Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Andrea Strohmayr from Culture by Design.
Virtual coffee catch up with Andrea Strohmayr from Culture By Design. We talk about dealing with lack of motivation on your team and when is it a result of a bad environment and when it's the individuals that need to do some heavy lifting. We also discuss the role of systems, especially the educational system, outside of our organisations that shape people and how/whether they will reach their potential.
Transcript of this episode was produced using transcription software with an approximate 95% accuracy so there might be some typos.
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Lech: [00:00:00] Well, hello there, boys and girls. This is another episode of the virtual coffee. Catch up. With a friend type. And this time it's Andrea. Strohmeyer who similar to me is fascinated by human behavior and our interactions in the workspace. So she helps companies capture their values.
Principals and EDPs in their own words so that they truly resonate with them. And we talk about quite a few things, but the major things are. Around how to deal with unmotivated people on your team. And when is that a result of a bad environment? And when is it that the individual has to do some heavy lifting on their part?
We also discussed the role of the systems outside of organizations. That help shape people and how, and whether they will reach their potential. And especially we look at the educational system. I hope you enjoy. Here's my interview with Andrea Strohmeyer.
Andrea. Welcome to the show. Thank you very much for being here before we have our little catch-up. I wanted to start with my usual question and that is when you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:01:35] I wanted to be a vet veterinarian but only for big animals. So anything pony and up. I really cannot tell you why. But that's the one thing that I remembered that I wanted to be, so yeah, the little girl, I was definitely into horses, but I was really thinking more like giraffes and elephants that I would read.
So it's probably my travel drive that origami showed back then.
Lech: [00:01:59] Interesting that you say that because I had Anna Engman from Detectify VP of people for Detectify on the podcast a while back. And she said the exact same thing. Yes, but she wanted to be, she wasn't specific about the type of animals if I remember right. But she also wants to be a vet and now she's the VP of people.
And he's like, an element of us wanting to look after people. So I'll actually never, I need to ask myself that question, have a little think by cause majority of people or ask that they have, there is a connection of wanting to help others be humans or being animals. And that's how we ended up people being like you are, you or I who work as consultants, as coaches or people who work as a, in kind of a P and C or HR environments.
They tend to have dreamt of jobs when they were little that had an element. Of helping supporting others in whatever shape or form that might be. But anyway, uh, what's been going on for you in the past few months?
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:03:05] I am working with a couple of cool companies right now that bring me to question some of my assumptions that I had before. And that's something that I'm always intrigued about when I'm facing yeah. Situations where I have to question myself.
So yeah, that's very interesting. A bit unsettling,
Lech: [00:03:22] What were the assumptions about where they kind of to do with the values of what you do or the kind of the, what you're trying to achieve with the companies and the clients?
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:03:31] It's more to do with, I think Probably most of us that work in the space of company culture, organizational culture, have an idea of what a good culture is and what we believe is a culture that is yeah, that it's one that people should aim for. And now I have been faced with yeah, probably three situations where I personally feel, wow, does this not a company that I wouldn't working for, but people are fans.
People inside your organizations are crazy about working there. So it gets me to question on whether I'm just in a very, I don't know, a bit of a moral high horse with regards to what is a good culture. What did it such thing as a good culture that is universally definable and yeah, that that's triggered some interesting thoughts.
I would say.
Lech: [00:04:17] You know, I'm so with you on that, I actually often doubt myself. I ask myself the question, am I nuts? Am I unhinged thinking that organizations should focus on people and that's going to deliver the longterm growth and things like, so in a way, very, very much the same thing that you're talking about is what's good culture.
We all have different definitions of what good is with culture or anything else. But for some reason I can so relate to what you're saying. That with cultures that I've got, you know, a vision, this is what should be like, and I'm going to I'm, I'm sticking to that. And I just need, I need to expand that because the same as with any aspects of our life, you kind of go, yeah, this is good for me.
This is what person and you understand that other people might have different visions. And different understanding of good or good quality and things like that. So it is quite interesting. So you're, you're definitely not alone in, in that. But yes, and as a result of that, we then you've got organizations that have different features and you're going like, yeah, I w I wouldn't want to enjoy, I would enjoy working.
