Interaction's Thrivalism

Bagels Do Not A Company Culture Make! With Amy Kean

September 07, 2021 Interaction Season 1 Episode 5
Bagels Do Not A Company Culture Make! With Amy Kean
Interaction's Thrivalism
More Info
Interaction's Thrivalism
Bagels Do Not A Company Culture Make! With Amy Kean
Sep 07, 2021 Season 1 Episode 5

In this episode we catch up with author, poet,  strategist, activist and accidental workplace culture expert Amy Kean to discuss how to fix toxic workplaces, what red flags to look for when job hunting and why Millennials might just need a nice nap.

Show notes:

Amy Kean on LinkedIn

 Diversity & Inclusion at Conferences and Events (DICE)

Conflicted by Ian Leslie (Book)

Invisible to Invaluable: Unleashing the Power of Midlife Women by Jane Evans & Carol Russell (Book)

Thanks for listening! Check out Interaction's website for more workplace culture content and case studies (or just follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter).

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we catch up with author, poet,  strategist, activist and accidental workplace culture expert Amy Kean to discuss how to fix toxic workplaces, what red flags to look for when job hunting and why Millennials might just need a nice nap.

Show notes:

Amy Kean on LinkedIn

 Diversity & Inclusion at Conferences and Events (DICE)

Conflicted by Ian Leslie (Book)

Invisible to Invaluable: Unleashing the Power of Midlife Women by Jane Evans & Carol Russell (Book)

Thanks for listening! Check out Interaction's website for more workplace culture content and case studies (or just follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter).

Interaction’s Thrivalism - Amy Kean

Amy Kean: “When corporations adopt mental health first aid as an initiative and train six people in an organization of thousands and place all of the responsibility, therefore, of everybody's mental health on those 16 people who also have jobs, also have families, also have stresses. It doesn't feel right to me.”


Dieter Wood: Hi, I'm Dieter Wood, managing director of Interaction. And this is Thrivalism, our podcast focused on the art of thriving, flourishing and evolving under any conditions. In this series, we'll examine how to create thriving businesses, cultures, careers and places. We explore key topics such as workplace design and build, culture and community, sustainability and, of course, the future of work. Join us and our guests as we explore how people and businesses can set themselves up, not just to survive, but thrive. 


In this episode, our head of marketing, Toby, catches up with author, strategist, consultant, poet and activist Amy Kean. They'll be going deep into what makes a workplace toxic, what other industries can learn from the advertising sector when it comes to building culture and whether mental health First Aiders are actually unknowingly part of a bigger problem.


Toby Brown: Amy, welcome to Thrivalism. Brilliant to have you on. 

You do lots of stuff. You’re a consultant, sort of activist, journalist, author, provocateur… how do you describe what you do to people when they ask you?


Amy Kean: In really kind of a humble way  call myself a moth.


Toby Brown: Right.


Amy Kean: Because I have a I have a really short attention span. It's not cynical, but I do just have quite a short attention span. And so I find it really hard to focus on any one profession or any one project at the same time. And so I do have I have like four or five different jobs that I manage to multitask with. And it's totally fine. And I don't know that I'd be able to kind of exist without that kind of busyness going on.


Toby Brown: Like the portfolio career. I think one area we overlap on is our interest in the workplace and culture. And you do a lot of work in that field. What first got you interested in that? How did you get into it? What's your background in that area?


Amy Kean: Well, what first got me interested in that is, well, working at really shit places!

My academic background is sociology and psychology. And so I watch people intently anyway all the time. Psychoanalyse everyone, whether they know I'm doing it or not. What's interesting is I've worked in advertising for 17 years. And very quickly realized as soon as I entered the industry by the age of twenty two, it was going to fuck me up. 


I could tell because even in my very first job, I was surrounded by people that were nastier than I'd ever experienced and were more stressed than I'd ever experienced. And for the first time in my life, I saw people playing games with each other. Mind games, power games. And that observation, unfortunately, continued.


Toby Brown: That's sort of fascinating. If you can approach it objectively from that situation, which is a 22-year old, is probably quite hard to do. We've both got a background in media. And I think media agencies almost sum up some of the best and some of the worst stuff about building a culture and an organizational culture. Yeah. Some of them create brilliant cultures, put loads of work in and create brilliant work and output. Some of them create brilliant work, but have got toxic, horrendous cultures where everyone is overworked, stressed and unwell. Let's start on the positive stuff. What are some of the best things about media agencies, the way they approach culture, what might other sectors learn from media agencies?


