Speakers

Greg McKeownBanks Benitez


Transcript

Greg McKeown

Ladies and gentlemen, Essentialists one and all. This is Greg McKeown and I am your host on the What’s Essential podcast. This is magical, I’m here with Banks Benitez, the CEO of Uncharted. And he has a story that it that absolutely is worth listening to an experiment that he began. And any of you who are in a scenario where you want to accomplish more by doing less any of you that are on a team or work for a company that dreams of being more thoughtful and conscientious of what you do and what you don’t do. You’re going to learn a lot from Banks. Banks, it’s nice to have you on the show.

Banks Benitez   

Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Greg McKeown   

Banks, tell us your story.

Banks Benitez     

Yes, so back in November 2019 we were I was doing some reading about management practices and came across some research on the four-day workweek, back then, and began to do some research into organizations and companies all over the world that are experimenting with the four-day workweek. I brought this concept to our executive team at the end of 2019. And said, I think 2020 should be the year where we experiment and try out and see if a four-day workweek might work for us.

Greg McKeown 

What were the companies that you had learned about Microsoft Japan is one, others?

Banks Benitez 

Yes, Microsoft Japan had released some research in November of last year, just about this time, I guess, around the four-day workweek themselves. And then Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand based company has been doing the four-day workweek for a while. And so they had some literature out there. And then there was there were small other examples, and research in a few different places about nontraditional work weeks. And so I began to assemble just a list of resources and articles and researchers in this space. As an organization, we’ve always been really curious about how we can design the ways that we work and collaborate to be really human centered and be driven by values and to be rooted in trust for our team. And so the four day workweek was a curiosity of mine that started at the end of last year.

Greg McKeown     

And I sort of understand why you were curious about that you because you’re thoughtful, but really why bother looking into a four-day workweek, what was the pull for you?

Banks Benitez  

I think that there’s, I mean, this one question of who chose a five day workweek, who chose 40 hours per week of work, some of these norms and the status quo that, you know, I just have accepted growing up in the US and thinking, Okay, well, I guess this is the way that you work Monday through Friday, maybe you work 40 hours, maybe you work more whatever. And I think as an organization, we have always tried to sort of challenge the status quo. And so for me, I was interested in in that. And of course, I know just observing my own performance, that the number of hours that I work doesn’t always contribute to the outcome that I produce that there are times when I am really producing at a much higher level, when I’m more focused when I’m more disciplined when I’m focused on the right things. We don’t pay our team to just sit in their seat, sit at their desk, sit at their home office and in a 2020 COVID reality, just for hours. We hire them, retain them, compensate them to deliver results, and I’ve known that for myself personally, that delivering results is not always a function of hours worked. And so I was really curious about exploring the decoupling the possible decoupling between full time and full contribution. And the hypothesis that we used when entering this experiment was, is it possible to have 100% contribution at 80% hours for 100% pay. And that was the experiment we launched for the summer for the three months from June, July and August of 2020.

Greg McKeown     

And then essentialism played a role in this. I don’t want to be presumptuous and saying that but tell me how that played a role. And why you why you included that in your experiment.

