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  • Writer's pictureAndy Goram

Leading With Joy

With everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, could there be a better way to take a break from all that, than talking about the topic of joy? In a world where there’s a tonne of leadership books and doctrines about the choices and responsibilities of leadership, I was lucky enough to speak to Rajasvini Bhansali, co-author of the book "Leading With Joy" about why leading with joy is a serious business. And whilst it is by no means the easy path, it does bring wonderful results.

This conversation hones in on the real human side of things and speaks of transformation, love and joy in leadership that really can sustain purposeful action and social change.

Below is a full transcript of that conversation, or you can listen to it in full here.

An Indian woman and a white male discussing joyful leadership
Rajasvini Bhansali (left) and Andy Goram (right) discuss the serious business of leading with joy

00:00:10 Andy Goram

Hello, and welcome to sticky from the inside. The Employee Engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier competition-smashing, consistently successful organisations from the inside out. I'm your host Andy Goram and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn their lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them and create tons more success for everyone.

This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses, the sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it.

So, if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.

00:01:11 Andy Goram

OK, then today we are going to talk about joy. Now with everything that's going on in the world at the moment, could there be a better way to take a break from all of that than talking about the topic of joy? I don't think so.

Now loyal followers of this podcast, and thank you very much for that, you know who you are, will remember that we've previously talked about joy in the workplace with Rich Sheridan, from Menlo Innovations. But today's conversation is, I think, going to be quite different. My guest today is Rajasvini Bhansali, or Vini to her mates, who's the co-author of a book called “Leading With Joy. Practices for uncertain times.” In a world where there's a tonne of leadership books and doctrines about the choices and responsibilities of Leadership, this book homes in on the real human side and speaks of transformation, love and joy in leadership that can sustain purposeful action and social change.

Now as a woman of colour, who is a social justice and leadership activist we're going to talk about the serious business of joy today and the risks and benefits of choosing a joyful path and what that can bring. Now whenever I mention concepts like joy or compassion or empathy, when it comes to leadership, I still get the occasional,

Oh, you mean the fluffy stuff?

type of comments. And you know how triggered that makes me right? But today I am really excited, and I'm really looking forward to hearing what Vini has to say on the subject, because she's such a great storyteller and I know she's going to bring a completely different perspective to the way we've covered the topic of joy on the show before. And personally, I can't help feeling. I'm going to learn a lot and probably grow quite a lot as a result of this conversation too today.

Welcome to the show, Vini!

00:03:10 Vini Bhansali

It's a joy to be here. Thank you for that warm and generous welcome, Andy.

00:03:15 Andy Goram

Oh, you're absolutely welcome. I've been looking forward to this conversation for quite some time.

The topic of joy in the work environment is ridiculously quite a controversial topic. Because I don't think everybody really gets it, and I hope by the end of today’s show they've got a much better appreciation of what that actually is all about.

And before we get into all of that, would you mind just sharing a little bit of your background with my listeners and to sort of, where you're from, what you're up to, what your focus is currently on. That’d be fantastic.

00:03:51 Vini Bhansali

Great yeah, and I'm really missing my co-author Akaya Windwood, but she's out sick so I'm happy to represent for both of us on this show. I'm Rajasvini, or Vini Bhansali and I'm the Executive Director by day of a Donor Network called Solidaire Network. It's a community of donors organising resources for the frontlines of social, gender and climate justice movements of our time.

We are we not only resource and accompany movements to win, we also do the transformational work ourselves, as a donor community. To be more on purpose and to be more in alignment with the social justice issues of our time. Transforming our own practices from accumulation and hoarding to redistribution and reparations.

And you know, how Akaya and I got to know each other was through Rockwood Leadership Institute, where Akaya was the CEO, when I was a trainee. And she took such delight in watching me as a young leader, fumble and try to find myself and offered her loving support and sisterhood. And that was more than 13 years ago. We've been walking a journey together that brought us here.

00:05:14 Andy Goram

And I mean it is a real shame that Akaya can't be with us today, literally struck down with illness at the last minute, which I know is affecting so many people right now. It feels like we're going through another cycle of all of this kind of stuff, which is horrible. But the topic we're dealing with today that's big. That's real big stuff. And that's underplaying it a million times. And your friendship's been there for 13 years, you've kind of worked together and got to know each other. This book dealing with joy and leadership, where did the stimulus for that partnership of writing come together? Was it... Did you just meet one day and go, “We're gonna write a book!”? Or was it a slower process behind it? Where did it come from?

