Mahrukh Imtiaz

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Toxic Productivity Is a Killer: Finding a Joyful Way to Work in Business With Erin Baker

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In this episode, Erin and I discuss finding a Joy-Full way of working in business as creators. We talk about how we are never taught about doing work in a joyful manner. Toxic beliefs about productivity cancel out the idea of joy in work. Erin’s 4 basic ingredients to create joy are connection, curiosity, creativity, and courage.

“Think about what is your joy and find the mechanism of delivery that follows your joy” 

-Erin Baker

Highlights from this episode: 

7:48 Writing a book on joy

15:55 The Unwritten Rules

29:34 Pursuing Joy in Business

50:04 The basics ingredients of joy

53:23 The 4Fs

25:26 Chase Joy 

Connect with Erin Baker






A little bit about Erin:

Erin Baker is a self-leadership coach, business strategist, social psychologist, internal Family Systems practitioner, and official curator of joy. They are on a mission to help heart-centered entrepreneurs and small business owners create prosperous, difference-making, joy-full AF businesses and live that light them up. Erin was formerly in leadership roles at Facebook and Microsoft. They are known for their infectious energy, unapologetic authenticity, incisive wit, and unflinching commitment to their clients’ joy.


Sabotage by Beastie Boys

Check out Erin’s Book:
Joy-Full AF 

Other Relevant Episodes:

Building Your Network as a Creator with Adam Marx  

LinkedIn 101, Content Strategy, and Marketing with Saarim Asady 

How Jennifer Szad Quit Her Job and Built a 6-figure Business 


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Episode Transcript

You know, this is talked about ad nauseam and content creator space. But you know the number of followers means jack shit.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 0:06
Seriously, right? So true. Welcome to the Spicy Chai Podcast. I’m Mahrukh Imtiaz, I host this podcast and still work a successful and fulfilling nine-to-five. My guests are content creators just a bit ahead of you, you will hear about their struggles and when learn from their mistakes so that you can avoid making them to grab a cup of Spicy Chai. And let’s get started. Erin Baker is back for season two. For all those that want to hear more about their story, tune into Season One, because we’re not going to do that today. But they have added one more accomplishment in their sea of accomplishments, which is now they are a best-selling author of the book joyful as fuck. The essential business strategy were afraid to put first. Wow. And welcome back to Season Two.

Thank you. And I think you’re the first person who’s said the as fuck part everybody’s joyful AF

Mahrukh Imtiaz 1:01
so softly Yeah. And it’s like joyful, like not the joyful like JOYFUL. For people listening. It’s actually joyful L and I have this book and I know people who are listening will be able to see this. But I have this book right in front of me. And do you see the amount of posts? It’s I have Aaron. So this is kind of what I meant by I’ll be going through a lot of random stuff that I’ll pick out. And then I have questions about and just want to speak to you about so you have to just be prepared for a lot of random shit. Yeah, I

am ready for this.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 1:33
I love it. Let’s ask about some sort of random thing to say. Let’s hear about your journey as an author, like why did you decide okay, you know what, now it’s time for me to write this book.

Yeah, so let me start with, this wasn’t the book that I set out to write? So 2020 brand new information. Alright, so this is the book that I set out to write. And I had a podcast back in 2020, called Life in the end, Mark was actually on the podcast talking about really awesome and about being a disaster and a master. And I started thinking, Wow, there’s so much good gold here in this stuff. I really could write a book on this. And I will say I started the process of writing a book completely selfishly, because I had told myself a story that I’m not the kind of person that can write a book. And I thought, you know, what, what if I challenged that? What if I can write a book? And so I started off with this idea of like, why don’t we look at all these Ann’s life in the end podcast and write a book. And then I started getting into it. And I went, Oh, I’m actually kind of bored by this, which reminded me of one of your other distinctions, which is if it’s not fun, do something else, right, if not fun pivot. So. So I started thinking, Okay, well, what do I want to share? And so I went back and looked at, well, what have I learned over the past few years in business, and I got out colored pencils, and I started mapping out the wins I had in green, and the failures I had in red and the insights I had, and just all these things, and I started to look back, and I went, Oh, I have some really interesting things to teach here. And so, you know, on what helped me thrive in business, and I had this imagination about being in the wilderness and how we have to like survive, not just survive, but thrive. And so I started this whole book called hustle, hustle, hustle, right? And so I started off with I’m writing a book called Life about and then I moved to this thing called the 10 Essentials. And then I kept being like, No, I’m not having fun. And I couldn’t put a finger on what was wrong with the whole thing. And I finally said, You know what, I’m shelving the book, maybe I’m not meant to write a book, maybe this what if I can? Well, maybe what if I can’t. And as I paused, some of the concepts kept coming back from, you know, colleagues and friends. And so one day I asked my wife, Merrill, you know, like, what are your business friends struggling with? And she said, something very vague, like, they don’t want to hate themselves or their business. And for some reason, my brain went, well, what’s the positive side of that? What do they really want or need, and the word joy came out of my mouth. And Joy was not in my vocabulary before this. It was in other people’s vocabularies, but not mine. And then I started looking back at that timeline I did in colored pencils. And I went, Oh, this is a timeline of my journey. And every time it’s green, it’s because I was pursuing joy. And every time it’s red, it’s because I got clingy and needy and lost my joy. So I thought, Great, I’m gonna write a book on joy, smooth sailing from here, right?

