Episode 356 – WorkJoy with Beth Stallwood

Beth Stallwood‘Work fits into this bigger thing that we call life. And if you are more joyful in work, that will spill over and you will be more joyful in life.’

You may not have used the terms ‘WorkJoy’ and ‘WorkGloom’ before, but I bet you immediately know what they mean, AND which is your most common daily experience. The good news is that you have much more control over that experience than you might think. 

In this week’s conversation, Beth Stallwood talks to me about how we can find ways to bring more joy into our working lives, and how those lessons spill over into the work we choose to do for ourselves, such as, say, writing a book. Discover your own power – it was there all along – and also how to build the squad that will support you: the cheerleaders, challengers, comrades, creators, connectors and conjurers who will transform your writing experience into something altogether more joyful. 



The WorkJoy website: https://createworkjoy.com/

Beth’s site: https://bethstallwood.com/

Beth on Twitter: https://twitter.com/createworkjoy

Beth on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/createworkjoy/

Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky

Alison on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bookstothesky_/

The 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge April 2023: http://proposalchallenge.com/

WriteBrained: A 28-day exploratory writing adventure: https://pi-q.learnworlds.com/course?courseid=writebrainedcourse

The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447064765612358/

Alison Jones: I am here today with Beth Stallwood, who is a coach, a facilitator, speaker, consultant, and author, and the founder of Create WorkJoy. She spent 20 years developing her signature, practical, passionate approach, getting to the heart of what’s actually going on, whether that’s for an individual client stuck in WorkGloom, we’re going to come back to that, or an organization with a people challenge to solve.

Her clients range from global corporations to tech scale ups, sports governing bodies, charities, and higher education institutions. And she’s the author of WorkJoy: A toolkit for a better working life and host of the WorkJoy Jam podcast.

So first of all, welcome Beth. Great to have you here.

Beth Stallwood: Thank you so much for having me. I’m very excited about having this conversation.

Alison Jones: Oh, it’s really good to have you here. We were just saying off air how great it is when you are a podcast host, when you just have to rock up on somebody else’s podcast, you don’t have to worry about the tech side. You just have to chat.

It’s glorious. So enjoy that.

Beth Stallwood: I will. I will

Alison Jones: But I teased them with the whole kind of WorkGloom thing in that intro there, which is such a great phrase, and of course WorkJoy. So let’s start there. WorkGloom, WorkJoy, what’s that all about?

Beth Stallwood: Okay, so WorkJoy is all about finding ways of making work more joyful. We spend a third of our lives at work and bearing in mind we probably spend a third of our lives sleeping, it’s a massive part of our lives for most human beings. And work is great for humans. It’s part of what we need to do. There’s loads of wonderful, engaging, brilliant life-affirming things about work and development and growth that are amazing.

And when we can find some WorkJoy, we find ourselves in a great place. I always say that WorkJoy, if you’re going to define it as a noun, like I’m going to get nerdy here, it would be the warm, happy feeling you get about your work when working or at your workplace. And this was simpler before Covid because it was like when at work. But actually there’s many different versions and things where you think about work now, but actually, really Workjoy is about developing the mindset, cultivating, taking action in pursuit of a better working life. It needs to be a verb, it needs to be something we do actively.

So I think WorkJoy is something that people can really understand. It’s like that moment of, micro moment of, oh, that was brilliant. I had a great meeting. Or that I’m working within my strengths and my preferences, and I get to be able to do great work.

Or even some of the things like what I call the fundamental factors: I’m working in a culture that works for me, this organization has values that I align with, et cetera. So there’s tiny things and massive things and everything in between that can give us that sense of WorkJoy.

Then on the other side of it, we have this WorkGloom. And I will confess to the listeners that when I first started exploring this concept, it was called something more unpublishable than WorkGloom.

But gloom seemed to be the right kind of thing, because gloom for me gives that negative, sad, frustrated feeling that you get at work. You know when something just winds you up, or you’ve got that impending sense of doom on a Sunday night, if you’re starting work on a Monday. That anxiety, that feeling that it’s not working for you, that oh, oh horrible, just kind of gloom, kind of brings that for me. But actually when we think about WorkGloom in the same kind of verb way, sometimes what’s happened is we’ve adopted or embedded some of the unhelpful habits that lead us into that workplace negativity. And you know, when you get into it, we get into that like spiral of oh, it’s just not good and everything here isn’t good and I hate it, and I just want to stay in bed and hide under the duvet.

