Recording #69:
Energize Yourself – Simon Alexander Ong

Beth Stallwood     00:00:00 > 00:02:02
Sam. Welcome to the Work Joy Jam podcast. I’m your host, Beth Stallwood, and in this episode, I am joined by coach, speaker and author Simon Alexander Ong. And we talk about his career, how he really focused on his own development and really thought and rethought thought about what success really looks like for him and work towards it over a number of years. And we also talk about the thinking on energy and how we can use energy management rather than time management to be able to progress, to get what we want to be able to live the life that we want to live and living life with that intention and really understanding kind of what our purpose is and how we get there. Not saying that any of this stuff is easy takes some work, but I do hope you enjoy this conversation with Simon. I know I really did. Here we go. Welcome to the work. Joy Jam. I am very excited today to be joined by Simon Alexander Ong, and I’m going to let him, in a moment, introduce himself. But I’m particularly excited to have him here today, having read his book, and to talk about all things about our energy and how we can get some Work joy by really thinking about ourselves and our energy today. So, over to you, Simon. Do tell us a little bit about you, who you are, what you do and if you’re up for it, tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today. What’s your career story?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:02:03 > 00:02:58
Thank you so much for having me on, Beth. So, in short, I went from being a banker in the financial services industry to becoming a coach, an international speaker and the bestselling author of Energize. But how did that began? Well, when I was young, growing up here in the United Kingdom, I had this mistaken belief that success was driven by the job title I held. So when I graduate, if I were to become a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant or a banker, then in the eyes of my family and close friends, I would have been considered a success. And so I went to the London School of Economics here in the UK. I graduated in the middle of 2007 and decided to start life at a company called Lehman Brothers, which unfortunately collapsed into administration 14 months after I joined.

Beth Stallwood     00:02:58 > 00:03:01
Wow. That’s not a good start, is it?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:03:01 > 00:04:26
Not a good start at all. And even though it was challenging at the time, as you can imagine, if you’ve gone through any sort of redundancy or restructuring in a company that you work in, it’s uncertain. You have no idea what is to come. But in hindsight, in hindsight, it’s wonderful. It was a beautiful blessing in disguise because it kick started for me the journey to where I am today. Now, even though I didn’t quit the financial services industry for nearly ten years, I was in and out of jobs for nearly ten years and I wouldn’t quit until 2016. 2017. But what started in 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis, was the process of thinking in my head. Questions that came to me were things like, what did success mean to me? And what sort of impact did I want to have in the world? And it was really those questions that started the mental journey, at least towards discovering what I wanted to do with my life. And that led me to signing up to a workshop about coaching in 2012. I went in there with an open mind. I had never heard of the fact that you could create a career out of coaching. And I qualified from that within two years, studying for that on the side of my nine to five job.

Beth Stallwood     00:04:26 > 00:04:27

Simon Alexander Ong     00:04:27 > 00:05:01
And I would then focus on turning that side hustle into a full time occupation. And when I left the nine to five corporate world and embarked on the entrepreneurial journey, it was a very tough decision. I had no idea what was going to lie ahead. I mean, I didn’t even tell my father at the time that I quit my corporate job and I jumped into the unknown. And all I can say is that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Beth Stallwood     00:05:02 > 00:05:48
I love it. It’s such an interesting story. And I’m going to go, if you don’t mind, right back to this beginning of this idea, because I think it’s one that so many people connect with this idea that we think the job title or the job is what makes us successful. And it’s that we have to be able to kind of have this standard path of doing things. And if you go to the university and you get a good degree and you get a good job and you get a good place, everything else will be good. And actually reassessing and rethinking about what success really looks like for you, I think, is such an important part of kind of life’s development and our kind of career development and really considering that, and that must have been a big moment for you when you relooked at actually, what does success look like for you?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:05:49 > 00:06:37
I think it was a very powerful moment in the sense that so often we’re looking outside for validation and we’re looking outside for happiness. But the question forced me to look inside. What I observed is that so many of us are exhausted, not because we are physically doing too much, but firstly, we are doing too little of the things that bring us joy, and secondly, because we are running someone else’s race. And so when I started to focus inward, what it did is connect me to my true self. I mean, Bonnie Ware wrote about the top regrets of the dying and she said, the most common regret is that I wish I had lived a life more true to myself than a life lived for others.

Beth Stallwood     00:06:37 > 00:06:37

Simon Alexander Ong     00:06:3800:07:04
I think once we begin to look inward, what happens is that we begin to explore what our own definition of success is. And when we know those answers, and you won’t know it straight away, it’s a process. You might have some ideas and some insights, but that will start to deepen if you take action on them. But once you have those answers, the greatest challenge is to design your life and career around them.