Mahrukh Imtiaz 4:38
I mean, what could go wrong? You just wanted to Write Right? But what

could go wrong? Like it’s so simple, right? It’s right. So, so simple to write a book. So I said to myself, there’s two things if I’m gonna write a book on joy, two things need to happen. One is, I have to be joyful. As far as I write it, and two, it has to be joyful to read. I will tell you, keeping to those two rules. quirements was the hardest fucking thing. Because there’s so much that comes up when you write a book about being a good writer being, you know, coherent, am I saying something useful? Where does this go in the book, what is the structure the chapters, and then I have a background in academia, I have a background in tech writing. And so it’s really easy to be deal serious. No big deal,

Mahrukh Imtiaz 5:21
small accomplishment, I

kept getting all these small accomplishments, right? But so all I kept finding was I just kept hitting these walls of I’m losing the joy, I’m losing the joy. And so finally, I was really, you know, a year and a half into this, at this point going, am I really not cut out to write a book and I thought, Okay, I’m gonna do one last ditch effort. And I went back to my former career was in tech, and we did user research. And so what we would do is interview people. And when an insight came up, we put it on a post it note, and then at the end of, you know, talking to 810 people, we’d have all these post it notes, and then we’d figure out, what’s the story that we tell the product managers? I love? Sites, right? Yes. So I thought, well, what if that’s my book, because I kept having all these issues with structure and where does this go? And what are the chapters? So I said to my book, Coach, what if I just do post it note insights, right, I write little chapters, it was chapters at the time. And what if I give myself full permission to just be left with a bunch of post it notes that don’t tell a story, they end up telling a story at the end, naturally, but I gave myself full permission to have a book that was so unconventional, that it didn’t have a narrative or linearity. It just had all these bite size insights. And then I realized, Oh, I lose the joy when I open Microsoft Word because that academic self comes out. And that type of person comes out. And plus word

Mahrukh Imtiaz 6:44
is so worrying. It’s just boring. Yeah, joyful.

So my book coach had this brilliant thing where she said, You know what, Aaron, you’re great in conversation. There’s a reason you love to podcast, he, what if you record everything into your phone, as if you’re talking to somebody. And so that’s when the book finally clicked, I started recording these bite sized post it note insights into my phone. And it took only about a month, month and a half to go from, you know, I don’t know if I’m going to have a book to 60,000 words that then we edited and expanded on. And so now when you read the book, it’s really that column conversations instead of chapters, because they were initially a conversation between me and an imaginary person on the other end of my phone. And that was the joyful way to write. And I think from what I’m hearing that’s joyful for people to read. Oh, yeah, I

Mahrukh Imtiaz 7:35
had a lot of fun reading it. And you know, I think for me, it was just so much fun that I was able to just pick out pieces and just go from Chapter Chapter. Like, I didn’t have to read it from A to B, or C to D, like, you know, for me, I was like, Okay, I’m gonna go read this chapter. Because it’s just seems very interesting to me right now. And then yeah, to another chapter.

Choose your own adventure. Yeah.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 7:55
Do you have the book,

right. And so my second book that was to 10 essential is all about adventure. Actually, the more adventure some book was, the one that I wrote is as joyful AF, because you could actually choose where you went. And it’s all about what’s your joy, right? Yes, joyfully. Read it your way.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 8:11
I love that. So tell me more about like, all the stuff that came up for you while you were writing this book, like we know about the struggles most first time book authors go through, but I don’t think anyone really talks about it as much. So I would love to hear like what came up for you

so much. And part of the reason I took the long winded route and telling the whole two years of the story is because it’s important to know that there was stuff that was coming up right at the beginning that was led to this two years. One was, what am I writing about? What do I have to say to the world? Is this valuable? So the reason the and book didn’t really resonate? I was like, well, what’s the story here? What do I want people to take away from it? You know, other than it’s a bunch of really cool concepts? Yeah,

Mahrukh Imtiaz 8:54
they were really cool concepts. Really cool.

But I didn’t have a coherent like, why is this valuable? So there was a whole lot of that coming up and like, well, if it’s not valuable, I don’t have a story. Why am I writing this? And so a lot of the early stages of writing were all around, what is it that I have to say that’s valuable for people? And then going back and forth on am I writing a memoir? Am I writing a business book? What’s the audience? You know, you’ve read the book. Now, it’s about business, but it’s about so much more. But if I had written a book that was just about joy in general, it wouldn’t have spoken to people the way it speaks to people in business and it’s actually speaking to people beyond so, so much was who was my ideal reader? What do they need to hear? What do I need to say? And then that’s just the intellectual side of things right? Then there was the deeper Am I qualified to say this, why my a good writer, am I being clear is what I’m offering. You know, once you’ve got something in your head, it becomes this if you think everybody knows it, right, right. It’s called the curse of knowledge. So everything I was writing was like, Is this at all useful? Don’t people know this already? You know? And then every time I hit a roadblock It was am I not meant to be a writer? Am I not good at this? What’s wrong with me that I can’t that has taken me so long? What’s wrong with me that I’ve gone through two different book iterations before joy, you know, so easy to just spend. And that’s part of the reason I kept losing joy because I kept setting all these expectations for myself of what it meant to be an author and a good writer. I was supposed to be doing this faster. I was supposed to be doing this funnier. I was supposed to be doing this more lighthearted, more serious, like all these rules,

Mahrukh Imtiaz 10:35
right? unwritten rules, like you said.

And so that’s part of the reason I ended up doing the recording on my phone, is because I didn’t have unwritten rules about how to speak into my phone. I had unwritten rules about what happens when you open Microsoft Word, to write a book.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 10:50
Yes. And I think many people do do you mind elaborating on the unwritten rules part because I know it’s in the book. But I would love for you to just go deeper into that.

And it’s something I love talking about, cuz I think it’s one of the biggest things that steals our joy, right in any endeavor that we’re going through. So for me, I was writing a book, but I also have unwritten rules about social media, I have unwritten rules about how I show up as a coach, I bought unwritten rules of what it means to be a business owner. And really, when I say unwritten rules, it’s the things we’ve told ourselves, we’re supposed to do, or this is the rules and regulations of the road road. So I write a lot in the book about Instagram, you know, my unwritten rules about Instagram, where you have to have a pretty Canva graphic, and I would constantly be like, Well, is this a story? Is this a grid post? And well, it’s a grid post, only if it’s really valuable, or if it’s really pretty, really pretty Yeah, and only post once a day, but make sure you post every day. And oh, make sure you’re sharing enough about your life and your stories that people don’t think you’re just a boring business person. Like imagine the number of things that are unconsciously and consciously in our heads every day, as we’re showing up that we have decided our truth of how we have to do something. And you know, you can sit and look at any aspect of what you’re doing personally and professionally and probably come up with a dozen rules. Some of them might be true, right? But what I have people do and I do this for myself is once you’ve got that list of unwritten rules start looking at him and going which one do I want to go test if it’s true, right. So what if I go test the idea that I don’t have to do a Canva graphic for every grid post I’ve been playing with? One of the unwritten rules was, you know, for so long on Instagram, everybody had these like very well manicured grids, right, where all the colors are the same. And you know, sometimes Rand Bran or Pina or people will have like every other post, like I know, I’ve seen somewhere like every other post is a post of them as a picture. And like they have all these methods. So I started testing the idea of like, what if my grid doesn’t have that coherent brand? I mean, I try to some degree when I feel like it to make things coherent. But I was like, what if it’s okay, if it doesn’t have this, like, pretty window dressing? Right? People still follow me? Yeah, people still find my content interesting. And what does that mean about me? It’s so true. And so one at a time when you start breaking those rules and rewriting the rules for yourself, that’s when joy can come back into the process. It’s when we show up somewhere and say, Okay, well, how do I conform to how this is supposed to be? If that doesn’t fit with how we want to show up, that’s going to be a joy suck,

