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  • Writer's pictureAndy Goram

Work Happy, Like A Comedian

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Shigeo Shingo, the famous Japanese industrial engineer, and creator of The Shingo model of operational excellence, once said that “People spend so much time at work, that if leaders don’t make their work meaningful, they’re effectively making their workers lives meaningless.”

Whilst I think that's an incredibly powerful and sagely thing to say, that's also a lot of pressure to put on someone. How about we concentrate on just making people happy at work? In episode 19 of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, your host, Andy Goram, talks to Mel Byron, a stand-up comedian, writer, trainer, coach and founder of Happy At Work, on how people can work happy, just like a comedian.

During the lively conversation, the pair discuss the parallels between the processes a comedian goes through to make people happy, and how many of these follow-through at work. Topics such as storytelling, spaghetti towers, Norvig's interpretation of The Gettysburg Address, Voltaire, Archimedes, Thomas A' Beckett and the 40's film actress Kay Francis are all covered and give listeners some practical thoughts to take away and start making their working lives a bit happier.

You can read the full transcript of the conversation below.

Build a happier workplace culture by working like a comedian
Mel Byron (left) & Andy Goram (right) discuss how you can be happier at work by working like a comedian

00:00:00 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.

00:01:10 Andy Goram

Now, Shigeo Shingo, the famous Japanese industrial engineer and creator of the Shingo model of operational excellence, which in itself proved that successful organisational transformation occurs when leaders understand and take personal responsibility for architecting a deep and abiding culture of continuous improvement once said, that people spend so much time at work that if leaders don't make that work meaningful, they're effectively making their workers lives meaningless, which is an awful thing to have on your conscience. Now that's a deep and potentially strong and depressing thought. But when I think about what I understand, my purpose to be, which is all about helping people have more fulfilling work lives. I'd like to put that in a slightly more positive way and concentrate on things like people just being happier at work and that's part of what this podcast was set up to do, discuss the ways we can all do that practically.

Well, who better to talk to about making people feel happy than someone who makes people laugh for a living? And I'm delighted today to be joined by Mel Byron, who not only has the guts and content to stand up in front of strangers and make them laugh, but she's also using her unique experiences as a comedian to create happier places to work and has a fresh and unique perspective on how to do that.

And that's what we're going to talk about today. Just some of those things. So hello, Mel!

00:02:42 Mel Byron

Hi Andy, thank you so much for having me. It's great to be here.

00:02:46 Andy Goram

Absolutely delighted my friend. Really, really nice and to have someone with a very, very different perspective on life is going to be fun, I hope.

00:02:55 Mel Byron

I hope so well, I hope so, otherwise I'm not doing my job very well.

00:02:59 Andy Goram

No pressure as a comedian. You will be entertaining. So, look, tell us a little bit a little bit about you and what you've been up to?

00:03:11 Mel Byron

Yeah, so as you mentioned, I'm a comedian. Although that's been somewhat curtailed in the last year and a bit, but we found ways around it 'cause we're creative people. Prior to that I I was a full-time office Bunny and so, you know, I just want people to out there to know that I'm not just some actory person who's decided that I know how officers work. 'cause I worked in one for 20 years, so I know what it's like to be miserable at work. And that's really kind of what made me decide I'm gonna jump ship now. I'm unhappy, for a whole heap of reasons which we may not have time to go into today, I was unhappy. I know, too many reasons. I'm writing a book about it. I’m not sure how long that book’s going to be.