It's absolute chaos. I like pragmatism. I like analysis and structure, and that's the environment I'm gonna wear, but then I've got plenty of friends and people that I know who are exact opposites of me and they love working where they work because the organizations I, but chaotic. And I think it's important that these organizations let people know from the outset when they're recruiting, what the reality in the organization is.
Yes, we are disorganized. Yes, we are cactus hectic. Yes. Things are all over the place because then people know what they're signing up for.
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:05:52] That's exactly. That's exactly what I'm working on. Yes. So I do work a lot with employer branding as well, and And just really coming more and more to the realization that it is not about having a universally good workplace culture, but it is about having that right match between the person and the environment that they actually going to thrive in.
And a lot of the work that I do is really getting clear on what is it really to work there. And then to also phrase it in a way that is universally understandable, because once you're in an organization, you use all those buzz words that you hear all the time, and that's how you define your culture internally.
That might just mean shit to someone outside of the company. So how do you actually get that across? And the person that is looking at the company from the outside gets exactly a vivid picture of what would it be like if I were to join this company?
Lech: [00:06:43] We try and have that cookie cutter approach that we apply to two different ways to ways that we do things and that just doesn't work. And this is the classic example values and the purpose or mission of, of an organization organizations will differ completely. Bit between one another, but still you're right.
I'm, I'm a massive believer as well in the fact that you need to let people know what they're signing up say, because I've seen so many times and I'm sure you've seen it as well. That somebody is really excited about joining the company because interview process was great. The recruitment process is fantastic and it's like, yes, I'm so fired up.
And then two months in they're thinking of handing in their resignations because what they saw before and after just doesn't match. I mean, how, how, how, how, how do we let that happen?
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:07:27] I do think there are two parts to it. I think honestly there is. A part that the organization plays in the way, how they present themselves and their organizations. Just really yeah. I was yesterday talking with someone about greenwashing that I kind of like putting an idea out there of themselves, that they are actually not able to hold up in daily life because it's just like a false pretension and they basically hope for people to join their company and then to be too worried too, about their CV to resign off the quick period when they realize it's not the thing.
So I think that's clearly where companies are. Yeah. Trying to learn people. You need to a certain extent because they really facing shortage of talent and they just don't care about people at all. And I do also think there is part of the responsibility is on the people themselves to understand themselves well enough.
And to, yeah. Get an idea of what is really an environment that I thrive in. And I feel many, especially juniors. Don't have that idea yet. So for me, it also sometimes links back to the emotional maturity of people is how reflected they are. How many different styles and companies have they been exposed to as well?
Because I feel this is something that we don't get exposed to when we are at uni. This is not something we learn. We don't learn about new style of management or anything like that. So, people eventually think, oh, I would like to, to, to work in a self-organized organization, but end up hating it. So it's not for everyone.
I think like having that idea as juniors themselves to understand what is an environment that is really good for me is a tricky one. Because how do you get to that to understanding that without having experience or. I think, yeah, that's something that I'm also contemplating about. How can you bring that back to the schools?
How can we bring it back to the education that you don't just learn classic management theories, but did you actually get an understanding of what different styles and environments can look like?
Lech: [00:09:22] Big question. How did you kind of introduce that into the educational system? Right? Because when it's disjointed from what is being taught at school and what a university to what is expected from us in the workplace for people in the workplace, and I think that's been, it sort of has been the age old problem.
And, and this is, this is not a new thing, but I think that gap is getting wider and wider and wider because the skill we're teaching the skill sets. Yes. But probably not enough the soft skill sets. That are required for this. And I'm, I'm trying to think of this and in a way, maybe that gap getting larger and larger between what is required and what is being taught, that's what needs to happen because that will, that will reach that volume point that eventually.
We at this top top level with the, with the, within the workplace, this is what we need. This is what we demand. You need to change further down the chain. We've done our legwork. We've created these minds to support these people and bring them up. Now it's time to push that further down the chain. So it does kind of start working from both ends.
What'd do you think
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:10:26] I think it's a tricky one in the sense that I find myself in a bizarre situation at this point, that organizations that in the first instance I would classify as traditional or old school or something like that. I'm much more open to new ways of doing things then startups and scale-ups that I work with that are run by people that are in their early twenties.