Mahrukh Imtiaz 13:29
certainly will be and to break it down for everyone listening today, you know, because I do love doing that is I’m a beginner creator. And I’ve just heard okay, I know about these unwritten rules now, but for me, I’m like, well, well, what does that mean? So maybe I’ll take out a pen and paper maybe I’ll open up Word if that feels good to me. Or maybe I’ll just start recording on my phone just in a notepad or whatnot and just say, Okay, well, I think if I need to create videos on tick tock or if I feel like I need to create posts on Instagram, it has to be the best video it has to be really well edited, or Instagram posts have to be beautiful in Canva. And then I write all of the rules that I have around posts or I have to post every day of the week and I have to post three times a day sometimes yes, some Tik Tok creators say that right? And like you said, post about my life and be interesting and be funny and be entertaining or is this valuable? If someone’s got a picture of me drinking coffee? Is that even worth posting? And write about all those unwritten rules? And then like you said, I love that see which ones I can go challenge up? Can I post pictures of me just drinking coffee just because I want to, you know, and just write some and I concepts so much because it just goes back into how we can become more aware of what’s playing in the unconscious because we’re just on automatic doing things and we’re like, oh, yeah, I know what I’m doing. But when you sit down and you’re like, Wait, what are some rules that I have about this? Like you said that some might make sense and some might just you’re just like, Okay, well this is ridiculous. This is not making any sense. I don’t know why I thought this was a rule to begin with.

And I think the awareness when you start writing the rules down just as you were naming you know, all the off the top Have your head the rules that you might have on social media, I was exhausted thinking,

Mahrukh Imtiaz 15:04
How was mark on post write your

track of all these things. And sometimes you’re keeping track of completely competing rules. Be funny. Don’t be too funny. Be professional. Don’t be too professional. Right. And so you get caught in this like internal tug of war,

Mahrukh Imtiaz 15:19
often, but don’t post too often.

Right? So yeah, you get like exhausted by this. And of course, you don’t want to show up, of course, you put pressure on yourself to have it perfect all the time. And it’s just the easiest way for the joy to be completely sapped from any experience. Absolutely. And I’ll say the thing that I think is really profound once you start challenging the rules is actually setting the new rules. Oh, yes. You don’t have to call them rules, because that sounds rigid. But like, I love having the like, post whenever I got damn well, please rule and the like, go into Canva when you feel like playing in Canva. Exactly. And so they maybe they’re more GPs, you know, compass guidelines, but not rules. But then once you start looking at all the rules, you’re falling that you don’t want to follow, it really can become a fun exercise to say, Well, cool, what do I want to say my new declarations rules are for showing up? And how can I play and have really a lot of fun with what those are?

Mahrukh Imtiaz 16:19
Yeah. And what was coming up for me while you were saying that is when we do things just because we want to do them. And just because we’re having that fun in the process is joyful for us, then we don’t care as much about the results either, right? Because then let’s say we do spend seven hours editing a video. And let’s say it gets seven views. We don’t give a fuck because we’re like, hey, what I had so much fun doing that, that feels authentic to me. I’ll keep doing this. And I’ll keep showing up. Because this is fun for me as well. So I think there’s that piece that people need to hear as well that when you start having fun in the process, because you hit a lot, enjoy the process. Don’t worry about the results. Have fun in the process. But like how do you have fun in the process? Well, by actually having fun. Yeah. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

Yeah, and having a ball figuring out what what fun looks like for you. Yes. And I will say energetically people feel that on the other end. I mean, a colleague of mine actually posted that she spent three hours on a reel that was like five seconds long. And I saw her post that and then I saw the reel and I was like, I can feel the energy behind how much fucking fun she had. And it was it was one of the best I still I share that real with people all the time. Because I’m like, Look at this, you can just tell this person just looking love doing this real and it wasn’t profound. It wasn’t something that necessarily like game changed her business or anything. You can tell on other side energetically when I’m showing up as this is what I have to do to be a social media content creator versus a legit business owner. Right? Yeah, versus pocket. This is so much fun.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 17:52
I love that. And I’m gonna take a tangent and go into the book, when I’m holding it up. And the first thing that I do, because these are posted, it’s basically like we and guys, I’m mentioned in this book, you’re famous. So I’m pretty famous. So not that I’m biased at all when you know popularizing this book for that reason, but it was really awesome. But anyway, back to my question. So you talk about this is a chapter called listen all you all it’s a sabotage

a title that was so joyful even coming up with that title.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 18:21
I love it so like Texas as well, though southern

it is and it’s also a Beastie Boys reference. So for anyone who was born in you know, the 90s There’s a very famous song called you know, listen all y’all it’s a sabotage.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 18:33
I love it. Again, we talked about this quote, and we actually had this conversation in one of our mastermind calls it’s Chase, joy and success will chase after you and you write in this book as well of like, how when you asked me about that a lot of stuff came up for me because I was like, Oh, what do you mean Chase joy, because throughout my life, I had heard Chase excellence and successful chase after you, which I totally got from like this really awesome movie three idiots to Bollywood movies. If anyone hasn’t watched it, please go watch it. It’s on Netflix. It is actually awesome. So definitely watch it but anywho back to like Chase excellence success because that made sense to me. Because I was like, I have to become the best I have to hustle harder. I have to grind and I love how you put it in the book as well. Which I didn’t even realize I’m like why I do do that. I do follow all the hustlers like great Gary Vaynerchuk Tom bill you alligator mosey I’m like oh, did I not notice this about my own self

I was waiting for you to come back and challenge me and go Aaron these are not the hustles and grind Well Mark let’s break this down.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 19:30
And only Tom bill you had to post yesterday better push harder and harder and harder avoiding to go and I was like oh shit but yeah when when you asked me well what if you change that word from excellence to joy Chase joy and successful chase after you I reacted? I was like, Well, what are you talking about Chase joy. Like if I’m having too much fun that means I’m not doing things right. That comes up for so many people where they’re like, Well, you know, I don’t want to work out but love fun from buds good for me or I don’t want to do This but I have to do this. What would you see when people bring those concerns up when you say this to them? Chase joy? Yeah.

