Interaction's Thrivalism

What Can Businesses Learn From Religion? with Sanderson Jones

November 30, 2021 Interaction Season 2 Episode 2
What Can Businesses Learn From Religion? with Sanderson Jones
Interaction's Thrivalism
More Info
Interaction's Thrivalism
What Can Businesses Learn From Religion? with Sanderson Jones
Nov 30, 2021 Season 2 Episode 2

In this episode, our Head of Marketing, Toby, catches up with comedian, coach and co-founder of global secular community the Sunday Assembly, Sanderson Jones. When he's not officiating mass weddings and helping companies with their culture, he's taking inspiration from the way religious organisations foster community and examining ways we can bring more of what he terms "lifefullness" to work. 

In this episode Sanderson explores the ideas of covenants, congregations and commitment, and discusses how he's been making megachurches jealous. It's a great chat with some strong language. Hope you enjoy it. 


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, our Head of Marketing, Toby, catches up with comedian, coach and co-founder of global secular community the Sunday Assembly, Sanderson Jones. When he's not officiating mass weddings and helping companies with their culture, he's taking inspiration from the way religious organisations foster community and examining ways we can bring more of what he terms "lifefullness" to work. 

In this episode Sanderson explores the ideas of covenants, congregations and commitment, and discusses how he's been making megachurches jealous. It's a great chat with some strong language. Hope you enjoy it. 


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

Sanderson Jones: We are willing to use the word soul about the workplace, but the how we design workplaces is so far away from creating that something that you'd actually call soulful.


Dieter Wood: Hi, I'm Dieter Wood, Managing Director of Interaction and this is Thrivalism, our podcast focussed on the art of thriving, flourishing and evolving under any conditions. In this series, we'll examine how to create flourishing 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 Sanderson Jones, comedian, coach and co-founder of global secular community The Sunday Assembly. When he's not officiating mass weddings and helping companies with their culture, he's taking inspiration from the way religious organisations foster community and examining ways he can be more what he calls lifefullness to work. In this episode, Sanderson explores the ideas of covenants, congregations and commitment and discusses how he's been making megachurches jealous. This is a wonderful conversation, but with some strong language. I hope you enjoy it.


Toby Brown: Sanderson, welcome to Thrivalism. Let's start at the beginning then I guess. So, The Sunday Assembly, if you could give us a bit of background on how that came to be and how the Lifefullness Project evolved from it, that'd be amazing.


Sanderson Jones: Yeah, sure. So I don't know if people know that we met when you were doing comedy and I was doing comedy as well. Many moons ago. And so that's what I was. I was a professional stand-up comedian and but I had this idea. 

Is it possible to do something which is a bit like church, but which everyone could come to? So instead of hymns, pop songs. Instead of a sermon, a TEDx style talk. Instead of prayer, mindfulness. I didn't have it fully worked out when I first thought of it as I was in a Christmas Carol service. But I was just like, Why can't you do this? So then in 2013, with Pippa Evans another, I was gonna say another amazing comic that would imply that I'm an amazing comic. Another inspiring, amazing, super sexy comic. Then we decided to do it. And so we launched it as a little experiment in North London. And then it turned out that it really struck a chord, that there were loads of people who wanted that sense of community, that sense of purpose and that sense of belonging. And so what was weird is that I still end up changing job. I went from being a comic and on the first day of doing Sunday Assembly because two hundred people turned up to the first one. We were overfull by the second and went to two services a day by the third. It went bonkers. But on that first day I was like, This has got all the things I love about my job as a stand up, but it really goes and makes a difference in people's lives.


Toby Brown: You don't have to sit and write any jokes. So that's a win.


Sanderson Jones: Oh, well, it's actually a bit of a nightmare because from the point of view of stand up, you can do something. And then if it doesn't work, then you just don't do it ever again, and then you just get your 20 minutes better and better and better. But when doing congregation, you go and write something and then it's done. You've burnt it. So it's in fact an absolute writing sort of conundrum and inferno of words.