That is like the extreme versions of WorkGloom. So they can exist in like little bits and big bits.

Alison Jones: Yes, and what’s interesting and I remember thinking this when you and I were first talking about the concept, is they are, it’s both circumstantial, so it’s how you find yourself, where you find yourself, who you find yourself with, and it’s sort of an orientation. So there’s a sort of internal and external aspect to both of those, isn’t there?

Beth Stallwood: Yes, there is. And you may find yourself in an organization that really suits you and then brings you loads of WorkJoy, like the organization, the situation, the environment, the people you work with, all have a massive influence on your level of Workjoy, we won’t deny that. So there’s an external internal factor there.

You may also find yourself an organization where you feel like a square peg in a round hole, where things just don’t work, where it’s clunky, where the culture doesn’t suit, the behaviors don’t match, all of those kind of things, and the level of WorkGloom can increase. But we also have an internal narrative and an internal story that is going on with some of those things, and sometimes we feel a little bit powerless to influence those things, and I’m really big on the idea that actually, if we take some personal responsibility for this stuff, we can increase our levels of WorkJoy. That is possible. I’ve seen it happen many, many, many times, and we can learn to manage the external WorkGloom, it’s a managing, it’s never going to disappear.

There is no such thing as a perfect organization and there is no such thing as actually 100% WorkJoy. Actually, if you had it, you probably wouldn’t feel it as much. It probably wouldn’t give you that oh, that’s brilliant moment. So we need to kind of like be up and down and actually being joyful all the time just isn’t the human experience. Bad things happen, difficult situations happen, challenge happens. But actually it’s about how quickly can you get yourself out of WorkGloom and back to neutral so that you can then move on to finding some Workjoy, because going from WorkGloom to WorkJoy, you have to go via kind of like a middle, oh, I understand what’s going on here. I can logically not emotionally understand and unpick the world as it is and know what I need to do to kind of increase my working life in a way that is more joyful.

Alison Jones: And this might sound like a daft question because obviously, given the choice, who wouldn’t want to be more joyful than gloomy? But actually it’s more than that, isn’t it? There’s a real materiality to how we are feeling when we’re doing our work.

Beth Stallwood: Yes, and there’s a lot also, like in society, that work should be hard and difficult. And it’s normal to be gloomy. Like you see all the memes that are like, oh, it’s hump day Wednesday, only two more days left at work. What if all the societal normal norms thing. Normal norms. That’s a funny way of saying that.

But what if all the societal norms were, it’s Wednesday, you’ve got two more days to make an impact. You’ve got two more days to change something in your working life. You are able to make this stuff happen. So there is something that’s quite kind of almost, it’s a bit cool, to be miserable about work, to moan about work. It’s like something, you’re allowed to have a moment, you can say, oh, my boss is rubbish, or my organization isn’t very good at this, and it becomes the norm versus the actually, do you know what, I’m really grateful my organization because, or my boss is really great at this particular thing, but they’re also a human being, so they’re not great at 100% of stuff.

A bit like, I’m not great at a hundred percent of stuff in my job and nobody is. There’s a more realistic, more self-led way of creating a working life that works for you. And I think we forget that we have the power to do that. And if we can take some of that and do it, our work will be more interesting. We’ll have more opportunities for growth. We’ll see more opportunities for career progression and taking a little bit of control. And you can’t control 100% of what goes on, but the bits that you can control will make a massive difference to how you both experience work and how you perform at work.

Alison Jones: Yes, and it was that sort of the layering of the benefits of changing your orientation and taking those practical steps and taking ownership of it that really struck me is that, yes, your experience will be better and frankly that’s great. You know, who wouldn’t want that?

Beth Stallwood: That’s enough.

Alison Jones: Right. who wouldn’t rather be joyful? And actually your experience at work is not going to be just better in the moment, it’s going to be better long term because you are going to set yourself up for better prospects, better collaborations, better outcomes, and it’s better for your organization. So there’s these kind of multiple benefits of shifting yourself.

Beth Stallwood: And I’d say there’s an additional benefit to that, which is one we always forget when we’re talking about work, because we try to see it in this box, is that we have to remember that work fits into this bigger thing that we call life. And if you are more joyful in work, that will spill over and you will be more joyful in life.

