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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workplace. I’m Susan White, a national HR consultant. With me is my good friend JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink and author of “JoyPowered®” and her newly released book, “The JoyPowered® Family.” Joining us as well is Denise McGonigal, the Manager of Training Services at Purple Ink and co-author with JoDee of “The JoyPowered® Family.”
JoDee and Denise, I am overjoyed about the topic today. What a fun and inspiring topic for a book, and I can’t wait to hear more about it and share more information about the process that you went through in order to develop this book.
Thank you Susan. We’re excited to share our JoyPowered® story with our listeners.
Thanks Susan. I was overjoyed as well when JoDee invited me to co-author “The JoyPowered® Family.” I love to write, and I don’t know anyone who is more JoyPowered® than JoDee Curtis.
I will second that. So JoDee, let’s start with you. Your first book, “JoyPowered®: Creating an Inspired Workspace,” was about the power and the art of choosing joy in the workplace. What made you decide to follow it up with a second book and this time on families?
Well, I thought that joy power in the workspace obviously was so important, but that we can’t just leave our work at the end of the day and go to our families. As you know, some people say, “leave your personal life at the door,” or “leave your work life at the door when you come home,” and I felt like that integration of our work and our family lives were so important, because they both have such a strong impact on each other.
What do you think, Denise?
Well, there was a little more to the motivation behind this project, Susan, as well. JoDee and I are strong proponents of the CliftonStrengths® approach in all areas of life, and we both share the strength of positivity in our skill set. Positivity comes natural to both of us, and therefore, so does joy. However, not everyone shares the same amount of optimism as JoDee and I do on a regular basis. But we specially want to emphasize, for the sake of all families, that even if you aren’t a glass half full kind of person, you can still be a catalyst for joy in your family with a little intentionality. You can teach your whole family to choose joy, and that is kind of the philosophy behind the books.
Yeah, Denise and I also recognize the challenge that goes along with choosing joy at work and at home at times. I have three young adult children, none of them yet married, and Denise has four young adult daughters, all of them married and all in the trenches of raising children, nurturing their marriages, and trying to establish a JoyPowered® family of their own. So it’s a difficult balance, right? Denise and I both volunteer a lot, specifically at our church, and we see how difficult it is for couples today to be good parents and to work out of a place of joy for their children.
You know, I think you’re right. And I think people really don’t know where to go to really figure out…how do I bring joy into the family? And can we talk a little bit about maybe how this book could be a good resource?
Yeah, and so…by no means are Denise and I the…we didn’t write it because we’re the perfect JoyPowered® family and we know exactly what every family should do. Right? And so one of the things we did was surveyed a lot of people to get their input on this concept, about what did joy mean for them in the family. If you recall, I did a lot of surveys in my first book, as well, to…to get different people’s perspective on this, so we wanted to provide ideas that we had as well as from some of…many of our survey participants.
How many survey participants do you think you had overall, roughly?
Well, I say hundreds, because we asked a lot of different questions, and some people participated on all of them and some people participated on some of them. So it’s…it’s hard to exactly capture how many there were.
What I love about your surveying process is that you get real people speaking, you know, their real truths. And I think that’s really helpful as you figure out, you know, how you wanted to structure your book. Denise had mentioned CliftonStrengths®, and I know so much of the work that you do, not only in your writing, but also in your work, is focused or relates to CliftonStrengths®. Do you mind talking a little bit about CliftonStrengths® and…and how it came into play as you approached this book?
Yeah. So I think what’s most important to me is the underlying concept of CliftonStrengths® is to understand what do you do best and how can you do more of it. I’m sure there are other ways to figure that out besides taking the CliftonStrengthsΩ® assessment. We just feel so passionate, though, about this assessment. It takes about 35 minutes, it costs $20, and it really well articulates your top five signature themes, or what we call your your gifts and talents. They drive how you think, feel, and act in all areas of your life, so it applies at work, at home, in your faith, in…in relationships with anyone around you, and they are unique to you. When you are working in what is called your strengths zone, you are generally engaged and passionate about what you’re doing. And your strengths are, again, what you do best, and when you are doing what you do best, you are usually passionate and JoyPowered® in doing it. My top five signature strengths are Maximizer, Arranger, Positivity, Strategic, and Futuristic.
