How can taking less action produce better results? Millions of workers are asking this question, in part, out of concern that professionals’ embrace of hustle culture is primarily responsible for high levels of burnout. Corporate strategist turned author, Jinny Uppal, discovered a better path to decision making through intentional inaction. Jinny stops by to talk about her #1 rated debut book, IN/ACTION: Rethinking the Path to Results, the downside of action bias, and how to leverage strategic pauses to make great leaps forward.
In those moments of downtime or reflective thinking or what I would have previously called under productivity, even though outwardly it looks like inaction, there is action happening, you just don't see it, or the seeds of action are being sold.
Michael Glazer 00:20
Welcome to humans at work. I'm your host, Michael Glazer. My life purpose is to make well being at work a globally accepted basic human right. And this podcast helps by giving you fresh perspectives and actionable ideas for making working with other humans better for everyone. Thanks so much for tuning in. If you like what you hear, please subscribe and rate our show. And you can read the entire transcript for this episode for free at glazercoaching.com/podcast. Looking back on 2021, which ended a few weeks ago, an estimated 20 million people quit their job just in the second half of the year. Hustle culture, which is driven by increasingly high job demands excessive work hours, and low resources is a key factor in the high levels of burnout that we're seeing today. Well, my guest has found a better healthier path to results. Jinny Uppal is a former executive who's worked for Fortune 500, telco, ecommerce, and retail companies. And she's also the author of the new book in slash action, rethinking the path to results, which has earned three top ranking so far, including number one new release in the job markets and advice list on Amazon. So Jenny, welcome to humans at work. I'm looking forward to talking with you about your stories, your insights, how we can use reflective thinking and strategic action to help us find our past to better results.
Jinny Uppal 01:45
Hello, Michael, thank you for having me. It's so good to be here.
Michael Glazer 01:49
Let's start by talking a little bit about your background, you know, you you're no stranger to professional success, to getting results through the principles of hard work and taking bold action. So tell me a little bit about your journey so far, and how it led you to write this book?
Jinny Uppal 02:07
Well, like you said, Yes, I know, I am pretty familiar with the concept of working hard in order to become successful, I have about a 20 plus year corporate background. And in that career, pivoted a couple of times, I've taken what could be considered bold moves, and I've had senior roles. And the story that I've always told myself and those around me was that I'm a very action oriented person, I have a bias for action. And that's why I'm successful. And my background is technology. And technology is one area where you don't want to think too long, you want to take a big bet, and you want to, you know, go all out. And that has been the formula for success for quite a few technology companies. So that was my story. And I was pretty happy with it until the pandemic came along. And I found myself without a conventional job. Which means even though I was working with startups, but I wasn't as busy as I was used to being and I couldn't I could put my hands on what am I doing that's productive, because there wasn't clear evidence, everything was a little bit kind of in a holding pattern. If you remember back in 2020, at least,
Michael Glazer 03:18
yeah, it seems like 2020 was five years ago now. But I do.
Jinny Uppal 03:23
I and I fully appreciate if you want to erase that from your memory. I do too. But it was, it was just a very uncomfortable time for me. Because here I am not very busy, not a lot to do and just not happy about it. And I found myself reflecting on my own career. And I realized, you know, those big pivots that I made those so called big moves that I made the factors. Before every single of those really big big moves, I would go through a period or a phase, which I would say is under productive, it's a slow down, it's a downtime, I would use different words, and they would all be negative in the sense I'd be kind of itching to get out of it. Of course, eventually I got out of it, I would make a big move. But this contemplation made me wonder so what is it that drive success? Is it that action that I take to which I can point I can put a finger on this and say, Hey, I pivoted from telecom to e commerce. Is it? Is it the action? Or is it the period of reflective thinking that in some cases lasted months?
Michael Glazer 04:28
Yeah, and this, this is a good segue into the book. And so what answer to that question Did you find in in writing the book?