So yeah! I decided to jump ship and I thought but I wanna help people be happy at work. I want to give people that happiness that I know that was missing from mine. How can I do that? Umm, and then I thought, oh, I used to do comedy in my 20s. Why don't I have a bash at that again? So, I took some part time work and then decided to write an Edinburgh Fringe show, all about the inequities of work and that it was such a joyous experience. It sounds like it should be miserable, right? It was joyous to share the madness and just purely have a laugh, right? It was utterly cathartic, I think, for me more than anybody else. But that that was fun, but what I also wanted to do then was really make a positive contribution. So that's when I decided something I'd always wanted to do is train and coach, so I set up “Happy at Work” quite recently, actually, just before lockdown as we say in comedy, it's all in the timing and that's so I coach people in speaking skills. But there's a whole sort of array of things that fit around, “Happy at Work”, and it's sort of what I call “working like a comedian.” Because I realised as I was doing this, that there's a lot that we do as comics that actually can be applied to how we work in the workplace. In the office, or wherever your workplace is. And also, having been through and we've all been there, we've all done training. We've all had our companies paid for training because they think it's a nice thing and it'll make us all cheery. So we go off, we do the half day, we get free biscuits and we think, “this is great.” And then you can't apply any of it to what you do in the office, right?

Because it's, you know, making spaghetti towers that have to stand up when you put a marshmallow on the top. Or as one of my friends did, making a sofa out of the balloons you make little dogs out of. And it's like, that was fun, but how does it apply to the work that we do? And I just thought hang on a minute there's a lot that I do in comedy that we can actually use in the office and so that's really the direction that I've been taking of late.

So yeah, I've been talking to lots of people and doing webinars and stuff and. And yeah, I, I really think, especially as we started to emerge out of lockdown and people go, “What's the future of work?”, and “How are we gonna work together as teams?” I think there's a lot in this and I'm excited. I'm also excited to be out actually performing gigs as well, which is really nice.

00:06:32 Andy Goram

Oh, I bet. I bet that's amazing! I mean, you're, you're hitting some major buttons for me right now. Because you talk about having fun at work, which is good. But also the practicality, right? Actually getting something that works and can actually be done. And yeah, I don't know how many spaghetti towers still exist in businesses? I've not seen it play a major role in strategy going forwards, but hey!

00:06:56 Mel Byron

And you know what the weirdest thing was, but that I did that as part of the show to show, you know, the daft things that that we do at work. And because I had actually been asked it as part of the training day when I worked there back in publishing, we got taken away for half a day or a whole day actually, the trainer and one of the exercises she made us do was build these spaghetti towers, and we all were there like the managers of this company. I don't think there was any of us under 40 and we were given three sticks of Spaghetti and a Marshmallow and given 18 minutes to make it. Yeah, make it stand up and I just thought, well, that's so ridiculous. But I kept it in my brain and I thought, well, I'm gonna use that as an example in the show. So, I did some research when I was doing the show, about spaghetti towels and what I found online with the instructions. And the instructions for making the towers say this is an exercise suitable for seven to 10 year olds. And I just thought, why did any trainer think that that was suitable? It went on to do then give you health and safety instructions. Health and safety instructions, you know, for a bunch of 40 year olds, and I thought this is ridiculous. But you know the ridiculousness of it stayed with me and we actually had a bit of a laugh about it.

00:08:09 Andy Goram

I would have thought that the guys listening to this show, watching this show you must have picked up huge amounts of resonance with people going, “Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah that's us.” seeing that right? 'Cause that's when comedy is at its absolute best when can see yourself in this story, right?

00:08:26 Mel Byron

Absolutely and storytelling is one of the things that I'm really keen that we kind of take into the work environment as well. And the proof of that... that the sort of the concept of that was when I was doing the show, I actually had a bit in the show where we had a tea break, a virtual tea break, right, where I'd give out biscuits and we have a chat, and the stories people would tell me. People in the audience would tell me, “Oh this happened to me and that happened to me,” and I get all these wonderful stories and so everybody’s got these madnesses to share. And it might not have been spaghetti tower training, but it was, you know somebody else had to chuck bean bags around the floor or something? Yeah, or you've made a fake company...

00:09:15 Andy Goram

Or being led through a forest by someone blindfolded at night, which is, you know, again, a common occurrence in most offices, uhm?