00:05:57 Vini Bhansali

So Akaya had been approached for many years by different publishers, as a person in the Leadership field that was having a transformative impact, to tell her story. And in true Akaya style, she doesn't do anything alone. She always says,

Who can I look to and invite in?

And you know, I feel... she'll never say this out loud, but I also feel like she's constantly looking at younger women of colour and seeing if she can create more opportunities and pathways, and I know that was a big part of her approaching me about it.

We were sitting in my garden one day having tea and she said, “Let's write a book!” And I have learned over the last 13 years when Akaya has a brilliant idea, you say, “Sure. Let's do it!” You know underneath that is also years of trust as practiced and watching each other be generous in the way in which we move in the world. And so, there's just an implicit level of trust in that invitation. So, when she said that, I said, “Yes, let's do it.” And and right before that, the conversation we had been having was comparing notes as leadership coaches with each other and realising that we were noticing some really troubling patterns.

Yes, we were in the middle of a Pandemic. Yes, the social justice, racial justice uprisings had just taken place in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and other black men in the United States. Yes, we were in a kind of social upheaval, but we were also noticing that the leaders at the helm of some of the most important and necessary work of our times were burning out, and were actually leaving their roles never to return again, or handling the people in their organisations without grace, if you will. And we were noticing that people were coming into our coaching calls with some commonalities. And as we started to compare notes we realised, “Oh! Maybe our book could be a contribution to support these leaders from losing heart, and maybe renewing their own sense of joyful, let's do this work for a lifetime kind of belief, and understand that they're not alone and that there are others that are with them.

So that was the real stimulus for the book.

00:08:28 Andy Goram

Marvellous and the landing on the topic of joy specifically. Out of all of the things that you could see were going wrong, and the problems that were being caused by poor leadership, by social injustice and how the knock on effects that was having with relationships and leadership styles, why did you land on joy specifically?

00:08:50 Vini Bhansali

Well, one, both of us see each other as embodying joy. And the other thing that has drawn us to each other in this work over a decade, is that we feel an invitation, a celebration, and a wholeness. Even in our worst moments, and we have both shown each other some difficult moments of ourselves. Even in that we can feel a veering towards joy as a thing that we want to create conditions for others. So that's one reason.

The other way is joy is a state of mind. It's an approach. It's oriented in the heart and the spirit. If you look at black traditions you know, as an African American woman, Akaya can certainly relate to and speak to the role that joyful song, joyful gospel has played in keeping people spirits up through trying times in the face of all kinds of systems that are trying to kill black people. In my own history as a person whose ancestry is from the rural deserts of Rajasthan in India, where I am currently, and really appreciating once again the spirit of my people to live in an almost uninhabitable desert with great colour and flavour.

You know there's a lot of joy in the rituals of day-to-day life. In the making of an excellent meal, and in the making of ceremony, you know. And so, we both realise we come from lineages of great joy that has helped our people, our ancestors, go through so much and to actually create conditions for others to join. We also realised that joyless obligatory leadership of the kind that we often see in our social movements; martyrdom. You know, a sense of like working to achieve a goal, but doing it at the expense of relationships and humanity creates greater messes than solutions. And we realise that's another reason to tackle this whole topic of joy.

The subline of our book is “Practices for uncertain times.” We live in tumultuous, uncertain times and these joy practices can actually help us not only thrive and survive as individual leaders, but also create the same conditions for others.

00:11:26 Andy Goram

I think that's wonderful stuff in terms of the concept behind it, and it can be related to so many different things. There's lots of doctrines within leadership that are very, very specific and almost channelled in the specific area where, whereas the topic of joy can be applied to so many, and such a varied number of topics. It's kind of an attitude, right? Rather than anything else.

00:11:53 Vini Bhansali

It's so true. It is. And it's also a set of habits one develops over time.

00:12:00 Andy Goram

And I think again, that's interesting, because you do talk about the process around joy. It's not just a kind of... Ok, there will be organic moments of it, and ways to kind of live it and manifest it, but you talk about a process behind joy. So what does that mean? How would you explain that to an idiot like me?

