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Interview with Julie Clow, author of Work Revolution

Julie Clowe

Julie Clowe, author of The Work Revolution

We’ve been talking with author and fellow revolutionary, Julie Clow, about her new book. It’s refreshing and exciting to meet new voices in the movement to change the way work gets done. So, on that note we wanted to interview Julie and share some of her story with you. Enjoy!

Jody Thompson:
Hi Julie! First of all, congrats on your new book, The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All. It came out April 10, right? How are things going so far?

Julie Clow:
Thank you! Yes, April 10th was the launch date, and so far, I’ve been thrilled by the response. I’ve heard from many individuals about how it resonated for them and got them very excited and pumped up to make changes in their own work lives. What I love most is how individuals recount to me their own tales of workplace repression, and then how they see the work revolution playing out. Those personal stories are priceless, the kind of dialog and reflection I was hoping to create.

Jody Thompson:
When you and I first talked about the book, I felt that “kindred spirit” kind of feeling. You already know how passionate Cali [Ressler] and I are about revolutionizing the workplace through a Results-Only Work Environment, and it’s thrilling to meet up with people like you who are so passionate about the same things! We love that passion. We embrace it, even when people think we’re crazy and a little “too” passionate. Ha!

Why don’t you start by telling us a little about your story.

Julie Clow:
Well, I worked for Google for 5 years in learning & development and felt inspired to write the book to demystify the management practices that create such freedom and joy in the work environment. I cite Google often as I had many experiences to draw on, but I obviously cited ROWE and Best Buy quite a few times in the book as well. I am now serving as the head of learning and development for Two Sigma Investments, very happy in my role/company with no plans to quit (as we all know, writing a book does not pay the bills, at least for most authors).

Jody Thompson:
Agree! Books certainly don’t pay the bills. So, this is still fresh news, but we just signed a deal with Wiley to write our second book. The working title is Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix it. It’s really the field guide that supports our first book, Why Work Sucks, which was the manifesto of ROWE.

So, we know the journey you’re on now as an author and speaker, getting out there to tell the world why work culture is so broken. It’s hard work. That’s why we’re talking, because it does take people to come together to make change.

Would you expand a little more on your journey before you joined Google? What made you despise the system so much to write a book about it?

Julie Clow:
OK. Well, I graduated in 2000 with my Ph.D. in Psychology, and I went to work for a company to help develop training solutions for clients. I loved graduate school – the flexibility, working hard on things I loved, and the people, both fellow students and professors. I had high hopes for my career. On the first day of work, I walked down the drab, dreary office hall decorated with wallpaper from the 1980s, where I was led to my cubicle with depressing brown walls. The cube was outfitted with a chair, a desktop computer, and an old monitor propped up with phone books. Nothing else. I almost cried. I spent the first week completely exhausted because I wasn’t used to the nine to six workday.

But I settled into it, like we all do, and eventually found success doing work I enjoyed.
I was promoted to positions of greater responsibility, but I still felt the pressure to stick to a rigid work schedule. I wore business casual clothes as per their dress code, but kicked back every Friday when the code was loosened to include jeans. While I felt that I was able to contribute significantly to the company, I never felt that I could spread my wings, contribute big ideas to the way the business was run, or fully and completely use my skill set. In short, I felt like I spent six years crouching, and that if I stood up straight, I would bang my head against the rigidity of the box they constructed around us.

Jody Thompson:
Yes, we hear that all the time! A lot of people are going to read your story and identify with that fear and frustration you felt.

In your book you say “In sum, I believe that freedom in the workplace is worth fighting for, and that every person and every organization can be excellent. When we unleash human potential, great things happen. But it’s going to require loosening our death grip on control; we have to let go just a bit.” We totally agree. This thing we call “work” is definitely broken.  And it’s going to take a lot of us standing up to get things to change. But it’s happening…people are so ready for it, and there’s momentum now!

OK, what happened for you once you were able to break out of the box?

Julie Clow:
In 2006, I made big changes. I had a suspicion that I could do more, find greater joy in my work, and maybe even get paid better. I was fortunate to land a job at Google, so I packed my bags (or rather, Google did – they covered full relocation), and I headed to the Disneyland of all jobs – the Googleplex in Mountain View California.

The first day of work at Google was like a dream. I walked into the brightly decorated office with open floors, and I was led to my workstation outfitted with a huge monitor, a laptop and docking station, ergonomically adjusted chair and desk, a few books of interest, and balloons to celebrate my start. I wore jeans my first day, and it wasn’t even a Friday. I indulged in the breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the gym, the drinks and snacks in the microkitchen, the warmed toilet seats, and even the medicine cabinet. I marveled that there were so many perks, I could never keep track of them or even fully realize what they had to offer.

But it wasn’t the perks that fueled my joy. It was the freedom. I could show up when I wanted, and leave at night whenever I needed. I could go for a run on my lunch break and not worry whether it took more than an hour. My manager gave me a great starter project, and she set me free to own it. In those first few weeks, I kept waiting for the email to show up asking me to log my time or report my hours worked. It never happened. Instead, I was evaluated based on the impact I created for Google.

Jody Thompson:
It’s so important what you just said: “It wasn’t the perks, it was the freedom.” That’s absolutely true, because most small businesses and organizations can’t really afford fancy perks like Google can. They can’t give their employees all of those bells and whistles, but that doesn’t matter because the most valuable thing to the employee is freedom and autonomy to get the work done.

Julie Clow:
Right. And one of the great things about connecting with you guys is that, as I’m out talking about my story and the book, I can point people to ROWE and say: Hey, here is a resource for starting your own Work Revolution. Cali and Jody have been doing this for years, they’ve been at it, and they’ve seen the success. The ROWE movement is really exciting.

Jody Thompson:
Yes! Julie, I know you’re busy with the new book, but will you be a guest on our radio show sometime? Results-Only Radio, it’s an interactive internet radio show we do every other week. Listeners can call in with questions and comments, and it’s really fun. We’d love to talk more about this with you!

Julie Clow:
Definitely! I’m there.

Jody Thompson:
Thanks! And thanks for doing this interview. We wish you all the best with your book, The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All. People are going to eat it up!

Any parting thoughts?

Julie Clow:
Thanks so much for welcoming me to the amazing community you have built, and I can’t wait to read your next book!!

 

[Quelle/Source (Link): Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) | Created and Implemented by CultureRx]