So there’s a lot to unpack there. And I, this is one of my favorite stories from the book because you just so encapsulated the, why would people have an objection? Really, this idea of joy, right? All the objections, there’s the piece of like, well, I don’t like working out, but I have to, I will challenge that and say, you don’t like the current way you’re working out? Have you even asked yourself, if there’s a joyful way to accomplish your goals.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 20:33
So true. That could be CrossFit.

CrossFit, it doesn’t have to be, you know, in yourself, it can be a whole lot of different things. And you know, there are some things, there are very few things in life that, you know, we have to do, like pay our taxes. So I’m not coming out here and advocating and saying, you know, just follow your joy and don’t follow responsibilities, none of that.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 20:55
We don’t want anyone in jail, please pay your taxes, please pay your taxes,

please follow some of the basic laws, wear seatbelts,

Mahrukh Imtiaz 21:02
even if it’s not joyful,

right? Safety first. But more so is the thing is, especially when it comes to business, or any sort of goal pursuit, it’s we’ve got this idea in our heads that going after things needs to be hard. And that going after things needs to be, let’s see, what’s what’s the word I want to use here. It’s like, almost, if you’re not miserable, you’re not doing it right. Or, you know, just accepting the truth that certain things just have to happen. And we put a lot of value in ourselves as productive human beings. And so when it’s hard, it feels more productive, right? So true. When it’s miserable, it feels more productive, right? So like, all of this stuff leads us to accept our fate, as we’re just not gonna like some of the things that we have to do we of course, we have to hustle. Of course, we have to grind. Of course, we have to follow that strategy that that business guru is talking about, because they know best and yada, yada, yada. The other piece is we’re not taught about what joy is really all about. And so sometimes we have these associations that well if I followed my joy, it means I would you know, for you is I’d be on the couch watching Netflix eating McDonald’s lazy, but the fucker homeless. Yeah, lazy motherfucker, what that tells me and I think I told you this is that you probably need some rest, before you can pursue your joy. And there’s this feeling we have that pursuing our joy means shirking our responsibilities. And what that tells me is that our responsibilities have become too problematic, in a way. So I tell people, if what you’re thinking right now is a joyful pursuit is something like being on the couch watching Netflix, you need rest. Right, right. And then I say, if you haven’t thought about joy in your business, that’s because you haven’t been or professional life, whatever it is, if you haven’t been taught about how to pursue joy in that, that’s because we haven’t been taught how to pursue joy. Let’s try remember to pursue excellence. Right? And you had a great conversation with me about this, right? Like you’d never thought about, well, what would be the joyful way? Let’s say, you know, we’re on this podcast right now, what would be the joyful way to do spicy Chai? I mean, you that was just sort of a mind blowing moment. Sure. Right through.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 23:18
And it definitely changed the way I kind of went about my podcast too, right? Because like, I think before, even we will, like, we’re working on this because we do have an episode, but the wonders, and I remember, like getting on that and being so professional, and then we got done with the recording. And I’m like, Oh, I didn’t feel great. And I was like, Man, why wasn’t I being myself? Right? Because the unwritten rule for me was, if it’s my podcast, I have to be more professional. And after the recording, actually, I was like, I need to be more myself. This is why I started the podcast. And it’s funny, because I actually started when I started recording, like, I was like that. And then obviously, as I became more and more popular, the pressure and everything started coming on me and I’m like, Oh, now more people are listening to me. So now I have to be more professional, or I see giving more value versus yep, I forgot that the reason people started listening to me was because they liked me and my voice. So this is like so true. Everyone, like honestly, if you are a beginner podcaster and you’re like, Well, I don’t know, I don’t know if I can be myself on my podcast. Yes, you can. And yes,

and I think you should. And I will say all the podcasts I do a lot of podcast interviews right now, because I have a book out right. And my favorite ones are the hosts who are you know, just having fun having conversations swearing, yeah. And doing fun as fuck that right? And what I think so profound about what you’re saying, right is also as we get better at things become more masterful at things. I’m going to quote you where we give ourselves less permission to be a disaster. We give ourselves less permission to be creative, to be to innovate, and it’s really easy when you start let’s say A podcast to look around at how everybody else does it and decide that their way is the right way.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 25:04
Or that’s where I need to go next.

Well, that’s what I need to go. Yeah, exactly. And so we lose our joy because we don’t ask ourselves, well, what would make showing up to this podcast for me joyful every fucking time? Loudly. And for me, it’s joyful to be able to show up on a podcast and swear, we just have a good conversation. I have a good conversation, right? I had a lot of people get into the interview or

Mahrukh Imtiaz 25:29
space or what told me about these X amount of years.