And having people join both organizations and being also like astonished by that, because people that founded the company, when they're 20 something, they don't know much about how companies can look like. And often what I realized is that they are not even influenced by what they learn at uni. They influenced by how their parents worked or the values that they have had in their families and things like that.
And then not having the emotional maturity or just like the personal development path that they went through in order to get to contemplate that there are even different ways of doing things. So it's really bizarre at some points, what I, what I'm experiencing right now.
Lech: [00:11:28] Tell me a little bit more. What kind of, what makes you think that that's the case? Or why, why is that the case?
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:11:33] I feel the people I've talked with, they're extremely ambitious in the sense of they know how to run a business. They learn that that is what they get taught in accelerators, or they have people that guide them through all of that. But the idea that you can have a different view on people rather than people just being resources is something that seems to be very new to a lot of them.
So there is often a real command and control thing that even the tiniest request for flexibility becomes a matter of trust or lack of trust. That becomes very obvious then. And this negative view on people, but you need to control them in order for them to perform. I feel you have to have experienced differently in order to be able to move away from that image.
But since they have they're so new in so many things and trying to set up their businesses, yeah. They tried to control everything as much as possible and people included while they could unleash the power of the people by trusting them. But if you don't have that experience I don't know if you can even get to that point without going through it.
Lech: [00:12:46] I've worked with clients both in, in, in European countries, but also in the U S in Australia. And there is a fundamental difference. How certain things are done in terms of culture.
You know, the basics of things of culture tend to be always the same psychological safety feedback culture, trust building, and things like that. So that those building blocks, that's what you need achieving them in different cultures. Different countries is a completely different kettle of fish.
In the UK I find it's more open it's a little bit easier to kind of build that because there's no barriers of, you know, hierarchy as such within society. I really relatively kind of within interactions, obviously there are, there are different levels to the society. Absolutely but in terms of how we, how we talk to one another, that's not as present.
However, in Poland, where I'm originally from, everybody is addressing themselves, you know Mr. And Mrs. Not first names, that's kind of the next level, which for me is straightaway a massive barrier to that because, you know, that's what kind of builds that. And I'm of the belief that you show respect to someone through multiple ways, not just by addressing them by Mr.
Mrs or whatever. What's, what's your take on that? Have you got kind of any examples of different countries that you've worked with that you think it's more difficult than in some others?
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:14:14] I do feel the language overall is a big factor in the entire cultural game. And what you just mentioned in the UK with things being more open I'm originally from Germany, where you also have like these politeness forms and how you address them one. And yes, it immediately puts up that barrier. I do realize that as well.
I also feel that it's not just language and culture, but it's also how the society functions and how people find their roles in society. So I do live in Belgium and I've been getting here for 10 years. I lived in worth in Germany before that, and I feel in Germany, people still very much identify through their job title.
It's often I am. And then you say your job title, and I have impression belt where it's a bit more. I do. So it's one of the things that I do, but I, my personality consists of more than just my job title and that also takes off the pressure a bit, in my opinion. On the other hand, I also feel just legislation, for example, plays a major role.
So there are so many things in terms of culture in the yes, for sure. Yeah, like you hire and fire people very differently than in Germany in Germany, you have to have an economic reason or someone needs to have committed real, real big mistake in order for you to be able to let them go. In Belgium you have a situation where people you can.
Fire anyone at any moment, as long as you're willing to pay for them dealing with the situation that many people are like in their mid thirties, early forties that are just sitting around and always tiptoeing the borderline between. I'm not really making a big mistake that would justify firing me without a payout, but I'm not doing enough for them to really want to keep me.
And that's such a dead body that you dragging on with you in your teams. And can really de-motivate entire teams and departments. But since the law is structured in that way, there isn't really much that you can do against it other than just really giving into it and firing people and paying the money.
So I feel sometimes we need to be aware of these legislations and all these rules that are around. In a country in order to really fully comprehend what is impossible in terms of culture and how certain dynamics are created.
Lech: [00:16:30] I've been on the receiving end in the UK of basically from one day to the next being, let go because of a restructure in an organization. Me together with well, most of my team actually from one day to the next majority of people were not protected in anyway shape or form by the employment law, because of the way it's structured.