00:12:20 Vini Bhansali

No! Your topics are so joy-centred. I've been enjoying listening to your podcast...

00:12:28 Andy Goram

Oh, bless you.

00:12:30 Vini Bhansali

And I feel like you are actually somebody who is attempting to undermine this idea of, you know, soft skills. And I think you did an interview about that and instead, really talk about us being more human; leading with kindness, leading with compassion, leading with joy. This is not soft stuff. This is the stuff that can make massive transformation possible.

00:12:55 Andy Goram

You make my heart sing, Vini, when you say those sort of words. I genuinely, genuinely love that. Because I think that is ultimately the spirit that I try and engender on this podcast. We’ve covered all sorts of topics, some I know, some they're brand new to me, but I think this being human thing is so taken for granted and has been lost in business too often, I think.

00:13:23 Vini Bhansali

Absolutely, and there are systems that we function within that perpetuate a kind of callousness, and a kind of transaction, and a kind of feeling of not good enough and perpetuates that in human beings, that yeah, maybe in the short term we drive results out of people, but in the long term, do we really create the kind of beautiful productivity that actually makes change, whether it's in a business or it's social transformation? And you know, part of the premise of our book is that, if we really want to sustain this work for a lifetime; if we’re about this kind of work that makes us wake up in the morning and contribute a majority of our living, breathing hours towards creating something meaningful. If we are really wanting that as a marker of success, and not just how many tired, exhausted souls are making widgets, which could be an older model, one could argue now. But if we’re really about that way of operating in the world, that creates more goodwill, goodness, justice, then we have to transform the ways in which we lead. And as leaders we have to begin to practice the things that we want to see in our workplaces.

00:14:45 Andy Goram

And I interrupted you on that process thing, but I guess you're trying to sort of say, this is trying to create the right habits through action, right? Attitude and action. Trying to create some positive habits that are backed up with this kind of joyful essence behind the scenes.

00:14:55 Vini Bhansali

That's it.

00:15:00 Andy Goram

Now there's a very strong theme, and again I'm sorry I haven't got the both of you here today. Because I just I just know from our kind of chat some time ago, before we agreed to kind of get together and talk about this, we spent quite a lot of time talking about social injustice and social transformation. And the book carries a strong theme of that. And so again, how do you weave, just for the audience, how do you weave (in) that topic of joy and its role in trying to help some of that social transformation message that you're so passionate about?

00:15:36 Vini Bhansali

Yes, well that is the field that we both come out of. We come out of social activism, out of organisational development work, leadership development work for different scales and sizes of organisations involved with social justice. And we, you know, one who's not in that field can look from the outside and think,

Oh, you're working towards such lofty, noble goals. Everything must definitely be better than, you know, a factory that's manufacturing parts for a bicycle.”

And the sadness we sometimes hold is that sometimes there's a huge gap between our espoused social justice values and actual ways in which our organisations are structured. And so, the reason why we speak so much about social transformation, is that we're saying, if we truly want to end the systems that perpetuate oppression and exploitation of human beings, then our organisations, and our institutions, and our social movements, and our companies have to begin to embody a set of practices that begin to address those.

That's not all, you know, there can be a misnomer to think that if you create the perfect little microscope within a workplace, then somehow we have now established systemic justice and structural injustice can be done away with. We are not naive to believe that. But we believe that there has to be a level of congruence between the ideas of societal level change that we all seek, or at least the two of us are committed to, and the way we run the organisations that give people an entryway into that work. That invites them into that work.

00:17:32 Andy Goram

I think listening to you as well, there has to be a kind of genuine intentionality behind companies getting behind this stuff. We do see a lot of social-washing, you know? Very, very veneer support of these things, rather than any real depth. I don't want to sound preachy, but without any real depth or real soul behind it. Like a real intention is the word I would use.

00:18:00 Vini Bhansali


00:18:01 Andy Goram

And I think this is really what you're trying to get to the heart of as well, isn't it?

00:18:04 Vini Bhansali

Yes, that's right. And I think the other piece that brought us to this book, which is related to that is, if we train our people to put their hearts and minds and spirits into this work of social transformation, but then we watch them lose interest, burn out, exhausted, leave embittered. Then we as a society have a huge loss on our hands.

