Happiness can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s achieving a lifelong goal. For others, it’s landing a dream job, or making an impact on the world or building a better life for family and friends. And for some, it’s simply a long string of good days.
Today we sit down with Ian Sanders, a renowned storytelling trainer, professional optimism instructor, and author of the acclaimed book 365 Ways To Have a Good Day. We’ll discuss his storied career, his many detours, and how, after decades of trying, he finally learned how to string enough good days together to build a rewarding, happy life.
Learn more about Ian, The Ian Sanders Company, and 365 Ways to Have a Good Day here: https://www.iansanders.com/
Ian also wrote a wonderful blog post about The Storytelling Workshop Approach for us. Check it out here.
- Working with a human-centered focus
- The importance of storytelling in business
- How can storytelling help you in your change project
- Storytelling and its link with authentic leadership
- The magic of journaling
- The importance of the small things to build a better & happier day
What leads to a happy life? What are the various ways to be happy?
Happiness means different things to each of us. After doing extensive research, Management 3.0 founder Jurgen Appelo discovered the common thread: Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. It is a path you choose, not a destination to arrive at.
So many of us spend our lives in pursuit of happiness. Instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live it, embrace it, and implement it into our daily lives. That’s why we created the 12 Steps to Happiness at Management 3.0. You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 steps at https://management30.com/practice/happiness-steps/
*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. But remains in spoken English, and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.
Elisa Tuijnder: [00:00:00] Happiness can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s achieving a lifelong goal. For others, it’s landing a dream job or making an impact on the world or building a better life. For family and friends, for some, it’s simply a long string of good days. Today we sit down with a renowned professional, trainer, author, entrepreneur, and optimism instructor who has had nearly as many professional lives as he’s had birthdays, we’ll discuss his storied career, his many detours, and how after decades of trying, he finally learned how to string enough good days together to build a rewarding, happy life.
Before we dive in, you are listening to The Happiness At Work Podcast by Management 3.0 where [00:01:00] we are getting serious about happiness.
I’m your host,Elisa Tuijnder, Happiness Enthusiast and Management 3.0 team member. In this podcast, we share insights from industry experts, influencers, and thought leaders about what it takes to be happy, motivated, and productive at work, so that loving your job becomes the norm and not the exception. We will be publishing every fortnight on Friday, so be sure to tune in and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
Our guest today is Ian Sanders, founder of the Ian Sanders Company, which delivers storytelling training programs for global organizations like Amazon Web Services and Erickson. He’s also a professional optimism instructor and author of the [00:02:00] acclaimed book, 365 Ways to Have a Good Day. So thank you so much for joining us today.
Ian Sanders: Thank you, Elisa. It’s good to be
Elisa Tuijnder: here. Fantastic. Hey, so we’ll get into your work in this book in just a moment. But as you might know here on the podcast, we always start with the same question, and that is, what does happiness mean to
Ian Sanders: you? It’s a big question, isn’t it? I was listening to some previous episodes.
I’m always fascinated by how people answer this, and I think for me, happiness is about all those little daily moments that add up to an overall sense of contentment. I’m a great fan of zooming in on those little things that make a big difference. And every day I’m looking out for those things that bring me joy.
Taking the dog for a walk. I live by the coast here, getting out on the beach. The first coffee of the day is quite important to me. And I guess all those little moments and rituals Elisa, add up to, how we live our life, [00:03:00] right? Yeah. And so for me, happiness is about paying attention to those things and tuning into them and being aware of what brings us joy and feeding ourselves. I guess we’re all different. For me it might be coffee and a walk. For some of your listeners it might be other things, but whatever it means what, whatever it takes to tune into those things. Yeah. And also I guess, I know we’re on a podcast all about happiness, so I guess also, accepting that we are human and not every day is gonna be a hell yeah day. And just being kind to ourselves, on those other days when we can’t always find opportunities for joy and happiness. Yeah.
Elisa Tuijnder: Holding ourself with kindness and finding those little things that make us happy on a daily basis. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Inspiring. Yeah. Hey, so we always like to understand who you are as a person as well, and I’ve looked at your career path is vast and you build up quite the resume over the years, even works as a teenager in the bbc, local radio, et cetera.
[00:04:00] Do you wanna give us like a really quick synopsis of how you got to where you are today in your career?
Ian Sanders: Yeah, so I have. A 30 year career and the first 10 years I spent working in small businesses in the creative industries in London. So television, radio, live events. And by the end of the, my first decade in the world of work I had a lot of success at an early age, I was managing director of a kind of production services subsidiary for a fast growing media group.