Beth Stallwood     00:07:04 > 00:08:25
Yeah, so true and obviously I’m big on the joy factor and thinking about what is that for you? And a lack of it in our working lives does lead to exhaustion, it leads to burnout, it leads to generally being a bit gloomy and miserable about life in general because we spend so much of our time in the kind of working context and actually that deep understanding doesn’t just happen, does it? And I love the way you say it’s a process, you’ve got to work through it and it deepens by doing stuff, not by just thinking about it. It’s not easy when we’ve kind of been in a path especially if we’ve been in the kind of corporate life, corporate world being on this I call it like the yellow brick road it’s like right, you do this, then you do that, then you do this and when you get there you’ll be really happy. That’s the idea, isn’t it, that has been sold to us is that we keep working. We keep working, and when we get to a certain level, everything will be fine. And actually, it’s more about how do you create that within yourself than the external factors? And I’d love to know a little bit more from you around your personal journey and the journey you see of other people’s in that sense of how do you discover this stuff? And then how do you design your life and your work around that kind of deep understanding of what your own definition of success is? I know that’s a really big question.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:08:26 > 00:09:12
Well, I think first of all, it’s important to understand that there is no dare. What happens is that if we think there’s a certain milestone, we get to where suddenly we have everything we needed, or we can now do everything that we wanted to do in our life, then we are tricking ourselves. Because what happens is that there will be things outside of our control that will force us to deviate or which will render our plan irrelevant. And so what happens is that if we fall into the trap of believing that there is always somewhere to get to, what happens in reality is that we end up attaching our emotional well being to something that may or may not happen.

Beth Stallwood     00:09:12 > 00:09:12

Simon Alexander Ong     00:09:12 > 00:10:53
And so the reality is what? The experience we go through is we don’t actually live in the present because we’re so focused on whether this one event happens or not that we’re living for the future. And we end up in this tragic scenario of living as if we are never going to die and then dying, having never really lived. And so to go back to the question you asked about discovering our purpose and what success means to us, not all of us will know straight away, especially if you haven’t done any of the reflective work or inner work that is required. The first place this starts is simply asking yourself what am I most curious about right now? What am I most curious about and what action can I take, however small, to begin to explore them? Because there is so much wisdom in our curiosities. I see our curiosities as signs from the universe that guide us towards the things that bring us joy and make us feel alive. But for many of us, we suppress that signal. We suppress it because we focus on a path that is known, that is traditionally known for so long that we become scared of the unknown. We become uncomfortable with not knowing what the future holds. But I think in order to take the steps forward, we have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. And as I said to a friend recently, Beth, when when everything is unknown, anything is possible.

Beth Stallwood     00:10:55 > 00:11:51
Yeah, that is so true. And I was just really reflecting there with your great advice around being curious and that there’s wisdom in that kind of intuition and in that feelings that we have and this idea that we get scared of an unknown future. But the future is unknown whether we stick to a particular path or not. And that’s why I think things like Redundancy and I’ve been through that process myself and it is a hard and difficult and awkward and icky process to go through. But actually things like that can come and sideswipe us off our paths in really easy ways and we just didn’t know it was going to happen. I think sometimes we think that the path defines the future, but the future could be something totally different from your expectations anyway. So the future is always unknown. Whether you step into it knowing it or step into it not knowing it, you can’t guarantee what the future is going to look like.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:11:53 > 00:12:45
You’re right. It is uncertain either way. But I think at a deeper level, the reason we’re scared of the unknown if we go on a path that we know is what we’re really interested in, but also we’re not sure we are going to succeed is not necessarily uncertainty. But at a deeper level, it is the validation and how we look in front of other people. Yeah, I know that feeling because I was going through those decisions when I embarked on the entrepreneurial path. I was having thoughts such as what would my family think? What would my friends say if I fail in this endeavor, how would I look? What if I look stupid? And so I think it’s those thoughts about what other people think that really sabotage our ability to make progress.

