How Common Sense Can Lessen Anxiety at Work

Podcast Transcript:

Welcome to the anxiety at work podcast. I’m Chester Elton, and this is my co-author and dear friend Adrian Gostick.

We hope that the time you’re going to spend with us is going to help remove the stigma of anxiety and mental health in the workplace and in your personal life. We invite experts from around the world of work and life to give you ideas and, most importantly, the tools to deal with anxiety in your world.

And our guest today is our good and dear friend Martin Lindstrom. Martin is the founder and chairman of Lindstrom company, the world’s leading brand and culture transformation group. Time Magazine has named Martin one of the world’s hundred most influential people and thinkers50 has selected Lindstrom to be among the world’s top 50 business thinkers. Lindstrom is a keynote speaker and author of seven New York Times best-selling books, including Biology and his most recent, The Ministry of Common Sense. We are delighted to have our good friend Martin on the show. Welcome to our humble podcast.

Thank you so much—a pleasure to be with you.

Martin, we’re thrilled to have you on the show. I’ve been reading the Ministry of Common Sense. It’s a funny, practical read, so I’m thrilled to, you know, talk a little bit about the book, but also your perspective about marketing and about leadership. You know, you’re a cultural expert. You’re also a marketing expert, so it’s gonna be really fun. It’s been interesting to talk about reframing anxiety, maybe you know, anxiety at work in a different way with you, from the perspective of somebody who’s a branding guru. So your book, The Ministry of Common Sense, is about practical steps leaders can take to make their organizations smarter and stop doing dumb things. So tell us a little bit about the book and how you’re helping clients instill more common sense and maybe how anxiety might have influenced your thoughts.

I think what’s really important to understand is that we are very very busy at the workplace thinking about ourselves. We think about our KPIs, think about how we can get up in the hierarchy, and suddenly the world is, you know, being seen from one point of view, which is from inside out. What we forget in this whole process is to see it from the outside in. That means through another lens, and remember, common sense is – well, it’s defined by a word called common, seeing things from another point of view. So one of the things I’ve learned through this process is that, as we now see the world from one point of view, we completely forget about the customers. We completely forget about the employees, and through that process, what happens is that anxiety is creeping in through every crack in the door because it’s the fear of the unknown, and all that stuff has come to an all-time low, in my opinion. I think we are reaching a level now where anxiety is dominating perhaps one-third of every employee in that company. So what I’m saying with the book is what causes anxiety, well, it caused by the fact that there is really no empathy. No, I don’t think anyone really can relate to me. I remember this guy I met at one of the largest companies in the United States; he came up to me after 30 years work in the same place. He said to me, Martin, do you know what I’m afraid of, he said I’m afraid of being forgotten in my company, and that really hit my heart because the man was a brilliant person, but people were walking up and down the hallways, and they all felt they were being forgotten. They all had one thing in common they felt a sense of anxiety that is really, really not good because what happens is it causes diseases, it causes stress, we break down, we’re just not happy, and remember one-third of our life is to go to work. Why should we throw that into a garbage bin because it’s tainted by anxiety?

Yeah, you know, let’s delve a little deeper into that empathy because we found that when managers show consistently when they show that empathy towards those human problems, people inevitably, you know, they bring that to work; like you said, a third of your life is at work and the whole team’s culture changes, and engagement goes up when that empathy is present. So how can showing empathy for your people’s unique challenges shape the landscape and ease uncertainty on your team? This uncertainty that, like you say, is coming through every crack in the door, and how would this help reduce anxiety levels for people who work for you?

You know your employees, it was a fascinating study conducted by Dr. Brene Brown, it’s called the parking ticket experiment. So here’s what happened, people were called into this lab, and they were asked to participate in the study, and they had to fill out a happiness form. So they filled out the form and were told that the experiment would start very soon. What they did know was the experiment had already begun. A person would come out from nowhere, and she would say hey, someone has gotten a pocket ticket out there. Is it one of you guys? And, of course, the respondent will say, yeah, that’s my children’s camera. That’s Mike well it’s 54 dollars. It can’t be true. They really would freak out. They would be really bothered about this and said well, I did take the parking meters. Horrible. That was this experiment in full motion. Here’s what happens at some point, the guy overseeing the experiment will pop by and say what happens here – well, I just got a ticket. He will sit down with this respondent, and there will be two different behaviors he would apply. The first behavior would be what we call sympathy, and the other one would be empathy. Let me just define the difference. If you imagine you’re on a ship, it’s really rough sea, and there’s a person sending it to you, and he is really seasick. He throws up. Well, sympathy is where you give him a napkin, and so I’m really sorry about that. I hope you’ll feel better, and empathy is where you’ll start to throw up yourself, just so you know.

