Minter Dialogue with Lisa Leong
Lisa Leong is an ABC (Australia) broadcaster, host of Sundays with Lisa Leong on ABC Radio Melbourne, Host of This Working Life podcast on ABC Radio National and coauthor with Monique Ross of the book, “This Working Life, How to navigate your career in uncertain times.” In this conversation, we discuss a central tenet of work-life coherence, how to have ambition and manage the stresses that come with it, how to forge meaningful change, the power of vulnerability, how to design and manage a portfolio career, and uncovering one’s personal values.
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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).
Transcript of interview with Lisa Leong via Otter.ai
SUMMARY KEYWORDS: talk, people, life, minter, work, love, lisa, learned, book, interviewing, mentor, radio, lab, leong, career, question, sense, beautiful, thought, portfolio
SPEAKERS: Minter Dial, Lisa Leong
Minter Dial 00:05
Hello and no very jolly welcome to episode number 538 of the Minter Dialogue podcast. My name is Minter Dial and I’m your host for this podcast a proud member of the Evergreen Podcast Network. For more information or check out other shows on the network, please go and visit evergreenpodcast.com. So, this week’s interview is with Lisa Leong. Lisa is an ABC broadcaster in Australia host of Sundays with Lisa Leong on ABC Radio Melbourne, host of This Working Life podcast on ABC Radio National and coauthor with Monique Ross of the book, “This Working Life, How to navigate your career in uncertain times.” In this conversation with Lisa, we discuss a central tenet of a book, work-life coherence, how to have ambition and manage the stresses that come with it. How to forge meaningful change, the power of vulnerability, how to design and manage a portfolio of career and uncovering one’s personal values. You’ll find all the show notes on Minterdial.com. And if you have a moment, please go and drop in a rating and review. And don’t forget to subscribe to catch all the future episodes. Now for the show! Lisa Leong, how lovely to have you on my show. Great to have you in from piped in from down south: ABC broadcaster, a woman of many talents and most recently author of This Working Life, how to navigate your career in uncertain times. Thank you for coming on show, Lisa, in your own words. Who are you?
Lisa Leong 01:43
I’m a lover not a fighter. I mean, you know that? I think in essence, you know, I’m someone who’s really curious. And I love other human beings. And I think I try and see everyone as whole human beings. So, that’s me in a nutshell.
Minter Dial 02:00
Well, it seems like the idea of knowing who you are is a central tenet of your book. And how do you decide that you actually know who you are?
Lisa Leong 02:14
Yeah, I mean, I think for me, it’s that it’s the not knowing. So, I do see my life as being in a lab. I say every day is Lab Day, where what you get in your experiences are like data. And you look at each experience and you say what did that? What is the lesson in that? Whether it be my preferences, or what I would never do? Again, if it was a project that you didn’t like doing? Or if it is a project that you love doing? What was it about that? What’s the data there that shows me that it lights me up, and I’m in flow. And so, with that curiosity, and that lens of everyday is Lab Day, that’s how I figure out who I am. But I feel like who I am changes over time, you know, whether it be you know, the young me or the older me, the tired? That’s part of why the work is never done is that, Minter.
Minter Dial 03:17
So you describe this lab day, thanks to your prior career as a lawyer. What does that technically mean? Making a Lab Day? So, you have this notion of listening in to what you’re feeling? How does that go about?
Lisa Leong 03:34
Yeah. So, really, this experimental mindset comes from my time, as you intimated, studying science law, and which was a really unusual combination that was offered at Melbourne University, but there was only a handful of us who would do it. Now the lawyer’s mindset and the science might set up a little bit different, shall we say? Yeah, and I was actually really bad in the lab. So, I’m like a failed scientist in a way because I did organic chemistry. It’s a lot like cooking, and I can’t cook. So, I actually had one lab evacuated winter, because I was basically doing a lab experiment and then created a poisonous gas instead of so the lab God, for your lives Run for your life, Lisa Liang is in the lab. But the one thing I picked up into her is that, you know, when you run an experiment, how you’ve got a hypothesis, and basically, you’re testing it, that’s the whole point. And when you hit a positive result, it actually means you need to keep on searching, you haven’t reached the edge of the hypothesis. So, actually, when an experiment fails, it’s kind of richer because you go oh, I kind of hit the edge of something. So, then you go and it’s actually quite useful because that’s a boundary. So, the experiment fails. You don’t fail. It’s not that you as a scientist are a failure. And I think that’s a really important point to pause on. Because in life when we have a failed experiment, so when something goes terribly wrong, often we turn on ourselves. I am a failure. Whereas what I learned through science is that no, I have not a failure. Right? Right. It’s the experiment has failed, the experiment fails. So, I let’s then extrapolate. So, if every day is Lab Day in our own lives, mentor, then every interaction everything that happens to me, I’m going, How fascinating. And that’s a little catchphrase that I learned from Ben zander. He’s the conductor of world-famous conductor. And if you think about using high powered steaks, right, yeah, how fascinating and I love that. Of course, we all want to be as excellent as we can be. But at some point, you’ve just got to allow yourself to be human. Maybe that’s ultimately what it boils down to.
