The Journey to Fulfillment

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Ian Walker

At the end of the day, leadership is about people: the people we lead, the people we work alongside, the people we learn from, and the people we aspire to be.

Today we speak with Ian Walker, Senior Director of Leadership and Employee Development at Salesforce, about the people – and the experiences – that have shaped his career, and the lessons he’s learned along the way.

We also discuss the world of tech, the future of artificial intelligence, and some simple strategies for fostering happiness and fulfillment in the workplace. 

Key Points

  1. Gratitude as a Foundation of Happiness: Recognizing what we have, rather than what we lack, fosters happiness. This perspective can significantly enhance workplace positivity and fulfillment.
  2. Importance of Relationships: Happiness stems from being around those we love, highlighting the value of cultivating strong connections within the workplace for a more cohesive and happier organization.
  3. Vulnerability and Trust in Leadership: Leaders who embrace vulnerability build trust, transforming organizational culture into one that’s more inclusive and supportive.
  4. Engagement in Change: Involving employees in change processes strengthens trust and acceptance, making transitions smoother and fostering a more adaptable and content workforce.

Find Ian on LinkedIn here


Happiness means different things to each of us. After doing extensive research, Management 3.0 founder Jurgen Appelo discovered a 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 here.


*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] At the end of the day, leadership is about people, the people we lead, the people we work alongside, the people we learn from, and the people we aspire to be. Today, we speak with Ian Walker, Senior Director of Leadership and Employee Development at Salesforce, about the people and the experiences that have shaped his career and the lessons he’s learned [00:00:30] along the way.

Before we dive in, you are listening to the Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3point0. Where we are getting serious about happiness.

I’m your host, Elisa Tander, happiness enthusiast and Management 3point0 team member. In this podcast, we share insights from industry experts, [00:01:00] 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.

Welcome to the Happiness at Work podcast. Today we’re joined by [00:01:30] Ian Walker, Senior Director of Leadership and Employee Development at Salesforce. With a rich history at Cisco, Nike, and Time Warner, Ian brings a wealth of knowledge in leadership development, team building, and diversity. He’s passionate about fostering inclusive, sustainable workplaces, and is here to share his insights on creating a happier, more productive work environment.

But as always, we start with the same question, and that is What does happiness mean to you, Ian?

Ian Walker: Oh, my [00:02:00] Lord. Um, well, thank you, first of all, Elisa, for having me. It’s such a privilege to be here and to talk with you. Um, you know, it’s interesting when I talk to people about purpose in life, um, for me, happiness is such a key driver.

So particularly when people talk about, you know, I want to become, you know, I want to become a people leader. It’s like, well, why? Is it, is it going to make you happier? Is it going to make other people happier? No, no, it’s because I want to kind of grow myself. It’s that one. So, so it is a very complex question.[00:02:30]

And I wanted to start by saying, and this may seem very paradoxical, but, uh, we, we had a memorial service for my mother last Friday and she passed away in December. Well, thank you. But so it kind of felt, gosh, and I’m now talking about happiness in the context of that. But in some respects, for me, this is the perfect time to talk about happiness, because Actually, happiness is something which is, I think you only realize on reflection very often.[00:03:00]

Certainly deep, deep rooted happiness. And so when I thought about, you know, my mother and, and particularly writing the eulogy for her life, um, a lot of it is focused on gratitude. And I think gratitude is a, is a tremendous fount of happiness, uh, for many people, but many people. I think, forget to realize how grateful they are for the things which they have, because we tend to look at the things that we don’t have primarily and feel unhappy that we don’t have a [00:03:30] bigger car, we don’t have a bigger house, we don’t have, you know, the things which, which we look to others to define as being the course and sources of happiness.

So for me, that’s been, this has been a really important opportunity to reframe her death in terms of, not only of learning, but in terms of gratitude as well. And it’s funny, while I was thinking about, you know, this podcast and the discussion we were going to have, I asked my 14 year old son, what do you, what do you understand by happiness?

What do you make by [00:04:00] happiness? And I didn’t, honestly, I had no clue what he would come back with. And he said, surrounding yourself by the people you love. And I thought, my Lord, that’s, uh, and he, then he, then he went on to say, well, that’s too profound, isn’t it? And I said, no, no. I mean, if you can believe it, then that’s, that’s true.

I said, do you really believe that? And he kind of thought for a moment and he said, yeah, no, I really believe it. So it, I think happiness is, and I said, it’s complex at the beginning. I think the reason I think it’s complex is I think [00:04:30] we tend to look in happiness in two different ways. One is short term.

There are things which give us happiness in the short term, you know, reading a good book, listening to a wonderful piece of music, you know, going to a film, being with friends, these things, you know, they, they give us a short burst of happiness. I went for a run this morning, that gave me a sense of happiness and achievement.

