Episode 31 | How to Create an Optimistic Workplace Where Everyone Thrives, with Shawn Murphy

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There’s a reason why films like Office Space and cartoons like “Dilbert” strike a chord with so many people:

The modern employee is plagued by a dystopian vision of what work (and therefore life) has to be.

This vision depicts a world that is soulless and monotonous, that deprives of us of our energy, creativity, and joy, and in which our job feels more like a transaction than a calling.

But as today’s guest Shawn Murphy uncovers for us, this dystopian vision is a choice, one made everyday by both leaders and employees alike.

The upside? Shawn reminds us that there’s another choice – the choice to say, “I want something more for my team, and more for my own life.”

Shawn Murphy is the author of the Optimistic Workplace and the CEO and founder of Switch and Shift, an organization that focuses helping organizations bring more humanity to their workplaces. Through his consulting work and his writing, Shawn teaches people how to make that choice and unlock the transformative power of optimism in the workplace each and every day. We are grateful that he shared this wisdom with our Awesome Office community.


Key Takeaways

  • Shawn tells us how he helps leaders and companies bring a sense of humanity back into the workplace through his work with Switch and Shift.
  • Shawn talks about the dystopian vision against which he is fighting through his writing and consulting work, and how this vision came to be a reality for so many working professionals.
  • Shawn explains why he thinks the words “manager” and “employee” should be eradicated from the lexicon of business, and proposes more fitting alternatives.
  • Shawn discusses the concept of stewardship and how it relates to the organization, customers, and employees.
  • Shawn talks about the number one misconception about the idea of the “optimistic workplace.”
  • Shawn explains the concept of a value circle, and relays a story about a company in Virginia who found some inspiring results from the practice.
  • Shawn discusses the importance of reflection, watching, and noticing in the context of great leadership.
  • Finally, Shawn throws his hat in the ring and accepts the challenge of the minute of magic.


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