00:09:25 Mel Byron

It happens. I mean metaphorically, maybe we are being led by the blindfolded in some ways, but yeah, honestly and it was just lovely. You know when people start... when you tell a story, it really resonates and people remember it. And I remembered people stories and I know people wrote to me afterwards and said that you know that what I'd said had resonated with them and so telling stories, I think, is such a powerful thing and I think it's something I would like us to do more of in the workplace, and obviously in something like marketing it's essential. It's essential to tell a story because the story resonates with your customers, your clients and so on.

But actually, using story and story structure. You know the whole rule of three. Let's have that exposition. Let's have the journey. Let's have the breakthrough. I think that we can use that a lot in our working lives. And I'm really keen... that's one of the pillars of my whole work like a comedian thing is, telling stories, because yeah, they're powerful. I remember the stories that people told me when I started doing that joke four years ago now. And they remember the stories I told them, and in away that they wouldn't if I just, I don't know, given them some... given them a management book and read to them from the book. Not that I'm dissing management books, 'cause there are some really, really good ones. But yeah, it's not about theories, it's about resonating with people’s emotions. Touching people’s hearts.

And I feel like work sometimes forgets that we're real people, and that's what we need to do.

00:11:08 Andy Goram

I think one of the principles behind the businesses that really do get engagement, is trying to find and match up emotional connection between people, colleagues and the business, right? That's what it comes down to. And I think, when you talk about storytelling, we've been doing it for eons. It's the way we pass down knowledge. And it's, it's... I think it's innate in us, but I think we end up getting caught up in the whole rigmarole of speed and brevity in business, and so actually, “5 bullet points, please. If you want to explain what this is all about. We have so much information going. Please distill it into 5 bullets.” Well, you know I could put the Three Little Pigs into 5 bullets. I just don't think it would be as cool as telling the story of the three little peaks, right?

00:11:57 Mel Byron

Absolutely, absolutely. And there's a wonderful... one of the other things I do is I teach public speaking and one of the things I sometimes use, and I recommend people to look this up. There's a guy called Norvig. And some years ago, now he created... he was in a hotel. He was bored in a hotel room and he was fed up with boring presentations and people putting slide, after slide, after slide, after slide with all the words on that they were going to say.

So, in his hotel room, he took a PowerPoint template and he poured into it, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, to show that if you take that approach to a beautiful piece of writing, a beautiful story, you can actually kill it stone dead. So, like the four score years and 10 before you know the founding wreck, he put that as a graph and it's very, very funny. But actually, it does make you cringe. And it's the same kind of thing as its distilling a you know a beautiful story down to 5 bullet points. You know, “Pigs 3 of.” “Snow White plus dwarves.” You could just, you could distill, but look up Norvig Gettysburg Address. It's one of the funniest... it's one of those things you read it with your hands infront of your eyes and say, “Oh, we've all done it haven’t we?”

00:13:27 Andy Goram

All right, I will stick that in the show notes, Mel, 'cause that sounds like an absolute cracker to get into.

00:13:32 Mel Byron

It's a cracker. It's one usually... and then the one I often always use when I'm talking, when I'm teaching public speaking is, The Archimedes Principle. Which is, you know, if I 'cause I when I do the act when I read the principle, I actually have to read this out about a body of anybody submerged and so on, because I can't remember that. I can't remember it. But then I go into, well, imagine we're in the 3rd century BC and Syracuse and the king has this crown... I can tell you that story and I can embellish it without any notes. I can make it funny. I can throw some jokes in and yes, it will last a little bit longer. We shouldn't rush through these things, but it will actually resonate with you and make you remember it 'cause that's what we did when we were kids. That’s what we did when we were kids and that's why we should be telling stories, not just presenting bald information.

00:14:28 Andy Goram

Yeah, it might take longer to deliver, but it will last longer in the memory, right so?