Beth Stallwood     00:12:45 > 00:14:14
Yeah. And worrying I always think about too much about what other people think is, oh, my God, it’s like the instant route to work gloom or the instant route to gloominess. There is no joy in worrying about what other people think. And I’m just sitting here smiling slightly. Simon because at the same sort of time you were going on your entrepreneurial journey, I was doing the same thing, kind of leaving a job I loved and a great career and kind of going, I want to go and do this thing. And sitting there with people going, oh, either going, oh, my God, you’re really brave. That’s amazing. I’m really excited for you. You. And I was going, am I brave or am I stupid inside? I kind of didn’t know. Didn’t know if I was going to fail, didn’t know if I was going to look stupid, didn’t know if it was all going to work. And I’m the sort of person who I’m like, hey, if there’s a diving board, I’m jumping off it. I’m just going to give it a go. And sometimes I do that without overthinking. Sometimes it’s like, okay, let’s overthink this until you don’t know which way it’s going to go. But I think that whole, what will your family think? What if we step out of this kind of normal normal woman stupid word anyway. But this normal path or this where I’ve always been. So I’ve worked really hard to get where I am now. I did all the right things in my career, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And then you’re like, I want to do something different to that. And I’m really fascinated to say about what your family think. And you said earlier that you didn’t tell your dad straight away. Tell us a little bit more about that and how you’ve come to kind of move past that, because I’m sure your dad knows now.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:14:14 > 00:16:35
Yeah, my dad definitely knows now. When I grew up, I was in a very traditional Chinese household. And by traditional, what I mean is that the children of the family were expected to perform well in their academic studies. So it would be proud for the family to see you being top of the class in your core subjects, to get to a good college, to get to a good school and to graduate with a great degree. And so I knew that if I told my dad that I had left the comfort of a nine to five job, there would be an avalanche of questions. And so I was quite fortunate at the time, Beth, that when I quit, he had moved abroad for work. So he was in Trinidad and Tobago at the time. We would stay in touch through Skype, and he would ask me, simon, how is work going? How are you progressing to that promotion? And I would simply buy myself time. Beth I would say things such know it’s going OK, the economy is going through some tough times and so hopefully I’ll get that promotion, but it’s not guaranteed, I’m just doing what I can do and if I can get another job, I’ll get another job. But at the moment it’s a tough economy and so I would just buy myself time. And only when I started to get some success in this new career of mine did I slowly begin to share it with my dad. Because I knew that whatever path you took, the reason why they get concerned and I think any parent can relate to this the reason they get concerned is because they care for your safety and they don’t want to see you suffering to some degree. If you did something you’ve never done before and it doesn’t work out, then who’s going to pay the bills? Who’s going to maintain the lifestyle you’ve created? Who’s going to look after the obligations you have? And so I knew it came from a good place, but I knew at the same time I had to do this. And when he started sharing my work, my content, so videos, articles and posts on his social media, that was a beautiful feeling to observe.

Beth Stallwood     00:16:36 > 00:17:35
It’s like, I’m supporting you here and I’m on it and I like what you’re doing and able to kind of share those things. And it’s so interesting because our parents have such a big influence over our early careers and how we focus our attention and where we put our efforts and energies into. And that whole expectation of your household was good university, which you did, good degree which you did, good job, which you got to good career. And it’s like, actually all of these expectations of me, I’m going to really change and think about a different way of living. And if I can, I’d love to move on. And kind of your story is really incredible, but thinking about your book and kind of the energize theory of life and how we can do some of these things, tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write the book and what it’s all about.

Simon Alexander Ong.    00:17:36 > 00:18:09
Sure. I think there are two reasons that contributed to me writing the book. The first is, in the first chapter of my book, I share a moment where I completely burnt out and felt directionless. This was in the aftermath of the Lemur Brothers collapse, because when my first job was over in under two years, I didn’t have a clue whether my future lay in this industry. And so I grabbed the first job that I could get when I left Lehman Brothers, which was at a hedge fund.

Beth Stallwood     00:18:10 > 00:18:10

Simon Alexander Ong     00:18:10 > 00:20:43
On the outside it sounds glamorous. Simon is a junior trader at a hedge fund. He’s looking after a lot of money, but inside the company it was anything but. I was only the junior, so I was very much like the boy in the film Slum Dog Millionaire by Danny Boyle. I was getting people’s lunches, I was doing the photocopying, I was doing all the administrative tasks. So the title sounded great, but the actual work was very menial. And being the only junior in that team, I was the first one in the office, which was very early in the morning and the last one to leave, which could be very late at night because we had an office in New York. And what happened is I ended up having a very meaningful conversation with my girlfriend at the time. And as a result of that, I began prioritizing my physical energy. And what that involved is quitting that job because it was a very toxic setup and deliberately choosing a research role within the financial services industry because that was my background and that’s all I knew what to do. But by choosing a research role, it was a lot less stressful. I had time in the evenings and weekends to explore my curiosities, whereas in the jobs before it was intense and long hours and I just didn’t have the time to look after myself. And what I noticed is that when I look at the point there to where I am today prioritizing my energy and when I talk about energy, I am speaking about the four dimensions physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. So when I began focusing on those areas, my life profoundly changed for the better. And the second reason is that often when I come down from the stage and I get to speak at lots of stages in different cities across the planet, I would often have people come up to me and say, simon, I love the energy that you had on stage. You know, if I could only have a small percentage of the energy you have, I could go on and accomplish so much with my life. And it got me thinking about how I got to this point where I wake up each morning energized by the excitement of possibilities, of the unknown, of what can be rather than what can’t. And I wanted to distill not only my personal journey, but also the lessons I’ve learned along the way into this book.