Amy Kean: So I actually have I have a little saying. I hope you don't mind if I quote myself. Go for talking about culture is creating a culture is kind of a red herring. So instead of looking at your company culture, you should look at your company society. And a society, if it's going to function, should have all the right moves in place. It should be fair. It should have a nice mix of people. It should have a healthy balance of entertainment and all and creativity, and there should be a social side to it, etc. You know, that's how a society would thrive. And then if you have all of those things in place and correct, then a positive culture will emerge. And inevitably, like society, it changes over time. And what I think media agencies are really good at, let's be honest, the work isn't the most interesting work that you can do in advertising, but they're all about the camaraderie, camaraderie, teamwork, collaboration, I think is more prominent in media agencies than most other companies in this sector. 


Toby Brown: And how what are some of the things that they do well to build that camaraderie and that teamwork and that spirit, do you think?


Amy Kean: Get pissed a lot? The thing about working at a major agency is that you have a lot of money. You're dealing with millions, billions for every single client and every single year. And so you get taken on a lot of jollies. You are wooed quite a lot by media owners. And so that's basically why most people work at an agency. So when you're between the ages of 20 and 30, that bloody brilliant -  that is your culture. That's your life. But it comes at a price and that price is working twelve hour days. But you do it because then you get to go to go as a Wimbledon or Ibiza. So by the time people get to like 30, they’re fucked! Can I swear?


Toby Brown: Yeah. We might bleep it though.


Amy Kean: Bleep it.  Because I want people to guess what the word is. Yeah. They're just they're rundown, burnt out, you know, super stressed, probably made themselves ill. And that's when, you know, and they're getting more senior, which is when the real power games start to happen. So it kind of goes downhill.



Toby Brown: So that that sort of leads into something that I wanted to talk about. In terms of those some sort of toxic workplaces I guess that that toxicity can grow with people as they get promoted through the ranks, taking the bad habits they've learned and applying that to the people coming after them. Do you think that when it gets to that stage, can a toxic workplace be turned around? Can something be done to save it, or is it sort of ingrained and eally difficult short term?


Amy Kean: so I'm Culture Ed, at Shots, an online magazine. And so I talk a lot about the workplace and I talk a lot about mental health. And I get a lot of people messaging me kind of at the end of their tether. I'm not trained, I'm not a psychologist. You know, I can't really help these people, but I think they just want to vent. And what it seems to me, based on my experience and the experiences of many people that message me venting is that it's all about leaders. A bad leader, an insecure leader breeds toxicity, resentment. You know, if they're aggressive, people follow their lead. It's tolerated. And so you can totally change a culture. But that person or those people have to leave.


Toby Brown: Yeah. Okay. So if someone gets parachuted into an organization like that with remit to change the culture. How should they behave? What are some of the things they should do to try and turn it around?


Amy Kean: I've never seen that work, by the way. The problem with that it’s easy to kind of sidestep to the subject of DNI, because it's slightly related, the moment, lots of organizations are getting a DNI person in…


Toby Brown: So DNI stands for?


Amy Kean: Diversity and Inclusion. Be funny, if I say something completely different.

So it's quite common for someone to be parachuted into so fix all manner of problems. And what I've noticed with Danai same culture, often you'll get like a new MD. And they can’t succeed. The job's too hard. There's too many people that are pissed off by change. And that new person will leave within nine months


Toby Brown: Because they just keep hitting brick walls.


Amy Kean And, yeah, it's emotionally draining. People don't fear change. They fear the loss of the status quo or they feel the loss of their privilege, they fear the loss of their normality. And someone that comes inside the culture to bang the drum for DNI is a threat in that sense. And so I heard a really good quote that doesn't come from me, but I repeat it a lot:  the DNI person should be unsackable.


Toby Brown: Right.


Amy Kean: To give them that power and that protections to drive change.

And the same the same should apply to someone if someone's coming in to fix the mental health of your employees or I don't know that any organization I'm aware of has been that bold or someone that's coming in to fix a really, really terrible culture, make them unsackable, at least for 12 months.


