Episode 39 of The Andy Show
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:00:30] Hello and welcome to today’s Andy Show. I’m your host, Nicky Pennycook and today is Friday, the 12th of June. We’ve got a really nice guest with us today. And she is an author at Charted Psychologist. Her name is Audrey Tang. And we’ll also be joined by a very special assistant later on in the show too. But firstly, I would like to say welcome to Audrey.
AUDREY TANG [00:00:57] Hi. Thanks for having me. Great to be here.
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:01:01] That’s great. I’m really looking forward to this today. How are you doing?
AUDREY TANG [00:01:06] I’m good, thank you. Yes. Yes, really. Well, I wish it would be a bit more sunny though.
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:01:11] Yeah. It’s just started raining here, unfortunately. But hey. Hey. Just to begin with, can you give the audience a little bit of introduction, a little bit about yourself, what you do?
AUDREY TANG [00:01:24] Yeah, absolutely. My name is Audrey. I’m a psychologist. And what I do is I, I teach psychology and I teach and well-being. And a lot of my lectures run alongside the business school lectures in universities. They offer employability skills. They offer transferable skills. And my area is actually supporting leadership development through the soft skills, the things that they don’t necessarily teach you academically because the whole point is hard skills. You’ll see all of that is going to get you. Perhaps the interview, but it’s really soft skills that are going to get you the job and keep you in there. Just as a simple example of that is, you know, people who have leadership in title and a name, but you go and spend time in that organisation, you know who the real leaders actually are. You need to follow it as well.
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:02:17] Absoultely, thanks Audrey and so there are questions here that we’re going to run through. But I believe we both got a bit of a practical element today, which I don’t know what it is yet, so… looking forward to that. And I’m sure your assistant who will be joining us soon is looking forward to it. So, first of all, your next book is called The Leaders Guide to Resilience. Why is resilience building so important?
AUDREY TANG [00:02:48] Resilience is the ability to bounce back after crisis. But what a lot of people don’t really realise is resilience is actually having to navigate three different dips. You have the crisis. If you look at the global pandemic now we’re in crisis and the first thing you have to do is you have to survive. And I mean horribly, horribly. That’s a real tragic tragedy going on at the moment. But with organisations, with businesses, too. When we talk about survival, we are really talking about is my business going to pull through? Are we actually going to have a business after all, if they survive us? But the problem is after that, once you got through that crisis, well, you’re actually running on adrenaline. You’re working more collectively. There’s a real community spirit. You have to then rebuild, which is the next dip because you’re exhausted. When we come out of this, our frontline services are going to be on their knees because this is where all of the cuts, all of the streaming down, all of that is really going to take its toll. And you have to then rebuild again without so much community support, without so many people kind of saying, oh, yeah, great, we’ll help because we’re all just trying to get through ourselves. And then when you’re back to normality, whatever that might be, the next thing you need to do is actually go beyond that and thrive. But of course, when it comes to thriving, you’ve often got a lot of competition. You’ve got a lot more aggression around you as well. And so resilience building is not necessarily knowing everything is going to be perfect, but simply knowing you are going to be okay that you’re going to be able to pick up again. And resilience building is best done actually outside the time of crisis because in the time of crisis, all we can do is just pull ourselves through it. So that’s why really focus on building resilience when things are calmer.
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:04:43] Yeah, absolutely. So in the questions I’ve got practical ways to build resilience. I think this might be the first real practical. So I’m going to bring in a very lovely assistant, Charles now.
AUDREY TANG [00:05:05] Alright, just really put you on the spot here, because the two books I’ve written, which are part of Pearson’s leader’s guide, which are just leader’s guide to mindfulness and then the leader’s guide to resilience. I find mindfulness calms us in order to open that headspace, ready to learn and be able to build up all mental and emotional fitness, which is what resilience is, and resilience actually then arms you to. Let’s do it. I need to take you back to mindfulness to start. And Forbes talked about 4 great traits of leaders and one of them is awareness. Now, the more where we are, the more we can recognise things that might help us grasp opportunities. But the truth is, we may not be all that aware of it at all. So I’m kind of going to throw a child straight away, but I’m not going to give you 10 seconds to observe your surroundings. And after that 10 seconds, I’m going to ask you about them. Just describe what it’s like to be in those surroundings in as much detail as you can. So 10 seconds, off you go.
CHARLES [00:06:08] All right….
AUDREY TANG [00:06:28] Just describe to me what it’s like being where you are.