Beth Stallwood     00:20:45 > 00:22:31
And it’s a really great read. So I do recommend that everyone gets a copy. One thing I really think about in this zone of our energy and I work with a lot of people who are experiencing the thing that I call work gloom, which some people might call burnout, some people might call kind of a disengagement. Doesn’t really matter what we call it. It’s a I know something’s not right here, but I don’t know what to do about this thing. And we so often think about this that, again, the answer is outside of ourselves, it’s I just need a new job or I just need to get through this next project and then everything will be I hear this all the time. Once I get through this, everything will be okay. And it’s like will it? But actually thinking about those four dimensions, the physical, the mental, the emotional, the spiritual is really hard for people to do when they’re in that state. So it’s really hard. And you talked about and I think this is a really interesting part of your story you talked about deliberately taking a different type of job so that you could focus on here. And when people are in the whirlwind of some of that kind of corporate long hours, tough things, not quite the right environment, not having that sense of purpose, not really kind of understanding what they want and not even having the kind of head space to do the internal work to look inside. I find that there’s kind of like a repeated pattern that goes on and on and on until you get to the point where I have to do something about this and it becomes a real horrible situation. Proper burnout really hard. I always think your body tells you, doesn’t it? It’s like, okay, my body is now telling me I can’t get out of bed. There’s a problem. And actually spending some time thinking about those four areas feels really difficult because your brain is so caught up in other things.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:22:31 > 00:22:53
Definitely. I mean, it can feel difficult. And the reason why we don’t have time is because our schedules are packed with back meetings. Even when we do have time outside of work, we often fill it with social events. And the time that we have flies by so quickly that it gets to Monday. When you think, where did all the time go?

Beth Stallwood     00:22:53 > 00:22:53

Simon Alexander Ong     00:22:53 > 00:23:20
And so the first thing to do before we even look at addressing those areas is to create more time in our calendar for us. We are quick to accept a meeting invite from our manager or our colleagues. We are quick to accept social event invites in our calendar. But how quick are we at blocking our time in our diary for us, for me time?

Beth Stallwood     00:23:20 > 00:23:21

Simon Alexander Ong     00:23:21 > 00:24:20
Because all those tricks or hacks or strategies or tips about creating a better future for yourself, they are pointless if you simply don’t have the oxygen and space to reflect and put them into action. And so when I deliberately chose to move into a research role, which was a lot less stressful and it gave me more control of my time, I did so with the vision that this would be a stepping stone to what I really wanted to do long term. Now, what I was doing in that process, which is important for those who want to affect change in their professional or personal lives, is to live with intention. You want to live each day with intention so that you can make the progress you want. Otherwise what happens is that that time will dissolve away before you realize it. There was a book I read when I was on holiday with the family recently called 4000 Weeks.

Beth Stallwood     00:24:21 > 00:24:23
I’ve recently read that too.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:24:24 > 00:25:06
What I loved about it is when I picked up the book, I was curious about why they titled it 4000 Weeks. And then as I read through the introduction, the author explains that when he often asked people, how many weeks do you think an average human life is? They would often come up with six figures. So they would say things such as 150,000 weeks or 200,000 weeks, but the reality is far less. The reality is that the average human life is just 4000 weeks. And so when you appreciate that just how short life is at that moment, we can channel our energy into truly living.

Beth Stallwood     00:25:08 > 00:26:13
And I really love that as a read as well. And I think for me, that if we’re stuck in this zone of kind of repeating the same behaviors and working through some gloom and kind of thinking, we’ve lost that kind of sense of ownership of our own life, and we lose that sense of, I can do something about this. And what I talk about a lot when it comes to work, Joy, is it’s your responsibility. You can make these changes happen. I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy. I’m not going to say it’s going to be instant because there’s no such thing. I think it’s a life I’d be interested to know, but I think it’s a lifetime commitment. It’s a, I’ve got to keep doing this. It’s not a I have the intent, I do the work and I’m done. It’s a, oh, but things have changed, and my environment has changed, or my family has changed. And now I need to rethink this again and kind of reinventing your intention over your lifetime to be able to get the things you want and live the life that you want to versus the life that other people think you should have or living the life you are now. Because the kind of better the devil you know thing kicks in as well.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:26:14 > 00:26:56
And Beth, that is exactly what leadership is. Leadership is taking responsibility for where you are and where you want to be, for your choices, your behaviors, and your decisions, and by focusing on what you can control over what you can’t. I think the reason why a lot of us don’t make space for what is most important is we don’t know how to prioritize. We say we don’t have time. But the reality is when you say you don’t have time, you’re basically saying, that is not a priority for me right now. Yeah, that is not a priority for me right now. I know people who have said they don’t have time, and then a friend recommends them a new Netflix show, and suddenly they’ve seen two seasons already.