Toby Brown: So it was immediately successful, it obviously resonated with lots of people to get your capacity for that first one. What are some of the things that you think really resonated with people and what drove people to respond to it in such numbers?


Sanderson Jones: I think there's just this drive for community, this need for real connection. And it's not just any old connection, it's not like, Oh, you've connected on Facebook. And there's something about the congregational structure which says you can bring whatever here, that you can bring the big questions, you can bring the fact that you're stressed at work and people will be accepting - there's clearly just such a huge need for that which we're doing our best to address. But in the past almost 10 years since we started, it hasn't got better and we're just more and more aware of the problem.


Toby Brown: You can't just bring people together and expect community and connections to happen. So what are some of the things you've done that facilitate them?


Sanderson Jones: Maybe this is a good way to go and sort of relate it to work. So I know that's what your audience are going to be interested in. Yeah, they hate community. That's them. They don't only care about this stuff is related to work. I've heard a bunch of mercenary psychopaths, so I judge them all.  So if you go and think about what happens in a congregation, there are so many different processes, different activities which go on in order to make it work. And so then the question is like, OK, how can those then go and be things that we can be learnt in the workplace? Because often we found when doing Sunday Assembly is that people would be like Oh no, we can't get together to sing songs together. That's religious. And you just think, right? No it's not, because people love singing songs. And people love hearing something inspiring, they went, Oh no, it'd be fine if you've got contemplation, it's fine if you've got an inspiring talk, it's fine if you've got songs. But the moment they're together, that's that should be something only for religions. And there is, you know, just that thing of like, how do you do your gatherings? I think that was the thing which really set us apart. And in fact, I was having a conversation with a vicar today who happened to have gone to a Sunday assembly and a church called Holy Trinity Brompton. On the same day. Holy Trinity Brompton are big in the church world. The big daddies. That's actually where the Alpha course comes from... And he preferred Sunday Assembly. 


Toby Brown: And one nil against God. Brilliant.


Sanderson Jones: I don't see it in those terms! So, yeah, think about what is different about a church gathering a congregation to, you know, most conferences, to most work events. You bring your whole body into it and you can, like people, sing a song. Why shouldn't that happen? And not in some ridiculous it might happen at the end of a Christmas party when everyone's had a few drinks and something comes on everyone's singing way. But it's actually really fun to do it. It doesn't have to be weird.


Toby Brown: When you go in it doesn't have to be weird, but when you go into workplaces, for instance, and obviously people go to church with the idea, they're going to sing a song... sing a song, that's obviously not all that happens in the church, but they go in with the idea of knowing what's going to happen and being game for that. If you're going to workplace and you've got 30 people from accounts who have never sung together in their lives. How do you get them singing? It’s not the only thing you do, but how would you begin to break down those barriers and get people to feel more comfortable indulging in those sort of rituals?


Sanderson Jones: You do have to work hard to make that work, and it's something which as a performer and as an organiser of shows, I realised how much in-built knowledge there was from literally How do you lay out the seats? If you say, if you let everyone be spread out you're never going to have that atmosphere, people will say, I want to sit at the back and you've got to, as with the comedy show, you've got to say, no, you don't want to sit in the back, you want to be at the front and you want there to be people at the front and so you want to get the room laid out, right? If you're going to do it, then go and make sure the music's loud. You don't want people to be able to hear their own voices. There'll always be some people in an office, the sort of people who would be jumping up and leading karaoke, who would like this, you know, and to say, OK, every Friday before we leave or at an off site, I think that's particularly a sort of good way of doing it. And then just going for it because people, once people get going, then it is as though something's been unlocked because you've been in a crowd when they, you know, you sing Living on a Prayer and then it's only drops down. Turn off the music. And suddenly what happens, you've changed emotions, you feel connected, you feel picked up, you get all of those sort of neurochemicals rushing through you, the dopamine, the endorphins which help you feel connected to others. And I guess the thing which I push back is: Why does it feel so odd to do that in a workplace? Why does it feel so weird that that would happen? This thing that I often harp on about when I'll start talking about, I'm on a mission to bring soul into the workplace. And no souls doesn't have anything to do with jobs. Soul doesn't really have anything to do with their work. It's got nothing to do with the office. And then you ask those same people, what's the most soulless job you have you've ever had? And everyone knows it instantly. It turns out we are willing to use the word soul about the workplace. But how we design workplaces is so far away from creating that something that you'd actually call soulful. And yeah, so that's just one thing of like thinking about how do you gather people in events? How can you do it in a way which is creates more emotion and engagement?