These things are short lived, but, um, longer term, I think my definition of happiness has certainly changed over time. I think previously it was all in relation [00:05:00] to what was happening to me. Um, and, you know, I think particularly as, as young, young, young people, as teenagers, we’re very conscious that the world is happening to us and, and we’re angry, but we’re also really reacting to that.

And we’re looking for kind of what the world can give to us. And I think over time, what I’ve realized, and particularly in the last few years is actually happiness is how can I give back to others and how can I help grow others? And [00:05:30] subordinate my own ego in order to create and help others to grow. Um, that’s really been a kind of a key transition for me.

Um, in, in terms of my own evolution in relation to happiness. The other thing I would say is that, you know, I, I think happiness is. Can I use an analogy, it’s not an original one of an onion. I think at its very core, it’s about those most important relationships that we have with the people who matter most to us.

Um, in my case, it’s my wife and my kids, and now it’s with my [00:06:00] siblings. We have a next term, next layer of, of our friendships. How important they are to us. Probably also things like our, our home, do we have a roof over our heads? Those things, our

Elisa Tuijnder: work, yeah.

Ian Walker: and our work as well, which reflect very much on, on, on how we look at ourselves.

And then we look at the relationships we have with our, our employees, with our, uh, co workers, et cetera, um, with the company that we work for. ’cause I think that’s a tremendous driver of happiness as well. And then. [00:06:30] I think by no means is something which has really been impacting me in the last few years is my relationship with the wider world, with the environment in particular, and that’s particularly in the last 10 to 15 years.

Um, but then also with geopolitical events and I found myself being a lot more politically engaged 10 years, um, than I have been probably throughout my life, or maybe when I was a student. I’m tense to get involved then, but, but particularly [00:07:00] the intervening 20 years, probably much less so. So that’s been really interesting because I think what is happening, you know, in the Middle East, what’s happening, um, in Ukraine, I mean, globally impacts on my happiness.

If I see these things. happening, I think we can’t dissociate our own sense of comfort from what’s happening in the, in the, in the wider world. So very lengthy answer, I know, but, uh, A

Elisa Tuijnder: lot to unpack there. Yeah. Like the Buddhist said, you know, you can’t know happiness unless you know the opposite as well.[00:07:30]

And a little bit of what makes you tick and, and that would be sort of my next question. Like we now know that your wife and kids and your siblings are very important to you, but what’s Ian’s story? Maybe your professional story, but you know, that’s often interwoven with our personal lives as well. So in a very, you know, brief meander, what, what, who is Ian?

Ian Walker: Oh gosh. Um. Um. I mean, it’s challenging when you’re 57, um, to do that briefly is, is [00:08:00] tough, but I will try and be, but I’ll try and be succinct. I mean, I think I, and I say this to the people I coach and I work with, you can’t dissociate your work cell from who you are as a person. And I think those people who try to create dissonance.

And I still come across, and it’s very sad, and particularly, and I, and I don’t want to generalize, but particularly women find it, I think, have said to me they find it very difficult to be vulnerable at work and to talk about who they are as a, as a mother, as a sister, um, in the [00:08:30] working environment, because they’re expected to be as, present this, kind of this toughness, and I, for me, Vulnerability is key, a key aspect of who I am as a leader.

And I think that’s something which I has certainly evolved over time. So I was the youngest of six children. I was sent to boarding school when I was eight years old. It was profoundly impactful, influential on me. I hated it. Um, 10 years, I used to cry every time I went back to school. Every time I, you know, two weeks [00:09:00] before and I get this pit in my stomach.

And that also impacted on my relationship with my parents. Um, it also impacted on my relation, on my ability to form relationships because you create the shell around yourself when you’re sent away to Bonningsville cause you’re stuck in a dormitory with others, you can’t show any weakness. And I think these things are tremendously impactful on you as a person and on a, as a leader.

I think if you’re at all sensitive, I think it can be really very, very difficult time. [00:09:30] But at the same time. You have people telling you that you’re very privileged and it is a position of privilege to have this kind of background. And I, and I very, very much recognize and very conscious of that. Um, so that kind of formed my kind of initial perspective on, on life.

Then I went to university and that was a very liberating experience. The idea that you could choose what you do and when you do it. Um, some people find it too much, but I really found that that was a much more fulfilling experience for me. [00:10:00] But I had no real idea what I wanted to do in terms of work. I felt I wanted to work with people.

Um, I actually joined a publishing company, Time Monitor to begin with, thinking that I wanted to get into publishing as well, cause I love, love literature and I, and I’m a writer. Um, but I ended up going into a leadership role pretty much immediately managing a small team of people who are much older than I was.

Um, And that taught me that actually to be a leader, you don’t need to be a functional expert. [00:10:30] Uh, you can lead people because leadership is a different skill than doing. And I think that’s something that has informed me throughout my professional life as well. And then the next kind of part of my career, I was very lucky within two years to be offered a role in the Netherlands.