Okay, so having that in mind, just to be very clear black and white, here what happens is that the first person, this head of the lab, will sit down and say I’m really sorry about that. Yeah, it happens for the best, but you know what? It could have been worse. The car could have been towed away now. That was the first part of it. The second part was that, again, the head of the lab would go down to the other respondents and you take this sympathy thing well say that is horrible, I feel for you. There’s nothing worse than that. I felt it the other day. I tried it. I was just so angry now that was the end of the experiment. At that stage, what happened was that there would be a person coming up and saying listen, we probably have to start the recording now and they will say but listen, you guys are really upset. I can see that; why don’t you fill out this happiness form one more time? So they filled it out, and at that stage, the experiment concluded, and they were told about that. Now here’s the outcome, when we looked at the behavior when it comes to sympathy, the happiness level dropped six percent. When empathy was showed, it increased with six percent, that is a 12-point basic difference between those two different behaviors. And that brings me back to a workplace today because I don’t think we have any ability today to execute empathy at the workplace. Why? Because we never learned it. Did you go to empathy class? I mean – this first, Recently I started up a range of schools in Denmark, in Northern Europe which is all about empathy. It had never existed before because it’s a skill that we need to learn. We need to train our muscle, just we need to have to train our manners in our life, and what happened as we do that, we certainly start to synchronize ourselves with other people. When you synchronize, you also understand this little piece called anxiety because anxiety for people who have no empathy feels ridiculous. For those which have tried it or could relate to it, it actually feels like, wow, we have to change it—such fascinating insights.

You know Martin, you write on so many wonderful things. Our guest today is Martin Lindstrom. He’s the author of The Ministry of Common Sense. Where can people find more about your work, Martin? Where would you send them?

You can go to Of course, you can buy my book, The Ministry of Common Sense. You can go to Amazon. It’s still sold on Amazon even though they banned it because it has a word called [ __ ], and they’re bad. I marked it over, so it’s just saying bulls, but they actually banned me advertising for it because they believe it’s very offensive to those algorithms. The algorithms don’t like it. Right? So here we go, the book, a book about red tape, has been banned because of red tape, is what you said. This is absolutely common sense, as you can hear, right?

Is this causing you any anxiety, Martin? I can hear the anxiety in your voice.

Well, if you see me right now, you can see I’m shaking, but don’t tell anyone. The listeners won’t find out.

I remember sitting on a call once, a customer service call, and Chester and I were in a former company, and you know, the agent taking the call. Somebody had, you know, called in very upset, and the agent, you know, said, oh bummer, dude. You know, that’s sort of the sympathy, right?

That’s not exactly a twist of sympathy, I would say.

Yeah, so let’s turn a little bit more to customer anxiety because you’ve just had such a fascinating career. For those who don’t know much about Martin, he has embedded himself in people’s homes. He’s learned how they use consumer products, and I love what you say in your book about flying. You talk about flying producing so much anxiety that we think – oh, it’s the turbulence or crashing. No, flying produces anxiety from the time you book the ticket, and few airlines are addressing it. So tell us a little bit more about what companies do to create anxiety for their consumers and maybe what they can do to alleviate a little of that?