I mean, who hasn’t had a partner or a friend or a colleague come up to them, make them feel like Ohhhhh, after having a big moan about work, imagine coming home and talking about all the things that were great about work today, how that lifts the mood of everybody rather than coming home feeling grumpy. So life and work aren’t two separate things.

Those boundaries are disappearing that did exist. They really don’t exist now. Life, work, if we can be more joyful at work, we will get LifeJoy out of WorkJoy as well. So the benefits extend out of the office, the desk, wherever it is you do your work as well.

Alison Jones: Yes. Your partner’s going to be very grateful that you read this book, is what you’re saying. Yes. Okay.

And so now we’re convinced and we understand why it matters. And it isn’t just about being more cheerful. How do we do it? And I know that you can’t give us the whole book, but just give us sort of one clue, one tactic, if you do nothing else today, try this.

Beth Stallwood: Okay, I will give you one. And as you know, I probably talk quite fast, so I could do quite a lot of the book in a very short amount of time, but I will not. I’m going to give you one thing, and it’s based on some really good neuroscience, which is we have something in our minds called negativity bias. You’ve probably heard of it before if you’ve listened to this podcast, because I’m sure I’ve listened to people talk about this before on this podcast, which I love. So negativity bias is a bit in our brain that is part of our survival mechanisms. It is there to help us see danger. It is there to help us survive as a human race, right?

It’s an important thing and we wouldn’t want it to be missing, but what it does is it skews our reality and the stories that go on in our head. If you think about it, if you have nine amazing things that happen during a day and one bad thing, our brain will ruminate on the one bad thing that happened, the one difficult conversation, the one thing that you didn’t get done that you are really regretting not getting on your to-do list. The one thing that made you feel icky or sticky about your values when you were in a conversation.

It will ruminate on that and it will forget about the nine positive things. So even if you have a 90% positive day, your brain will focus on the 10% thing, and I’m getting to the point about like what should we do here?

What you should do is, it’s the first activity I recommend everyone does on my coaching program, it is actually a free resource you can get off my website and we can tell you about that later, is to spend one working week, so on average, for most people, that’s five working days, but you know, your working week might be three days, it might be seven days, whatever, it’s one working week, tracking every day what has brought you joy during the day and what has brought you some WorkGloom during the day. And what this does is it helps to kind of neutralize that negativity bias because it reminds us and makes us write down, you know the power of writing, makes us write down the stuff that is good.

And it helps to kind of reorient our brain towards actually this is what this actually looks like. Not the story in my head that’s going on, that everything is bad because one bad thing happened.

Alison Jones: Yes. And…

Beth Stallwood: …and that’s the starting point, notice.

Alison Jones: Yes, learning to notice is so powerful. But you’re right, writing it down. There you go, thank you for bringing that in.

Beth Stallwood: Writing it down, yes. You can get the PDF print it out, work through it. And then what there is with that PDF as well is a load of reflection questions that will help you do it. And when I started this activity with, I’ve done it with lots and lots of people, so it’s been tried and tried and tested, is that for some people, that’s actually all they need.

For some people, like the very basics of kind of reading the book and then doing that activity is, okay, I just need to keep noticing this stuff and I feel way, way better. For other people…

Alison Jones: That what’s going on in my head is a story. That’s the other thing, isn’t it? We feel it’s real. We feel that what we’re telling ourselves is reality. And then of course you challenge that and suddenly you become aware that it’s just a story. It’s just something you’re telling yourself.

Beth Stallwood: Just a story and kind of like the dark and dingy places of our brain makes everything way more dramatic than the real world actually allows, and there’s a whole chapter in the book on stories, and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and other people. And you know, there’s characters and there’s heroes and there’s, you know, horrible people.

But actually get the reality of the story out there and suddenly you will find either it helps, it will help anyway, or it’s like a jumping off point to go, okay, if this thought is bringing me WorkGloom, how do I manage it? Or the thing I recommend even more, if this is bringing me joy, how do I build it? Because sometimes even if you can’t manage the WorkGloom, if you just build more joy in, the percentage gets more and more and you just feel better, and better equipped to handle the gloom because you are no longer in that I can’t do anything about it. It’s really hard.

So, and you’re in the do you know what? I feel great most of the time. So if I have to put up with this one thing, I’ll put up with this one thing.

