Rebel Diaries

Mike Jones - How to Unlock Wellbeing and Happiness at Work

May 30, 2022 Mike Jones Episode 7
Rebel Diaries
Mike Jones - How to Unlock Wellbeing and Happiness at Work
Show Notes Transcript

Mike is the founder of Better Happy an employee engagement and wellbeing consultancy.
Mike began his health and management training serving in the British Army. He then went on to grow his own six-figure business from scratch.  He has accumulated thousands of hours coaching people of all ages shapes and sizes to transform their health.  He has worked with a huge variety of businesses ranging from Deloitte and Lloyds Pharmacy to local firms.

What we discuss with Mike Jones

  • The three  key elements that are required for employee engagement
  • How to be the best kind of leader
  • Why we're not getting our natural basic human needs met anymore to be happy and high functioning 
  • How in turn, businesses have the opportunity to help employees become happy and high functioning which will pay off in the long run
  • Why employee engagement and well-being is an opportunity rather than a challenge
  • How to move beyond a list of tasks to focus on outcomes
  • How many people in Nepal will never see the sea, will never travel, things we take for granted but are much happier than many in our society will ever be
  • And much more

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Intro teaser

[00:00:28] Mike: It was really interesting because with my first career, the military I had a very poor relationship with the manager who made my life very difficult.

[00:00:34] Mike: And that had a really negative impact on me as a person and my mental health and made me feel quite depressed. And then I opened my own business, which I was super passionate about and worked myself into the ground and kind of got to the same mental place that I was at with a manager treating me like rubbish. 

[00:00:50] Mike: And we know that basic human needs are feeling like we're valued, having some meaning in our life human interaction, moving and eating whole foods, sleeping naturally. You know, that's all it is. And I think the workplace is an amazing place to actually help people improve that.

[00:01:04] Scott: In this episode, Mike shares his fascinating insights into the secrets of true happiness from living in Nepal. How a senior officer in the army severely impacted his mental health and how he now helps teams and leaders see employee engagement as an opportunity, not a challenge.

Main show

[00:01:20] Scott: Hi, Mike, welcome to the Rebel Diaries podcast. Really glad to have you here, for the benefit of the audience, would you like to just give a bit of an overview of what you do and who you are? 

[00:01:29] Mike: Of course. Hi Scott. Thank you for having me. So my name's Mike Jones, I'm the founder of an employee engagement, and wellbeing consultancy called Better Happy. I work with businesses to help them improve well-being and engagement as the name would suggest. 

[00:01:43] Mike: My professional career started my, well, it started when I was a lifeguard, I guess when I was young, did the kind of standard jobs, but then my first kind of proper career as such was the military. When I was 20, I joined the British Army and I spent five years in the British military as a military intelligence analyst.

[00:02:02] Mike: I was also a PT in the army. So that's like an add-on that you do when you're in the military. And I was attached to the SBS the water version of the SAS the Special Boat Service spent a year in Afghanistan with them. 

[00:02:16] Mike: Towards the end of that career I had a really bad relationship with a more senior member of staff than myself.

[00:02:22] Mike: And that particular individual went out of their way to make my life quite difficult, which led to me being very unhappy and drinking a lot and probably you would have been medically classed as depressed not that I sought any help. 

[00:02:34] Mike: So that's actually what left to me leaving and not like the kind of death-defying situations in Afghanistan, but having a poor relationship with the manager. 

[00:02:42] Mike: So after that, I came home for three days and then decided " I don't really know, what I want to do in my life now. I've had the career, I've had the money, I've had the freedom and it didn't really do it for me. So what do I do now?" 

[00:02:53] Mike: So very cliche put on a backpack got a one-way ticket to Thailand and, didn't come back for three years. I ended up in Thailand, Nepal, and Australia I've lived in monasteries in Thailand, and learned about Buddhism and meditation in Nepal, up in the Himalayas, and taught kids English as well. I worked off fishing boats off the south coast of Australia. 