Well, Swiss International Airlines, which is a major airline company in Europe, had a problem, and they actually felt that the passengers were not a big fan of flying with them, particularly on economy class, so they asked me if I could change that issue and here’s what I did. I decided to bring people from different divisions and functions with me into passenger homes. I took the pilots, I took the captains, I took the cabin crew, I took the lockets carousel manager and the guy from catering with me, and we then went into ordinary passenger homes. I’ll never forget it, I was in a home in New York City, and there’s this Russian guy which have lived in in in the US for around 30 years, and I said to him, big muscular Russian man, I mean the ultra alpha male type of person and I said to him, so how do you feel about flying? He said; I feel so anxious, and I looked at him. I mean, it just shows how disconnected I was, and I said, why? Well, I tell you because I’m right now uploading videos to the iPad, and I hope the battery won’t break down, so what’s the issue here? Well, I have two screaming kids, and I need to have exactly 12 and a half hours of entertainment for them before we land in Moscow, and I know if I don’t upload all this stuff, I will have a nightmare. And this is where I realized flying is not just about the legroom, the two inches more space, the entertainment system, or that peanut bag or not. It is about anxiety. So what we decided to do was to remove anxiety through EBITDA point systematically. Anxiety in terms of waiting. Anxiety with TSA. Anxiety of obtaining Covid 19.

When you’re standing at the air bridge like a, you know, it’s a sardine, right? And here’s what we did. I’ll give you one example about what we did because we did quite a lot of stuff, but this is when you’re sitting on the plane you’re about to land into JF Kennedy’s airport, and you will hear this announcement over the speakers. Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you had a wonderful flight with Swiss International Airlines. I’m pleased to inform you that we’re about 40 minutes away to descend into JF Kennedy’s airport. Now some wonderful news, we’re about to land and go to gate 107, which doesn’t sound like a lot. Still, sadly only seven minutes walk from immigration, and even better, the immigration waiting time right now been told is only 11 minutes. The locket carousel manager informed me there’s only a 15-minute waiting time, so with a bit of luck, we’ll be through the system in around half an hour. Now, ladies and gentlemen, if your home is Manhattan, I just checked out Waze, and it tells me there’s only a 48-minute ride from JFK to Manhattan, so if this is your home, you’ll be back home in about one and a half hour. I hope you enjoyed flying with Swiss International Airlines. And this is happening every day, every minute. In the air right now. And what happens is that passengers are saying, gee, I feel in safe hands. Now it may be that the plane is delayed because immigration time is waiting down there, but then the pilot would say listen, it’s a long waiting time on the ground. Don’t be concerned. We’ll serve you motion pain in the air before we land it. Would the Swiss want to be in control of anxiety? And what we learned, as we removed systematically anxiety through every 119 touch points during an airline journey, that we actually doubled the NPS goal -that’s the net promoter score- so that’s a customer passenger satisfaction. On top of that, Swiss became one of the leading airline companies in just one year, just by removing anxiety.

Fascinating. You know, Adrian and I, we used to travel a lot, you know, and you’re right, when you book the ticket, you start to think – I wonder if that time of day if the lines are going to be long. I wonder if it’s going to be on time, and on and on and on. And just these simple little things, a little bit more information, makes all the difference. Well, I love your quote from Brene Brown. You know, anxiety and empathy and so coming back to the workplace and to team managers. What are one or two things that you could recommend to team managers to up empathy to reduce anxiety in the workplace?