Beth Stallwood     00:26:57 > 00:27:00
Yeah. And you’re like, well, that was 12 hours you could have spent on yourself.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:27:02 > 00:27:44
I get baffled as to how they had the time to watch that. I mean, I don’t have time to watch any TV show because that is not a priority for me right now. I mean, Christmas and summer holidays and half term with the family. Yeah, I’ll watch some TV. I’ll watch the odd TV season with my wife, but generally it’s not a big priority for me. So I think when we say we don’t have time, we have to understand what we’re actually saying is that that is not a top priority for me right now. And then the question is to say, well, are your actions reflecting what you say are your priorities? Because that is what you’re telling the world is most important to you right now.

Beth Stallwood     00:27:45 > 00:28:48
Yeah. And it comes back to that whole. Also, if other people I can’t remember who it was that says it, is definitely an author who said if you’re not managing your own time, someone else will. So that your time will be managed by the people who want you to go out and have some fun with them or by your boss or by something else in your life versus you going, hang on a minute. I am actually important here, and what I want is important and I’m going to give myself a couple of hours to work on myself this week. And that is not negotiable. That is an important thing for me. That is something that I need to do and I know I’ve done it myself. Got caught up in the busy, busy, busy, doing, doing, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, and then suddenly go, I haven’t had any time for me to just have some space. You talked about kind of the oxygen of really thinking and doing and considering where you go next and what your opportunities are and what you are in control of and what’s happened. And you do need a little bit of space to make that happen, but you’re the only one who can make that space happen. No one is going to gift it to you totally.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:28:48 > 00:28:57
And when we say there are things out of our control, I guarantee you there is always something in your control, however small.

Beth Stallwood     00:28:57 > 00:28:57

Simon Alexander Ong     00:28:57 > 00:29:51
The thing is, it is always easier to focus on the things out of our control because that’s what a lot of us do. And we can end up sharing our problems and we find other people have problems and we end up just in this bubble of focusing on the things we can’t control. But when you do that, not only do you increase the chance of negative energy being around you, but you also become paralyzed by overthinking. You think about your thinking, about your thinking, about your thinking, and you get caught up in inaction. But when you focus on what you. Can control, however small, you become empowered to take action. And you just need to take one step forward a day. You don’t have to take gigantic leaps. I often say that consistency always beats intensity. One small step forward a day, a year from now is 365 steps forward. Just imagine who and where you could be.

Beth Stallwood     00:29:52 > 00:31:08
Yeah, and I always think as well, one step forward, however tiny it is, even if it’s like a little baby fairy step, feels way better than standing stuck. It just gives you some momentum, however tiny. And then you’re right. Another tiny step and another tiny step. And I do think that that I love your thing. Like consistency will always win. If you are doing one tiny step, one tiny action. Maybe it’s only ten minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be massive. Ten minutes a day is kind of five whole working days a year. When you add it up over a year, it’s actually quite a lot of time. And actually ten minutes a day of doing something that brings you closer to understanding yourself, understanding your purpose, working towards the things that you really want to do, giving yourself that time to think about your mental, spiritual, emotional, physical health. Doing anything in that zone will build momentum to the point where you actually want to do more of it. And you remember that you’re a priority and you remember that your stuff is just as important as everyone else’s stuff. And so many people I work with spend their entire lives being in service of other people and get worn out and kind of broken by the fact they’ve totally lost sight that they should be number one on their to do list and not number 327.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:31:08 > 00:31:58
Definitely. And I think what you’ve shared debt about time is so important to appreciate. I mean, the way I often put it is that just 1 hour a day focused on your goals is less than 5% of your day. I mean, if we can’t find the time to focus on our goals for just that time, what is that telling us? To be exact, it is 4.2%. Yeah, that’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. And somebody commented on a social media post of mine recently saying that if you spend 100 hours in a year immersed in a subject that you enjoy, that puts you ahead of 90% of the population. Because how many people would put aside 100 hours in a year to really immerse themselves in a subject?

