In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with facilitator, educator and speaker Lauren Yee on how using traits of a kid-like curiosity and play at work can improve workplace culture.
Lauren shares her insights and experience in...
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Russel Lolacher: And on the show today we have Lauren Yee and here is why she is awesome. She's a keynote speaker, coach and consultant as a cultivator of curiosity, helps organizations with their DEI through Mountaintop Coaching and Consulting. She's the co founder and chief operations officer for This. Us. Now. I'm going to add a dot, even though technically that's not there.
A professional education company, empowering people and organizations to work with better information and more joy. I have a feeling that's going to have something to do with our conversation today. She's worked with organizations you may have heard of, Golden State Warriors, Google, LinkedIn, Netflix, Southwest Airlines, helping them to build community, establish inclusivity and create psychological safety.
Work environments where staff can flourish and not for nothing. She helped grow the largest Lego inspired STEM company in the United States. Oh, hello, Lauren.
Lauren Yee: Hello there! Thank you so much for having me! I'm very excited.
Russel Lolacher: As am I. So before we got recording, you were like, good, worst, bad, worst. What should I do? So we have a question to ask, which I ask all my guests. It's always difficult for people. Cause it's either something traumatizing or something that just changed everything. So I'm so curious to see where you're going to go with this question, Lauren. Have I built it up enough?
Lauren Yee: Hopefully. So...
Russel Lolacher: What's your best or worst employee experience?
Lauren Yee: We're gonna go one of the best, because I do feel like, you know, there's a lot that sticks out in our minds, but it's good to remember the good things too. And those can be just as affecting... affecting to our existence. So one of my best employee experiences was actually earlier in my career, back in the day when I was in interior design, architecture, project management stuff.
And it was one of my earlier career, like first career jobs, if you will. And I, what happened, what had happened was I. I was on the phone and I sat across from my boss. Like we sat facing each other in our little office. And I was talking to a subcontractor about one of the jobs of what was happening.
And I was being a very kind human, just saying is it possible if you could be do this, or can we get this by this time? Hung up and started to go about the rest of my tasks. And my boss, at the time, she very kindly said, Hey, can I talk to you for a second? And I said, Yeah, sure. What's going on?
Do you have something else for me? What, what? And she said, What you did on the phone was great, but I would encourage you to use the words want and need when you're talking to people, because it's very direct and there's nothing wrong with being nice, but also we do need, whether they, you're going to ask we need it.
Whether you need it, or whether you need it by this day or the next week or whatever, you can ask, but at a certain point you also need to be direct with what you need, which I actually felt was really helpful for me because it was like a mentoring. I was newer to the field of what I was doing, and also just a couple things. One, the fact that it wasn't like you did a bad job. It's you did fine and you can do better, which is something that has stuck with me to this day I think. I'm like, we can always be better. Not that you can't ever reach a good thing, but there's always room to evolve and grow.
And just the fact that I think for me being a young, younger woman in a field dealing with a lot of construction, being on site with like hard hats and stuff, and dealing with older people. I was out of college! And so trying to be like, I'm dressed professionally, and I'm a professional, and take me seriously.
And being with a lot of men and older people, trying to hold my own in the field, and in that position, and being able to slightly change words, to not be mean about it, but be firm and clear and direct in what I'm asking for, which is I need this by this time. And you could still say is that possible?
Or can you do that? Like this, but this is what I need. Or I want that moved over here on a job site. And language mattering and small adjustments mattering and, making adjustments does not mean something was bad were a lot of things that stuck with me for now still. So that was one of my best employee experiences.
Russel Lolacher: And that's so huge because how rare is it for, for someone just out of university... cause we don't get those presence tips or that communication skill. It generally only comes up when you either went to university for that specific thing, not presence, but communication, or we've gone, you know what, you've been a leader for 10 years, maybe we should give you some training?