I think the best example I can give you actually happen for a client of ours, which is Lowes. Lowes is a mid-sized supermarket chain operating out of North and South Carolina but spreading across the country at the moment. And when I began working with them about eight years ago, I noticed that there was a lot of anxiety. The anxiety was due to the fact that this transformation consultant is coming in dressed in black, and just so you guys know, listening here – I’m always dressed in black. And so you can imagine this guy with a funny accent coming in here – I mean, this is causing anxiety. Will I be fired? What will happen here? And really, my mission was very simply to reconnect the customers with the staff. If you’ve been a store manager for 26 years stacking cans of soup on the shelf, and suddenly I’m telling him, hey, you have to integrate yourself into the community. That’s causing a lot of anxiety. So here’s what we did. We decided to learn from a phenomenon which I think all of us have tried, the bonfire. Remember when we were kids, we’re sitting in the forest, we had this crackling sound in the back. Can we play that sound, please? And we were sitting there. We were talking. We had the bread on the grill. It was not the worst tasting bread, but who cares – it was fantastic. Anyway, and we will tell the truth and a little bit more about the truth, and we always saturate a little bit now. Guess what? Several experiments conducted around bonfires using fmri where people were exposed for this type of visualization shows that certain chemicals are released in our brain. We kind of feel in part with others. We feel a sense of belonging and actually, anxiety disappears. So, do you know what we did? We stole that idea. We basically ask every senior manager in those foods to switch off the light every Friday afternoon. We would then have them sit around in a circle. Would place a torchlight in the center. We’ll project this bonfire on a projector. We’ll have the sound of this crackling stuff going through the speaker, and people will start to talk. And oh boy, they started to talk. It was like a magical thing was happening. We’re sitting with the managers; it was almost like you couldn’t see who was saying what. You’re kind of guessing, but the truth came out, and subtly a sense of belonging happened, and suddenly anxiety disappeared. What a very human thing to do because sometimes in corporations, you know, we’re very technical. We’re very, you know, this can you talk about this in your book? About, you know, the endless meetings. The endless powerpoints, and, you know, zoom after zoom meetings now. When, and sometimes people are thinking, you know, this could have been an email. So how do we communicate may be in a better way that’ll bring down anxiety? So, you know, people still get the information they need, but they aren’t getting overwhelmed or stressed by sifting through all this information which is leading to stress and anxiety. It’s a very good point, and I’ll give you three pieces of advice. The first thing is we do not have the water cooler moment around anymore. The water cooler moment along with walking down the hallway along with the post-meeting, along with the canteen moment, all the secret break, all that lunch break, all those moments are gone, and I do know that the CFO is, you know, thrilled about it because you really couldn’t time sheet that stuff. It was seen as complete and utterly wasted time, but what I think we’ve learned now is it actually creates a human buffer. It creates that emotional glue or that connect between us was, aligning us in our mindsets. It’s almost like a way to align our frequencies. And what I’m saying here is that as it’s gone, we need to reintroduce it through another format. So the first thing I recognize, or I will recommend you guys, is to say, hey, when you’ve been on a call, first of all, don’t let that call run for exactly one hour. There’s no reason why it has to run for one hour. I mean, no matter how mundane calls out today just runs for one hour, right? Cut it down to 45 minutes. The second thing is to make sure that you, after the call, are aligning yourself with everyone. You say to Pete, which was on the call, he was very silent today. I don’t know why he was silent. I couldn’t -he was just this icon on the screen all the time. Call him straight after the meeting and say, Pete, you’re very silent, is everything okay? When did anyone ask you that last time? We don’t ask that because it’s irrational questions. We ask the rational ones, which is – when can I get the deck, Pete? Right? So, that’s the first thing you have to do. You have to re-synchronize after the call. The second thing I would, you know, recommend you to do is to realize the fact that we’re not built with a boner. No one was saying, congratulations Pete, you’re born now. You’re going to sit in front of a lens for the next 19-26 hours, but we were not born to that. And when little Pete is not talking, we’re not going to say to him – you are mute, you know? So, what is happening here is that we need to find another way to recharge our batteries. Now I want to take you back in time for that, just to put it into perspective. Four years ago, I decided to skip my phone, and I learned three things from that. The first thing I learned was that I was never seeing anything anymore. I stopped seeing things. When I had a phone, as soon as I saw something, I would put the lens in front of my eyes and see the world through a screen. The second thing I learned was you never meet people anymore. When you have a phone, you know, think about it, you’re sitting in a bar waiting for someone, and the person is not showing up, so you grab your phone. You do something with the phone, anything with your phone, so you don’t look like a complete loser. But the third thing is the scary part – we never get bored anymore. And bottom is the foundation for creativity is that pause in our life we need. Now when were you last bought. When did you last listen to yourself? When did you have time to reflect after a Zoom call? So here’s my recommendation. Build in breaks and mentally think about a call like a door that can open and close. When you first start your call, you open the door. Mentally you go into another world. You’re in that world. Then when you’re done the call, you close the door. You have 10 minutes, you reflect, you write down notes. When you’re done, by the way, after a hard work, after eight hours on zoom calls – which by the way, my mind should only be four – then what you do is, you don’t leave the room straight away. You sit in your room. You take notes. You look out of the window. You wind down time so you synchronize your behavior with your loved ones outside that room, just as you would have done when you’re sitting in your car way back from home listening to the music. That’s what you’re doing. Don’t feel guilty that you’re sitting down there. What is he doing down there right now? He should have been done now. Don’t feel guilty. This is your way to re-synchronize into the family life.