Beth Stallwood     00:32:00 > 00:32:46
Nobody. Well, a very small percentage of people. And I think this is an interesting one. I think it is a competitive advantage. Even if you want to stay, not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. Not everyone wants to kind of step out of the corporate world. If you want to be really awesome in your career, if you want to be a really great leader of an organization, if you want to do great work focusing on your own personal development, understanding, knowledge, skill, et cetera for 100 hours in a year. You’ll be awesome at it, and you will have competitive advantage over other people. So whether you’re wanting to step out or step in or go deeper or be bigger or do whatever it is in your career, investing in yourself is a really good payoff at the end of it.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:32:48 > 00:34:06
It’s transformational. I mean, to give an example, Beth, of someone who developed himself personally over a period of years and applied it within the company and saw an exponential rise in his career progress. What he did is one of the things he worked on outside of work was his network. And so he would go to conferences and seminars and listen to inspiring stories and people. He would reach out to them, he would connect with them, he would build friendships with them. And then what he did is he combined that interest with how he could bring that into the company. And so he put forward the idea to his bosses of hosting a lunch and learn where he could tap into his network to bring them into the company, and he could interview them in front of his colleagues. And what happened is that lunch and learn became a staple. And then it attracted the attention of his superiors across the other side of the pond, and they started sending him recommendations. Hey, I’ve got somebody you should interview next. Oh, you should interview my friend. And before he knew it, he had built so many friends and allies across the organization that when it came to performance reviews and 360 feedback, everyone was championing his progress within the company.

Beth Stallwood     00:34:07 > 00:35:16
Yeah, and I think this is also the other thing about step outside of your river. So you don’t have to be an expert in something. If you’re interested in something, you can bring it into your work, whether that might be I know loads of people do kind of volunteering work, and volunteering has been proven time and time again to be amazing for your well being and your mental health and all kinds of things. Some people step into running events or organizing stuff within their workplace or doing things like this person did around. Actually, I’ve got this thing and I think it could be useful elsewhere and I think it could be useful for other people. So let me kind of land and expand it and see where it goes. And I always think sometimes stepping out of the thing that you do, stepping out of your technical expertise, is a really good way of expanding yourself and your knowledge and your network. And I’m really big on your network, is the thing that will really help you in the end. So invest in it. It’s worth the investment. You say, like, if you did an hour a day over the year, even if you did an hour a week and spent 52 hours over a year investing in the people in your network. Again, imagine the difference it could make.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:35:17 > 00:36:21
And this is about being a person of value, because however you bring value and the best way to bring value is doing things different. You said when you have diverse inputs into your thinking, what happens is that you begin to think more creatively and also differently. And for me, the value we have as a human is how much more we have given to the world than we have taken from it. And if you are finding ways to add value, whether it is to your colleagues, your superiors, your clients, your customers, what is going to happen is that people will notice very quickly that they need to be around your energy, because the value you bring is so vastly superior to those of your colleagues purely because you are learning. You are taking in information outside of your river and you are open to trying things, to experimenting with new ideas. They may not always work, but when they do, you get noticed by a lot of people.

Beth Stallwood     00:36:22 > 00:37:24
Yeah. And there are I always think that you can spot people, can’t you, with that kind of energy? Yeah, you can feel it. Like we physically feel drawn into the kind of magnetism of people who have invested in themselves, who are excited about something, who love a subject. I always say I love spending time with people who are nerdy about their stuff. Like, I love it. I love it. Bring me all the geeks. That’s partly why I do this podcast, is I get to talk to all the people who are really into their subject. It’s fascinating. And seeing people get like that and be really dedicated to it is something that’s really attractive and that will be attractive to employers, to your bosses, to the people around you. It will bring people into your orbit and more people in your orbit is usually a good thing to be able to work through it. And it’s the opposite of what I call mood Hoover energy. And we’ve all experienced those as well, of the kind of the moaners, the people who aren’t taking any responsibility for themselves, for their joy, for their work. And I know I’d rather be around the people with the energy than I would the moodavers.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:37:24 > 00:37:56
And I think this is why energy management, not time management, is key to productivity. Because if you look at the people at the top let’s just call them senior leaders. If you look at senior leaders, their energy has the most profound impact on those around them. So when you come to the office on a Monday morning and let’s say your boss has had a bad weekend, you can already feel that energy before he or she has uttered a single word.

Beth Stallwood     00:37:56 > 00:37:57

Simon Alexander Ong     00:37:57 > 00:38:03
And it is exactly the same if he or she has had a great weekend. When they arrive at the office, you can feel that energy.

Beth Stallwood     00:38:03 > 00:38:11
Yeah. It’s like the people who arrive for the soundtracks, like or the soundtrack of Which One do you want to be?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:38:12 > 00:38:20
And the thing is that energy that senior leaders exude or exhibit can bring a team together or it can divide a team.

Beth Stallwood     00:38:20 > 00:38:21

Simon Alexander Ong     00:38:21 > 00:38:33
And that’s why for those at the top, to understand how to manage their own energy, but also how to unleash the energetic potential within those that they are responsible for, can transform an organization for the better.

