As the founder of The Sound Agency, Julian Treasure believes that listening is an underrated tool we do far too little of — and that sound has an important role to play in our happiness and wellbeing. Here, he chats to us about the world of work ahead of his upcoming talk at Belong.
Describe your job in 10 words or less…
This is going to be quite challenging… I run The Sound Agency, an audio branding company.
What was your first job? What was one thing you learned from that and took forward with you in your career?
I guess my first proper job was at Saatchi & Saatchi in the early 80s. I learned the importance of a great team atmosphere. Everyone was immensely committed, and there was also this great quality in that team where everyone went on to do great things in the media. It happened to be a lively team of excellent people who were all very committed. I guess it’s a combination of skill, attitude, fun and commitment.
One of our tracks for this event is Inspiration. Where do you look for inspiration in your work, and how do you seek to inspire others with what you do?
A big part of my life is communication, which is talking about the skills of talking and listening. I look for inspiration, I listen, and I think listening is a very underrated skill. I listen to people, the world and I’m always open. Conscious listening is an important thing to do.
I’ve been a musician all my life and I think musicians listen in a slightly different way to non-musicians. If you’re playing in a band or an orchestra, you have to listen to many different things simultaneously and carefully, so there is a conscious listening that develops. I think it originally came from that.
But then, with my background in marketing it was a case of putting those two things together and listening to the world with a marketing and communication lens and realising that good sound is good business.
At Belong, we’ll also be looking at the theme of Insight. What’s the most surprising skill or aspect you’ve learned about yourself or the way you work?
I’ve always been very intuitive in seeking solutions, so the realisation was that I’m not that structured, and that I need to surround myself with people who are good at structure. I’m very good at being innovative, but don’t ask me to plan.
It’s always surprising to admit our weaknesses, but that’s crucial if you’re getting a team together — you have to understand what you’re good at and what you’re not good at.
We’re also going to explore the subject of Inclusion. How do you build a sense of belonging within your team?
It’s about clear vision and mission and a culture that’s not a top-down culture — that’s communally arrived at and committed to. I think that clarity is really important, and there’s also making sure that your behaviour matches your culture. I’ve experienced many different organisations where the culture is on the wall and people behave in a completely different way.
Culture is not a plaque on the wall. Culture needs to be synonymous with behaviour.
What can people expect to learn from you at Belong?
You can expect to learn how important sound is in relation to people’s happiness, effectiveness and wellbeing — and how to design effective spaces with your ears.