Lauren Yee: It's true. There's not a lot of, there's so much, theory, which is good, but not as much practice, especially in the schooling to actually doing stuff and even in changing jobs, as you exist in your career life, whatever that may be. It's like you kind of got to learn as you go, but there's not always a lot of forgiveness in the learning as you go, but there's no other way to do it. It's like one of those vicious cycle things. So I was very thankful to have a, thoughtful, and I don't even want to say forgiving, but person who was willing to invest in your growth early in my career.
Russel Lolacher: Love that. Cause It stands out and it shouldn't stand out, but it stands out.
Lauren Yee: Yes.
Russel Lolacher: Like how many years ago was that? And not to date you at all. I'm just curious.
Lauren Yee: Ooh. Mult, many, multiple decades. I was like, I don't even know.
Russel Lolacher: Okay.
Lauren Yee: What year is it now?
Russel Lolacher: But the reason I bring that up is just look at the impact that one experience had for you that you have carried with you for decades. And for them, do you think they even remember doing that at that point?
Possibly, maybe, maybe, probably not. But that really shows how much you can have an impact without even really knowing it with just this little gesture.
Huh, huh, huh. Good way to start. Thank you, Lauren.
Lauren Yee: No problem..
Russel Lolacher: So we're going to play today. I guess, sorta, kinda. Our topic today is how to adult like a child in the workplace.
Oh, I've got questions, which is really good because we're on a podcast. So, out of the gate, let's define what we're talking about. What do you mean and why do you mean it when it comes to adulting like a child, like a kid in the workplace?
Lauren Yee: Okay. So because to me, language matters, and everybody sometimes people think they're talking about the same thing and they might not be, so I'm going to clarify a couple things. I, personally, like to use the phrase, adulting like a kid, because to me, kid has there's a certain energy about being a kid, because it's I don't want to treat you like a child.
That has a different vibe, and so I like to use kid, but you know, it's kind of the same thing. And when I say kid, I'm saying like, elementary ish school age kid, like 10 and under. And the reason that I use that phrase a lot in everything that I do is because I feel like we can use the wisdom and experience that we've gained as grown ups, but hone in on and utilize all the good parts of when we were a kid and whether that you embodied that or that was extended to you, which is like connecting, using curiosity, learning through play being able to learn and not know stuff and make mistakes because you're learning.
Additionally. empathy for when you do make those mistakes. It's Oh, cause they're a kid. They're learning. It's yeah, I'm also still learning. I don't know everything. That's not fair. But we get practiced out of it at a certain point. Like once there's like grades and you have to get a degree and there's a right way and a wrong way to do things.
And you're suddenly an adult and supposed to know better. And sometimes yes, but sometimes no, cause we haven't done something yet. So adulting like a kid to me is about taking all the good parts about existing as a kid, but like using that to get by in our adult lives because I'm an adult and I can do what I want. So let's do it a fun and interesting and enjoyable and like flexible growth sort of way.
Russel Lolacher: So how do you bring that into a quote unquote, I'm going to use a word I hate a lot, professional, I hate that word so much setting, like you've walked through the door, you've turned on the computer, and this is a place of work, Lauren, it is a place of work. So how are you showing up as a kid in that sense?
Lauren Yee: Well, I think that there's a lot of ways that you can approach this and it's all so much of it is individual. I will say to pull back for a second. Play is a really hard thing to define generally for a lot of adults because we just think like recess, but it's, that doesn't have to be what play means.
Play can be like when you're present, engaged, invested in a thing, which sometimes is very obvious when you're like reading or like playing a sport. But also if I'm like super invested and like color coding and organizing and formulating this spreadsheet. Ooh, that's one of my forms of work play. But it's It's hard because it's so individualized.
So it, like what I do that makes me present and, and enjoy the process or the result of the thing may be super different from what you find. Just like when we're kids, like maybe I liked the swings and you liked capture the flag. Those are really different, but they're both play. And so it, is a little hard to determine because it can be a lot of different things. I think that one of my favorite things is curiosity. That's my favorite lens of play because you have to be present and invested for it to actually be curious. Or you're just like going through the motions like, how's it going today? Do you care? There's scripted versions, but there's like actual investment in what you're interested in or curious about or want to know more about and understanding and I think that that can, having that sort of, I almost want to call it a tool in your toolbox to lean into curiosity can help you build relationships, it can help you understand so much individually interpersonally, and community wise, I mean, I guess if you're an organization, how things work.