Minter Dial 06:01
Yeah, a friend Becky Hall wrote a book called whose title is, “The Art of Enough?” Yeah. And that idea, because you want to be excellent, but you also can’t be perfect. And you want to be excellent. But you’ve got other things you want to do. And things have cropped up and unexpected things happen. So, how do you? How do you balance that that notion, that sea of ambition, which certainly underwrites a lot of your career, with that ability to accept imperfection, enoughness.
Lisa Leong 06:35
It’s a another catch phrase that I learned from a friend of mine who’s a Baroque musician, best in the world, once again, and she learned in her world that this phrase of: everything matters, and nothing matters. So, I love complexity, by the way, so for me, you know, there is no black and white. So, if we go with nuance, then everything matters, and nothing matters. So, yes, we strive for that, you know, the perfect run, if it is on Barak Viola, for me, it’s, you know, the perfect radio broadcast, you know, an interview that goes swimmingly? Well, of course, we’re aiming for that we’re preparing for that. And then nothing matters. At the end of the day, where a human being on a spinning planet, you know, there is nothing more that we need to be other than in that moment, just being and enjoying.
Minter Dial 07:35
If I take it around, if everything doesn’t matter, then it’s like, well, well, who cares?
Lisa Leong 07:44
Who Yeah, why bother? Exactly. So, that’s why it does matter. But then at the end of the day, we’re, you know, so that’s why it’s not, you know, even when I was writing the book, it is not a book that tells you the answer mental, right, it just helps you ask better questions. And, you know, my love is interviewing. And at the heart of interviewing is asking a genuine question, with curiosity and openness, and then opening every pore, to the answer that the person is giving you, and letting that sit, kind of. And so, in that asking that question, you know, that is the essence really for me?
Minter Dial 08:39
Well, there are certainly several books that talk about the art of asking questions, and, and maybe the thought I had going back to your scientist, lawyer, by I don’t know what different two different careers, something that that both of them tend to do well, is ask questions.
Lisa Leong 08:58
Yeah, that’s beautiful. And in science, there’s a hypothesis. And so, what I love about that is, once again, you’re holding it lightly, aren’t you? You’re asking that question of the experiment, and saying, Could this possibly be true? And why don’t I test that, right, and then observe the data so beautiful. Now in law, you know, it’s critical thinking. So, you know, and what’s really interesting, if you boil law down is very often we’re looking at every infinite possibility, predominantly of what might go wrong, but you can actually apply the critical thinking to extrapolate okay, what are all of the things that could happen here? So, you are taught to think critically, and I think, you know, that’s the part that I found does intersect when it comes to science and law. I mean, it was a great course to do programme in terms of learning different paradigms and how to think.
Minter Dial 09:58
Yeah, and to speak on your feet, perhaps says. Well, I suppose that’s one of the expressions, you say. And it reminds me of another friend of mine, Ray Shanahan to name her. She talks about holding things lightly. And you’ve already used the expression. And in the book you write, I held the radio gig slightly, this idea of holding things lightly. It feels like that’s the middle ground of it. Everything matters and nothing matters.