00:14:33 Mel Byron

Exactly. When we’re public speaking, which is again something else that... and you know comedy is taking the stage. I'm a big fan of everybody taking the stage, whatever that stage might be. Mostly, it's little boxes on the screen these days, but... I think that's going to continue. But when we take the stage we're not... if you're just giving information, send an email. Because quite frankly you being there, you being part of that emotional connection isn't needed. So, if it's just bald figures, send me an email. But what you can add, what we can add as people is 3 things. So, when you're public speaking we want to inform, you want to impact, and you want to inspire.

So, impact is like to appeal to people's emotions. And then inspire is to actually get them to do something, to take action. And it might not be something they do immediately, but it would be something that... and it might be something that they do for themselves. It might not be to your benefit. It might not be to buy your product, but maybe it is in the right context. So, when we're speaking, it's not just about, “Here's some information.” You know, a body submerged in water displaces the amount of whatever. It doesn't matter. It's about the emotional collection. And that takes time sometimes. But it's always worth doing, because that's what brings people to you and keeps people loyal to you. And I think in businesses as well, in companies, sometimes we’re better at doing it with the external people; were better at doing it with customers, than we are actually with employees. With people who actually work in the organisation.

00:16:17 Andy Goram

Oh my God, Hallelujah! I mean, that's my whole thing, right? That is like... as a as a marketer. I'm OK to say that now, therapy has helped. I'm freely admitting that I'm a marketer. The thing about businesses spending time, money, resources on trying to find connection with customers and loads of money on telling these stories, and yet internally in most places, it's pretty grim. In that there’s no connection. It's just download an assumption, as opposed to involve me.

00:16:48 Mel Byron

Absolutely, Oh my God! That is such a good way of thinking about it as “download”. Absolutely. I used to work in a company where we have the company values stuck on the wall in reception.

00:16:58 Andy Goram

Ok, here we go. Yeah.

00:17:02 Mel Byron

Yeah, every one of those values was external.

It was about what we did for other people, which was great. It's great that we provided this most of the publishing company we provided knowledge we provided access to research and so on and so on. But not a single value, and there were no articulated values about what we who worked there were all about, what the company was about for us and how we should feel engaged with this process of creating value for the company. For the, for the external customer and giving it access to research. There was none of that at all, and it was a pretty miserable place to work, I have to say.

00:17:39 Andy Goram

This is why I'm really interested to have you on, and we will dig into the perspective of the comedian and the other lessons that we can learn. But this is where I think the affinity comes to what you're talking about, and a lot of the stuff that I end up concentrating on, or what we talk about on this podcast, and you can all distill it down to the engagement triangle that starts with the... you talk about inspiration? The kind of “why”? That purpose, right? What's the bigger reason for doing what we do, right, that we can perhaps all galvanise around?

Coming down into the into the “how”, is that that empowerment of people to once they understand what the the big meaning is, right get out of their way. Give them the tools and the setup and then get out of their way to enable them to do that. And then you get into the “what”. Which is, OK. So what are we going to achieve? And yet what businesses tend to do, is they flip that triangle all around and go, “Right! This is what I want you to achieve.” “OK, where's my inspiration and where's my empowerment?” “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we'll get to that after you've done the stuff”, and you know, that's not the way to engage. And I'm fascinated by your perspective on things, from how we match the things a comedian would do to kind of get this engagement. To find the resonance, because that's the start of the engagement journey for people, right?

And this is something that you have to work very hard at. It's a myth, I think, that every comedian is just born with funny bones and it's really dead easy. It's a hard process, you know.

00:19:05 Mel Byron

It really is. It really is. And I think that's certainly the creative... 'cause there's two parts to it. Obviously, there's the creative process. Of coming up with some material by yourself in a darkened room, before you go out or into a lighter room before you go into a darker room and put that material in front of people.

And the thing is, until you do that part of the equation, it isn't comedy. It's just some writing that you did by yourself. And so, what we do, and we do this a lot, is we put out very imperfect material and there's a whole system that allows us to do that. You may have come across an open mic, open material nights...