And a lot of times you, we make a lot of assumptions. And so being able to lean into that sort of like childlike curiosity and not being ashamed of not knowing an answer can be really helpful in scary, but unexpected ways.
Russel Lolacher: I can see this from a personal standpoint of a shift of mentality, a shift of mindset in how you're approaching it. But what is the benefit for an organization to foster, nurture, condone, support it?
Lauren Yee: I mean, to some degree, I think that, if I had to reassess, like what curiosity is, is, without being like Webster's defines whatever... But it feels to me, a lot of it is about wonder and understanding, for any age. And as an adult, I do think wonder is hard because we don't have as much like, magical imagination wonder in the same way.
But you can wonder about stuff. Like in a questioning way. Who, what, when, where, why, how. I also say huh, is like a bonus one, because sometimes you don't really know why you're interested in something. You're like, that, what you said was interesting, but I don't even know what to ask yet. So there's the questions wondering part, and then it's about understanding and I know that in the past, I feel like a lot of the job work has been like, you have your job, you do your job, you go home. And that is still real. We need it for a paycheck. People need to do the job. But so many more people, the shift in, I'll say, let's go with generations, people care more. They don't, they, they're not the cog.
They don't want to be the cog in the machine generally, most of the time. Yes, you need a paycheck, but like you want to feel valued, have meaning, purpose, understand what you're doing. And if a organization or leadership or your direct supervisor or your team that you're on, don't show that you have value or they have interest in what you're interested in, there's a lack of a relationship and a lack of just, I don't, I like, I don't even want to say just 'trying' that feels aggressive. But it's it's not like you have to be best friends with the people you work with. It, it shouldn't be a family. It can be a team, but at the same time, like if you have no relationship, there's no, you can't have trust.
There's no communication or there's like the minimal amount of communication. And there's so much that you're missing out on in terms of understanding the other way and in turn can, again, all those things, relationships, trust, communication can affect retention and attrition, which are a huge thing on both sides.
Do I want to stay here? And also it takes so much effort to hire and recruit and train new people. So it's a loss of understanding on both sides because you don't know what you don't know, and you'll never know if you don't ask. And there's, I'm getting, I'm saying a lot of things, I'll take a breath in a second, but I feel like so many organizations that I've either worked with or also at some point been a part of, there's such a huge gap in the understanding, even if someone came up through the ranks, once you're in leadership positions, the people who are doing the front facing groundwork, whatever version of that, sometimes it's this is the policy that's going to happen.
So many times, everyone who has to perform and execute that policy is like, there's no way this is going to work how you say it. There's 12 reasons off the bat why that's not possible. But if nobody asks or nobody gets investment or gets buy in, you're kind of just like at odds forever and missing out on so much progress.
And harmony feels very like soft, but I mean it in a like cohesive, unified way. That's a lot of words.
Russel Lolacher: And there needs to be so much psychological safety for that to happen. Cause so my mind immediately goes to my partner has a nine year old and she will turn to me and go, So can you take me to Disneyland like just bold faced out of the blue? Because obviously mom has said no way too many times, but I'm a new face.
So I get to be the blunt of this new question. So I'm looking at that mentality of just out of the mouth of babes kind of thing out of a kid's mouth to ask a blunt question that it didn't hurt anybody. She took her shot, right? She tried. But why can't we do that in an organization? Cause as you said, from your example, you're giving us work we can't do.
We know we can't do it, but unless you have that, I guess, psychological safety, which this nine year old does and feels she can ask, why can't we do that in the workplace. Is that what we're talking about is just honesty, trust, psychological safety, and in a sort of a, I don't want to say abrupt way?