Banks Benitez  

Yeah, so I had read Essentialism, your book back in 2000 and I think it was 15. To be quite profound and helpful for me, I’ve always considered myself to be a brute force entrepreneur, I’m a hustler. I’m somebody that just is, I will get it done. You know that there are no tradeoffs, I will do both. It’s not an or it’s an and, all of the things that are non-essential, I, for a long time, that was my operating model as a leader as an entrepreneur, and in some ways as a, for a startup and for the company that I lead that permeated throughout our culture. But I knew that of course, just this brute force entrepreneurship was not a way to successfully grow a larger organization. In the early days of COVID, there was this moment where we begin to wonder is this the best time to do this or the worst time to, to really move to afford a 32 Hour Work Week. But we knew that things were hard for so many people, mental health was a strain. And so we decided, no, this is actually the best time, obviously, the organization was going through challenges and shifts, then we had moved to be fully remote. But I was I decided, it’s not the worst time, it’s the best time to do it. And so, in early April, our executive team got together, and we decided, Okay, we will announce to the team in the beginning of May, that we’re going to move to a four-day work week starting in June. And we will spend the month of May, as a team really assessing all the ways that we can optimize our work, restructure our week, and grow more essential. And so, I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you, it certainly is not something that I’ve that’s been anywhere we’ve posted or been published in some of the press we received. But I ordered, I ordered a copy of your book for every member of the team that came to my house, I inscribed each of them individually to our team, in the opening section of a book and had a had a quote from a from a poet, about living a full audacious life outside of work. And then we shipped them off to the team and said they cannot open the package until the day that we made this announcement over Zoom, of course, because we were all remote. And so we made this announcement in early May and said, Hey, we really trust and believe in this team. This team is extremely hard working. We know there’s a lot going on. We’re launching the three-month experiment with a third-party evaluator to determine if how the four-day work week might work. You know, 100% pay 80% hours 100% contribution. And we’re announcing this in the beginning of May, because we want to spend the next month really digging into how we can grow more essential in our work. At that point everyone opened up their packages, they had your book, and we did a month-long book club as a team, going through chapters in Essentialism and talking about how they showed up, and how we might apply the principles of it into our work. And I will say, it has many pieces in your book have become part of the Uncharted vocabulary in our ways that we now are re-centering conversations, clarifying the purposes of meetings, talking about how we prioritize, and how we select how we deprioritize, and so very much, I think, if we would have announced the four day workweek, on the day that it started, without any of this month of preparation and reflection and going through your book, we would have been far less successful. But that month ahead of time for us to, to sharpen our ability to be essential was itself essential.

Greg McKeown     

You were, I think, preparing people’s minds and hearts for the possibility of doing something really different. And my experience with essentialism has surprised me, in teaching it to other people. It’s that essentialism is more countercultural than I realized it was when I wrote it.

Banks Benitez  

Interesting.

Greg McKeown    

And so I find that it’s almost like a new language. And you use that word language. But I think it’s like, you know, literally, like learning French or learning Spanish that that if you try to be an essentialist, on your own, in a non-essentialist country, so to speak, then people aren’t going to know what happened to you. And this is one of the fascinating things about your example, and your case study is what you did to expand it beyond yourself. you’d read it years before that had settled in with you, you’d wrestled with those ideas. But then you also go through this process of getting everybody else on board. I wonder if you could go into a little more detail about what you did in that book club for that month. How did you approach it really, tangibly so that for somebody else who says I want to create an essentialist culture around me rather than being the lone essentialist in the room, they could be able to do the same?

Banks Benitez  

Yeah, for sure. So I think there’s there was a couple things that we did. We had a weekly book club, we broke up your book into sections and went through it, discussing various chapters, all of our department heads met up with their teams to explore how they restructure team meetings, goal setting, department coordination, and collaboration. So at a project team and department team level, we empowered our directors to really come in and say, how do we expect to get all of our work done on four days, knowing that their work streams and their meeting schedules and the ways that they work differed across those teams. So it was broken out into those department teams for those teams to reflect on not only the book, but also just thinking about the cadence of work.

We then created a tool that was a document for each person to reflect on their own style of work their own routine, one of the things that I appreciated from your book, I think it’s a later chapter talking about creating a routine where the essential becomes default. When it comes to work, it’s very easy for the inbox to become default or for, you know, the fight fighting the fires are the things that pop up over the week to be the default. And so how do we restructure that, and that’s very personal for people, you know, they may be caring for kids then have a family, they may be thinking about how do I prioritize my week, such that the essential becomes the default from a routine perspective. So each person did a self-assessment, individual reflection on that, to make sure that they were thinking about their own specific weeks. It was just a simple framework tool that we provided the team to go through.

And then we spent some time as a team hosting internal forums, on topics about how to optimize meetings, how do we maintain our culture? How do we block time and plan throughout the course of the week, so that we can get the most important work done?

