Episode 6

What's Next with Carl Honoré

We have a quick chat with Carl Honoré about slowing down!

Carl is the voice of the Slow Movement. "In a world addicted to speed, slowness is a superpower!"

ABOUT CARL HONORÉ

Carl Honoré is a bestselling author, broadcaster and the global voice of the Slow Movement. His two main-stage TED Talks have racked up millions of views.

His first book, In Praise of Slow, chronicles the global trend toward putting on the brakes in everything from work to food to parenting. The Financial Times said it is “to the Slow Movement what Das Kapital is to communism.”

Carl’s second book, Under Pressure explores how to raise and educate children in a fast world and was hailed by Time as a “gospel of the Slow Parenting movement.”

Carl’s third book, The Slow Fix, explores how to tackle complex problems in every walk of life, from health and relationships to business and politics, without falling for superficial, short-term quick fixes.

Carl’s latest book, Bolder: Making The Most Of Our Longer Lives, explores ageing – how we can do it better and feel better about doing it. It’s also a spirited manifesto against ageism.

Published in 35 languages, his books have landed on bestseller lists in many countries. In Praise of Slow was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and the inaugural choice for the Huffington Post Book Club. It also featured in a British TV sitcom, Argentina’s version of Big Brother and a TV commercial for the Motorola tablet. Under Pressure was shortlisted for the Writers’ Trust Award, the top prize for non-fiction in Canada. Bolder was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and a Reader’s Digest (UK) Book of the Month.

Carl featured in a series for BBC Radio 4 called The Slow Coach in which he helped frazzled, over-scheduled people slow down. He also presented a television show called Frantic Family Rescue on Australia’s ABC 1.

Carl is an advisor to Jack Media, which makes messaging apps, and sits on the Board of Trustees of Hewitt School in New York City.  

Carl lives in London. While researching his first book on slowness he was slapped with a speeding ticket.


**CARL'S LINKS**

www.carlhonore.info

twitter.com/carlhonore


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PODCAST WEBSITE - www.thewhatsnextpodcast.com


Transcript
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- Hello, I'm Carl Honoré.

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I'm a journalist, author and a speaker, broadcaster.

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And for the last sort of 15 years,

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I've been the voice of what's called a Slow Movement.

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So I've been traveling around the world

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sometimes quite quickly, making the case for slowing down

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arguing that in a world addicted to speed,

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slowness is a superpower.

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- [Karim] Carl, thank you so much for joining me today,

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I really appreciate it.

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- Thanks, great to be with you.

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- [Karim] Carl, talk to me more about Slow Movement.

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What does that actually mean?

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- Well, I think what it doesn't mean, to start off with it,

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it doesn't mean doing everything very slowly.

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I mean, that would be absurd, it'd be preposterous,

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I'm not an extremist or a fundamentalist of slowness.

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I love speed, faster is often better we all know that,

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this Slow revolution, Slow with a capital S

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this is about doing things at the right speed.

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So it's about knowing that sometimes fast is the way to go

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but other times you want to slow things down, right?

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So there's turbo mode but there's also tortoise mode.

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Musicians talk about the tempo giusto,

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the correct tempo for each moment.

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That's a way of thinking about slow.

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It's a mindset really, it's quality over quantity,

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it's being present in the moment, doing one thing at a time.

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Ultimately slow is about doing everything

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not as fast as possible, but as well as possible.

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- [Karim] Interesting, if we just think back a year

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if not just a little bit more, we'd wake up early,

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quickly get dressed, quickly leave the house

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drive through traffic as quickly as possible

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quickly get to work, to finish things at work

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as quickly as possible, to quickly get home.

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And if we had kids or have kids,

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how quickly we can get them to soccer or piano or hockey

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to then quickly get home

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and things are always quick, quick, quick.

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- No, I was going to say, I mean this is the state

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of the modern world is that we're all racing

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through our lives instead of living them.

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The virus of hurry has infected

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every corner of our existence so that everything feels

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like a dash to the finish line

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and it's reached ludicrous levels.

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I mean, you can attend speed yoga classes

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or drive through funerals,

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I mean, there's nothing we won't accelerate now.

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And people always say, well, I can't slow down

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because life will pass me by,

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that's completely the wrong way to think about it

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because life is happening right here right now.

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And the only way to get the most out of it

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is to slow down and be in the moment with that slow spirit.