Toby Brown: And thinking about being soulful at work? Does that link into mission and purpose and those sort of principles? Or can you have a company that is purely like we just sell plastic goods but be a soulful environment to be in? How does that balance out?


Sanderson Jones: Well, I think that you can sell plastic goods in a soulful way and you can sell plastic goods in the soulless way. There are monks whose job it is to dig up gardens in their monastery, and they do that because it is part of God's work and they tend every single leaf as though it is sacred. And they're part of this huge chain of being,


Toby Brown: Yeah, but they might be secretly hating it, then they would never tell you.


Sanderson Jones: So that's it, maybe all monks are lying. But then you could use a more prosaic example. You know, there will be a company which is selling plastic goods, and there'll be someone delivering it who thinks, Oh my God, this job is the worst. There'll be someone else who's the boss thinks, when I do this, look, people need these. I'm doing it in the most environmentally conscious way possible. I'm providing a real service. I really want to create a place for my staff where they can grow and they can flourish. We treat each other with respect. That's a huge value. We love our customers and go above and beyond them. We are providing a service when we do this and that same person is delivering those plastic goods will have the opportunity. And actually, that's great. Every single day I'm coming into that, I'm sold into that. I met a woman in Australia, in Port Douglas, and she was selling ice creams and I said, How's your day? Oh my. I've got the best job in the world here in Port Douglas. I sell ice creams to people on holiday. Everyone loves ice creams. Everyone loves holidays and you're just like, What a way of looking at that job, right?


Toby Brown: So that sort of ties into some other stuff because obviously there's a big role for leadership, I think, in creating that environment. And I imagine during the pandemic and with people now refocused on maybe more meaningful work or the great resignation with people quitting jobs that aren't important to them. What are some of the new or maybe ignored softer skills that leadership need to have in order to create those environments? Are there any they can pick directly from religious communities and institutions?


Sanderson Jones: Yeah, I think that is really a great place to go looking. If you go and think about those people who complain about what millennials want from work or Gen Z, oh oh, they want a place which is meaningful work where people respect them, where they were, they're listened to. Who are these people? I can't believe it. Yes, that's what I wanted throughout my career. But I never had the courage to ask


Toby Brown: But I’m not bitter about it.


Sanderson Jones: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So what people are expecting from work literally in that same person, right? What do they think? This is a bloody church? Well, I think this is it's like, Well, actually, that's what people want. They want a place where they are able to flourish, where they're able to grow, where they have got really good relationships with the people next to them. Where that same organisation is taking a stand on social justice issues, you know, and they way I put it is that the leader of the future is going to need to have a lot more in common with the vicar, a priest or an imam, than they will with an engineer or a general. It is those things where people come together because everyone's realising the work they want to do. It's got to be significant to them.


Toby Brown: So what are some of those qualities of a priest or imam that bring people together?


Sanderson Jones: Having the skills to create an environment where you can create relationships. And so that means that everyone needs to understand why relationships are important. You need to have a congregation. It was often called a covenant, but you know, there have been behavioural guidelines. But I think behavioural guidelines actually loses something that's like, Don't do this, don't do this when in fact, it's like, this is how we choose to act together and it comes from our values. Relationships are important. We're going to act a certain way. So, you know, again, that's a super interesting place to go and look at this idea of covenants. What's yours? There's also something in community which is called a real danger in community is triangulation. So what happens is that Dave has got a problem with Samantha. And so Dave goes and speaks to Paul about the problem with Samantha. And so now, instead of there just being two people involved, there's a triangle.


