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Talking with Lisa Leong about finding joy in your career

Lisa Leong: Finding joy in your career

Lisa Leong is a well-known Australian broadcaster, host, and author, and today I am turning the tables by asking her the questions! We’re talking about her new book This Working Life, co-written with Monique Ross, including how the read can empower you to create a career you love. If you’ve ever wondered, “Is there a better way to work?” or “Can I find joy and fulfillment in my career?” then you’re in for a treat as Lisa talks about both topics, along with the journey behind the book.

Disclosure: This sponsored interview with Lisa Leong explores the inspiring book she co-wrote on navigating the ever-evolving world of work. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases through links on this page.

Interview with Lisa Leong

Lisa Leong is not your typical broadcaster. With a background as a corporate lawyer and a former ABC breakfast presenter, she’s on a mission to help people discover the bright side of work, relationships, and themselves. As an ABC Radio National broadcaster and the host of the “This Working Life” podcast, Lisa brings a unique approach that’s earned her recognition, including a Harvard Case Study and a TEDx Talk titled “Can robots make us more human?”.

She’s a graduate of Stanford University’s GSB and, the Australian Film Television and Radio School, and the University of Melbourne Law School. Lisa’s superpowers include boundless curiosity, creative flair, and a knack for conveying essential messages through music. Now let’s get to the interview!

In what ways has your ABC podcast prepared you for co-writing This Working Life?

Through COVID-19, listeners of the podcast started writing in, questioning their own work and careers. They were wondering, “What next?”, “What else?” It unearthed a need for a deeper dive into how people can navigate their careers in these chaotic times.

By chance, Arwen Summers from Australian publisher Hardie Grant happened to reach out to say, “Is there a book here?” Because of the podcast, I had been collaborating with Monique already, and the stars aligned with our values of co-creation and curiosity to bring this team together. That team has now expanded, with Lydia Stevens of Urano World Publishing helping bring it to the US.

What does this new book address about the world of work that is different from others?

This Working Life is more than a how-to guide and goes deeper than tips and tricks. It doesn’t profess to know all the answers or provide 10 steps to a solution. Instead, it sees life as a lab to experiment in, and, therefore, helps you bring curiosity to your work life.

It is designed to be relevant on a personal level rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach – because we know one size really fits no one well!

Lisa Leong quote: Find joy at work

Interview with Lisa Leong on finding career joy at work cont’d. 

Who is This Working Life designed to help?

Anyone who is asking questions of themselves and their work life; wondering how it might be better; how they might be more in flow; how they can feel more fulfilled; how they might find joy and energy in work rather than feeling like it’s exhausting or they’re on a path to burnout.

We spend 90,000 hours on average at work, and we deserve to enjoy that time. If you have a job or want a job, I believe there’s something in here for you.

What do you think makes a lot of people unhappy in their careers?

I recently interviewed acclaimed author and researcher Marcus Buckingham about how we can find love in what we do every day. He talked about love being a powerful human emotion and the source of our creativity, collaboration, insight, and excellence – but he said this force has been drained from our work. It’s like putting a dam in – and one day, it’s going to burst.

I think people feel unhappy because the love of what they do has been dammed. They feel like there’s something missing, or that work could be better in some way, but they don’t know how to get there. When that force of love – which brings creativity and joy and meaning – is missing, you’re unable to be in that deeper flow state.

A lot of people feel stuck. In the book, we talk a lot about values – aligning your values and your work is a great way to start getting unstuck.

Given what you said, this book empowers readers. Can you please share more about this?

This Working Life takes readers on a very personal journey, working at both mindset and behaviour levels. We’ve spoken to world-leading experts and have evidence-backed frameworks, which we activate through practical activities in each chapter. We really want people to learn the theory but also get their hands dirty putting the ideas into action!

We also thought about the emotional journey for readers. We collaborated with incredible singer-songwriter Little Green, who created an original soundtrack for the book. We even made a music video! These songs prime the reader for the different ideas of the book.

I love the collaborations! How did you and Monique come together to write This Working Life?

Monique was working as a digital editor at ABC Radio National, and we’d worked together on a video series for This Working Life, the podcast. We collaborate really well together – we bring out each other’s superpowers in an incredible way. I love co-creating, so when I got the offer to write the book, I knew straight away that it wasn’t something I wanted to do alone… and I jumped on the phone to Monique!

Monique and I live thousands of kilometres apart, and we were writing during COVID lockdowns, so we came together over Zoom to talk through our ideas. We co-wrote in a Google Doc – usually, I’d go in really early in the morning, and then Monique would pick it up for the day. She’s the yin to my yang – I’m full of big ideas and energy, and she’s more grounded. Monique is super organised and she kept it all on track (you should see her Gantt chart!)