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- [Karim] And do you think that the pandemic

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has helped people realize the benefit of slowing down?

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Because we're not rushing,

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like I don't need to rush from my bedroom to my desk.

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- Hallelujah.

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Yeah, I think the pandemic is a great moment

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of global reset.

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It's forced the world to go

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through a mandatory workshop in slowness, right?

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And I'm not a fan of the pandemic

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it has been a total nightmare, right?

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- [Karim] Of course, yes.

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- But I think the silver lining,

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the silver lining, I think is that people have experienced

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the good side of slow, right?

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So if you look at the whole boom

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and home cooking and home baking,

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all the walking people are doing.

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People talking about having time to listen

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and spend time with their loved ones

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and families that are the ones that live with anyway,

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and also feeling more productive, getting more done at work

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'cause they're not distracted,

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they're not fast all the time.

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And they're able to control their speed,

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their rhythms work-wise.

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And also just on a structural collective level

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you're seeing cities around the world,

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closing down roads to traffic

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and making them now pedestrianized

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or setting the side for cycling.

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So we're slowing down the rhythm of transport

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through our urban landscapes.

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There are many things now,

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that people are coming out thinking,

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well, I've had a bunch of months now where I

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as you say, haven't been rushing, right?

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I've rushed less, I've done less, I've spent less

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and they're thinking, you know what?

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I wouldn't mind hanging on

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to a little bit of that when this pandemic passes.

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- [Karim] That is so true.

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I want to focus a little bit on work.

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And what that means for people that want to embrace,

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the Slow Movement or slowness

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and what that means for work as a whole.

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Do you have thoughts on that?

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- Definitely, people think that slowing down means

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you're a loser or you're a slacker, you're unproductive,

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it's synonymous.

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This is part of the taboo against slow.

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It goes so deep in our culture that slow is a dirty word,

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it's a byword for lazy, unproductive,

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everything nobody wants to be especially at work, right?

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But actually slow is crucial in the modern workplace

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even more than it was in the industrial era, right?

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Because we're knowledge workers

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and human brains need those slow moments.

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The Economist Magazine did a big survey looking

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at the pace of business and the working world

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before the pandemic and came to a conclusion

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that's a perfect summation of the slow creed.

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The final paragraph of that Economist survey was

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something like it said, "Forget frantic acceleration

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"mastering the clock of business means choosing

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"when to be fast," right?

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We all know that bit.

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"But also when to be slow," right?

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When to be fast and when to be slow.

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So the future of work lies in that on off switch, right?

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So when to be on, when to be off when to lean in

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but also when to lean back, right?

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It's about mastering all those different rhythms

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and paces, knowing when to switch off

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and when to switch on, relearning the lost art

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of shifting gears and that, those are the people.

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The people who master that art,

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which I just described as the art of slow in a sense,

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those are the people who will inherit the earth,

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starting in the workplace.

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- [Karim] I'm thinking it's more of a mindset, right?

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Rather than the speed of how things get done?

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- Exactly, because you could be moving very fast

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but on the inside, you're calm, you're focused,

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you're still, you're in control.

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It's like athletes talk about being in the zone, right?

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They're moving through a hockey game, a football game,

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a soccer game, a tennis match at superhuman speeds.

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But on the inside, they are super calm, right?

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They are still, there almost serene.

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And that's that mindset,

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when you regain that ability to shift gears

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to have slow moments, to move into faster moments,

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to move fluidly between the two.

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Then when you're in the fast moment

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and everything is spinning around you at 100 miles an hour,

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you're like an Oasis of Zen, right?

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You can control it much better.

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And that's why they've shown that people who meditate

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over a period of time develop more density

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in this cerebral cortex which allows them

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to process information faster,

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which brings me to what I always think

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of as the delicious paradox of slow.

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That those who slow down with meditation,

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which is one of the slowest things you can do

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short of sleeping, are better able to cope in the fast world

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all that data and distraction coming at us

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than those who never slowed down at all, right?

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So I come back to what I said at the beginning,

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in a world addicted to speed,

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slowness really as a superpower.

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- [Karim] That's really fascinating.

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There's a lot of...

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It's interesting that you talk about meditation.

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I've seen, on Twitter, especially a lot of senior executives

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or people that you would sort of look up to as successful

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have embraced meditation recently.