Amazing. By the way, you know, when he says I skipped my phone. Yeah, and there’s people listening to this going; you’re kidding me! He hasn’t got a smartphone? He’s gotta have one stashed away somewhere. No. Martin does not have a smartphone, and it’s very liberating. Hey, you know, you talk about I love the book, and you know you were kind enough to send me an advanced copy, so I’ve been living with it for months. But, you know, you rail against inefficiency and impracticality in general. Boneheadedness. I love that in your book, but you also talk about compliant versus committed employees. So how can leaders create a culture where people feel committed while getting rid of those foolish things?

I think the most important thing is for you to realize that we don’t have much time left. I’m 50 years old, and as I’m 50 years old, it means that if you can be functioning for another 30 years, let’s say, then you have 30 years left. Anything you do at work which is eating into that is stealing your life away from you. Think about that. So those crappy moments you’re spending wasting your time, get rid of it because it’s not positive energy you have. So here’s what I would do. It’s a little exercise. First, when you are starting up a computer, sometimes you can defragment a computer. Right? Defragmentation means that you’re storing the memory in a different way that it suddenly becomes more efficient. It’s just working better. When did you last defragment your life? Defragmentation should happen now, as I tend to say there’s no going back to work right now. It’s going forward to work. It basically means that we need to ask ourselves, what did I do in the past, which I shouldn’t replicate today? I’ll give you an example. I, for example, watched a lot of youtube videos. I realized that when I looked at my notes, and I can’t even remember what I watched, it was just waste of time. So I tend to say, let’s defragment your life into four different pockets. One is what I call to eliminate that is all the stupid things, like my youtube videos. One is what I call park. That’s the one way saying do you know what? I’m not sure if I get rid of it. It’s not. I don’t think it’s healthy. One is what I call improve. and one is what I call keep. Now once you do that, you will probably realize that a lot of the stuff you do every day is parked under kill because we are not even questioning ourselves anymore. We are on autopilot. Now, this is the first advice I’ll give you. You’ll realize that now you slowly have to change your life around that, which is fantastic because now you’re defragmenting your life. What you’re really doing is that we have a to-do list, right? This is the one to-do list where you’re unticking all the crap we have in our life, which we’re bringing with us in our back. We’re not leaving. Isn’t it like, you know, when you’re moving, you can either choose to do the serious move where you clean it up, or you can choose just to put everything in the boxes. It will repeat the cycles one more time. Well, that is what we’re talking about here. Now, the second thing I recommend you do at work is ask yourself what frustrating frictions you have? Let me give you an example. I was doing this session with a very large bank. I had 1200 people in my workshop- bankers in New York City, and I asked them what causes you the most anxiety? Guess what the answer was? Emails. All those emails, on average, they said to me they claim they receive 800 emails a day. So I said to them, would you like to change that? Of course, I said yes. I said let’s do this. Do you know there’s a direct connection between the number of emails you send and the number you receive? So what I’m going to do is I’m going to remove the cc button, and I’m going to remove the reply all button. Oh, you can’t do that, one guy from compliance said. I said, do you want to bet? Why don’t we do the following? We do this for a month. We’ll see what happens. If the world collapses, if it collapses, I apologize. I’ll refund my consulting fee, and if it doesn’t, you apologize to everyone. After a month, we’ve halved the number of emails. Literally, it was 352 emails on average across 1200 people, and there was not a single complaint, and he still today is still quoted saying I was wrong today. And this is the moment. It’s not for me to say I’m right there every time, but what I’m saying here is that these are small frictions which have a profound impact on cleaning up our lives, which also is not costing a lot of money. So you should take photos of your frictions, take a photo of your inbox, take a photo of that stupid things happening when you check-in, and you have to fill up that form. Take photos of that, then share those photos with your colleagues and ask them to do the same. Hang it on either your virtual wall on the physical wall in the meeting room, and then point out the one thing you all are in agreement with we want to get rid of that’s causing frictions. That’s causing anxiety, and then you do it underground under the radar. Don’t tell anyone about it. Just do it. Remove that thing and once you’ve done it, allow yourself 90 days. Three months to do that. Once you’ve done that and it works, then celebrate it, package it up, and go to your boss and say, hey, we have a little thing here we want to share with you, and then the ball is rolling. You have to take ownership of your card because if you don’t do it, sorry to say it, no one will do it for you.

