Follow by Email

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Little Less Talk-y, a Little More Listen-y: How to Help Someone the Fastest Way Possible

One of the fastest ways to help someone is not to give advice, but rather to listen. We all solve problems differently, and often there are multiple solutions to a single problem. Your solutions are no less valid than mine, but my brain would never solve problems the way you would and vice versa. 

That means to help someone find their way, it’s best to listen and give them the space to create the solution on their own. While listening, you’re not looking for places to interject. You’re truly listening to their thoughts. After they’re through you can ask open ended questions like, “What do you think,” “Why do you think,” “I heard you say X, what do you think that’s about?” 

These are all questions that honor the other person’s intelligence and problem solving abilities. Once a person has the explicit and implicit permission to think on their own, they will find a solution much faster than when given advice that doesn’t make sense in their brain. 

And yes, it is okay to sometimes give advice when you see someone is approaching a cliff, and/or if they are in imminent danger of hurting themselves or others. But other than that, if advice is asked for and then followed; it won’t look completely like the advice you gave. It will be a hybrid of what works in your head and what works in theirs. 

This recipe works for your children, your stubborn grandmother, a peer in crisis, and your students, but with one caveat. You have to be willing to alter this recipe in the present moment. This is no perfect process and you have to be willing to screw up the recipe a little, not get down on yourself for doing so, and continue to add spices to the mix until it feels and looks like you “got it right.” 

Oh, and yes, I get the irony of writing this blog post as a piece of advice. But as always with anything I write… take what you like and leave the rest. :) 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Workplace Mental Health - More than Just a Moral Objective, It’s Dollars and Sense

In early 2016, Jessica Leber of Fast Company made an impressively strong case for increased corporate investment—time, energy, and money—in mental health workplace initiatives. Leber's piece, entitled "Fixing Mental Health In The Workplace Requires A Lot More Than A Yoga Room" cited an alarming 2015 study from Harvard and Stanford University business schools which found that health problems stemming directly from job-related stress—ranging from long hours to the burdens of having no insurance and doing shift work—likely contribute to about 120,000 deaths a year and $190 billion a year in health care costs. Leber's piece also noted that depression alone is estimated to cost the U.S. $210 billion a year, half of which are workplace costs including missed days and reduced productivity and by 2020, the World Health Organization estimates that depression will be the second leading cause of disability worldwide.

Given what we know now as both employers and employees, why are we not working together collectively to change how we view mental health in the workplace? Michael Becker recently sat on an expert panel and spoke about the subject on behalf of the Stephanie Becker Fund, a non-profit organization that promotes mental health and physical health parity in the workplace. He said, “Emotional wellness in the workplace is a growing yet underserved need that is addressable. Improving emotional health in the workplace not only makes for good public policy, but genuinely benefits both employees and employers. While investing in emotional health represents an upfront cost for companies, doing so pays meaningful and long-term dividends, in terms of well-being, productivity, and ultimately profits.

In other words, focusing on workplace mental health is no longer simply a moral objective, but in a capitalist society (for better or for worse), it should be a fiscal priority, as well. Another 2016 article, this one by US News, cited a published study stating that every $1 spent by governments on mental health treatment generates an average net benefit of $4, representing an impressive return on investment.

Two companies that stand out as outlets to change the conversation and education around workplace mental health are: Docz and The Carson J. Spencer Foundation’s Working Minds program. Docz, who recently co-hosted a workplace mental health symposium with the Stephanie Becker Fund at the Microsoft Store in New York City, is a newly-launched digital health startup that revolutionizes the mental health landscape by making finding support easy and fast for those affected by mental health issues. Docz is a free and anonymous mobile community where one can ask questions or give advice to others. All advice is expert-verified and Docz is already being adapted to fit the needs of small, medium, and large scale businesses. The Carson J. Spencer Foundation’s Working Minds program provides businesses with the tools and resources to identify and respond to friends, family members, and co-workers who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings. These two early adopters are doing great work but we need more companies and non-profits to fill the void in making mental health a priority in a place where adults spend a great deal of their waking life.

Will making workplace mental health education commonplace be difficult? Probably. But it’s almost always difficult to get anything of importance off the ground—charitable causes, social justice movements, your old 1979 Chevy Nova (okay, scratch that last one).

As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve had to invest in my own mental wellness, in addition to the mental wellness of employees and even partners. This investment in my mental health has been a big reason why my company has been able to grow over 25% each year for the past five years. I’ve learned when to pull back with work, how to set boundaries and manage my self-care (both leading to greater productivity), and when and how to check in on employees to make sure they are physically and mentally well. Yes, in the short term, focusing on mental health takes time away from “selling,” “growing the business,” and “strategic planning.” But this single step back ensures that we can take two steps forward in a thoughtful, timely, and healthful manner.


Employers and managers in the workplace: your motto is perhaps, “always be selling”—and, as a business owner, I know this pressure all too well. But we need to amend that motto to include “always be helping” with respect to our employees. Physical help and healthcare have long been the focus because of a physical wound’s visible nature. However, psychological wounds and manageable stressors should also be included when we’re working to help our employees be their best selves inside and outside of the workplace. If you don’t have your (mental]) health—you don’t have anything.

Employers and managers in the workplace: your motto is perhaps, “always be selling”—and as a business owner, I know this pressure all too well. But we need to amend that motto to include “Always be helping” in regards to our employees. Physical help and healthcare have long been the focus because of a physical wound’s visible nature. But psychological wounds and manageable stressors should also be included when we’re working to help our employees be their best selves inside and outside of the workplace. If you don’t have your (mental) health—you don’t have anything. t

Thursday, October 13, 2016

It’s Always Been Done Like This, So Let’s Bury Our Heads In The Sand… #Facepalm


Defending the status quo is probably easier to defend and take action on than say, doing what’s right based on the new knowledge one has.

Hanging on for dear life to “it’s always been done like this” or “it’s always been like this,” will eventually lead to a dead end that is difficult to come back from.

Being an early adopter of the new paradigm against the status quo isn’t easy at all, but if one sticks with this course, they will inevitably find people to bring along with them who will help shift the old “normal;” and eventually be able to create long term sustainable change (until we find something even better than this “new” status quo).

Side benefits to being a trailblazer: you may reap rewards such as an increased self-esteem, in some cases you may gain financial benefit (see: Zuckerberg, Musk, Branson), you prevent social injustice, and you will leave this Earth better than when you found it—one of the most beautiful gifts a person can leave behind. 

Eventually the status quo will change. Why can’t you be the spark who ignites the flame that will change and even save the world? It’s all under the realm of “possible.”