Jinny Uppal 04:38
The answer I found is we, all of us, and particularly people who consider themselves ambition and action oriented. We underestimate the power of those thoughtful pauses and reflective thinking we dismiss them we people like me want to get out of it. But what we underestimate is mass have, you know seeds of inspired action are being sold during those periods of what looks like inactivity. And I, in my case, I probably stumbled into those moments of pause, or I instinctively knew I shouldn't take action. But instead of just stumbling through that experience, now I think of it as a strategy. So in the book, I talk about leveraging the power of strategic inaction to drive results. And I would have never use this language because before this, I would have always talked about strategic action. But strategic inaction is a thing. And the more we acknowledge, the more I can then use its power.
Michael Glazer 05:41
So what what are the main characteristics of strategic inaction?
Jinny Uppal 05:46
One of really two things. One is don't take that default action that you feel compelled to take either because you are under pressure, or because there's something propelling you forward, either just don't do it, pause, or don't take the default action. For everything that we want to accomplish, whether it is a job I want or funds I want to raise for a startup, there is a playbook. Right, we look for those playbooks, we look to experts to tell us 10 steps to blah, blah, blah. The other way of thinking of strategic inaction is you don't have to follow the default playbook. If you give it a thought. If you go back to your own vision, your values, your principles and your goals, you may come up with a better playbook. So don't underestimate what your mind can come up with as a playbook to get to that result
Michael Glazer 06:42
Is that the value of, of pausing of strategic inaction is to be able to get in touch or re establish contact with your values, your principles, your true goals, so that you can take action, it's in line with those things.
Jinny Uppal 06:58
That is definitely a big advantage of taking a pause is to reconnect with what is it that you really want? What are your values and vision. The other is, it's almost like giving your brain a chance that there is neuroscience that I came across when I was researching for this book, and I write about it. So there is your brain functions differently. When you're not busy doing something if you're not engaged in an activity. And there are parts of your brain that light up that actually come up with creative solutions. You know, those aha moments, we hear about them? People tell me I get my best ideas in the shower. And I say, how about making that your strategy instead of letting it happen by accident. So it is reconnecting with yourself and giving your brain your own self the chance to come up with an idea.
Michael Glazer 07:51
So we're talking about what, in the book, I believe you call reflective thinking, is that right? That's correct. And so what should people or what can people do during periods of reflective thinking? To get the most out of it?
Jinny Uppal 08:10
That's a good question. Reflective Thinking is a pretty abstract idea, isn't it? Yeah, it's a phrase and I when I speak to people, they they do want to know, what does that look like? Like, what what should I do when I'm reflectively? Thinking?
Michael Glazer 08:28
Yeah, am I am I thinking I've heard some people say, when you're reflecting, there's four directions we can think of we can think forward, we can think back, we can think inside we can think outside.
Jinny Uppal 08:43
Right? I'm gonna I'm gonna share this method of reflective thinking which, even to me was strange when I came across it. So I'm a practitioner of meditation for many years. And of course, I swear by it, but I know some people find it rather intimidating or it's not yet part of their daily practice. What I came across was this notion of mind wandering, which usually we associate as a negative behavior. You know, letting your mind wander is a bad thing, isn't it? And every meditation teacher will tell you meditation is the antidote, you should you should be in the present moment. But it turns out and I literally started deploying this as a as a method in my journey in writing the book. We we keep our mind busy too much. Either we are scrolling social media or we are actually doing work or we are binge watching or we are talking to someone. Even if meditation is not in your practice. If you just give yourself 10 minutes, 15 minutes of sitting there staring into empty space and not taking up not occupying your senses. You are thinking you are not thinking your mind is doing its thing. So this isn't about planning, I, when I talk about mind wandering as a methodology, I'm not saying sit there and think and plan, sit there and give your mind free rein to do what it needs to do. And just watch the thoughts that come up and the ideas and solutions that come up. People in the performing arts world. I have a friend who was a Tony Award winning, you know, theater guy, I sent the manuscript and I said, you know, and I write about mind wandering, I talk about procrastination in the book. And I asked him, like, are O'Neill these ideas new to you? And he said, you know, this is kind of how we operate. We know in the creative world, when we run into a problem that we can't solve, the thing to do is walk away from it. And let our mind do its thing.