Alison Jones: Yes, and even just the agency aspect of that, even just the sense that you are, even if you’re not controlling your external environment, you are starting to manage and proactively manage your relationship with it and your attitude towards it, that’s incredibly powerful itself, isn’t it?

Beth Stallwood: I like to think of it as the Dorothy and the Ruby Slippers effect, is that you have the power all along. Now you don’t have the power to control everything because no human being has the power to control everything. But there is a lot more that you can control and proactively do something about than you thought there was before.

You can take action. You can take steps.

Alison Jones: And I’m already in my mind building this towards writing as well because there’s so much that that segues across there. But one thing that really struck me about your book and you focused on it in the launch party as well, the online launch, was the squad, which I just think is such a great way of thinking about, again, how you kind of proactively get the right people around you.

So just tell us a little bit about the squad and then tell us, if you will, how that played out when you were writing the book.

Beth Stallwood: Yes, I will because I couldn’t have written it without the squad, so, absolutely. So the squad concept comes from me as you need people around you, humans are not solo people. We are designed to act in groups. We’re designed to help each other. The fact of community is really, really important for making things happen.

But often we have another thing, which is called affinity bias, which is we spend a lot of time and energy with people who are like us. So we spend time with people who think like us, talk like us, and we then get into those echo chambers of, oh yes, I’m going to moan about my boss. Oh yes, yes, that sounds awful. Your boss sounds awful. Oh, yes yes.

And we get into this zone of, we just hear the same thing over and over again. So with the squads, what I’m recommending is people think about who do they have in their support network, but who comes from different angles. So I suggest six different roles. Now, there probably could be 20 different roles or four different roles. It doesn’t really matter. It’s just getting you to consider different ways that people work, that people have different skills that they bring. And I recommend that you have some cheerleaders, who are the people who are always there, always cheering you on. They see no fault in you whatsoever. They think you’re brilliant and they’re amazing to have around, and you always need them.

But you also need some challengers. And so many people say, I don’t get enough challenge. I don’t get enough feedback. I don’t get enough pushback. Especially as they get more and more senior, they don’t hear those things. So who have you got in your world that’s actually going to challenge you? And sometimes it’s not about a new person, it’s actually about getting the people in your squad and giving them permission to challenge you, asking them to challenge you, because we don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings so often. But sometimes it’s what you need.

I recommend you have those comrades. You know, the people are kind of like in it with you. They’re the people who are going into the meeting, they’re understanding, they’re in that kind of real world, and they feel with you, they understand it. They’re really kind of in it, as well as the creators. Now, the creators are the people who bring you new ideas, new suggestions. They’re more likely to be from outside of your world, to be able to see it with a different perspective, to be able to then have your connectors.

You know, some people in life, you talk and they go, you need to speak to this person and I’ll introduce you. I love these people. They’re amazing. And I think having some connectors in your world who can kind of have their octopus hands in lots of different pies and kind of introduce you to loads of different people who you wouldn’t necessarily normally meet. Really important. And then finally, my sixth one is the conjurer, and they’re kind of the rarest, I don’t know if you have one in your life.

I have a few of them where they kind of appear almost like a fairy godparent at some moment in time and give you exactly what you need, whether it’s a resource or a connection or a little joy boost, or just something that makes you feel like on top of the world and able to do anything.

So, some of these people will be in your life already. Some of them you may be lacking, you might need to get. Some of them you might need to kind of reposition and say, actually, you are really great at feedback to other people. Can you give that to me? And it’s just about getting kind of a breadth of people around you who bring a different skill, different style, different attitude, different behavior, different perspective, and are able then to kind of better, get a better rounded advice troupe kind of thing.

Alison Jones: What really struck me as well at the launch, when we were thinking about our own networks and mapping those roles out, was the realization that you can be all of those things to someone else as well, which I found really exciting.

Beth Stallwood: Yes, you absolutely can be. And when I say those things, you’re probably thinking, oh. So I sit here and think, okay, well I’m often, I’m a coach, I’m often a challenger in the world, but I’m also like a connector because I work across lots of different industries, lots of different professions, lots of different sectors, et cetera.

There’s often a connection I can make that isn’t a connection that people would usually find. So I tend to play myself in those areas, but equally if you’ve got this language, so if you have like a whole organization who thinks about this stuff and you have this language, I could be saying to you in a meeting, Alison, you’re such a great cheerleader, but could you put a challenger hat on for a moment and really think about how we could do this differently or better? Or could we get a bit creative and like get the pens out and like start thinking in a different way? So in that most people can play most of these roles and some will naturally gravitate to some. You probably think about some for yourself, but we can all play all of them if we have the language and the ability to actually share those things.