And mine are Achiever, Arranger, Learner, Connectedness, and Responsibility. And Susan, I happen to know that you have also taken the StrengthsFinder assessment. So would you like to tell our listeners yours?
Oh, I would, yes, and I, too…I’m a big fan of Strength Finders. I really believe that when I’m using any one of these strengths, I’m just energized more. I feel like I’m really doing my own natural tendencies. And I try to remember when I’m not, when I’m feeling kind of low, to bring these in. My number one is Woo, which is winning others over significance is number two. individualization is number three positivity. It’s number four, which I think is why I like JoDee and Denise so much, and Maximizer. So is there anything else you think our listeners need to know about CliftonStrengths® in order to better understand how it relates to joy power?
Well, the theory behind CliftonStrengths® is that in order to achieve success and excellence in life, it is far more productive to take hold of what you are really good at and become even better at it. Trying to improve our weaknesses is not a bad thing. In fact, there are some of my weaknesses that I absolutely have to improve upon. But as far as what’s going to lead me to success, it’s always going to be your strengths and not your weaknesses. It’s when we concentrate on what we are good at, as JoDee said, and we intentionally apply our talents to become even better at them that we feel good about what we are doing and we experience greater joy in our life. Donald Clifton is often quoted as saying, and it’s a favorite quote of both JoDee and mine, “What would happen if we think about what is right with people rather than what is wrong with them?” Just listening to that question kind of makes your shoulders relax and think, oh yeah, let’s think about what’s right…what’s right about everyone and stop picking on what is wrong with them.
I always like to encourage people to to ask that question of yourself. What would happen if I focused on what was right with me versus fixating on what is wrong with me? So if you could ask yourself that question at the end of every day…we tend sometimes to look back and think, oh, I wish I had said that differently. Oh, I wish I hadn’t said that. Oh, I shouldn’t have worn those boots today. Oh, I had a bad hair day. Right? It’s easy to pick on what didn’t go so well. But what if we ended our day with a question? What was right with me today? I think it would give us all more self-confidence and a better sense of ourselves and understanding our strengths.
You know, I try to relate that into the world of work. You know, we often ask employees to do self-assessments.
And wouldn’t it be fun if it was just one question? You know, what did you do really well this year?
You know, what do you feel really good about?
Right. I love it. I love it.
Well, I think this really gives us a good base to work from. So let’s really dive in to this new book, into families and joy. Is there a definition for joy that the two of you used as a basis for your content?
We did. And it’s funny, we…we had that this time around, because when I wrote the first book, I don’t think I had defined what that meant, and when I surveyed people about joy in the workspace, I kept getting back these answers like, “Oh, we get free pizza and we get to wear blue jeans,” which I thought were nice and can make us happy in the moment, but didn’t really…joy, I thought, was so much deeper. So I ran across this article by psychologist Sandra Brown, and she makes a distinction between the two. She says, and I quote, “Happiness is external…Happiness is future-oriented and it puts all the eggs in someone else’s basket. It is dependent on outside situations, people, or events to align with your expectations so that the end result is your happiness…[But it is joy,] a spiritual quality that is internal…Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, where you are, why you are, and who you are not with. When you need nothing more than your truth and the love of a good God to bring peace, then you have settled into the abiding joy that is not rocked by relationships. It is not rocked by anything.” And I just think that’s really important, because I think joy…I do think it’s internal, and I think there’s no excuse, then, for waiting for someone else to give it to us. Right? We have to find our own joy. Whereas happiness, at work or in our family or in any part of our lives, sometimes we’re dependent on someone else’s mood or actions to really feel it.
You know, Susan, people have been trying to grapple with this topic for thousands of years. When JoDee and I were doing research, we uncovered what the Greek sage Aristotle, back in 300-and-some B.C., talked about when he spoke of happiness. One of the first things he said is that no one chooses to be unhappy. So from there, he himself did some research. Now, we don’t quite know what that research looked like. I don’t think he had a computer back then, but…so he couldn’t Google it. However, he did come up with what we call the four levels of happiness. The first level of happiness, as JoDee talked about, you know, pizza on Mondays in the workplace.