00:18:32 Andy Goram

And this is where the role of leaders... they have to step up. Because like in anything, if they don't show it's important. If they don't lead from the front, if they don't maintain energy... and I love the fact you talk about this is about sustainable delivery of this stuff, not just peaks and troughs. This is why it ties back to the leadership piece, right? In that it's all very well writing a manifesto, “We're gonna do this and we're gonna take care of it.” No, no, no. Where's the action? Where's the intentionality?

00:18:57 Vini Bhansali

Where is the intentionality? Where is the vision and where is the purpose?

00:19:02 Andy Goram

Yeah, I mean, everybody knows I love the I love the topic of purpose. And I think when you make the final connection, when a Purpose really hums and sings for me, you don't have to work incredibly hard at explaining why we're doing this thing that we're doing, and why it's bigger than us, and actually why we're doing it, because it's all aligned. You used the word alignment before, and I think when people just pick up random topics, or popular topics that they think should be that the the purpose? They're really missing the trick. It's got to be rooted in who you are, what you do, what you stand for, who you stand with. Because if it isn't, it's going to become tomorrow's kind of fish and chip paper, as we'd say in this country.

00:19:42 Vini Bhansali

That’s it! Fish and chip papers.

00:19:46 Andy Goram

I always get a bit nervous talking about these things, you know, as a middle-aged white bloke and we're talking about social injustice, you know I haven't really, I've never suffered from that. And the worst I've had is probably bullying for being a choir boy as a kid. That's the only kind of oppression I've ever really faced. But I don't think it should stop me from talking about these things and making more people aware of the importance of them. And particularly, it's not something that business can turn its back on. We spend so much time in business, if it isn't happening there, where else is it going to happen? Where else can it really take root? And I think matching up the personal and the professional in this stuff is really important.

00:20:26 Vini Bhansali

Very important. And I would say, Andy, so many of the movements of our time that we have all benefited from that allow you and me to be in this conversation, 100 years ago we couldn't be. 100 years ago there's no way you and I could be in a conversation as peers. The class, the race, the gender, the societal differences would have kept us apart, right? So this whole notion of collective liberation, which is that you may not have personally suffered exploitation, but you have chosen not to live in a world where you benefit from my oppression, right? And in that sense, your liberation and mine are tied to each other, right? None of us get to be free in a world where somebody is being oppressed. And that's just the simple fact of it.

00:21:12 Andy Goram

But I think it's getting to a point now, where standing by and watching that happen is no longer acceptable. It's about everybody taking part in moving it on quicker, further, deeper right? And that's the only way it's really gonna happen.

00:21:26 Vini Bhansali

That's it. We may feel short-term advantages. We may feel a sense of superiority in the very short term, but in the long haul none of us win.

00:21:41 Andy Goram

No. That’s so true. So true.

I'm trying to sort of learn as much as I can from you in this conversation, because it's the only way I'm really going to kind of be able to take these sort of things forward. Now when we have a look at the book, and I think this is interesting, because the way you just described those experiences, the whole antithesis of sadness and joy becomes really, really, really clear. But in our previous conversation and working around the book, you talked about the transgressive nature of joy. Now it took me a while to kind of properly understand what you meant by that, right? But can you explain that to my audience, for me, Vini? What's that mean, and what are we really talking about here?

00:22:21 Vini Bhansali

Yes, we talk about joy being transgressive because it changes the rigid socialisation and the systemic expectations from leaders. Particularly, let's say, leaders like me. The idea that we would be there to serve, sacrifice ourselves, not ask for anything. Just put our heads down and get to work has been perpetuated for so long, that when you show up as a joyful leader with a full expression of your intrinsic worth, with the full expression of your humanity, with the full expression of your capacity to connect across difference with people, it's dangerous. Because there are so many systems at play that would prefer that there's an entire underclass that is not concerned with joy, but simply concerned with doing their duty and performing their job, and that joy should be the the purview of the privileged. These are what the systems have been set up to be.