Lauren Yee: Yeah, I feel like the the current buzzword is like the radical honesty, but it's kind of true because it doesn't feel so many people feel like they can't because there's so many power dynamics at work that it kind of is up to leadership, authority, supervisors, whoever, to prove it, that you can come to me. I feel like a lot of people will say this is the thing we're doing. Does anyone have any questions? Which is very open, and the people on the other side are like, I don't want to tell you all the reasons why that's terrible. And so you kind of have to, if you have the power, and you have power regardless of where you are in an organization. Maybe not as much like authority to change policy, but like you have more power than you think. Like you can ask questions, you can work within the circles and relationships that you do have touch points with. And it's not just asking the general any questions or comments or thoughts because that is I have an open door policy, but no one's walking in, so it's a very general question, so you do have to ask okay, what makes you excited about this policy change, but it could also be like, does anyone see any problems with this, or do you have any, asking the questions, that will, that you're direct, being direct, just like my good work examples. Be direct I want you to tell me what poke some holes in this, because we want it to work, and I'm asking you to tell me what's bad about it, so you really have to get direct and show and prove that it's not gonna be a .. Like retaliatory, you said something bad and now you're going to be punished sort of thing because that even if you've done nothing to show that because of power dynamics and you hold someone's ability to have a paycheck, you have to kind of prove it and practice it and start smaller to build that psychological safety.
Russel Lolacher: Yeah, absolutely. So you've worked with organizations, you've helped them adult like a kid. These are some pretty big organizations. Organizations that may have varying subcultures and cultures of productivity and so forth. So adulting like a kid might not be, why did my voice just crack? I don't know. Maybe it's the kid comment.
It's the kid in me!
I'm going back to puberty for this. So you're in a, you're in a tangible situation. What is the aha moment for the organizations going, Oh no, this is a thing that can work here?
Lauren Yee: Okay, so here's where I think specifically adulting like a kid and I love curiosity. That's my, my lens of it. But all of it, or a lot of it comes from learning through play. And to me, this is just because, play can be a little bit disarming, because a lot of adults have not played, and when you get them to play, it does a couple of things.
One, gets them out of their heads of what assumptions they have about what I'm supposed to be learning in this training or workshop. No, we're gonna play with LEGO. We're gonna play and we're gonna draw something. And so, they're in a different mindset than if they're like, I'm in this training about leadership development.
So if you can get them out of their heads and do something, which you'll then talk about, but we'll do something that will allow them to get out of their heads, experience and practice something in a low stakes way because it's play and it doesn't really matter and it's not directly scenarios from your job and let's pretend that this person and this person had a dispute like no, we're going to do something else that's unrelated to all of that.
It's a low stakes practice that then you can relate that how they walked through that or how they experienced that to generalize it to the workplace. Because we get so tunnel visioned and practiced and scripted and things and I think that the play being adjacent, kind of like a parallel practice process allows people to experience the thing to be able to be like, Oh, I can see where I might have done something kind of wrong, but because it was a toy or a drawing or acting something out instead of risky with my job... It allows them to re generalize that practice in a less scary, less, attacked feeling defensive way.
Russel Lolacher: It's so funny when you use words like play versus leadership development, I'm literally feeling and hearing in my head, all these connotations and all this expectations that comes with leadership development versus play. I have no expectations and no parameters around it because I don't know what the hell you're talking about.
Lauren Yee: Yeah.
Russel Lolacher: And that's exciting.
Lauren Yee: Yeah, and I think that that's kind of the point is because, again, it's because we are so practiced. We become adults and there's a right way to do things and this is how you work up the corporate ladder or whatever and now I'm a manager and professionalism and whatever that means and whatever organization you're in and it doesn't really just happen.
But we have all these assumptions and expectations of what that's supposed to look like, or sound, or be, or how that works, like the give me the list, the top five, whatever list of ways to market and launch my business, like maybe, but also there's probably a hundred other ways that aren't on the top five list of ways.