00:19:51 Andy Goram

Oh, I've been to some.

00:19:53 Mel Byron

Yeah, and some of them you just think, “Oh, this is terrible.” And we're on stage thinking, “This is terrible”, but what sounded hilarious to us in our bedrooms isn’t hilarious to an audience. So, we had to go out, scratch that and then start again. Even for a full length show like the one hour shows we do at Edinburgh and the fringes, you often see from about January onwards, people start doing work in progress shows building up to the summer festival season. And the very first work in progress show I did, the very first show I did, which was called Karoshi, which was the show about work. We’ll come to Karoshi in a minute.

00:20:32 Andy Goram

Sure, yeah, yeah.

00:20:36 Mel Byron

It was, I would say probably 30% of that ended up in the show. But I needed to do that in order to get that out of my system. It's almost like sometimes you have to slaughter some precious children. I know that's a horrible story...

00:20:51 Andy Goram

Hey, I used to say, “you're killing my puppies” when I was bringing concepts to forums and what have you, which is an awful thing to say. “Don't tread on my puppies.” Whichever is your favorite phrase really? But I guess...

00:21:04 Mel Byron

But you have to do it. You have to do it. You know whatever the cute thing, is the cute thing that you’ve created...

00:21:09 Andy Goram

It’s precious to you at that point, it's just a little embryo.

00:21:12 Mel Byron

It's totally precious to you. It's the most precious thing. To me, that is the funniest line I have ever written. But if I do it at three new material nights in a row and nobody laughs and I tweak it and there's, then it has to go. It's like panning for gold, you know, there's all that rubbish that comes up, to get those nuggets. And so you have to write 100 things to get 10 things that might work. And I know from my own experience in the workplace, that there was so much pressure as you say on the “what” on getting it done, getting the thing done, the process was not part of it. It was just, “You will start, and you will finish. And what you will finish is a perfect thing. And if you don't, then that thing is wrong.”

00:22:02 Andy Goram

So these parallels then, so the perspective of a comedian applying what you've learned in your process to the workplace, are there some headlines that that you would throw up, to sort of say, right, if we're going to apply the perspective of a comedian and getting our stuff out there to make it work and to make it resonate with people, these are the big blocks that we have to work through?

00:22:24 Mel Byron

Yeah, perfection. Throw any idea of perfection out of the window straight away, because it won't be perfect. It's a process. It's a constant process. And that was something I learned really very early on. Certainly, when I was doing the full first full-length show. 'Cause I've never done anything like a full-length show. I mean I've done short gigs before. But it's a process forget about perfection. Forget about coming out of the traps fully formed. It's not going to happen and my view, certainly on the shows that I've done, and I've done two so far, and there's another one in the offing, is that when you get to the point where you think, “Oh, I think that's done now.” Kind of maybe it's time to move on and do another show. Because when you're not getting that buzz from, “Oh I'm learning about it”... 'cause each day you do a show, for example, at Edinburgh, you do three weeks in a row, every single day. And so you get to by the end of week one you know where you're going to stand at certain points and so you know where your hand is going to go and so on. But every day is slightly different because the audience is different and the response you get is different and they laugh in different places. So, every day is different. So, forget about, this is the fully formed finished article. It's always a process. There's always a learning to be done.

Forget perfection. Perfection is just going to kill you off. It's about the process. I think it was Voltaire who said that, so bringing in the big the big guns now.

00:23:59 Andy Goram

Oh, my word! we've got Archimedes, Voltaire...

00:24:03 Mel Byron

Voltaire... It's about a journey towards perfection. And you may never get there, because who decides what's perfect? So, at some point you have to let it go, and I've worked in marketing as well and you know there comes a point where you've just got to let it go and let it get out there. And the response will come, or the response won’t. If you going to fail, get it out there, do it quickly. I'm gonna envoke Samuel Beckett now, 'cause he said that.

00:24:33 Andy Goram

Oh, my Lord!