Amy Kean: Yeah. To give them enough time to prove what they're doing and in terms of companies trying to turn their culture around and also, you know, wellness and mental health and things like that really at the forefront of everyone's mind at the moment. There's a lot of companies putting things in place to tick lots of boxes, seemingly making progress. But you often get the sense that many of them just exercises. And what impact are they really having on culture? 

What are some of the signs that a company is giving that lip service rather than really engaging with those issue?


Amy Kean: So when there was the spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement overseas, last summer, there was a call for a lot of agencies to publish their diversity data, particularly related to ethnic minorities. And only one agency, Lucky Generals, were OK with releasing their data. Everyone else refused. But hundreds of organizations were happy to sign an open letter that was also released around that time saying, we promise, we promise we'll fix it because it's far easier to sign an open letter, isn't it, to make a fictional pledge. 


Toby Brown: Who tracks what happens after the open letter? Nobody.


Amy Kean: Can I give you like the best worst example of this? It's so funny that no one talks about it. I swear to God. So in 2016, the IPA, which is the Institute of Practitioners for Advertising, their membership base, is a membership organization. They have lots of agencies that are their members. Hundreds. So in 2016, which was a leap year, they launched an initiative called Make the Leap. They created a microsite. There was a press release, I think it was talked about in Campaign magazine. And all of the agencies that signed up to this initiative were declaring they would make the gender pay gap basically minimal, almost nonexistent. And they would drastically increase the amount of people of color working at the agencies by 2020, which was the next leap year.



Toby Brown: Great little manifesto. 


Amy Kean: And so they all pledged and 20/20 came around and according to the Ippei Census, which weirdly they kind of kept under the radar, the gender pay gap had gone up and the amount of people of color working in the industry, particularly in senior positions, had gone down. They had four years. They saw and they'd been in a magazine, they'd given quotes, they signed up, they said, yes, we promise, we promise. Four years later, none of it happened. Totally went under the radar. No one really held anyone accountable. That was in 2020. 


Toby Brown: Right after a window where everyone could change everything. 


Amy Kean: Yeah, but maybe not.


Toby Brown: It's quite a depressing picture.


Amy Kean: It just doesn't make you angry.


Toby Brown: Is that I mean, you're very involved in trying to change that. What can people do to effect some change in that situation?



Amy Kean: I think if you really want change, do it. If you don't say you don't and then shut up. But if you really do want change, you have to consider yourself to be an activist. And you said it right at the beginning, like it's weird. Like people hate being called activists if they're just regular people because it has all these like negative connotations.


Toby Brown: Just sounds quite irritating.


Amy Kean: You stop the traffic, you jump up and down on tube trains. And so people don't like to think of themselves as activists. But you have to because the definition of an activist is someone that's acting in a way that's bringing about change. So if you don't self-define in that way, then you're just getting in the way, I think. And so I have my own little side project. It's called DICE, which stands for diversity and inclusion at conferences and events. And it's all about inclusion in the events space, which is

more significant than it sounds, because events are run in every single industry, every single industry. And they're all supposed to represent best practice, the future, the best thinking in every single industry, so that they're a bigger deal than you'd think. 

So we created this action-led diversity initiative to make sure to start holding events organizers to account. We created a charter. We have a process of certification. If an event, its lineup, its content, et cetera, is inclusive, i.e., they've got enough women, they've got enough people of color there, including disabled people there, including people of all generations, etc..


Toby Brown: How do you work out the ratio of inclusive intake? How do you look at a content line up and say, yes or no?


Amy Kean: It's a very, very good question. We had to make it completely unemotional because we didn't want to have any arguments about this. So it's a ten point charter that is based on the law. So it's based on the 2010 Equality Act. The Equality Act has nine protected characteristics race, gender, age, disability and new age, diversity, religion, etc. apart from social class. But we included that anyway, because it's important. So the nine presented characteristics, inequality at the different ways in which it's illegal to discriminate against people. So we use that as the basis for our charter. Have you considered the disabled people in your industry? Have you asked them about the content of your etc.? So event organizers submit loads of information about their events. They need to be up for this. There's a lot of admin involved. But, you know, I'll give you an example. we say that no event based on national statistics should have more than 50 percent men. It shouldn't. And we're really strict on that. And that's based on national statistics. And we say in the UK, based on national statistics, no line up should be more than 70 percent white, because it shouldn't, especially if it's in a in a major city like London or Bristol or wherever. So we made it based on facts, based on law, because none of us have time to bloody debate this,



Toby Brown: Do you get much pushback on that to people, do people express interested in what they see, what they have to go? Oh, actually, it's quite tricky to hit those criteria?