But when we begin to enact joy in our work, when we begin to imbue what we do day-to-day with it, when we allow glimmers of joy as a beginning practice, then that begins to change those social expectations. This has been really coming home to me, to be vulnerable with you for a moment. As I’m in Rajasthan and I'm noticing, you know, I grew up in India. I left and I had a career all over the world, but particularly in the United States. And now I'm coming back and spending time with a lot of my ageing relatives. I'm noticing that the men here are ageing a lot better than the women.

00:24:12 Andy Goram

Wow. OK.

00:24:13 Vini Bhansali

OK, I have a lot of uncles and aunts I’ve been spending time with who are in their 80s. And my uncles seem to be OK. They seem to be walking and they’re getting their naps in. My aunties are all dealing with very serious health conditions and barely mobile after 80. And I've been sitting with this from a place of deep heartbreak and I'm noticing it's that women have spent their entire lives caregiving.

So when in their 50s, late 50s and early 60s, ailments begin to show up they bypass. We bypass. We say “Oh, but my child needs this. My grandchild needs this. My husband needs this.” And there's a whole lot of other social roles and emotional roles that women play in society. And then the men get to say, “Well, I walk three times a day. I need my tea at 4:00 PM. I need my dinner at 8:00 PM.” Someone else make sure that all happens, right? And so, the system is built in for women to have a set of caregiving practices that are always oriented towards others. And men to be expected, they'll be cared for. And I'm noticing this, the impact of that 30 years later on peoples’ bodies and spirits.

00:25:32 Andy Goram

That must be a tough thing to see.

00:25:34 Vini Bhansali

It's very tough. I've had to also use a lot of my practices in the book to remain grounded and centred and keep my heart open and be open to the lessons that are in this for me. And to realise that my generation gets to do it differently. The gift that our aunties are giving us, is that we get to orient ourselves differently when the back pain shows up, or when the sort of rushed diagnosis shows up. We get to actually take a pause and use some of the resources we have, that they never had a chance of having, to do things differently. And so that's the other part about kind of leading with joy, right? It's a practice. It's a choice. It's not a given. And a choice is not something that is an easy choice. In this moment faced with the heartbreak of seeing many of my elders struggling and realising what a completely enchanted life I lead compared to their struggles right? How much freedom and self-determination I have as a woman that they could not even dream of. But then also notice their delight. Even though they're struggling in their bodies, most of them are not going to be here long, even in that, their sheer delight in watching me, their grandchild, their granddaughter, grandniece whatever, just watching that I get to be free in a way that their wildest dreams couldn't imagine, right? And then that brings me... so even as I'm experiencing the sadness and I'm experiencing the grief, and I'm sitting with anger against patriarchy that made it so that people had to struggle when they didn't need to, or had to give up and sacrifice their lives for others completely at the expense of themselves. Even as I sit with my anger with it, I know that I can choose to focus on the fact that I'm their wildest dream come true.

00:27:39 Andy Goram

Isn't that lovely? Isn't that lovely? I remember you saying that. I remember that when we had our first chat, Akaya said something along the lines of,

It's really hard to oppress joyful people.”

00:27:53 Vini Bhansali

She did! It's right. It's right and in this work, in this social justice work we do, and I would say we do social justice work in many forms. You don't have to be part of a non-profit or an NGO to do that, right? We all do social justice work by creating humane workplaces in a corporate environment, right? That's justice work as well. That's work that is recognising the inherent dignity and humanity of all people. That's justice work, right? And so in that work, it can become easy sometimes to collude with oppression. And Akaya has so many wonderful examples of saying, you know, “My mother was a domestic worker. She struggled. She literally worked herself to the bone so that I don't have to. I get to choose not to have a relationship with struggle that involves working myself to the bone. I get now to notice that when my body is asking for a pause.” And that is about not colluding with your own oppression and murdering yourselves, because that's what your ancestors did. Or that's what society expects you to do.

00:29:07 Andy Goram

Yeah, and I think this is the lesson, or the sort of the lesson that I took from the leadership side of what we're talking about here. That the approach of joy almost acts like a big shield, right? If you bring joy to the team, bring vulnerability, bring those sort of things, but attack it, attack every day with that kind of joyfulness. Whenever you're getting hit by all the pressures and challenges, and naysayers and negativity, there's a big old shell of stuff that that's gotta breakthrough before it starts to really demoralise you. And I think the greater joy you can bring in your leadership style, the easier it is to deflect or protect your team from the horrible stuff, right?