00:24:36 Mel Byron

I know, I know. You see, I know. Comedians, intellectuals, were practically the same thing.

00:24:41 Andy Goram

This is why you guys always win Richard Osman’s House of Games. Comedians win every time because of the brain.

00:24:49 Mel Byron

Celebrity mastermind it's always the comics!

00:24:52 Andy Goram

Exactly. Exactly. Marvellous. Great stuff.

00:24:55 Mel Byron

That's my goal. That's my achievement goal. That's my big headline goal in life, is to get on Celebrity Mastermind. I could go the normal route and go to normal Mastermind, but you've got to go through several stages to get that. I would have one specialist subject get on Celebrity Mastermind and win.

00:25:13 Andy Goram

And what would the specialist subject be?

00:25:15 Mel Byron

It would be probably the life and work of the 1930s film star Kay Francis. There you go. You didn't expect me to say that, did you?.

00:25:24 Andy Goram

Didn’t expect you to say that. Have no idea, really, rudely, who Kay Francis is?

00:25:30 Mel Byron

Well, that was my second show. The second show I did was called “Old Movies Saved My Life”, which was really, literally about my adoration of 1930s and 40s movies. Which was a great show, a fun show to do? 'Cause Karoshi, the first show I did about work, that, I always said was the show I needed to write because I needed that catharsis? But I was also... don't get me wrong, I was very conscious that I was doing it in front of the audience, and they had to benefit from it. Karoshi, by the way, is Japanese for death by overwork.

00:26:05 Andy Goram

Ah OK, well look that almost... look it links beautifully back to our introduction. It's almost like this was planned and seamless, Mel.

00:26:10 Mel Byron

I know!

00:26:11 Andy Goram

It's ridiculous.

00:26:15 Mel Byron

But yeah, death by overwork, which is a public phenomenon discovered in Japan in the 1960s originally. And they put a name to it. And I just felt like that was a kind of metaphor, but I was thinking not so much of actual physical death, as they were in Japan, but of those little deaths that we have when you know you're going to work a little bit of you dies inside. And so that was the show I absolutely needed to do, then “Old Movies Saved My Life” was my fun. That was the show I wanted to write. I've had so much fun with that. I've met some fantastic people because of that and become kind of tapped into a... That's the other side of my life. The old movie network. So yeah, so that's my celebrity mastermind topic.

00:26:57 Andy Goram

OK, I shall look out for that. I know that'll be one episode, but I won't get a single question answered.

00:27:06 Mel Byron

You probably won’t, no.

00:27:08 Andy Goram

Very disappointing for me, but inevitable, but hey, that's what it is. So, all this great perspective that you have based on previous career and standing up in front of people, failing fast and coming to come into a good place over a process. When it comes to your, let's call it a movement, this happier work movement that you're trying to push out there. How does all this relate? What are the key messages that you're trying to get across to create happier places to work?

00:27:39 Mel Byron

Well, work should be fun. I mean, it really is... none of the messages that I have are kind of complex or in fact even kind of surprising. I don't think. Well, maybe it is surprising to hear the phrase “work is fun” because people go, “Well, it's work.It's called work for a reason”, but we all know, and there's been research done by much cleverer people than me, that shows when we're having fun, we are more productive.

So, if we're more productive, isn't that benefiting everybody? Because then it shows on the bottom line as well, as well as us enjoying ourselves and having fun. And we have fun by having this... by enjoying the process and learning. 'cause we know a lot more now about people’s motivation. Don't we?

00:28:28 Andy Goram


00:28:29 Mel Byron

And constant learning is a huge, huge motivator. Yeah, we have fun by trying things out, not quite getting them right, but without that fear of “Oh my God I'm gonna be blasted for this. Oh my God, my boss is gonna kill me. 'cause I've made a mistake.” They have fun and go, “Do you know what that didn't work, but hey, let's take that and let's move that, let's see if we can move that forward in a different direction.”