And so being able to break that in ways that you are not used to can really, it's a great way to disrupt the patterns of like expectations. Which is really hard because there's, Oh gosh, the Beliefs Pyramid. I think that's what it's called. Beliefs Pyramid! But it's basically your, it's your experiences inform your beliefs, which informs your actions and results and you kind of get stuck in that top part because of some experience that you had that informs your beliefs. So in order to change your beliefs, you need to change the experience. And a lot of that is, like we were saying, psychological safety. You gotta change someone's experience if they, if this is not necessarily a trusting space.
Whatever that might be or interact or interpersonal relationship. You have to start somewhere and it's not going to be a radical sudden on off switch. You have to start and build that, but you have to change the experience to get them to start believing that whatever direction you're trying to make that shift in.
Similarly with play, we have this assumption of what is leadership development? What is a leader supposed to be? How are they supposed to act? Whatever. But if we're going to, we want to talk about those things, but we're going to get you out of that scripted expectation. Let's have a different experience.
How did that go? But do it in a way that you don't do regularly. And most adults don't play or draw or build something out of paper. Like, why am I doing this? The sort of shock that I feel like I've seen where people are like, you want me to draw? And the panic. And I don't want to make people panic, but again, it's just I expect you to not be good at this specifically.
Don't if you are, great, but I, this is to do something different, to let your guard down a little bit, or practice getting out of that comfort zone, because, change and growth is uncomfortable and so doing it in a very low stakes way, which is oh my god I never draw. Great!
Everyone's gonna be terrible. We're gonna do this for one minute. It's fine. Can really allow people to open up, I would almost say because again if you're a boss with your team in some workshop and you're supposed to be more professional or smarter or whatever, but then you're all making houses out of playing cards.
Like you're all on the same playing field, like it's fine. And that can really change dynamics from the assumed expectations and the positions and the dynamics in workplaces.
Russel Lolacher: So are we only talking about workshops here? Can we integrate adult as a kid, just, in a meeting or just showing up day to day? Can we make this a little bit more operational or does it need to be intentionally, we're going to do a workshop today, which is...
Lauren Yee: Oh, that's fair.
Russel Lolacher: I hear that's what you're, you're explaining. Which is fine. Is it, is it also something operational that we can do?
Lauren Yee: Absolutely! I talk about workshops a lot just because that is when I've come in and do some things and that's when it's just like when people are like, oh, this works. But there are lots of ways that you can, I mean, adult like a kid. And I, again, for me, it depends on what speaks to you a little.
I will say it's hope, there's hopefully some joy along that because that's so much of what drives kids and that's what drives adults, like when we're excited about something or interested in something. Whether it's a project or a new, I don't want to call it a responsibility, but like a new skill set that you're learning, like if you've shifted teams or departments or something and you're like, ooh, I'm not as good at this and I'm going to grow this skill, If you're interested in that thing, that's important.
But I think that there's a lot of little ways that you can do things and I'm going to lean into relationship building. Relationships at work, right? For me, it can be sillier. It can feel silly, but I do think that there's so much psychological safety and relationship building and connections that happen in the non work focused time.
That happens back in the day in school, right? Like you're in class, and you're doing whatever worksheets or whatever's happening, and then you go to recess and you play with people. Or you're waiting in line after recess, and you're talking to whoever's in front or behind you while you're waiting to go back into the classroom.
Like in the workplace, like you're doing your job and especially nowadays with the, a lot of hybrid work, there's like meetings are scheduled and you show up to the meeting and you have to schedule a meeting and you talk about meeting and then you leave.But the times where you get to interact as people, whether it's related to the work, but you can talk more casually rather than this agenda thing or just find out about people as people, I think that that builds so much connection of understanding.
And it sounds silly because it's like not about the work, but it affects the work and can affect the work so much because it opens up trust, relationships, knowledge, communication. And if you can talk to me about like your pets, maybe not that you're going to come to me with all of your problems, but you got to start somewhere.