Toby Brown: Yeah. And Paul's got to take a side.


Sanderson Jones: Yeah. And then suddenly and it's like, Well, don't bring this to me actually as a leader. If someone can't speak to them, or if someone thinks that it's not safe to speak to them, then again, you've got to go and look at what is happening in the organisation. And so that again, this idea of triangulation of how can you go and make sure that everyone knows that the best way of dealing with something is to bring it to that person. As part of that, the other person also has to know that it's not them being blamed, they have to be know that someone can have a disagreement with you, and it can be as much about different ways of doing things as right or wrong. It's not an indictment, it's not an indictment. And you know what, even if it is something that you reflect on that you did wrong, you might not have been aware of it. So, you know, it's a minister I really like called Andy Pakula, who calls them, I think it's YAFOG’s: yet another fucking opportunity for growth. So there's that thing of, not only do people have to have the tools and permission to go and speak to someone else and for someone to know that that's OK. They then need to have the sort of internal resources to be able to take that on board. And I guess it's just being aware of like, OK, what are the some of the other things which are at my disposal in order to go and again on this thing, create community and relationships. And one of the things which is most powerful is small groups and their groups that are small. That probably aren't crazy concepts. Yeah, crazy concept. And like these big, I'm sure you've seen pictures of these literally called megachurches, these huge churches. You've got 2000 people, 10000 people, whatever it is


Toby Brown: Refuse to shut during COVID. 


Sanderson Jones: Yeah, there are also some who have got very bad ideas. I always end up being the atheist who was most pro- church of anyone in a room. And there are clearly some things it's totally impossible to apologise for, though. A friend of mine, the philosopher Jules Evans, he once said Sanderson, I sometimes think that there's going to be an ISIS video and you're going to be in the background and afterwards you'll say, You know what? There's actually a lot that you can learn from them if you look past the things that you disagree with.

Toby Brown: They're all very motivated and very engaged.

Sanderson Jones: They're very engaged. They will do anything. So by the way, no one starts listening to this podcast halfway through, that is not at all my message.

Toby Brown: Well, we'll definitely edit that bit into an audio clip that we used to promote it. So, yeah, absolutely fine.

Sanderson Jones: So one of the these tools is small groups. And so you've got these massive things and there's this great line, which is used from a guy called Rick Warren, which is the bigger you get, the smaller you've got to get. So if you go to, there's a classic thing in start-ups. That thing there were 60, we all knew each other. Now we're one hundred and twenty. Now we're two hundred. Yeah. If you want to go and maintain that level of connection and intimacy, like having a group which might meet once every two weeks to once a week, it depends how you do it, to go and really say what is going on, to be able to be open and say, you know, this is what's happening in my life. You can give it a work context.


Toby Brown: So not necessarily groups that have got a particular work function, but groups whose sole purpose is to be a group essentially.


Sanderson Jones: Yeah, well, the thing is, you can actually have them around a work function or around a task that let's say people want to get better with. And so I've been speaking to some people about doing one in their company for people who wanted to post more on LinkedIn. Yeah, and that sounds totally daft and a real manipulation of these sacred practises. Do not debase LinkedIn by connecting it with the transcendent. LinkedIn rules over everything. But a lot of the reasons why people don't do that is because they might have imposter syndrome. You know, you might feel worried that other people are going to judge you. It's a skill you haven't developed. And again, that's embarrassing. So like, what happens is what we're discussing was what happens if there's a group of people who can get together once every two weeks and they've got, you know, the first half is like saying, this is what I've been trying to do. This is why I find it hard. You know, how can you find that place where you can go and connect and that place where you can be yourself because you can be totally surrounded by people, but if folk don't know who you are, you can still feel alone. And that is what is the case in so many offices.


Toby Brown: And so and people don't feel they have a safety net often where they can admit vulnerability or weakness.