So I just think work has to be fun. Work has to be, for want of a better word, “Nice.” We have to be nice. We have to be kind. We have to make people feel good. Everything we do in comedy is about making people feel good when they left. I've had people come up to me at the end of the show to say how much fun they had when they were feeling a bit rubbish before they came, but they came to some comedy and it's really made them feel so much better. Imagine if at work we could feel so much better about ourselves because we've created something. We've benefited people in some way, and so I think we just lose sense of that so much because we focus on the result, the “what”, as you say, rather than the “Why are we here?” What are people going to get out of what we do? What are we going to get out of what we do? And that's what the joy of comedy... and of course, that instant reaction, of course, is a wonderful thing which we don't always get, that that's very specific to comedy, where we get that instant reaction where if people are silent, we know they don't like it. But, if they laugh, there's no greater buzz in the world, and the mood in the room is just. It's just electric sometimes.

So, I just think that's what we need to people. We need to be bringing that sense of fun.

00:30:22 Andy Goram

I think there's a real misnomer around productivity and having fun. Because I know, in teams where we've had a lot of fun, other departments in the past have looked at us and gone, “ you’re just, you're just larking around. All we ever see you do is laughing and having fun and making jokes. You need to do some work.” I’ll tell you this now, those teams were the most productive I've ever worked in. They got stuff done in far shorter time, so while someone is sitting there for 8 hours dirging over stuff, yeah, we may well have been, yeah, maybe a bit loud at times and a bit raucous. But we were having fun, but it made the work easier, definitely, you know. So, I, I think if you look over the if you're Meerkatting in your office, over the little dividers and you're seeing this team over there larking around having fun, don't make the assumption they're not cracking on with stuff, because...

00:31:20 Mel Byron

Absolutely, absolutely. I remember once in one of the jobs I had, actually the one with the values stuck on the wall, and we were having a meeting and a guy who's desk was quite near this meeting room, which had a closed door, so we probably were being quite loud, we were laughing about stuff 'cause we were trying to create. We were trying to come up with a campaign for something, we just kept laughing at the daft things we were coming up with. But you need to come up with those daft things to get to something that you could actually use. And he banged on the door and came in and said, “You’re lot are making so much noise!” And I did feel bad 'cause we were interrupting him. But when we walked back out into that department near where that meeting room was they were all sitting completely silent and completely focused and I just thought, oh they're not having fun. We just had some fun and I'm not saying that they weren't doing valuable work, but I wondered if him banging on the door was as much as sort of, “Oh, I wish we were having that much fun as you.”

00:32:20 Andy Goram

There must be an element of that, but it's I don't know, physically if you are constrained, you're not able to release your full potential, because it's all coiled up. I think if you're able to express yourself and feel relaxed, then that's when the gold happens, right? That's when the good stuff comes out and I think it's... look in an office environment, it's obviously about balance, every now and then, right? But I don't know. I can't get away from the fact that when you're relaxed, having fun, feeling good things are easier around you.

00:32:55 Mel Byron

Oh, totally, totally. And also. And I know this from bitter experience. It affects your decision-making process.

00:33:03 Andy Goram


00:33:04 Mel Byron

It can lead to really quite flawed decision making.

00:33:09 Andy Goram

I come back to this point, the more relaxed. The more you can release. I think. And when you are constrained, it's tough and things are harder and you're more conservative. You're less creative, you're less innovative, and if businesses need anything right now it's more creativity and innovation to succeed.

00:33:31 Mel Byron

Absolutely. So that creativity and innovation is what's going to make an organisation thrive in the future. And in the very near future. But for a lot of organisations, that means a huge change in thinking, and that's where I really feel that I want to really want to point at those organisations and say, “Yeah change is scary, but this is a good kind of change.” That could actually benefit and keep your business at the top or even keep it in existence.