You can't just be like, so what are all the problems that you have with me as your manager? You can't come in hot with that question out of nowhere. But if you have talked to someone and gotten to know them, and again, not that you have to be best friends, but having space to get to know people in a different way so that they feel like they know you and can come to you with some out of the blue issue that maybe you should know about, but they might be a little scared, but they trust you in this relationship that you've built. Which again, it doesn't have to be a deep, we're going to be besties forever relationship but that starts small.
When I was in this LEGO inspired STEM company I, at one point was an educator staff and became an area manager. So I was suddenly in charge of staff, some of which who are formerly my peers. And when you were, when I was that person, you are a little bit on your own cause you're like, teaching programs wherever. But it's not like you all hang out in an office specifically. So when I became a manager, I only knew what I knew. Right. You don't know what you don't know. I only knew what I knew and my experience with whoever was my manager before. And so I checked with my new supervisor. I'm new to this job, what am I allowed to do, supposed to do, I don't know yet. But I asked to, if it was cool for me to meet with all of my staff. Which wasn't like a huge amount of people, it was like, I don't know, six or eight people. And I wanted to like, go grab a coffee, and chat, because I didn't know a lot of things. Yes, there's the HR stuff where you're like, how long have you been here? Where do you live? Because then you geographically have to drive places, like there's certain things that like I could find out. I'm a curious person naturally, and I knew about my experience, but it was only my experience, and I wanted to understand the people that I was working with, so that I could do a good job for them, because I knew when they, when you feel prepared, taken care of, supported, you can do a better job at your job. And I wanted to see what I could do to enhance that. Not that it was bad, but what can I do to make it better? Because I know that in my experience, I had some things where maybe I didn't have a resource or a tool that maybe I thought should have existed, but I was never told and had to find out after the fact.
So I had that experience, but I don't know what anyone else did. So in me doing these one on one meetings, I asked people like, again, we taught STEM programs and there's things and it's kids and stuff like that. So the questions I was asking was like, okay, do you have a favorite location? Do you have a least favorite location? Why? Is it the kids are wild? Is it the location is super hilly? Like, why don't you like it? Because is it something I can fix or is it something to be aware of? Is it something I can give you a heads up on if you've never been there? So you hate it less when you arrive and don't know that it's coming at you?
So it's like asking the best and the worst. Do you have a favorite curriculum to teach? Which one do you wish you could learn? What's your favorite snack just because it feels unrelated but I was just like if you did a good job at a thing and I'm gonna see like I'm gonna bring you that king size KitKat bar. I don't know.
Not that I I like need to know all your favorite color and band and all that stuff, but it's just like things to know so that I can support you and appreciate you and understand and try to fix things for process to make things better for you so you can do the job that you want to do. And I know that was a very lengthy story, but I do feel like that's, that is a thing that I made a choice at the time interpersonally of getting to know people sort of related to the job, but in a very direct low stakes way cuz but it was asking again, like which location do you hate? Don't tell me all your favorites. Like those are important too, but which ones are bad? Maybe I've never taught there, so I don't know. And I feel like versions of that in, in, even if it's just generalized meetings, like at the top of a meeting, it could just be like, I know a lot of people do like wins and whatever improvement things from before. But it doesn't, that feels also like very high in the spectrum. It could be, but there are ways that you can do that with openers of meetings where it's just Hey, we just had this project and what are our lessons learned? Like it could be good or bad asking directly and outright because you want to know, because hopefully you want to understand or make it better for next time or fix something or find out.
What didn't go well and find the gaps, because that's all we can do really while we're here, right? Are we just going through motions or do we want to do a good job and make things better while we're here?
Russel Lolacher: Well your brain's got me going a lot around...
Lauren Yee: I said a lot. I'm sorry.
Russel Lolacher: It's all good. You got the brain's moving. So the thing is, is again, I, I live with a kid who's nine and she is a curiosity engine. Like I will bring up one thing and she will have so many questions about that one thing that I didn't even realize could be an angle of which you take that question or down that rabbit hole.