[00:03:12] Mike: So I just did loads of different things, have loads of different experiences and really took two lessons away from that part of my life. And a big one was learning about spirituality and the mind, and how much that kind of dictates how we feel in our lives.

[00:03:26] Mike: And also. Something that really opened my eyes during that period was how much happier and healthier a lot of people that have a lot less than us in the Western world are. And that was really inspiring. And actually, even though they've got less opportunity and freedom, and luxury than we have, actually a lot of the basics they've got much better.

[00:03:45] Mike: They spend more time together. They're more active. They're more close-knit as communities they develop themselves physically and mentally. So that was a really eye eye-opening experience. And I'm not trying to paint poverty you know, through rose-tinted glasses, but there's definitely something to be learned there.

[00:03:59] Mike: Then I came back to the UK, decided that I kind of learned a bit about, Buddism like meditated on monasteries "I'm going to come back and make the world a better place" and I opened a gym. 

[00:04:07] Mike: Back in 2016 cause I wanted to help people be healthier and happier. I had the gym for five years, grew it from nothing to a six-figure business, and had 4 full-time staff.

[00:04:17] Mike: And what I did was I took two weeks off in five years. So what that leads to is burnout, which is something that I'm sure you talk a lot about with teams. And it was really interesting because with my first career, the military I had a very poor relationship with the manager who made my life very difficult.

[00:04:32] Mike: And that had a really negative impact on me as a person and my mental health and made me feel quite depressed. And then I opened my own business, which I was super passionate about and worked myself into the ground and kind of got to the same mental place that I was at with a manager treating me like rubbish. 

[00:04:47] Mike: So the impacts of having been, not treated very well at work or the impact of working yourself into the ground, because you actually love your work are actually quite similar. 

[00:04:57] Mike: So that was a big learning point for me COVID came about, I decided when COVID came about, I'd had the gym for five years, I was quite tired already, you know, did I want to try and grind through COVID?

[00:05:07] Mike: So I decided not to, and just when in 2018, so when I already had the gym, I'd started doing a few corporate workshops. And I decided that that's where I wanted to put my focus. So kind of went full time with Better Happy two years ago and tried to grow it ever since. 

[00:05:25] Scott: That's a fascinating journey. You've had some life experience there. 

[00:05:28] Scott: It sounds like that, awful boss you had or leader what, what was behind that, where they just insecure what's your take on that? Without dragging you through it all again? 

[00:05:39] Mike: No, no, it's good. It's good to talk about. I was a young kind of, I don't want to say it but you know almost alpha male kind of lad you know, not, not, I mean, I wasn't alpha male actually. I wasn't overly confident or anything but I'm young fit healthy. So I think that probably created an environment where there was more room for me to clash with this individual, but the be all and end, all of it is that this person that their approach to work and their attitude is the worst thing I think you can have in a team. And this was a person that the top of their priority list was to progress their career. Nothing wrong with that. Okay. They wanted that more than anything. And they had absolutely no care at all, not an ounce of compassion or empathy or genuine interest in the people below them.

[00:06:17] Mike: So what this person ended up doing, and you'll see this a lot in companies and it's the quickest way to destroy a culture is what happened is this person would be very charming to the powers that be above. Promise the world and say yes to absolutely everything, to get themselves kind of reputable and noticed, and then throw all of that work that they didn't know how to do onto the teams below them.

[00:06:39] Mike: And create a culture of fear, where if anybody questioned it or said, "well, that's just not possible to actually do what you're promising", to just destroy them. So you had this culture. I mean, we were soldiers we were age ranging from 20 to 40 and we just had this office where people sat in silence, were scared to speak and just sat in front of their computers you take, take what you think a bad culture would be and times that by 10 and that's the kind of situation that was created by this individual. And the problem is, is that the powers that be above it didn't address it. And they knew it. They knew why he was lying, but they didn't really care.