00:29:51 Vini Bhansali

That's it, you said it. It's all sounds so easy, right? But when confronted in a moment of crisis where it's easy to revert into some of the punitive ways in which we've been trained, or to become aggressively demanding, right, it takes practice, and it takes a community of people to hold you lovingly accountable. To remind you to then practice joy, and practice being a joyful leader.

00:30:30 Andy Goram

I think this is the thing, isn't it if you get into that downward spiral of negativity. You're only gonna get sucked one way. The energy is only going to go one way in anything you're trying to do. You're never gonna do your best in that environment. In the same way, if you take that old fashioned dictatorial approach, that's only going to get people to cower and you're going to push people away. Whereas the the joy stuff just creates a real positive energy, where people are free and inspired to kind of do their best. That's how I think of it anyway. And I don't give a monkey’s if anybody's sitting here going, “Oh, this all sounds a bit hippy and a bit fluffy.” I don't really care, because you only have to take 2 seconds to think about when you've been in a place where you've been at your happiest and how good and easy things feel. This is exactly the same. We're talking about it on a much deeper level today, on societal change and what have you for sure, but it still relates back. It's a pretty simple concept really.

00:31:33 Vini Bhansali

And it's a wonderful exercise actually to sit back and think it's part of doing our internal work as leaders, to take the time to reflect on where have I experienced joyful leadership? And where have I experienced conditions that perpetuate joy?

00:31:55 Andy Goram

Yeah, so how do you create those conditions, Vini? How do you go about creating those conditions for joy, then?

00:32:03 Vini Bhansali

So, you know we always say in that the book is filled with sort of our mistakes, our mishaps and our triumphs, I would say. Everything from practices of keeping the circle whole and healthy. Practising care for ourselves so that we can care for others. Honouring and preserving other people's dignity, as well as our own. Understanding that grief and disappointment are also part of joy. It's not just about being Pollyannaish; only happy all the time. Unless we have the capacity to deeply experience grief and heartbreak we're just performing joy, we’re not actually experiencing it. So you have to actually move through those hard feelings. Choosing kindness and trust and compassion when our impulse is to actually kind of become didactic and dictatorial. Practising self-healing, forgiveness, you know, again it’s these soft things that people may poo poo, but the truth is it is the hardest thing to do to practice forgiveness. To deeply actually heal from our own wounds and to not unconsciously hurt people the way we've been hurt, right? So much of leadership is about that. And we have seen, we all have examples if we think quickly about a leader that we consider to be a difficult or hurtful leader. You immediately realise that they don't have... they haven't looked at themselves, and they haven't done that internal work. They’re out demanding things from other people, but have they actually slowed down enough to practice knowing their own selves right?

00:33:57 Andy Goram

Understanding the impact you have on others is so, so important. And I get this must be why, I said it in the intro, it's directly come from you guys, but this joy stuff is a serious business.

00:34:11 Vini Bhansali

It is.

00:34:12 Andy Goram

It's hard work. You also mentioned before that it's a bit of a risk. And so why do you say that?

00:34:21 Vini Bhansali

OK, so when you think about organisations that are led with joy, that are creating conditions for joy for their employees, we never say it's the role of the leader to make joy happen, right. As a leader, you can create the conditions and other people have to accept that invitation. As a leader you have to risk your own joy in order to be able to practice and model that for others, right?

00:34:50 Andy Goram

So true.

00:34:52 Vini Bhansali

You know, we have realised that joy is a risky proposition, because the lessons that we are met with say the most important thing as a leader is to be inspirational, is to be decisive. It's important for you to have a grand vision. No one says being a joyful leader is actually something that transforms organisations. It's rarely heard, right. And it can feel very risky when everything that's celebrated about leadership is actually kind of joyless, if you think about it, right? It can be a riskier path because you risk also seeming soft. You risk having these qualities that actually make you approachable and human when the mystique of that distance disdainful leader, is what's considered serious business, right? And so in that sense, choosing that and choosing the misunderstandings that go with it, is risky. But we reckon that the outcomes and the rewards are well worth it.