Right. So I think it’s really important for anyone, whether it’s, you know, being a beginning podcaster or a content creator. I also want to say, if you’re someone who has a message for the world, and you go, Well, should I start a podcast? Should I do social media? Should I do a blog? Should I be on YouTube? Listen to all those times I said should What do you want to do? So for me, I have a love hate relationship with social media, because I have a hard time feeling like it’s a conversation and you know, but you know, I’ve had this conversation before, right? Yes. Where? To me? For whatever reason, like my joy is conversation, my superpower is conversation you’re joining your superpower are very aligned, just totally so. So zone of genius is conversations, I struggle more on social media. And when I’m able to find it as a conversation, I have a lot of fun, but it’s sometimes doesn’t feel that way. Podcasts are a conversation for me. I wrote my book as conversations. Right, right. So I will say to listeners, think about what is your zone of genius? What is your joy, and find the mechanism of delivery that follows your joy? If it’s talking if it’s writing, if it’s video, if it’s whatever.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 26:43
Yeah, and that’s so true. Because you see so many different creators doing different things now, like some people will roleplay because they like acting, they just love it. Some people will just be painting with like some voiceover on top like, they just enjoy painting and they just like recording that and some people are talking and they all just be cooking and I’m doing voiceovers and talking about martial arts, like you know, just random. Like even on Tik Tok. There’s this Korean mom, and she’s just make sushi. But life stories while she’s making the sushi. That’s amazing. It’s crazy, right? But she loves making sushi so that she was like all I was doing was doing something I love and then voiceovers were stories. And I think she’s like a transformation coach as well. I think that’s what she tells stories. And I’m like, Oh, this is so creative. And it was completely a hit. And you know, yeah, like, why would people want to watch like food videos, were telling them stories? Well, you never know what people like, you know? Yeah.

And your people will like what you like,

Mahrukh Imtiaz 27:39
exactly. And it’s and even if there are people who might hate it, because there will be people who hate it. Yeah, good. No good. Let them leave, bring more of your own people in and I think that yeah, that’s one of the lessons that I think took me a long time to really get into it’s like, Oh, it’s okay for people to not like me, it’s okay for people to hate me for okay for people to unsubscribe or unfollow, even though it hurts me a lot telling me I cry a lot. You know, but I

mean, I hate it too. It’s a human thing, right? It’s every time someone unsubscribe, what do I

Mahrukh Imtiaz 28:09
do? What did I do? Why you liked me? So it’s one of those things, you have to keep reminding yourself, well, this is a good thing just means I’m more myself, I write showing up more and more. And it’s so interesting, because we were talking to one of my really good friends. And we were just like, talking about this one Creator. And they were like, oh, this person posts too much. And and then my head I was like, well, actually, I don’t think that post enough. And it was so weird. And I was like, I actually feel like I don’t think they posted up I can just keep consuming them. And that reminded me of the same conversation we’re having right now. It’s like, for some people, you’ll be too much. And for some people, it’s like I cannot get enough of this person.

What I think is really also profound about it is that your people once they found you energetically aligned will follow you no matter what you do. So a lot a lot of people are really afraid to like change their message over time. I’m someone who my social media is all about business owners. I will tell you secretly my niche on coaching is all over the place because a lot of people come to me for different things. But I’ve often asked myself, you know, these What if I pivot right? So I pivoted my life in the end podcast, a shift starters, my thought, oh, no, what if I pick I mean, thought for a brief moment. But there’s this this way in which once people have you energetically as an aligned fit, they’re gonna follow you no matter what. So you can you don’t have to stay stagnant once that’s the thing that people get into, okay, I’m being me and now people like this version of me. So I must have to stay here.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 29:33
Right? Again, going back to like, Oh, what do I have to do for people to continue liking me? No, just like being yourself,

keeping yourself and keep evolving and you know, people, surprisingly will come follow you. I’m watching a creator right now who’s really evolving her message and honestly, that message is not as aligned for me anymore as as it could have been. And I love that she’s doing that, you know, bringing along people who are aligned with her message and I’m still going to follow her energetically because maybe her message isn’t aligned for me right in this moment, but it might be in the future. And I just think it’s really inspiring to be present to that. And to be have someone who’s leading the way and willingness to just be with whatever is present for them right now and sharing that with a world.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 30:18
So true. I love that, that you know what your message keeps evolving. And not only that, but people who really like your energy will follow you no matter what. No, I really like that. Yeah. So yeah, like Your vibe attracts your tribe. It does.

And, you know, this is talked about ad nauseam and content creators space, but you know, the number of followers means jack shit, seriously, right? So Drew, right, I have a very small following on social media, a very small email list, but I love that I have that. And you know, I know who’s on my list. And I know how to write for the people on my list. And, you know, I have zero intentions of blowing up to I mean, who knows, sometimes things go viral, and you can’t control it. But like, I don’t have it aspirations for more and more and more, I have aspirations for more aligned better people who like my energy,

Mahrukh Imtiaz 31:11
the community piece of it, right, like the connection that that see,

that’s what makes it a conversation on social media, for me is when it’s small, intimate, and I know people

Mahrukh Imtiaz 31:20
Yeah, yeah, we’re gonna go into another I love that you

have posted because considering the whole book is post it note insights in my head. I

Mahrukh Imtiaz 31:27
know, I didn’t have more posted here. So here, you said running a business is about playing the long game. And the only way to be in it for the long game is to put Joy first. So we’ve talked about this a little bit. But you talk about this long game and putting Joy first. So what does that mean for someone who is let’s say, a creator and thinking about a side hustle or thinking about starting their own

business? Yeah. So let’s start. Before I talked about joy, let’s talk about this long game, because I think it’s really, really important, right? I agree. I agree. I will say when I started my business, back in in mid mid 2018, I remember talking to my financial advisor, who’s a very dear family friend of mine. And she said, I’m all on board with you doing this, but promise me that you’re going to commit to five years. And she said that because you know, in her head she’s talking about it takes a while to get things up and running to get a name for yourself. But also economic cycles happen. And then when COVID hit, she actually said, add a year. And then when COVID extended for another year, she said add another year. So I’m you know, always have been this is a longer game, right? Things take time. And what’s unfortunate in the business world, in the content creator world is that sort of overnight success story. Yeah. And that’s the outliers. Yeah, and the overnight success guarantee, and you’ve got to understand that everything you’re doing is building up towards something in the future, you may not know what that looks like, I think sometimes people get too trapped into where they want to be in five years. And life just sort of doesn’t always adhere to whatever you think you’re going to do. But so knowing that you’re going to be in the long game, that it’s going to take time for whatever goal you have, if it’s to grow a following if it’s to, you know, make a business out of something, I can’t imagine knowing I’m going to be in something for a long time and then saying, and it’s okay, I’m miserable. Right. So true. Okay, that I feel mad, right? I mean, I don’t even have a better way to describe that other than, there is no way to sustainably stay in something, and especially something, you know, whether you’re making money off of your content creation or not, there’s gonna be ups and downs, right? And you can’t sustain yourself through ups and downs, if you’re not really prioritizing how do I have as much joy as possible in this, right? Because if you’re miserable, and then you hit a down, God, that’s up I mean, it’s awful, right?