[00:07:13] Mike: And that's a real bad problem because what it leads to is this trail of destruction and high turnover below that person, and I think at the time, if anybody, anybody from the Int Corp watches, this they'll probably hate me. I think at the time we had the highest turnover levels of, um, any of the Corps in the army because of a culture that allowed that to happen regularly, you had a lot of people that weren't particularly good at their jobs climbing because they were charming people, and crushing the people below them.

[00:07:38] Mike: And then you had a lot of good quality people just, just leaving. 

[00:07:41] Scott: That's really sad. Some of my career experiences in the past, I had a boss that was similar. You weren't allowed to speak to anyone above their level "no, no. I'll, I'll speak to them". And they were charming and nice and would blame the team that the boss is the buffer saying, "Oh, it's the team's fault". Whereas they were the problem. 

[00:07:58] Scott: And that must be even harder in the military where, you know, daren't go above you, you daren't go above your supervisor, but what's really disappointing is that their boss didn't well their bosses didn't do anything about it and knew it was going on. 

[00:08:12] Mike: I don't think that it's out of malice. So I don't think it's that the powers that be above that person genuinely like, just think it's the right thing or don't care. I just think people are busy and then it's just something that they would rather not deal with. 

[00:08:24] Mike: And this is the problem that I have, when people don't fight the behaviour or don't challenge the behaviour and it's all because we're fearful of our own careers, you know? So I had people come to me and say, "what this guy's doing to you is absolutely horrendous and we can all see it, but there's nothing we can do. Cause they'll do the same to us. And ruin our careers" 

[00:08:39] Mike: That's the situation you're in and I'm glad it happened now. Like, it has been a big learning curve because it's helped me get to where I am and I wouldn't change it for the world, but I also think a good thing that's happening is that the way which our society is evolving and our world is evolving is that that's becoming less and less, acceptable because organizations don't just need people that will sit there and do repetitive tasks anymore. By and large, they need people that are creative and innovative and working together well and people have got choice in careers. You know, people aren't scared into staying into careers as much anymore. They can just leave. So your managers are moving away from just making people do stuff repetitively.

[00:09:15] Mike: However, they may want to do that. So that's why this guy could get away with that because that's what he needed to do, to managers need to retain staff, get them engaged, make sure that they're innovative, make sure that they're working well to solve problems. So if you try and do that by being a dictator, it ain't gonna happen.

[00:09:29] Mike: So I do think that that's the good, the good outcome of the way that we're moving as a society. It forces people in businesses to have to treat people well.

[00:09:38] Scott: Yeah, but also the organization needs to support and have the mechanisms in place to get rid of those bad individuals. You've obviously spoken to lots of companies, but certainly, what my experience has been, it's very hard to like challenge that it's not just the appetite of the leaders to do something about it.

[00:09:57] Scott: It's also the mechanisms just make it so hard that most people don't even bother because they know that they just go around the houses, trying to get someone out of an organization. Have you seen that? Is that improving in the organizations you work with? 

[00:10:09] Mike: I think before the mechanisms comes to the metrics that you're measuring. I think the metrics drive the mechanisms. So I think the metrics that we're measuring now are different and are shifting to be different. So if you go back to the Industrial Revolution without gross simplification, but if you go back to Industrial Revolution, what were the numbers we were measuring with the employees?

[00:10:28] Mike: How much output could we get from that person? How many times do they put that thing through the production line? And then the manager's job was to drive that and did it matter if they were happy? No. Did it matter if they were healthy? No. Cause did it matter if they were engaged? No, because even if somebody is unhealthily disengaged, you know, and not enjoying themselves, they can still do the repetitive task on the production line.

[00:10:51] Mike: Then was retention important? Yes. Were people, even that jobs in the Industrial Revolution by and large? no, because if you had a job, you appreciated it. No matter how bad it was, you know, you just read Road to Wigan Pier. You know, people were desperate to have a job that most of us would not be able to survive today.