Alison Jones: And that’s one of the great gifts, isn’t it? When you write a book, you give people this language that allows them to talk about things that they had kind of understood, but never really had the language for, and they can suddenly see it. So yes.

Tell us how that played out in the writing, Beth.

Beth Stallwood: Yes, so the writing was a really interesting process being a first time author, and the squad really did play out an in unexpected way. So you’d think, Beth, you’re writing about squads. This wasn’t, you know, I’ve been working on this concept for a couple of years, developing it, working through it, practicing it with lots of people who’ve been through the coaching programs, et cetera, knowing it works, right?

So I’ve had all this in my mind and I didn’t do the thing I probably recommend everyone else do, which to go, okay, well I’m writing this book, who’s going to be my cheerleader? I kind of let it evolve. And the good thing about that is some wonderful people actually came into my life I’d never met before. So someone, a guy called Chet who was on my podcast, who I made come on my podcast. I saw him on the Business Book Awards. I thought, oh, his book sounds really interesting around WorkJoy. We had a conversation, we have still three years later, never, ever met in person, but Chet was a really good challenger for me. So what he did is he said, how can I help you with this? And I was like, I think I need some accountability. I need somebody who’s going to help me do it.

So every Friday, because Fridays were my writing day, in the morning he would send me a little message and it got to the point where he would either send me a carrot, or a French baguette because there wasn’t a stick. So it’s like carrot or baguette. And it meant, today, do I need some motivation? Do I need some pep talk? Do I need some boosting or do I need a Beth, please just get on with writing some words down? So that was the stick. And I think having that kind of challenge and that level of support, and I really love being challenged. All this is like, have you written, so I said I’m going to write 3000 words. Carrot or baguette?

How many have you actually written? Two and a half. But they’re two and a half really good ones. or, I’ve written 4,000, but it’s a load of just like stream of consciousness. I’m not sure if it’s going anywhere. Yes, but in the first draft, it’s all about getting some of those words out, isn’t it?

It’s about just letting it be, I tried really hard not to edit myself. I think that’s one of the bits of advice, isn’t it, when you write a book. It’s almost impossible not to edit yourself while you’re doing it, but I did try to just get it all out there. So new people coming into your world. I had obviously great cheerleaders from people who are like, I really want you to write this book, I’m so excited about you writing it, and kind of checking in on where it’s at. I had a load of comrades, so through obviously the publishing and working with some of the networks of other people who’ve had their books, people are ahead of me in terms of they’ve written them and worked through it, people who are not published yet. And I think being amongst other people going through the same process was really, really, number one, reassuring that you are not alone in this. And then when I go things like, I think my book’s rubbish. And everyone’s like, yes, but we all think that at some point during the process, you know, we work through those things.

So having people who are in that experience, and I actually think with comrades, having people who are slightly ahead of you in your career or slightly behind you in your career also makes you feel more balanced. And I think so many of the people I was talking to in that kind of comrade area, were in a very similar, look I’ve got something to say, I’ve got something to write about. And I had this big thing around writing around, oh, I’m not really a writer, and I kind of had to get over that to be able to write the book. And I’m sure it’s something a lot of people say to you…

Alison Jones: Absolutely.

Beth Stallwood: …is I had to get over this and the way I got over it was talking to other people who also are like, well, I haven’t written a book before either but it doesn’t mean it’s not a great thing to do. So there’s something there. And I got over my ‘I’m not a writer’ by connecting with those people, having those conversations, talking and reminding myself with those cheerleaders, that it was so funny because I had a client say to me, you’re saying Beth, that you’re not a writer and I’m like, yes, they go, but you know that you wrote our organization strategy and about three different guides that went with it. And I was like, oh yes, I do actually write quite a lot.

Alison Jones: Yes.

Beth Stallwood: So it’s like, actually, I’m not an author yet. I’m not there yet.

Alison Jones: I haven’t…

Beth Stallwood: …and will there…

Alison Jones: …that doesn’t mean that I am not a writer.

Beth Stallwood: And it’s like that transition from writing for your business to writing for a wider audience and putting it into a book, which somehow feels very formal and very final and very kind of like serious, versus, but also writing another organization’s strategy and helping them do that is also quite a serious business.