That would make me happy today.
That would make me happy, too, but in a superficial way, so that level of happiness is the level of immediate gratification. I eat something I like, I buy something I love, I read something that’s beautiful, and I’m immediately gratified by it. But that kind of level of happiness doesn’t last very long. Those are moments of happiness. Then in the second level, that’s called the level of the ego, the level of, oftentimes, competition, as well, because it’s the level where you experience happiness by a contest you’ve won or a medal you’ve gained, a diploma you’ve just earned, maybe a marathon you’ve just run, something that you’ve accomplished and you’ve received a lot of attention for, so people on that level have a lot of awards and medals and diplomas in their bookcases, let’s say. But again, at that level, you still feel like there’s something more to life, there’s something more to this happiness game. So the third level of happiness is a level that now becomes less self-centered and more others-centered. So it’s…the level is called the level of philanthropy, the level that starts to understand that in giving to others, you receive gratification. So we become much less self-centered in our generosity, and much more concerned about the welfare of others, and the welfare of others and being an instrument of their welfare makes us more joyful, makes us more internally happy. So you can see that at that level, joy is really starting to take hold. It’s no longer just this transient happiness. And then at the fourth level, which is the called the level of the ultimate good or God, and I like to call it “the ultimate joy” – not that we’re any Aristotle here, but the ultimate joy. And that does not depend on anything external, but what it depends on is the ability to achieve a sense of peace and to understand truth and beauty and goodness and those things that are of value to you that you have completely intrinsicized. And so it really can’t be rocked by things on the outside. It’s an inner achievement. And it’s really a…from a Christian or from a religious point of view, it’s a spiritual state of understanding that all will be well, and we can do this, and God is in control. So Christians call it “the ultimate union with God.”
Well, it feels peaceful just thinking about it.
One other definition that we really like and talk about in the book, Susan, is from Deacon Rick Wagner. And he says that happiness has an expiration date, but that joy is an unshakable, unbounded happiness, independent of people and circumstances and deeper than any emotion. It is not something that we have to search for, and it does not depend on anything from the outside world. We do not need to wait for it or hope for it, and no one can take it away from us unless we let them. Joy resides in our hearts and souls. The source of that joy is the love of God. We can access it at any time. We can choose joy. It is simply a matter of accepting the God’s boundless love.
I really like that. I tell you, it makes me…it inspires me to really work at having joy. So what…we’re talking about families and joy, I would love to hear a little bit about the joy that occurred in your families as you…especially as you were raising your children. Granted, you know, you’re still very active in both your family’s lives, and I’m sure there’s probably a lot of things that you still do. But early on, you didn’t probably know about CliftonStrengths®. Tell me a little bit about how the joy occurred in your families before you knew about CliftonStrengths®, and then maybe how do you use it today as you work on this topic with your families.
I cannot stress enough how much I regret not knowing about CliftonStrengths® while Joe and I were raising our family. Now, I can’t say today that my decisions would have been a whole lot different, but I certainly would have felt a whole lot more secure about them. And I think I would have been way more intentional about helping my children develop their specific strengths had I understood that I could isolate them and really identify them for them, and then be a catalyst for going forward with those strengths. For instance, let me…let me give you a few examples with my children. My second oldest daughter, Caitlin, one of her top five strengths is Competition, and Caitlin has been a fierce competitor since literally the day she was born. And so I think that I would have done things a lot differently with her, because let me tell you this. I don’t have Competition. It is not in my skill set. I’m not very competitive. So often, I looked at Caitlin’s fierce competition, that spirit of…that drive of always wanting to do her best and win, I looked at it more as a problem to solve for her than a strength to nurture in her. All strengths are pathways to excellence, so competition is a pathway to excellence for Caitlin, and I think I would have guided it differently had I known that now. I don’t think I damaged her too much. She did go on to play four years of basketball in college, she remains competitive. She loves to coach, but I just could have been more creative and intentional with her.
And I think about the angst that you probably had, thinking, I’m gonna have to help my child, she’s…all she wants to do is win and there’s more to the game.
I think about the energy that you may have wasted.