This has been so great. We’ve been talking with Martin Lindstrom, author of the Ministry of Common Sense. Probably my last question, Martin, is, you deal with a lot of senior executives, and sometimes you go in to present your findings, and you get pushback. Like, there’s just some people who just don’t buy this idea that anxiety is causing either problems within our workforce or with our consumers. So how do you convince leaders, who maybe aren’t getting it, that anxiety levels are increasing worldwide- with our consumers and our employees. What do you do if a manager just isn’t getting this?

If you have the guts to do it, replicate that feeling in your boss’s mind so your boss can feel and experience exactly the same, and that’s what I did for a credit card company. One of the largest credit card companies around, we were asked to figure out how we could improve customer satisfaction, so here’s what we did. We said, well, what is the biggest friction point you have? And we realize the biggest friction point is when you lose your credit card, you’re lost. You’re standing somewhere in; I don’t know where in the world, and your credit card is gone. And you will be on the line, and They’ll say, no, we will send it to you within the next three to four weeks, okay? That is where anxiety kicks in, in a major way. Right? So we explained that. For I to explain that for the CEO, frankly speaking, I could see in his eyes he did not buy that idea at all. I mean, this consultant he should be out of here, right? So I said to him, let’s do a little experiment, and you’ll see what happened. I didn’t have to say that to him. He was part of the guinea pigs, so I spoke with the risk folks in the credit card company, and I had all of the credit cards blocked. Then, we went to dinner; of course, they didn’t know it; so they had to pay for this in the taxi on the way to the dinner. This taxi ride and one guy pulls out his fancy card – I don’t want to say what color it is because then you can guess what company this is – they put out this card, and it’s protected, and you can see he’s like oh yeah. So he pulls out another fancy card, right? And that’s protected as well. So, oh, did the jokes start to happen here, right? Between the CEO – well, I will pay for you, Pete, if you can’t afford it, right? So, he pulls up his credit got rejected, and that says you have three people in that taxi, all of them on the phone and the first thing they’re going to be told is this quality call is important for us. We should know you’re a very important customer. Now that loop continues for about 20 minutes, and then it’s mixed up with a beautiful latest, greatest hit from the elevator music playlist. Then once you’re almost getting there, you’ll be told that this call is recorded for quality purposes, and you had to praise one and then five, then nine, then seven and then ten, and they’re sitting there, and you can easily feel that anxiety coming. And they were furious. So I say to them halfway through this, you know what? I’m going to go into your boss because this is, you know, I have to say hello to him, and they felt anxiety. Then we came into the dinner, and they were so furious that they were red in their face and said we have to change this. And I said to the CEO, do you know why you are willing to change this now? Because you felt anxiety, and this is what you have to feel with every one of your employees because they feel anxiety when they take that call and are wearing a stretch jacket and can’t change the thing.

Yeah, yeah, when it becomes personal all of a sudden, everything changes, right? It does. It does. Those whining customers, when you’re the customer, all of a sudden, everything changes. You know, we love our conversations with you, Martin. You always have such amazing stories and such practical advice. You know, more information about Martin on If you wanted our listeners to take away two or three things from our conversation today about how to reduce anxiety at work, at home, in their lives, what are two or three things you’d say, hey, if you forget? Everything else, remember this. What would they be?