Michael Glazer 10:50
Yeah, cuz it'll continue to work in the background. Until you come back to it right?
Jinny Uppal 10:55
Magically, if you give it permission, we don't give our minds the break. Because even when we are taking a break, what we're binge watching something, we're reading a inspiring book. But the fact is, even though you think you're inspiring yourself, you're just you're just keeping your mind busy, and you're not letting the mind do what it needs to do.
Michael Glazer 11:15
And what's the price that we pay for not letting our mind do the thing that it naturally does?
Jinny Uppal 11:22
I mean, one is just fatigue, isn't it? Like it's not, it's life, not exhausting. Even Even if we give ourselves a break, we're binge watching something, it's just tiring, that's one, almost the low end of the spectrum is that it's introducing fatigue in our lives. The other end of the spectrum is we are missing out on opportunities. We're chasing action, because that's the best idea we have. And the cover of my book in action, rethinking the path to results has a hamster wheel. And it's meant to represent the hamster wheel of action. I keep doing the same thing, and I get incremental results. But if you want to get dramatic, powerful results, you're missing out on that, because you're not giving your mind the chance to come up with the right ideas.
Michael Glazer 12:11
It's a big price to pay.
Jinny Uppal 12:14
Michael Glazer 12:16
You know, reflective thinking is I understand the concept in practice. Is it a one size fits all? Is it in terms of what we do during reflective thinking? Or how much time we should set aside for reflective thinking with a frequency? How do we put this into practice?
Jinny Uppal 12:39
I would say it is very contextual. It depends on the context. I spent. You know more a lot of the book is about the idea of embracing the power of the thoughtful pause. I talk about a thoughtful pause. In conversations, especially confrontational conversations, you can take a pause of a few seconds and a difficult conversation. And it'll immediately you will automatically reflect it's like creating the space for reflective thinking is what you and I need to do, the reflective thinking will happen. Like you, the idea is not to make yourself thing is just to create an environment where reflective thinking happens. So in the middle of a confrontational conversation or a difficult negotiation, there's research that proves that then both parties take pauses, even a few seconds, the results are much better than if it's a you know, a fight, you might still be fighting, but you're just taking thoughtful pauses. And you get better results. It could be as simple as I have the story of a Dutch entrepreneur who, every time he has to make a major client pitch. He goes for a walk. And when he goes for a walk, he's not rehearsing the pitch, he is letting his mind wander. And he has found that time worth it because his behavior changes his performance changes. So reflective thinking can manifest in a pause for a few seconds all the way to taking a career break. And I did that once I left my job to just be sure about the life I wanted to live. I came right back into that industry retail. But I came back so much more committed because I took that break.
Michael Glazer 14:34
And in that instance, looking back on that break, what did you gain from that period of reflective thinking?
Jinny Uppal 14:43
Couple of things I was already very successful in my career. And I was also getting very deep into my spiritual practices. And this can happen sometimes when you are pursuing you know meditation, you're going deep into it. do start to question the purpose or you want to revisit what is the purpose of my life? Is it to make money and sell stuff for a living? Or should I? What should I do? Or should I dedicate more of my time to something else? Some other cause?
Michael Glazer 15:16
What was your endpoint from that?
Jinny Uppal 15:20
It was in some ways unexpected. So I took a break in the sense I quit my job instead of negotiating a sabbatical bilat work, because I was giving myself that taking away the temptation of oh, I have this obligation to go back to. But interestingly, the moment I quit, I decided to go abroad to do pro bono volunteer work. And I chose to do retail work. And that was, to me such a powerful indicator that the fact of the matter is, I love retail. I love it, love it, love it, like, this is what I want to do.
Michael Glazer 15:58
Now, your your break, I believe, was was retail but with a twist, you went to Morocco, didn't you?