So I left London, moved to the Netherlands. I’ve been 10 years in Amsterdam, which is just an amazing city

Elisa Tuijnder: and

Ian Walker: was involved then in leadership development and learning for the first time, but I left that, I joined Nike, did a few years with Nike, went to the [00:11:00] States with Nike, did some process work and including trying to set up customer service on the internet, which in the mid nineties was absolutely something cutting edge and new.

And then joined Cisco. In early 2000, and I was talking about that as being the high point of my career. Cause I had about 150 people in my team then doing customer service operations. And, uh, it’s, I think that’s the other thing, which is a learning for me is that you, I’ve never defined myself by the size of the role that I’ve [00:11:30] had.

It’s been the, the learning that I’ve taken from it and the location. So within a couple of years, I’ve made the decision to move to Japan and to go and lead customer service in Japan for Cisco. Much, much smaller team, less than 10 people, but just an amazing opportunity to go and experience a completely different culture and a different way of life.

And that, those kinds of decisions have really informed who I am as a leader. It’s been less around the, the, the greasy pole, the vertical pole, and more around who am I as a person, as [00:12:00] well as am I learning as a leader and as a professional.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. And taking all of those experiences in.

Ian Walker: Yeah. So there’s a lot, a lot there.

And then I moved to Salesforce in 2015. And have been there for the last, uh, last eight years, initially doing operations. And then, um, about four years ago, making the shift into back, back into talent development. Um, there’s been a, a really interesting journey, a very diverse journey and an unusual journey in many respects, but, but one, which I [00:12:30] feel huge gratitude for.

Elisa Tuijnder: That’s often the case with people I speak to on this podcast. They all have these very meandering journeys, but they all come together. It all makes sense. It’s sort of like a piece of the puzzle. All of these things are like a piece of a bigger whole. Um, the first time that you came into contact with talent development, was that your aha moment, was that I’m going to go further in it or was that interesting?

But let’s see.

Ian Walker: That’s a really, really good question because I mean, I was thinking about that and [00:13:00] why did I not stay in talent when, because at the time I did think about doing a master’s degree in, uh, in organizational development. And I did do some research around it. Um, I think again, I was, I was too seduced by different opportunities and I kind of thought, well, I, you know, I don’t want to tie myself down.

I don’t want to define myself. So I’m going to, you know, let’s go and join Nike now and do something different with Nike. Cause that’s fun. And you know, what a great company. You know, I was in my late twenties or whatever. So it just felt like an exciting thing to do. I was not thinking bigger picture at all.

I was [00:13:30] not thinking strategically and that kind of is symptomatic of who I was then. And it was really in 2012 that I went through a leadership development program at Cisco, but with a company called Global Warriors. And a remarkable woman called Biba Binotti, who’s my coach. And that was kind of like, boom, you know, my, my eyes were reopened.

I reconnected. I thought this is the work I need to be doing. This is who I am. This is where I’m in flow. This is [00:14:00] where I’m comfortable. And particularly by other, by comparison with other people who are going through this leadership process, I could tell there was a lot more discomfort because it was connecting with your emotions, who you are as a person, as much as who, who you are as a leader.

Because again, the two are so. Absolutely interrelated. So that was kind of the one, the first aha moment. The second one was in 2018, after I’d left, Cisco joined Salesforce and I had a conversation with the then EVP of, of, of the organization I was supporting. [00:14:30] Um, this, the services and success organization, um, guy called Simon Short, remarkable leader.

Wonderful. And he said to me, you know, you’ve been doing this work. What do you want to do next with your life? And I said, actually, I want to move full-time into doing leadership development. And I’d done some leadership development work with him and his team already. And I said, I wanna do this work full-time.

And he said, are you, are you sure? ? And it was like, it was that mic drop moment. It like, do I say no? No, [00:15:00] actually I was only kidding. Or do I go, yes. And I go and I thought about it and I said, no. Yes, that’s where my calling is right now. And I genuinely felt that sense of vocation. That I was being called back to this work.

Um, and that was really, those two defining moments were really for me, most important to bringing me back into this space.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, that’s really interesting. And, and yeah, lovely also that you felt that, I heard that vocation, like you said earlier, when you’re young, you just go where the wind is. I’ve said before, I think when I was in my twenties, like, I’m actually happy that [00:15:30] I’m getting older because things like becoming a dentist or a doctor is sort of becoming, getting out of the picture.

Sleek, sleek. Cutting the options down already. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, so yeah, in your current role, you’re very much involved in this team, organizational development, talent development. What’s your approach in this? And also de link with the podcast, how do you strive for happiness in there and how important is happiness for you in, in this respect?

Ian Walker: Gosh, and again, it’s a, it’s a really [00:16:00] interesting. and complex question. Um, I mean, one thing which we, we’ve been talking about is this idea of psychological safety and, and where does psychological safety derive and can, actually, can organizations claim to own and create psychologically safe environments for individuals when they don’t really understand people’s backgrounds?