We genuinely had so much fun writing together.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from the read regarding their careers?

They have power and agency to shape their careers into something they love.

They are unique and can curate their working lives to suit who they are.

They do not need to change to be successful.

Wonderful. Can you share one of your experiences included in the book?

The book is part memoir and quite personal, which is surprising for many people.

I share about my “Trading Places” moment. One minute, I was a radio presenter. The next, I was in a dressing gown, in a line under fluro lights, shuffling closer to the window with the perspex glass, picking up my meds in a little plastic cup. I was in an institution for women suffering postpartum psychosis.

Luckily, I found my way out of that, and I learned life-changing lessons through that struggle.

Thank you for sharing this to help others. Let’s pivot a bit. Is starting a new career possible at any age?

Yeah, baby! It’s never too late. Often, the advice is to “follow your passion!” But that narrative can start to feel a bit oppressive if you don’t know what your passion is.

We talked to author Dorie Clark, who suggests the idea of “optimising for interesting”. Think about things you’re interested in. Things you’d like to learn a little bit more about. How might you experiment with these things in the lab of your life? (The book includes a Life Flow Exercise that helps you dive deep on this!)

Keep in mind that it isn’t all or nothing, either. You can reinvent your entire career, but you also have the option of portioning out some of your career to reinvent or job crafting in your current role. You can go the whole hog or just a bite. There’s no one right way to do it!

Work life balance quote

More with Lisa Leong on finding joy in your job

Do we live to work or work to live?

Personally, I think it’s difficult to separate ‘work’ from “life” – and that by trying to balance two things in a dualistic fashion, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Our concept is work-life coherence. Instead of focusing on separating ‘work time’ and what’s “life time”, you focus on the best time to do things, with the goal of finding a harmonious connection.

Work-life coherence is also about realising and accepting that you have limited time and you can’t do everything.

How can this book improve the future for readers?

It will give people energy and inspiration for making meaningful change, no matter where they are in their career, and help them connect in a wholehearted way. Ultimately, the book is about love.

How has your personal and professional background led you to this point of writing a career-oriented book?

I was an intellectual property and technology lawyer during the dot com boom, and it was fun for a while, but there was part of me that wasn’t feeling entirely fulfilled. I thought, what if I took 10 per cent of my energy and just put it somewhere else?  I ended up training to be a DJ on the hospital radio station.

I went from law to radio, then back to law, then back to radio – all trying to find the right fit for me. I only started to get it right when I was able to connect to myself and use who I am as a person to guide my career steps. So you’ve got to do the work on yourself first.

Looking back, I see clear threads of connection. One of my favourite parts of my first job as a lawyer was chairing the section meetings. I would often turn it into a pretend TV show, setting out two lounge chairs and ‘interviewing’ colleagues so everyone could get to know them better!

After looking back, let’s look forward now for the last question. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Oooh, this is interesting! I closed my eyes and visualised this, which is something I haven’t done in a long time. I feel like something is going to emerge, but I don’t know what it is yet. There is another piece of work or a calling that I haven’t quite found yet, and I’m trying to pay attention to that.

I do know that whatever I’m doing, it will be in a collaborative, creative, curious space.

This Working Life book cover
Reconnect with your joy in your job by reading This Working Life, now available on Amazon.

Get your copy of This Working Life to start finding joy in your job

This Working Life is the ultimate guide to navigating your career with resilience, curiosity, and a touch of humor in today’s uncertain world. Inspired by the success of Lisa Leong’s ABC podcast, this award-winning book, co-authored with journalist Monique Ross, delves deep into the realm of work.

With the average person spending a staggering 90,000 hours at work, the book empowers you to infuse joy into your professional life. It encourages you to experiment, reflect on your experiences, and identify your unique strengths and values.

By emphasizing empathy and offering practical rituals, community-building tips, and self-care strategies, it equips you with the resilience needed to face life’s challenges. Lisa and Monique share personal stories and insights from world-renowned thinkers, such as Dorie Clark and Jeremy Utley, while providing actionable exercises to help you take charge of your career journey. Whether you’re feeling lost or seeking meaningful change, This Working Life is your go-to resource to unlock your potential and find joy in your work.

The book is now available in paperback or eBook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Booktopia (in AU). Get yours today!

Connect further with Lisa Leong

“I love being connected to people!” says Lisa Leong. “Please say hello” at:

Cheers, Lisa!

Thank you to Lisa for taking time here today. From her journey as a corporate lawyer to becoming an ABC Radio National broadcaster, the host of the enlightening “This Working Life” podcast, and now co-author of a book based on the podcast, Lisa’s path has been nothing short of extraordinary.

She is a guiding light in the world of work, a champion of curiosity, and an embodiment of resilience! Her passion and dedication to helping others find joy in their careers and lives is truly inspiring.

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