Jinny Uppal 16:03
I went to Morocco, I worked with artisans. And these are artisans who are trying to sell direct to consumer so that they get you know, more more share of the dollar that the consumer is spending. So it was a very innovative ecommerce model at the time. This is five, six years ago. So it got it was fulfilling for me. By the time I came back, Michael, when I left for my sabbatical, I was a technologist, if you look at my resume, I was technology all over. But because the work I did with the artisans was really launching a b2b model. It was a business strategy. By the time I came back, I realized, Oh, my goodness, I love this kind of work. And the job I got when I came back was actually in business strategy to help me pivot. And I had a story to tell of what what business strategy work had I done while I was on my sabbatical. So it had all these unexpected, like, I couldn't have foreseen all of it. But it was it was just a wonderful experience.
Michael Glazer 17:04
So for people who were considering taking an extended period of time for reflective thinking, not the the mini breaks in a conversation, what would you say are some of the things that don't count as reflective thinking?
Jinny Uppal 17:20
I mean, if you take a break, and you sign up to complete, to do everything that you've ever dreamt off, since you were 10 years old, and you fill your schedule, and you're busier than you ever were before, then then I'm not sure, then I don't think that's considered reflective thinking, then you're just filling your time, I would say even in the process of taking a break, and I do know several people who are planning to leave the workforce without a job in hand. Even in that case, I am I recommended to a young woman I was coaching, she was quite fed up, burnt out, toxic work, culture, all of that. And she just wanted to get out of there. And I what I shared with her is that you can always leave that option is available to you. But in this state of mind, just make sure you're not jumping from the frying pan into the fire because you It's like she didn't have a plan on what she would do during the break.
And some people have the appetite, to just take the leap and figure it out. But just don't underestimate what will happen when you have had a very busy life. And you suddenly have a vacuum. If you're not mentally prepared to deal with that. Even in taking a break or leaving your workforce I recommend, stop and think a little bit about what is it that you're getting into versus you want to get into. So be a little thoughtful, even in the act of leaving this crazy job, if you know what I mean.
Michael Glazer 18:50
Yeah, so it's not an all or nothing. We don't you're saying you don't need to plan out this reflective time or a break if somebody is planning a break. But be intentional about what you hope to gain from it, or how you would like to spend the time without necessarily having a full plan.
Jinny Uppal 19:08
Correct. Be intentional, have a vision and have some structure around. How will you spend your day like I said, don't underestimate what happens if you've been working 16 hour days and suddenly you have nothing to do some people it can be really jarring. So have some idea of how will you structure your life how will you pay for the life supposing if finances were a consideration so in my I wrote a an article after I came back from my sabbatical where I wrote down things I did you know I had an Excel spreadsheet with my finances I had because I was leaving the country who was going to take care of my life. So a little bit of a little bit of reflective thinking of why am I doing this? What do I hope to get out of it in very broad strokes. and some sort of a plan so that you don't find yourself reacting to finding yourself in a new life.
Michael Glazer 20:09
Yeah, and, you know, without I feel like we've danced a little bit around this, this idea of how do you set goals that don't, you know, unintentionally get us on the hamster wheel. And in the book, you talk about the importance of setting goals. Well, and getting away from what you call narrow goals, like earning a certain amount of money. You know, why, why is that? Why is this important?
Jinny Uppal 20:37
Well, goals goal setting is a fascinating subject, and we are in January of 2022. So a lot of people have either written goals or, you know, the ambitious among you probably are concerned if you haven't written your goals already. And there was an observation I made in my own life. Many years ago, there was a period in my life where two, three years in a row, I was hitting all my goals, like I wanted a big jump in salary, I wanted a promotion, I even wanted to get engaged. I remember I wrote that as a goal.
And so the good thing about people who are very driven, is that they come up with very well written measurable goals around what they want, the aspiration that they have, what we tend to do is we neglect goals on things that either we don't have any current aspiration, or things are going things which are going well. So for example, you may not think to write a goal to sleep well, if you're already sleeping fairly well. It never occurred to you to write goals around well being or being happy. Because that's not what you're going for right now you're going for the money or the job, or what have you.
The problem comes, especially with ambitious and driven people is when you're chasing that goal, to which you put a number on a timeline, and the going gets tough, and you have to reprioritize resources, you're going to tap into something you have, which is sleep, rest, health time with loved ones. And before you know it, that becomes a habit over the years because of course once you get your million dollars, you're gonna want your next million dollars. So it's it's just an observation I made in my own life. And people are some of the people I interviewed when they were sharing stories from their younger selves. The goals we set tend to be narrow. They tend to be around aspirational targets we haven't achieved yet.