The first thing I would strongly recommend you to do, which is not something we talked about, but which I think is super important. That is the concept of transformation. We go through transformations all the time in our lives. You tried it. You go to the theater. You dress up. You’re ready to kill. It’s amazing. Transformation helps us to synchronize our minds with our surroundings. We don’t transform anymore. We sit in our little crappy room in front of a screen. Transformation is gone. We know today there’s a direct correlation between lack of transformation, depression, and an increase in anxiety. So the first advice I would give you is create transformations in your life right now. When you go to work, even though it’s the neighbor room, go outside your main door, walk around the building, go back in again, and then you’re at work. It helps you to transform your mindset. I know it sounds ridiculous. The biggest CEOs in the world are doing it as we speak. That’s advice number one. Advice number two is, I think it’s important for you to understand that your productivity is not measured on how many zoom calls you can possibly squeeze into your diary a day. Is not managed or measured based on how big is your deck. It’s not measured based on how many spreadsheets you can send on. It’s measured on what you can contribute with besides saying, yeah, Mike, I agree with you, Mike. Or, let’s park that one too. It’s more than that; you can only contribute with things when you are in charge when you lead the conversation, rather than computers and technologies leading you. That’s why I strongly recommend you create breaks between your zoom calls, half an hour or an hour. When you prepare today, we’re sitting preparing for the next meeting in the meeting. Right now, there’s no way you can contribute with anything besides just those two fancy lines you’re repeating every time. So my second advice is to build in breaks. You’re not wasting your time. You’re not letting your employer down. In fact, you’re just recovering from a potential risk of anxiety. The third thing to consider is that, as we work in our daily lives, we sometimes have to stop, pause, and reflect on our lives. To defragment our lives. To untick the tick box list. This is the moment for you to do it. We’ve never had a better time in history than right now because there is no such thing as going back to work. It’s about going forward to work and, with that, rebuild our life and get rid of that anxiety once and for all.

You know, just between me and Chester, Martin, and we’ve loved all these podcasts, and every one we do is our favorite. This is my new favorite podcast. Such great advice that you’ve given. It’s so practical, and thank you so much for being with us today. This has been a true joy for us.

Thank you. Yes, let me just pile on the Martin Lindstrom fan club. You know, for the those of you that are listening, as brilliant as his work is, and it is brilliant and as good as his work is, and it is so good, he’s an even better person. We are so honored not only to know you professionally but to call you our friend. Martin Lindstrom is one of those guys that just makes the world a better place, and we are honored to know you.

Thank you, and you know what? I can only say the same. Thank you for inviting me. Thanks for being my friends.

You got it. The Ministry of Common Sense. Anybody can buy one copy. Buy two, one for you and one for a friend. On that note, Martin, we’ll let you go. Thanks so much. Thank you.

Well, Ches, what a terrific perspective. We’ve talked with a lot of psychiatrists in this podcast series. We’ve talked with people who are business leaders, who have suffered from anxiety, but we really haven’t had somebody on who talked about anxiety from a consumer perspective.

It was so interesting, wasn’t it? Well, and refreshing, you know, to see the anxiety comes at you in all different forms, you know, in all different parts of your life. I’ll tell you what I really loved was the Swiss Air example, because I mean that’s something I think most people can relate to, because, you know, most people have jumped on a plane at some point, and it is stressful. And to your point, it’s not the turbulence. It’s not the food. It’s not the legroom. It’s how am I gonna get there. How am I gonna get through security? How am I gonna get my bags? How will I get from the airport, you know, through customs or downtown? And wasn’t that interesting, that simple little bit of just a little more information.

Okay, because I will tell you, you know when you and I were flying a lot, the worst thing that could happen as you were coming to the end of your flight was no information.

Yeah, right, or you’d go through a bunch of bumps and stuff, and there was silence.

Oh yeah, just give me a little heads up. Yeah, just you know. So everybody understands. I mean Chester and I, we’ve flown millions and millions of miles, you know, we are the triple platinum on, you know, on lots of airlines, and you’re exactly right. You feel sometimes you’re treated like children, you know, you don’t need to know. And what I loved what he said about that: we systematically went through 119 touch points. Everything from ordering the ticket to, as we’re about to land, to, you know, the signage; I just love that he said anxiety is dominating every aspect of our employees’ lives and our consumers’ lives, and are we being aware of that?

Yeah, yeah, and wasn’t the credit card example just brilliant? Here are all these executives going, yeah, no, I’m not buying it. And then he cancels all their cards. I love that, and it’s a, you know, and I too liked what he said too about, you know, the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Yeah, and again, it’s part of, how much, say with consumers or our employees, are we being sympathetic?