Their backstory is who they are as people. Um, but I do think that the most important thing that we need to try and create in any type of relationship, and I call it the [00:16:30] red thread through all human relationships, is trust. Without trust, you have no real relationship. And we see that both at the micro level, we see it also at the macro level as well, where you have no trust, there can be no relationship and there can be no, no effective dialogue.

So I think the. Core at the core of our work is building trust based relationships. And, you know, if we look at tech, particularly in the last year, 18 months, there’s been this massive dislocation of trust has been so many [00:17:00] layoffs, which have happened from one day to the next, no preparation, no kind of explanation really.

Um, and that’s across the sector. And I think that has created this kind of great sense of uncertainty. And, and again, this kind of sense of actually, Oh, what I took to be givens with the relationship that I have with my employer. And I’m less sure about now, do I think that the last six to two, eight months, things have shifted, beginning to shift back again?

Absolutely. But I do think that our work and the work of leaders, and that’s the work [00:17:30] we support has to be around. How do we help organizations and leaders? We cement that trust both at the individual level, um, between leader and team and leader and individual and between colleagues, but also more structurally within organizations as well.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And like you said, actually, corporate landscape is always evolving and the only constant is kind of change. Right. And we say that a lot with the Management 3point0 as well. [00:18:00] So. Yeah. How do you navigate those significant changes or disruptions and can they actually make a team stronger or, yeah, how, how do you approach these?

Ian Walker: Yeah, again, it’s a, one of those fundamental questions and it’s something that we get asked a lot to support is how do you help teams through change? We, we have a, uh, one of our programs is called Navigating Change. Um, I think the first and most important thing, um, around changes [00:18:30] is. That different people react to it in different ways.

You know, we’re all individuals and, and we all react to it in different ways. And I think that’s something which organizations struggle with. They tend to have a one size fits all approach. And the second thing is that often leaders, um, when their planning changes, Have gone through the, and I know people disagree necessarily about the, you know, the, the cycle of change and, and the Kubler Ross model, but I do think that there is truth in that we go through different emotional responses to change.

So very [00:19:00] often leaders have gone through the, those challenging emotional responses. So when they come to present change to an organization. They presented, right, we got it, we just got to implement this and move forward. And they forget that people themselves then have to go through that, those change curves.

So we have to help both leaders understand that they have an obligation to be patient, but also the more people and employees are involved in change at an early stage and can be part of the co creation process of change. [00:19:30] The more they will accept it, people respond best when they’re given choice. Now, it’s not to say that everyone has a choice, but at least if you have a voice within the process and you’re given the choice to give it input into that process, it may or may not be accepted, but at least you’ve been given, given the opportunity to express a voice within that, within the process and, and had that choice of being able to say, yeah, this is something which I have an opinion about, or actually, no, I don’t have an opinion about it.

I’ll just see what happens. [00:20:00] I think that’s so, so, uh, so, so important. Um, I think when the other thing, when I’m leading teams through change and when we’re going through change and, and as a company, and Salesforce is a very values driven company, um, to reconnect and ensure that all of our changes are aligned both with our sense of purpose and with our values is so important because those things really cement us in certainty.

If we can cement the change in [00:20:30] those constants, I think it becomes far easier than both to explain and to digest the changes which happen. And I think if we, if we disconnect from those values, I think that’s when we run the risk of, of people kind of separating themselves from the change and dissociating themselves from the change and kind of going, well, you know, I’m not, I, this is not something that I understand or can really process.

Yeah. Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. So what I’m hearing is kind of keeping people informed and involved as well. Like, you know, there’s nothing worse [00:21:00] than sitting on a train and there’s a delay and you don’t know, you don’t know why. Right. Like, I mean, at least if you know what’s going on, somehow it makes it easier to wait, although the wait is equally as long.

Um, so I always feel that somehow a good. Example, because everybody can connect to that.

Ian Walker: 100%. Absolutely.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Hey, you mentioned it already as well in, in your intro that you’re kind of particularly interested in, you know, global politics and, and, but also equality and sustainability. So why did [00:21:30] you come to these values?

Why do you find these particularly important and how do they connect to like a happier and more productive workplace for you?

Ian Walker: Again, it’s really interesting. Super long.

Elisa Tuijnder: Well, yeah, no.

Ian Walker: And again, I could talk, you know, hours on both of these days, each of them, they’re so important. Um, so it’s interesting when I was at Cisco, I was quite involved in our volunteering at the company and a colleague of mine who was super passionate, a guy called Neil, and he, he was super passionate about the environment and he, [00:22:00] Neil Harrison, he said to me, I had you thought about getting involved in the environment and sustainability and, and I need someone to help in their spare time lead our sustainability operations in the UK.

And I was like, well, you know, I mean, okay, interesting. I like,

Elisa Tuijnder: I like forest. Exactly, exactly.