Exactly. Yes. I thought I had to temper it.
Really, what I needed to do was direct it.
Yes. Makes sense.
So had I knew…known that, I would have been better at it. JoDee, how about you? Do you have any examples?
Yeah, well, I have an example of…of sometimes where…a time where it didn’t work so well with me, either. So my middle son, Kip, has Relator in his top five, which is typically someone who has more close relationships with a few people than with a large group. Well, I have Woo – winning others over – as my number seven strength. So for years, every year, I had a birthday party for Kip. He asked me if he could just have a few friends over or do something special for a birthday, but I insisted every year that we invite the whole class. We always had the whole neighborhood or the whole class for all of my kids birthdays. And Kip is not anti-social, so I don’t think I damaged him too much, either. But I do remember one year all he wanted to do was to invite two friends to go down to Holiday World for his birthday, and I let him, that he would tell you today…he’s 21 now. He would tell you today that was his best birthday party he ever had. But you know what I did the day we got home? I had planned a surprise party with all the kids in his class, because I couldn’t stand it. So think about…who was that party for? Was it for me? Yeah, of course it was for me. I was using my Woo. And so I think, you know, do we all understand that our children are unique and different and have their gifts and…and I hope I did a lot…I think I did a lot to inspire their individual strengths and gifts. But certainly, I feel like even though they’re young adults now, that I’m still a better mother by understanding them and their strengths.
And do you talk to your children today…I know that Denise, yours are all adults, and JoDee, you’ve got some that are, you know, the precipice of adults.
Yeah. Do you talk to them about the CliftonStrengths® joy?
All the time. All the time. We constantly have conversations about that, and my kids remind me about them, too. Just the other day I made a comment about someone, and Keeli said, “Remember to focus on what is right versus fixating on what is wrong.”
Susan, all four of my daughters have taken the CliftonStrengths® assessment and all four of my sons-in-law, and so we’ve all converted. Also my husband. So all of us are big advocates of it now. And they have a lot of fun looking back on their childhood and through the lens of CliftonStrengths® now, and recognizing as a child why they did what they did. For instance, my daughter Megan, who is the third oldest, she has the strength of learner. So Megan absolutely loves school. So in the summertime, Megan would make me…or Megan would drag me to the library, actually, like, when she was in third, fourth, and fifth grade, she would decide on a research topic and make me take her to the library so she could check out books, and she would write papers in the summer that I had to grade. Yeah.
We thought that was pretty weird. Her sisters had no idea what to make of that. But now when we look back at it, it was her Learner. She loved doing that. She loved learning and she loved expressing it. So to her, that was summer fun. To her sisters, that was crazy.
Yeah. Oh, that’s so interesting. Well, let’s talk a little bit about the joys and stresses of families when it comes to work life balance. JoDee, you’ve always been a working mother, and Denise, you have, too, but yours wasn’t always outside the home. What advice can you give to couples who struggle with finding joy in their lives when their workplace is particularly difficult or challenging?
Yeah. So I think my overall advice is to try and always look for the joy in the moment, right, which is easier said than done. And not, as we hear so much about now….it’s not always about work life balance. It’s about work life integration, right? And sometimes we need to focus on our work and sometimes we need to spend more time with our family, and making tough decisions at times to do one or the other, but being present in the moment when…when we make our choice to do so.
Denise, any advice that you might have?
I’m not sure whether you’d call this advice, but it’s a reflection. As I look back on the way that my husband Joe and I raised our children, when I think about the rhythm of joy we were able to get into when I began working outside the home full time, which was when my oldest daughter was in eighth grade and my youngest daughter was only four, the best thing I can say about it is that Joe’s set of strengths and my set of strengths really complement each other. And you can say that was fate,you can say that was the grace of God, you can say that was dumb luck, but we were really, really fortunate, because I happen to know as a CliftonStrengths® trainer that one of my very bottom strengths is Empathy, so I really don’t have much empathy at all. It’s not that I don’t have compassion, but I don’t have much empathy. But my husband does. And my husband also has Harmony. So I had to work a lot of nights and weekends and his Harmony…and he also has Developer, so his Harmony and his Developer were the perfect two strengths he needed at nighttime when he was doing all of the homework and signing papers for them and bedtime routine while I was working at night. And it just works so well that we were able to complement each other with our strengths and use them as best we could.