Lisa Leong 10:25
Yeah, there was a phrase that we were taught when I was learning radio at the Australian film, television and radio school, the head of radio, Steve Ahern gave us this he said, Who will you be when the honour light switches off. So, the only light it comes on when you’re broadcasting to indicate tell people you don’t be quiet, you’re, you know, you were broadcasting now. So, it does represent their, you as a radio professional. Now, in radio, of course, we have personas, we become maybe fairly well known on the radio, if you identify with that, you know, is what Steve was saying. If you think that your lethal lease on SFM commercial radio station and you identify with that person, that’s quite a dangerous place to be. Because if that on a light switch is off, when that on a light switch is off, in whatever role you are with the other CEO, or manager, or worker, if you identify solely with your job, and you lose that job, then you could lose your sense of self. And actually, that’s not what life is. You are not your labels. That’s an important point.
Minter Dial 11:44
Yeah, it is. I mean, it’s not just a I mean, it’s the expression within the radio life. But it’s something that I see a lot in any business where people identify with make extrinsic importance about my title, my pay and all this. And I think it feels like it’s at the very beginning, it feels like one of your central tenets in your book, is this notion of you got to be ready to be who you are. And there’s so many people who still think that Well, to be a great doctor, I just have to be I can be a dick.
Lisa Leong 12:19
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Minter Dial 12:23
Or like, you know, what, I’m just the CEO, I’ve got to do that. And it doesn’t matter how I do things almost. At home, I’m a lovely person at work, I’m a dick, or vice versa. And it feels like those type of discourses are bound for illness.
Lisa Leong 12:41
I agree. And I think that when you are misaligned, in that sense, that it does come back in a way it’s like you’re I mean, I heard it described as you know, there’s this love, which is, like a life force. And when you damn it, you know, when you dampen it, and you, you know, damn it, like, waters, like a big wall, it will break out at some point. And so, you can’t dampen the inner self, the kind of wants to be expressed. And I think it come, it does come out, maybe as a heart attack, or an illness or something that kind of breaks in you, or you will just feel this sense of, you know, longing. A sense that I can never feel whatever hole I’m feeling, no matter how successful, right, how much money, you know, how many external accolades, how many awards? Why do I still feel this just ignoring little sense of something? And so, I would pay attention to that, because that’s data as I was talking about this idea of, what am I feeling or thinking, deep down? That’s data so as much as I’m talking about data on the outside, I’m talking about your internal felt sense and going it’s giving me a signal of something but of course, you know, you need to be fairly quiet, don’t you into to feel it? And that’s the work because we are filling our lives with a lot of things. I am absolutely a person who does who you know, has a full dance card. And so, am I giving myself a chance to catch up and very often and after you know, six months I go no, I’m in my head and so to six months well I take myself away now Minter and I think this year, I found myself in that state it was I was feeling in May or I’m so in my head, I’m ruminating. I don’t feel like myself. I’ve might I’ve lost my joy, and I couldn’t get it back. I’m a biohacker. And I could not biohack my way out of this. I tried everything, and I was still feeling stressed. So, that’s my indicator. I’m stressed, and I’m not being my nicest self at the moment. But mainly to my nearest and dearest. So, what’s going on? And I happen to have booked to come to the US, and to go straight to Amiga Institute, and to learn Qigong, you know, it’s like a cousin to Tai Chi. Yeah, with Robert Peng. And because it’s body work. So, I went and did that learn with Robert Peng met beautiful people and ate healthily. And, wow, do you know halfway through, I was walking through this garden, which I’d never, I’d just kind of walked through because I needed to walk through it to get to where I needed to get to. And I was just looked at this little be playing across these flowers. And I noticed it, and I thought, Ah, I’m back.
Minter Dial 16:08
Love it. What was interesting for me about that. Lisa was, well, first of all, you basically you’re giving permission not to have to do the daily check. Because you sort of said, well, at six months, I got it. Because otherwise if we’re in this constant checking mode, it’s like you don’t get off the pot.
Lisa Leong 16:29
Yeah. And I guess what will what do you mean by checking? Because let’s look into that. I wonder, what do you think is normally the practice with checking, do you think?
Minter Dial 16:43
Well, I think that most people don’t check in, they’re in this running mode they’re doing mode.
Lisa Leong 16:49
So they’re in doing. Yep!
Minter Dial 16:51
Not being. And so, I personally find it really useful to have a time when I set my day on the right path. So, I have now a pretty solid regime that just 10 to 20 minutes. And I stretch because I am a very stiff old man nowadays. And I thought that it would be a metaphor for what I needed to do, which is become more flexible.