Ian Walker: I, and I’m a massive hiker, that’s where I, you know, I, I find my happy place at the top of a mountain, uh, with my wife and kids, but, but I hadn’t [00:22:30] really thought much more than I was a cyclist as well. Um, and so I was like, okay, well, let’s, let’s, let’s do that again.

I, I’m a little bit of a kind of sparkly object. There’s, this sounds interesting. If I don’t know too much about it, let’s kind of just pick it up.

And so I got quite involved in sustainable operations, particularly at Cisco and, um, really found actually, once you start, once I started looking into it, and this was in, you know, 2005 onwards, when sustainability was beginning to [00:23:00] become kind of really much more in the public eye, but quite how important it was.

And quite how much, um, companies needed to be involved in the narrative because until companies were making influence in government, government was never going to shift. And I think we’re still very sadly in that on bus where we haven’t really made that the final shift to going, actually, we’ve got to be all in on sustainability globally, um, both through governments, through the [00:23:30] UN at an international global level, but also at a societal level.

So. That’s how I got involved in sustainability. Sustainability, it’s interesting, Salesforce talks about sustainability as being a stakeholder and that the environment is a stakeholder for our business, and I think that’s such a profound way of looking at our, our responsibility, that we cannot disassociate our responsibilities as a company and our values as a company from the environment that, [00:24:00] uh, that we live and work in.

So I think. From a company point of view, it’s certainly part and parcel of the work that we do, and therefore it, from a leadership development and a leadership point of view, we can’t ignore it. Now, again, then you had that kind of. challenge of so much of our work is rooted on bringing people together physically.

And, you know, obviously during the pandemic, that was not possible, but it is possible now. And so we, we have to try and find that balance between investing in, in [00:24:30] bringing people together to learn together, um, and to, and to connect together. Which is so, I think, incredibly valuable from a development point of view, but also respect that, that, that, that has an environmental impact.

So balancing our development work between the remote and the in person is really, is really key. So I think from a leadership point of view. It is trying to find that, that balance. Certainly as a leader, I want to connect with my global [00:25:00] team at least twice a year, physically. Um, I think that I, I call it filling up the tank of trust.

I think it, it refills the tank of trust, but at the bottom of the tank of trust is this little hole, which is dripping when you’re not physically together. Um, so you do need to fill it up, you know, and I think every six months is, is probably, is probably the best. A good time. I would love to do it quarterly, but I think that’s, you know, talking about the balance, this kind of polarity between environmentalism and connection, I think we need to try and [00:25:30] find that balance.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. And so I think that’s

Ian Walker: on the sustainability piece. On the equality piece, I mean, this is, again, such a rich topic, isn’t it?

Elisa Tuijnder: It is. I

Ian Walker: mean, I always talk about myself as being white, middle aged, middle class, heterosexual, and male. I mean, these are five privileges, right? And so I look at myself in relation to others as being very, very privileged.

You know, I went to private school, um, that in itself is a massive [00:26:00] privilege. So I think for me, I have an obligation to level the playing field. I mean, I talked about this vocation, but that’s part of my vocation is to, is to level the playing field. Um, you know, my personal purpose is how can I have a positive impact on every person who I come into contact with?

And so that I see as being translated with how do I level the playing field for others within the company? How do I enable others? So a lot of my coaching and mentoring work is focused on people who will belong [00:26:30] into a disadvantaged category. So, whether that be through their sexual orientation, through their gender, um, through their racial background, whatever, it’s,

Elisa Tuijnder: that’s, that’s where I tend to focus.

Neurodiversions, any of these things, yeah.

Ian Walker: Neurodiversity, absolutely. Um, so, and also those people who are early in career, because I think that’s another key area, particularly those people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds need that extra help in order to get onto the ladder, if you will. Um, because people like myself, [00:27:00] we have access to those kinds of environments purely through our education, through our background, through the people we went to school with, which other people who don’t have that background are deprived of.

So I see that as being fundamental to privilege. Privilege is, is not just about how can I get more for myself, but it’s, so it’s actually more, how can

Elisa Tuijnder: I give, how

Ian Walker: can I give, how can I give, that’s That it should be what people with privilege should think first and foremost, in my own, my own opinion.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah.

That’s beautiful. [00:27:30] I hope that more people, I wish that more people could, would think about it like that. Um, we sort of see the opposite happening at the moment, don’t

Ian Walker: we? Sadly, I, it’s the thing that frustrates me more than anything. And someone recently talked about the privilege of making money. And I normally, I almost threw up.

I just thought that’s just so wrong and so many different levels. Um, yeah, we won’t get into that.

Elisa Tuijnder: We’ll be here for, for, for days to come, won’t we? So, yeah. It’s amazing that you kind of [00:28:00] approach it like that, but that’s not your only challenge. All of these different backgrounds, these different, you know, uh, equality and leveling the playing field.