00:36:13 Andy Goram

Daring to be different is always a bit of a risk. But if it's genuine and authentic, why would you want to be anything else? And if you give anybody a simple choice, would you like to be kind of morose and down and depressed about something, or would you like to feel happy, fulfilled and joyous? You’ve got to be weird to select the former right? So I don't think this should be such a kind of controversial, weird subject for people to kind of get their head around, right? It's only because we're talking about it in quite a focused way that it feels intense. And good! I'm glad it does feel intense because this is the sort of stuff that makes a difference.

00:37:02 Vini Bhansali

Yeah, I mean and also to go back to that idea of transformation transgression and risk. I mean, the truth is that joyful leaders are able to imagine outside the constraints of current conditions and current constraints, if you will. Joyful leaders are able to dream. That's risky stuff. So much of our work is often short-changed by being reactive as leaders. What if more of us were actually able to be imaginative and dream big and actually execute and lead entire teams in that direction? Think about how much would be achieved.

00:37:50 Andy Goram

What a force, what a force you can... That's a force you can feel.

00:37:54 Vini Bhansali

That's it that's it, yeah, and it then makes this work irresistible. Then more people want to be part of it. Then you have millions of millions of joyful people connected in a web of moving towards the kind of change we need and deserve.

00:38:12 Andy Goram

What a what a wonderful thing. I am having one of those moments on these podcasts, where I regret having a format of a 40-odd minute conversation, when it should be one of those ones that goes on for hours. But I don't have that luxury at the moment. I feel like we're just skirting around things. We could get into so much more detail with, but we have come to the part in the show, Vini, that I call Sticky Notes, right. Which is to try and consolidate some of the great learnings and advice and experiences that you've shared so wonderfully today, onto it seems ridiculous, onto 3 little sticky notes, right, that we could stick on the wall, and I'll put on the Instagram channel and people can take them away.

So if we think about this question of why we should lead with joy, if you were to put 3 bits of advice on 3 little sticky notes, Vini, what would those words of wisdom look like?

00:39:10 Vini Bhansali

Let's see, Joy is not the easy path, but it's worth it.

We do nothing alone. And I would say related to that, that in that sticky note, I would say, honour the helpers and the teachers that come your way. Because there are many, right? That's how we know we're not alone.

And then the third sticky note would be, Joy is the process, not the outcome.

00:39:32 Andy Goram

Yeah, perfect.

Oh Vini! Lovely, wonderful words that sum up what I've taken from today's conversation so beautifully. Thank you for that. Brilliant.

All that's left for me to say is genuinely a massive thank you for coming on the show today. I am deeply sorry that we didn't have Akaya here to help us through, but I've so enjoyed this chat. Thank you so much and thank you for being another acolyte for joy. It's just a wonderful thing.

00:40:11 Vini Bhansali

Andy, thank you for your show. Thank you for embodying joy. You're truly a delight to be in conversation with. There is a kindness that emanates from you. Joyful leadership that emanates from you, that makes it so compelling to be in your company.

When Akaya and I were in a preparatory call with you, we were so moved. One of the reasons we wrote the book was to be challenged and to grow and to speak and be in conversation with people that we wouldn't usually meet. And we were so touched by our initial conversation with you and so excited, and a bit giddy to see what we had learned, and we've learned a lot from you as well. So, thank you so much.

00:40:57 Andy Goram

You are one of life's beautiful people. Thank you so much Vini. It's been an absolute pleasure speaking to you, and please give my love to Akaya. And I genuinely hope I see you and get to speak to you both again very soon. You take care.

00:41:11 Vini Bhansali

Thank you for this opportunity, Andy.

00:41:13 Andy Goram

You're very welcome.

00:41:13 Vini Bhansali

Bye bye.

00:41:14 Andy Goram

Bye bye. OK everyone that was Vini Bhansali. If you'd like to find out a bit more about her, or any of topics that we've talked about today, please check out the show notes.

00:41:29 Andy Goram

So that concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something, maybe that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forwards.

If you have, please like comment and subscribe, it really helps. I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to the Sticky From The Inside podcast. until next time, thanks for listening.

Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer, an employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy that's on a mission to help people have more fulfilling work lives. He's also the host of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, which talks to experts on these topics from around the world.

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