And we arrived at some decisions around some time that was heads down time where we wouldn’t bother anybody else on the team we really focused on, on getting the essential work done, and some other routines and ways for us to report out on progress. And so I think I was the one that made the decision to launch this experiment, but there were thousands of decisions that our team led in terms of how to make it work. And I think it was important for the how decisions to be owned by the team themselves.

Greg McKeown     

Hmm. I mean, first of all, your decision to run the experiment itself is one decision that makes 1000. It was a really clear, essential intent. We are we are wanting to make a shift. It’s a very concrete shift. We’ve never done it before. It’s an early process. It’s the case studies we’ve read, don’t give every detail for our circumstance. But you made that clear decision and then involve everybody in the how to do it.

Banks Benitez  

Right.

Greg McKeown 

Go back for a moment, if you don’t mind to just even the book club part of this. When you say you broke up parts of the book, how did you do that you took? Did you do one section per week? They just give me like, you know, fly on the wall, how did you actually do it?

Banks Benitez  

Yeah, so we have to go back off to go back and look specifically, but we would do three to four chapters a week based on the sections that were in the book. And so we would all we would all read it. Everyone had had their copy, of course, we would all read it, we would come in. And then there was it was loosely facilitated over the course of an hour every Monday, where the team showed up. And we said, okay, here’s, I’m taking this from this section. And I think we can apply it this way. Or I’m wrestling through this topic, that, you know, Greg has outlined how do you think this will work? And so it was based off of those sections? And then, from there, I was curious about, and again, I didn’t I didn’t lead the book club, it was very much one that different weeks, people would sort of loosely facilitate.

Greg McKeown 

Tell us more about, you know, what did were there questions that people came with? Or was it really just read it, come, talk?

Banks Benitez  

So it was it was very much read it come talk I, I’m a bit of a bit of a nerd myself. And I have I’ve created a which I can happily share with you a summary of your book into a six-page document, that that has, essentially, essentially the essence of each chapter. But I think what was interesting for me was the conversations that happened outside of the book club. So for example, I have an amazing executive assistant that I work with. And I think one of our conversations that we had was this point of, in a in a hierarchy of an organization, are there some people that have the privilege of essentialism. And there are others that do not where they have to be more of a responding to needs and firefighting and dealing with things. And so my conversation with Lindy was really helpful because we begin to talk about, okay, it’s not just about her role being non essentialist. But actually, what are the ways that she and I can partner together? What are the ways that she can actually push back and tell me? No, actually, I don’t have time for that this week, you’re asking me to do something that if you do, if I say yes to that, I’ll have to deprioritize something else. And so the essentialism was a gateway into a greater peership conversation, partnership conversation about how she and I, as a team, as an executive assistant, CEO, team, partner together to get the most essential work done.

Greg McKeown     

I mean, this is exactly what it’s supposed to be if essentialism is incorporating a new language, it exists so that you can then because of that new language, have a new conversation. And that’s what you’re literally describing as the language was introduced, suddenly, the discomfort gives way to conversations.

Banks Benitez  

There were there were a few things. One was being really clear about what if I asked for something to focus on one thing, what would be deprioritized as a result? So I think she that that has grown into our conversations since then, about, as you’ve talked about, we have lived in a non-essentialist country of there is no such thing as a tradeoff. But the reality is, no, no, there are tradeoffs. And so I think a conversation around tradeoffs has become a pillar of our of our dialogue, she and I. The other one is around deadlines and timelines. And so oftentimes, it does feel like okay, just quickly do it as fast as you can. But we’ve begun to understand all right, let’s say, when does it actually need to be done, and therefore I’m going to put it off, or deprioritize it for the next three or four days, because I know, it’s not due until next week, and I know I have time to do it, then.

Greg McKeown     

To me, it’s so brilliant, what you’re describing. So many people are stuck in a hierarchical environment, especially thinking there are only two options; the polite, yes, on the one hand, and the rude no on the other. And of course, because of the hierarchy, they think their only real option is the polite yes

Which means that all their higher power reasoning, and all of the potential collaboration and conversation is just cut off at the very beginning. And what you’re describing is permission now and space to have a conversation.