Amy Kean: Well, there's two things. First of all, positive reinforcement is a lovely way to inspire change. So a lot of events, organizers love the badge, their work. They will work hard for the badge. So we've had like Advertising Week. We've certified like a hundred, I think, events in the last 18 months. Okay. And some people want to do long term partnership, so we do all of their events. So the badge is enough, actually. But the pushback, the second thing, the pushback was mostly from white men. I got a lot of hassle when we launched it. Quite a few white men called me racist and sexist, obviously. And it's a really funny it's always like an aroused feeling, a feeling of arousal when you could get called racist and sexist by a white man.


Toby Brown: It's a lot of conflicting emotions.


Amy Kean: It's funny, like I love it, you know, so there was pushback in that way. But again, it kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier. People don't fear change, but they do fear the loss of something. And in this instance is the loss of their privilege. Some people in as we become more inclusive, some people are going to talk less because they've been talking a shit ton for the last however many years. 


Toby Brown: There’s s only X amount of space in the room.

And go back to the sort of the smaller activism points for a second about being an activist and how that works in day-to-day life. Look, if you if you're working somewhere, it doesn't feel like a healthy, constructive place is there any like personal responsibility to try and change that place? Or is that just too draining, too much above your pay grade, too much hard work? Just put your head down and get on with it?


Amy Kean: What do you think?


Toby Brown: I would like to answer the former, and I'd probably do the latter realistically, because I've only got so much energy. Obviously, if every employee in a big organization decides a cultural shift is necessary, they’ve probably got the power to do that collectively. But, you know, that's a collective decision based on personal effort and space.


Amy Kean: Human beings only have a certain amount of energy and life on this planet. And I think to try and fix an organization that clearly doesn't want to be fixed, I can I give you a this is a little bit I might get into trouble for this, but in the past now and I'm not going to I'm not going to have future work from them, fuck it.


It was old school media agency, like you said, used to be run by geezers that would shout each other down like in the print days. Yeah. So we always had a bit of an issue with having quite a male culture. The banter always went too far. Like every time there was leaving speech of a guy, the person giving the leaving speech would list all the women he'd shagged. And a lot  us had grown up there, so we were kind of used to it. the maternity pay was really bad. Like you just didn't feel particularly women-friendly. So I created like a little group called Her, which did stand for H*** Equality and Respect.


Toby Brown: Very nice. You bring the acronyms.


Amy Kean: I got fucking talents. Anyway I launched, you know, an agency town hall, everyone. We're creating this group. It's for women to like talk to each other about issues like support each other when they come back from maternity leave is for us to help each other out with our confidence like all of that stuff. This was bear in mind, this was seven years ago. So feminism wasn't quite the industry that it is now. And loads of women joined those women joined this group. And over the weeks that followed, loads of men that they worked with took the piss out of them, started calling them lesbians, started asking if they were going to burn their bras. A lot of the women just started to, hide our meetings from their calendar because they'd get shit every time they'd go to a meeting. And in the end, the bullying. To be honest, micro bullying was such that we just gave. We just gave up.


Toby Brown: Yeah, that's really depressing.


Amy Kean: Yeah. But it was just too hard.


Toby Brown: Even that micro bullying or whatever form that takes constant little drains of energy just make it not worth it. I mean, that's how the status quo maintains. 


Amy Kean: A hundred percent. And I don't think you can underestimate the power of having been humiliated a couple of times. You just never want to put your neck out ever again.


Toby Brown: Yeah. The really damaging. Yeah. So how did you come back from that? In a cause that doesn't sound like a crushing defeat, but it sounds like you put a lot of energy in something to really get anywhere because of the structure around it. That must have been quite a blow in a set. Like how did you pick yourself up and move on to the next thing after that?