We were, we had, we've only been working there for some of us few months, a few people just, just over a year and things like that. But the, the way that the law is structured, I think if I, if I, if I remember correctly is under two years of employment and the same organization you're pretty much not protected or given any rights other than your normal notice.
And that's pretty much it's, it depends on what the contract, how the contract is structured, but that's it from one day to the next, I know the difference between a country and you're right. It is. Is that, that boy you you've used the right term, that bodies, cruisers you know, people who just kind of do less than the bare minimum, I would say.
And you know what, I'm not I don't want to sound this sound like I'm vilifying people who every now and again, cruise will have for that moment. We all have those there, you know, peaks and troughs of our jobs, where you get effect effected by different things, or sometimes the seasonality in the job, a job itself.
There's not much to do. But I think it brings when, when, when it's needed. And you know, when it's all hands on deck, that's when, when it shows, who really believes in that. And that's, that's the difficult one. Well, how do you deal with people who are or kind of a bit of a, a dead weight on, on on the ship?
What'd you w how would you tackle that situation?
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:17:59] Personally, I feel that many of these people are actually just either wanting to be fired because it gives them the big payouts where they then can pay off their mortgage and take on another job that might be less paid, but more what they really wanted to be doing in the first place, but never got to it.
But I also saw that a lot of these people are actually just waiting for someone to see them. See their potential, see what they can bring, see all the experience and all of these informal ties and the, the social capital that they have built in the company. And that have, because of some, I don't know, someone being promoted over someone else and them being someone's favorite before they had been kind of put on a sidetrack and they would be happy to perform if given the chance and given the appreciation that they have been lacking for some time.
So I don't feel these people are really unmotivated, are not willing to perform. I just feel these people have some times ended up in a, in a dead end for the role that they have at this point. But it doesn't mean that they're not willing to give their best if given the right opportunity.
Lech: [00:19:08] I guess this is where again, the environment that people are working in com comes in. Like the organizational culture that we spoke about earlier is trying to, first of all, bring people in who fit the mold of fit in with the culture in one way or another. It doesn't mean that they're exactly the same as us actually not.
In most cases, it's better to have somebody who is different because that brings variety of perceptions and opportunities and innovation and ideas. But at the same time, we, that they, they kind of agree with the same things in terms of values and purpose and things like that. But you're absolutely right.
That I think a lot of people are in roles that they don't enjoy doing that they don't, it doesn't fit their skill sets or their experience of what they want to do, what they know how to do and feel comfortable. So they, their, their potential is then can't be reached. There are it's easy for me to say and often actually go in the, in on the side of the potential employee, that it's more on the organization's side, that's their responsibility to create that environment with that being said, it's the individual.
And you mentioned that before as well, the individual needs to put in the effort because we can't have the, it's the kind of millennial dilemma that we've been having for so many years, millennials being this and that and the other. And I still stand by that, but organizations should treat them differently and make up for the mistakes.
Yeah. Mostly in the parenting strategy that created this problem, but it's the millennials who have to do some heavy, bloody lifting as well. And putting in the effort, understanding what they, what they need, what they want, and that sometimes it's painful, it's uncomfortable to grow and kind of say, and you have to do that.
What do you think?
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:20:54] I think that's a tricky one. I'm tempted to give that consultancy answer, answer. Like it depends obviously. I do think it works best if both sides take responsibility. One thing that I see quite often though, is a level of unrealistic expectations to what is possible within an organization as well.
So while I feel an organization should look to really help people perform at their very best and in areas that they're strong and to develop themselves constantly further, I also feel that Individuals need to be aware of what they want to be doing by experimenting and not necessarily all of the experimentation has to happen on a job.
I think that can also happen through side projects and hustles and volunteering or whatever. So I feel like just expanding the scope of where you can get that level of experience that really allows you to understand these are the things that I enjoy. I think that's definitely on the individual, but then I think there's also that conversation needs to happen.
If, as an individual, I realized what I want is different from what I have right now to then understand if within the organization, it is even reasonable to expect that because I see many motivated, super skilled people that then get frustrated because they say, Oh, but my boss wouldn't let me. Well, the boss sometimes just isn't in a position to let you, or it's just not contributing to the organization's goals or where they're trying to head to, to open up that can of worms.