But if you were to do make a simple mind shift, right, the goals you have, you know the job you want the career transition you want to go after, and then broaden it to include what kind of relationships do you want to have that you want to strengthen? What about what about your mental and physical health things you may not think to mention, but write them down. Some years ago, I started writing down maintain my spiritual practice, there was nothing for me to aspire to. I was very happy with my daily meditation practice, but I write it as a goal. So that I don't forget that this is also important as the year progresses.
Michael Glazer 23:17
Speaking of spiritual, in the book, you quote a verse from Bhagavad Gita. And the verse is that those who see action in inaction and inaction in action are truly wise amongst humans. They are the yogi's who have accomplished their work. So what's the message here?
Jinny Uppal 23:41
So Bhagavad Gita, for those who don't know, is a text from ancient India or Southeast Asia. And many modern thinkers think of it as a book of philosophy more than anything. So people like Mahatma Gandhi, even Carl Jung, the psychologist, they have attributed the Gita as having a lot of influence in how they see life and how they live life. So what you're quoting is chapter four, verse 18, is the epigraph of the book and then I get into the details in the book. So it's a bit of a tongue twister, the, you know, you said, action and inaction, inaction in action, those who see that that interplay between action and inaction are wise. And let me try and tie it back to the book because that is kind of the genesis of the book.
But these you know, sometimes these phrases are they're very deep, they're very esoteric. So there are two parts to that phrase, those who see action in inaction. What I mean, what they mean by that, as I understand is, in those moments of downtime, or reflective thinking or what I would have previously called under productivity, even though outwardly it looks like inaction. There is action happening you just don't see it are the seeds of action are being sold. So the wise person understands that outwardly this looks like inaction but something is happening. The other phrase, the other part of the phrase, which is inaction, inaction indicates a life in which you appreciate the action you're taking, but you're not in love with it, you're not obsessed with it, you understand that action is happening through you, not from you. And that the action you're taking is a sum total of, you know, the myriad of influences that you have been under.
And the whole, the practical aspect of this phrase is, don't get hung up about, I did this, which is why I'm successful, or I did this things went wrong, and then I blame myself. So it is to become a little detached from the action or the inaction just step back, and watch the unfolding of things as they happen. It's a it's a beautiful phrase. I mean, I mean, the whole Gita is just a phenomenal text. And it's, I don't think I could possibly do justice to it. But it is, it's one of the more powerful phrases that I wanted to quote in the book.
Michael Glazer 26:17
And on a personal level, have you faced challenges, putting this aspect of philosophy into practice?
Jinny Uppal 26:29
Um, a lot, and I feel that we, you know, humans are wired to act. And I still am wired to act. And there's nothing wrong with being wired to act. I, I am over time, learning to appreciate more and more, that it's okay not to take action, like the pressure that not only the world apparently puts on me, but the pressure I put on myself. So I wrote a book, I wrote this book, from all the way from writing to publishing was less than a year, which is pretty intense. Usually books take longer than a year. And books are very deadline driven, very high pressure. At some point, you're working with a publisher, and there's deadlines. And even in the writing of this book, I am trying out the techniques in the book. And I'm observing that it is hard even for me to face a deadline and tell myself, I'm not going to work too late night, today, I'm not going to work till midnight, I'm going to go to sleep. I'm going to do this tomorrow. And I trust that the right ideas will come up. That is not easy for me.
And I think for a lot of people. But I use the word phrase mastering action as a practice in the book. So this is a practice, I also come to acknowledge that this is a practice this isn't one and done. Now that I have awareness of this topic, it's just a matter of reminding myself that inaction has as much a role to play in success as action.
Michael Glazer 28:02
Yeah, and just steering this a little kind of continuing on the point but a different topic or a different type of example, one of the fascinating data points that you bring up in the book is this fallacy of taking action is always better. And you cite a study about goalie movements or goalkeeper movements in penalty kicks, in professional football, European style football. I thought it was interesting on its own merits. I'm also interested in it because my son plays that sport. Can you summarize what the study was and what the findings are?
