While the conversation around employee wellness programs is growing, it can be easy as a leader to forget about your own well-being. However, as Rick explains, forgetting to focus on the well-being of the leadership team puts the entire company at risk. On this episode, Rick Tidemann explores ways the leadership team can incorporate well-being into the work day, and explains the importance of diet, exercise, mindfulness, and sleep for productivity.
Rick Tiedemann has been enthusiastically engaged in the corporate world for 35 years, he has only truly worked for the Tiedemann Corporation. The partnering with various organizations was, and is vital, as it is through these partnerships that the Tiedeman Corporation and its shareholders (Rick, his wife and their 3 kids) are able to thrive in a manner that they enjoy. Rick spent over 30 yrs working in the multi-national pharmaceutical industry as a senior leader and executive within a wide variety of therapeutic areas. These therapeutic areas included, infectious disease, orthopedics, women’s health, diabetes, neurosciences (which included mental health, epilepsy and multiplesclerocis), dermatology and allergy and immunology. His leadership responsibilities included partnering with colleagues to develop high performing business development teams, government relations and market access, compensation, personality profiling education and corporate strategy. Rick’s professional passions have always included a combination of health and business interests. In 2012 Rick chose to follow his “Why” and opened a Copeman Healthcare center in Edmonton and he is a Senior Director with a focus on Corporate Health . His 35 years in the corporate marinade have helped to fuel his current passion which is to create a new narrative around Leadership Wellbeing and to get leaders to think about Leadership Health as a vital risk mitigation strategy within their businesses. He speaks extensively with CEO and EO Forums, Executive teams and other leadership groups to help them to appreciate how they can become Corporate Athletes and create the absolute best version of themselves. A key ingredient in the Corporate Athlete recipe is sleep and this allows Rick to share his extensive experience in the neuroscience world as he creates enthusiasm for sleep being the Ultimate High Performance Drug”. His personal passions include waterskiing, making log beds and antler chandeliers, aquatic ecosystem stewardship, building homes and spending as much time as possible at the lake with friends and family.
Morgan Berna is the host of Olympia Benefits’ podcast, The Small Business Mastermind. Her background is in marketing, journalism, and broadcasting. Passionate about small business, she aims to create content that inspires and educates listeners.
Rick Tiedemann: Business owners and business leaders often will spend their health in pursuit of wealth, only to get to a point in their lives where they now need to spend their wealth in an attempt to regain their health and often, it doesn't work out that well.
Morgan Berna: You're listening to the Small Business Mastermind, a podcast created by Olympia Benefits, to help small businesses juggle business, finance, health, and wellness. I'm your host, Morgan Berna.
Morgan: I'm sure it comes as no surprise to a lot of you that small business owners and leaders are often sacrificing themselves first in the name of the business. Whether it's by skipping vacation or working outside of regular hours, it isn't uncommon to see small business owners putting work first and their health and well-being second. But, this idea that working until we break is good for our business is going out of style.
In fact, many businesses are starting to see that foregoing the well-being of the leadership team is actually putting the company at risk. On this episode, Rick Tiedemann of Copeman Healthcare is in the studio to discuss how focusing on leadership well-being is a risk-mitigation strategy, and that by focusing on the well-being of the leadership team, it fosters a culture of health, wellness, and productivity for every employee.
Morgan: Rick will tell you that while he's been enthusiastically engaged in the corporate world for 35 years, he has only truly worked for the Tiedemann Corporation. The partnering with various organizations was, and is, vital as it is through these partnerships that the Tiedemann Corporation and its shareholders, Rick, his wife, and their three kids are able to thrive in a manner that they enjoy.
Rick spent over 30 years working in the Multinational Pharmaceutical Industry as a Senior Leader and Executive within a wide variety of therapeutic areas. His leadership responsibilities included partnering with colleagues to develop high-performing business development teams, government relations, and market access, compensation, personality profiling, education, and corporate strategy. Rick's professional passions have always included a combination of health and business interest.
In 2012, Rick chose to follow his “why” and opened a Copeman Health Center in Edmonton where he's a Senior Director with a focus on corporate health. His 35 years in the corporate marinade have helped to fuel his current passion which is to create a new narrative around leadership well-being and to get leaders to think about leadership health as a vital risk-mitigation strategy within their businesses. He speaks extensively with CEO and EO forums, executive teams, and other leadership groups to help them to appreciate how they can become corporate athletes and create the absolute best version of themselves.