So I think sometimes it's also realistic to say, I found what I want to be doing, and it might not be here. And that's not because anyone is not of goodwill or anyone is not trying to support each other. But it is because that organization, that. Roll that team just cannot provide for that. And to then yeah.
Part with, with good feelings, I would say. And leave it at that point.
Lech: [00:22:52] It's it's so often the case that when somebody leaves and I've been on the receiving end on this, actually, and I've, and I've seen so many people go for that as well. Once you decide to progress further, you decided to leave a job. You've been there for a number of years. New opportunity came up. You decided to accept and leave the organization, how often the, the, your boss or the organization that you work for.
They feel slighted offended with that. And. I kind of potentially understand that, but oftentimes I just look at it as it's basically, it's a relationship that we're talking about here and one person is breaking up with the other one, basically. That's what you're, that's, what's in a way in a very simplistic one simplified way.
That's kind of what happens and yeah. I think, and I've seen this, I've seen this, that organizations like, you know, there's that kind of defensive passive aggressive comments and behaviors that, that go and go on on the organization's side, the, the, the one thing that you mentioned that triggered a memory of a book an organization is actually that mentioned in the book called an everyone culture.
And it describes different organizations there that are people focused a hundred percent. People focused. And some of these organizations have rules. That number one rule being is you cannot be fired for performance related stuff.
No way, no matter how badly you do the job, you're not going to get fired, which I don't know how far they tested this, but that's, that's kind of maybe a, for another discussion, but they've got this rule.
They, they, they, they, their belief is that it's. If, if you are struggling, then we've put you in the wrong role. We haven't done enough to support you. Of course, they, the employees, they also need to do the legwork. So we're not just talking to as the organization, but the organization has a completely different approach.
So they focus on the, on the people. And even the onboarding process. When somebody recruits a new organization, people are put into different parts of the business, depending on what role they're in. And. It's actually quite fascinating read and how that affects the, the, the peoples there's one massive caveat to this.
These organizations are so difficult to get into. It's unbelievable. But it's that recruiting process that they get the right people in and I'm not talking, it's not organizations like Google and anyone. No I'm talking. The three organizations, one is investment in an investment fund in, in, in the U S the base of US-based organization.
Another organization is actually called NextJump. They are fantastic in that, in that respect. And I think they are the ones that have that rule that you can't be fired for performance related stuff. And the third one. The name escapes me, but it's two, it's a cinema complex, a cinema chain in the U S as well.
It's actually quite interesting to look at them now because the book that I read is three or four years old. Be interesting to look at how they are performing now, especially that cinema complex, considering the time that we. The times the way in now, so how that kind of all adds up, but it was interesting to read about that and how they, how they do things in terms of, you know, we'll do our best to move you around because you, you said it's, people are waiting for their potential to be unleashed because there may be in their, the wrong roles and things like that.
They have to put in the legwork, but it's the organization that has to kind of move that around. Maybe the opportunity or the expectations that you mentioned. I agree sometimes a little bit unrealistic or maybe we've got different ones I've got as an employee. I've got an expectation. You, as my manager will have a different one.
What's the, what's the, what's the solution. That conversation communication.
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:26:20] Do you like personally is to move away from this role as a fixed construct. And then did you get hired for that role in that, in a fixed. Set has this level of responsibility, this level of tasks attached to it. What I had done in the past myself with teams that I had been leading is to really allow people to go after what they're good at.
Because just because I hire someone that is a marketing person, that doesn't mean that that person is going to enjoy all aspects of it. And there might be aspects like that are more data-driven that isn't really in the realm of the person's. I would say favorite tasks. There might be someone else that is in a different department or a different role.
And that actually thrives on that and would enjoy to get a glimpse more in the marketing world. And so Def the flexibility to have one role consists of multiple roles within an organization. I just think it's one of the best ways that I've experienced in order to let people really live up to their strengths.
At the same time from an operational and organizational point of view, it does complicate things. So as you say, I think it requires a lot of very, very open communications. So again, if you build all his Maverick, people that all have very specific skillset unique to them, and then you end up in a situation where you need to replace someone like that without notice or death notice. I think it gets really tricky. So if you come to a point where you can have a level of communication with your people in order to still understand, even though I crafted, or even though people are able to craft their roles, they might still outgrow you. And to then have these conversations early on, to be able to find someone in a good way to let them.