CHARLES [00:06:33] It’s quite a small room. There’s some chairs in here. It’s got white bricking, lights, carpet, there’s a plant. Cupboard’s, chairs, whiteboards, props as well
AUDREY TANG [00:06:56] Yeah, great. Brilliant, lovely. And usually I give people a minute to do this and I find by the end of ten seconds. They’ve kind of done what you’ve done. And then just on. Yeah. I know. She’ll be up. I’ll be fine, when people ask. And nearly did this, you nearly looks under. You nearly looks down completely. You did look up. A lot. People forget to do that. But when you describe it, you also any you describe what you could see. I said observe and observe. Actually, we have 5 senses. We could observe with all of them. And a lot of the times we might miss out on things that we might be hearing, the sensation of what it’s like. And of course, the minute I tell you to do that, you’re gonna start thinking, I’m really uncomfortable in my chair. Now I can smell lunch. I mean, it’s not a professional thing, but that’s what I mean by awareness. We have such a huge capacity in our brain, but we often tend to stick to almost habitual routine. It’s perfectly normal when someone says observe, we look and we often just look like this. We don’t really look fully. And that’s that’s the first thing about looking. But then when you actually prompt someone to say, well, what about what you can smell? What about what you can taste, what it feels like they think even more broadly. Now, where this translates to leadership and management is in a company. If you are trying to design some kind of, say, promotional campaign or even facility, you may think a lot about what it’s going to look like. But if you don’t think about what it feels like, what it sounds like, what it might smell like, you’re missing out on an awful lot. And that’s where it all starts. Resilience Festival, it’s about opening the mind to think all different ways that we can use it. There is a greater capacity than we actually used. And the second thing is using it. But by simply doing an exercise like that and I didn’t mean to catch anybody out. If you were doing this with me at home, you’re not I’m not there to catch you out. But I am then to say you didn’t do it. You can do it next time. And that’s what a lot of my training is like. I put you in the situation in a safe environment. Nothing is going to happen to you, if you fail to look up here. But in the real world, there might be a time where looking up will give you the solution you want. We’re thinking about what you can smell, might give you the creativity that you need.
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:09:23] Thank you Audrey that was really insightful already in one question. Thank you Charles. I’m just going to move on to our next question. So obviously, to read a lot about leadership and obviously at the moment, we’re in a different time. Strange circumstances. A lot’s going on that maybe isn’t quite normal for people and so why a personal skills essential for effective leadership?
AUDREY TANG [00:09:55] Well, right now, I don’t know whether any of you, I’m probably showing my age and showing my cultural preferences. If you’ve watched Galaxy Quest, think about it, they get spoler alert, or they get 15 seconds to write a mistake. What if 2020 is our opportunity to go back to the beginning? What if 2020 give us chance for us to do something? Now, that’s two examples I want to get us on this. First of all, I talk about transferable skills all the time. I talk about and they could be soft skills. They can be listening to people. It can be learning to organise things. Those are transferable no matter whether you’ve been organising in a financial office and moving into a medical office. It doesn’t matter. The organisational skill is transferable. And everything you do, if you can learn as much as you can. You have more of an opportunity. So to just cut back a little bit further. I used to teach drama. When I taught drama. I taught teamwork. I taught confidence. I taught public speaking. Some people learn all those things. Some people just learn drama. Now, put yourself in a work situation at the moment. Some of our top leaders in our work are having to shield because they are in one of the groups that has a more a greater propensity of getting COVID. Some are actually having to self isolate because somebody they know has had it or if it’s in the process of fighting it. This means if you are left standing. If you have learnt the skills, have been able to do them and you are there waiting in the wings. This is your opportunity. So that’s the first thing. If you have got those skills and if you can step up and show them right now, this is a chance like no other, that we will get. So the first part, and the second part is organisations themselves. We know at the moment there is marginalisation, there is discrimination. There is all of those issues going on out there. When we go back, we’re not going to necessarily go back to normal. We can’t physically anyway. But that gives us a chance to rewrite our processes. We’re already rewriting our processes when it comes to health and safety. We are now maybe even considering further processes because of what we’ve learnt already. However, this is where the issue comes in. When we talk about discrimination, when we talk about marginalisation, yes, it is wonderful if people can lead us, can go and say, right, we’re not promoting enough multi ethnicities. We’re not promoting women. Wonderful. Thank you. It’s great you’re doing that. But there is there may be a reason why you’re not promoting us. And it could be because the process is not suitable to us. In the same way as the process was not necessarily suitable for having people standing two metres apart. Now was the chance to rewrite the processes to go back to an example where. In schools it’s been show research has shown that men, boys do better in exam conditions. They prefer to write how they think girls do better in coursework. Girls do better in discussion. That is because it’s the way that a lot of girls think. Now, I’m not saying change everything, but I am saying when we talk about promotion, when you talk about equal opportunity, it is not just the act of promoting that you need to look at. It’s the process of getting there. We are not on a level playing field. And this is to quote “Billy Porter, who’s in Brian Murphy’s pose” at the moment. It is not a level playing field, but if we are judged as if we are on one, there will always be discrimination. We’ve got the chance to go back to the drawing board. Now we need to take it.