Amy Kean: Well, I left. I mean, I did leave. It didn't leave because of that. But, you know, there's various signals that it's time to move on from an organization. I use it all as fodder. You kind of learn this over time. I think everything all of this stuff. Then I moved to I worked at Mindshare in Asia, across Asia Pacific. I was head of strategy for a pack for a few years. And I learned a lot of stuff there about Ex-pat, toxic culture. And at the time, it was pretty grim. But now it's all stuff that I've learned. And so I can pass those on onto other people. And it’s OK  if you look at it from the perspective of, you know. I've got something from this because it's yet another dynamic that I've observed. Then it then it's OK.



Toby Brown: Obviously, the jobs market has really changed. People are looking further afield for jobs. Quite hard to get an understanding of the culture of a place until you're in that and then it's too late. What are some red flags or things people can look for early stages to go Actually, I'm better off staying out of that fire, not taking that job.


Amy Kean: Yeah, I would try and watch out for the cult of personality. I've seen this a few times because if you go to work for a start and there's lots of companies that describe themselves as startups these days, if it seems like the founder has far too significant and overwhelming a personality, even though they're very charming in their interview. I’d run a fucking mile. Miles. 

Obviously we've seen it with Brewdog. Perfect example of the cult of personality.


Toby Brown: Can we can we just recap quickly because I could give a take, but you'll give a much better name. Just easier if I'm not being interviewed. So just recap quickly, because there's been so much fun to watch Brewdog from an objective perspective. Just give us a quick recap of what happens and also maybe what they should do now.


Amy Kean: So a few weeks ago, some former Brewdog employees, called punks with purpose, released an open letter. I think there was like 40 something former employees and then loads more signed. And it was an open letter saying you operate brutally, particularly James Watt, one of the founders. Your fast paced culture has ruined lives. You operate in a culture of fear. You lie all the time. Brewdog  are known for their stunts, which are complete fiction. And you don't give a shit about your people. We think you should. So here's our open letter. We want you to change Brewdog for the benefit of your staff. The response from Brewdog was terrible. Did you see it like the first response they said, first of all, the founders forced all of their employees. They gave them like an hour to sign a response that they crafted or that people came across it. And you know what? The worst thing was that the first it was like “Dear Punks With Purpose”  They basically refused it for ages. Then, they released a number of statements


Toby Brown: Which came across as really passive aggressive, gaslighting like “you might have felt that, but isn't how it was.”


Amy Kean: Yeah, absolutely. You know, they describe their culture as one of, you know, relentless growth. That's not for everyone, et cetera. But they've so now they kept releasing these statements and people kept replying like the social mobs kept replying and saying, no, no.


There's an interesting thing. This is a relevant side note. There's an amazing book called Conflicted by Ian Leslie, where he talks about the power of constructive debate and how we've all forgotten how to argue. And in that book, he talks about the best apologies, the best public apologies. And a really good apology is where there's been an exchange of power between the perpetrator and the victim. And a good public apology needs to demonstrate that it wasn't easy for the person making that apology. It needs to be evident that that was a hard thing for them to do. No one at Brewdog that released an apology found that hard. 


Toby Brown: Oh come on. His email must have taken a good 20 minutes out of his day to type. He's got some skin in the game


Amy Kean: And he was probably fuming. So now what they've done is that their final statement, he detailed all the steps that they're going to take, which sounded wishy washy at best. I said all this stuff happened. They're going to conduct an anonymous survey of staff to check in on their well-being, to ask them how they think the company's run. You should be doing that anyway. Jesus Christ. That's basic. They're going to they're going to get an independent consultant. I mean, 


Toby Brown: I could always recommend, you


Amy Kean: No, I wouldn't want to, fuck no!


Amy Kean: I think what they should do is, James, who is the problem, should leave. He's if he's a millionaire, he's a fucking millionaire. Get out. Go.


Toby Brown: Yeah, well, you just mentioned that the stuff they should be doing all the time anyway. Yeah, that's probably really useful things to talk about. What is the absolute no brainer stuff that companies should be doing consistently that they just forget to do or force in the gaps.


Amy Kean: Anonymous surveys are a great thing, And there's two kind of elements to that, first of all, do them. Second of all, really, really, really, really listen to them. So if you collect data, use the data and try not to have too many conversations around it.


Toby Brown: What's some useful sort of data to collect? What sort of things should you be looking at?