Lisa Leong 17:20
Yeah, love it. Haha, nice,
Minter Dial 17:22
Where we have all our wiring, you know, as you get older, it’s more entrenched. And, I can now kiss my toes, which I could only do last when I was a baby…
Lisa Leong 17:34
What a lovely way of putting it.
Minter Dial 17:37
And then I do I listen to my body. And I’m so I’m trying to get much more in touch. And it’s something I’ve been poor at in the past. But so that’s like an on a daily basis, but at the same time, like, you don’t have this big check in, sort of like, we go to a hotel, and you check in. And this is my life. Because if you’re if you’re constantly matter, observing your life, then you struggle to live it.
Lisa Leong 18:05
Can I pick up two points on that, I love that. And I love kiss your toes. Okay, the first part to talk about is that idea of a morning routine, or some sort of routine or practice, which nurtures and nourishes you. And absolutely, you use the data in your life to build something which absolutely suits you. So, I think the thing about a practice is not to listen to somebody else’s practice, because I actually get up really early. So, before our conversation, even though we started at six, I built in getting up at five 5am. So, if we, if we were going to have a conversation at five, I would have got up at four to be honest. So, I had an hour and I do my Chi Gong, I have a practice of getting into my body as well. And for me, you mentioned the flexibility. So, for me, it’s about becoming aware of my energy and connecting to or grounding myself away from this busy head, because I wake up with you know, ideas already. And so, I’m just doing a practice to do that. So, that’s the morning routine. And I have always had a morning routine, which I just love and it’s quite long like it took me now the second part is and this is something I’m actually working on like it’s like a something that I’m trying to do more regularly which is an awareness practice mentor of it’s an informal mindfulness practice that just has met have an I think I’m trying to make it subconscious like a habit of just the bringing awareness to as you’re saying that meta state of the world is disrupted and chaotic, but at Surely I’m okay. You know, bringing awareness to in this moment, I’m fine. You know, or bringing awareness to physiological signs, hungry, angry, you know, just tired. And then thinking, or Okay, so no big decisions now. So, at the end of the day, because I get up so early, I’m pretty spent my battery’s quite low resilience is low, or am I feeling triggered, because I just need to pack myself up and go home. So, I, that’s my two sort of builds on what you shared, which is, I do think, you know, like, I’m not leaving it for six months, not even thinking about it, but just daily awareness event, especially being triggered mentor, I mean, I think I do a lot of facilitation of off sides. But instead of thinking as a group as a one big blob, you know, I’m looking at the humans that make up the group or team and trying to absolutely see each person exactly who they are, as exactly who they are. And in doing that, I think, you know, that, when you’re looking at people as individuals with all of our hopes, dreams and fears, that very often, we are conditioned to save ourselves help help ourselves in childhood or later in life. And very often, we can be triggered, as you know, just to accidentally jump back into that protective self. And so, I’m just looking for evidence of that just to go. Is this really the data that I was given? So, Minter, or somebody else said something that made me feel something? Like, my inference from the data of your words, was way more emotional, had way more sting? In the actual words, and possibly your intention? Right, so I might flare? Do you want me to give you an example? It’s kind of embarrassing, okay. I had not been invited to a particular gathering at my old college, but I wanted to catch up with someone and they said that they were going to be there. So, maybe I could just drop in. So, basically, you know, I was just gatecrashing. Right? So, there’s a gathering. And he wasn’t there yet. So, I kind of was there without him. And so, I was just sort of milling around. And someone sort of came up to me, and we formed a little group, and it was chit chat. And she said, Are you starting? Or are you finishing? Okay, so she said, Are you starting or finishing now remember, so where I was in my old college? Now, I am 51. But I look a lot younger. I’m really, really tiny. I have a bit of a thing around people thinking that I’m younger than I am. Right? Are you starting or are you finishing? And so, I’m like Bloody hell. She thinks that I’m still at college. I fled big time. And I’m like, well, actually, I started college in 1990. And I finished in 1993. And so, it was obvious that I was pissed off, so she probably left. Right. Anyway, so she’s kind of Mills herself off, right? And then a friend of mine put so this guy who I was meant to say he’s still not there, so and a friend of mine who happened to be there. She comes up to me. She goes, Lisa, I haven’t seen you in ages. Are you starting? Are you finishing? And I’m like, What are you talking about? Turns out, this is a prestigious mentor. I’m talking like big time, ethics, leadership scholarship, for incredible people who were very advanced in their careers. To learn about leading Australia. Are you starting? Or are you finishing because it was graduation of these amazing people? That first lady thought I was one of the amazing scholarship. Right? Yeah. Can you say the data are you starting or are you finishing? There’s a ladder of inference. Rajesh Schwartz teaches this. So, the ladder of inference. inference is like a step ladder. And I went all the way up my ladder of inference until I wasn’t no it was just that the data triggered my conditioning of bloody hell everyone thinks I’m so young. Yeah. And can you see how I’ve been all the way up the ladder very far away from the actual her intention. And I didn’t ask her the next question. What do you mean? Right?