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:13:48] And I’ve said I’ve completely agree with you now on that as well. I think a lot of people have re-evaluated or changed the way that there things, whether it’s in leadership or whether it’s in the way of business, where I say that so many different ways that things are changing at the moment. And I believe we have a number of practical de to relate to this, so we got Charles back.
AUDREY TANG [00:14:19] This is just going to be a little activity that I’d like you to do with me and I’m going to do. It’s nice to have somebody to actually almost give me the answers because, like, I feel a bit like I draw it out and then I get my own ideas that isn’t helping anyone. If you are re-evaluating, then you’ve got a chance to really do something about your organisation, which is meaningful. Research, again, has shown that purpose, having a purpose and doing something that is meaningful means we are more passionate about it, more like to drive it. So I want to think about re-evaluation through discovering a purpose and what I’d want you to think about it if you were, for example, going to. If you had a goal. So any goal that you like, whatever that goal might be, just give me a goal, whatever it might be. It may not be related to business. It can be whatever you like. But I can tell you how it relates, how this exercise relates. So any goal you want.
CHARLES [00:15:22] A nice fancy car.
AUDREY TANG [00:15:23] A nice fancy car? Okay, nice fancy car. Now that nice fancy car. It could be. It could be I want a business that employs globally. It might be I want a big house or I want to contribute to charity or whatever that can be. This will still work. What I want you to do. You’ve got this nice fancy car in you draw a circle. I’m going to give you I’m not gonna make you do all eight. I’m only going to give you eight areas to fill in. You may have more. But the thing is, if we disperse our focus to you greatly is very difficult. What are some of the things you’re going to need to do to get that nice, fancy car? One of the first things is you need to take your driving test. It’s just an example. And skills to have it if you can’t handle a fast car, you’re probably going to need to learn. So skills would be one area. What else might you suggest that you need? I’m going to see if I can show a little bit better. So you’ve got skills. What else might you say you need to have a nice fancy car?
CHARLES [00:16:29] Money.
AUDREY TANG [00:16:30] Money. Absolutely. And what else might you need as well?
CHARLES [00:16:37] Space?.
AUDREY TANG [00:16:43] Space like garages on the garage and somewhere to look after it and one more that you might need?
CHARLES [00:16:54] Insurance?
AUDREY TANG [00:16:54] Sure. Okay, you can go through one of the eight spaces. You’ve got four more spaces for whatever goal it is you’re trying to achieve. So that’s the first part. Goal. Then what you need to do. So this is your to do list. But you then need to evaluate where you are in these areas. Now, for example, you may be a brilliant driver, and I’m going to assume, Charles, you are a brilliant driver. So I’m going to say your skills are well up to here. You know, you’re right. You can handle a fast car. Money, you know right in the moment we’re all struggling. So maybe money, not so much. That’s going to affect insurance as well, because money and insurance tends to come together. Maybe you’ve had strikes in your licence, those other things, other considerations that you put you draw in where you are right now on each of those areas and you can shade it in just extra emphasis. Maybe you don’t have space. Maybe you don’t have a house which has that garage that will look after it. Insurance, maybe that’s not the time. And so then you’re going to look at all of those different priorities and different things that you need to do and where you are in them. Next part so ones your goal, two is your priorities, three is how are you going to improve them? What is your action? There’s your to-do list, which is this because you’ve seen where you are. What is your action? Now, the great thing about doing this visually, there’s two reasons. The first is it helps to see it visually because if you can see it, you can actually go. Oh, goodness. I didn’t realise I was so short on space. I didn’t realise that was so much more prevalent. But secondly is, if you keep tabs on yourself and you start saying, well, actually my insurance is here, what can I do to bring it here? I’m not saying you have to fill it up straight away, but you might begin to realise as you start taking your steps to fill in these particular gaps, you might be favouring one priority over another. And that’s the importance of having that visual. So if you didn’t have it, you might kid yourself and you might go, oh, yeah, I’m working on all of these priorities. Actually, when you draw out when you think about it, you’re favouring one. And if you’re favouring one. That’s another point of reflection. Why are you favouring it? Why are you finding the other one so difficult? And then, of course, what can you do about it? So that is your priorities, coaching wheel exercise and it can work for any, any goal you’re looking at.