Amy Kean: In our industry, clients can be quite abusive. So to collect data on turnaround times, deadline times, like all that kind of really basic stuff. So you can get a very quick indicator on how your staff are being worked. That's good. And then obviously, every leader should be responsible for this, but your pay gap data and all the all the data about how the minorities in your organization feel is also very important. I know a lot of organizations do have little groups. Well, it's quite interesting is a lot of organizations now potentially, possibly as a knee jerk reaction, have created an LGBTQ plus group, a women's group, a group for people of color, etc.. Well, I've been told by some organizations is that now all of these groups and kind of in competition for the most attention. You should be getting everyone's put together that say you can't keep segregating people and siloing them.


Toby Brown: And do they almost see when those groups have been formed, like does the job done now? Responsibility has been passed over. Hands off from an organizational perspective. 


Amy Kean: Yeah. And then whenever there's a month's Pride Month. Black History Month, you have a series of events.


Toby Brown: And then crack on as normal..


Amy Kean: Yeah.


Toby Brown: Well, I read a column of yours that I found really interesting was about mental health status and your perspective on those. And I've been one for a couple of years sort of rang true to me. So do you want to just talk me through what your thoughts are?


Amy Kean: I want to make it very clear that I don't just run all the time. I do always have solutions. But sometimes I just feel like I don't understand why people are complicit, submissive when it comes to corporate initiatives, because the corporate world has functioned successfully for millennia on treating people like shit and getting them to behave. So I think you should always kind of treat any new initiative with suspicion. 


Toby Brown: Take agency in that.


Amy Kean: Yeah.


Amy Kean: And a healthy dose of skepticism. So do you think about mental health first aid? It wasn't I mean, it I think is is a program. It's great. It wasn't created for the corporate world, actually. It was just created for human beings to learn about mental health. It's relatively cheap to do is of course, it's like £200 for a two day course. And it gives a really nice, relatively holistic overview. Everyone should have that training. But when corporations adopt mental health first aid as an initiative and train six people in an organization of thousands and place all of the responsibility, therefore, of everybody's mental health on those 16 people who also have jobs, also have families, also have stresses. It doesn't feel right to me. I also think there's an element of the organizations that I know that have mental health facilities are very bad coaches of overwork, and they have very stressed employees. So I think I think there's a certain acknowledgment when you have an initiative like that, that you're kind of running yourself down into the ground


Toby Brown: In this, I guess to some extent a bit like when you see advertising from Shell who say, let's talk about your individual carbon footprint. Our individual carbon is not the problem, Shell. It's a bit like that. Pushing responsibility back onto individuals, isn't it? 


Amy Kean: Yeah, but it's worked. It's worked first ever since the dawn of time, isn't it?


Toby Brown: The way we've touched a bit on so red flags of a culture if you're looking for a job. What are some positive things that the that you can see a company do and think “Actually, I think that culture is probably pretty good.”


Amy Kean: I think this is really basic. But I think if your staff seem really chuffed to talk about you in social media. I think that's such a positive sign that he's got a cracking culture. I think if people are advocating for your organization in their own time and they seem like they love it, I honestly think that's a really good I think that's a really good litmus test.


Toby Brown: And how important do you think a company's sort of mission and purpose and that stuff is in that? The situation,


Amy Kean: I think everybody's mission's purpose is basically the same,


Toby Brown: Which is?


Amy Kean: Authenticity. We're brave, we're honest. We were authentic. Isn't that everybody's values? My friend Sherry talks about this all the time. It's just your neon words in reception, isn't it? Those values are all about the personalities of your leaders. Because I think, you know, the best organizations that I've worked are where the leader trusted their staff and gave them autonomy and allowed them to mess up. And then where I've seen that happen, the staff have just followed them religiously,


Toby Brown: They've got a safe space to fail..


Amy Kean: Yeah. Yeah. It's obviously like the whole psychological safety. People are getting sick of the phrase now because it's become a cliche, but it is really, really, really, really important. It's really important.


Toby Brown: Can it be engineered or do you think that something that comes organically from good leaders creating a safe environment?


Amy Kean: I think it can be engineered to an extent, but there's certain training that you have to have. There's so increasingly there's proof the really serious trait like diversity training, where he works, because small educational interventions rarely change someone's behaviors, especially if it's like mandatory. And there's reluctance. It's very hard to change people's behaviors. But if you do stuff like listening, training. I know you can do I don't offer it, but I know you can do courses in listening. 