Go thrive somewhere else. And not put too much for somebody organization, especially the other team members that need to eventually cover for that work. I think you're, yeah, there, there's amazing stuff that can be done that.
Lech: [00:28:12] Being a generalist by nature. It's the time that I've really felt happy with what I do and satisfy it in terms of kind of the potential that I, you know, I'm working with my strength is actually when I started working for myself. And it's not to say that you have to work for yourself to be able to achieve that.
That was just the situation for me. But it was exactly because of what you mentioned, being a generalist, I love doing loads of different things. That's probably why I ended up in marketing because usually when you're in an organization, when, when you don't know who to give something to it, lands and marketing stack, and I've done so many weird and wonderful things it's beyond belief. And, but it kind of, it didn't fit. My personality was training was software. It was creative, it was marketing. It was, you know, project management and things like that. And it was, I was pigeonholed, it was Lex, the marketing manager. It was Lex, the project manager. And I had that label. Once I no longer had that label, I've been doing, you know, six or seven different things, deciding how I want to do them and to have the flexibility that working through self offers. It would be fantastic to have this within organizations and some organizations do realize that the thing of being a generalist, I don't think you can have a world of just generalists because that wouldn't work.
The, the, the the analogy that I've heard about actually, which fits quite well is that we have to have both experts and generalists because experts are the engineers, the doctors, the very kind of narrow vision of expertise and skill. And you need to have generalists who will be sitting in between the experts, kind of keeping that glue at working as a glue and keeping them together.
Are you a generalist? Where do you sit on that?
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:29:49] well if I were to walk over to my bedside table and pick up the book that is sitting there, it's called range. How generalists from, from crime in a specialized world? So yes, definitely a generalist. But even a multipotentialite if that resonates with you. So people that have very different completely unrelated or seemingly unrelated interests and then even as crazy to try to run multiple businesses at the time in order to kick up all these different interests.
So yes, somewhere on
Lech: [00:30:17] So maybe on being a generalist then just,
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:30:20] just, yeah, Not quite sure yet.
Lech: [00:30:23] You're still on the fence. But, you know what? I I've read this. It was about probably about three or four years ago. A very short article about three or four may have three or four minute read about being a generalist up until then.
I didn't realize that, but it was just that one article. Very good. Very simply written. I'm just going to go in. Wow. Now I know me now. I know what's kind of going on for me. And I guess this kind of stems back to the beginning, parts of this conversation is that you really know, you need to know yourself.
To be able to kind of be satisfied, be happy with what you've got, because then he goes like, actually, this is the role that I want, and this is the organization I want to work for because I know what resonates with me. I know what environment, what environments I work best in, what gets the best out of me.
And then whether it's that, whether the organization can offer that or not.
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:31:10] I also think there is a question as in, does an organization have to be able to offer all of that? I do feel that especially if you started working in your mid twenties, something like that, and your job is old in, and you eventually moved to a new city for that. And then all your colleagues become all the only friends that you have.
And so you tend to put in a lot of hours and hang out with them afterwards. You tend to over, I don't know the English word for that. Overload. Your job with expectations on what it needs to do for you. So I do feel that having that realization of having other, the outlets for whatever you need, your creativity, your interests is super important as well for people just to be resilient and to yeah.
Live a better, more satisfied, more sustainable life, probably.
Lech: [00:31:57] Okay. This reminds me actually of a con a concept or a talk that once heard from Esther Perel. She's a psychologist focused, specialized in relationships, romantic relationships with people between people. And she looked at how we used to kind of have these small communities that we have different people within those communities that kind of serve different purposes for us.
Now that's all been transferred onto our partner. Wife, husband, boyfriend, whatever where that person has to be, our confident, our best friend, our lover and person that we bitched to. And things like that. All of a sudden, you know, all of a sudden you've got four or five different roles that that person needs to play, that somebody else in the community used to play.
And the reason I mentioned that is. For me, what you just said connects with that because we put all of that on our colleagues that we live in that world. And when we need to leave that, or if worst comes to worst, we get fired, we feel deprived. That's why, again, kind of comes back to that breakup. It's not just the job and the paycheck that you've lost.