Rick: Good afternoon, Morgan.
Morgan: Good afternoon, Rick. We're talking today about leadership well-being as a risk mitigation strategy. To begin, we'll go into this in some more detail later on, but how would you describe leadership wellness or a well-being program?
Rick: So it's a novel concept, Morgan. Leadership well-being really is an intentional program that we bring in to organizations that helped to de-risk the program as it relates to the health of the leaders, partners, or business owners. What we're trying to do with the leadership well-being program is to make sure that we optimize the health of the leaders and therefore, their productivity. At the end of that, what we do is we de-risk the company.
Morgan: When you're saying we, you're talking about?
Rick: Copeman Healthcare or any organization that can provide the type of program that we offer which really has prevention and early detection orientation to it. That's absolutely key because if we're truly going to do risk mitigation as it relates to health, you must be thinking in terms of prevention and early detection.
Morgan: Great. When we're talking about leadership health and well-being, who are we referring to in the context of a small business?
Rick: Well, we're talking about the business owners or their partners or you may have a couple of key individuals. Anybody really who's in the company that if they were to be derailed by a health issue, that would have serious, serious, negative impacts on the performance of the organization. Therefore, the stability as it relates to all of the employees in the organization vis-a-vis their employment.
Morgan: So, small business. It could be the owner, the couple of managers, anyone on that team?
Rick: Absolutely. The interesting thing is in some small to medium-sized businesses, you may have a single owner, but they have a couple of key individuals there. If one of those individuals get sick and gets derailed because of a health issue, the stress on the owner goes up catastrophically. It's not good for the owner and things can start to cascade out of control at that point in time. So, the owner or partners may want to look after themselves and then, one or two other individuals who are absolutely pivotal to the success of the business.
Morgan: So we're looking a bit more at the responsibility the individual has versus the job title in this case.
Rick: Yes, for sure, because you have lots of individuals that may not have a leadership title, but if all of a sudden, they're not there and available to perform one day, then, there's going to be serious, serious negative impacts on the business. So, you need to protect those individuals. It becomes risk mitigation.
Morgan: What inspired you to focus on the health and well-being of this demographic?
Rick: About 10 years ago, I was seriously burning out, Morgan. Thankfully, I had a very good friend that did an intervention for me. He gave me a call and said, "Rick, where are you?" I'm in town because I was traveling all the time. He said, "Good. You're in town. We're going for lunch tomorrow." It was not an optional lunch. We're going for lunch.
Before we even got the menus when we sat down the next day, Morgan, my friend said to me, "Rick, me and the boys have been talking." I go, "Uh-oh. Here it comes." I was doing 120 flights a year. I thought that I had it all figured out. But what he said to me was "Rick, you're never around anymore. When you're here, you're wound tighter than a knot. You don't laugh. You don't joke. Quite frankly, me and the guys are thinking of starting a pool and we're going to try to decide which month next year we're going to see you in the obituaries."
So, I had to do a reflection because I had just turned 50 years of age. Essentially, Morgan, I had been spending my health in pursuit of wealth. Thankfully, I had a very good friend that got me to do a reflection. But then, he said something even more dramatic to me because I processing the whole fact that I just wasn't around anymore and wasn't as much fun as I used to be. Then, he asked me a really important question. He said, "Rick, do you have life insurance?" I go, "Yes. Do you mean am I a policy holder?" He goes, "Yes." I said, "Yes, I'm a policy holder."
He says, "Rick, you need to understand something. If you're the policy holder, you have death insurance. The beneficiaries always got the life part." He knew my wife, Jackie, very, very well and said, "If you don't get your act together and grow up, Jackie will collect and spend the rest of her life on a beach with some other guy."
So now, you're talking about pride and ego here, Morgan. That really affected me because, on my dad's side of the family, all of his 9 brothers and sisters had heart attacks around 55 years of age and here I am at 50. So, my scorecard was going to look like 5 more Christmases, 5 more summers at the lake. Then, all of this work and all of the dreams that my wife and I had, I wasn't going to be able to participate. Somebody else would be participating those dreams with her. It really was the trigger that said, "Rick, you're 50 years of age and it's time to grow up. It's time to own your own health."
Morgan: Did you notice that you were burning out?