Jinny Uppal 28:44
For sure. So the early parts of the book are introduced something called Action bias, which is a behavioral tendency, which makes us take action even when it's not needed, or it's counterproductive. And then I cite research from different professions, including soccer on how this shows up. So this isn't limited to any one kind of person or any one country for that matter. So the research of the soccer penalty kits, which was conducted across many countries, they made a couple of observations.
One thing that you know, your son is in soccer is penalty kicks tend to get scored right 70 to 80%, they're going to score before this study. Before I came across the study, I would have thought of penalty kicks as very obvious. The answer is very easy. The guy is so close to the goal. And of course, he's gonna make it like it was. I would have rationalized Of course, yep. It's very obvious that a penalty kick is going to score. Turns out there's a nuance in why that happens. Why do penalty kicks get scored as often as that and the nuance is the following. So the person, Michael, I'm not a sports person, so my language may not be quite.
Michael Glazer 29:57
It's okay, go for it.
Jinny Uppal 29:59
I'll give myself away. by the person who's kicking the ball and the goalie, they studied the distribution curve of the direction in which the ball tends to go and the direction in which the goalie jumps. And they found that inevitably, it's a mismatch, which is why the goalie misses. And they did a survey and they asked the goalie, why do you jump, and inevitably, goalies jump. So they found that if the goalie had not taken action, if they had stayed in the center of the goal, the chances are they would catch the ball, but they inevitably jump and inevitably jump jump in the wrong direction. So they miss it. So they asked the goalies and the coaches like what gives? Why do you do this. And what came out is a goalie is wired to jump, right, that is, the whole purpose of their being existing is they jump and they catch the ball. So the default behavior is to jump, they don't know how to be any different.
Moreover, if there is one of the root causes of action bias, which I talked about in the book is regret of loss. If they don't jump, and a goal is scored, the goal is going to regret it, they're going to beat themselves up, I should have done something I should have jumped. If on the other hand, they jump and they miss the goal, they can get themselves a hall pass that I took my best shot, I did what I had to do. So it's a very fascinating psychological phenomenon, it applies to the rest of us as well. The regret of if I don't, if I don't take action, I will miss the result. And hence why I must take action even when it is unnecessary, or in this case, counterproductive. I thought it was a fascinating insight. And it actually applies to a lot of what we do in our daily, you know, lives.
Michael Glazer 31:53
Yeah, I can see it. And I see in in my own life, professional life, as well as a lot of the a lot of the clients and companies that I work with there, there's just a natural centrifugal force about, you know, let's act, let's take action, let's move things forward. And right, you know, exactly to your point. It does take, I'd say, a mindset as well as a habit or a discipline, or you call it a practice, to recognize, maybe we should take a step back, even if for just a moment or for a day. And just consider the bigger picture, consider what matters.
And you know, to that point, there was a story, when I read the first part of the story in the book, about the CEO of a medical device company who got in a crisis call. Instead of jumping into action, the first thing he did was take a walk, which, which made me kind of pull back as I was reading it. And I read the rest of the story, which I'll ask you to fill in the details in a second. But taking just an hour or two, to kind of walk and think through the situation before springing into action really made a huge difference in the results for for everybody involved.
Jinny Uppal 33:16
Right. That was a fascinating story. And I happen to know the CEO, I've known him for many years, and I was very grateful that he shared the story with me. There are certain situations in life where we feel that the choice to act or not act is not ours, and a crisis. This was a medical imaging device company and the CEO got a phone call that a child had died in a machine made by this company. This is a moment of a very, very clear action and threat. This can become a PR disaster, there can be lawsuits like all sorts of things will go wrong. And very often we feel and if you if you put yourself in the shoes of the CEO, he there is a crisis playbook that every company has and you must fire from that playbook. Right? You must lawyer up you must call an emergency staff meeting is your gag order on your employees. Crisis of business crisis or a personal crisis, we all believe is a time for action. It is not a time to think.