Sanderson Jones: Yeah. And so you've got you've got to make sure that the guidelines on how you do that are really safe, right? In order for that to happen, people ask, someone might report someone - that's why the leaders got to take responsibility. You know, this is how we do things here. And so then having a place where people can go and check in with what they're doing, maybe they've got this task, which is we all want to post on LinkedIn more. And you know, and you also say Wednesday, we're all going to go and like each other's posts or whatever it might be, you can make it related to that and then say, OK, now we're going to go and what's the action that I'm going to take? And so having that group of people that you see and you know, it is something which is just in your diary and you're going to commit to it, will end up really growing in time, and if everyone is engaged with that, there will be six, seven, eight people in your company. You can go and switch them up every six months. You do this thing where you go, OK, half the group are going to mix with someone else. So you start to meet other people and. You create these really deep, powerful relationships and by, you know, if you can make sure that it's like an opportunity for people to reflect on their culture, you know, what does this say about who we are? Why is this important then suddenly and for what is it? One hour, every two weeks? People always say, I don't have time. You're like, if you do not have one hour every two weeks,


Toby Brown: If you stop posting on LinkedIn so much.


Sanderson Jones: Yeah. But if you don't have that one hour every two weeks for your culture, then how on earth is it ever going to feel how you want it to feel?


Toby Brown: Be a real thing. Yeah. And I guess if you do that, you create lots of mini cogs in your business that will driving different things forwards, which leads to further momentum.


Sanderson Jones: Yeah. Like and you can do that, let's say after a well, like a big focus of my work is away days and off sites because they are at Sunday Assembly. We essentially just created events, sometimes longer ones, where which were about people's purpose and community and creating community brought ideas to life, different ideas every time. But then after that, it's like, OK, how can we maintain this? You know that feeling like you come back for an off site and you're like, That was great. And then it’s Tuesday and you're like, Ooh.


Toby Brown: I've done a lot of off sites, and many of them have been very good, but it's the ones that disaster that really stick with people. And I think the minute you mention the word offsite, everybody sort of cringes a bit internally. So what are the mistakes you see? What is best practice look like? Things have obviously changed again now because you might be seeing each other face-to-face less. What do people need to know?


Sanderson Jones: So in the world of off sites which even though you say we're going to be seeing each other less in the work, that actually makes off sites more important. So, companies like GitLab and Buffer and I could just start inventing companies which come from Silicon Valley and Smasher and Kyrie and. Yeah, I'm seeing words which are on my screen now, like Buffer and Automatic, they will have all hands company offsite once every quarter because they're totally remote. And so they think that unless you've got these moments when you can create that emotional connection, then you're not able to collaborate because after a while you lose that sort of known embodied link with someone. And by embodied, I just realised that it's sort of a daft word. It's like that physical thing of being with someone. It's like salespeople, body in a body. Yeah, but it's yeah, the body thing. And so that's why they're so important. And I guess the I heard, it's amazing when you do still hear of the absolutely, awful nineteen seventies style, trust exercise. What was your awful off-site, then?


Toby Brown: I worked for an agency who will remain nameless and the peak of summer on a beautiful, clear summer's day. They put probably 50 of us on a coach to Centre Parcs for the day, so it's probably a two hour journey. We got there. Sprawling forests. Beautiful blue sky. Loads of outdoor activities. And they went come into this reception hall. Closed, dark. Here's some notepaper. Just have some ideas. Here's a few facilitators. Just have a few ideas, and they locked us in a dark room for about eight hours straight. And I sort of refused to have that and escaped and went looking for rabbits in the woods and eventually bumped into the organisers who had also escaped. And we will have a really awkward chat outside going, Oh yes. What are you doing? I just like fresh air. And it was the biggest waste of petrol brainpower, money, energy, that I think I've ever being part of.