Yeah, the bummer, dude, right, versus are we being empathetic? Are we understanding how they’re feeling? It makes such a difference.

I know a little while ago, I think you were working on your wi-fi, weren’t you, and you had an example like that, where one of the reps you talked to was a little bit more empathetic and made a huge difference.

Oh yeah, yeah, once I got to, I’m trying to think of her name, it was like Crystal or something, and she was just, so she had a great voice, to begin with, you know? That calming kind of voice and then filled in all the gaps for me, you know? It is interesting when Martin talked about the un-to-do list. That really struck a chord with me. Said, you know, what are you going to eliminate? What are you going to park? What are you going to improve, and what are you going to keep? Look at your screen time. Look at, you know, and I’ll tell you I can’t believe he said this because he said I’m watching this youtube video, and then 10 minutes later I couldn’t remember what it was I’ve done. That, you know, I get locked into these series. I love the whodunit things, and all of a sudden, the other day, I was thinking, how did that story end? Well, if I can’t remember, it couldn’t have been that important.

Oh yeah, you’ll end up watching the same [ __ ] you’re 15 minutes, and you go have I seen this? Yeah, I love what he said about that part of defragmenting your life. You know, it’s also just getting rid of those frictions and frustrations. Like I love, you know, eliminating the reply all. How much of our lives is spent, you know, listening to that shouldn’t, you know, be replied at all, and so he says, you know that productivity thing. You take breaks in our days, which I loved. And I loved this idea. I haven’t heard this idea in this way before about creating transformation. So, for example, when you get dressed up at the end of the day to go to dinner or go to the theater or wherever we don’t do anymore, are you creating artificial transformations? I’m going to go for a walk. I’m going to leave work behind. I’m going to go to dinner with a family, and I’m going to do something to create a transformation in my life.

Yeah, you know it is funny every now and again, and you’ve noticed this with me. From time to time, I’ll show up in our Zoom calls, and I’m wearing a tie, and not that anybody cares. It just makes me feel a little different. Makes me feel a little better.

I’ll tell you, the last thing that I wanted to point out was the bonfire moment. I thought that was really interesting. At the end of this tough retail day, we’re going to play the crackling music. We’re going to put a light in the middle, and we’re just gonna talk. And he said how liberating that was for people to have that moment to reflect, decompress, and have that bonfire moment. I thought, wow, how important would that be to do just in your personal life with your family? Let’s decompress, which, you know, makes me think I want to invite all our listeners to join our we thrive together community online, where we create this safe place to talk about anxiety and wellness. I mean, that can be your bonfire moment, you know? We bring in experts. We play the podcast. People, you know, talk to each other, share best practices, and I think that maybe in our small way, that’s our bonfire moment. For the people that, you know, read our books and listen to our podcast, what do you think?

I think that’s a that’s a terrific way to sum things up. I think my last thought is that when Martin, at the very beginning, he said in many ways, we’ve lost the ability to see the world from others’ perspectives. We see from the inside out, and because of that, we’ve lost our ability to have empathy, and if you want to have a better company that serves customers better, you’ve got to see things from outside in. If you want to have a better team where people are more engaged and more and more committed, you’ve got to see things from outside in. See things from others’ perspectives. So, I think that’s my close today. So can we leave ourselves behind a little bit and open up our perspective? So, it’s been just a terrific podcast. We want to thank our producer, Brent Klein, and Christy Lawrence, who books amazing guests like Martin Lindstrom. And to all of you who’ve listened in, right Ches?

Yeah, and if you like the podcast, please share it. We’re trying to remove the stigma of anxiety and wellness in the workplace. Join us in our online community, We Thrive Together. It’s We Thrive Together dot global, where we’re creating a safe place to talk about anxiety and mental health in the workplace.

This podcast can be found wherever great podcasts are found. You know, download it. Share it with your friends, and we’re just delighted that you took time out to spend some time with us today. So have an anxious-free day, and don’t forget to check out our new book, Anxiety at Work, available wherever great books are sold. And we wish you nothing but the best of mental health.