But it’s interesting, because it’s all about you and what you are saying versus helping an organization do it.

Alison Jones: Yes, any other roles in that squad?

Beth Stallwood: Yes, so like a little bit of magic, the Conjurers, a lot of people I have worked with through the work, so I’ve got a WorkJoy coaching program as well, which helps you kind of go from wherever you are to wherever you want to be with WorkJoy. Occasionally I would just kind of reach out to one of them and kind of go, this is what I’m writing about here, and I actually think this is what you went through. Can you kind of explain that and how it makes you feel to me. And so many of them, wonderful people, are actually stories that now appear in the book as well.

So they’re people who’ve kind of worked through it, who know what you do and know kind of this, and I always think we, everyone’s got a little bit of magic about what they bring to them, but actually they know what you do, they’ve experienced it from beginning to end. They’ve experienced it in a different way because it wasn’t in a book, but they know what that is and they can kind of feed back to you, what was the good bit about that thing and really help you hone it down.

And I think actually I probably had a bit of all of them within the space of kind of being there from cheerleaders to challengers. The creativity of kind of like really thinking out, one of the things that I actually did was I got somebody who was really helpful to me on the creative space because I sometimes find hard things, difficult, hard things easy and easy things hard. And when I got to like the second draft, third draft, can’t remember how many drafts it was in when it was getting kind of really like, let’s hone this down. Let’s take the number of words down because I’m quite verbose.

We need to kind of like hone it in and we really needed some, one paragraph to start each chapter, an introductory paragraph. And honestly, that was the hardest thing I had to write. The hardest bit of the whole thing was writing an introduction to all the chapters.

And I was like, why is this so hard? Why is this so hard? So I called upon a friend, who is a brilliant, brilliant copywriter, and I said to her, I said, why am I finding this so hard? What she did, and it was amazing and I love this way, because in my work I’m often a speaker, I’m a coach, I’m a trainer, so I’m often talking about these things, is she said, okay, take each chapter and just talk to me about it.

And then she helped me kind of take it from being talked about. She wrote the key things down and then helped me to get it into the actual words that are the introduction to each chapter. But before that, I was literally pulling my hair out, going I can’t do it. I can’t write an introduction to the chapter. It’s all too hard. And I was saying, why is this so hard? And it’s because I needed to chat it out, not write it down.

Alison Jones: It’s a different mode.

Beth Stallwood: To change the mode.

Alison Jones: Exactly and it’s also that sense, it’s the curse of knowledge, isn’t it? There’s that, you know everything in that chapter and it’s very hard for you to do the selecting, but when you have to stand up and tell somebody, then you instinctively go there. You go to the nub of it.

Brilliant. So, I mean, I’m a bit greedy now because you’ve actually given us about eight tips already. But if I were to ask you what your one best tip for somebody who’s just starting out on this journey would be, what would you say?

Beth Stallwood: I would say to them, remember that you have the power, you know, act like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. You have the power to do these things and to start tiny, like start with the smallest possible thing that you can do. I often think, I mean it’s in the goals chapter near the end. I often think we overestimate this size of the goal.

It’s like the New Year’s resolution factor. We go, I am going to go from zero to hero in five minutes. I’m going to have this new habit and I’m going to be a whole new person by the end of the week. I think WorkJoy is something that you cultivate over time. It’s something that you learn about over time and it’s something that realistically you probably never stop working on.

So it’s not a ‘do this and you’ll be there’ game. It’s a ‘do this consistently’. Work through it, when something changes in your life or in your work, in your environment, you’re going to have to realign. So I think it’s for me about starting something really, really small and it could just be, and this is such a simple one, at the end of each day, write down one thing that day that brought you joy.

Just a moment. Just something to track it. It could be I am going to spend more time with the people in my squad than the people who are the Mood Hoovers in my life. And we often find that go, okay, I’m spending way too much time with the Mood Hoovers, which is bringing me down because there’s no other way to be when I’m with them. I have to be in that zone. So I’m going to go and spend with more time with the people who bring me joy and put a boundary around that particular thing. So I think, I don’t think it matters what you do as long as you do something and do something small and do it so often, then it just becomes who you are. And then add another thing on and add another thing on after that.