Morgan: Yes, you noticed?
Rick: I could feel it in my body. My resilience was down in terms of being able to bounce back in stressful situations, for sure. I had one guy describe it to me. He said he had one foot in the pit and the other one on a banana peel. It could go either way on any given day. So, I really felt it. I knew it.
But the sad thing, Morgan, was that I was in the health sector. I had this knowledge. People will say, "Knowledge is power." I go, "No, it's not. It's the application of knowledge that's power." I wasn't even applying the knowledge that I had. I really had to reflect on things and change a lot of behaviors.
Morgan: I think burnout among healthcare is huge.
Rick: Well, burnout, in general, is very, very huge. If we look at a lot of business owners and business leaders, and you look at small to medium-sized businesses, it's usually on the shoulder of the owner, etcetera. We find that a lot of the individuals are on a burnout path, not a burn-bright path. We need to change that. This conversation today really is a conversation about getting our business owners and business leaders on a burn-bright path.
Morgan: I really like that. Burn-bright. That's great.
Rick: I heard a saying a while ago, Morgan, that I thought was so, so profound and quite frankly, it described me-- [laughs]
Rick: --up to about 10 years ago until I decided to grow up and had some help from some friends. The saying was that business owners and business leaders often will spend their health in pursuit of wealth only to get to a point in their lives where they now need to spend their wealth in an attempt to regain their health and often, it doesn't work out that well.
So, I really encourage business owners and business leaders to be careful about spending their health in pursuit of wealth and to really think about the behaviors that they need to exhibit and the programs they need to adopt. Again, to make sure that they stay very, very healthy, not just for their businesses, but for them and their families.
Morgan: So, for many businesses, this idea of focusing on wellness can sound like an additional expense. Especially a small business, they're not really thinking about that. How does the well-being of the leadership team impact business? What would you say to those people?
Rick: Yes. I would say it's not an expense. I would say it's an investment. I know a lot of small to medium-sized businesses where there are partners, and they spend a lot of money on life insurance to fund the shareholder's agreement. They look at that as an investment.
This, too, is an investment and we have to reframe our thinking around it and stop calling it an expense because we do a lot of risk mitigation. We buy insurance policies for our buildings, for our equipment, for all that kind of stuff. So, there's a cost associated with that. We're really, really good with it. So, why would we not be good with this investment that again, is another dimension of risk mitigation?
When we look at the impact of leadership well-being on businesses is absolutely huge. Just think for an owner of a small to medium-sized business, if they were not able to participate in the business for a number of weeks or a number of months or regrettably even longer than that, the impact is absolutely dramatic. So, we have a program that mitigates that risk and keeps them engaged in performing at a high level. We think that's very, very important.
Also, if leaders are not healthy, the best version of them does not show up. They're too anxious. They're not sleeping. They're not making the best decisions, and that has negative consequences for the business. All of those negative implications can impact on the employees in terms of their vulnerability and security with their jobs. Yes. So, really having healthy leaders is vital to the overall performance of the organization and to sustain that performance over time.
Morgan: I think it's an interesting point you mentioned, we insure our buildings, we get life insurance, but we're not focusing on how we're living right now.
Rick: Right. So, even I have a lot of business owners that will get insurance to ensure shareholder's agreement. Again, that's great. That's important. That's a risk mitigation strategy, but that insurance doesn't help me as a business owner to perform any better today, next week, or next month. It just ensures that the company is somewhat stable if I implode. So, companies are very good at if we can call it this way- Investing in death. I think it's time that we change the conversation and start investing in life and performance to the same degree.
Morgan: How does the well-being of the leadership team impact the productivity of the employees?
Rick: Well, if you think about a stressed-out leader, they're not sleeping well. So, they show up in the morning. They are not balanced. They're a lot more anxious. They're not stable from a mood perspective because our moods get rebalanced when we have a really good sleep. Their executive functioning starts to deteriorate so they're not making the best decisions. If they're not making good decisions and they're anxious, that impact on the culture and environment that everybody's working in. Everybody starts to tiptoe around this person. They're not the most productive individuals themselves.
If we're not making good decisions as business leaders, that creates vulnerability for the businesses. Now, the individuals, the employees, are starting to wonder whether they should stick around, number one, and/or they're just feeling very, very vulnerable about their positions. We need to start looking at leadership health as a key productivity lever and a cultural enhancement lever.