[00:11:06] Mike: The metrics that the retention was probably fine. So regardless of how the manager treated the people and all he had to do was or she had to do was drive up and maintain the production level and the outcome level. Now I think the metrics are different aren't they I think the metrics now well, the retention is the same, but you can't do that anymore.

[00:11:23] Mike: If you treat people like that, now people will leave more so than they did before. And the metrics are definitely shifting more towards creativity, output, and innovation, the pressure's now on managers to drive that because businesses need to be agile and now and create. So I think when senior leadership teams and businesses start getting clear on those metrics, I think the mechanisms develop around the metrics better or should do.

[00:11:46] Scott: In terms of companies you're working with now, are you seeing any themes and trends have things changed since COVID? A lot of people suffering, quite a lot of mental health challenges and loneliness and the impact of working from home, are you seeing a trend there? 

[00:11:59] Mike: Yeah. The companies I'm working with by large are back in location and doing hybrid working, trends since COVID, I think we probably have a bit of a false view of post COVID because actually, the truth is before COVID we were talking a lot about mental health, I think is just put it more into people's minds.

[00:12:15] Mike: But it's not that we're talking about mental health because of COVID. I just think it's pushed it more into people's awareness. And I do think the loneliness is a relatively new thing, at such a scale because that's probably the first time the population of the world has been forced into isolation.

[00:12:30] Mike: So for a lot of people, it's something they never had to encounter before. I think the challenges that I think the biggest thing is what the BBC released recently that there's now more vacancies than there are unemployed people. For the first time ever since records began.

[00:12:43] Mike: So there's actually more jobs available now than there are people to fill them in the UK. And that's, that's never happened before. So that's, that's very interesting. And the other interesting thing I'm seeing businesses and teams are taking a lot of interest in is there's a lot of studies coming out now that show people are becoming less driven by money. Obviously, this is a pertinent subject to the moment because of what's going on with the cost of living and stuff, but less driven by money and more driven by purpose and values. And there's quite a few studies and surveys showing that people would seriously consider taking a pay cut to go to a job that's more aligned to their values.

[00:13:17] Mike: So what does that tell us? I think the emphasis is shifting away from paying people to do work and towards making engaging workplaces with meaningful work. And a lot of businesses I'm catching on to, are really starting to understand that and trying to think about, okay, well, how do we actually do that?

[00:13:32] Scott: Do you think that's been growing over time or has that been accelerated by COVID and people having a taste of flexibility and the hybrid or working from home thing? Actually, I don't have to travel for two hours every single day. I can choose a company that will let me not do that.

[00:13:46] Scott: Do you think that's, accelerated that? 

[00:13:48] Mike: I think COVID has definitely empowered the employee more. The hybrid remote style work on that scale has really opened the world's eyes to the fact that we don't need to keep people as slaves in the office if that's not a necessity. So I think that's definitely changed things, undoubtedly, in regards to do I think COVID's led to the kind of social-political change that we've got in regards to how we're looking at work and how it is more about empowering and engaging and meaningful work. I think that's a natural thing that's happening, I think COVID aside that was always going to happen. I think for a variety of reasons, the internet that we're more socially aware before COVID we knew that a lot millennials care more about the world, more about doing the right thing.

[00:14:30] Mike: And I think that's just a natural evolution of being in a capitalist society that's developed where less and less people live in poverty more and more people live in affluence. I think it's, Maslow's hierarchy of needs. We have to address our safety and our physiological needs first don't we you know, you and I are talking about these now, but if we remove the roof from my head and stuff, we couldn't feed ourselves, we'd be off this podcast pretty quickly trying to sort that stuff out.

[00:14:52] Mike: So I think society as a whole, 60 years ago, people were still just happy with being able to pay the bills and being able to eat three meals a day and, and try and work towards a decent style of living. I think you know, recently last 20, 30, 40 years, that's almost become guaranteed in the UK cause we've developed our society to such a high standard for most people. Not all. 