So interesting, because I…given what your husband did for a living, that the strengths that he had probably made him very unique and special, because he was in the law enforcement.
Yes, yeah. He had been an FBI agent, and then he started working for the…he stayed with the Department of Justice, and then worked as an attorney for them. And when he first heard he had Harmony, he looked at it and didn’t understand it and said, you’re the one who needs Harmony, not me, I would like Command. And I said, well, you don’t get to choose what you have. But Harmony was actually a wonderful strength for him to have in his line of work,
I imagine it’s why he was so successful.
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So Denise, you wrote and speak so passionately about how greatly service to others increases family joy. Can you speak a little bit about that?
Yeah, Susan, one of the things I always tried to teach my children and as, when I worked for a church, I used to tell parents all the time, is that there are two things you really need to bring home to your children before they leave you, two truths that you have to convince them of before they leave you at 18 to go away to school or to go off on an adventure or to get their own place or whatever it might be. And those two things are, one, you are not the center of the universe, and two, life is not all about you. And what I found in raising my daughters is the best way to give them an experience of those two truths was to allow them to have situations where they could volunteer and where they could serve the needy. So, to me, it was in our instances when we served the needy that our children were able to…our daughters were able to step outside of themselves in service to someone else and recognize how their gifts could meet the needs of others. And really, it helped them to move outside of their own self-centeredness. For instance, we used to…when when my daughters ranged from junior high through college, for several years in the summers, we would go down to Kentucky, the Appalachian area, and we would put on a vacation Bible school for them. So we’d spend a whole week down there, we would throw t-shirts and shorts in a duffel bag and leave our, you know, middle class finery back at home, our hair dryers and makeup and all of that, and we would just try to live simply as we served the poor. And it was so interesting how the reactions of my daughters to that…like, I remember one of them saying to me, “This week in Appalachia is always the best week of my entire year.” Now, my first reaction was, for crying out loud, we spent thousands and thousands of dollars on vacations for you lovely ladies, and yet, your best time is when you are serving the poorest of the poor. So that does tell us something, doesn’t it, that it isn’t about the fun and the games that I receive from people, but it’s about…in giving to others that I really find myself. So I loved that ability for them to be able to learn that lesson themselves. Just by being put in the position to be able to serve, they came to the conclusion that I wanted them to come to. Does that make sense?
Sure does. Yeah. And that’s terrific. As we talk about the needy, you know, there is obviously needing…people who have needs, and there’s a lot of suffering out there. JoDee, in the book, do you talk about suffering and joy?
We do. We actually have a chapter where several different people shared stories about some very difficult times in their life – a family who had a daughter who battled drug addiction, another family who had a daughter with a very serious health issue, a young mother who suffered several miscarriages, but yet…all very sad stories, but yet they each found joy even in the pain of great loss within their lives, so it was very powerful for us to share those stories, to let people know that they still chose joy in those difficult moments. And, you know, the takeaway from that is that suffering is inevitable. No one can escape it. And it doesn’t have to automatically rob us of our joy. It certainly can and does reduce it greatly, but if joy has taken deep root of us in our heart and in our soul, then joy will triumph over the pain. We also have a final chapter, Susan, where we encourage people to pray their strengths, and in that chapter we provide the definition of the 34 CliftonStrengths®, and we created a prayer that you can say for whichever of those are related to you.
That’s great. Where can someone order this book if they’re interested in reading it?
Oh, thanks for asking that, Susan. The simplest way to order either of the books, “JoyPowered®” workspaces and “The JoyPowered® Family” is to go to www.getjoypowered.com. That’s all one word. getjoypowered.com. It’s also available for e-readers, and you can learn about that option at getjoypowered.com as well. And we even have a discount if you choose to order both books together. For $20, you can order “JoyPowered®,” which is about creating joy power in your workspace, and “The JoyPowered® Family” for $20.