Morgan: I think we've all had those experiences at jobs where we can tell the boss is really stressed out, so everyone else gets stressed out. I don't perform my best when I'm stressed at all. I do much better when I'm calmer and I feel like everybody's got a plan. We're calm. We're working toward it together, but that's tough if, from the very top, someone's pushing stress down.
Rick: If they're transmitting that stress, everyone's creativity shuts down. Everybody, now, is just-- Now, we've got jobs and not careers. If I'm that stressed at work, there's no way that I can have an ownership mentality. I'm just getting through the day, can't wait to go home, and get out of this stressful environment. My productivity, quite frankly, shuts down. That's the responsibility of us as business leaders to come and have that ability to transfer enthusiasm for all the cool stuff that our business does every day.
Morgan: Get out of such a reactive mindset where you're just like, "I need to do this. I need to do this."
Rick: Yes. If you're firefighting all day long, that's a really tough way to work.
Morgan: Yes. You gave a presentation about leadership well-being, what we're talking about today. What are some common concerns you get from people when you're talking about well-being? Do they go on about, "It's expensive", "We don't have the time?"
Rick: Yes. Time is critical. Because if you talk to a very busy business owner or leader, they always say, "I don't have enough time." You've got to make the time because this is serious risk mitigation. Because if you're that busy and you derail because of a health issue, your company is really, really in trouble. So, time is certainly always going to be an element there. We can talk about that. To do a good leadership well-being program doesn't take that much time relative to the negative impact on the business if you were not to be at the business even for a couple of weeks, so to speak.
Expense is another concern, but they're really not that expensive when you look at it relative to what the cost would be to the business if you weren't going to be there. A good program might cost you $400 a month and that's not that expensive, Morgan, at the end of the day.
But when I talked to a lot of business owners and business leaders, they're thinking always about their business and about their employees. So they're saying, "Can I be doing something for myself," feathering my nest, so to speak a little bit more, "and not doing something for the rest of the employees?" That's a great, great attitude as a business leader.
But one of the things we find is that in order for a business leader to truly be passionate about organizational wellness, they need to get involved, do something, have a great experience, see the benefits of it. Once they've done that, then they are more willing and more inspired as it relates to driving down wellness programs throughout their whole organization. So, I tried to start at the top of the organization, create that inspiration, and once we have that, then we could talk about everybody else and everybody can benefit from enhanced wellness.
Morgan: Yes. It's hard to want to invest in something in your business when you don't personally know if it's effective.
Rick: Yes. The things that we like and that we're passionate about, we will put resources behind it.
Morgan: So, we've gone through some of the benefits of this type of a leadership program. What would this actually look like in practice?
Rick: Okay. Yes. Let's not over-complicate it, okay? Because if we're going to do a really effective leadership well-being program, it should have three components, Morgan. The first component would be an annual health assessment that has a prevention and an early detection orientation. It's vital that you have that prevention and early detection component because that allows us to identify emerging health issues at the earliest possible moment. Then, we have a lot more levers to work with to get it back on track again. So now, we're really truly doing risk mitigation, okay? So, annual health assessments that have prevention and early detection orientation is number one.
Number two is, there are times when you're doing an assessment that you'll identify health issues. So, you need a second component to the program which is health issue resolution. You can well imagine, Morgan, that I have a fairly stressed-out executive or business owner, we come in and we do an assessment. We identify health issues. If they don't have options available to them to resolve the health issues, now, they're just more stressed out.
The goal of any good leadership well-being program should be to optimize the health and performance of leaders. So, if I have a stressed-out Executive that now knows they have health issues and can't get them resolved, that's not achieving the goal that we want. So, the second step is to make sure whatever provider that you partner with has a health issue resolution phase so any issues identified can, in fact, be resolved. Now, we're getting healthier leaders and higher-performing leaders which is important. Yes?
So, we're going to do an assessment. We're going to have a health issue resolution second component to it. The third component is, we want to partner with an organization that can help our business owners and business leaders to behave like corporate athletes.
Morgan: A term Rick often uses is the corporate athlete- particularly when discussing the pillars of well-being that an individual needs to consider beyond medical screenings and interventions.
Morgan: The corporate athlete. So this is a term that we use in your introduction. I really love that term. Could you explain a bit of what that means to you and how it applies to well-being?