Banks Benitez  

So I think we realized that, as many organizations have meetings can be, can dominate and can really be non-essential activities. And so we set our gaze on our meetings and really ask ourselves questions about what is the purpose of this meeting, who are the participants, what are the outcomes, what are we trying to achieve? In your, in your book, you’re talking about this idea of sort of a reverse pilot, where if you don’t do anything, is anything missing at the at the end of it. And so we begin to look at questions around the importance of our meetings. And we shorten the meeting, we cut meeting doubt, we oftentimes would put pressure on the agenda ahead of time, if there wasn’t an agenda for a meeting, that was a standing meeting, we would just eliminate it. And so from a meeting perspective, I think we became much more judicious about the purpose of meetings. That was and we can go into a whole conversation around that that was one piece.

Greg McKeown     

Let’s just pause on that for a second judicious in whether to have the meeting judicious about what the purpose of the meeting is, who should be in the meeting, what the outcome is of the meeting, that these are things I suppose most people have heard before. But you implemented it, you took it seriously. Were there any specific tools or learnings about that process that would be helpful for somebody else who wants to try and create an essentialist culture in their organization?

Banks Benitez  

Yeah, you know, I think we’re still a work in progress on all of this, Greg, we’re still very much a work in progress. Yeah, many of us, you know, are have been in the professional world have been in sort of corporate environments have done all this stuff. And so we’re trying to unlearn habits. And that includes me as well. We have begun to pilot a meeting checklist that shows through a question of meetings are not solutions looking for problems? What is the problem the meeting is solving? So really trying to think about the purpose of the meeting. And then therefore, what are the outcomes of the meeting will yield? Who are the people that should be involved in the meeting? And then the approach to the meeting. So what is the path to the outcomes that are identified? So do people need context ahead of time? What prep work do people need? Is there a crisp purpose of the meeting? Is there an agenda? Are there roles in the meeting like note taker, or somebody who’s, who’s assigned next steps? So, we’ve tried to become a bit more thoughtful about all of that. And I think, in many, many times, we have canceled so many meetings, since we started this experiment, I think is great.

Greg McKeown   

What percentage of meetings do you feel like you’ve eliminated?

Banks Benitez  

Oh, that’s a good question. I don’t know. I only I myself am in a small fraction of our team’s collective meetings. I would say that on a weekly basis of the meetings that are on my calendar, that our standing meetings, all cut out 20 to 25% of them, because we’re good this week, or we don’t actually need to check in or we can coordinate over project management software and tools that way.

Greg McKeown     

When you did that first month, you’re preparing minds, you’re reading, you’re having conversations. At some point you brought in an outside vendor to actually measure productivity, other metrics you can share with us. When did you bring that external group in?

Banks Benitez  

Before we announced the experiment to the team, so we are height, we had hired a third-party data evaluation group in April, before the announcement for the team. Because we said, Look, we’re launching an experiment. This experiment is simply we have a hypothesis. And the hypothesis, we want to test and validate, and we want some help from someone who really knows how to   do this, who also doesn’t have a vested interest in having Friday’s off, which of course, our team might have, right. And so we hired this third party evaluator, and they created a new quantitative and qualitative process over the course of the summer.

That tested a couple of hypotheses and questions. And so one of them was is it possible for us to maintain both the quantity and the quality of our work output with reduced hours? How does moving to a four-day work week change our workplace dynamics? How does switching to a four-day workweek affect team members lives outside of work? We knew that for our organization, we produce best when we’re in a rested mentally healthy place. And so I am very interested in how do we create the conditions for our team to be mentally healthy, can be fully present, can be very focused.

Greg McKeown     

To me, it’s quite a thorough process that you went through in terms of real learning and development, you know, actually assess pre assess it. You know, that, and then, of course, they came in at another time, then, when did they come in, back into the organization to, to, like, give me the next part of the journey?

Banks Benitez  

Yeah, so the third-party evaluator took baseline data in the month of May hours worked mental health contribution, again, happy to share their complete survey, their baseline survey of what they did, they then did a brief survey at the end of June. So one month in, we wanted to evaluate how the team was doing. This was less in terms of making a decision about if we would make this permanent company policy, which we ultimately did after the final data at the end of August. But the June checkpoint was more about how is what’s working, what’s not working, it was more of a way for us as leadership and management to optimize and to have subsequent conversations.