You've lost. You lost part of your identity and your community and the kind of network that you've had with that. And that makes that even so more different, much more difficult to, to be able to deal with.
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:33:14] I think, I think that's part of it, but also feel that, just reading that book, for example they do have the example of Nobel prize winners. And the vast majority of them really excelling in something that is completely unrelated to what they do. And that then looping back into the excellent that they bring to their main field of study or work.
As in they are accomplished artists or they're really great musicians, or so they Excel in metal, many fields that really have nothing to do with what they do research on. And It has really sense for myself and how much other things that I engage with fuel my, my drive at work and what I bring to my work.
And I feel I show up with more and my contributions are richer because of the other things that I engage with. So I think it's not just the expectations, but it's also what you can possibly get from, from other activities.
Lech: [00:34:07] Well, that's kind of the whole part of creative thinking, isn't it is? It's the way you approach and perceive things is obviously it's put through the lens of what of your values or your beliefs are, but also what you've experienced have been. And two people can look at the same problem and try and solve it differently based on what they know.
We know that, and it's going to use the warm, very warm examples of Steve Jobs talk about connecting the dots. There are multiple dots and they can be connected in multiple ways. The way you connect them depends on you. And this is where you get kind of all your outside interests, anythings. That's what facilitates that, I guess maybe it's less likely with people who are very specialized because probably the last thing you want a brain surgeon to be doing is experimenting while he's performing surgery, I guess so he has to stick to certain rules. You don't want him to be, to kind of freestyling on the, on the fly, but I think that's kind of the, the, the opportunity that we've got, that we need to have these outside interests to be able to do that. Even the, the idea, the, the process of creating ideas.
It does. I don't know whether you read the book as a book from Jesus Christ by 40, 50 or 60 years ago. I don't know. It's seven rules for creating great ideas. It sounds like a cliche title up. It's actually a genuine, genuine old book and really good.
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:35:23] I've read many books on creativity, but not that long. No.
Lech: [00:35:26] It's a very short book.
It's a quick read. I'll send you the link later
on illiquid and Michelle notes.
Don't remember the exact title. Don't remember the author I'll find out, but basically it talks about there's a number of five stages, six stages, or something of creating ideas of things that you have to do. Your research, you have to brainstorm.
And one of the stages is, after you've done all these research legwork and all the brainstorming. You just need to completely disengage from it, leave it because the 90% of your brain that we haven't yet fully tapped into that, that needs to do its work now. And you need to disengage and do all sorts of completely unrelated stuff.
In the example that is given is of Sherlock Holmes, affective, fictitious character. Yes. But he embodies that process very, very well because he used to do one of solving his puzzles due to all that work, legwork and research and things like that. And then he engaged in something completely different.
Drugs being one of them kind of all sorts of stimulants and things like that, and completely unrelated behaviors. And that's when he used to tend to get kind of solutions and our best, best ideas as a result of that. I'm not saying you should do drugs to have great ideas just to be clear on that. But how often have you had a situation where an idea came to your mind completely out of the, out of the blue?
Usually actually surprisingly in the shower when you kind of completely engaged in something else and you go like, that's it, that's how I'm going to do it.
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:36:46] Cooking for me. Yes. I want to, I want to jump on a couple of things that you said there. I'm not quite sure where to start. Okay. So first I'm this idea of disappearing outside experiences in a sense that there is a UK, UK based media agency called propeller net and their current, I think she's CEO right now.
She has written a book it's called super engaged. They do fantastic stuff. But one of the things that they have done very early on is that they have trained everybody or have given everybody in their organization, the opportunity to train themselves on something seemingly unrelated and that'd be improv theater or pretense or pottery or watercolor painting or whatever it is.
But in order for people to. Have more creative ideas. They really saw the outcomes of that. So they paid for these courses for people to take courses in seemingly unrelated arts and PE, but brought that inspiration and creativity back that I work. And they've literally won everything that you can possibly win in that category in the UK.
So so much about just questioning on whether it has to be outside experiences or whether it's actually something an organization can deliberately bring into the organization and make it part of their culture in order to fuel what they're looking to achieve. That being one thing. The other thing is you mentioned drugs.