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- Exactly, you can't swing a cat

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without hitting a mindfulness program, right?

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In the corporate world at all levels from the C-suite

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right down to the factory floor because it works, right?

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The science is crystal clear

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that meditation sharpens concentration,

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reduces feelings of stress, enhances feelings of calm,

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produce wellbeing.

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And does that other thing I said a moment ago,

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that allows you to handle and cope with the barrage

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of speed that's going around you.

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So it's an ace-in-the-hole, it's a no brainer,

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which is why people including

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and maybe even especially the fastest sectors

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of the global economy, like Silicon Valley, tech,

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Wall Street are all over meditation, right?

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Because they're not doing it

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'cause it gives them a warm fuzzy feeling,

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well they probably get that too

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but they're certainly not doing it

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because it gives them a halo of new ageism, right?

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They're doing it 'cause it works.

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These are people who measure things

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by the bottom line, output and metrics.

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And they know that meditation,

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the ultimate act of slow, delivers.

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- [Karim] There's, I can't remember the name of the app

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but I've seen commercials and I don't know whether it says

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as I was watching the US presidential election

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and everything happening there, or as I'm watching sports

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but there would be like a 15 second commercial

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or a 30 second commercial

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that a meditation app would be advertising.

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And it would say, "We're giving you

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"back 30 seconds of your life just breathe."

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And that's all it does for the 30 second commercial.

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And there's sort of like a timer there

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where all you're doing is just breathing

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or that's what it empowers the viewer to do.

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So it's really interesting.

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- I love that.

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- [Karim] Yeah.

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- It's sort of gloriously counter-cultural, isn't it?

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Because so much of especially TV advertising

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is breathless, right?

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It's this bombardment of sensory distraction and information

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and then to take an ad and flip it around

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and say, actually we're going to give you 30 seconds

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just to breathe.

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Don't be breathless, breath, be breath full.

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It's a nice spin on it there.

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I think, just if I could just make a little addition here

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to the work discussion and slow, and so on of the pandemic,

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I think one of the benefits of the pandemic,

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or one of the lessons that we're going to take away

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is that what the pandemic has done for many people

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has given them control over their own working rhythms,

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their own times.

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And that's something you were already beginning to see

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as part of the Slow Movement of the workplace

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before the pandemic.

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Was that forward-looking companies were saying to staff,

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okay, we understand that everybody

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has different metronomes, internal metronomes.

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So some people are going to thrive getting up at six

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in the morning, (indistinct) report out by eight.

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Others will be better off sleeping till nine

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and getting up and doing their creative work between nine...

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And this is what I think companies will be doing

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more and more in the future is saying,

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okay, here's the big deadline at the end,

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we've got six weeks to get there.

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You work out how you're going to use your time

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between now and then, either individually or in your team.

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So if you want to come in at three in the morning

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on a Saturday to knock out some code, go for it.

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But if you want to leave the office or leave the desk

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at noon on Thursday to go watch your daughter do ballet

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or your son play basketball, or whatever,

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you do that too, right?

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Because we trust you.

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And that's why I think a lot of companies

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that have found themselves just forced by the pandemic

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to give more autonomy, more temporal autonomy control

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over their time to their staff

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are seeing this big productivity payoff.

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So I think we're going to see a lot more of that in future

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and that's completely in harmony with the Slow revolution.

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That's a big part of what it's all about.

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It's giving people control over their own time

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and their own rhythms.

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- [Karim] That's also like a mind shift,

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for management to be able to,

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I'm not saying that there's no trust there

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but it's almost like,

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we've got these regular check-ins, right?

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So whether it's a weekly check-in

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or it's people know if you're online

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or not at nine o'clock or 8:30,

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especially we're all connected with all these,

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whether it's devices or whether it's software,

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where you know whether your coworkers

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are quote unquote online.

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And I'm wondering, sort of that challenge

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of working from home, if there's this understanding

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that you've got a home life, you've got a family life,

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you've got a work life

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and there's this need for balance,

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versus this idea of

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my boss knows when I'm working

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and that challenge, push and pull challenge.

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- There's a big challenge there.

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And I am not at all a fan of the software programs

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that measure everybody's movements

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and presence of the computer took down to the last second.

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I think that that's actually going

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in the wrong direction.

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I mean, the traditional workplace has been one

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of command and control, right?

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It's you rule from the top by fear.