Greg McKeown     

A check-in and you know, what tweaks need to be made. What did you learn at that check in?

Banks Benitez  

Yeah, so we learned some interesting things. And I think it again, I think we are still very early in our journey on this. Most of the insights were qualitative, about people feeling greater, rest, and mental health. And then of course, much clearer, thinking around how to prioritize. Many people have shifted how they structured their weeks, blocking off time throughout the weeks to really focus on key priorities. Protecting blocks of time, we had good support from our clients and customers. So that’s a whole other conversation, happy to go into at some point about the optics of this externally and in a business environment. There were also some challenges early on, I think that the team felt like we were engineering each week down to the minute, and there wasn’t enough room for the unexpected. And so over the end of June, we began to talk about as a team, how do we introduce some buffer time? That was a question that came up at the end of us of our end of June to this to this work.

Greg McKeown   

I can just imagine, by the way, I can imagine that in taking a day out you’re reducing eight hours, at least now. And you say, Okay, well, let’s solve it through efficiency. Let’s just pack each hour, we are working back to back. And suddenly you realize that’s quite a stressful way to live those four days because unexpected things inevitably come up. And then you’re behind all the time and so you address this how?

Banks Benitez  

Yeah, I think this is a critical point that if we’re going to go if we’re going to reduce the hours worked by 20%, it does not come through efficiency, it comes through essentialism. So efficiency, we might be able to optimize. What 3, 4, 5% maybe. But to get to 20%. It requires really deprioritizing things, understanding what are the biggest obstacles that stand in the way towards progress, and removing those obstacles as you talked about. And that really came from, from an executive level leadership level, communicating to our teams. These are our priorities, these are our metrics, this is how we’re successful. And I think in some ways, this four-day workweek and this principle of essentialism, is reflecting back into the ways where I have not been as strategically clear about metrics and goals as I need to be. I think about that in the book, there’s an image of a circle with arrows going out in all different directions. And then that sort of articulating or illustrating what non-essentialism looks like. And in some ways, oftentimes, that’s what strategic planning looks like, we must have 17 priorities, they’re all really important. But having a strategic essential intent, changes the focus and helps people to deprioritize, in a way where it’s not just about becoming more efficient. It’s really about saying, okay, we’re only in the business of doing a few key things very well.

The other thing I’ll just quickly mention, after the first month, first month of June, was, I think our team felt like, okay, everyone’s really focused, we’re trying to be essential, we’re prioritizing the most important work. Is it okay for me to ask for help from people around me? Can I actually get reach out to someone and say, I’d love your thought partnership on this thing? Is that going to be a distraction from their goals? And so initially, there was some fear amongst our team about, maybe this will actually not lead us to collaborate more, because perhaps we should just be focused on the work. And, and I think that was something that we were paid a lot of attention to, because we knew that we really needed to, to find ways for our team to continue to support each other. And so, by the end of the experiment, actually, and to my surprise, the support of coworkers or support from coworkers actually increased over the baseline. And I think it was because we began to talk about how we need to hold the space to show up for our team, and to help them because that itself is very essential. You know, it might be 15-minute conversation, or a meeting might save hours of time later on. And so we began to try to change this conversation around asking for help is an essential act.

Greg McKeown 

I think that’s interesting for a few reasons. One, that there was this order of operations that at first, it had almost a chilling effect, where you said, Okay, I’m just, I know what’s important for me, and I’ve got to get my head down, and I don’t want to distract other people. I don’t want to hijack their day, I can see, I can see both the advantage, but also a clear disadvantage there. But I, I find it interesting that it evolved into, well, this is my take on it, but a more disciplined collaboration. I do need to collaborate, but I’m going to do it purposefully.