Rick: Yes. It's not my term, Morgan. I wish it was, but I have to give credit where credit is due. In 2001, in Harvard Business Review, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz wrote an article called "The Making of the Corporate Athlete." What they so astutely recognized when they started looking at business owners and business leaders was that they were very linear individuals.
What I mean by linear and what they meant by linear was that these business owners and leaders were very good at energy exertion but they were atrocious at energy recovery. They're so uni-dimensional. Of course, if it's all about exertion with no time to a recovery, that's why you burn out.
If you think about the best of the best in the athletic world, they do something called interval training. They stress their bodies dramatically when they're actually training and applying their discipline, but then, they take these intervals. During those intervals, they have unbelievable dedication towards great nutrition and sleep hygiene because they know it's during these intervals where they actually get stronger. That allows them to come back and perform at a high level and get back on the podium.
What we really need our business owners and business leaders and executives to be doing is to start doing executive intervals. Now, that's where being a corporate athlete ties into the wellness and allows us to perform at our highest level on a sustained basis.
Morgan: What would those intervals look like?
Rick: Well, really, the intervals, you can have micro-intervals throughout the day and you can have much larger intervals. An interval during the day may look like doing a 50-minute hour. So, I stay on task, monotask, not multitask. I monotask for 50 minutes and then, I take a 10-minute break. There, I might do a little bit of exercise at my desk. I might do a little bit of mindfulness. I just recharge. Because I've had 50 minutes of exertion, I'm going to take 10 minutes of recovery. So, I can have micro-intervals throughout the day.
But we need bigger intervals in that ultimately. That's where vacations come in and weekends come in. Now, when I talk about a weekend or a vacation, a vacation is just I don't go and work from some other place. Too many business owners and business leaders can't get away. They're working all the time. So, when they're on vacation, I often hear families complain and saying, "You're always on your phone. You're always on your computer." You're not getting true recovery. You're just working from a different location. So, you really are not giving your mind and your body the break that it needs to come back and perform at a high level on a sustained basis. So, when we talk about intervals, these are true intervals where we step back from the business that we actually recover.
Morgan: So, actually having dinner without checking your email, going to the beach without your computer. [laughs]
Rick: That kind of stuff. The other challenge that we have is because we, as business owners and business leaders work so hard, is we really want to treat ourselves. We believe that we should be treating ourselves when we're on vacation. We may drink more. We may eat more food that maybe isn't that healthy. We may stay up later.
Interestingly, we have maybe now pulled ourselves away from the business, but we've changed our behaviors in a manner that is not that healthy. Once again, we're not really recovering to the degree that we could or should and that we really need to be in order to come back and be that highly productive energized leader.
Morgan: That was the thing we talked about on our previous burnout episode was keeping your schedule. Because, the weekend hits or your vacation hits and just like you said, everything goes out the window. You start staying up late. You're sleeping in. Then, you go back to work and you're just tired.
Rick: Yes. It's that old thing that I go 200 miles an hour with my hair on fire all week long and then, harder on the weekends because dang it, I deserve it. I work so hard, right? When does your body get a break? In the corporate world, when there's lots of opportunities, there's pressure to capitalize on that opportunity. When the opportunity starts to soften, now, there's stress. So, when do the business owner and business leader ever get out from underneath that pressure and stress and when do they recover? You have to be very, very conscious and very intentional about creating recovery intervals.
Morgan: So, it just needs to be there from the outset. Is that what you would say?
Rick: Yes. One of the challenges that people say during that recovery time, "I'm not being productive." I would say you're being highly productive. It's called slowing down to speed up. We have to reframe our thoughts around recovery time. As a generation right now, we're not very good at relaxing. It's a real problem. I do a lot of talks on sleep. One of the talks is “sleep is the ultimate high-performance drug” and maybe we'll do a podcast on that. When I talked to a lot of business owners, they are massively sleep-deprived. It's going to have some pretty serious health consequences. It definitely has performance consequences.
Morgan: Yes. I think sleep is one of the first things people give up when they're busy.
Rick: They don't give it up. It's just all the crazy behaviors that they have all day long, cause-fragmented or sub-optimal sleep. The other thing is, we just talked about, people saying that they don't have time for recovery. I got too much stuff to do. People may also say, "Sleep is a waste of time. I've got too much stuff to do." That tells me that they truly don't understand the unbelievable health benefits that come with great sleep. It is not a waste of time than some of the most productive time you can spend all day.