But interestingly, the CEO chose the opposite. He told his administrative assessment. I'm going for a walk. I asked him of course the story ends very well, which is why it's in the book. But I did ask him like that was a rescue talk. What if you know somebody had called a journalist had call and he said, You know, I had faith in my leadership team that if a journalist calls, then they will they will handle it. So he wasn't running away from the problem. He wasn't being naive. It was a choice. And this is an example of strategic inaction now is not the time for me to fire off from all cylinders from the crowd. ISIS playbook. On the walk, he his mind reconnected with his values, his principles, which is you know, healthcare companies will put in their brochures, we care for our patients and their families. And it was like a reminder that that's what his job is to care for patients. So instead of lawyering up and calling the emergency staff meeting, he decided to fly to the scene of the incident. Got to know the mother, the single mother spoke to the hospital administrators participated as much as he was allowed in the investigation.
It turned out the death was in the post mortem ruled as you know, because of a cardiac arrest, which means he's off the hook. Now, again, what would a typical CEO do? "I'm outta here, because this is not my problem. This is not my fault company's fault." But because he was he had connected deeply with his principles. He was there for the patient's family, he stayed on got to know the mother eventually developed a relationship and invited the mother to come speak to his staff. And she shared her story to 1000 people in his town hall, they in turn, these 1000 employees who work with machines all day long. Now they're hearing about the human side of their work, even though it was not their fault, the death was not their fault. They were so moved by the mother story that they fired off a bunch of quality improvement programs. On their own, they were inspired into action. The CEO shared with me that look, if I had to enforce quality improvement, I would be spending 10s of 1000s of dollars. But this was so organic. Imagine the non linear series of events how one thing led to another to another. And the genesis of it was the CEO deciding not to play defense.
Michael Glazer 36:52
I think that's another benefits feature. Or upside to taking, in this case, and an hour or two, and thinking things through reflecting on what to do, why to do it. And I think the foot what I get from your story is grow from this story is it says much about why why to take a certain action, as much as what action to take.
Jinny Uppal 37:23
Correct. I mean, it's the name, the title of the book is in forward slash action, rethinking the path to results. And our default is to get results I've got to do XYZ, and the story of the CEO, the story of many other people, I interviewed about 36 people who are considered successful in different parts of the world. And the genesis of all of it is, there is another path to getting even better results. Instead of barreling into action. If you just pause for X amount of time. You know, like I said, it could be seconds in a conversation, two hour walk, six month career break. But the results you get are going to be phenomenal. And it's a very different way of getting to results very, very non intuitive to us. But nonetheless, it's a practice that can be cultivated, you can harness into the power of this thoughtful pause.
Michael Glazer 38:18
And as Jinny said, her book is called IN/ACTION. It's available now through New Degree Press, or wherever you buy books. It's actually recently just released. And I know that the paperback version made number one on the job markets and advice category in Amazon.
And it's also achieved a couple of other number one positions early on, you can buy it wherever you buy books, and you can connect with Jinny on our website, which is jinnyuppal.com, as well as on LinkedIn, and Instagram. And I'll put all of the links into the show notes. So let's, Jinny, pivot to a different topic. And that's the topic of well being at work. I'm curious to get your thoughts on how important you think it is to workers and to employers well being at work.
Jinny Uppal 39:10
How important it is versus how important it should be are two different things. And I'm noticing now there are some companies who are waking up to the fact that if your employees if their well being starts to get chipped away because of the work they're doing, it affects long term productivity. So companies that are thinking long term systems have not only a driving hard results, but sustainable results are waking up to the fact that burnout because of long hours will get to short term results, but just not for a long time. So I from what I noticed, especially now, you know thanks to the pandemic and the narrative around the hustle culture and the damaging effects Have it. It seems to be the beginning of that acknowledgement. I would like to see more of it.
Michael Glazer 40:07
And can you say a little bit more about that? What else would you like to see?