Mahrukh Imtiaz 34:00
It That is awful. And I love that in this book, you have all these like, gold traps, and you know, these unwritten rules and all these exercises that people can actually go through to figure out like, Okay, well, if I’m starting something that could potentially make me money, or maybe there’s another version of success, like, you know, more followers, or maybe more community, whatever that version of success looks like for you, could you like talk about two or three of those tools that someone could use today that could help them put more joy in their long term business?

So I have my magic bean jar, there’s actually this one’s full. And then I have another jar that started so this is one of my favorite concepts is this idea of magic beans. And, you know, I just said a few minutes ago, right? That that takes time and that things, you know, have to you know, percolate. So I really think there’s, there’s the saying about, you know, you got to plant seeds, or whatever you’re doing and I find that to be a boring concept. Because to me when I think have seeds, I think of like a vegetable garden. And I think of okay, you put in, you know, a specific vegetable like a zucchini, you expect a zucchini to grow, you kind of know when it will grow. That is not how any of this works. So true, right and in this entrepreneurial space, right, it’s more like you might plant us a call to seed for now and go back to beans, you might plant a seed may not grow at all, you have no idea. You don’t know when it’ll grow. You don’t know if it’s gonna grow, you don’t know what’s going to turn into the seed is for if and when it sprouts. It’s like magic. Yeah, so I think of him as magic beans. And the idea is that you go out and do things that bring you joy right now. Right? Right now I am on this recording with you. This brings me joy. So I’m gonna put a bean in my jar after our conversation. Yay. Will that sprout into anything in the future? I don’t fucking No. But maybe. Yeah. So the idea right is to put a bean in the jar, knowing that I just I can look at this jar. And I can count I’ve probably done 600 joyful things this year. I love right. And and that’s all I’ve ever done visually. Right, right. And that’s all that I’ve ever see. Perfect. And I can trust at this point. Because I know from experience that some of those beans in that jar are going to turn into something, it could be six months from now, it could be a year from now. And the more I joyfully do things just for the joy of it, the more likely some of those things will come to fruition as opportunities in the future. And oftentimes, there’ll be ones I could have never seen coming. So that is

Mahrukh Imtiaz 36:35
one best part. Right? Yeah, yeah. So many times when we have one year goals or five year goals, like we have a certain vision of what we think are possibilities. But when you just like you said, keep planting those magic beans everywhere. I love that concept so much. Because then things can come up that you haven’t even thought of dreamed of. So you’re not talking yourself anymore in terms of what the universe or God or whoever you believe in has in store for you.

100%. And the key is to stay without agenda. Right? So I came on this podcast because having a joyful conversation with one of my best friends a is the is the best, right? Absolutely. So I love that. And I love the visual reminder. So I recommend anyone I have jelly beans in my jar. I don’t get tempted by jelly beans. Recommend something in your jar that you don’t get tempted to Yeah. Right, exactly. So, so you asked for, you know, a couple of things. That’s one thing that I think is really important and fun to play with. Another one is, you know, thinking about something that doesn’t bring you joy, but you still like talking about the gym, right? Yeah. Oh, you know, I think of things like networking events. I also think I talked about this in the book about also, you know, I don’t love when people say no to things. And so finding something that that like either, you’re a little bit hesitant about it’s joyful, pneus, right, or you’re really afraid to do the thing, you really don’t like it, one way to joyfully pursue that is to turn it into a game. And so I talk a lot about like, okay, networking, people, a lot of people hate networking, turn it into a bingo game. So make a little board for yourself before you get on. If it’s virtual on the virtual call, if it’s in person, make yourself a little, you know, board and then put little things like have a conversation, where I don’t share anything about myself, they do all the talking, or have a conversation where it takes five minutes before I know what they do for a job. Or

Mahrukh Imtiaz 38:37
it’s so funny, because it’s sounding like you know how when, when I was back in the dating world, you know, having a conversation where you say nothing about themselves like yeah, that was pretty, very common with some bright men. So

yeah, I mean, totally. So like, you couldn’t have that little game in your head. And that just takes all the pressure off or creates a little joy. If there’s something you don’t want to do. Like you don’t like people saying no to you. I have a friend who went to the mall pre pandemic, and just went into stores and asked for ridiculous things. And sometimes she got a yes to them and walked out of it. Oh, that’s not so bad. I can collect nose. Right. So I think turning things one of the ways we get joy sucked right from us is when fear stops us from action. And sometimes that’s a good thing. We don’t have to run towards all fear.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 39:26
Yeah. Talk about that. The trouble versus unsafe, I’d say yes. That is also posted. Post It note by the way. Yes. So yeah,

but so too, if you do want to move through that fear. So turning things into a game or turning your goals into a game, right? So you have a certain follower account you want to get to or a certain revenue goal, turn it into a game, figure out what would be fun, you know, what are the like milestones along the way that you want to go after? It can be awesome to do that. So that’s one other one and then I would say just at a basic level, I think the full more basic ingredients are foundational ingredients of joy, our connection, curiosity, creativity, and courage. And if you want more joy, just in your day to day, every morning, ask yourself, What’s one tiny act of connection I can do today? What’s one tiny curiosity I can engage in today? What’s one tiny thing that I can create today? And what’s one tiny act of courage I can do today. And just doing those will make your over time it’ll snowball into like, feeling like you’re really filling up on joy just by doing those tiny things. So you don’t have to do these grand sweeping things to be joyful, right? You can do really tiny things.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 40:37
Yeah, what I what I love about all the tools you mentioned is that they are very easy to do like you can just get a jar, get some jelly beans, and every time you feel like you’re doing something that might, you know, turn into something you can put in a jelly bean, even the second thing of turning things that you’re already doing okay, how can I make this more fun? How can I make this into a game? Like these are things that don’t require a lot? You know, it sounds like you’re asking them to buy an app or, you know, do this tracker? No, it’s just simple things that people can add to their daily lives or Honestly, even monthly on a monthly basis. Okay, well, what can I do this month, that could add a bit more joy into what I’m already doing? Right? So I think the mindset shift there too,