CHARLES [00:19:49] It’s really fascinating. And visually it helps so much too.
AUDREY TANG [00:19:54] Yes, visually it really does, because our brains, as I said, they’re complex and they’re big, but they often kid us. They try and make our own life as easy as it can for us. But actually, you sometimes have to go to the hard place before it gets realistically easier. And that’s why I would say don’t kid yourself actually start from where the truth is and then you can really do something about it.
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:20:20] But that’s a really lovely example. And I think the car is probably a nice analogy as well. And a lot of people will relate to that. Thank you Charles, I’m sure we’ll be bringing you back in again soon. And I think I’m just going for the next question for me. I think we’ve covered a lot on transferable skills. But there’s one thing in particular that I want to ask you about that you’ve written. And it’s the 007 Spectre. Because I relate that to James Bond, obviously. But you might have a completely different explanation for that. So I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about that.
AUDREY TANG [00:20:59] Yeah, No. transferable skills. I started off as a teacher, I taught drama. So I’ve done a lot of community theatre work. It’s actually where I’ve learnt a lot of my leadership. It’s through teaching. And what I’ve learnt through teaching is no actually about authority and standing up in front of a class because you were expected to. But it’s actually about the innate skills of leadership. And that is things like noticing when something’s wrong and nurturing it, doing it discreetly so it’s not to embarrass someone which gives you the best chance of helping them learn. That’s what I learnt through teaching. But as I say, it was drawn up because I have a love for drama, passion for drama. So when I went self-employed, because my career took me through teaching, through Psychology PhD, through and through learning and development in the NHS, and then I will actually do what I can. I can go out on my own as a trainer, as a consultant. I had to support myself. So I joined an extras agency and talking of diversity and things like that, I was one of the if you’ve watched Spectre, you watched 007 and it’s the nine eyes. There is a scene where you’ve got the U.K., you’ve got Rory Kinnear and Ralph Fiennes they’re in a meeting, it’s led by Andrew Scott and all the different countries, part of the nine eyes group there. I am the female Chinese woman at the front representing China is quite funny, actually. My husband absolutely loves Bond and he’s got all of the books and he’s got everything Bond. And the one thing he didn’t have was Spencer. And I joked to him and I said, oh, you know what you got? And he just said to me, you know what? Bond used to be so mythical. And so, you know, out there. But when you walks in it.
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:23:04] I know exactly what bit you mean as well. That’s amazing.
AUDREY TANG [00:23:10] So I was I got lucky. And someone like me.
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:23:15] Yeah. That’s amazing. I mean, pretty cool to be doing a film as is. Faily enough, they’re actually sharing with Daniel Craig films on TV at the moment. I think as Quantum of Solace on this weekend. But I will definitely keep an eye on Spencer. That’s amazing. And keep it there. And that would be so great. I’m just reading it on a little bit. And something else that I think is going to be really nice to touch on to you. Talk about the preverb, Jack, of All Trades. And there’s an extra bit to that proverb. Think about wondering, can you get around that as well?
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:23:55] Yes. This comes back to my transferable skills issue. And when I talk about my eclectic past, and it does take me from drama teaching to James Bond to psychology, and people have to said to me, you’re what are you doing right now? What actually you do? And I will tease about how eclectic everything is. But actually, when it comes to what I teach and how I teach it, I think everything actually fits in. You can probably see through my background. I like present. You can see the psychology. You can see the passion for teaching. And with Jack of All Trades. When people say that to you, they say, oh, you know, Jack of All Trades, Master of None. Oh, that means you’re just not really good at any particular one element. It comes back to the opportunity for the understudy to become the star. The second part of that proverb is it’s Jack of All Trades. Master of None is of times better than Master of One. So if you only had one main niche skill. Yes. If you are the the trailblazer, you are the person who is leading the way in that one skill. Yes. You will always be wanted. You will always be in demand. But if you are coming through that and you only choose to focus on that one main skill, it brings me back to this little that one thing that maybe we like. One thing that may be we are really good at that may not be enough. The whole thing about being a Jack of All Trades is if you can do a lot of things to at least a good degree with narrow gaps in the system and there are gaps in the system right now. You can be the person who goes, I can do that. And if I can’t do that, I can learn to do that. Because if you have a number of different skills, what you are also demonstrating is that you are able to learn more. So when you have somebody who has that eclectic Jack of All Trades approach, a) value that really value them because they can turn their hand to most things and be able to be at least 70% is good, not necessarily 99, because they have it specialised in it. But that’s the first thing. So remember them. But the second thing is also give them an opportunity to grow in one skill as well, because that’s often how you will keep that Jack of All Trades. Who is brilliant in what was your company. How are you going to keep you focussed and interested?