Jinny Uppal 40:11
To tell you the truth? Michael, I'm thinking, lately, I've been thinking a lot about this topic. And I, on the one hand, I feel like companies have a lot of responsibility to take towards the work environments they create, where there's an expectation of being on all the time, being responsive to emails at midnight, or what have you, I feel there is it can be very empowering for employees to also take a stand for themselves and create work habits for themselves. And the teams that they manage or the teams they work with. It's, it's almost like if both parties were to come together. And think of acknowledged the fact that working long hours is not necessarily giving you the results or sustainable results. But the right amount of breaks will give you better results. If both parties start taking that responsibility, it'll this conversation will progress much faster.
Michael Glazer 41:13
And I've read research from research that shows that working more than 55 hours a week on average is actually you run into the law of diminishing returns. Up to 55 hours a week, you can be more effective. But beyond that, it tapers pretty quickly.
Jinny Uppal 41:29
Right, right. There's there's that research, there's also research that came out from the World Health Organization that actually associates long hours are working more than 55 hours a week to the rise of a certain kind of a heart attack, I cite that research in my book, I forget what exactly it's called. So there is a very tangible, negative effect on physical health. And there is the loss of productivity that you pointed out.
Michael Glazer 41:55
So if there's one change that you could wave a magic wand and change, to help increase well being in the workplace, what change would you make?
Jinny Uppal 42:08
I trust in people's imagination, in the sense that the strategies and the techniques that will help, you know, solve this problem will come from people, what I will do is raise awareness, that working long hours is not going to lead you to sustainable success, taking breaks, thoughtful breaks will actually get you there faster, the mechanisms. And in the interviews I did with people, people have come up with such interesting ways to give themselves a break, like the Dutch entrepreneur who goes for a walk before his meeting. And that's such an interesting, my default would have been to rehearse and right mentally prepare, and he found his own formula. So if you will all find what right what is right for us. If we have conviction, that taking a break, if we know for a fact that taking a break, get suspect a result. So I would I would make that known to everyone this is there's data that if you give yourself a break, you will perform better, people respond very well to science proof data. And I want that to be known that this is true. This works.
Michael Glazer 43:12
Yeah. And being kind to ourselves is also one of the things that we can do to stave off burnout.
Jinny Uppal 43:21
True, take Yes, be be good to yourself. It's almost like think of think of it as a life as a long game. If you want to be around for you know, several decades and be operational be successful, then then make these investments in yourself now because otherwise you just you, if you don't take care of yourself, life will take care of itself for you. And I have a story of a woman who experienced burnout at the height of her successful career. And she had to really take a step back and completely transform her career. So don't wait for dramatic things to happen to you take take charge of your own well being.
Michael Glazer 44:03
Yeah, it's almost paradoxical. You know, don't wait take charge, but take charge in a way that includes inaction. Right. So it's, there's it. It's both tactical and very deep advice. Right. Well, Jinny, finally, I have one question around our conversation. And it's a question I ask all of my guests. And that's what does the phrase working with humans mean to you?
Jinny Uppal 44:34
That's an interesting question. I want to share this moment I had a first a few years into my career when somebody pointed out to me, in the workplace, you're not human, you're a resource, which is why it's called Human Resources. It was it was such a sad thing for me to realize that I am a resource is what this person is and it's a fact of life. So I think I think of working with him human's as something not limited to the work I'm doing in my professional environment, it is at the same level as the work I'm doing with people I call family and friends. To me there is now as time goes by less and less difference, I used to categorize work people and friend, people, family people. To me, I am the same person showing up in all these environments. And which is why I'm experienced with them and the strategies and tactics that work with them is going to be the same. So I've stopped compartmentalizing my life as much. So to me working with humans is living with humans being with humans and being human.
Michael Glazer 45:41
It's a great answer. And it's a it's also an apt reminder that we all have one life and that we're all hold people. So thank you for that. And thanks for taking time to sit down with me and have this fantastic conversation. Jinny.
Jinny Uppal 45:55
Thank you so much for having me, Michael. This was this was a very nice conversation.
Michael Glazer 46:03
Thanks for listening. If you liked this episode, please consider subscribing to the show. And I invite you to connect with me at glazercoaching.com or at linkedin.com/in/learningpro.