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And that probably made a lot of sense

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in the Victorian factory,

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it doesn't make sense in the knowledge economy, right?

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When people need to be relaxing, they need to tap

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into what psychologists called slow thinking, right?

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The kind of creative blue sky innovative thinking

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that comes when we are in a relaxed state,

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networking, team building,

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All that stuff you can't download that from an app

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or mandate it with a tight schedule, right?

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These things only flourish

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and blossom when the powers that be back off

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and give everyone else in the trenches,

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the space, the time and the freedom just to breathe, right?

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Coming back to breathing,

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just to let things happen at their pace.

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I'm not saying you don't have any control

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but I think again, before the pandemic

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what we were starting to see again,

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among smart thinking, forward looking companies

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was a move away from the top down control,

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fingers around the neck of your subordinates approach

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and giving devolving power out, devolving freedom,

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handing out autonomy and seeing a payoff, right?

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And you put your finger on a very important word there,

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which is trust.

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Yeah, there's got to be trust.

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I think for companies to take that first step

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there's going to be a bit of a jump in the dark

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but you'll see the benefits.

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If you don't see the benefits

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then maybe that's the wrong staffer, employee for you

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and you move them on.

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Or maybe you need a conversation to work out

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how that person can use the new freedom more wisely.

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So it pays off for them and for you as the company.

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But this has to be the way forward.

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It seems to be a retrograde step to move into a world

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where people's bathroom breaks are being timed.

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I mean, toxic is the word that comes to mind.

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- [Karim] I totally understand.

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Carl, this has been a fascinating discussion

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and yeah, I'm sure people are going to want to take

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some time and really dive in.

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If you could Carl, I know you've got a website

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and various Ted Talks and books.

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What would you recommend people do to find out more

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about the Slow Movement and how to embrace it

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at their work and in their lives?

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- Sure that's easy.

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I have a kind of one-stop shop site for that

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It's just www.carlhonore.info, no punctuation,

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carlhonore.info

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And they're all there.

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You'll find the links to everything

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from talks to digital courses.

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So I've just published my first workbook, "30 Days to Slow,"

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helping people slow down, books are there.

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There's lots of video, audio, just loads of resources

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for people to take their first step,

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because everybody's going to find their own way

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towards the Slow Revolution.

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Some people are going to come at it through work,

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others through food, others through sex,

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others through their family life, with children.

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So there's no right recipe to finding your inner tortoise

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but we all have one and we all aspire I think,

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to reconnect with it.

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So I would just say, go out there and find your own way.

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And start on our website, it's a good place to start.

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- [Karim] Carl, thank you so much for your time,

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I really appreciate it.

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- Thank you very much, good chatting with you.

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- [Woman] Power your advertising.

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Working with Active International enables you

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to fund your advertising, using your company's own products,

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assets, or even services.

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We have over 30 years experience connecting

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and bringing value to businesses all over the globe,

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helping many brands scale up into household names.

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Aim to achieve more from your marketing spend

About the Podcast

Show artwork for What's Next
What's Next
Big Ideas and Innovative thoughts on the future of Marketing, Media, Advertising and more!

About your host

Profile picture for Karim Kanji

Karim Kanji

We all need to be thinking about and preparing for What’s Next in order to achieve more - and that’s what this podcast is all about.

We are seeking to gain a more diverse perspective on what will shape the future of marketing & advertising, one 15-minute conversation at a time.

We are excited to share talks Karim will be having with thinkers around the world. If you’re as curious as us about What’s Next, join me and invest 15 minutes of your day exploring big ideas and innovative thoughts.


ABOUT KARIM

Karim has been successfully podcasting since 2010. First with the ‘Social Media Show’ and then the popular ‘Welcome with Karim Kanji podcast’ and a co-hosted show with Gregg Tilston, ‘Welcome to The Music’.

2021 sees Karim launching this new show ‘What’s Next’ with support from Active International where Karim is currently the Director of Emerging and Social Media.

In his role within the advertising and marketing industry, Karim has worked with brands such as Popeyes Canada, Melitta, Ricola, 3M Canada, eOne, Nikon Canada, Jamieson Vitamins, Mark’s, LG Electronics Canada, Muskoka Brewery, Post Cereals, Nestle Canada, Dell Canada, GE Canada, Scotiabank, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Microsoft Canada, and many others.