Minter Dial 25:20
Well, assuming innocence, right? It’s assuming that there’s innocence in that question and the filter.
Lisa Leong 25:26
If you have the best intentions or just be curious. I lost my curiosity. I mean, the thing that I say is my superpower.
Minter Dial 25:34
Right, and it was interested about the type of interviews you hold. I think it’s relevant in “Off mic,” if you will, or the sessions that you run were you have multiple individuals. How, what do you what tips or tricks do you have before you enter in a room where you have to work the room? Or, or before an interview, where you want to get to that zany, Interesting, deep dive question? Yes, in the end of the day, you can prepare, but somehow, there’s an element of this, which is deeply human.
Lisa Leong 26:14
Yeah. So, I’ll take that in two parts, because in the facilitation, so when I’m facilitating, as you say, you know, a group of people, if it’s not too unwieldy, so we’re not talking 1000s of people, so but it could be up to 100, I will get a list of all the participants and I will actually look at their LinkedIn or their, you know, as much as I can about them, and just try and get a sense of who is the person coming into this room, a felt sense of, maybe you know, whether they’ve stayed in Australia the whole time, or moved from somewhere, just a really nice sense. So, I’d definitely do the research and see, once again, see each people as each person as a person. And then I prepare my intention for them, not for myself. So, that idea of how would I love them to feel? What are they feeling now? How would I like them to feel as a result of this one day together. And I start building a safe container as soon as they get in the room. So, I don’t expect people to embarrass themselves or do zany things, you know, I let the trust and the safety build and from that natural humour and levity comes out, and I let it breathe, and I let it come from them. So, that’s the first part is that when you give people permission, you know, I’m pretty Daggy. So, you know, pretty dorky. When you give people permission, then they can be that free yourself. So, that’s one thing. The for interviews, you know, once again, we learned in radio school, prepare, to be spontaneous, prepared to be spontaneous. So, yes, you’re doing your prep again, I would always read the person’s book. And for me, it’s not just about the content of the book, but it’s an empathy exercise for me. So, you know, I’m getting a sense of this person through their words, and through their thoughts, and once again, their hopes and dreams and fears, just through the essence of the book. So, I would prepare that, and then hold it lightly to use that phrase again. Because if you overly prepare, and if you hold it too tightly, you’re gonna miss that human connection. If it’s too scripted, yeah, if it’s too scripted, and then there’s a little courage point here. So, when you’re in that moment of facilitating or interviewing, can you be in that moment and trust that you will have that next question, or that something will happen, rather than overly needing to prepare what you are going to say next? But that’s a lifetime, you know, piece of work around what I say listening with every pore of your body.
Minter Dial 29:13
And I think that’s a kind of skill we could do with more of off radio, I mean, amongst ourselves, our ability to listen to what the other person is saying, Go with them down the rabbit hole that they’re saying and their feelings and focusing on them rather than bring it back to me.
Lisa Leong 29:35
And Minter, you know, it’s funny because I sometimes talk about, you know, interviewing skills or techniques, but actually, I don’t really believe in that. So, if it’s helpful if it’s helpful for people, then I can try and distil things into skills but the thing about the listening piece or the interviewing piece aces, I lean a little bit or what I find helpful in terms of frameworks is Dr. Dan Siegel’s work on interpersonal neurobiology. So, he’s got these beautiful phrases, one is attunement, and then the other one is resonance. So, attunement is that, you know, when we first start talking, I’m trying to like I’m trying to tune into your wavelength trying to get into. So, tune. And then resonance is actually where we start getting into sync a little bit. Okay, and then that’s the beautiful part where we’re exchanging. So, it is a two way thing, it’s still a human connection. It’s not that I’m playing a role and you’re playing a role, it’s that we’re sort of in, you know, resonance together. Another way, you know, I playfully call it mind jazz, mind, jazz, because you’ve got your instrument that’s Minters instrument very unique to you. I’m playing my instrument, I’m not reaching over and playing your instrument, I don’t have to be, like, you know, mirror you, you’re Minter, and then mine is jazz. So, I’m going to your, you know, I’m playing a tune here, you’re picking it up, and then you’re doing your own little riff. And that’s what I think is a beautiful conversation is when you’re both playing mind chess.