You're a creative guy. Have you never been in a brainstorm and set an idea and everyone's looked at you like you're a weirdo?


Toby Brown: My ideas are never be good enough to get those reactions. 


Amy Kean: Yeah. Like people forget everyone. This is how work is, isn't it? We all talk because we want to assert our authority and blah, blah, blah, blah. But people are taught how to listen, listen to new ideas. 


Amy Kean: And often this is another part of the book that I recommend it Conflicted by Ian Leslie is when people are talking to you, they're normally just trying to communicate their emotion. They just need you to know how they feel. 


Toby Brown: That's really interesting. So in terms of that, that's obviously a book to check out. What else have you read recently that you'd really recommend to people?


Amy Kean: I'm reading a brilliant book at the moment called Can't Even, which is about the burnouts of the millennial generation. So it's written by BuzzFeed journalist, I think, and it's about I'm a millennial. Are you a millennial?


Toby Brown: I don't even know any more. I’m not on TikTok. 


Amy Kean: So there's something very specific about the millennial generation, which is to do with economic forces. And like it's a social thing. It's not just about avocados. And that something has happened to that generation is that they can't stop working because their value comes from their productivity. That's what they've been taught by their parents. That's what they've been taught by TV. All these fucking talent shows like everything's about winning, succeeding, being productive, never gave up, being entrepreneur, etc. It's


Toby Brown: Always in the grind and the hustle


Amy Kean: 100 percent. And so what that's led to is like a whole generation that's just so tired.


Toby Brown: They just need a nap. 


Amy Kean: It's a brilliant book. Even just to understand. So there's a whole section on boomers in the book and everything that happens. So they were once called radical and yuppies with the hipsters of their day. Like it's just basically every generation does the same things, but the economic context affects them as well.


Toby Brown: So it's amazing. Anything else? 


Amy Kean: Am so I'm always reading non-fiction books. The one that I read before this is called Invisible to Invaluable Unleashing the Power of Midlife Women. And particularly in the advertising industry. Ageism is rife. Ageism, combined with sexism can be pretty potent. And this book is about how we need to listen to. All older women more. It's made me really angry, but it's a really important book.


Toby Brown: I think will pop those in the show notes. 

Where can people find more of you? Where can they get involved more with your work? 


Amy Kean: So, I've just launched my new website, which is Sixteen's Impossible


Amy Kean: Dot com.


Amy Kean: Is it's all about the stuff that I do like. It's all about the work that I offer, like brands and organizations. And I mostly say that what I do is like experimentation, whether it's cultural experimentation or brand experimentation or creative experimentation. So that's what they'll find. They can contact me through their email.


Toby Brown: And final quick question. I saw you had some quite strong opinions on what the best days of the to work from home are. Well, they


Amy Kean: I don't have a. I don't have opinions because. Well, I used to do it because I used to work four days a week and I used to work on it. And my I have my fifth day for writing. And I always used to take Friday off. And that's the worst day because I'd get really drunk on Thursday night with everybody else, like all my colleagues. And then Friday would be a write off. So my advice is never work from home on a Friday.


Toby Brown: Ok, work your models and obviously companies working flexibly, working from home. It's been a lot of conversations about a dual culture appearing in companies where you get the the people who work mainly from the office and the people work mainly from home, and they end up on different sort of slip streams of career progression and things like that just through immediacy. But I haven't really heard anyone who's been able to nail an approach set up to really get to grips with that issue yet. What your thoughts are on how that's going to develop?


Amy Kean: I think it's I think it's very simple to me. I think it's going to be an age divide. I think at different life stages, you look for different things in the place that you work like. You will have felt this way when I was in my 20s and early 30s. I wanted to be in the office because I wanted the social life. I wanted that camaraderie in major agencies. I wanted to go out after work. That's that's what happens when you're at the beginning of your career. And then the people that are raving about working from home are probably established. They have kids. They have bigger houses. It's just a life stage thing.


Toby Brown: Yeah. How can businesses approach that to try and level or do they need to try?


Amy Kean: No, I think they need to I think let it happen. It's just is with this kind of stuff, you can over theorize and overthink it. Everyone that I know is desperate to go back to the office is young.


Amy Kean:


Dieter Wood: I really enjoyed that chat, and I hope you did, too, if you did. Don't forget to subscribe and review is on your platform of choice. See you next time.