[00:15:14] Mike: So I think that's the natural thing. Okay. "Well, my safety is taken care of I don't have to think about where the next meal is coming from. There's plenty of jobs. I've got a roof over my head" and most people have got some financial stability with their families. So what do we naturally then start to focus on? Meaningful causes, developing ourselves, making the world a better place.

[00:15:30] Mike: So I think that was a natural thing that happens as society improves. And we remove when we step away from poverty.

[00:15:36] Scott: So do you think those jobs. where it would be interesting to see the stats around the kind of employees and jobs that aren't rewarding. Are they the ones biggest hit by people leaving saying " I'm not enjoying this? I'm not delivering value. I'm going to find some bit more meaningful."

[00:15:50] Mike: It makes a lot of sense that the businesses with engaged employees are the ones that are leading the way because most businesses need to be innovative now because technology means that things change fast.

[00:15:59] Mike: And if you want to be innovative, you need people that are willing to think about challenges and approach problems with a positive attitude and a collaborative attitude. 

[00:16:09] Mike: If you don't have an engaged workforce. You have people turning up to get paid and do what's required of them and nothing more. So your business can't adapt. You're going to have loads of issues. You can't be innovative. Your customers are probably not going to be getting the best level of service, everything you try and do every time you try and change, you're going to be met with every one person that resists that is a collection of roadblocks. Isn't it. And that's just going to slow down the business, being able to grow.

[00:16:32] Mike: So, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the data would show that if you look through it, but companies that have got high levels of engagement, we know from Gallup data, you know, companies in the top quartile of engagement versus the bottom quartile.

[00:16:44] Mike: So you take all the companies and you know, who is in the top quarter of engagement versus who's in the bottom 22% higher profits, 65% less employee turnover, 45% less safety incidents, 16% increased productivity, 20% lower absence. These are, these are big numbers, if you had a team of 10 those are big numbers if you have a team of a thousand, you've got 10,000 plus, this is millions and millions and millions of pounds in lost opportunities and also missed opportunities and sickness and all that stuff cost.

[00:17:13] Scott: In the company I worked in, for example, before, it's like, we need people to be more engaged, improve employee engagement, which is obviously important, but for you and the companies you work with, what does that actually look like?

[00:17:24] Scott: What are the top things that you advise people to look at to increase engagement or the things that cause disengagement? 

[00:17:31] Mike: First of all, the first thing I start with teams and managers and leaders is big, big picture. So do we need employee engagement? Yes, we do. And what does that mean? We've got employees that are emotionally committed to the success of the company. Yes. They're not just here to get a job. They, genuinely want the organization to be successful.

[00:17:50] Mike: Look at the NHS. You know, most people that go to work in the NHS will certainly start engaged. They're not going there because they're getting paid loads. They're getting there because they want to help people and they want the organization to help people as well. So we need that. Okay.

[00:18:02] Mike: But we also need with that employee health or, more commonly known as wellbeing. Cause if somebody is engaged, but they're burning out and they're not healthy, it doesn't matter how engaged they are. They're eventually going to get to the same point as being disengaged as with my example. And then you need a sustainable performance piece as well, which stops the burnout.

[00:18:19] Mike: So "Are my employees engaged? Do they actually want to be here? Do my employees know how to be healthy alongside their job? Do my employees know how to work in a way that's sustainable and not burning them out? I think when you've got all three of them If you can answer yes. To all three of those questions, you've got a high-performance business and you're going to significantly reduce the risk of many of the common problems.

[00:18:40] Mike: If you haven't got all three of those, so you've got high engagement, good levels of health, but people are working in a way that's unsustainable. They're going to start to burnout or they're engaged and they're working in a way that's sustainable, but they're not looking after themselves. They're going to start to get sick and not be able to perform, or they're really healthy, they're working in a way that's sustainable. But they're not engaged. They just turn up just getting paid to, they can go and enjoy themselves. So you've got to have all three.