Morgan: Absolutely. Going back a bit to this idea of a well-being program. So, you talked about the different medical tests people will do. How much time would you imagine being allocated to this type of program?
Rick: Well, there are different types of programs. The one that we have at Copeman Healthcare is about five and a half hours over two or three appointments. These are deep, rich, multi-disciplinary prevention and early detection orientated assessments. I would submit if you look at all the hours that you're going to invest in your business over a year, that five and a half hours is not that high of a percentage for the value that it's going to bring.
Again, if I know that I get my health report back and it says, "You’re superman or superwoman. Go hard. You could keep doing it. There's going to be no negative consequences." Not only can I go hard physically, but psychologically, I know I'm in a good place. If I get my health report back and it says there are some health issues that are emerging, now, I know that we're on it early or if it says that there are some already existing health issues, now, I can start managing the risk associated with that, get it back on track. I know that in doing so, quite frankly, what I've done is I've de-risk my personal corporation and I de-risk my business.
Morgan: What about on-going wellness initiatives for the leadership?
Rick: Now, you're talking about being a corporate athlete, Morgan. Because being a corporate athlete is not a flash in the pan type of behavior. It's an ongoing behavior. There are four core components to building our resilience and allowing our bodies to recover from stressful situations. Because if you're going to be a business owner and a business leader, there are going to be stressful situations. I mean, that's just an absolute given. It really depends on our resilience and our behaviors to allow us to recover from this stressful situations as quickly as possible.
So the number one thing is, sleep. We need to sleep because that's where our body heals. That's where our body repairs itself. That's where all the inputs from the previous day are consolidated. Our immune system builds back up, and all these good things. Our mood gets re-balanced, so a nicer version of Morgan and Rick shows up the next day. Sleep is absolutely pivotal. That's number one. That's the first behavioral pillar.
The second behavioral pillar is, nutrition. We have to stop looking at food as something that deals with my hunger. Food is fuel. A business owner and business leader need to fuel their body for performance. What we eat and drink, when we eat and drink it, and how much we eat and drink, has a direct impact on our energy levels, and also, will impact on our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. So they're directly related.
The third behavioral pillar that we're going to talk about is, exercise. I think everybody pretty much has heard enough about exercise, but we know how important exercise is in terms of oxygenating our brain which can fuel our cognitive performance and executive functioning which is decision-making. They're just so many great benefits and how it helps so many body systems stay healthy. Of course, exercise is an important part of maintaining our mobility which is huge in terms of quality of life.
Rick: If we have sleep, we have fuel or food. We have exercise. The fourth pillar is mindfulness. As a generation and as a business leadership community, we need to learn how to relax. We need to learn how to step back and be present and calm ourselves a little bit. We talked a little bit about intervals and so we can do these mindfulness intervals throughout the day. It's in doing this kind of mindfulness that we re-balance our systems, so as to speak. People often ask me, "Okay. Well, mindfulness. Why do we breathe through our nose through mindfulness and all this type of thing?" Right?
So, the reason why we breathe through our nose is that when we breathe through our nose, it causes the release of nitric oxide which is a relaxing factor. This relaxing factor triggers the activation of our parasympathetic nervous system which is our rest and digest system. There's a real physiological basis as to why we breathe through our nose. Take some deep breaths. If we're going into a really stressful meeting or we've just come out of a stressful meeting, learning to be mindful and learning to calm ourselves is a very, very powerful leadership tool.
Morgan: Oh, and it's extremely difficult.
Rick: It really is.
Morgan: It takes a bit of time to get used to it. If you take a break, I'll start doing meditation and mindfulness. Then, I take a break and I tried to go and just do like two minutes, it's so hard.
Rick: Right. Our bodies love routine, Morgan. So when we want to sleep, it's all about routine. We have good nutritional behaviors every day. We have good fitness behaviors every day and we have good mindfulness behaviors. These become a routine part of our day. We just don't pick and choose. We're going to do it now. We're not going to do it then. When you start to incorporate it into your daily life, your daily routine, now, you become a corporate athlete and the best version of Rick and Morgan shows up more often than not, and a higher-performing version, by the way.