Beth Stallwood     00:38:33 > 00:39:19
Yeah. And actually understanding your own energy is something that you can do, right. You can think about actually what brings me more energy, what brings me that kind of sense. I know for me, if I don’t take my dog for a walk first thing in the morning, my energy is worse. Like it just is worse, I’m just not as on it. And there are so many little things, it’ll be different for everybody, but there are things that you can do to bring your best energy, to maintain it, to know how to I mean, I’m working on this one still to know how to rest so that you’re able to actually bring your energy when you need it. Still a work in progress for me, that one. But actually I like this idea of instead of thinking about time management, think about energy management. It’s a really good one to maybe rethink some of our tools and techniques for that, definitely.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:39:19 > 00:39:43
Because what happens is you can have a lot of time on your hands. So let’s say you are time rich, but if you are energy poor, it doesn’t matter how much time you have you wasted because you don’t have the energy to do anything with that time. Or you might be sick and ill and you have a lack of energy. And again, you might have the time to do something, but you just don’t have the energy to bring into the creation of something.

Beth Stallwood     00:39:45 > 00:40:15
And I think with time as well, is a really interesting one, because I know sometimes if I’ve got the right energy, something that maybe would normally take me 2 hours, only takes me 45 minutes, because I’m like, all right, I’m just on it, and I’m so focused, and it’s, like, really cool. And I’ve just bosched this out. And sometimes when I’ve not got the right energy for a task and I’ve got loads of time to do it, I’m like I still haven’t got more than one sentence in. And that I think is so interesting, I’m going to really think about that, is where are we using our energy and how are we bringing that to what we’re doing?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:40:15 > 00:40:35
And that’s the thing with energy management, Beth, is because when we manage our energy better and we build our routines around the moments where we have higher levels of energy relative to other moments in the day, what happens is that we are able to bend and shift time in a way that allows us to make quantum leaps in our career.

Beth Stallwood     00:40:35 > 00:40:36

Simon Alexander Ong     00:40:36 > 00:40:58
As you said, something that could take two or 3 hours. When you have the energy, you do it within 45 minutes or an hour, you’re able to accelerate that journey at a speed that most would envy because you’re bringing the characteristics of focus, perseverance, commitment, and discipline purely because you have a far greater level of energy.

Beth Stallwood     00:40:58 > 00:41:13
Yeah. Such an interesting thing. And I think we could probably talk about this for another twelve or 15 hours, and I would love to because it’s so fascinating. But what I’m going to do now, if it’s okay with you, Simon, is to move us on to some quick fire questions.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:41:14 > 00:41:15
Let’s do it.

Beth Stallwood     00:41:15 > 00:41:23
Right. Question number one for you personally, what is always guaranteed to bring you a little bit of work joy?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:41:24 > 00:41:55
What is always guaranteed to bring me a little of work joy? For me, it is when I get to do things with people, when my work involves people, whether it is speaking to people, dealing with people, engaging with people, working in a team. That brings me joy because it just makes me feel alive to know that one, I don’t know everything. Two, I can learn something new, and three, you open doors to opportunities that you would not have got if you’re working alone.

Beth Stallwood     00:41:56 > 00:42:02
Yeah. Amazing. Love that. Question two. What book are you currently reading?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:42:03 > 00:42:10
What book am I currently reading? So I’m reading a Napoleon Hill book called The Laws of Success.

Beth Stallwood     00:42:12 > 00:42:24
Interesting. I’ve not read that one. Put it onto my list. And have you read enough of it to kind of get the vibe of whether it’s similar to your thinking about changing our definition of success?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:42:25 > 00:42:59
Yes. So far I’m about quarter way through the book, and one of the things it touches on is also something I explain in the third chapter, I think, in my book, which is this idea of being definite in the things we want to do. For example, a lot of people will have very vague plans, goals, and visions, and they wonder why they’re not making the progress they want to. Whereas in what I’ve read so far, it talks about the more specific you can get backed up by reasons, the more likely it is to happen.

Beth Stallwood     00:42:59 > 00:43:23
Yeah. Because you’ve got something to focus on and work towards and know what that looks like. Brilliant. I might have to give that one a read. I’m always getting this is why I ask people, because I want to expand my reading collection. Right. Question number three. What is one bit of advice that you have been given in your lifetime that you always find yourself coming back to?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:43:24 > 00:43:32
One bit of advice that I always find myself coming back to. I would say it’s probably less a bit of advice and more of a statement.

Beth Stallwood     00:43:32 > 00:43:32

Simon Alexander Ong     00:43:32 > 00:43:56
So I remember one of my early mentors shared this statement with me and I’ve kept it written in my diary ever since because I think it is so powerful to be reminded of it on a regular basis. And that statement is how on earth is when the day you pass the person you became meets the person you could have become.