Minter Dial 31:26
Yeah! What it is suggests, I think, is that, inevitably, as the interviewer, you are also bringing something to the table?
Lisa Leong 31:37
I think so. I think when I’m doing an interview for a broadcast, I think, in that conversation, I would generally be keeping it shorter, obviously, for my thing, and I would only probably share things if I thought, well, this is useful for the conversation. And definitely playing around with sometimes, you know, short questions are, you know, really nice, you know, the why, or, you know, tell me more, you know, those types of things. So, I think, I think when it comes to the interviewing format, particularly if you’ve got an expert, then, you know, definitely you wouldn’t, it wouldn’t be like 50-50 airtime.
Minter Dial 32:28
No, when I look at my tracks, I tend to try to stay under about 20% of the amount of time so I do think of that, because sometimes I want to tell stories to share, they can trigger as well trigger other thoughts and stories. So, there are a few things I wanted to gather, you have so many wonderful things in your book, and I don’t know which ones we’re going to be able to get to. But one of the things is this idea of a portfolio career. It’s not a piece of cake as you write. It seems like time management is a fundamental element that; being punctual seem to be a fundamental element to you. Do you think portfolio careers are for most people, some people, weird people?
Lisa Leong 33:23
So this concept I loved when it was shared with me by Dorie Clark, who is a coach in the US. When she shared it to me, I loved it because we talk about side hustles. And there’s different ways of looking at people who don’t just have one full time job, basically your you’ve got a portfolio of things that you do, which make up a career, that’s the way of looking at it. And like an investment portfolio. It’s like you’re diversifying your interests. So, Dory does it because it gives you longevity in terms of your career, as we saw with COVID. You know, if one thing drops off, then you’ve still got something else. So, that’s the concept. I like it because, you know, we talk about bringing our whole selves to work, and sometimes your whole self can’t be in flow with one job. So, for people who kind of have different interests and who feel like well, hey, you know, and I would say maybe it is a lot of us. You know, we have many different things that we do. I see a portfolio career as an additive thing, not a destructive thing. So, when I’m broadcasting live broadcast radio on a Sunday, and I’ve got this working life, which is a podcast, highly produced show, I see that when I do those two things, they add up and make me a better listener, Interviewer And then I also do facilitation at offsites. As I said, that also helps me because then I’m also in the real world. I can then bring that into my show as well. So, that’s what I call. And that’s my mindset around a portfolio career so that I don’t feel like I’m being pulled or there’s tension. So, that’s one thing, practically, you talk about time. So, in radio, we learn how to timeout. So, when it comes to the top of the clock, the ABC theme will play and it plays regardless of whether I’m ready or not. Right. So, I can start a sentence and no, 10 seconds, 20 seconds. Before that, I was always punctual. I think it is for your own good, but also a respect thing for everyone else. And also, I use time blocking in a practical way. Have you heard of that? Yeah. So, the I on the colour coding, I do the colour coding. So, if you look at my diary, I bet you our diaries look the same. So, every single hour is kind of blocked out. And as you say, in colour, so that blue for me is transiting to places but also rest, recovery. And when you look at my diary, it kind of looks frightening, because it looks like I have no spare time. But actually, I’m just blocking out the health things first. So, healthy things are yellow. You know, the Transiting is blue and I transit by riding my bike. So, actually, I’ve got quite a balanced life, even though it looks frightening for everyone else.
Minter Dial 36:34
Well, that’s a that’s a moment where you’re transiting and doing a little bit of health.
Lisa Leong 36:39
Yeah, that’s right. So, I think that’s what I think is a portfolio career. But that just happens to suit me as well. Because I’m just innately curious. And I like to start things.