Banks Benitez  

And what would you have to deprioritize, to collaborate with me? And again, this sort of collapses the power dynamics within organizational structure. Because not only are you asking for help, you’re giving the person you’re asking for help the agency to say, Well, listen, there are tradeoffs that exist. And I will be sacrificing this thing over here to help you over here. And in some ways, I think from a hierarchical perspective, where power limits are in play, asking for help, as we mentioned before, can be the default thing. But all of a sudden, there is a level playing field about, hey, can you help me, and the person says, happy to help you, but I won’t be able to do X, Y and Z. And then there’s a conversation that ensues around. Wow, that thing that you’re doing actually seems pretty important. Maybe I’ll go somewhere else for help, or whatever. So I think that I hope that it leads our team, I think it already has done this, to have more courageous conversations that, again, go back to one of the principles in your book of not having reality happen to us. But us choosing how we show up, and how we spend our time.

Greg McKeown 

As you make the conversation about what’s important, and what are the real tradeoffs being made, everybody gets to be a little more empowered, because they’re not just looking to hierarchy, they’re looking to actual importance, what really actually matters.

Banks Benitez  

I think that’s well said, I think in some ways, when done well, principles of essentialism decenter the individual who’s in power, and re-center the priorities in power. And that I think is a powerful, it’s exciting, because it doesn’t mean that oh, because somebody holds a title, that they are the most important that what they say goes, actually, it democratizes the awareness of we’re a team working towards goals, we have to be thoughtful and judicious about how we spend our time on the most essential work. And so, I really appreciate the way it decenters, the important people in a hierarchy and re-centers, the most important work in in the organization.

Greg McKeown 

Can you think of an interaction where somebody in a more junior position pushed back on you or push back on other people where you were able to see it, where the important thing was discussed and either somebody actually went with that important thing or, you know, instead of it simply being hierarchical wins?

Banks Benitez  

I can think of five examples across our team where, you know, in my excitement or something was like, Oh, my gosh, we should do this, or, hey, I need help over here. And people on our team said, I’m working on something else. How important is it? When is it due by? Can I get to it later? And then it’s funny, those, those second order questions are so sobering for me, I’m like, actually, you know what the thing that they’re working on is way more important. And they’re the ones that are way more disciplined. And so I think that this, it doesn’t take more than one or two questions, to create some dialectics around the importance of what to prioritize.

Greg McKeown     

Tell me about your partners, those outside the business, you know, if you suddenly announce, well, we’re going to only work four days instead of five days course there’s a potential for being misunderstood. I think this is one of the general views that have that where essentialism can be misunderstood, where somebody just looks like, Well, okay, you just want to do less. Okay, that that does, that’s not a good look. In a non-essentialist world, the values, more hours more stuff, you know, hustle 24/7, how did you handle that with them?

Banks Benitez  

As we began to talk to some of our partners, they were incredibly supportive, and felt like this is I think this is great, I wish our team did this. We heard that a number of times from our partners, and I think it was refreshing because I was afraid to be honest. Will they think we’re not serious? Will they think we won’t show up? And there have been times it’s probably been just a few, maybe two or three in the last since the beginning of the of the experiment, when someone said, we really need you to call in on a Friday. And I said, okay, we’ll call it on a Friday, of course, we’ll do that. But it hasn’t happened, and we’ve really tried to communicate to our clients and partners that, you know, we work a four-day work week, Monday through Thursday, we don’t work on Fridays. And so, let’s just design from the beginning, that work week and that collaboration schedule.

We had one potential partner that we were in conversations with, they came across an article talking about this experiment. And they were concerned, they said, you know, they were just they were curious about our commitment to the work, our ability to follow through all of these things. And I said, Okay, this will be interesting. Like, I’m really interested to see how, you know, I’m happy to talk through just as I’m talking to you now, our process, our intentionality, the ways that we’re not just, you know, working one day less, and producing one day less of work, we’re actually getting the most essential work done with just one day lesson.  And so I explained all of this process, our thoughtfulness, the third party evaluator how we’re experimenting with it, and they ultimately said, Alright, we’re convinced.