Beth Stallwood     00:44:01 > 00:44:14
That’s deep and interesting, but kind of thinking about keeping you on the path of really following what it is you want and the person that you want to be and really focusing your attention there. It’s really good for that one, isn’t it?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:44:14 > 00:44:21
Definitely. I mean, it’s a sort of statement that moves you to action and reminds you of the mortality of life.

Beth Stallwood     00:44:21 > 00:44:48
Yeah, definitely love it. What a great statement and what a great mentor to have shared that with you and that kind of keeps with you all the time, right? Almost. Final question for me, final quick file question. What is one super practical bit of advice that you think our listeners could go and do today, tomorrow, the next day, that would help them get a bit more work joy in their lives?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:44:49 > 00:45:54
Great. Well, one exercise actually I would recommend that you can do immediately that will not only help bring more joy into your life, but also elevate your energy immediately is three things. The first is to think of someone that you can be grateful for right now. It could be a colleague, it could be a parent, a loved one or a friend. The second part is to write down why they came to your head in as much detail as you can. So it could be something they’ve done for you, it could be how they’ve shown up for you and also jot down what life would be like without them. So really go into detail. Here the third step, and this is where the magic happens. The third step is to drop them a call and read out everything you wrote in step two.

Beth Stallwood     00:45:55 > 00:45:55

Simon Alexander Ong     00:45:55 > 00:46:04
Now, if the calling someone is a little too uncomfortable, what you want to do at a minimum is to send them a voice note.

Beth Stallwood     00:46:04 > 00:46:04

Simon Alexander Ong     00:46:05 > 00:46:16
And the reason is because our voice carries energy. If you send them a text message or an email, they don’t know the state you were in when you sent it. Whereas your voice carries emotion.

Beth Stallwood     00:46:19 > 00:46:44
I love that. And I think when you look at the research on gratitude and kind of being grateful and it has so closely linked to our well being and our happiness and our energy and all kinds of things, but actually that positive energy of telling somebody, not just being grateful, but openly telling them why. You are what you’re doing, aren’t you? You’re passing on some amazing positive energy to another person and spreading that energy around.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:46:46 > 00:46:50
Totally. It becomes infectious.

Beth Stallwood     00:46:50 > 00:47:09
Yeah. In a really good way. I think that’s such a great thing to have. I love that bit of advice and I’m going to do it today because I’ve got someone in my mind that I’m going to go and make that happen with. The final, actual final question from me is where can people find out more about you and your work?

Simon Alexander Ong     00:47:10 > 00:47:44
Sure. Well, they can go onto my website,, where you can find links on how to reach out. And my social media, the two that I use most often are Instagram. My handle is at Simon, Alexander O and LinkedIn. And you can get my book from Amazon or any favorite retailer and also download my audio program by clicking course on my website.

Beth Stallwood     00:47:45 > 00:48:01
Brilliant. What we’ll do is we’ll put all of those links into the show notes so that people can click straight on through and get all of your wonderful advice and thinking and connect with you as well. Simon, it’s been a real joy to talk to you today. Thank you so much for coming on the Workjoy Jam.

Simon Alexander Ong     00:48:01 > 00:48:03
Perfect. Thank you so much for having me. Beth.

Beth Stallwood     00:48:05 > 00:50:07
Well, a huge thank you to Simon for joining me today on The Joy Jam. So many great bits of advice from Simon thinking about how do we avoid getting to that burnout stage, how do we step into that uncomfortably comfortable kind of working through it, getting comfy with stepping outside of our comfort. Zones. To really stop and pause and to look inside ourselves and to do the inner work, to do the development work, to do the understanding of ourselves and to really live a life full of intent about what it is that we want to do and how we want to get there. Some great advice. So many things I’ve written down about thinking about not just your physical and mental health, but your emotional health and your spiritual health and your energy within all of those spaces and how you can really use all of those different things to bring you great energy to be able to think about, actually, life is short. And how do we live a life fuller of the things that we really want to. And just doing one step a day, which I totally agree with, one thing a day, 365 things a year, and see where it can lead you to. So great advice there from Simon. I would be really interested to know what are you taking away? Remember that if you’re thinking about your work joy and you’re thinking about how do you build it for yourself? If you want to do some of that reflection, some tools available on the website for you are the workjoy. Where do you get yours? It’s a really great starting place. Totally free download it. Spend five days doing a bit of tracking and thinking and reflecting. And actually that will be a really good starting point to see what step you might take next on those 365 steps to getting more joy or more energy into your life. So head there, find out a little bit more and see where it goes for you. And remember, lots of different episodes available of the work. Joy Jam on all all of the podcast platforms. Go and pick a mix and see the ones that might interest you. Thanks for today and thank you again to Simon.

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