I am part of a community in which we discuss entrepreneurship and that also on a more spiritual level. And we have been discussing like the, also the use of psychedelics in some businesses. And I'm, I'm reading a book called stealing fire at this point. Were they also quote the example of the Google founders having to hire a CEO and not quite knowing how to assess the people that these many, many resumes that they have perceived from very qualified people from Silicon Valley and in the end they found one guy on their list that there was a guy called Eric Schmidt who then became CEO of Google.
And they chose him because he had been to burning man. And in the beginning of the Google first days, that was a big thing. Yeah. Instead, I actually put him through kind of a test at burning man before hiring him as a CEO because they wanted to see like, take, like we take. So just saying that it is a thing and Steve jobs you mentioned earlier as also someone that is advocating for these other levels of consciousness and what they can bring to the world. So, great reads. Very, very interesting, very intriguing. I'm not quite sure on what I will do with that in my work, but definitely something to think about.
Lech: [00:39:17] I'm increasingly, increasingly interested in the topic of psychedelics as well for exactly the same reasons that you just mentioned. And the comparison that I've had in terms of an older research, because there's, there's so much research going on into psycho, into psychedelics on a legal level, in the control in controlled environments, across the, across the globe and especially in the UK.
And the U S is that the, the analogy that I heard is that psychedelics can have the potential to do for psychology, what the microscope did for biology in terms of progress. And if you think about it, yes, but there's still so much that needs to be done. And then we have to figure out how best to use that.
And it has to be controlled environments and you have to be kind of have to be coached throughout if you, if you're under the influence of psychedelics, rather than just experimented with yourself, there are a number Tim Ferris. He's, he's very big on it. And he has been talking about too far for a while.
Another person that you actually didn't turn to him first. Had on this podcast was Michael Pollen, a guy that's done all the legwork about Omnivore's Dilemma, Cooked. So kind of the role of food in, in human evolution. And then when he released a equally thick book that he did previously on psychedelics, everybody was going well, hang on.
What's what's going to you go from food to psychedelics. And he made a very quick and clear, easy clarification that I've never been about food. I've always been about plants. And that's kind of linked because they're talking obviously about a plant-based psychedelics and things like that. So it's very, it's a very, very interesting listen to the podcast.
And I haven't read the book on psychedelics on, I'm probably going to read it on my reading so sooner or later, it'll be interesting to see where that goes in the future. Well, I'll be honest. I haven't when starting this podcast, I didn't think I'm going to be talking about psychedelics and drugs, but there you go.
What have you got going on in the next kind of few weeks and months? Anything that you're really, really excited about?
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:41:08] I'm not so sure what the first thing that Springs to my mind is really that exciting, but it's something I feel like I need to investigate a bit on, and that is this level of serious Smith's or commitment that companies bring to the table when monica talk with me about culture. So I sensed that a lot of people are just doing that for cosmetics and I was confronted with a very This encouraging study yesterday or the question was raised on how far culture even matters, as long as we're operating in a shareholder capitalism type of environment.
So I'm feel that according to the reflection on my end, with regards to what clients I want to work with in future and where I can make the biggest contribution, because I have worked with some companies where, where you feel that made such a difference. And then I have worked with others where I feel like.
I'm not sure if I make things really better and ask that's my inspiration. I feel that's something I want to look into more. What I'm very. Passionate about at this point is really to opening eyes for organizations to understand if they're even creating the conditions for that company culture, the desired company culture to flourish, and to hold up a bit of a mirror, but also really help design solutions and enablers remove blockers that they find in their way.
And these discussions are becoming more and more intriguing. So it definitely something I will Deeper into over the next couple of months
Lech: [00:42:35] Where's the best place for people to follow your kind of adventures in that stair?
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:42:41] I'm someone that is not really vocal about my work, to be honest. You can definitely follow me on LinkedIn. That's where I probably still post the most. Not very much though. I have literally, my business is really running on word of mouth, which isn't a good thing. So I do normally not really promote myself, but I have people coming to me, which is a very luxurious position to be in. I realized. But yeah, I think that's probably the best way to connect.
Lech: [00:43:03] It's been an absolute pleasure and a joy having chatting and catching up with you. So thank you very much for, for joining me
Andrea Strohmayr: [00:43:09] Thanks for having me.