Sanderson Jones: Yeah, I mean, that is just so dumb. Like, what is it? What part of off-site didn't you understand you're trying to get away somewhere? And part of that is to change the sort of visual inputs you can try to get into a different space, again embodied, like how we react to the spaces around us because it creates the way we think and then also like way to direct it on work. There are now tools which will enable you to go and have lots of these discussions that maybe you needed to go and have people together with. And so that's not to say that there should be no planning or absolutely no business. The people who've been doing it the longest and the remote workspace generally have none. And they say, look, this sort of off site, which is about creating culture and creating connection, why go and mess it up by deciding are OK, are or whatever else that might be.


Toby Brown: So when you run an off site, what the key things are important for you to get right in that process?


Sanderson Jones: Is to really go and know what the organiser wants. And that sounds obvious. But if you are an amazing people, be like, Oh, we're just going to go somewhere. We just have a nice time or we're going to go somewhere. And I don't know if something will happen, but it's by knowing what you want that you then can go and look at all the tools that you've got in order to create an event and say, OK, we're going to use this here. We're going to use that there. We're going to have this opening ritual. We're going to have this closing one, whatever it might be. So that's the sort of first thing that I do. 


Toby Brown: Can you give us a quick insight into what some of those tools and rituals might be? Some examples.


Sanderson Jones: Oh, there was one which I have used, which is where you ask people to bring some earth, from where they are. And so you can get everyone can go and bring earth from there, and then it goes and puts in a pot and then you go, like, have a flower in an office or a plant in an office which grows from, you know, which sort of like goes and grows there. And it's like a, you know, a representation of what it is that you're doing. You know, again, like all of these are our activities and metaphors which can be used for the values that you're bringing along. Sure. If you know what I mean. So you know, that could be that you want it to be about nature. It could be that you want it to be about growth. You could be that you want it to be about roots, whatever that might be.


Toby Brown: And then two months later that plant is sadly dying in the corner of an office. 


Sanderson Jones: Yeah, it turns out that someone's got real, toxic earth where they're coming from.. And the real example is one person can destroy everything we're working on. So then there's some thinking about what is the opening ritual? Is there something that you can say we are going to and you can do it in a really fun way? Does it have ritual that makes it sound as though it's going to involve a lot of lentils and maybe a dreamcatcher? Yeah, but you can go and draw a line and just say, get say like the whole purpose of this is connection. And when we're going across this, we're going to say, what is it? How do we want to connect? What brings us closer? And so it's like, Oh yeah, and then it's like this symbolic start of a going into a new space.


Toby Brown: Yeah. Changing people's headspace as they get into that new area.


Sanderson Jones: Yeah. And then there's the world, the world before, because that's what you want. It's like the world before we cross this. Then there's the world after we cross this and it just goes in like brings that to mind symbolically, and it's really about symbolism. And then likewise, a closing ceremony to think about, OK, how do we want to go? And you know, what is it that you take away? Like the simple act of having everyone in a circle, it depends how big an organisation you've got and saying what it is that you're taking from it after you spent two days together, that's going to be really powerful. Like whether you like it or not, like once you start because you you've got to know people, you've got to connect to people. And so I guess other things that you can do when you close out there is a the sort of come up with that. And these aren't some of these experts. I don't know where they come from. So just in the ether, the gratitude plate exercise where you go and everyone has a paper plate on their back and everyone on the team makes sure they rights on everyone else in the team's plate. And then you look back at it and you're like, Oh, and the nice things.

Toby Brown: Hopefully.

Sanderson Jones: Yeah, yeah. About like things that they're grateful for, for that person, whatever else it might be. And then at the end, everyone's got this like this moment to feel special and they go and hear from other people what they think. So, you know, there's one at the end which is good, like a feedback bazaar where you like almost like a bazaar, where you go from one person to the other and you give them feedback of what it is that you really admire about them and the way that you can think they could become even better, you know, so that's like saying like a compliment, which might push them forward. An interesting way to do that is to have people give feedback only to folk they don't really know.


Toby Brown: Right, OK. That sounds like it could go really wrong.