But you, you already said you’re, you’re, you’re in a global team. And you’ve already, you’ve worked in the Netherlands, you’ve worked in Japan, you’ve seen all of these different, different cultures. How do you, how do you tailor your leadership? How do you tailor your, your styles towards all of these and how do you bring them together?

Ian Walker: I, I kind of struggle with this question because. I think it comes naturally. Well [00:28:30] that’s lovely, thank you so much. Yes, we can stop now, right? No, no, um, no, because I actually think that people fundamentally want the same things out of life.

Elisa Tuijnder: Mm hmm, I agree, yep.

Ian Walker: They want to have a roof over their heads, they want to have happy relationships, and they want to know that they, you know, they’re going to get fed, basically.

And that’s at its most basic, right? Um, and so whilst culture absolutely is an overlay and is an important overlay. I tend to [00:29:00] start from, as a leader, from those fundamental principles of how can I treat people the same as I would treat them, whether they’re in Japan and the States and in the Netherlands or wherever.

And generally speaking has worked for me. That’s the kind of the problem. Again, looking back at the onion, that’s the kind of the core of the onion, right? There is an overlay, absolutely. So for example, decision making in Japan, what I found with the team that I was working with, we didn’t, they didn’t necessarily like to solve things [00:29:30] together with me.

I wouldn’t kind of give them a problem and go, right, how are we going to fix this together? I would say, right, we’ve got this problem to solve. Um, I would love you to spend some time thinking about it and then maybe come back to me in a week or so with some ideas on how we’re going to fix it. And that kind of consensus decision making seemed to work best within that environment.

Um, and so I think one has to try and find this balance of being true to your own values as a leader and how you regard leadership, but being respectful. of [00:30:00] the local environment and the local norms, um, that you experience when you’re in a different, different country. Um, the thing which always used to frustrate me most, and this is an aside from the question, but so many expats used to go to Japan or even the Netherlands and used to kind of congregate with other

Elisa Tuijnder: people of the

Ian Walker: same culture.

And I’m kind of thinking, that is bonkers, y’all. You’ve got this amazing gift. Well, you’re in a foreign country and you’re just going to talk to people [00:30:30] about how frustrated you are about being, you know, in the Japanese underground system or whatever. Which I

Elisa Tuijnder: don’t think would be the case in comparison to London though.

I agree. No, I

Ian Walker: agree. But, um, the point being is that I think we have, you have such an amazing opportunity to learn from other cultures. And I think this is what is so fascinating is this, this, um, concept of inclusivity and this concept of diversity being the basis of creativity. So often we focus on difference.

[00:31:00] So often we kind of look for that one or 2 percent of difference and, Oh gosh, I’m different to so and so because I have a different skin color or whatever. I have a different gender or whatever, or a different religion. Um, rather than actually 99 percent of the time where we are the same in so many different ways and let’s build on that similarity, but let’s celebrate that difference because that’s where the richness of creativity comes from.

That’s what I. Now, try and do is really dive into that difference and go, okay, how can [00:31:30] this work for us? How can this work for our benefit? Acknowledging it and acknowledging that it can create kind of challenges, I suppose, in terms of thinking, but how can we make it work to our benefit? And there are exercises that we do, which really look at polarities in different teams, you know.

Between, you know, are you an introvert or are you an extra, for example, or different kind of characteristics. And go, okay, why might this cause problems for us, but why might, how might it help us as well? You know, [00:32:00] someone’s a detail person, someone’s a blue, blue sky thinker,

Elisa Tuijnder: you need the

Ian Walker: blue sky thinkers for doing your strategy development.

You need your detail people for capturing notes and for making sure that everything is being done according to, to a plan. So it’s making those. Polarities, again, work for the best, for the team, which is so important. And I see that link then to, to, to culture as well.[00:32:30]

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A lot of things going on within the IT and software development at the [00:33:30] moment. How do we use that to our benefit? You know, the AI revolution, how can we not lose sight of the human connection and the happiness factor in that, I guess? And how do we use it to our benefit? Another insanely big question, um, just how you’re approaching it at the moment.

Ian Walker: I mean, I, Uh, and it is, it’s something which people are very worried about and, and I understand, you know, change again brings fear and technology, technological change bring, brings fear. But, um, you know, if you look back in history, and [00:34:00] again, this is a cliche, but. All these kind of massive technology changes, you know, the railways, the telephone, you know, all these things have brought fear,

Elisa Tuijnder: electricity,

Ian Walker: you know, people are afraid of change because it means that they need to change and adapt.

Um, and it’s kind of linked to your earlier question about change. People handle change in very different ways and. I think this is just, this is just another change. It’s another, um, opportunity to adapt. And it’s [00:34:30] another opportunity in my mind for us to learn. Um, I think AI, as with any other tool, um, can be used for good, good, or ill.