00:34:02 Andy Goram

But I think we're going through a transition and I think from a leadership perspective. Leaders today need to have a very good awareness of mindset, right? They have to they have to understand motivation. They have to understand engagement. They have to remember that their job is to create an environment where their people can be their best. The things that we've talked about today, right?

00:34:24 Mel Byron

That is absolutely... and you are one of the things that I do and and to come back to the sort of comedy analogy one of the things that I love doing more than anything else in comedy is being the M.C. It's being your host for the evening. And I love that because it's your job to create the mood in the room. And I love that so much. You’re the first person on stage. You're meeting the audience. You're reading the room, you're getting the audience warm and receptive. And what you're doing is you're making, creating an environment that allows the people, the workers, the comedians, to do their best work. And if you're being a good M.C, that's your job. That's your leadership role, is to make sure that everybody is there able to do their best job. Because you've created the environment within the room that allows that to happen. And I see a lot of M.C’s, particularly people new or people... a lot of people set up their own nights. Sometimes new material night so that they can have more time on stage, so they come on and they M.C. and they think their job as the MC is to have more time on stage than anybody else, and tell more jokes than anybody else, which is completely to misunderstand the job. Because it's a leadership role which allows the people who are doing the job to do the best job possible.

If you think about that in terms of the workplace, that's like your manager doing half the work for you and telling you exactly step by step how to do the rest of it yourself. And that is just not how we should be doing things. And it's not motivational and then nobody gets the best out of it. Everybody has a poor experience.

00:36:14 Andy Goram

Mel, I'm loving this conversation, but I've just glanced at my timer...

00:36:18 Mel Byron

I know we’ve gone...

00:36:18 Andy Goram

And looks like gone crazy and there's a bit of me that doesn't really care, and there's a bit of me that has to go, “No, you've gotta, you've gotta keep going” So, and we will have to continue this conversation, I think, in another episode, but for today...

00:36:31 Mel Byron

I think so. There's loads, more isn’t there?

00:36:37 Andy Goram

There's so much more material. For today, I like to lead the listeners with three sticky notes, right. Practical pieces of advice they can take away back to the office to start,in your case, having a happier place to work. So, if you were to leave behind three sticky notes, what would they be my friend?

00:36:52 Mel Byron

I would say first of all, perfection is the enemy, imperfection is your friend. That constant process of putting out things that are imperfect, trying out things that are imperfect. Don't be afraid to be imperfect. Don't self-censor and go, “Oh, this is silly.”

The other thing is to tell a story. And a story is not just “what” as we have said, it is also “why”. So a story is a journey. You've got three parts to your story. You've got where we are now. The journey we're going to take and then the breakthrough, the resolution. So always, whatever you're doing, try and frame it in terms of the story. There's a very interesting book called “Into the Woods” by a man called John York, who was a script editor on EastEnders. And he talks about five act story structure. It's really interesting. Anything to do with stories? Tell a story. And the other one is, don't be afraid to take the stage, to be present. More people are afraid of public speaking than are pretty much anything else. But you have something that's worth saying, and you know something. The combination of your knowledge and experience is unique to you. You have something worth saying? What's the worst that can happen?

00:38:13 Andy Goram

What's the worst that could happen? Very good way to summarize up three fab sticky notes there. Well, thank you so much for those.

00:38:19 Mel Byron

Thank you.

00:38:21 Andy Goram

Listen, my friend. We have come to the end of our time together today, which I'm very sad about, actually.

00:38:25 Mel Byron

Actually, we will do we have to do this again 'cause there's so much more.

00:38:26 Andy Goram

I really enjoyed. Yeah, definitely we'll do that again, but thank you so much for your time today. I've loved having you on. Well, I will see you again very soon.

00:38:30 Mel Byron

You will indeed thanks ever so much, cheers.

00:38:39 Andy Goram

OK Mel, thanks, ever so much.

OK guys, that was Mel Byron and if you want to check out a bit more about what Mel's about what she's doing and some of the things that we've talked about in the show, please check out the show notes.

00:38:57 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.

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