Mm But the thing is, is in the work environment, people want to share information. They like helping people. They like looking smart. They like being valued and feeling like they're valued. So I can see questions being so valuable. Not to the point of being annoying. Not saying 9 year olds are ever annoying.
Those are, they're angels. Angels. Angels. But, but to have that much curiosity, because I can tell you when I, I started in a, in a role where it was very technical, I'm not a technical person. I'm people person. I'm leadership. I'm communications. I am not technical. So all I was was questioning because they're smart, I'm dumb around this particular topic. So I want to be a sponge so I can best represent them. So that I don't look like an idiot the next time I pick up the phone call or send an email to them. So it's all about questions. Yeah So that leads me to my next point, which is you've done facilitation. You've helped organizations.
You've touched on this. How do you handle inclusivity? How do you handle diversity in those situations? Because how you handle adult like a kid to a Boomer might be very different to you know, a millennial or a Gen Z who's going, I was a kid 10 years ago. I'm not. I'm, it hasn't been that long for me. So how do you approach that level of diversity with kid stuff?
Lauren Yee: I may I might have to ask for a little more clarification on this just because I'm in the sense of just Who like who's in the room and what that means to them? Or how long ago it was?
Russel Lolacher: You go, you go into a room, Hey, we're going to teach you to adult like a kid. You got a 65 year old white male over there. You've got a, you know, an African American 22 year old over here. They may see the world differently. They may approach those two words might be triggering to them in some particular way.
Lauren Yee: This is true.
Russel Lolacher: What do you mean I'm not an adult?
Lauren Yee: That's fair. I think that this is where I am a person who does many things much like a kid. I don't don't make me choose. I like a lot of stuff. And so I feel like adulting like a kid and like the idea of I think a lot of people could benefit from adulting like a kid is kind of like an umbrella but it is about specificity to some degree because it's kind of just like I want to be good at coding and you're like Okay, there's a lot of different like what kind of code and what's the application and like this is also where I was like, I don't know how I don't know much about code.
I don't know why I chose that example. But there's it's a big thing. And so being able to know what we're talking about to focus in and, in the example, like curiosity and questions and why and understanding. If we're talking about how you can use that in the workplace and as again, a focused part of the umbrella of adulting like kid, one of them being curiosity, but again, curiosity is about like communication, follow up. There's a lot of sections of stuff. So being clear on what we're talking about, because it is a big subject and we want to make sure we are talking about the same thing. So getting to a small enough topic that it makes sense.
You mentioned the thing about, nine year olds and younger asking why, you know, it's like the four or five year olds, like, why, why, why? That is a very real thing, that curiosity as a sort of flow chart part of adulting like a kid. Curiosity is a section of it and part of that is asking the questions with the intention of understanding, not about winning, it's about understanding a situation or a topic or whatever the thing at hand is. And I think that, being able to hone in on that topic is much clearer regardless of who you are, like asking questions for understanding.
It's not a, what do you mean this happened? That's a question, but that tone and the proving part feels aggressive. Leaning into those who, what, when, where. why, how, questions. The who, what, when, where are very factual, right? So okay, who was involved with this? Where were you? What happened? What do you think happened? Gathering all the facts and information. But the how and the why, I feel are the parts that are about understanding and moving forward. A lot of this is about moving forward. And I think that I, while like the topic of adulting like a kid doesn't always mean a lot to people, but because it gives me a lot of flexibility to play with a lot of those things in there, but in this way, like people understand questions. Like people ask questions all the time, and those different people in a room may come up with different questions, which is extremely important because you don't know what you don't know.
And there's other perspectives that you may never stumble upon if you don't ask those people or if they're, if you don't invite them to answer questions. But I do think that asking those questions. for a purpose of understanding moving forward is something that any, anybody can understand regardless of age, like age and generation or like demographic experience growing up.
I think that not everybody had a playful childhood necessarily, but the idea of when you have that childlike experience and kid-like lens of things is something that people can understand. Even if you had it a long time ago, maybe didn't exactly have it, but you know what I'm talking about.
And the aspects of that can be utilized by anyone, whether you, whether you, it was recent or not. Or whether you had it or not. It was very long winded and roundabout explanation, but it's because it's like very rarely and I'm like, we're gonna adult like a kid because that doesn't mean a lot to people, but when I am talking, when I'm introducing a lot of what I do, I'm like, playful, professional, personal development.
It's about adulting like a kid, which involves this and this and this and this. It's hard to address as a whole because it's a lot and then you can't just switch everything you got a baby practice steps So it's usually being talked about in a much more focused specific way when you're in an actual room talking with people,
Russel Lolacher: So how did they get it wrong? I mean, if you're coming into an organization to help, where do organizations make assumptions about this different way of looking at work? Do they look at it as a check box or do they look at it as, Oh no, this is how everything's going to be moving forward.
I feel like a lot of leaders could go, this sounds like something we should try this quarter, right? As opposed to maybe this could be something we should be embedding into our culture, sort of thing. So how are they, how have you seen or heard that leaders are maybe not understanding the benefit of this.
Lauren Yee: I feel if you've talked to anybody else related to the field of play, there's a lot of, again, the assumptions of adults as us, as grownups of what is play and it's not. I mean, it might be, but it's not, we're all going to happy hour.
We're going to play laser tag and do wine tasting. We're going to have a pool table in the break room. That's potentially fun. Maybe not for everybody, but it's not about forced fun as a thing to make it playful. It's about finding what I'll say, call purposeful joy. And that, if you can find, if you have it in your day to day job as your job, that's great. If you don't, but you can find ways to spark some of those joyful, fun moments within your day in the aspects of what you do or in the people you work with or in the projects that you're working on that's play.
Because play, like, when you're a kid, you want to play, which means a lot of different things to a lot of people. But it's the thing that you're excited to do. And a lot of it gets lost in the day to day and like when people quote unquote get it wrong, if you will, is because there's so much urgency and grind and hustle and there's no room for like reflection and mistakes and celebration even sometimes.
And so those things are things that like reinvigorate everybody. In the little ways, like in your own day to day, whatever your joy might be, like, if it is like, Oh, I got to really talk to and help a customer feel better about something. If you're a people person, that might be your play.
If you're an introvert and you're like, I don't want to talk to anybody, that might not be your play. But realizing what is the thing that energizes you and being able to hone in on those, that energizes the rest of your work and life as well. And I think that when it is looked as the force front, we got to do a thing as a team all together...
There is a, that is good to have opportunities to have team together experiences, but it's not about like we all have to do this thing because some people don't want to do that thing on a Friday afternoon, they just want to go home.
Russel Lolacher: So Lauren, I gotta wrap this up with the last question I'm going to ask you.
Lauren Yee: Sorry. Oh,
Russel Lolacher: I ask everyone, so it's, you're special still, but I have to ask it, which is what's one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?
Lauren Yee: This feels like such a throw. I'm just like, ask more questions. That's so general, but it feels very real. And I will say again, with the idea of curiosity, being interested, you have to be interested or you're not actually curious. So it's what you're interested in. So being aware of what you're interested in, is it like you really want this to get this project done on time or something for this client in this vague example. So if that's what you're interested in, ask more questions and it's related to that. But ask multiple people, not just the one person doing the thing, but other people related who might be indirectly related to your project, but ask more questions related to whatever you're interested in. Your growth, their growth, a project's completion, whatever it is, you have to be interested or else it doesn't really matter.
And people can read it like how you're like children and dogs can smell fear. If you don't care, they're going to know. So if you're interested, you're truly focused and engaged and listening. So ask questions that you're interested in knowing the answers to. And that's. One of the most important things is what are you interested in and ask more questions about it.
Russel Lolacher: That is Lauren Yee. She is a keynote speaker, coach, consultant, and a cultivator of curiosity. Thank you so much for being here.
Lauren Yee: Oh, thank you so much for having me.