Minter Dial 36:51
You’re also very active, right? And so, you have that desire for many things. You’ve got many talents, many skills. And you would feel probably closed in if you just had one thing to do.
Lisa Leong 37:04
Minter Dial 37:06
So, it speaks to another element, or which you wrote about which I really enjoyed. And I thought it was very refreshing work life coherence, rather than this notion of balance, which I’ve always thought is misplaced. You mentioned before, like this is something that maybe many people do, I think it’s probably not everybody, because I think I maybe have seen a lot, done a lot. We’ve been very privileged. And we’ve been allowed to do much more than just be a builder, or something like that. So, the idea of balance, especially we have ambition is a tough thing to actually settle down you. Yeah, it’s hard to succeed at everything. But work life coherence really resonated for me. How did how do you come up with that? What is your work life coherence look like?
Lisa Leong 38:00
Yeah, so work life balance. I feel like it just puts too much pressure on us. And then you know, is there any real delineation? I’m not sure. So, we left that behind there is the concept of work life integration, which is that’s a nice word as well. Coherence is kind of, so it comes from heart coherence. It’s a physiological term and it and it’s always moving. Like it’s kind of like little movements have that sense of it actually is working as a whole. It’s organic. And you know, that concept of job crafting. So, Amy Wrzesniewski, she has done a whole body of research her life work is on the fact that we have more agency in our jobs than we think. And what’s interesting about her work, so it looks at relationship crafting, so who do you kind of work in relationship with? It looks at task crafting. So, what are you doing in the day? And then cognitive crafting, like how am I viewing my work? The thing about a work, which is fascinating, is that one example is hospital cleaners. The happier hospital cleaners saw their role when they were asked to describe it as I help people heal. And it’s just a beautiful, I help people heal faster and with more love, right. The sadder hospital cleaners I empty the wastepaper basket, you know, I do blah, blah, blah. So, she had so much power in no matter what you’re doing. You can be happier when you see the agency. So, even when you are working in a job that people might think is really restrictive. She says her research shows that people will find a way when they want to be in flow. So, it’s kind of a mini challenge. Think a compassionate challenge mentor for people who think I’m just gonna do my job, it’s just a job. And then I will live my life outside that, because you spend a lot of time at work. And once again, that misalignment of I’m going to be incredibly, incredibly unhappy. You know, for the 10 hours, seven hours, five hours, I’m at work, that’s a lot of your life to waste. Strikes work life coherence is trying to address that.
Minter Dial 40:31
Sorry, it strikes me that that idea of agency, I feel it is incumbent upon the hierarchy, to wish to allow for agency to guide people to understand that they’re doing something bigger than just cleaning the trash. Because I would suspect that a lot of people will feel that they don’t have agency because they are mismanaged, they’re overwrought, they’re just told you all you do is got to clean the buddy, the idea of of a person in the hospital who can come up with that kind of a purpose, as an enlightened individual. And I think it is important for us what even like when you’re walking into a room, like you’re saying, with a seminar, bring them to that place, allow them to feel the authority to come up with something bigger. But that has to be known, right? Because if that individual in the hospital has that idea, but no one else understands it that way.
Lisa Leong 41:33
Well, I mean, what’s interesting is, in her research, it shows that these enlightened individuals will do it, whether or not it is there is an imprimatur to do so. And often, they might even bend the rules. So, one of the rules is not saying it was like no visitors at this time, or you are not allowed to change the paintings on the wall, the hospital can just change the paintings anyway, or just let the you know, people sneak in. So, there in her research, it says it happens whether or not you want it to. And it doesn’t matter what the mandate is think. However, I think, imagine if organisations were enlightened, as enlightened as those individuals, then of course, that’s a beautiful flourishing organisation, and there are organisations that are like that, and then of course, then more people will be job crafting and enjoying and then their retention rates will be higher. So, that is the difference between an organisation which is losing people, because after a while, of course, these you know, people may leave, right, check isn’t enough? Yeah, so especially if it’s a toxic environment. So, you know, I don’t think there’s anything you know, in my thoughts or in the book or in the world that says you need to stay or you should stay in a toxic environment. Because the thing about toxic environments is you an individual can’t change that. So, you might go in there thinking that you’re the silver bullet, even if you’re the kind of lead one of the leaders that actually kind of change to the environment. So, sometimes it’s better to leave.