And there are loads, you know, in the book there’s loads of things that you can go and try at the end of each chapter. It’s like, try this, try this, try this. And I really believe, and we talk about it a lot in the book, is experiment with stuff. There is no one route to WorkJoy, because we’re all different. We all like different things. Like for me, I get loads of WorkJoy standing on a stage talking to lots of people. For other people, that would be the absolute worst day of their lives, right? We’re not all the same people. If I’m feeling down, I can get loads of WorkJoy by starting a new notepad that is like the day sorted for me.

I can I imagine you’re probably in a similar zone.

Alison Jones: Yes.

Beth Stallwood: So little things…

Alison Jones: …love the stationery…

Beth Stallwood: …know what they are and use them.

Alison Jones: And I’m going to be even greedier Beth because what I’d love you to do as well, and I think actually you could extrapolate those as well, but what about a tip for somebody who’s just starting to write a business book?

Beth Stallwood: Oh, okay. You’ve probably heard this one many, many times before, and that is to write what you know.

And I think at some points through this, you go through the writing process, you go through like that imposter type feelings of like, why am I even doing this and nobody’s going to want to read it, et cetera.

And it’s just actually remember that if you are writing a business book, it’s probably because you’ve got something to say that other people want to hear.

Alison Jones: It better be.

Beth Stallwood: First draft, just write what you know. And you are probably an expert in something. You’ve probably got some history, you’ve probably got some background in it. Write what you know first and see where that leads you to.

And I was reminded of it watching a wonderful film about Jonathan Larson, the composer who wrote Rent, which was like most award-winning musical ever. And unfortunately, he died just after it came out, which is terrible. But he wrote two musicals before Rent, neither of which got picked up, neither of which were brilliant. And his agent said to him, next time, write what you know. And Rent was the example of him writing what he knew, because it was about his community, his family, his friends and it became this amazing thing. And I thought, you know what that is actually a really good bit of advice.

Alison Jones: Yes, that’s a great lesson, isn’t it?

Brilliant. And I always ask my guests as well, Beth, to recommend a book, you’re not allowed to recommend WorkJoy, but what business book, doesn’t even have to be a business book, would you think that anybody listening should read?

Beth Stallwood: Yes, I’m going to pick one that I read actually just before the whole WorkJoy concept came into my world and the thing I was thinking about, and it’s a book called Range: Why generalists triumph in a specialist world. I think Alison, you’re nodding because you’ve…

Alison Jones: …yes, David Epstein. It’s brilliant.

Beth Stallwood: David Epstein. And what I will tell you now is those, I’ve always been somebody who’s been, someone called me the other day, a multi-passionate entrepreneur because I work in lots of different industries. I work at different levels. I work on everything from strategy to training, to coaching, to leadership, and I love, love the variety of my clients. I love being able to take all those different bits.

But for many years I struggled with a little bit of imposter around the fact I wasn’t a specific specialist in a particular area and that I wasn’t deep enough in every single area I worked in and that I should be more like, I should be more niche in this stuff.

And I think David Epstein’s book is probably one of the few books and I’m a massive nerd. I love a business book. I read them all, but his book was one where I suddenly went, oh, this is me. This is what, you know when suddenly you feel like you’ve been listened to and heard and like recognized and someone sees you for who you are.

I was like, ah, okay, because the world has been pushing the specialization factor for so long that it made me feel like I was different. But what I’ve realized now is my difference is actually my specialty. Like being able to connect tech to sport, to, you know, different institutions, different levels of stuff, is where I bring a bit of my superpower to, it’s not the thing that stops me. So I think it’s a great book for anybody who isn’t particularly niche or specialist to really understand the benefits of who you are and what you bring to the world.

Alison Jones: Yes, it’s great recommendation. Thank you.

Beth Stallwood: Love it.

Alison Jones: And Beth, if people want to find out more about you, more about WorkJoy and the WorkJoy Jam, where should they go?

Beth Stallwood: So obviously the book WorkJoy, you can buy on all good platforms. WorkJoy Jam is available on all the podcast platforms. We have a range of people. What I do is basically talk to people about their careers, what brings them joy, what they recommend. It’s a really great listen from lots and lots of different angles.

You can find more at createworkjoy.com or bethstallwood.com about my kind of wider work and what I do. And we’re on all socials at CreateWorkJoy.

Alison Jones: Brilliant. What a pleasure to talk to you. I feel more joyful already. Thank you

Beth Stallwood: Oh, excellent. Thank you very much for having me.

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