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:26:28] Thank you. I think that’s really insightful. Well, everything is really interesting but that was great. So we’ve got a little bit of time left. And going to move on to your last question, which also has a demo at the end as well. So you talked about mindfulness earlier. I know for some people that is quite an important subject, especially around mental health and maybe as well. So to end on a positive note, how does mindfulness help you find the headspace so you can find a positive action?
AUDREY TANG [00:27:09] What mindfulness does is it allows us to press cause whether it is people think it’s only breathing and yoga and meditation. It’s not those are ways of passing polls. But if you are not that sort of person and I’m not I mean, in my book, I have a number of guided meditations, but I don’t use them. So can you imagine what it was like for me recording all of those? I don’t use them, but they ask that you do. The whole thing you remember is what it allows you to take that break. That opportunity to breathe, the opportunity to reflect and reframe, gives you that chance to use the rest of the brain that you’ve been keeping almost blinkered sometimes. And that’s the start of why my month was so helpful. But the demo I’m going to end on and we can bring Charles back into the demo with. And actually you can fit ti Nicky, because this anyone who do this on it not only allows us to focus on the positives that we have right here now, but actually in terms of building resilience. I will show you how this also helps us do that, too. But I’ll take you through the demo first. It’s simply a gratitude stretch. It’s great for our posture because we’ve been sitting down all the time so much better. But once we’re aware, we can do. Stretch put your arms and think about one person you are really grateful to have in your life, don;t mind who they are, one person and just have that person in your mind. Just think about them, because maybe, you know, you might be compelled to thank them or let’s say. Then I want you to stretch your legs out and which is stretching the legs. I want to think about one thing. You really love having in your life. Didn’t want things to stretch legs, which tasch, I guess ankles, just one thing and then check out completely and think about one thing that you’re really looking forward to doing today. So we’ve got all three things. That person, the active thing we like and what we’re looking forward to today. First of all, what this does is it allows us to remember that not the look silver lining, not the platitude, but simply we have got some things that really all going for us. And no matter how small it is, if we can focus on that, that positivity actually helps us through. But if you do this gratitude stretch enough. Not only has research showed that it does require a brain to think more positively, which just means that we look for more positive coincidences. We look for what we think we’re going to look for. So most all of the positive. But if you do it enough, you will notice that in each of those three categories, a pattern of people, a pattern of things and a pattern of activities will appear. And all you need to do when it comes to building resilience is spend more time with those people who bring you joy, spend more time doing the things that you like doing, and spend more time looking forward to everything that energises you, because we will always have to do things that we don’t like, that’s part of life. But if you can spend more time with the things and people and the ideas that really invigorate you, that improve you, that make you feel better about yourself and about life, you have more energy to spend for the things that you do with you that you have to do. And that’s really important. So look for those patterns when you do that. And not only are you going to actually rewire your brain to think positively and to recognise positivity, but what you may also do is you might find it begins to shift your pattern of behaviour. It might shift your choices. I’m never telling you get rid of people’s wrinkly notes or take people out with them. I’m actually saying concentrate on being energised in the areas that you derive the most joy from and you’ll have energy left over the areas in which you struggle with it.
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:31:23] Thank you, Audrey. That’s been great. It’s really nice to have a new practical element as well. And I think everything you said probably resonates with a lot of people at the moment. And for me personally, I love the James Bond story. Thank you so much for joining us and coming home today. You’ve been a great guest.
AUDREY TANG [00:31:48] Thank you for having me.
NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:31:49] You’re welcome. And that was Audrey. Like I said, she’s a lot of what she said has resonated with different people to today, definitely has with me. But that’s it today for the Andy Show. We’ll be back next week with a whole host of other guests, and we look forward to see you then.