Terrific. Well, good. Well, thank you so much, Denise, for joining JoDee and I today. I really am excited about your new book, and I hope our listeners go out and get it right away. JoDee and Denise, we have Erin, who’s actually Denise’s daughter, on the line with us today. She’s read “The JoyPowered® Family,” and she has some comments for us. Erin, welcome to the show.
Thank you. I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for having me.
So tell us – you’ve read the book, any insights that you had?
Yes. It was really interesting, you know, I know…I knew my mom was writing a book with JoDee, but I really didn’t have a lot of information about it until it came out, and I was excited to read it. And what I noticed, first of all, as I was reading it were that there was some really simple, basic things that I could implement, even with my very young family, that would have a great impact. For example, the difference between happiness and joy. That’s something that kind of as an adult I’ve considered before, and I know that they’re different, but I wasn’t…I never looked at that in black and white, in print, and the definition of happy versus the definition of joy, and that has sparked a lot of conversation. I have a six year old, a four year old, and a four month old…well, she doesn’t participate in the conversation, but with the older two, it’s been an interesting conversation in our family to…I thought, you know, how should I approach this with them? They’re younger. But I just kind of started talking about it. I kept…I asked them, what do you think is the difference between happiness and joy? And my six year old even knew that his grandma was writing a book, and he asked me what it’s about, and I said, well, you know, it’s about the difference in these two things and that I kind of gave him the example of if you…if you eat at your favorite restaurant, you are going to be happy, but eventually that meal is going to be over, and despite that, you can still have the feeling of joy that can exist at the same time as these other emotions that may or may not be positive. You can be frustrated, but you can still have joy. You can be, you know, angry at the fact that you have to do a chore, but you can still have joy. And I thought it was interesting, very interesting that joy is such a tool that we have.
Wow, I love that. With those three kids, I don’t know how you have time to read.
Well, you know, it’s…it’s a few minutes here and there. Sometimes it takes me a while to get through, but I do…I actually really like to read. So…
Oh, that’s great.
I try to fit that in every day. But one of the things, you know, I kind of alluded to a second ago, and I think lots of parents can relate to this, chores don’t make your kids happy. And so I used to just say, too bad, you know, not everything is going to make you happy. That’s just part of life. I feel like that’s kind of a classic parent line to just say, oh, that’s part of life, you know, get over it. But now I kind of have added to my statement a little bit. After reading the book, I can kind of say, this might not make you super happy right now that you have to put away this laundry, but it’s your choice whether you are going to let it take away your joy. And the addition of that extra line makes kind of a classic parent line into something that is actually a little more actionable for my kids.
I’m inspired. Well, Erin, thank you so much for calling in and thank you so much for reading the book. Really appreciate it.
Yes, of course.
So, JoDee, we do have some news today in our normal in the news section of our podcast. It’s about ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Act. I wonder if you would mind sharing some of the updates on that?
Yeah, ICE wants employers to understand that, going forward, the agency will increase form I-9 audits, conduct more worksite raids, and promote involvement in the government’s voluntary compliance program. So listeners, be ready.
Yeah, good idea.
Many immigration experts have been preparing employers to expect an increase in the workforce enforcement since the Trump administration came into office, so this is not unexpected, but it is happening. ICE audited over 1,300 organizations in 2017 and out of that there were 71 indictments and 55 convictions of business owners and managers, so they take this very seriously. The penalties can range from $500 to $21,000 a person…
…just for employing unauthorized immigrants. So. In addition, that form I-9 paperwork is so important that people get that filled out properly, because that carries a penalty of $200 to $2,000 per person. And the easiest way to avoid those fines is to make sure they are complying with the I-9 obligations before they get audited. I encourage everyone to do a self-audit of those forums.
You know, we’ve talked about that in prior podcasts of ours. If you don’t feel comfortable or confident doing it, bring in a consultant at least annually, take a look, and make sure you’re in compliance. So it’s time for us to close out another session. Please tune in next time. Thank you for listening today. If you’ve missed any of our podcasts, you can watch all episodes for free at iTunes, Google Play, or Podbean by searching on the word “JoyPowered.” If you have any questions on any HR topic, you can always call us at 317-688-1613 or give feedback on our podcast via our JoyPowered® Facebook account or on Twitter @JoyPowered. We welcome listener questions and comments. Thank you so much.