Morgan: Absolutely. Well, the four pillars you just mentioned, they are things we often think about just for our outside of work health.
Rick: Thankfully, the conversation is changing, and business owners and business leaders are now starting to understand if they want to be high-performing individuals, these four pillars must, must, must be part of each and every day.
Morgan: What are some behaviors we need to adopt when we're in the workplace to perform at our best?
Rick: Well, we've talked about some of them already, Morgan. One of them is caused and our creating micro-intervals within the day. If you want to that 50-minute hour, work hard and monotask for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute mindfulness break or a little bit of a fitness break and walk around the office. I think that's really important. When we talk to our neuropsychologist at Copeman Healthcare, they're talking more and more about the fact that multitasking is actually neuro-degenerative.
Morgan: Oh, really?
Rick: So whereas we used to look at it as a badge of honor if we could do it, we're starting to learn now that maybe that's not quite the way that it is. We maybe need to reflect on that and get back to monotasking.
Morgan: So it's harmful to our brain.
Rick: Correct. Yes, correct. We have to do that. The first thing I would say is to find some ways to create some micro-intervals within the day. The other thing is that the food that we eat while we're at the office or whether we do a little bit of grazing throughout the day to keep our energy levels, what we eat and when we eat it is really important. We want to typically stick with low glycemic foods. We don't want to get elevated blood sugars.
At lunch, you don't want to have a great big lunch with a lot of carbs in it because you're going to get a blood sugar crash in the afternoon. You'll get that postprandial drop. You're going to get that anyhow, but you'll get it. It'll be augmented. So, we have to be careful about what we eat and how much we eat at lunch because that will really impact our energy levels in the afternoon, etcetera.
Then, so if we're doing the mindfulness stuff, if we're doing some of the nutritional behaviors, and then again, just get a little bit of physical activity throughout the day. Because, when we're physically active, it oxygenates our brain in a different way and that can fuel higher cognitive performance.
Morgan: Maybe things like the walking meeting or taking like a group stretch break?
Rick: Yes. Even at lunch, if you get an hour for lunch, don't spend the whole hour sitting down, talking to your colleagues. As much as that collaboration and bonding is important and valuable, maybe you're only sitting down for half an hour and the other half an hour, you're moving a little bit. People also have a stand-up desk. I have one in my office. When I'm on a conference call, I like to wander around in my office. I can do that. So that's a little bit of a physical interval for me, and I try to stay moving as much as possible.
They say that sitting is the new smoking, especially in the corporate world. So, we have to be a little bit careful about that and we want to make sure that we're getting enough physical fitness throughout the day. Again, it's so important from a cognitive functioning perspective and that's really important in terms of nurturing a lot of body systems.
Morgan: For a business owner, I'm wondering who has a job where they are on their feet, but they're on their feet in a way that they're stressed. They're going from task to task to tasks say in a store or something like that. Would that not really fulfill that fitness portion?
Rick: Oh, no. It absolutely would.
Morgan: It would?
Rick: It absolutely would, but then, again, if you're stressed and you're moving around with that, you need to become a little bit more intentional about some mindfulness breaks. Can you create those breaks throughout the day where you can be calm, when you could stop moving, and when you can be calm and you can breathe and you can recalibrate yourself emotionally? A better version of us shows up after we do that.
Morgan: In terms of hiring and retaining top talent these days, do you believe workplaces need to offer perks, benefits, and wellness programs to remain competitive?
Rick: Absolutely, Morgan. We've had some really, really interesting situations where we have introduced leadership well-being programs into organizations. They have told us point blank that it's helped them to win the talent battle. They may have had a top individual that was interviewing with a couple of companies and they chose their company because of how intentional they were about leadership health. So there's no question that the landscape is changing in terms of what people are looking for.
Really, really top-performing business leaders understand that with that responsibility comes, pressure and stress that will have impacts on their health. So if you, as an organization, are progressive enough to recognize that we then want to compensate you with a wellness initiative as it relates to that stress, etcetera. Then that puts you competitively ahead of a lot of other organizations for landing that really important talent.
Again, if you're doing that type of thing, we've also seen that the organization will say, "People want to stay with us because of how dedicated we are and how genuine we are about helping them with their health." That's, I think, the first part of that.