And so I think it was it was helpful for me to see that even with an initial concern, or skepticism that we were able to overcome that with some very basic conversations around. This is not just, you know, something that’s we haven’t been thoughtful about. We’re being very intentional here. We’re very curious about the ways that we can give time back to our team to prioritize things that are not work essential. And this goes back to what you’ve talked about, which is, you know, what’s most essential is can be family and relationships outside of work and, and how do we subordinate work into a larger context of life where we actually have the space to prioritize essential things that are outside of the workplace.

Greg McKeown 

I mean, that’s beautiful to hear you express that with an understanding that that time for them really is precious, really is essential, rather than maybe slightly bemoaning it, as I think someone in a non-essentialist frame might well have my goodness, you know, I’m paying these people, why aren’t they doing more work, they’re working longer hours, you’re saying, look, that is their most important work. And the win is that if they can give correctly there, then when they come to work, they’re going to be able to make a better contribution anyway. So if I get the order right here, I’m not going to lose out and in fact, everyone is going to win bigger. That’s what I hear you saying.

Banks Benitez  

That’s right. And then from a retention perspective, I think, for our team’s collective ability to practice essentialism and I really think of it as a fitness, you know, it’s like going to the gym, it’s something that we have to practice and work on every single day. If we can do that in an organizational context, such that people get Friday’s off to go out and live audacious lives elsewhere outside of work. The retention in that organizational context can be really strong. I think from an organizational perspective, we can quantify the cost of employee turnover, we can quantify the cost of loss of institutional knowledge. And I personally as a CEO have a vested interest in keeping our best talent within the organization.

Greg McKeown 

Everything you’re saying, to me is fascinating.  It’s not about how many hours you have on, output isn’t produced by how many hours the lights are on. Your output is produced by how creative somebody is how, how well they can figure out what matters how well they can create value and make contribution all these things that we’ve been talking about today.

Banks Benitez  

I think I think that requires, as we talked about before, not just an individual toiling away, in a world of non-essentialism, or a country where non-essentialism is the language, but creating systems of people, networks of people, inside organizations, inside families, inside communities, that are having these courageous conversations, democratized intelligence about what’s important. And I think it’s through that, that we’re able to get there. I know by myself, I would struggle to be a lone essentialist. When I am embedded within a web of human relationships within our workplace, everyone trying, experimenting, making mistakes, asking the right questions, challenging me, that friction, that engagement, that leaning in, creates the spark of, of really what’s most important. And so, I think that in some ways, the best way to do this work is to do it together.

Greg McKeown 

I believe, based on my own experience, now, in the years of teaching essentialism, and working with people that essentialism is either a collective sport or not at all.

Banks Benitez 

Right, and I think it’s been it’s been really good for our team, obviously, this year has been a year of so much tumult, both externally and of course, internally, and I think our team is, is in a really healthy place. And if you were to ask me, you know, at the end of this year, or the beginning of the year, this is going to be a year where the mental health of humans is going to be extremely stressed. And that mental health challenge will be a major risk for the organization. What are the ways that you might address that? I would be very interested in solutions around caring for the mental health of our team. And I think this is, of course, just one way to do it. And we have said, you know, the four-day workweek is, is just one example of essentialism.

Greg McKeown

Yeah, I think that you capture so many interesting things to me. One is the forcing function of a four-day workweek, combined with essentialism makes it tangible and real. It’s the essential becomes the guiding factor. And that’s really what I think this experiment is about. And it’s an absolutely perfect description for a podcast called What’s Essential. So, I really thank you so much for being here, for sharing this, and I hope to have you on again, down the road as we look at what the experiment looks like a few more months out from where you’re at right now.

Banks Benitez  

Greg, I’m, I’m honored to be here. Thank you so much.

Greg McKeown  

Thank you.


Essentialism Podcast

Greg McKeown

Wheelhouse Entertainment

Credits:

  • Hosted by Greg McKeown
  • Produced by Greg McKeown and Wheelhouse Entertainment
  • Executive Produced by Greg McKeown, Avi Gandhi, Brent Montgomery, Eric Wattenberg, and Ed Simpson
  • Edited by Emma Gladstone and Deanna Markoff