[00:19:03] Scott: I'd imagine that's requiring change in thinking from leadership, more trust for their employees. giving up some control.

[00:19:12] Mike: Yeah, a hundred per cent, culture comes from the top, doesn't it? So if you're leadership team or individual don't buy into the importance of creating a healthy high performing culture, then there's no point in trying to address it because it's never going to change because leadership comes from the top. 

[00:19:28] Mike: So if we're talking about health if we're talking about engagement, if we're talking about working in a way that's sustainable. And then the person that is at the helm of the ship is coming in at seven o'clock. Every Monday, hung over drinking Red Bull eating McDonald's working 17 hours a day. That's the culture you're going to create so very difficult for then for anything to go past that that's different. And ultimately, you know, that's a mistake, isn't it? 

[00:19:50] Mike: So that leader needs to either learn the hard way or learn through insight that if you want to be the best kind of leader, you've got to prioritize your engagement, you got to prioritize your health. You've got to work in a way that's sustainable, and that will naturally lead to " Okay we've got to get people involved in our decision-making instead of just us trying to tell them everything, we've got to work collaboratively" because all this boils down to really, you know, we talk about in the organizational context and in the business context, and we apply these terms, employee engagement and employee wellbeing, all it comes down to is basic human needs.

[00:20:22] Mike: And we know that basic human needs are feeling like we're valued, having some meaning in our life human interaction. Moving and eating whole foods, sleeping naturally. You know, that's all it is. And it's like the, I think the workplace is an amazing place to actually help people improve that.

[00:20:38] Mike: Not a place where people need to struggle with it. I actually think that there's no such thing as the employee engagement and employee wellbeing challenge. I think it's the employee engagement and employee wellbeing opportunity. I don't think it's a challenge. 

[00:20:50] Scott: People spend most of their time in the workplace, don't they, or working from home. So, you know, that's a big chunk of their life. 

[00:20:56] Mike: Yeah, absolutely. It's not that we've got an employee engagement and wellbeing challenge as I said we've got an engagement and wellbeing challenge remove the employee piece. You know, we live in a world where we're isolated, we don't know what to do with ourselves, it's very difficult to be healthy if we don't focus on it. It's hard to find meaning and value in our lives if we're not supported and guided. So that's a global problem. That's not anything to do with work. You know, that's why we see the trends that we see. That's why 60% of the UK are overweight or obese. That's why poor mental health is through the roof.

[00:21:23] Mike: Not because businesses are getting it wrong, just because that's the way society is going and we've got lots of new challenges that need to be addressed. We spend a lot of time on our phones, we don't socially interact with people in a meaningful way anymore. We don't have religion, which, you know, you can argue till you're blue in the face if religion's good or bad, but 100%, you can't argue that people coming together for a meaningful cause, which they used to do for religion. You can't argue that that's a bad thing. That was a great thing, you know? And that's, that's by and large gone now. So humans aren't getting their natural basic needs met to be a healthy, happy high high-functioning person. They're not getting that through everyday life anymore. 

[00:21:58] Mike: So where can that be solved? Well, we spend 50% of our waking hours on average of our adult waking hours at work. Don't we? So that's either the place where we can educate people about that and address it and we're incentivized to do so, because if we do that, they're going to perform better and stick around longer, or we can ignore it.

[00:22:15] Mike: And they're just going to carry on getting sicker and more unhappy, and we're not going to get the most out of them. So I think the business is not, why not talk about this stuff? It's gonna pay you back because they're going to stick around more. They're gonna love you because you've actually helped them see the problem they're gonna perform higher because they understand a bit about health they like the company because they're involved in the big picture.

[00:22:36] Mike: It's a huge opportunity, not a challenge. And I think that's probably the first place you need to start is going to leaders, going to managers and showing them that like "stop looking at this as a challenge, people need meaning and value in their lives. They spend 50% of their waking day with you, don't you think that they probably want to get quite a lot of meaning and value through this work?"

[00:22:53] Mike: Even if you're a cleaning company or an ice cream man, that can provide meaning to people because you're achieving something. You're an ice cream man. You're making kids happy. That's your, that's your vision that people are helping you with. You're not serving ice cream. You're, having a positive impact on the world.

[00:23:05] Mike: The cleaner in NASA was famously quoted as saying to JFK, you know, JFK asked him when he was doing a tour of NASA in the evening. "Why are you here cleaning the floor while you're mopping the floor?" And he goes "I'm helping put men on the moon."

[00:23:17] Mike: That job you do is serving a bigger purpose. And that's what people want. That's what people want to know. Yeah, they want to get paid, but that's such a so low down all they need to get paid, and obviously, you're not paying them enough that's something that needs to be addressed, but they want to know how what they're doing.

[00:23:31] Mike: We all do. We're all human beings. They want to know how what they're doing is contributing to a bigger picture and for a lot of companies to improve employee engagement that's the biggest win they're going to have. What's your vision of the company? What's your mission in the company? Does everybody know how their role is affecting that?

[00:23:45] Mike: If not go and sort that out.

[00:23:47] Scott: Hmm. I'm glad you quoted that NASA example, I remember hearing that and that was really powerful, the first time it's almost like looking beyond your job title. If you just saw on a page, your job title is "cleaner". So yeah, it's almost doing away with job titles and actually what's the value you deliver and everyone being clear on that.

[00:24:04] Scott: And I think it's harder for some people depending on their job to actually see the fruits of their labour and the outcomes. Again, in production line times you saw the finished product, whereas, I've talked about on another podcast, not using the term knowledge work as much as it's a bit outdated now, but, but yeah, some people don't see the outcomes of their work.

[00:24:21] Scott: So how do you actually get that? They're quite removed, if they're in marketing, for example, they might see some clicks on a Facebook post, but actually, the real impact is "does the customer buy that product? Does the customer love the product?" They don't necessarily always get that feedback. 

[00:24:35] Mike: That's why I teach a process that I'm a big fan of called Objectives Key Results made famous in the book, Measure What Matters by John Doerr and that addresses that issue. Because historically companies were all in one location. So you could kind of see the fruits of your labour whereas now we're, you know, we're scattered all over the world sometimes, which is a great thing.

[00:24:52] Mike: But how do we avoid that? All Scott's done today is sat at his computer and typed away. And that's where I think objectives, key results are really important. You know, your company has to have a strategy. And the top, I was doing this yesterday with a company, what's the top four things that that company's trying to achieve ABCD, you know?

[00:25:08] Mike: So the vision is: We want to make affordable travel, available to as many people as possible. And then below that, we're going to have some more objectives. So we want to make it better for our customers, make it better for our staff, make it better for our future, make it better for our investors.

[00:25:23] Mike: And then every piece of work that anybody does should be feeding into one of those. And I was talking to somebody on the learning and development team and it was like " What do you actually do?" and you get this list of tasks that we do, " but why do you do that?" " Um, well, because it makes the training better and it improves the employees' experience when they're going through the training", "and what does that achieve?"

[00:25:44] Mike: And ultimately we got to, " Well it makes employees happier, so it reduces employee turnover, makes us a more attractive employee and it provides a better service to the customers because the employees are getting trained on how to make a room beautiful and then that ultimately reflects itself in, in, in higher customer satisfaction scores."

[00:26:02] Mike: So as you go through that process, you start to move away from "here's the list of things that we do" and you move towards. "What's the change that we're making happen by, by making this training, by doing this stuff?" And it's " We're creating a better experience for our customers. We're creating a better experience for our employees, which ultimately makes high-quality budget travel available to everybody."

[00:26:22] Mike: So you've got to go through that process. What we do is we get busy and we don't do it. We get busy doing tasks, and that always leads to people. Well, number one, it's not been as effective as we should be, and us becoming disengaged because we just feel like we're doing the job and nobody wants to do that. 

[00:26:37] Scott: Yeah, It's outputs rather than outcomes again.

[00:26:39] Scott: One thing that stuck with me, you said early on was the people you experienced in the monastery they were a lot happier than we are. And what'd you think's down to that?

[00:26:47] Scott: What's behind that? Cause you could say we've got an abundance of everything we want. 

[00:26:50] Mike: Not just the monasteries but the people within those communities as well, because people might hear that and go, "well, of course, you know, their training, the mind, they're going to be happy", but no, the communities as well. They certainly don't have abundance, you know, in Nepal, it's a landlocked country.

[00:27:02] Mike: Most of them will never have enough money to get a passport. Little things we take for granted, they'll never see the sea. They'll never ever see the ocean. They've never traveled to different countries. Most of them and they don't have cars and they don't have nice houses like we have.

[00:27:14] Mike: So from that perspective, life sounds awful, but then you go and live there and what do you see? You see, they don't have the financial stresses that we have, they're a close-knit community. They're active all day every day. Sure they get upset about they haven't got the opportunity that we have and then a lot of them are very envious of those of us that live in this life that we live, which we're very fortunate to have, but they eat healthy food because that's all that's really available.

[00:27:38] Mike: They move regularly every evening and they all get together as a community and play together and everybody else in the community watches each other's kids and you don't have to worry about childcare and you start to see that actually, a lot of the basics that we don't have that come with luxury, you know, and come with comfort and material wealth.

[00:27:55] Mike: Um, they have an abundance, so they've got less opportunity and freedom than we have, but they've got more of the basic needs that make a human feel fulfilled and feel happy. And I think that's something we need to look at fundamentally, you know, okay. I've got a nice laptop. I've got access to money. I've got opportunities.

[00:28:11] Mike: I've got a car. I'm not gonna say nice car. Cause it's not, house okay, great. these are all nice, access to medical care, which I wouldn't want to forego, you know? Wonderful. What about my basic things? Am I spending time with people? Do I relax? Do I exercise? Do I feel that my life's got meaning and value?

[00:28:28] Mike: A lot of the time you ask people out those questions and the answer's "No, or not enough. No, not enough. Do I stress? Yeah all the time". You know, so they've got less of the nice kind of extreme wealth end of things, but more of the basic needs that I think we start to forget and take for granted as we develop into material wealth.

[00:28:47] Mike: There's a great book called healthy at 100, and he talks about diseases of poverty, famine, malnutrition, lack of medical care. But as a country goes from, being poor into affluence you don't actually see that the mortality rates drop significantly, which sounds insane, but they're actually replaced with diseases of affluence, obesity, stress, and suicide.

[00:29:09] Mike: So you tend to think, okay, well if one country's in poverty and the other, one's in affluence then the mortality rates will change considerably. And again, I'm not painting a pretty picture of poverty. You know, we need to eradicate it as soon as possible and work collaboratively and collectively to do so, but actually, once we step into affluence, you just see that those issues get removed and they get replaced with stress, overweight, heart disease, and everything else that comes with living the lives that we live.

[00:29:34] Mike: So it's, it's fascinating.

[00:29:36] Scott: It is fascinating. 

[00:29:37] Scott: So one thing I ask all my guests if you had one book you could take to a desert island, what would it be? 

[00:29:42] Mike: The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama.

[00:29:44] Scott: We'll put that in the show notes for people, anyone who wants to work with you, Mike, how do they get hold of you? 

[00:29:50] Mike: Just head over to And there's a few options there for you to get in contact with me. If you'd rather just connect on LinkedIn or social can do that as well. Just drop me a message. It's all quite informal. Always starts with a chat and find out more about your team organization.

[00:30:07] Mike: Let's see if there's any opportunity for collaboration 

[00:30:10] Scott: Great. Mike, thank you so much for being on the show. It's been fascinating talking to you. 

[00:30:14] Mike: Thanks, Scott. Thanks for having me.

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