We have started 2023 with the intent of working out loud a lot more and working with many more people who share our desires to deliver more impact of social value in the world. To date we have been 24 years in the making and have a few (ok many) theories, thoughts, ideas, points of view formed in that time. We’ve gained these views by “doing” not just “thinking”. Lots of them are now fundamental to the progress we would like to support in the world of work in the broadest sense (think employment plus volunteering plus family life) . So rather than keeping them to ourselves any longer we are starting The Value Exchange, a regular video/podcast event in which we, Ethos folks, and many, many non Ethos folks can discuss the changes we wish to see in the world and how we are tackling them. Very concretely.  Pragmatically. Practically.

We have started with giving everyone Permission – check out our short but to the point conversation “You have permission”(click to watch) – See Transcript below

My favourite bit is when we decide we are going to make these no more than 10 mins long….enjoy this 16min vid 🙂 – We will learn and do better moving forward. 

If you want to join the conversation and participate in The Value Exchange, then Get in touch



TRANSCRIPT – Episode 1 – “You have permission”

[00:00:26.410] – Rob Pye

Good morning. My name is Rob, Rob Pye. I’m 56, live in Surrey, I’ve got three boys, and I met Annabelle 24 years ago when we were both working in EY. I’m interested in the context of this podcast to talk about the future work, meaning, social value, why people need to give themselves more permission. I think it’s a huge subject. And my colleague, Annabelle.

[00:00:59.090] – Annabelle Lambert

Hi. I’m Annabelle Lambert. I’m based in West Sussex. I’m a full time mum. I’ve got two kids, 13 and  17. And as Rob said, I’ve been working with him on and off the last 24 years to spend a bit of time in Stockholm, but again, keen to enable people to have a bit more permission to put themselves at the centre of their life and their engagement with their work. Primarily, I feel I sort of started my journey with that quite a long time ago, 24 years ago, and I just really feel that people could benefit massively and the world could benefit massively from people doing that. So that’s why I’m here.

[00:01:43.370] – Rob Pye

So in this podcast series, which we’re not quite sure whether it’s going to be video, video, audio, what it’s going to be, there’s so much to talk about, but we’re going to start by talking about why it’s so important, we think, to give yourself permission to work meaningfully. And the series is not just going to be Annabelle and I talking to one another, but lots of interviews as well, or lots,  huge number of ideas for content that we might bring to this, because there’s so much to talk about. But the right place to start, we thought, was, why permission? What do we think we mean by permission? And it sort of kicked that off in the context of working for an organisation where you’re in a role in a position that is pretty well defined, and what a lack of permission might feel like for somebody in an organisation working who maybe doesn’t feel empowered. Annabelle, what might a lack of permission be like? Sort of the other side of the coin?

[00:02:58.530] – Annabelle Lambert

Well, I think sort of stuck, I suppose, sort of doing something in an engagement with work, whatever that may be, that you can’t extricate yourself from, even though you really hate it or are mildly frustrated in it, or whatever, a range of feelings that you can have towards your work. And I think if you don’t give yourself permission to put yourself at central and first, then it’s very difficult to move yourself away from that negativity really.

[00:03:37.070] – Rob Pye

So there’s a link you picked up on LinkedIn not so long ago, which is like an aggregation of this thought about people that were working at home and had checked out, really, from their role. Quiet quitting

[00:03:53.590] – Annabelle Lambert

Yeah, quiet quitting.

[00:03:58.070] – Rob Pye

Quiet quitters. And it wasn’t that people resigned or did nothing or were on strike, they were just doing the minimum. And I hear a lot from workers, from bosses, I’ve got friends who I would categorise as quiet quitters. But what’s to be done about that? Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing?

[00:04:24.510] – Annabelle Lambert

I feel very frustrated with it, is what I feel. I feel it’s awful that people feel that they are stuck. I understand that people have needs in their lives. We need to earn money, we need to eat, we need to be warm, we need to, whatever we decide our needs are as an individual, it’s different for different people. But I feel very frustrated that people can’t extricate themselves from a situation where they’re like, well, I’m really not enjoying this and I can’t talk to anybody about it. I feel disempowered. I have no permission. I think that’s really sad. And I just would encourage people in that situation to try and work out how they can give themselves more permission. I mean, there’s the other side of the equation. Employers allowing people to be so miserable is another topic for conversation, perhaps another day, but it’s not good. I’m frustrated by it. I’m frustrated that people can’t move themselves, but understand the constraints that people put, I feel, on themselves sometimes.

[00:05:42.130] – Rob Pye

Yeah. And I think so much of this is like common sense. It’s really simple and yet it’s really complicated.

[00:05:51.770] – Annabelle Lambert

I agree. It’s very easy to say, well, give yourself permission. And of course you can. And you can. I feel it’s. A lot of the permission that I have, which I’ve been growing, I feel, for the last 24 years, has taken years and years of transition. It really has. But having the thought and thinking, right, I’m on this journey to get to this place, it just made all the difference. I gave myself the permission to do it, so I’ve done it, I’m still on it.

[00:06:22.930] – Rob Pye

And reading these curation of quiet quitting posts made me think of a story when I was working in a company called Thales as reasonably senior position and trying to lobby my chief executive, having a conversation with them about people that didn’t really speak up. They had lots to offer, but just were very, very quiet in the context of where they sat in the organisation, what they were doing, and lobbying him and saying, look, how could we give people more permission to speak up, to do X-Y-Z? Because so much potential if they could do that. Then he challenged me and said, well, you’re speaking up. You’re not like that. You’re yes, you’re that. And it kind of made me realise. And that was, I think, about 14 years now that actually this is a simple mindset thing. And it’s kind of the mindset that work might be a peer to peer thing, an adult to adult conversation. So people not just had the legal right or felt empowered or whatever, but just wherever they went, they just felt that they had permission to have adult to adult conversations. And that’s simple. And yet really quite difficult.

[00:07:44.780] – Rob Pye

But I guess this thing that we’re going to talk about massive called Value Exchange is to try and encourage people to do more of that. Can you think of examples of where you’ve worked with people, Annabelle, where or rhetorically can I think of examples of where that permission has so we did something in the Pandemic. We recruited, employed 65 young people who were further from the labour market. We gave them a minimum wage for six months and built work according to what they told us they wanted to do. So you want to try and do some creative design? Okay, do some creative design. So there was no business justification, just a grant that we have from the government, from Kickstart, to pay minimum wage. And a lot of the young people, it took a long time to build enough trust for them to not expect, always to be told in a minute amount of detail what we expected of them and to actually bring an equal amount to the conversation. And I think one of the things we learned with young leaders is that that permission bit is often a barrier to you come into work at the bottom of the food chain and you’re encouraged to kind of work up and almost encouraged not to have a voice.

[00:09:17.430] – Rob Pye

So to be able to give people a voice before they enter the work system is potentially wonderfully disruptive. So I can think of lots of young leader examples of where that was quite cool.

[00:09:30.830] – Annabelle Lambert

Yeah, of course, I think it took weeks, if not months, for people to fully understand that they had a voice, they had permission to be level and say what they wanted, get engaged sitting in a framework, that is the Value exchange framework which we put them in. But I think sort of my experiences with people who I’ve worked with who have come into our work environment in the past and again, older people who are more not wanting to be rude, but institutionalised, they really struggle with the adaptation again. And it takes quite a long time for them to understand that actually everybody’s just a level. We’re all a human being, we all make mistakes. There is no blame. The culture that we sort of live here in this whatever this is, is different. And it just takes time, really, for people to sort of accept the adjustment, but once they’ve done it, it’s a wonderful thing, it’s very empowering.

[00:10:55.690] – Rob Pye

So what what okay, we’re going to keep every episode less than ten minutes, however much content we’ve got, so we try and bundle it up into English shorter than ten minutes. So what’s the takeaway? So you’re listening to this and you kind of randomly come across this sounds interesting, or listening to it. And I’m not sure if this is a rhetorical question or what are the key sort of thoughts in terms of you give somebody who’s 60 years old who’s maybe coming to what they think in retirement, or somebody in the middle, or somebody a mother or single parent or young person who’s never worked. What’s the first step you could take as a baby step?

[00:11:45.120] – Annabelle Lambert

I want to just say just go, Right, okay, I am going to do this, which is really sort of flippant, but I feel if you can engage with the conversation, I guess with yourself, that I see benefit. How would somebody find benefit in permission? And why would they do it? I think that’s easy for an individual to answer. You’re fed up. You need to change something. Something needs to change. I want to be free of my shackles, not in a I’m going to go off and live in a hole kind of way, but just how do I move my life on? I need to move my life on. Right. I’m going to do that. So I’m going to engage in this conversation. I’m going to give myself permission. I’m rambling now. I’m not sure I’ve nailed an answer.

[00:12:48.100] – Rob Pye

No, but that’s why conversations are difficult, because they’re listening to that. You said, I want to engage in a conversation with myself. I want to engage in conversations with other people. And I think as we go through the podcast and we start, I’m picking all these different bits of value exchange and start talking to all these wonderful people who are old and young and in between, and everyone’s different, actually. The conversation that you’re having, engaging with yourself and engaging with others and understanding who you are, what you believe in, what you think is good, what you think is bad, what about the money? What about the social value? How do you derive meaning, which is very individual, and if you don’t do that, you give somebody else the opportunity to tell you who you are, to define your identity and say, I will divide my identity from the corporate culture manual or the manual of what is expected of a good HR director. And you kind of like, well, that that is but it’s not you are not an HR director. That isn’t something in your DNA that you could sort of look from an anthropological point of view, kind of, you know, dissecting someone, say, Annabelle is a so I think my advice would be you’ve got to start the conversation not just with yourself because you go mad.

[00:14:12.380] – Annabelle Lambert

Yeah, of course.

[00:14:13.840] – Rob Pye

But writing it down, recording it, talking to other people about those various dimensions of who you are. That’s not about the role or the job, and this is not about psychometric testing or just about authentic, genuine conversations with your friends, your family. Why would you want to do that? Well, because if you don’t do that, you’re going to get your identity from somebody else and that’s very dangerous. So that would be my parting thought. Unless Annabelle, you’ve got?

[00:14:46.040] – Annabelle Lambert

yeah, no. That feels good.

[00:14:47.960] – Rob Pye

So we’re going to come back to this a lot. But until the next time from Rob Pye

[00:14:53.420] – Annabelle Lambert

And from Annabelle Lambert, we’ll see you very soon. Bye.

Photo by Mariia Zakatiura on Unsplash