down moments.
How we work as humans, the work we choose to engage in, the contribution we hope to make and the meaning it gives to us and our loved ones, drive healthy humans and communities. And what I know for sure, is that connection is at the root of human existence. My hope is this podcast will connect you with stories and insights so that you don’t feel so alone in crafting your place in the world.
Mostly I hope to foster more curiosity, compassion and courage to live a life that’s true to the uniqueness of each of us.
I look forward to being in your company (and ears)!
Kylie: Were you one of those kids that talked too much in class? That was me. I’m Kylie Lewis, a business consultant, coach, writer and content producer in Melbourne, Australia. I’m also a mum, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a best friend, neighbour and wannabe yogi. I’m an occasional fitness instructor, in the past have been a professional Tweeter for hire. I’m a feminist, occasional activist and full-time encourager. Beyond all of that, what I am is, human, just like you.
And this podcast is for anyone who enjoys being in the company of good conversations about what it is to be human, and how we design our work and lives for good.
My best days in the office are the ones out of it. Where I get to talk with clients about things that matter to them, and how to get past the things holding them back. I live for meaningful conversations where we exchange ideas, insights and wisdoms. I find small talk, rumours, and gossip exhausting. Give me a big idea, give me something I hadn’t thought about before, give me a new perspective, give me something that will challenge or change what I think and I’m yours.
For the last three years, I’ve written about taking a leap in your working life through The Leap Stories blog and book. This podcast is the next evolution of that conversation and is designed to go behind the work and humanise the lived experience of designing our careers. I’m keen to explore the vulnerability of showing up in our working lives and putting ourselves out there to be seen, to have impact and to be brave. I’m keen to help us all build a toolkit that enables us to drop our corporate masks, put down our professional shields and remember that underneath it all, we are all just figuring it out as we go along. Because when we stop seeing each other as imperfect, fragile humans, we lose our capacity for connection, and by default, we lose our own humanity.
Empathy, compassion, self-awareness, self-regulation, trust, forgiveness, grief and emotional literacy are not common topics in classrooms or boardrooms. We’re not taught how to name our emotions, feel our feelings or interrogate the stories we create for ourselves. We learn how to walk, talk, read and write. But rarely are we taught how to navigate our internal, emotional lives. We fumble through. I want to change that. I want to tackle the growing statistics around mental health where it’s estimated 45% of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. In the last 12 months, it’s estimated one in five Australian’s has taken time off work to manage a mental health issue, most commonly around anxiety, depression or substance abuse.
It’s estimated that about 3 million Australians are living with depression or anxiety. Those conditions don’t go away when we walk through the office doors. And undoubtedly, our work can actually be the initiator of mental health problems.
We are working longer and harder. We are spending less time recovering from work, less time sleeping and less time eating properly. We’re switched on all the time. Our boundaries between work and life are blurred, and we often define our lives and self-worth only through our work. This comes at a cost.
In late 2015 Google published the results of a research project into what makes a successful Google team. Over two years they conducted over 200 interviews with Googlers and looked at more than 250 attributes of their 180 Google teams. At the outset, researchers thought the most successful teams would have the perfect mix of individual traits and skills necessary for a stellar team – just like the perfect ingredients for a delicious cake – like a Rhodes scholar, two extroverts, a highly trained engineer and a PhD. But in the researchers own words ‘They were dead wrong.’ What they found was that WHO on the team mattered less than HOW the team members interacted, structured their work and viewed their contributions. Of the top five key dynamics for a successful Google team, the most important factor by far was psychological safety. Psychological safety was defined as team members feeling safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other, without feeling insecure or embarrassed. What they found was that individuals on teams with higher psychological safety were less likely to leave Google, more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, more likely to bring in higher revenues and they were rated as effective twice as often by executives.
On average, we will spend around 46 years of our life ‘working’. I’m interested in who we are when we’re at work, when we’re engaged in work, the kind of work we do and how work shapes us. I’m interested in the humanity of work, how it’s celebrated and how it’s shuttered.
I want to talk about workplace cultures that foster working on purpose with purpose because the kind of work we do and how we do it impacts our well-being. I want to look at a ‘whole-of-person, whole-of-life’ approach to work.
Mostly, I want people like you to not feel alone when you’re working, especially when you’re having days that aren’t filled with glitter crusted unicorns showering down praise and good fortune.
I have days that are filled with confusion, frustration, chronic self-doubt, overwhelm, procrastination and anxiety. I also have days where I crack open a new idea, make a stellar connection, contribute helpfully and turn on light bulbs for people. I want to talk about the light and dark, and how we each find our way through.
I’m a huge fan of leadership researcher Simon Sinek and his Start with Why movement. He says that:
If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.
This podcast is an exploration of understanding people, so we can understand business.
My other social science super hero is the shame and vulnerability research Dr Brené Brown, and if you haven’t watched her TEDTalks you should pause this podcast right now and go watch how she’s cracked the code on what it means to be human. A few years ago she was interviewed on the Slack podcast and she said
‘The biggest barrier to effective teams is not professional development – it’s personal development. People are not doing their own work on what it is that gets in the way of them fully showing up as the kind of people we need in teams, and leaders we need. It is what makes or breaks a team, a culture or leaders.’
We need to better understand how we work from the inside out. And it all starts with what we believe.
3 I believes
So at the beginning of each podcast, I’m going to ask all my guests to tell me three things they believe in, so you and I can both get a good sense of who they are, and what they care about. So I’m going to go first.
- I believe that the most important conversations we have are those we have with ourselves. How we talk to ourselves defines what we make of our lives.
- I believe that things don’t get better unless they’re talked about, out loud. We need psychological safe places talk through what’s on our mind, and make sense of the world.
- I believe in choosing courage over comfort and taking leaps of faith, because that it’s in the doing that we learn and grow. There are probably a million different ways this podcast could be better, but I’m not going to wait on the sidelines, overthinking it, over perfecting it until I’m paralyzed by so much self-doubt that I’ll never start it. So I’m channelling one of my favourite quotes by Arthur Ashe, who said Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
3 Take Aways
The other thing I will also ask my guests is three things they would like listeners to take away from each episode. Here’s my wishlist list for you:
- The company we keep matters. Every episode of this podcast is designed to invite you to spend time in the company of someone who will uplift, educate, inspire and empathise. I don’t have time for small talk and neither do you. So be mindful about what you consume and from whom.
- Regardless if you are an employee or an employer, we are all self-employed. It is our job to be the boss of our time, energy and intellect, and to use these resources to best serve ourselves and the things we care about for our entire lives. How we go about investing those resources is entirely up to us. We are all in our own company of our own making every day.
- We each have a responsibility to take care of what’s going on inside of us, to speak up, to ask, to feel and to stay awake to how we are in the world, and the energy we bring. Your words create worlds. Your work matters. You matter.
This podcast is a result of the conversations I’ve been having with myself about who I am in my working life, how that spills out into my whole life (or maybe visa versa). And I want to talk about these things with other humans like you.
Thanks for listening, and I look forward to being in your company again soon.
To make sure you don’t miss an episode please subscribe to this podcast. And if you feel so inclined, I’d so appreciate a review on iTunes.
A few notes:
Your rights and obligations around mental health in the workplace
One in five MPs on mental health medication:
Australian Bureau of Statistics: Prevalance of Mental Disorders (2007)
Five keys to a successful Google team