Sanderson Jones: Yeah. Well, in fact, it ends up being really revealing and surprisingly profound and that they come to think of it. I actually think I pretty much got it from going to churches and just understanding what prayer was a bit more.


Toby Brown: And what's the connection there?


Sanderson Jones: Well, because at the end of a church service, someone will come up to you and put their hands on your shoulders and look you straight in the eye and go I can see you've got a lot of energy and a lot of joy. And I also see that there's a bit of reticence there, and if you just look someone at the face and just say, I'm just going to see you as you are. You can pick up so much. And so that and particularly in a remote setting where we know how much is lost when we're online, then doing that with making sure that everyone knows that it is fun and positive. And all of that, I emphasise that the whole time, no one, ever no one ever does feedback. You can lose weight. Actually, it becomes quite intimate if it's someone you don't know very well because you are just looking at someone and going, huh, and you just really tune in with them. So those are again, it's a part where when I talk about what I do in off sites, it can seem a bit vague because it is just about finding the right tools for the job. 

 What is it you want? How do you want to go and bring that to life? And so someone could have there could be one thing that you can use to illustrate bravery, or you can use it to illustrate cowardice and whatever it might be. And I do have an interest in this last point. A pretty keen interest is I think it really pays to get a professional involved.

Toby Brown: Like who like?
Sanderson Jones: Who could that be? Doesn't have to be me, but oh, it is.


Toby Brown: What do you think the barriers to people doing internally are what makes that difficult?


Sanderson Jones: I think that off sites are often already really expensive. Yeah, right? Like they go, Oh yeah, that's you know, that's but like it's not only and that's people only look at this money they spend. They don't they never look at the salary of having like the entire company, stop working. So if you add on costs, if you add on everyone's day rates, look, it is a fortune. And then and then at the same time, the people are like, Oh yeah, but we're not going to get someone to help make that run smoothly. It would be, I'm going to put it to you: Like, what would it be like when you were doing comedy and on the circuit? What would be the reasons that you'd say someone should have an emcee for a comedy night?


Toby Brown: Yeah, it's fairly vital, isn't it?


Sanderson Jones: It's fairly vital.


Toby Brown: You can't have one without it, really, although one venue where they do it over a tannoy.


Sanderson Jones: But yeah, and what happens if there was no one who or like, Oh, well, I host it, I'll just get them on and off. You're like, Hey, it's going to be worse. And what happened is 


Toby Brown: To be actively terrible. 


Sanderson Jones: Terrible, like a wedding with a really bad vicar, right? Like, Oh no, this could have been beautiful, but instead, it really isn't. And so I guess what it is, is that, actually, that atmosphere that you want to create and the connections that you want to make and the ideas that you want to communicate are sophisticated. In order to bring them to life, you need to have the skills of a performer and particularly that gets that's more and more important. The bigger the company is, you've got to go and be able to hold different people's attention. You actually have to be able to go and get people to, you know, do various things to go. And, you know, there'll be skills and sort of lessons that you can go and, you know, practises that you've got. And also, the ideas that you're trying to convey are sophisticated. You know, there's a CEO who was not hired to be an amazing facilitator. That's not their job. Like unless you're running a facilitation company in which case well done to you. That's probably it. And so like having someone who can make sure that when people arrive, they know what it's about the in between of like getting from one thing to another.


I can make this very smooth. Make it relate back to what this thing is about. I can go and oh, something didn't quite work. So we improvise. We can improvise that we can. And so in order to do all of those things, it really, you know, you can make an event just so much better. And I guess that is the, you know, they look at the costs and there is this idea that, you know, I've got one. We're spending this much with that much. We're going to book the acts, we're going to do the thing, but it makes the event swing and creates that multiple outcome. And yeah, and if you were to say we can make this 50 percent more effective, right? Yeah, it seems like I could really maybe I should do. I can make this one hundred percent more effective, and all I charge is 80 percent of the price of everything else on this off site.


Toby Brown: Just maths. 


Sanderson Jones: Maths. 


Toby Brown: Obviously, I've got to wrap up fairly soon, but I just wanted to raise one thing with you before we do. A lot of what we've talked about is face to face, person to person in the flesh stuff. And I think a lot of people are really struggling with how to keep communities going and culture going within the workplace when they've moved to remote or hybrid, people start seeing each other as much. What are your thoughts on what that should look like?


Sanderson Jones: Yeah, I have a sort of a big bias here because the tools that I use are, there's a whole raft of people who are online community, you know, Slack experts and all the rest of it. I also don't think the future of human connexion is Slack. Imagine if you said to your partner, Oh God, it's getting a bit complicated in our relationship. Should we move to where I think I want to take this relationship to remote over Slack? That's not the that's not the future of romance, and small groups also work online. I think that that is one thing which is really simple to do, which is to get people together to go and like learn how to help people speak about the stuff which matters. Because actually, like Zoom is, I'm having a great time in this conversation. I'm loving it. This is not my normal Zoom meeting, right? This is not okay. I don't know if you're agreeing that this is a normal Zoom meeting or that you love it. I'm going to take it and say yes for both phone and. So it's not inherently on Zoom that makes conversations dull, but or draining or seem like, Oh my God, there's another one, it's actually the content.


And so if you're talking about things that matter and particularly if you say guys, people are feeling really disconnected. So we're going to spend an hour every two weeks and it's going to be about connection. You know that that is going to get some support. There's some ground rules that whole places you can go and find guidance on that. And so that is one thing which is really easy. And then I guess there's another one is to ask people what they're already doing in their own lives, which helps them connect or helps them feel connected. And so this comes from again from Sunday Assembly and from the world of congregations. It's this idea of ministry where you'll become a part of your community and then. You really like flowers, so I guess you do the flowers, you're great at. You're great with kids, you get involved with Sunday school. You like to play music, you play for the band. And so what you do is you go and find how can you use the skills within your team, which are things that people like doing and then say to them, OK, what could be something that you could do, which could involve other people, using this skill.


Toby Brown: And that loops back into your core thing and bringing your whole self to work, doesn't it? Lifefullness and bringing a hundred percent of yourself to what you do.


Sanderson Jones: Though, it is so hard to bring 100 percent of yourself to work.


Toby Brown: But does anybody really want 100 percent? No, they don’t. 


Sanderson Jones: 100 percent of yourself at work, so everyone has got to be trained as a mental health first aid. Everyone's going to be trained as in a therapist. Most people don't even bring 100 percent of themselves to themselves. So I'm all for bringing more of yourself to work and for creating environments where there can be increased authenticity and connection. And I've worked in places where that is done in amazing way and it just feels different. But this is circling back to as a leader. If you want that to happen, then you've got to be amazingly emotionally aware. You've got to put in systems which allow people to share, which allow people to do it safely. And it is definitely the direction of travel. But I think points to the importance of when you're doing stuff which connects with people more at their deepest level. It's got huge rewards, but it also needs to be done in a way with huge care and safety.


Toby Brown: That is a beautifully crafted conclusion. I couldn't have finished better. Well, thank you so much for coming on. It's been incredible chat. Where can people find more of you? Where would you like to direct people?


Sanderson Jones: Yes. So if they go to at Sanderson Jones, they can find me in LinkedIn, Twitter and the places. I like off sites and away days for remote and hybrid teams. And also, if people are wondering, what should you do about Christmas? I have got some events around that as well. So yeah, get in touch.


Toby Brown: Great stuff. Perfect. Final question. What is the exact percentage of yourself you should bring to work?


Sanderson Jones: Oh, I would have to say sixty nine.


Toby Brown: Of course you would. Yeah, I was thinking high 30s, but OK.


Sanderson Jones: But you're not as mature as me.


Toby Brown: Me. No, never will be. Right. It's been lovely to have you on Sanderson. Take care. People know where to find you. See you on LinkedIn.


Sanderson Jones: All right, then see you later. Bye bye. Bye.