The second part of that question was you mentioned about perks and benefits, we really want to change that conversation and get people to understand that a leadership well-being initiative is not a perk and is not a benefit. It's a risk-mitigation strategy. No disrespect to our very, very hard-working HR colleagues, but we're talking about benefits in this type of thing whether it's massage and physiotherapy and dental care, etcetera. That's really, really important. But risk mitigation is a different conversation. When we talk about the health and well-being of business leaders and preventing them from having a heart attack or a stroke or something more regrettable, that's a conversation that we don't have with HR. That's a conversation we have with the business owners and the business leaders because it really is about de-risking the company and risk mitigation as a strategic intent typically lives with the business owner.
Morgan: So, moving away from looking at well-being as this fun extra and taking it really serious.
Rick: Well, the definition of well-being is very, very broad. That's why we have said leadership well-being as a risk mitigation strategy because you can interpret well-being in so many different ways. But, preventing your business owners and business leaders from being derailed by a health issue, that is risk mitigation. The corporate world is fun and it’s dynamic, but it is stressful. It has some pretty negative impacts on the leader's health and we just need to find a way to make sure that they get off that burnout path and get back on the burn-bright path.
Morgan: Rick, are there any other strategies that businesses are taking to de-risk themselves?
Rick: There is one other strategy that I hear about quite often, Morgan. I wouldn't suggest it as being one of the best strategies to take. It's a strategy called hope. A lot of business owners and business leaders just hope that the bad stuff, health-related, happens to the other guy and the other gal and not them. If that's your strategy, you are putting yourself, your company, and the employment of all of your employees at serious, serious risk because the stress that a lot of business owners and business leaders are marinating in these days is causing serious, serious health issues. So, I'm really encouraging the business owners and business leaders to think beyond hope as a strategy and be a lot more intentional, a lot more strategic with how they enhance their health and the health of their leaders.
Morgan: And their own lives, yes.
Rick: Yes. The one thing that will take you and I out on the game faster than anything else is a bad health issue. Often, you don't see it coming unless you have a team conspiring on your behalf looking for these things. I had three individuals that I knew in Edmonton in the last 12 months, Morgan, who died and they're all in their 50s. I would say that these issues were all preventable based on what we do at Copeman Healthcare.
When I see that, it kind of fuels my passion, even more, to really talk to business owners and business leaders say, "Come on, you guys. We got to be better than this." I know, on some days, we're not the brightest species out there, for sure, but we have to be better than this for us, for our families, and for our businesses. This is not about being selfish, Morgan. This is about self-preservation because if we do that, so many people benefit from us feeling better and being healthier.
Morgan: Yes. Leaders need to see their health as part of the whole business.
Rick: Absolutely. Our business owners and business leaders need to look at health as a unique asset class within their businesses. If you look at health as a unique asset class, you will behave differently and fund it differently.
Morgan: So, when you give this presentation and you're talking to leaders, what do you hope they bring back to their company?
Rick: We hope that they bring back to their company a completely new frame of mind as it relates to introducing a leadership health program as part of their risk mitigation strategy. They understand that it's different than what typically happens in HR as it relates to benefits and perks if we knew all of that.
It's really creating a completely different thought process and getting them to reflect on the fact that we're investing a lot of money with life insurance or death insurance, and we talked earlier with that. But we should be funding or investing in life and productivity at least to the same degree as we're investing in death through the life insurance acquisitions. So it's really about, getting them to think differently and getting them to understand that a different set of behaviors is needed and required in this business landscape to perform at a high level on a sustained basis.
Morgan: So for someone listening who is, an owner of a small business. What can they do to get into one of these programs that you've mentioned?
Rick: Well, you can phone us at Copeman Healthcare, for sure. We are in Edmonton, Vancouver, and Calgary. We also have another company within our business conglomerate called Medisys, which is out in Toronto and Quebec. So, we can certainly tie them into that company. That would be the best thing. Just look locally for any service provider that will provide a really, really deep, rich, annual assessment that is prevention and early detection orientated. So really, I don't care who you go to. Just do something.
Morgan: That's great.
Morgan: Thank you for tuning in to the Small Business Mastermind created by Olympia Benefits. For more information on wellness, you can visit our blog at olympiabenefits.com/blog. There you'll find several articles covering employee wellness and leadership well-being as well as a free eBook available for you. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a moment to rate and review this podcast. Thank you so much for listening today and I'll talk to you on the next one.
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