right? Yeah. And when I say tiny, like, really go for tiny. So when I think of like one of my examples, what’s a tiny act of connection, it could literally be sending heart texts to one of my best friends, just because I’m you know, and it doesn’t have to be related to the thing you’re doing, you know, or, you know, one tiny act of courage could be sending a text to an old colleague and saying, How are you doing? Because maybe I’ve been afraid to reach out or whatnot, right? Like, there’s just these really small ways that we can make changes that do have found impact on our overall sense of being joyful. So true.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 41:51
That’s so true. We’re going into another chapter of the book or okay section posted of the book. Now, just to bring us there. We talked about unwritten rules already. So yay, that’s the post it and this one is pretty big, because this is something that not a lot of people used to talk about a couple of years ago, but it is gaining a lot of steam today, which is a nervous system and how

not, I’m loving this up. That’s my favorite.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 42:17
I know. And it literally Trapper says, Hello, it’s me your nervous system. I love that, by the way, so much. I literally said hello, back. Okay. Of course, I’m a little weird. But I just wanted to say like, we talk about the nervous system. So obviously, there’s so much gold in your book about that, and you go into a bit more, but for people listening today, like can’t share just some basics about the nervous system and how it could act up and then yes, when to how that plays a role.

Yeah. So just first of all, you have a nervous system. Yeah, we’re not walking around floating heads. Even though we are taught to be in our logical, rational brains all the time. We’ve got way more neurons below our neck than we realize. And you know, our nervous system really is a guidance system. And it does a whole lot of processing for us. And what it really does is it assesses threat. So we have there’s sort of controversy of how many F’s there are. But there are at least four F’s that our systems go into so fight. So imagine, you know, hope something’s threatening to us, we want to run towards it, attack it, right flight, running away, freeze, which is like deer in headlights, we don’t move. And then fawn, which is sort of like almost a people pleasing type.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 43:32
That’s so interesting. I had never heard of fawn before. And freeze is also something I recently heard about a fight or flight,

fight or flight, or have been around and known for a long time. Freeze and fawn are a little newer, but let’s make this concrete. So you make a post on social media, and someone criticizes you. If you’re in fight mode. If your nervous system is threatened, you might write an angry post back, right? If you’re in flight mode, you might delete your post. You might even go so far as to fuck I’m deleting my whole account. Right? Yeah, yeah, right.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 44:05
So true. People do that. Like you say that sounds sounding like oh, how, like, That’s so stupid. Nobody will do that. I have no creators who have done that based on one comment.

Yeah, totally. If you’re in freeze mode, you might just sit there not knowing what to say. And then fawn mode, you might apologize. Tell them why they’re right. Try to appease them. And this is huge in content creation because it’s not just in reaction to something that happened like a comment right? You can go into all of those modes before you even post so if you’re kind of predisposed to your nervous system is freaked out about something about say posting on social media, a fight response might be you right from a defensive standpoint. So true light mode might be I don’t even show up on social media at all I don’t even consider it freezes. I sit here to type something and my mind goes blank and then fawn is constantly okay, what are these people need? What can I make sure to appease them? Right? And it’s our nervous systems are showing up every Every time we go somewhere, as you

Mahrukh Imtiaz 45:01
were saying that there were creators that were popping in my mind, too, like, there could be someone who has that fight energy, or who has that flight energy. So it’s so true, like the energies you feel with certain creators, too. Yes. So

part of the joy equation is learning about your nervous system and learning about, you know, what are the things that are coming up for you? And what causes that right. So for me, you know, I freeze because I have a sense of perfectionism. I also freeze because I see a lot of nuance in things. And so I have a really hard time communicating. I don’t believe in a lot of absolutes. And so I have a hard time communicating. Sometimes I have a part of me that comes up that really needs to give value and doesn’t believe anything I have to say is valuable. So what is my response? Complete blankness?

Mahrukh Imtiaz 45:46
Yeah, and that’s so ridiculous. Because I have known you for five years this year. And everything that I feel you say, is so valuable. Like, even when you’re talking shit, I’m like, oh, that’s the best shit I’ve heard. So that’s so weird for me to also hear you, right? And

yes, just a reminder, your favorite content creators out there are messy human beings behind the sea. So Right. And so if you’re worried about how fucking messy you are, and you’re comparing yourself to what these people are showing on the outward know that we’re all messy human beings, we’re all having these nervous system responses. And the joy comes from understanding those and learning to soothe and then coming back to curiosity, and creativity and courage, really know, how can I get curious? Okay, what if I do post this? What might happen? And sometimes if it’s controversial, what if I get the courage? What if I get the courage to post more often, and take up some space, what happens? And then learning how to manage all the nervous system responses that come along with that about like, I’m too much I should go hide, I should go run, you know, whatever it is, right? So there’s a lot to learn from our bodies about, you know, what’s taking away from our joy. And it’s oftentimes a lot of this inner these inner beliefs that perceived threat,

Mahrukh Imtiaz 47:03
right? And you said something really interesting. You said, there’s a lot to learn from our bodies. What’s happening. And you did mention, like, those are the four ways we react, but like, we are kind of like those people who know who understand a little bit and how to understand what’s happening with us. Yeah, most of the people, I would say, 95%. Don’t know how to do that. Yeah. How can someone start, like, how can we even figure out something is off something is weird. And this is I’m flight right now. I’m in fight right now. How can they start doing that?