Minter Dial 43:14
Well, it’s like we were saying before, and you talk about how you got shingles, I myself got type one diabetes for not being in the right place. So, you know, it can have real consequences on your health that sort of toxicity mean, that’s what toxic means. Right? It’s sickening. Last thing I want to talk about, just for the few minutes we have left, I mean, there’s so many other things I wanted to get into, but I’m going to leave it with this. We’re all working in this space. It seems so important for you. notion of time, not just management, but past, present and future. There are several times you talk about it specifically you were saying about how your father informed you that the future is rooted in your past. And then you have other moments where you’re recording Greta Bradman, who talks about how our values come from basically past, present and future. So, I don’t know how you want to riff on that. But it seems like not just time, but time present, past and future is also important for you.
Lisa Leong 44:16
Yeah, I think in that work, or the coaching work that I do, I think I recognise through having conversations with people how rooted we are in our past, and how it plays out, sometimes in the present, and really just bringing awareness to that. So, you know, we talked about being punctual Well, I always thought it was just because Dad told us to be punctual, so I knew that it came from Dad, he taught us to or we were always early for every single party, right? And I just thought, oh, that’s because Dad is a punctual person. No, I found out that it’s because his brother used to have to pick him up so he was came from a very poor Malaysian country town called Ampang. But his brother used to cycle from work from Kuala lumper. Come all the way and he was often late. And Dad, everyone had gone home, it was a tiny little boy. And it was he was so scared. And he used to have to hide behind the big trees and wait for his brother for hours and hours until it was dark. And he was alone. And then his brother would come hours later. And he’s that feeling of being scared. That’s why he’s always on time and early. Because he hated that feeling. So, knowing that I’m like, Oh, my God, this is like really pretty. It’s it was a fear-based response from Dad. So, I have a choice mentor. And, and that is that, because I can get really anxious stressed about being late. But at what cost? So, I’m not running for a bus. I’m not running for a tram, I’ve got to understand that. Actually, those decisions are really important. And I’d rather arrive and be late than not arrive at all, because I have had friends running for a bus and unfortunately, being killed by running, you know, doing a dangerous act, because they were driving too fast. Yeah, all those things, right. So, it can also free you. Not, it’s not shackled?
Minter Dial 46:26
Well, what I like a lot about what you said, Lisa, is this notion of nuance. There are various constructs you have, but it seems to be a lot of it is working in the middle. Lisa, so, for anyone who’s listening, how can they get in touch with your work? I’m not going to ask them to personalise that but what would be the best way to get your book, read what you do, stay in touch, see what you do for a living in terms of your portfolio of material.
Lisa Leong 46:58
So, I’m quite active on LinkedIn, I’ve found that’s a good place for me given it. A lot of my excuse me, a lot of my work is. Yeah, it’s good for you know, a lot of the thoughts that I have. So, I put a lot of thoughts on LinkedIn and Instagram as well under Lisa liong. I think I’ve got an S in the middle. So, Lisa s. Liang, and website as well. Lisa liong.net, which is coming soon.
Minter Dial 47:27
Oh nice. Well, I’ll put all that and the link of course, to your book. Which do you prefer Schlumberger or quiet flower?
Lisa Leong 47:35
Ah, love it. Yes, I do have some very random nicknames. As I mentioned, my middle name starts with S. So, S Leong. And Schlonger that was my college nickname. And it makes me laugh. And then Queit flower because, obviously, I’m not very quiet. It was given to me as a Chinese name when I was in Asia, leading a team and so somebody did that ironically. Haha. And so, the name is beautiful. It’s Jing Yehua. Yeah, but then people would laugh when they saw my name.
Minter Dial 48:12
On those lovely laughing words. Lisa, thank you very much.
Lisa Leong 48:17
Thank you Minter. What a great conversation.
Minter Dial 48:22
Thanks for having listened to this episode of The Minter Dialogue podcast. If you’d like to show would like to support me, please consider a donation on patreon.com/Minterdial. You can also subscribe on your favourite podcast service and, as ever, rating reviews are the real currency podcasts. You’ll find the show notes with over 2000 or more blog posts on minterdial.com. Check out my documentary film and four books including my last one, You Lead, How being yourself makes you a better leader. And to finish here’s a song I wrote Stephanie Singer, “A convinced man.”
Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.
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