I guess we’d call it a startup. Nowadays, yeah. When I joined it. So I had a tremendous amount of success early on with that. And then the second two decades in my career are all about an independent journey, quitting to work for myself. And I’ve done so many different roles, so many different ventures and projects.
It’s hard to sometimes plot it on a LinkedIn cuz they don’t always fit into [00:05:00] neat categories. But I started a virtual marketing agency. Written a number of books, wrote for the Financial Times. Now find myself as a storyteller and trainer. And I should be honest, a lot of these things haven’t been big strategy stuff, but what I call unplanned, they happen accidentally. Is sometimes the best things in life do. Yeah, there hasn’t always been a plan, but a very varied mix of things that I’ve done.
Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. You refer to your career path as like a journey of discovery.
So I’m guessing that all those little different things like, the creative sector the writing, the, that they all Led to the same path or contributed to the person that you are today or in your career as well, but also maybe on a personal level? Yeah, in
Ian Sanders: some ways I think, the journey of discovery for me has been about getting in touch with who I really am and what makes me tick.[00:06:00]
And I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learned on that journey is that when I’ve been out of alignment with who I am personally and who I am professionally, that was a problematic for me. I know fortunately in 2023, a lot of people are able to be the real them at work, and it’s something we talk about a lot, don’t we?
And when I was working, yeah. In the early part of my career, I think I had a feeling that I needed a, have a certain version of success. I needed to put on a bit of a mask in order to be successful at work. And ultimately that didn’t suit me. That didn’t suit my mental health. It didn’t suit my wellbeing.
So I guess my biggest lesson I’ve learned about myself on this journey is to put the real Ian, at the heart of my, at the heart of my work life that has been a game changer for me. And out of alignment is not good for me. So I guess my journey has really been about [00:07:00] liberating myself from that old world of.
The old world of work, which is still present in some organizational cultures today. Yeah, for sure. Sorry. Yeah. Presenteeism being shackled to a desk. A narrow job spec, all those things didn’t suit me. And I guess the joy of going independent, setting up my own business is that I could put all those things in place that, fuel my best work.
So it’d been a real journey of transformation, yeah. Yeah.
Elisa Tuijnder: And you’re able to be your true self now, and that is also wonderful and don’t have to put that work persona on every day. Yeah. But you’re also like you said, you’re also a trainer. And I’m guessing in the, along the way, you’ve also learned, something, you just learned something about yourself, but also about other people and I’m, that might also contribute to, being a good trainer.
Now what did you learn about colleagues and the coworkers and the business world along the.
Ian Sanders: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think for me it’s been about a [00:08:00] mission to make the world of work more human. And I think that informs, how I work with leaders and organizations now and as a trainer.
And it goes back to what I’ve just been talking about, I suppose that the old world of work didn’t really suit me. Long meetings, boring PowerPoint pitches. A lot of business planning and I guess what I’ve done as a trainer is try and evangelize a more human centered world of work where leaders are more empathetic, they listen.
It’s not all top down and. This is a podcast about happiness, I guess at the heart of it, really, it’s about, working life does not have to be dull. No. And we’re, I’m training teams of people, there’s no reason why those engagements and interventions can’t be full of, joy.
And I know, as is some of the work you’ve done. And with Management 3.0, when we can get people in a learning [00:09:00] mindset and those experiences can be joyful and fun, they tend to be a lot more memorable. They tend to be a lot more engaging and the, what one is training tends to stick a lot more.
So I guess I’ve taken what was wrong with the old world of work to inform the mission I’m on now and in order to have a kind of new vision for the world of work really. We can unlock the behaviors and ingredients that make us happy and healthy and productive and creative at work.
That’s the kind of driving, that’s the driving force for me, yeah.
Elisa Tuijnder: And is that also the ethos and the mission of the Ian Saunders company that you started after going freelance or self-employed? Yeah,
Ian Sanders: I’d be lying if I said I had that at the start because I didn’t. A lot of people who are entrepreneurs and start their own businesses do from a point of excitement, and I’m gonna take the leap to work for myself and my honest story.
Is one [00:10:00] where in the old, in my old job, I’d reached a bit of a crisis really with my mental health. I’d gone from a point of loving my work and my work being full of such joy to my work, really making me miserable. And I think the more senior I became, the more I found I was in a world of spreadsheets and business plans and appraisals and I’d lost sight of the kind of creative, my creative heart and sould.
And so the real story. I was diagnosed with depression. I was really struggling with my work and my life at large, and the only option I could think of was to quit my job, to try and make things better. So I didn’t start the company from a position of entrepreneurial excitement. I let, I, I suppose it’s more I dunno if you’re familiar with the concept of post-traumatic growth, that we can come through a crisis and come through a bit of a trauma and that we can [00:11:00] rebuild from that. So that, yeah, that’s my honest, that’s the honest Ian answer to that. And then I guess sometimes I think about it like I did start the Ian Sanders company with that mission that I’ve just described.
I developed it over time. Sometimes a bit like when you look in the rear view mirror on a journey and you can see where you’ve come from and then you figure out, oh, this is what it’s about. Yeah. I didn’t, which may be unusual for an entrepreneur. I didn’t start setting the values of the company.
I didn’t start saying, this is the mission. I figured it out when I was a few years in. Yeah,
Elisa Tuijnder: no, actually I sometimes you have this good feeling that this is the right path, but you don’t know exactly how to, describe it or put it into words yet. And yeah. Those things come in hindsight, right?
Yes. Was the focus on storytelling there from the start and storytelling training?
Ian Sanders: No, it wasn’t there from the start, but I, I’ve got this sense of wanting to make the world a work more human. And I knew [00:12:00] that storytelling was this, incredible vehicle for communication. And for humanizing the world at work.
And I started off as a storyteller for hire because what I figured out was, I wasn’t working in organizations. I was this outsider. And when sometimes when you stand on the edges of something and you’re an outsider, it’s a really good perspective for telling stories. If an organizational brand business would hire me to tell a story for them, I helicopter in as the outsider and I have a great kind of vantage point.
And then in 2015 I was asked to talk at an event called the DO lectures. I dunno if you’ve heard of it. It’s a wonderful quote. No, I haven’t. No. I think it would resonate with you. Lovely. On the West of Wales, here in the UK a lovely, very human-centered. The opposite of a, what one might think of a conference.
Corporate conference, yeah. Yeah. On a, no lanyards, no wifi. You sleep in tents on a farm on the west of Wales. [00:13:00] And I was asked to give a talk there, and it was the first time that I ever had the courage to stand up and to tell that real story of struggle of dealing with depression and how how I’d carved out this new life based on who I was.
And I mentioned that Elisa cuz it was a real turning point in me coming of age as a storyteller standing on stage and it’s on video, it’s out there for the world to see. Yeah. Standing on stage, telling my real story. Being vulnerable. I learned firsthand the power of sharing one story, of owning one story.
Brene Brown talks about rising strong, yeah. Owning our struggle and owning it rather than hiding it away. So that was a turning point for me where I became more towards a kind of a storytelling coach and [00:14:00] storytelling trainer and It was actually the BBC went full circle, as you said at the beginning.
I started as a teenager in BBC Local Radio, and the BBC asked me to pilot daylong storytelling workshop for them about yeah, six or seven years ago. And That then started my journey as a storytelling trainer. And I hadn’t done much training before. And I loved that sense of working with a small group on a day long workshop, taking them on a journey.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m a great fan of getting away from being shackled to desks. And one thing I used to do in this workshop was happened all around the UK was I’d send the participants out onto the streets, liberate them to go and be curious and uncover the stories around them.
And, That was a lovely experience. I learned a lot. I’m grateful to the BBC for that opportunity. And then that’s taken me into big organizations that I work with today on on [00:15:00] storytelling. And I’m really passionate about the role of stories inside organizations and it just feels such a humanizing way of engaging with an audience, whether we’re doing it now in a podcast, this is what you do.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You tell and hold space for stories to be shared and I’m, I love that.
Elisa Tuijnder: I love that. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I love the podcast medium as well, in general, but yeah. So you had this mission, you had this realization. You actually already had experience with, being creative with writing.
And all of those things neatly came into place, right? Yes. Or No, probably not. Neatly. Probably be very misaligned Yeah.
Ian Sanders: It would take a while. Take a while. Yeah,
Elisa Tuijnder: exactly. But then afterwards you realized, okay, all of this actually fits yes. In in, in this one’s space. Yes. So now you then also go not just, for the wider public, but also in organizations to, to talk to clients and how they can use storytelling.
What kind of questions do they come with or what kind of [00:16:00] problems do they come with to you and to say Hey, maybe we can help this, or is this more like a brand thing or is this really like a challenge or a change project? Or kinda
Ian Sanders: understand better there more towards, a change project than a brand project.
Because a lot of the organizations I’m working with are looking to nurture or change their culture, change behavior. I’ve worked with some organizations where they have some new organizational values and they really want to bring them to life. You know what it’s like inside organizations where there might be like a 72 page slide deck of here are our values, or these PDFs, these downloads, it’s so much noise inside organizations, on Slack and Yammer and all these different and email and messaging. And I think, to capture all that with human stories that bring abstract topics and organizational values to life, it’s been key.
So I’ve done a lot of work in bringing diversity and inclusion to life, bringing [00:17:00] integrity to life, bringing other organizational values like empathy and humanist to life through stories in order that leaders can engage. Their teams and their workforce and their colleagues. So that is a main part of it.
Also, what challenges are they coming to me with? I mean that, I guess they just want to humanize their communications. I know that’s a word I keep on using humanize. Yeah. But it’s important. Yeah. But it’s important. And I think, how can senior leaders in organizations really engage with the people that work for them, and how can they.
How can they communicate who they really are and what they stand for and where they’ve come from. And there’s, we don’t do that by sharing our resumes or our LinkedIn profile. We do that by sharing the human stories, the struggles we’ve overcome, what shaped us as human beings, our transition from children to adult, all those things that we all have in common, every single human being on the planet.[00:18:00]
I think that’s a really huge opportunity when we can reveal ourselves and build trust and build relationships with others.
Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, and I guess it also transforms the organization from this abstract entity to actually the combined or the sum of all those people working in it and that, there you have your inclusion and your humanization already straight away.
Ian Sanders: No, I love that reflection. Yes. A hundred thousand Company is a story is a company of a hundred thousand stories. And some part of that, reflects the culture and the ethos and the spirit of an organization. Yeah.
Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Have you seen any I’m sure you have, but maybe wanting to see if you have any practical tangible examples of how that really made the workplace happier as well, how that was conducive to a happier workplace.
Yeah. Any of these projects that you have done probably around, we all know that diversity and inclusion is gonna bringing [00:19:00] happiness. Or at some point, but yeah. Yeah. If you had anything tangible there. Yeah.
Ian Sanders: Anything tangible there. I guess one thing that I advocate to leaders is that they start some stories telling rituals.
What I mean by that is it might be an all hands meeting, or it might be, a meeting on Zoom, a coffee meeting, whatever. And then they start a meeting. They start a meeting, or they start a presentation with a story. Yeah. And I think that’s really powerful and I may. Especially in a team meeting, then ask others to share stories.
So I think that in itself, take some meeting shifts the mindset from being oh, here are some bullet points on a slide about, where we are this quarter financially versus here are some stories of what I’ve been doing, or here’s some stories of what’s been happening in the organization.
That, that shift to be feels like it’s, feels more joyful to have those kind of interactions that we can be more human and go round up group, sharing stories. [00:20:00] But I guess another kind of, result of that investment in storytelling is what I’ve just been talking about with leaders, really, where people are able to see the real leader and see who they really are, and that they can reveal leadership, reveal those glimpses, and that makes the better leadership and that makes a better culture and that makes for better productivity and a happier, healthier workplace.
And you know what it’s like when a leader leads him or her CEO or someone in the C-suite by being vulnerable and being. Yeah, especially about mental health as we know it then fosters a culture where other people feel they can be open about their mental health. And if I look back on my own story, 20 years ago of having a mental health crisis and quitting my job because of depression, I do feel that if I was working in 2023 like that, it’s a much more open world of work.
I could have put my hand up and said, I did put my hand up and say I was struggling, but, I feel that I could [00:21:00] have put my hand up and where bosses and people around me might have said, I struggled too. And that would’ve made a difference, rather than me feeling a bit of a taboo oh, we better not talk to Ian cuz he, he said he was depressed.
Yeah, you have some optimism and hope for, where the world of work is at now. And and I think it’s about revealing and being open. And when leaders lead with vulnerability, the teams follow.
Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. And I generally think that shift hasn’t been there for that long. Even when I started working, that wasn’t the case and I always try to stay true to myself, but it wouldn’t have been easy to say, Hey I’m really struggling mentally.
Whilst that is somewhat more the case now, absolutely accelerated by the pandemic and also I think accelerated by people like, Nicola Sturgeon in the UK or just saying Hey, this job is incredibly heavy and I don’t think I have it in me anymore. And I thought that was. Yeah so human and hopefully that leads to more people being able to do that.
Ian Sanders: You are right. I think, [00:22:00] that’s a really lovely point about the importance of role models and I think and for leaders to share their story and be open about, yeah, this is hard and it takes its toll, is really important that we see that from, from government leaders as well as business.
Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I think, yeah, it’s the first time in where that is showing yeah, it’s refreshing. Yeah, exactly.
What leads to a happy life? What are the various ways to be happy. Happiness means different things to each of us. Yet after doing extensive research management 3.0, founder Jurgen Appelo, discovered the common thread. Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. It is a path you choose, not a destination to arrive at.
So many of [00:23:00] us spend our times in pursuit of happiness, yet instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live it, embrace it, and implement it into our daily lives. We created the 12 steps to Happiness at Management 3.0. You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 steps at management30.com/practice.
Hey, so you also, because obviously some days, like we just said Nicholas Sturgeon has said that it was too much and they couldn’t do it anymore. So it’s not that we always have a good day. And that is also part of happiness. That is also, you have to have the bad things to ha to be able to get the good things.
Yes. So you wrote, you also wrote a book in 2021. A pandemic baby, I’m assuming. Yeah.
Ian Sanders: How did you guess
Elisa Tuijnder: We had a timing. I gave it away a little bit yeah. And the title is [00:24:00] 365 Ways to Have A Good Day. So how was that also from your own perspective in the pandemic then? Hey, I need to come up with everyday new reason to have a good day or something.
Oh, how did that process go?
Ian Sanders: Yeah, it wasn’t quite that, but you are, you nailed it with a lockdown baby. Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny. I’m, I I’ve always been a great journaler just looking for my notepad now after my badge on the floor. But, I’m always taking notes, making notes and journaling.
Yeah. And of course in 2020 we suddenly couldn’t travel anywhere, could we? And I always got my creative energy from. Taking journeys, the Eurostar to Paris to go and do a gig or, a flight to Amsterdam or a flight to Berlin traveling around the UK, flying to Glasgow, whatever.
And. Here I was in 2020 when I was stuck at home. Yeah. I, in my box of old notepads that went back 15 years, kind of 30 or 40 notepads, [00:25:00] I went through all these notepads, Elisa and I found all these wonderful kind of nuggets, if you like. It was like mining for gold. I, when I couldn’t travel, it was like the younger Ian.
On these little journeys when he’d written down these observations and stories and notes had almost like given the elder in the pandemic Ian, what he needed at a time when he couldn’t travel. And I got so much creative energy from these. And love that. Full disclosure, I lost some work in the early part of the first lockdown of 2020 in spring 2020, and I started a daily ritual of going through all these notepads, a box of them, and starting a Google document, writing it, writing up tens of thousands of words, of all the good stuff and that then I thought, I’ve got a book here. I’ve got a book and I guess, if you think about my own story, where I had struggled in the world of work when I hadn’t paid attention to what I needed to have a good day.
Like wow, the power of writing this book [00:26:00] is quite autobiographical, but also reached out to experts and people in my network and people around the world with their perspective of a book of 365 ideas and suggestions on the small steps we can all take to tune into what we need to have a better day, was really powerful and it was lovely to, put that down on paper and to have that published yeah, came out in the end of 2021.
Elisa Tuijnder: While we were still in the pandemic at that point, that’s, that there was, omicron was all coming back and all of these kinda things. So luckily that stayed at bay a bit. But I love that story as well. That one, it was your personal guide through this pandemic. It was, you were actually guide your younger self was guiding you.
Yeah. And that’s such a great way to write a book. So do you wanna give us maybe. One or two of these favorite tips or strategies or, the story that you love the most, or I don’t know [00:27:00] any, anything, what you’re thinking. God,
Ian Sanders: that’s hard. The story I love the most outta 365.
I guess doesn’t have to be, no. I guess at the heart of it, it’s back to what I said before about. We’re all different, aren’t we? Some of your listeners, it might, it might be, starting the day doing some yoga or mindfulness or listening to a favorite piece of music, or having a coffee in their favorite coffee cup.
What I’ve learned is these things aren’t trivial. It’s easy to dismiss them as triple, they really matter. And I think at the heart of the book is that was twofold. It’s that we pay attention to what each of us need in order to have a good day, and then secondly that we are intentional about building those habits into the day.
So it’s that mix mixture of attention and intention, being open-minded, tuning into those small moments. And I guess I, I’m smiling cuz I’m just thinking. You asked me about a favorite kind of, not a tip, but it’s a little story I tell [00:28:00] in the book and it’s about I was heading to Madrid to run a session for a global leadership team.
In conjunction with IE Business School and I’d landed at Madrid and there was a driver that had coming to meet me at the airport, but when I got off the plane there was another passenger and she was holding what I thought was a, one of those cat baskets, like traveling baskets, and she beckoned me over.
And she told me that wasn’t a cat in the bag, but it in the box, in the carrying bag. But it was a, it was her pet rabbit.
Elisa Tuijnder: Okay.
Ian Sanders: Yep. And she was taking her pet rabbit from London to Lisbon via Madrid. And she was concerned that the rabbit was a bit anxious and hadn’t had any water on the journey.
I didn’t even know you could take a rabbit on a plane. There you go, rabbit.
Elisa Tuijnder: But
Ian Sanders: she asked me if I could help feed the rabbits some water, and it was just [00:29:00] kinda hilarious. It’s one of those things where, I could have said, oh, I haven’t got time for this. I’m far too busy. But I was straight intrigued to approach me.
I was intrigued. I said, yes. She held the rabbit down while I got a little pipette out and tried to put water in the rabbit’s mouth. Rabbit didn’t want me anywhere near it. And it was just one of those really funny moments. And after a few minutes I think we gave up and I was on the travelator going towards passport control.
And my wife had messaged me and said, oh, I didn’t hear from you. Did you land okay at Madrid? And I said, oh, I’m, yeah, I have landed Madrid. I’m running a bit late for my car because I’ve just been feeding a rabbit some water, and she was like, what? What are you talking about? And it’s just a reminder of, there’s a story I remember all these years on, but it’s just like those little moments of joy are waiting for us. Perhaps it’s talking to a stranger in a neighborhood coffee shop in Berlin, or it’s walking down the canal in Birmingham and chatting to a stranger in the sunshine. Yes, whatever those things [00:30:00] are, but there’s all those little moments of opportunities for us. And and I suppose that’s my call to action if you like, that we stay open to those experiences cuz, on a work trip or whatever it might be, they’re the things that can make a real positive difference to our day.
Elisa Tuijnder: absolutely. And I love those moments. I love those. I. I can go back in time and find so many of those, Oh, great. How, yeah. I’m a big traveler, I love it. I’ve put myself into some interesting situations that I, you was like how did I get here? Yeah. Similar rabbit stories and oh, I love them.
Ian Sanders: You’ll have to write them up.
Elisa Tuijnder: Actually, I should. And I am not I really try and put these things in my day as well, like these habits and, but I am, it’s high on my to-do list to work better on. Cuz I know exactly what’s gonna make me happier to art today. And they’re productive and yeah.
But it’s hard to keep onto them and journaling is part of that as well. And I think sometimes I’m really good. [00:31:00] I’ll be that like that for three weeks, for four weeks and every day, and then all of a sudden, two months have gone past and I
Ian Sanders: find it together, don’t we? We get busy and I think.
Yeah. I remember that scene well, but I guess, probably when I was sitting in the car taking me to the conference venue from the airport I must have scribbled it down. And then when I was going through my notebooks, I found it and I, the name of the rabbit, Gogo, because I asked the woman, what’s the rabbit’s name? Gogo, and all these things
Elisa Tuijnder: are, yeah. If you’re gonna, if you’re gonna shove some water in it’s mouth, you might as well
Ian Sanders: ask, need to know the name. So yeah, you’ll find that of one of 365 ideas in the book.Oh yeah. No,
Elisa Tuijnder: love it.
Absolutely love it. Do you feel like, you’re writing 365, it’s a personal journey in itself already because it’s going through all these old things and then some things might have been forgotten and it is the pandemic. Do you feel like you’d really learn something about yourself again, or rediscovered something about yourself?
It’s a personal journey as well to write a book and so wondered whether, at [00:32:00] the end of it or when it was published that you felt like, okay, actually I was a very different Ian when I started or just found something.
Ian Sanders: Know what? I’m not sure I noticed that I had changed. I think what I felt was powerful about it was, when you write a book, it, it’s set, set in stone, if you like.
And there was something rather nice about it’s like a validation maybe of all the things you’re thinking. And then it’s released out into a book. And of course the lovely thing about having a book out is it’s quite a privilege to have a book out and the fact that I might hear from a reader in I have lovely emails out the blue from readers.
I had a, had an email about three Sundays ago from a group of women in Vale, Colorado, a ski resort. Oh, wow. Yeah. And they explained that for 30 years they’ve been meeting up every Monday for breakfast. I love that. Every Monday for 30 years, they meet for breakfast and they, wow. Yeah, they have every year they pick a book.
It’s not a book club, but every year they pick a book they’re gonna read [00:33:00] to inspire them. And this year they’ve chosen 365 ways to have a good day. And they sent this lovely photograph of them standing in this restaurant in Colorado, all holding the book. Yeah, that was lovely. It was such a lovely feeling to get those kind of emails out of the blue.
Yeah. And I guess what I’ve learned is that I’ve got this body of work and people will take different things from it, and it’s lovely getting those human reflections, I’ve got I’ve got on my pinboard, I love a pinboard. I’ve got on my pinboard here above my desk, an email from someone in Rotterdam and he says, I’ve just finished 365 ways.
It has set my mind a light, shifted my thinking and started a recalibration process. I’m now an adventure to carve out a path that works for me. So getting emails like that from people who are using the book as a kind of, as a guide to change their life, I think is fantastic because there’s a kind of saying, isn’t there, which is be who you needed when you were [00:34:00] younger.
If only I’d had 365 ways to have a good day as a book or as a guide 20 years ago, I may have had a different pass out of, struggles with mental health. Because we all need a guide sometimes and, I love to think that my book might go into the hands of someone that really needs it, like young Ian.
Elisa Tuijnder: Do you think you would’ve actually been very susceptible to it? I like, or would would you have taken it in like the way you do that now or do you think you had to go through some of these difficulties in these hardships to actually appreciate and think about these things differently?
Ian Sanders: I think you answer something there, cuz I think the latter is important, isn’t it? Often in life we wish things weren’t as hard, but I do know as a human being, we have to go through the struggle. I think I would’ve been, but the first part of your question, I think I would’ve been very open to a book like that.
I remember around the point that I handed my resignation in reading a [00:35:00] book. I’d heard an interview on the radio. We didn’t tend to have podcasts so much then. Yay. It is a great book by a guy called Nick Williams called The Work We Were Born to Do. And it’s still a book that probably hasn’t got out of date really.
I was a great one for soaking up books like that. So I think I probably. Yeah, I probably would’ve if I’d found that in my local bookstore, I would’ve soaked it all up.
Elisa Tuijnder: Cool. Yeah. No, that’s cool. What is next for Ian Sanders? Continue on the path of storytelling. More books in the making or ideas.
Yeah, I think,
Ian Sanders: I’m always looking, I’m always looking, shake things up. I’m always looking to change things. You said I was an optimist instructor at the beginning, and that’s my collaboration with the Simon Sinek Company, where I run a class and they call people that run those classes.
Optimism instructors. So that’s come from thanks Simon Sinek for that. But I run a class called Shake Up Your Work Life. And I mentioned that I suppose because I’m always, I feel like I’m a work in progress. [00:36:00] Proudly. I’m not like, this is how things are. I’m always Yeah. And that’s great.
Reminded about how things are gonna be. And I’m, I love a journey literal and metaphorical. And tomorrow I have a train journey to the north of England to Leeds and I’m really looking forward to that train journey cuz I’m going up to Leeds for a couple of reasons, but, I’m making time on that train journey to scribble my notepad to think about what the rest of 2023 might be like for the Ian Sanders company.
And I’m always looking to shake things up and change things and, follow my curiosity. I don’t have a big strategy for what’s next. But I have some kind of milestones. I want to there to be more change. I wanna grow. I’m always wanting to be learning. So I guess have all those things in the mix, but also stay really open-minded about what’s next.
Elisa Tuijnder: No, that’s great. Cuz these things have come to you as well, and that’s, you haven’t plotted this out from the start, and so it’s been working in this way. Yeah. And yeah I’m [00:37:00] actually jealous of your train jury. I miss the commute sometimes, cuz that was my podcast time, that was my thinking time.
Yeah. And so to commute to the bathroom and to the kitchen is, it’s not quite the same, is it? It’s not quite the same. This the same distance. But yeah, again, another something I need to plan in my day instead of actually having to Yeah. That, that having to be there because you were commuting to work making, making time for it.
As you might know on the podcast, we are very big fans of tangible practices and we always want to end with something that our listeners can start implementing as soon as possible. We’ve already covered a number of things, is there anything that you wanna leave our listeners with to make their workplaces either more happier or incorporate more storytelling or any of the other amazing things that you’ve done?
Ian Sanders: What an opportunity. You giving me an opportunity just, yeah, it’s open mic look. I’m better getting this right. [00:38:00] Yeah. Look, I think just wrapping up some of the themes we’ve been talking about to leaders who are listening to this, leaders, managers and organizations, founders of companies, I would say be more human.
Have the courage to be open, to be vulnerable, to lead with empathy, to share your story. And I think I’d also say, to organizations and to leaders, urge them to create the conditions where teams and employees and people can flourish. If you can give your teams and your people the autonomy and the space to, do things their way, when they can tune into the habits and behaviors that fuel their best work, then I think you’ll have a much better culture.
You’ll have more creative, productive, happy, and healthier employees. And some of those things I’ve talked about during this podcast, Getting away from the, from our desks, going for a wander, doing things differently, switching up a [00:39:00] meeting maybe to go into a walk and talk. I love a walk and talk.
Yeah, me too. Don’t box your organizations in. There’s a story I tell in the book about the Olivetti typewriter company in Italy in the 1950s where the owners of Olivetti family company in the 1950s instigated this thing where they had a two hour lunch. And it was one hour to eat lunch and it was one hour to eat culture.
They would encourage the employees to go to the library, to listen to a music recital, to have a guest speaker come in. Amazing. This was in the 1950s. Yeah. And they attribute that. Encouraging curiosity in their people. They attributed that to innovation within Olivetti typewriters.
Cause people were in this period of, learning and development and being more curious. These aren’t just soft and fluffy things, these things have a real return on investment in terms of, making better workplaces and unlocking innovation. And I [00:40:00] just think it starts on being more human.
And I think if we can all, whether you are a leader in an organization, whether you are an entrepreneur, whether you are working in a team, if you can tune in to those little things, zoom in on those little things that make a big difference, I think you’ll have the recipe for a much happier, healthier work life.
Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. And often, we’re trying to sometimes emphasize this in the podcast as well. It’s not just about altruism, it’s not just about, we are, we’re all for it. I want everybody to be happy. But it’s also, it’s good for business. It’s really good
Ian Sanders: for business.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And, I think, as we spend so much time at work. I read a statistic, which was, we spend 80,000, what was it, 80,000 hours at? Not a week. I might feel like it in our lifetime. And like we give so much, don’t we? And we’ve learned that during the pandemic how hard we’re working and under difficult.
So like we might as well make a difference and [00:41:00] make it as joyful and as human as we can because otherwise, and I’m not, I’m speaking from a position of privilege of someone that works for myself. Yeah. And I can go and work in a coffee shop and I’m not, stacking shelves at a Walmart or working in an Amazon warehouse.
So I, I caveated. I’m speaking from a position of privilege. So not for everyone, a lot of us have the opportunity to inject a more human way into how we work and be more autonomous and do things our way.
Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And there is not always, that work life balance. Yes.
But also, if you love what you do, then it’s a, it’s, yeah. That’s a whole new conversation. That’s,
Ian Sanders: yeah. We might need a big of coffee for that one. Yeah.
Elisa Tuijnder: Or a glass of whiskey or, Hey, Ian. Would people want to now find you for any, either the book or, and maybe for any consultancy or training?
Where can they do that? Where can they find you? So the
Ian Sanders: easiest [00:42:00] place is iansanders.com. Okay. And yeah, there’ll be a, there’s a tap there about the book and training and a link to get my newsletter, so that’s probably the easiest place for people to head. Iansanders.com.
Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, that’s very straightforward and that’s a good place to start.
Yeah. Very consistent with Ian Sanders throughout. Perfect. Makes it easy for us. So we’ll add this in the show notes as well. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Thank you so much for giving us these little stories from the book and why it’s so important. I really enjoyed our conversation.
Ian Sanders: Oh, thank you. It’s lovely. As a storyteller, it’s lovely to be on the receiving end and to share stories, so thank you for giving me that opportunity. I’m very grateful for it.
Elisa Tuijnder: All right. Thanks again, Ian.
Ian Sanders: Thanks a lot, Elisa. Bye.
Elisa Tuijnder: You’ve been listening to The Happiness At Work podcast by Management 3.0 [00:43:00] where we are getting serious about happiness. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and if you enjoy our shows, don’t be shy, write us a review. Share the happiness with your colleagues, family or friends. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn under Management 3.0.