Yeah. So don’t worry about having labels for it. Just notice your energy. Are you showing up to creating something tight? Right? Where does that and just get curious, just even get curious about? Do I feel sensations in my body at any given point, right. So part of just reconnecting to your body is finding little practices that allow you to be in your body, whether it’s, you know, if you have a workout routine, working out in your body, yoga, in your body, breath, work, meditate, there’s all these different ways of getting your body, which is starting to notice that you have a body response. And it could be noticing, if you show up to a post with anxiety, notice that, oh, I have anxiety about this. Don’t worry about figuring out what it is yet. And I will say I want to make it clear. It’s not just that our bodies are responding to threat, our bodies also respond to the positive, right? So true. Yeah, right. Joy lives in our bodies. For me, it lives in a pretty deep place I kind of in my belly. But there’s times when you get full body chills that your body or you know, there’s times when you’re like, I don’t know why I’m doing this, but like, I just have this feeling that I need to, that’s your body. And our bodies are wired towards you can once you spend more time with it, which is it’s a journey and I’m still on the journey. I’m very much someone who was a recovering floating head, once you start getting signals, then your your body will tell you when something feels joyful. So if I might say like, do I want to start a podcast with a friend? And I might actually not ask myself the question in my head. I’ll see how my body feels about it. But that’s a journey that has taken me a lot of time because I’ve deliberately spent time getting to know my body signals. What’s a yes? wants to know, what’s the threat response? Right? And that’s through the group the amount of time that you spent understanding? Yes, yeah. And I will say I’m a huge believer, whether it’s therapy, coaching and having support for that. So I’ve had through both coaching and therapy, a lot of support and getting back into my body and I could not have done it on my own. And I also want to recognize a lot of people have for relationships for good reason to their bodies, right if they’ve had any sort of physical trauma or we have a society of people who’ve been taught to be really conscious of their weight and their appearance and you know, all that. Don’t go overriding that. If there’s something that’s not safe for you to go connect with in your body. Don’t do that. Go find the safe places to explore.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 49:56
I love that and for me personally like just like learning more About my nervous system really started with meditation. It was like, Oh, let me try one minute meditation. And I mean, it didn’t work that well, because it wasn’t that focused. And then it went to journaling. And then I was like, Alright, let me turn a little bit. And then it went to obviously therapy and coaching and all of that. So you’re absolutely right, like, keep trying things. And but you’re, you hit the nail on the head, when you said, get support for it. Like, you don’t have to do it alone. Like, you know, it can be in the form of therapist form of coaches, it could be for mentors, whatever, but we have a lot of blind spots. And we don’t even know a lot of times when our nervous systems are reacting, or what it is we have a nervous system. Great. But what is what’s really happening? Is it like just Yeah, it is and what is anxiety? It’s just like something that’s always triggering me, is this a one time thing? Yeah. Being able to like even step back and recognize what’s happening takes a lot of time and effort and a lot of support.

It does. And that’s totally okay. And for all the fellow floating heads out there, you’ve been trained to be this way, we have a society that’s rewarded, being intellectual, being analytical, being logical, we’ve been taught things like our intuition are to be ignored. And how often do you hear like in workout circles, your body lies, you know, work harder work through your body isn’t the best judge of things, right? So we have all these beliefs that tell us, you know, don’t trust our body, don’t listen to our body, your body doesn’t matter. And that’s just that couldn’t be further from the truth. And there’s a reason that so much of both in the therapy and coaching world, there’s a lot more focus on body based techniques, and even some of my coaching work these days. And I know that if I don’t start at that nervous system body level with some of the work I do, I’m not going to help people with their their mindset or with their beliefs more with the things they want to go do. It’s like a bottom up process. At this point, it starts pretty deep.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 51:52
I love that bottom up process. Yeah. Literally and figuratively. Yes, yes. I love that so much. Well, Erin, it’s been such a pleasure having this conversation, I think we have talked about I think everything from the book, because we kept showing the book, this book is awesome. But aside from that, we just spoke about how different things can impact her joy. Why it’s important talk shit about certain creators a lot really talk shit, we didn’t take any names. But you know, we talked about different creators changing things up and how that feels good to them, if that’s good for their joy. And this conversation, I think just goes back to the principles of doing things that bring us like fun happiness and joy is what’s going to be the best for us in the long term, even though it might not feel like it. But with that, before I go into my final question, could you let everyone listening today know where they can find you online? Yeah. So

let’s start with that beautiful book that you just came out. I still get goosebumps seeing it. So go find a joyful AF on Amazon. Remember, it’s fu LL and then two places to find me online. One is come find me on my website, you can hear more about what I do. You can also download a joy audit, which will help you get clear on where you are experiencing joy and where you’re losing it in your endeavors right now. So that’s Aaron M Don’t forget the M

Mahrukh Imtiaz 53:18
mckaela mckaela. And

then, you know, we talked about social media and do find me on Instagram, I go in and out of joyful posting, but I’m always present there. And like I said over and over again. I love conversation. So send me a DM share an insight you’ve had or ask me a question or if there’s something you’re stuck on, I am so down to have a conversation and try to help. So at that Dr. Aaron M. Baker.

Mahrukh Imtiaz 53:43
I love that. Awesome. All right. Now on to our final question, what advice would you give to Aaron Baker, who was starting to write this book? What is one thing you know, now, two years after writing a book and being a best selling author that you didn’t know when you were starting to write this book?

Hmm, that’s a great question. And it’s so clear for me, which is have the patience for the right message to emerge. So if I had been super committed to life, in the end, turning into a book and then hired someone who was okay with me doing that, I would have had a very different book, it would have come out in a few months. And this was the book that needed to come out of me. And it needed the time it needed the process. It needed the space. So have the patience for the right book to emerge. have the patience. Be in the long game, right? have the patience for the right thing to come along. You don’t have to have anything overnight and chances are overnight thing is not the right

Mahrukh Imtiaz 54:40
thing. I love that. I love that so much. What a great way to end this podcast and like Erin said do read the book. Honestly, I’ve been reading through and you can see the post. It’s I mean, you’ll see it on the blurbs and stuff on YouTube, about people listening. I have read this book. I loved it, especially the things that you can actually do. It’s so practical, it’s so tactical, and actually do these exercises to add joy into your life. So highly, highly recommend. And until next time you got this beautiful well beautiful it is my hope that this podcast inspired you to create your own podcast. Remember, you don’t have to quit your nine to five to do it and if you found value in this podcast you’re gonna love my free training video on how you can get started today. DM me the word if I see Chai on LinkedIn and I’ll send it over to you until then lots of love from your favorite you got this beautiful