Um, and will be used for good or ill. Um, and it’s up to us again, as a large global company to identify how We can use it for goodness and, and how we can protect others as well. So I think that those kinds of, again, those polarities, again, I use the word again, around any kind of new technology is something that [00:35:00] we need to take.

You need to take it seriously. So I don’t want to kind of downplay people’s fears about AI and, and about tech in general, but I do see tech and, and it’s kind of linked to my, the majority of my career in operations, which is always around simplification. It’s always around creating more greater efficiency.

Technology is simply a tool to make our lives simpler and to make them more efficient. That’s, that’s, it’s, it’s, it’s essence that, that’s all it is. It’s just a way of simplifying and [00:35:30] making more efficient. So if we look at it in those kinds of terms, and we look at AI through that lens, I think AI offers tremendous opportunity to create greater efficiency for companies, um, and particularly and also in learning and development, and also I think will enrich, can enrich, um, the roles which we have.

So if I look at it from a learning and development point of view, specifically to begin with, I think there are three areas that we’re particularly interested in, one is the personalization piece. I think [00:36:00] help, help to create more personal solutions to help people grow themselves in a way that they want to grow at the moment.

So many of our solutions, we kind of created a, at a kind of amorphous level and say, right, this is what we’re offering. You take what you need from this. And I think in the future with AI, we’ll be able to understand far more. At a nuanced level, what people need in order to grow and be able to offer them at the right time, at the right pace, and in the right [00:36:30] kind of medium that will enable them to be able to consume that, uh, successfully, because people consume things in different ways.

You know, I’m, for example, I love to read things. I’m, I’m less, less of a video watcher in terms of how I learn. Other people, particularly this generation, my kids are

Elisa Tuijnder: learners. Yeah.

Ian Walker: Fully, 100 percent you’ll be having a conversation and I’ll be watching a YouTube video, whatever. And I’ll go, are you paying attention?

Yeah, yeah. I can understand what you’re saying. I’m just watching this as well. In it, there’s this kind of multimedia approach, which we [00:37:00] have to respect that my way of learning may not be the same as someone else’s. And I think AI will help solve for that. Um, I think the second piece is as designers and as learning creators of learning opportunities, it’s going to make our role far more efficient.

Elisa Tuijnder: I think

Ian Walker: we’re going to be able to use tools to shortcut. Um, in a way which we’ve never done before, um, you know, literally just to kind of write in a few words into a chat prompt and a, and a learning and development course will be spat out. [00:37:30] Which I think is tremendously exciting. People can get scared of that, or they can go, you know what, that’s just going to make me so much more efficient and so much more productive.

Um, and the third piece I think is around measurement of impact. Um, I think AI offers us a unique opportunity in a way we’ve never had before to really understand the impact of the work that we do and now thereby to demonstrate its value. I think we’ve always struggled. Um, in leadership [00:38:00] and learning and development to, to, to really, to demonstrate impact and I think AI will link to the, in ways that we’ve never really been able to do before in terms of.

People’s personal happiness, for example,

Elisa Tuijnder: their

Ian Walker: motivation and their success. Um, and also then their decision making as well. And I think that’s tremendously exciting. Again, you know, it’s, I can understand why people are scared about that because it increases the level of accountability for our work as well.

And control, [00:38:30] potentially. And control, which is the other thing as well. And also, you know, there’s, people need to trust the technology, right? You, you have to be able to trust it. And once, if that trust is lost.

Elisa Tuijnder: Broken, again, with a trust, yeah.

Ian Walker: Exactly. Then, then you have, then you will have challenges. So I think it’s, again, an amazing opportunity we have with AI in particular, but with technology in general.

But I think, yeah, it’s linked to our humanity in so many ways, you know, that we’ve talked about through change management, through, through [00:39:00] trust for everything else as well, and through individualization as well as data security.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. The ROI piece hadn’t even actually popped into my head yet. Like the first two?

Yes, very much so. But the ROI side of things, actually, that’s a, it’s a new one for me to start thinking around and, and how, how we can incorporate that as well. So thank you for that . Yeah. And hey here, we’ve talked about a few things already. We’d talked about big things, small things. I know we could have.

We [00:39:30] like, I mean, it’s a very short amount of time to, to talk about a lot of these big things. Mm-Hmm. . Um, at Management 3point0 and at this podcast, we’re really big fans of, you know, tangible practices. Things our listeners could, you know, start implementing tomorrow without big senior buy in or anything that they can just kind of experiment with.

So have you got anything or any practical things, any tool, any practice, uh, that you That, you know, you can share with our listeners for them to start, you know, fostering a happier, productive, more productive, more [00:40:00] resilient work environment or personal space or personal workspace.

Ian Walker: No, 100%. Um, I mean, I think just a couple of very easy ones.

