Beyond Busy


Mental Health at Work with James Routledge

Ep. 136
My guest today is James Routledge. James is a mental health advocate and author of the book ‘Mental Health at Work’. After burning out when his first business failed at the age of 24, he founded Sanctus who are on a mission to help companies invest in the mental health of their employees. In this episode, James talks openly about his personal experiences. We also cover some of the myths of mental health: how to manage boundaries, how to question some of the conventional narratives on mental health and more. I asked James what the motivation was to be very open about his own mental health: Well, I didn't for so long. I definitely didn't grow up being open about how I felt or articulating my emotions. I suppose for me now I've experienced the power and the transformational change of taking the time to become aware of how I'm feeling, articulate it and share it with others… …and I've seen the benefit of that. It's changed the course of my life and taken my life in directions that I would never have expected. I would never have expected to have written a book on mental health! That was never on my radar. James explained why some people find it so hard to share their emotions with others: The reason we don't open up is because we don't feel safe or we don't feel comfortable. Often that is through the fear of judgment or fear of dismissal. And when I say dismissal, I don't just mean being dismissed from your job. That's one way. I mean just dismissal. You know, you are saying something that’s really important for you to someone and it just goes completely over their head.I really enjoyed this important conversation about mental health at work and would like to say a special thanks to Penguin Business for connecting me with James.✔ Links:James Routledge: Routledge on Twitter: Health at Work: to Graham's Newsletter: Show Sponsors: Think Productive - Time Management Training:​​Useful links: by Pavel Novikov:

Telling Your Story with Sarah Archer

Ep. 134
My guest today is Sarah Archer. Sarah is a speaking and marketing coach, as well as a playwright and comedy performer. Her podcast ‘The Speaking Club’ helps people to increase their confidence around public speaking and she has written a couple of books on the subject too! In this episode, we talk about authenticity, overcoming fear, how to measure your success and much more.Sarah spoke about how she learnt to deal with putting yourself out there:Detachment is something that I'm still learning about. I think the issue is around expectations. If you've got to manage your expectations and do it for the love of it, which is what I, you know, truly do it for the love of it.But you know, there's these sort of rags to riches stories about Edinburgh and it’s trying so hard not to take it personally when someone says something about your work, it's what we always do as human beings. We ignore all the positives and we just focus on those negatives.We need to sort of balance that out or just detach from it and it's not making it mean anything about us. It's still hard to detach you from the work you do and that's why people, certainly I've seen in the corporate world before, getting your identity mixed up with what you do. It is dangerous because we need to keep those two things separate as much as possible.✔ Links:Sarah Archer: Archer on Twitter: Archer on Facebook: Speaking Club Podcast: to Graham's Newsletter: Show Sponsors: Think Productive - Time Management Training:​​Useful links:

Social Legacy with Emily Chang

Ep. 133
My guest today is Emily Chang. Emily is the CEO of the McCann Worldgroup, China a 400 plus marketing agency based in Shanghai. She's held senior roles at Apple and Starbucks, and she is also the author of The Spare Room.In this episode, we talk about her making the move to work in China. She tells us the story of opening up her spare room to strangers, and why social legacy and living an intentional life really matter. She also shares stories about the kind leaders who've inspired her along the way and what makes her tick. And honestly, I could listen to her all day. It was such a treat to do this one.And, of course, we talk about what the spare room actually is:First of all, it's a euphemism. It's a euphemism for the thing that we each have to offer, you know, not everybody would love to open their spare room up and invite vulnerable young children, bring babies in and take care of them for the long term. For us, that's become an offer.It started off when I was single later, my husband and I, as a young couple brought in young people. And now with my 13-year-old daughter, we have our 17th kid in our spare room right now over the last 22 years.✔ Links:Social Legacy: Chang on Instagram: on Facebook: to Graham's Newsletter: Show Sponsors: Think Productive - Time Management Training:​​Useful links:

Cycling Without Age with Ole Kassow

Ep. 132
My guest today is Ole Kassow. Ole is a social entrepreneur based in Denmark and the founder of Cycling Without Age, a global movement that brings together volunteers to provide outdoor cycle rides to older people who would otherwise be stuck inside. Ole has also spent a lifetime experimenting with different ways to bring kindness into the world of work.In this episode, we talk about his journey creating Cycling Without Age and growing it to become a truly global organization. We also talk about the importance of intergenerational conversations, his experiments in slowness, why kindness is good for business and how his dad inspired his playful spirit. I think you're gonna love this one.Ole starts by telling us how Cycling Without Age was created:So I come out of a family with a dad who suffered from MS. He was very quick in a wheelchair. Actually, I know firsthand how lack of mobility can cause social isolation, loneliness and depression.There was one particular guy who just caught my attention and spurred me into action and that was a man who later really changed my life. I offered bike rides to him. It just brought me an amazing insight into a different generation. It gave me a lot of joy to be able to take this man back on a bike and get him back into his neighbourhood and meet his old friends, see the old places and listen to stories and so on. I felt it was a really wonderful two-way thing where I was able to offer my companionship and he was able to offer me a lot of stories and a lot of insights and wisdom from his age.And then continued on from that with the city of Copenhagen getting involved and sponsoring some wonderful three-wheel bikes with a double seat in front. Then it just grew from there, it grew to all the care homes and activity centres in Copenhagen and beyond, and has since spread to most corners of the world as well.✔ Links:Cycling Without Age: Kassow on Instagram: Kassow on Twitter: to Graham's Newsletter: Show Sponsors: Think Productive - Time Management Training:​​Useful links:

How to Be Happy with Nic Marks

Ep. 131
My guest today is Nic Marks. Nic is one of the world's leading experts on happiness and the founder of Friday Pulse, a tool to help organizations find out how happy their people are at work. Nic also created the Happy Planet Index to show which countries have the happiest people, and he spent years thinking about how to be happy and the relationship between happiness and success.So in this episode, we talk about how to be happy. Nic talks about his mentor, a Chilean economist who changed his life, his five ways to wellbeing and much more.Nic starts off by explaining what Friday Pulse is for:And so I'm a statistician by trade. So I'm looking to create a measure that is useful for organisations and basically, our measure is happy weeks, which is “have people had a good week?”. That builds up into a metric for an organisation that allows them to track how every team, how the whole organisation is and it's very, very responsive. I mean, most organizations don't have a responsive people metric. Most of their people metrics are quite lagging. So they would obviously look at things like retention and things like that, they might look at engagement and tend to do that in a once a year survey, maybe once a quarter. I want to create something very at the moment......So by measuring it weekly, you start to get into that it's very fluid and that's what I really like about it. And, we create useful data for team leaders and organizations to understand their happiness and their organization.✔ Links:Nic Marks: Marks on Twitter: Marks on TED Talk: Pulse: Planet Index: to Graham's Newsletter: Show Sponsors: Think Productive - Time Management Training:​​Useful links:

Black Founders Hub with Denise Nurse

Ep. 130
My guest today is Denise Nurse. Denise is the co-founder of the Black Founders Hub, a network for black entrepreneurs that started here in the UK but is now increasingly global. She is also a lawyer and entrepreneur, having started and then sold a really unusual law firm. Denise has also worked as a TV presenter for Sky Travel and on BBC's Escape to the Country and Watchdog.In this episode, we talk about race and how to encourage black entrepreneurs. The journey from starting and growing, to sell a business. And I think you're going to really learn a lot from Denise's outlook and energy. So let's get straight into it.Denise explains to us why is the Black Founders Hub:I am a black founder. My goal is to help support others in business and to find ways of creating success. So that's kind of why because instead of us all being on our own, if we come together as a collective, we know that peer networking works.There's something called the old boys club. That was the thing for a reason. So I just want to create that for black founders. That safe space. That space to be yourself and that space to connect and to do business. The key thing with that, what we're doing, it's for business at a higher level.And I ask Dennise “What is kindness in leadership and why it is important?”:Firstly, kindness to oneself. I think great leaders who ever learned or who practice the art of being kind to themselves, have the ability to be kind to others.If you are running yourself to the ground, if you are not saying very nice things to yourself, if you're being your own worst enemy, it's hard actually to offer kindness to others truly because it will come from a not good place. So there's that basic skill of listening which I think is truly kind, truly.✔ Links:Black Founders Hub: to Graham's Newsletter: Show Sponsors: Think Productive - Time Management Training:​​Useful links: by Pavel Novikov:

How to Deal With a Fast Changing World with Azeem Azhar

Ep. 129
My guest today is Azeem Azhar. Azeem is a serial entrepreneur, a journalist, startup investor, technologist and is the founder of Exponential View, a weekly email with 200,000 subscribers including many of the leading lights in tech. His new book ‘Exponential’ is a fascinating look at how humans can learn to thrive in an age of accelerating technology.It really is a must-read for all of us right now. If we want to keep pace with the rapid changes happening right now and perhaps even more importantly, with what's to come. So in this episode, we talk about exponential technologies and it's not all about AI. Azeem talks us through what he calls the exponential gap.We also talk about the future of work, adapting to shifts in power, and whether he's optimistic or pessimistic for the future.We talked about what is the world of startup right now:Startups are super, super hard and the reason it's challenging is that no one knows the answer because you're building something that hasn't been built before. So not only do you not know what you need to build, you don't know how to build it.And also you have to bring a bunch of people on that journey with you and you have to motivate them. You have market challenges, you have technical problems and you have people problems. And at the same time, you've got to hit milestones given the funding that you have available. It's really intense.And the other thing that you know is that you're not special.That the fact that you have figured out that this technology could meet this market need and create a new product means that a thousand other people have figured that out too.Azeem explains why it is so hard to get what is the exponential gap:So obviously these things are changing so quickly. And they're driven by the technology and by entrepreneurs and scientists who are able to take advantage of it. But the rest of us live in a world that is much more linear, that changes much more slowly and we don't necessarily understand that there are exponential processes, and we don't necessarily understand what the impact of those processes are.And one question is, why don't we understand it? And you know,I'm a bit laissez about this, I can explain it in over 20 cases or so, but that is we're really bad at maths. We don't see exponential processes in the real world. Our child goes from one to two to three to four every year. They don't go from one year old, two years old to four years old, to eight years old, to 16 years old. We see linear processes, we experience linear processes.And so there are probably evolutionary reasons why it's not in our makeup to naturally understand these very, very fast changes. We don't see how quickly things are all shifting.And, we found out if there is anything that Azeem do that has the biggest impact on his own work and his own experience:All the things that I do, they're all connected to the main thing that I do that has the impact. I think we are going through a transition to the exponential age. I think it's gonna need new ideas, new institutions and new businesses. And, what I do in my work with my newsletters and my podcast is I use those to learn and to share my learnings. And then, I work with entrepreneurs by investing in them to help them build those businesses as part of the transition.So it all hangs together in my head, even if it doesn't necessarily look, you know, maybe it looks a bit disaggregated, it's diffuse from the outside, but they are all meant to sit together and be part of this change that we all kind of privileged to be part of.✔ Links:Exponential book: Azeem on Twitter:’s Podcast: to Graham's Newsletter: Show Sponsors: Think Productive - Time Management Training:​​Useful links: by Pavel Novikov:

How to succeed as a workparent, with Daisy Dowling

Ep. 128
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 to be stressed or answering questions. I think she was five when my daughter said, I used to come home and say, how was your day? What happened at school? Whatever. And she said, first hugs, then play, then talk. Which were great advice and good coaching for me."🎙 About Beyond Busy:Beyond Busy is a podcast by Graham Allcott of Think Productive, author of “How to be a Productivity Ninja”. In this show, he interviews people from all walks of life about productivity, work/life balance, happiness and success.​​✔ Links:Workparent: Daisy Dowling: to Graham's Newsletter:​Buy “Workparent: The Complete Guide to Succeeding on the Job, Staying True to Yourself, and Raising Happy Kids”: Show Sponsors: Think Productive - Time Management Training:​​Useful links: by Pavel Novikov: