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Hey y’all, welcome back to The Testing Psychologist podcast. I am thrilled to have my friend and now three-time guest, Joe Sanok on the podcast today talking about lots of the principles from his recently published book Thursday is the New Friday.
If you know anything about Joe, you know that he is [00:01:00] a productivity expert and fanatic. And this has been a long time coming. He was one of the first people I knew to go down to a 3-day workweek on purpose several years ago. And he’s finally channeled all of that experience and knowledge and a lot of research, frankly, into a new book to help other people learn how to do the same thing.
As usual, we have a great conversation that goes down any number of paths. But the hope is that you find it helpful and interesting, and it’ll give you some things to learn and take away and put into practice in your life.
In case you don’t know, a little bit about Joe. He is a private practice consultant and host of The Practice of the Practice podcast, which is recognized as one of the top 50 podcasts worldwide with over 100,000 downloads each month. He [00:02:00] has best-selling authors, experts, and other business leaders, scholars, innovators on the show. They’re all featured and interviewed in the nearly 600 podcasts he has done over the last six years.
Joe has been featured on Forbes, Good Magazine, and the Smart Passive Income Podcast among many others. And like I said, he is my original business coach and now friend. So happy to chat with him as always.
Without any further delay, let’s get to my conversation with Joe Sanok about Thursday being the New Friday.[00:03:00] Joe, welcome back to the podcast.
Joe: Jeremy, I’m so excited to be here.
Dr. Sharp: Glad to have you. I could be wrong, I’ll have to go back and look, but I think you might be the first three-time guest on the podcast. So congratulations my friend. I know you’ve been going for that for years.
Joe: Yes. It started on Saturday Night Live where they have the… is it 7 Times Club or something like that? You’re creating that for your podcast.
Dr. Sharp: Exactly. It’s an elusive illustrious club and you are the first member. Good to have you back. Gosh, I’m trying to think of the last time we talked. It was maybe about a year ago, maybe eight months ago when you were touring around in the RV, but there’s been a lot going on since then. You have a new book out, which is pretty incredible.
I usually start these interviews by asking why is this important? This could be whatever my guest is [00:04:00] an expert on, but it’s a little more of a heavy question with you because whatever this is was important enough to write a book on it and spend the time on it. So two parts, can you define this? When I say this, what is the book about, but also WHY, why spend so much time on this topic enough to write a book?
Joe: Yeah. I would say that this is the 4-day work week to really evaluate why we are overworking. Is that the best we can do? Is 2019 the pinnacle of human success right before the pandemic or is there something else that we can reinvent?
And so, if I really dive into why, for me, when I started the book, I put the whole proposal together and the ideas of it, but I started from scratch with a whiteboard. So what questions would I have if I were just entering into this with new eyes? And the two questions I had were: where did the 7-day week even come from? Where did the 40-hour week come [00:05:00] from? Because if I could understand how constructed is this society that we live in versus is it a little wobbly, that makes it easier to deconstruct it and say, we could do better.
And so, I looked into the research and the science and the history behind it, and 4,000 years ago, the Babylonians just made up the 7-day week. They looked up in the sky and saw the sun, the moon, and they saw the Earth, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. And so they just made up the 7-day week. It doesn’t make any sense. Our months make sense around the moon cycle. Our days make sense. A year makes sense, but the 7-day week, totally arbitrary. The Romans had a 10 day week. Egyptians had an 8-day week.
When I discovered that, I was like, “Well, what else is there out there?” And to see how people were living in the late 1800s, early 1900s, the average person was working 10 to 14 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week. So, it’s just a farmer’s schedule, but even if you weren’t a farmer, you were working all the time.
When Henry Ford in 1926 started the 40-hour [00:06:00] work week, that was a huge step forward for evolution. That was a huge step forward for business and productivity and creativity. And that industrial mindset that people are machines, they’re assembly lines that we can just plug in really permeated most of the 20th century. But we start to see that really start to fade on Fridays in the 1980s and 1990s. We see the rise of casual Fridays. We see that more and more people just aren’t working much on Fridays even if they are at work. And the pandemic really was that final thing that was the nail in the coffin for the industrious mindset.
So why is this important to me? The society we’ve been handed as the adults of this generation, it feels like this 40-hour workweek is just what we’ve been given, and it’s how it should be, but it’s actually pretty shaky. The 7-day week. That’s something people just made up.
And as the post-pandemic generation, I think it’s important to think through, do we need the most creative minds moving forward for the challenges of the 21st century, or do we need people that are burned out from these 40+hour weeks? And I would argue that this is the most important time [00:07:00] maybe in our lifetime to say we are going to reinvent society post-pandemic because everyone is questioning the way that we work. And we have an opportunity here, a window of time that we can actually move into something different.
Dr. Sharp: Sure. There’s so much to unpack from all of that, but I will comment on one thing right off the bat which is, getting started reading the book, you open with this historical perspective. And that was fascinating to me. I guess there are people out there who probably just know that information, but I didn’t know that information, that the week and our calendar is kind of arbitrary and has shifted over the years over the centuries and millennia depending on the culture. There’s just an interesting example of things that we take as gospel that are actually totally malleable, right? So that’s one super interesting thing right off the bat.
I want to go even further back though in terms of the WHY. I know that slowing down has [00:08:00] been big for you for a long time, and just as the general theme of not overworking. Is there more underneath that? Because I think a lot of us maybe have that feeling or want to slow down or feel burned out or whatever, but don’t really take it to that next level. So I’m curious, were you at a place at some point that you were burned out? Or did you see your parents work too hard? Is there a deeper WHY?
Joe: Yeah. There’s not a traumatic event or a major burnout moment where I was like, oh, I realized it all. I do think that in 2012 when my oldest had heart surgery right before her first birthday, and then that was also the year that I had cancer, one of my best friend’s wives had had breast cancer, and then my grandma died.
That was a year of do I want to keep working at this community college and have this be the rest of my career? It was a great-paying job. It had a [00:09:00] pension. As a therapist’s “job,” it was great. And so, it wasn’t bad enough to want to mic drop and walk away from, but it also was the idea of the potential outside of that.
I think as I’ve examined the 4-day work week and why slowing down is so important to me, it’s that I experienced it throughout all of undergrad and grad school. When I first was at my freshman orientation, they said, “It’s time to make your schedule.” I raised my hand and said, “Do I have to go to school on Friday?” And they’re like, “No, this is college. Do whatever you want.” And so all of my undergrad and grad school, I had a 4-day week except for one semester when I had a class that was mandatory. And then my first job that I took was the same thing, I negotiated a 4-day workweek.
In my early years, I really valued community. The guys that I lived with in college are still some of my best friends. I went to a show with them in Detroit last weekend. And so, it’s seeing that vibrant life outside of my school or outside of my work [00:10:00] has been something that I’ve enjoyed and set money aside for. Even in college, I’d save up money, and then I’d go travel Europe or I’d save up money and then go to Nepal and Thailand.
And so, having those life experiences for me give color to my life in a way that I don’t think other people choose to either spend their money or resources or time doing those things. And so, I think it was more having that outsider perspective and seeing that a lot of people just went and got a regular job. They had a regular family. They never questioned their everyday life. And that slowed down for me. It was something I was living already without realizing that was something other people weren’t doing.
Dr. Sharp: That’s interesting. I wonder what that might be. Do you think that’s a personality trait of some sort? Is that something that you learned growing up that was modeled? Again, lots of thoughts that people [00:11:00] have, but then taking action on it feels a little different. Like, I don’t know how many people would have the guts to raise their hand in freshman orientation and say, do I have to do this? I wonder where that is… Do you have a sense of where that comes from?
Joe: Yeah, I think it was a series of a lot of things that in my family both built my self-confidence, but then also allowed me to challenge some of the norms. So for me being the Eagle Scout was a huge thing because as a kid, it’s, here’s a goal that I have, it’s broken down into these badges, and then each of those badges has individual steps and you get your Eagle Scout. And for me, whether it was that or raising money to go scuba diving in Florida or different things within the Scouts, that was really big. It helped me have autonomy outside of my parents.
So I think that probably for a really young age, my parents did a great job in just helping me realize that I could really save up and buy anything that I wanted. I would take work. The first skateboard I [00:12:00] wanted, they didn’t just buy it for me and say, oh good, Joe wants to go move his body. A lot of parents would say, good, you want to play outside instead of having an iPad game, I’ll just buy you a skateboard. But they said, if you can raise half the money for the skateboard you want, we’ll pay the other half.
And I was in 2nd grade, how do I even make money? And so they said… they probably went to the neighbors and gave them the money. …The neighbors are going out of town. Why don’t you go talk with them and maybe they’ll give you some money for some things that you could do while they’re out of town. So the job was that I had to go refill their birdbath with water every day.
Now, as an adult, I’m like, “You don’t need to fill up a birdbath every day. That’s ridiculous. You don’t get $20 or $30 for doing that.” And so, I imagine my parents just gave him the money. But that was a theme throughout my childhood. So I think that there was that idea that I could go after things that was reinforced.
I think also just different steps of leadership, whether that was student council or being in bands and learning marketing. When you’re in a [00:13:00] band in college, you got to get people to come through the door or you don’t get paid, not even realizing that that was business marketing. All those steps play together. You’re diving into places we haven’t gone. I haven’t gone. I don’t have a stock answer for you. That’s good.
Dr. Sharp: This is dangerous doing podcast interviews with friends, you know.
Joe: Yeah, it’s a live therapy session, like talk about your childhood, Joe. Let’s drill in a little deeper there. What are you holding back on?
Dr. Sharp: I appreciate it. You’re a good sport. This is good. I won’t torture you too much longer. I’m always curious, it’s more around motivation maybe and where we put our energy. You’ve obviously put a lot of energy into this book. I’m always curious about where the motivation comes to do big projects like this that can really change your life.
Joe: I think that initially if I look back on it, getting bullied in 8th grade and not being a football [00:14:00] star at a Friday Night Lights type of Catholic high school and being the snowboarder type that played music. There was rejection there. And so, for a number of years that Enneagram 3 achiever type was the overcompensating to get other people to affirm me and to say good job, Joe. You’re so great. But that only goes so far.
And so, probably the last decade has been me really examining that, working on that, and understanding that it’s fine to achieve things. We need people that want to achieve big things and have big dreams and go after them. But if my ego is personally wrapped up in the success of that or the failure of that, that’s not fair to my insides to try to have that level of pressure on the success of a project. And so I think the ongoing work for me has been to really learn how do I not attach to outcomes, to say, I’m going to do my best work. I’m going to have that approach to it where I’m getting data no matter what if something is “successful or a failure”
And so to be able to enter into a project like this [00:15:00] and to say, yes, I absolutely would love to have a New York Times bestselling book. I would love to sell the 10,000 copies that are needed for that. That would open tons of doors. And there’s so much that’s out of my control. I can look at what New York Times bestselling authors do. They do over 200 media appearances in the two months leading up to their book release. I’ve done 200+ media appearances. I hired a PR company that has done a crazy job and done an amazing job getting me into spots, but at the end of the day, it’s people making that buying decision and that’s completely out of my hands.
And so, you can put out into the world this message of, I think the 4-day workweek is better for society and all these arguments for it, but at the end of the day, people are going to choose whether they’re going to buy the book or not. And so, learning to have the outcome not be wrapped up in my ego has been such an important task in my own personal development.
Dr. Sharp: I think that’s something that a lot of probably resonate with as business owners, practice owners, and that’s a [00:16:00] tricky process. It sounds like you’ve done a lot of work on it. I think about that a lot too. How do we separate the outcome from our efforts, I suppose, and from our ego?
Dr. Sharp: Of course.
Joe: And the other side of it is, I probably had 3 or 4 friends over the weekend that said, “What are you going to do to celebrate Tuesday?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I have no plans.” And they’re like, “You wrote a book that’s getting launched nationwide.” And so, in an effort to just keep myself from not having too much ego wrapped into it, I also hadn’t planned any sort of celebration. And so, with two of my closest guy friends, we went out to dinner and had that planned out. And so to actually celebrate on that day was fun.
And so I think that the side of the coin for achiever types is, if we start to try to be more healthy, oftentimes we then don’t actually celebrate our successes because we think it’s going to be our ego coming out. And so learning to find that balance between I can celebrate successes, I can be proud of having the articles that are in really big-name publications and my ego doesn’t have to be a part of that, or as much as I have control over and not [00:17:00] be a part of it.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. It’s funny. This feels in the same ballpark as a conversation I’ve had, maybe it was on Tim Ferriss or one of those kinds of podcasts, but this question of, can you be ambitious and content at the same time? I’ve wrestled with that a lot. I don’t know if that resonates with you at all, or if we’re in the same ballpark, but it’s something that I think about sometimes.
Joe: I think when you’re an ambitious person, oftentimes that lack of contentment can be the thing that leads it. For me, I feel like it’s really shifted where it’s almost like a game, like what can I do in this life? Like if I was to say, I made out of Stardust, I have this 70, 80 years on the planet to just say, I’m going to do some really interesting things while I’m here. And to recognize that even the really big failures and parts of my life that have blown [00:18:00] up, they’re not things that I would have ever asked for. And I have a fricking interesting life that I never could have experienced had I not been able to go through the really difficult things too.
And so, even there’s a Johnny Cash song, that’s I think actually, Nine Inch Nails song. He says a lyric in it that, “If I could start again a million miles away, I would find myself, I would find a way.” And just that idea of our full life is only ours. That’s the crap of it. And it’s also the success of it. And to realize that you get to experience this, I get to experience mine, and just to know that, to me, it’s more about experiences and awareness of it rather than some affirmation outside of myself at this point.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. There’s a lot to dig into there that I will not do. I think at this point in our recording, we’ve probably lost half the listeners, and then we’ve got half of the people on the edge of their seats.
Joe: They’re like, we’re inside of Joe’s brain.[00:19:00] Dr. Sharp: What’s going on? Yes. Now, I think this stuff is big. Just hearing the internal process is pretty revealing and humanizing too. I think that’s one of the important pieces here. It’s like, how does anybody write a book? Well, you’re just like a normal person who spends a lot of time on something. Dedicated. You’ve done a lot of work.
I am curious though, I want to spend some time talking about the book. So if you could summarize, I know you broke it into a few sections. What is this book about?
Joe: So if we think about the old process of how books were when the industrialists were writing them, and we have the five habits of highly effective people or these Productivity hacks that are broken down, it’s a blueprint or a prescription, just like how they think in every other arena. Or on the other side, we have these Tim Wu books that say, create this vision board, manifest it to the universe. Don’t do any work. And somehow you’re going to get a trip to [00:20:00] Hawaii.
Those two don’t fully capture what life is like. And they also have truths that they point to. And so that’s really merging those two mindsets into this new, what we might call it, an evolutionary model of business, where we’re learning, growing, and adapting. Where it’s not just a prescription we’re buying into, but instead it’s a menu where we say, I’m going to try some of those things from the book and we’re going to then adapt and change and get smarter over time to then apply it differently in my life. That’s moving away from that machine version of what life is supposed to be.
The book is broken up into three distinct parts. The first part is all your internal inclinations. So we start with your insides because too often we have some productivity book and we’re just learning the habits, but we haven’t done the inner work to even know, am I doing the work I should be doing? I’m not going to teach you how to be more effective in your work if inside, maybe you’re just messed up. And so we want to look at the research of your three internal inclinations.
In the next section of the book, [00:21:00] we then look at why slowing down is the key to actually getting to that final stage of absolutely killing it. So often what we do is we’re reacting instead of anticipating. And so we have a workweek that’s crazy busy, we’re going full tilt, we’re burned out and stressed out. And then our weekend is just a reaction to that where we oversleep, we over-drink, or we overcompensate by having our kids in a million sports. And the whole weekend it’s well, we got to get our Instagram pictures of the pumpkins. We’ve got to hurry up over here. We got invited to this barbecue. Next thing you know it’s Monday morning and you feel like your workweek is going to actually be a relief from the weekend that you just had with your family.
And so instead of doing that, we look at slowing down first and say, how do I have some intention going into this weekend? To say, what am I trying to develop with my kids, with myself, with my community? And to create those hard and soft boundaries as we enter into that. If we want to get into the family side of how we make Thursday the New Friday, we can go down that path if we want [00:22:00] to. But really being intentional on how we optimize the brain in ways that the research points to so that when we get back to work, we can actually get a bunch done.
And then we talk through some techniques of what neuroscience is revealing into a number of those menu items that people can try to absolutely kill it when they actually get back to the workweek.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I have so many questions. When you talk about those three inclinations, you don’t have to dive deep into them, but I’m curious, what do you mean when you say three inclinations? Are these personality traits? Are they something else?
Joe: So the research is revealing that there are three major areas the top performers have naturally. So an inclination it’s just naturally occurring. In the book, there’s an assessment. I know you’re going to like that. There’s an assessment where you can go through and see, is this naturally occurring in you or does it need some development?
This isn’t a pass/fail like, Ooh, you don’t have these ones, you shouldn’t be a leader. It’s, let’s just have some awareness around where do you [00:23:00] naturally thrive and where are there other areas that you need to do some development, and then there are some steps to help you develop those traits.
So the three internal inclinations are” The first is curiosity. Top performers maintain that curiosity that a lot of adults tend to lose. Second, they have an outsider perspective and they put themselves in situations where they are the outsider to help them feel differently and see things differently. And then the last one is the ability to move on. Often we have this spectrum about, on one side we have accuracy and on the other side we have speed. Often, high performers, especially those of us that are highly educated, want to be perfect. We want to be accurate. We overthink things. We’re paralyzed by perfection. When in reality, speed is really what we should be doing. We should be getting that information iterating and changing over time.
Dr. Sharp: Nice. I like that. I do like assessment, of course, and I was happy to see that. Let me see. And then you did mention this [00:24:00] family aspect which I want to get into. I’m going to put a pin in that though because I feel like it’s maybe a little bit down the road, but I just want to remind both of us to get to that because I think that’s probably going to land with a lot of folks.
I am really curious to hear you talk more about the slowing down piece. And you mentioned the “neuroscience” around that. Can you say a little bit more about what that means?
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All right, let’s get back to the podcast.
Joe: Yeah. If we look at the big picture, we’re looking at either a three-day weekend or working fewer hours. A few different things that we’re looking at is Parkinson’s law. We’ve heard about that where work expands to the time given. We know that you’ll work on your best work if you give yourself fewer hours. You’re not going to do the worst work. You’re naturally going to go into that best work. Most of us though, spend so much of our time just feeling like we’re being chased and freaking out.
I tell a story in the book about how I was chased by a wild rhinoceros when I [00:26:00] was in Nepal. And I talk about how I didn’t make a good decision in regards to running away instead of listening to what the guide said, of climbing a tree. I just tried to outrun my friend, who I knew I could for about 100 yards because I was a sprinter in high school and he was a long-distance runner.
So I blatantly disregarded what the guide said. Why didn’t I try to climb a tree in the middle of being chased by a wild rhino? Well, because I’m going to go with what I know. I can outrun Todd in this Peace Corps volunteer that’s the human shield way better than trying to climb a tree for the first time in the middle of Nepal.
And so, so much of our lives, we spend being chased by that rhino. We intuitively know what the research is showing us. And that’s that when we slow down then we actually do better work. And so when you’re taking a shower, when you’re out for a run, when we look at the research around flow state, our environment that we create, we can drop into flow state quicker if we create a specific environment for specific tasks.
One of the studies that I really love it’s around vigilance decrement. So how well we pay attention to something vigilance and detriment meaning going down over time. [00:27:00] So the University of Illinois did the study. And so often we think, oh we need this big weekend, but they were actually challenging it to see if there are micro-breaks we could take that actually allowed us to get more done.
So these college students, they had them come in, they gave them a random four-digit number. So it was 4, 3, 1, 2 . So they get that random number. They sit at a computer and other four-digit numbers pop up. And then when their number pops up, they hit a button. They do this for just under an hour. Super boring task. You just sit there for an hour, hit a button when your number comes up. They saw vigilance decrement. People didn’t pay attention as well at the end as they did at the beginning. That’s totally what I would expect.
Then they had a second group come in as obviously you’re doing a research study. With this group, at the one-third mark, the exact same setup. You get the number, hit the button. One-third mark, they interrupted the task and they gave them a one-minute break. They said something like, we put you on the wrong computer. Just hanging out in the lobby. They didn’t have their phones. They didn’t have magazines or any devices. They just hung out for a minute.
They came back in, did the next third of the study, interrupted again, gave them a one-minute break, and [00:28:00] then they completed the study in that last third. What they saw was zero vigilance decrement. Meaning at the end of that time, they actually were paying attention just as well as they had at the beginning.
And so when you think about the brain, what’s going on when you interrupt the task and pull someone out of it? Well, the brain is saying, oh, new environment, something’s happening. I got to stay safe. Got to make sure. And even in an environment like a computer, our brains are super old. They haven’t evolved to the point to realize that’s not a rhino chasing you. That’s just a computer. And so it pays attention differently when it gets interrupted, where it activates and then deactivates. So we can do this in our own lives when we’re between meetings when we can intentionally put in those quick slowdowns to do different things.
Today, I had some space between two podcasts. I think I did eight different media appearances today. During that time, I went and did a plank, and then I went for a walk, and then I got outside and I was listening to music that gets me hyped up and I just love. And so, it was allowing my brain to engage and disengage. So when we use [00:29:00] those micro-breaks, we can use this research even beyond just having a longer weekend.
Dr. Sharp: I love that. It reminds me a lot of… I think there’s a lot of overlap with some of Cal Newport’s work around Deep Work. How do we truly harness our cognitive ability and focus when we need to focus, not be distracted when not supposed to be distracted, all of that, and just stay fresh and do the best we can.
Joe: The book Stealing Fire is also another great resource when you’re looking at the flow state and how the brain talks to different parts of the brain.
Dr. Sharp: Very cool. I will put that in the show notes like everything that we’re talking about. Let’s talk about this family application of some of these ideas. I’m going to leave it to people to read the book to figure out the more individual aspects. But I am curious about the family [00:30:00] piece because I have a family and this is a selfish request. So what do you mean when you say application to families?
Joe: This really comes out of the discussion around boundaries. So often people say, oh, I know I should set more boundaries on my time or my work or different things like that, but then they quickly don’t do that. One thing that we talked about is soft boundaries and hard boundaries.
What’s a hard boundary for me? So for example, I wrote a book about networking on Friday. So if on a Friday there’s someone that wants to do consulting with me every single Friday, I will always say no to that. That’s just not going to happen. Whereas if Practice of the Practice is on fire and Jess is texting me saying, the website is on fire, people hate you online. What is happening? I’m going to help put out that fire. I’m not going to say let it burn until Monday morning. I’m taking my weekend. No, I’m going to put out the fire with my team, but then on Monday, we’re going to look at well, why was Joe the linchpin here? Why was he the only one that could solve this? Why was he the only one with passwords and he had all the information that we all needed as a team? [00:31:00] Joe, you need to tell us these things so that we don’t get in this situation again. We’re going to reverse engineer it so that I’m better able to address it.
So when we look at boundaries and those sorts of ways of hard and soft boundaries, we also want to apply that to our families. But a lot of the actions we take today can be forecast from looking to the future.
One technique that I love doing with my own family is thinking about my two daughters that are 7 and 10, when they leave for adulthood, when childhood is over, what are the three things that I want them to take into adulthood? We’re not going to give them 27 things that they’re going to remember, but what are the three things that they leave childhood knowing for certain?
Well for one, for me and every family is going to have their own thing, but for one, I want them to understand consent. I want them to understand that their body is their body. I want them to feel strong enough to stand up for themselves around their body. That to me is something that’s very important to make sure that they leave when they go into adulthood and understand. So that’s going to then inform my boundaries and my behavior right now.
So even [00:32:00] just this morning, my 7-year old, I was so excited to see her. I wanted to give her a hug. I said, good morning. Can I have a hug? She said, “I don’t feel like a hug.” And I was crushed, but if my actions are going to mirror the later intentions, okay, it’s your body, you get to do that.
Another thing that I want to make sure that they have when they go into adulthood is the ability to carry on conversations with people. To me, when I think about the most successful people, they are people that can engage with anyone. They can have conversations with anyone. They can get along with a lot of people. Forget getting A+ on every single thing. Sure, there’s a basic level of reading and writing and knowledge about the world that all kids need to leave childhood with or should leave childhood with, but to me, one of those core things is being able to have a conversation with people.
So even just the other day, my 10-year-old was sitting with one of our family friends at our island in our kitchen, and she turned to him and said, so how’s your week been? What have you been up to? And I’m like, “What has happened?”
And so, [00:33:00] if we define what we as parents want our kids to experience when they leave childhood and then work backward and say, well, then what actions this weekend do I want to take? That makes it so much easier.
I know I don’t want my kids to go into adulthood thinking they have to be stressed out and maxed out to live a good life. So that means that we’re going to have a certain type of schedule. And if we have a schedule that’s really busy, we talk about we have a really busy time coming up for the next three days. It happens sometimes.
I’ve got my book launch. You’ve got your swim practice. You’ve got your tennis practice. My parents are helping in these ways. We’ve had a lot of transitions. Okay, let’s prepare and talk about the skills that we have. What skills do we need to add that maybe we don’t have right now to get through this period of time? And then when we get to the weekend, what are we going to do to just relax like crazy. And then we’ll have a conversation about that. Like, do we just want to sit around the house? Do we want to go for a hike? Do we want to go for a bike ride? Do we want to invite friends over for a bonfire? And then as a family, we’ll have that discussion based on that idea that I don’t want my kids going into adulthood thinking that [00:34:00] achievement and stress and freaking out is how life needs to be for them to be good enough.
Dr. Sharp: I like that. I like those examples. You used the term reverse engineering twice. And I love that concept kind of figuring out the goal, so to speak, and working backward. I like how you brought it to life and that applies. I’m thinking of all the ways that that could apply in our family as well, and just being deliberate in how you spend your time.
Joe: Yeah, and even just since we got back from the road trip, to just say, do we as a family feel better when our house is pretty tidy or when we have the freedom to just drop our stuff wherever we want? Let’s have a conversation about that. And we’ve all agreed, the three of us, that we really like a tidy house. And so to say, we’ve decided together, and there’s going to be times that you don’t do that with your kids. You just say, this is how it is, but that now defines our behavior. Each day, let’s do a 10-minute Blitz. Turn on some fun music.
We’re going to dance while we put our [00:35:00] stuff away. And then look, doesn’t the house look great. I feel so much more Zen now. I’ll meet you. All right. Awesome. Great. That’s a value now that we have in our family.
Dr. Sharp: I hear you. I have a question. I don’t know, this may be a tough question. I’m not sure if it has come up before or something you thought about, so I’ll ask and we’ll see where it goes. I think as I read your book and think about these concepts, there’s a voice in my head that says, wow, this takes a lot of privilege and freedom, I’m not sure what the right word is, to be able to put some of this stuff in place. Like, how does this work for folks who may “have to work multiple jobs or don’t have the space in their schedule or the freedom” [00:36:00] any of those other, I guess, advantages that many of us grew up with to learn some of these lessons, do some of these activities? I’m curious if you’ve thought about that or?
Joe: I think this is a really valid pushback/part of the discussion that’s important to walk through, and I’ve actually been asked to in several interviews. I think the important thing to think of is we’ve done this before.
We went from working 10 to 14 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week to the 40-hour workweek. I imagine that there were people that owned businesses that said, these people are working 60 to 70 hours a week and you want me to cut their time almost in half. How am I supposed to make a profit?
There probably were those discussions in the late 1800s and early 19000s switching over to the 40-hour workweek. So the question I would say is, imagine the typical service worker goes from working 40+ hours a week to 32 hours a week, and they say, how can I make a living on that?
That then forces us to [00:37:00] have conversations around, why do we have service workers that are doing some of the hardest work in the world, that are serving us food, they aren’t able to make a living wage off of this. We have said it based on the 40-hour workweek that basic people can make somewhat of a living wage within that.
If we then as a society start to say, well, let’s move to 32 hours, we need to adjust accordingly in several areas. And so that’s where this is the messy middle. We are post-industrial. We know that we no longer think of people as machines we can plug in. That’s been true for a long time, but the pandemic really revealed the opportunity of what’s shifting and changing here.
But we are in that beginning section of this evolutionary model. And that’s where it’s going to be experiments that people report out publicly. Seeing what Kickstarter does seeing, how Iceland did their 2500 person multi-year study across multiple disciplines. It was 32 hours a week that these people worked and their productivity was better than the 40-hour a [00:38:00] week people. Those last eight hours were actually detrimental to productivity based on that study.
And so we’re going to continue to see these types of studies and applications come out where we address these very unique needs. Yes, how does this look for ambulance drivers? How does this look for cops? How does it look for systems that are all integrated together in specific types of schedules? That’s where it’s going to be a complex change. It’s not going to be one size fits all, but as we continue to say, yes, this is a problem. We’ve done this before throughout humanity. And so I would actually argue that it’s not a matter that we’re going to leave those people behind, but it’s a matter of saying, we do need to be intentional in how we structure things as the people that do have the privilege to say, we can’t forget about these people.
The fact that you’re even asking that question is great because they need to be a part of the conversation to say, what’s this look like in this economy where those lowest bottom of the totem pole type of people are going to be stuck holding the bag of time and energy, and it’s going to be difficult for them.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, it [00:39:00] does feel messy. I mean, even when you brought up the idea that we’ve structured our minimum wage requirements and poverty levels. And I think all of that is probably based on a 40 hour week, right? There’s some serious policy change that would need to happen to really support this for a lot of folks. But like many things, those with privilege need to lead the way and use that for the greater good, right?
Joe: Yeah. And it’s not happening just in startups or entrepreneurial worlds. Kalamazoo Valley Community Colleges is a case study I talked about in the book. And I think it was a good 4 or 5 years ago, Ted Forrester, who is this HVAC instructor, he’s a blue-collar guy that works at KVCC. He, every single Friday went up onto the roof of KVCC and took pictures of the empty parking lot to [00:40:00] show that there just weren’t any students in the building on Fridays.
And then in the fall, he went to the board and he said, I want to show you these pictures of every Friday from the summer. I want to show how much we pay to cool all of these empty buildings. Here’s how much it cost us to cool all of these empty buildings all summer.
The next summer, they switched over to a four-day work week in the summertime and HR donated the difference. People were allowed to flex their schedules. And so they saw that now they have better staff retention because, in Michigan, it snows fricking 10 months a year. And so, who doesn’t want the two months in summer to actually be fine where we can have three-day weekends. So they had people stay longer and you don’t have that replacement cost of staff. They had better health outcomes. They also saw student outcomes go up because these offices were sometimes open a little bit later or opening earlier, and they’ve saved over $2.5 million in just air conditioning costs.
We sometimes think about these big institutions like a college, like they could never switch to a four-day workweek. [00:41:00] KVCC did. They thought creatively and they ended up making money and having better outcomes because of it. So I think it’s going to be case study after case study like that, that just shows that it’s really thinking creatively in a number of ways and addressing the problems in a systematic way, but then also saying, we need to at least do some experiments to see if our assumptions are even correct.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I think that’s a big takeaway actually from all of this. Challenge everything. Challenge the assumptions that you have to work this much or be in the office this amount of time or these days of the week or whatever it might be?
Joe: Yeah. Well, even within Practice of the Practice, my contracts with my whole team in South Africa aren’t based on 40 hours. I think it’s 34 or 36 hours of the week, and they have pure autonomy to schedule however they want. If they want to work a 45 hour week one week and then take less than next, or if they want to… it’s an annual number of hours that they work. They know what their outcomes are.
And then also the way that we enact that evolutionary model [00:42:00] is, several times a year, I ask each staff:
1) What are some things that you love about your job and you want to keep doing?
2) What are some things that you hate about your job that you want to take off of your plate and give to someone else?
3)Where do you want to get training to level up within your job?
And so, over time, people have been able to move in and out of different positions that they like or that they don’t like, and then the organization changes and gets shaped differently. But it’s each person that is creating the job that they want to have.
Dr. Sharp: Sure. I had my brother-in-law Dan Konigsberg on the podcast maybe a month or two ago. He runs CampMinder, which has been on Outside magazine’s best places to work for the past five years I think in the top, I think the top 20 of that list. And they have, I forget what the policy is called, but it’s basically just like get your work done and you can take as much time off as you want. It’s a completely open PTO policy as long as the job is getting done. And I love that approach. I [00:43:00] wish that we could do more of that in mental health outside, but we have to see clients, right? It’s hard to tweak that. I’m still trying to figure out a way to make that happen in our practices. But I love that mindset that you don’t have to be in the office for a certain amount of time as long as you’re doing what you are supposed to do.
Dr. Sharp: Let’s see. Gosh, our time flew today as usual. One last question, maybe just about the process and how this worked for you.
As I thought about you writing this book, 4-day workweek, and so forth, I’m curious how you held yourself to that when you were working on such a massive sprint project that I assume you could have worked on seven days a week whatever, 10 months out of a year. How did you set those boundaries for yourself?
Joe: What’s interesting is I only wrote one day a week from April of 2020 until September of 2020 to write this book. And [00:44:00] so, I was using the actual neuroscience and flow state research in the book and actually wrote in the book about writing in the book about that. So the process that I used was to even put in the proposal to a HarperCollins or a traditional publisher, you have to have every chapter sketched out pretty in-depth. And so it’s a 20-page proposal that has really outlined the big sections of the book. What is the flow? So it’s not like once you get a book deal, you’re just starting with a blank canvas.
They have an expectation of here’s the 12 to 14 chapters. Here’s what you cover in each one. So the year before I got the book deal, I met every Thursday with a writing coach kind of walking through my ideas. And there were points where I’m like, Nancy, what are we doing here? We’re just chatting every Thursday.
She’s like, I’m trying to figure out what are your actual things that you teach compared to the things you’re regurgitating and what you’ve learned from all the different books and podcasts you’ve listened to. I’m like, yeah, good, because I don’t want to just regurgitate other people’s stuff.[00:45:00] And so that process of really revealing what is inside of me allowed me to then have a very clear framework once we signed the book deal. And so then every single chapter, I had a Trello list for it. It had the main points that I had already said within the HarperCollins proposal. And then in every chapter, I wanted at least two solid pieces of research, at least two solid case studies, and then to know what the major action plan was for people. And more times than not, it was three of each of those.
I needed 60,000 words minimum by the time I wanted to turn it in on September 1st and then just worked backward and said, how many words a week do I need to write? Then I had it up on my whiteboard and I would always try to. And so by September 1st, I was able to have 84,000 words written, and that gave them plenty of room to cut the fat. There’s a big section on the Haymarket bombing that was like a 10-page thing that they condensed to like two. And I was like, “Oh, but I love history.” And they’re like, “But your readers don’t. [00:46:00] They want the snippet. They don’t want the whole encyclopedia.” But to be able to give them, here are the 84,000 words.
So the actual process, each week at the end of my writing, I would sketch out on my whiteboard the next Thursday’s chapter so that I could just let it simmer for a week because I knew if it simmered, I would have new questions and new eyes when I came back to it the next week. So, I would put them in 5 to 7 points, put that up on the whiteboard, let it simmer, and then the next week, I would make sure that I entered in with a clean slate.
So I wouldn’t check email. I wouldn’t check the news. I wouldn’t check anything on my phone. I had my green tea and green smoothie and my coffee all ready to go. I changed my environment, moved my chair to a different spot in the room, changed the lighting, put on my Bose noise-canceling headphones that I only wore when I was writing during that period of time, and had one particular playlist that I always listened to.
All of these environmental changes tell my brain, okay, you’re safe, you’re back in writing mode, take a breath. All right, [00:47:00] let’s get into this. And then I look at the whiteboard and it’s like, oh, I have all these other things. So I had to allow myself to go down some of those rabbit holes where it’s like, where did that come from? What happened here? And then the chapter would really just emerge. So a good third of that Thursday was really just letting myself dive into all the questions I had and then sketching it out on the whiteboard. And then the other two-thirds was just writing it almost a chapter a week.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. That was a tiny little masterclass, I think, on habit formation. I hope people were paying attention there. You’re doing all the tricks. When I hear you describe that, it’s like, yes, that’s what you do to establish a routine and a consistent habit and focus deeply. So kudos to you.
Joe: Thank you.
Dr. Sharp: Putting it in place. That’s awesome.
Let me see. We’re here. We’re already done. I know you have this mastermind thing coming up for folks who are wanting the book or reading the book or want to be a part of this. Tell me about that.
Joe: I’m [00:48:00] so excited about Thursday is the New Friday mastermind that’s starting the first Thursday in November 2021. We’re going to be starting at 12:00 PM, Eastern. What we’re going to be doing in this mastermind is we’re going to go beyond the book. So we’re going to walk through it. I just actually today got the handbook that sample put together. It’s a 30-page handbook that helps you really put Thursday is the New Friday into action.
So we’re going to walk through that in the first third of that hour together. The next third, we’re going to do two hot seats of people that want to practically implement Thursday is the New Friday. And we have a ton of different people that have signed up. We have podcasters, influencers, therapists, some typical business owners that are joining them.
And then the last third, which might actually be the most important third, is a= lot of networking. So you’re going to go into small groups to meet other people. My goal is that you have 6 to 10 new networking connections that you can collaborate with outside of Joe Sanok, that you can just be friends with new people that are trying to think in a new way because it’s amazing when you get the [00:49:00] right people together.
I, as a facilitator, really don’t have to do much. Jeremy, you experienced that at Slowdown school. You’re around a bunch of cool people that think big. I could’ve just sat there and we would have had our money’s worth, but I didn’t just sit there, but to allow that community to unfold and to connect.
So we’re going to do that starting that first Thursday in November. We’re going to meet six times, so seven weeks because we’re skipping Thanksgiving. So we’re going to meet during that time. All you have to do is buy 10 copies of Thursday is the New Friday, then just submit your receipt over at thursdayisthenewfriday.com. And then also you can listen to the Thursday is the New Friday podcast, which just dropped 22 episodes last week.
Dr. Sharp: Nice sweet. I’m sure a lot of folks are thinking, Ooh, that might be cool. And 10 books really for a mastermind. How long has the mastermind?
Joe: Six weeks.
Dr. Sharp: Six weeks. Yeah. Six hours for $100 or something. That’s pretty good.
Joe: Yeah. Come on. It’s for six weeks.
Dr. Sharp: I’m going to ask the obvious question for people who are [00:50:00] like, that sounds great, but what do I do with 10 books? What are you telling people?
Joe: No, I think that if we really start to think about a societal shift, it’s interesting to see this book initially
I thought it’s for small entrepreneurs like you and me, but Nissan Infiniti, Canada just bought 200 books for all of their staff. So big corporations are doing this. So it may be, if you know the CEO of your local hospital or some local business and say, hey, here you go. I gifted one to our local community college president.
It’s finding those people that are business leaders that want to think differently. There are plenty of YPO Young Presidents Organizations in town. There are chambers of commerce. You never know how handing a book like this to someone else that’s a business leader in town will help you personally expand your network or have someone say, oh my gosh, I love that book. Can we have coffee to talk about how you’re doing it? This could be something that becomes your own book club that connects you with people that are doing interesting things in your community.
Dr. Sharp: Sweet. [00:51:00] Well, this is fine as always. It’s exciting to see what you’re up to. Congratulations on this latest, big thing. It’s pretty amazing.
Joe: Thank you so much, Jeremy. This has been awesome.
Dr. Sharp: Okay, y’all thank you so much as always for tuning in. I really appreciate it. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. I know that we meander sometimes but hopefully get into things that are interesting and actionable for you. So all the links we discussed are in the show notes. Definitely check those out. If you’re interested in that, mastermind sounds really cool. Check that out as well.
If you are a testing practice owner and you would love some group accountability and support in building your practice at any stage of development, I’ve got you. We’ve got a beginner practice group, an intermediate practice group, and an advanced practice group to meet you wherever you’re at in the journey. You can get more [00:52:00] information at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting and schedule a pre-group call to check it out and see if any of those groups may be a good fit.
All right, y’all. Until next time, take care.
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