One is. Get yourself a coach or a mentor if you don’t have one already. Um, and they serve different purposes, so they’re not either or, it’s both and. Um, if you are looking to make changes in your life, or if you’re looking to just to get advice, um, mentoring, great for advice, coaching, great to really dig into what it is [00:40:30] that you should be thinking about in terms of the big picture of your life and helping to unpack that.

So that’s kind of just a very simple, straightforward piece of advice. A link to that. There’s a couple of exercises which we do. One which is incredibly powerful, which we call the 80th birthday exercise. And I don’t know whether you’ve come across this, but it’s, it’s, it’s a mindfulness exercise, which, which we do.

Um, and actually one of the most memorable times that I ran it, I ran it with a group of about [00:41:00] 30 African American leaders. Um, and you ask people basically, you put them into a state of mindfulness, you can ask them to relax and then you ask them to think about. Their 80th birthday. And what will people be saying about them at their 80th birthday party?

Um, And it’s really, it’s this kind of sense of, okay, what is it that people, will they be talking about, you know, how many hours you worked or will they be talking about the impact? Yeah. So all these things come up for people. Um, and actually with that particular group, many people were in tears [00:41:30] at the end of that exercise and I was kind of like, oh, this is kind of even more impactful than usual.

And so many of them said, I’m likely to be the first person in my family’s history who will make the age of 80. Oh, wow. I know. And I’d never, you know, in my privilege, I’d never even thought about that because, you know, my mom was 96 when she passed away, you know, um, a couple of weeks ago. My grandfather was 96.

My dad was 87. So longevity is what we expect, but it’s a, it’s a [00:42:00] consequence of privilege, right? So for me, that was a massive kind of aha moment in itself, but also That 80th birthday thing, I think is really powerful and just kind of encouraging us to really think ahead about what we’re doing now. And is that really feeding into the legacy that we want to, to, to build with our lives or, and are we really doing the things that we were meant to be doing with ourselves?

So I think being in the flow. It’s such an important thing. If we can find our flow and find the things which, which [00:42:30] really bring us into a sense of flow, that that’s really important, the second exercise, which I did before I had that conversation with Simon Shaw, which brought me back into learning and development was what we call a personal development plan.

And it’s a very simple exercise. It’s a four quadrant, um, exercise where the first quadrant is, what is the legacy that you want to have? Um, the next is what is your health, what are your health objectives? What are your career objectives? And I would do it [00:43:00] in this order. And then the last is what are your financial objectives?

Elisa Tuijnder: And

Ian Walker: the last one is very practical, but I think is, is a really interesting corollary to those other three because it’s linked to this concept of ikigai, which is all around, you know, how do we create this, this balanced sense of purpose in our lives? But it also has that practical aspect of financial security.

So that for me was really important. So when I was talking about my legacy, this is before I had this conversation, I talked about, you know, I’m going to, I want to do this work full time at [00:43:30] some stage. Didn’t really have a plan about how to get there. In my health objectives, I had about, you know, solving my back problems, which I, I did as well.

No, so there are so many things which come into that and also caring for my wife and children and making sure they had a, you know, a secure future. So all of these things really kind of link your values, link your sense of purpose, which is so important into a very practical four box quadrant, which, um, Yeah, I would encourage everyone to think about [00:44:00] that because I think for me, it was very helpful in crystallizing a lot of thoughts and forcing me to really be clear about what are the actions I’m going to take, which are going to bring about these results.

Not just kind of vague aspirations, but what really am I going to do differently? And that I found incredibly helpful. So just a couple of takeaways.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. There’s something so powerful about seeing it on paper, right? And they kind of. Narrowing it down to those things. Ian, thank you very much for, [00:44:30] for all of the things that we’ve just discussed.

Um, if any of our listeners would want to get in touch with you or, you know, wanted to discuss anything, where, where can they find you?

Ian Walker: Um, probably LinkedIn is the best place to get in touch. Um, I’m quite vocal on LinkedIn. I publish a lot. I talk a lot. Um, yeah. Um, it’s a, it’s a medium I feel comfortable with, but yeah, please do get in touch.

I love having conversations about all the things we’ve talked about today. Um, it’s, I think it’s so [00:45:00] important. Happiness is a principle, but also fulfillment in, in our lives is so important and anything I can do to help others. I talked about this kind of guide for my life, which is to have a positive impact on everyone I come across.

And that for me is, is so important to me. So please do get in touch if, uh, if you wish.

Elisa Tuijnder: Brilliant. Well, then all that’s left for me to say is thank you very much, Ian, for this conversation and hope to see you again at some, in some other capacity or on the podcast [00:45:30] again, uh, in the future.

Ian Walker: Thank you so much, Elisa.

It’s been a great privilege to be able to talk to you today.

Elisa Tuijnder: Thank you.

You’ve been listening to the Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3. 0, where we are getting serious about happiness. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And if you enjoy our [00:46:00] shows, don’t be shy. Write us a review, share the happiness with your colleagues, family, your friends, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn under Management 3.0.

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