ABOUT THIS EPISODE
Jamie Shapiro, author of ‘Brilliant’, lives by the mantra “don’t give people what’s left of you, give people the best of you”. Connecting the dots between leadership and wellbeing, Jamie focuses on the importance of first looking after yourself to enable you to become a brilliant leader.
Jo Meunier [00:00:17] Welcome to the Future of Work podcast by Allwork.Space. I’m Jo Meunier and today I’m looking forward to talking about all things wellbeing with author Jamie Shapiro. Jamie is an executive coach, speaker, consultant and CEO of Connected EC, which focuses on connecting wellbeing with leadership performance. Jamie is also the author of Brilliant, a book that aims to empower readers with the tools to gain more energy, time and the capacity to be a top leader, as well as a fulfilled human being. Given the current situation that we’re in with many of us facing new and unexpected challenges in our day to day lives, I think this episode couldn’t have come at a better time. So welcome Jamie and thank you for joining us on the podcast today.
Jamie Shapiro [00:01:00] Thank you, Jo. I’m so happy to be here.
Jo Meunier [00:01:02] That’s great. We’re happy to have you. But before we dig into wellbeing and all things work life balance, I’d love to hear more about your book. So I’ll read out the summary.
Jamie Shapiro [00:01:14] OK.
Jo Meunier [00:01:16] Here’s what it says. If you’re feeling unhealthy, unhappy and exhausted, yet handcuffed by your responsibilities, salary and job title, know this: you don’t have to keep going down the path of burnout. That’s a key to unlocking your greatest potential. It’s possible to elevate your leadership while also creating a foundation of health and happiness. So Jamie, please tell us more about that and what the secret key is, because I’m dying to know!
Jamie Shapiro [00:01:40] So thank you so much for asking, Jo. So my book, Brilliant, is really about how we nourish ourselves, our vital leadership, to make sure that we’re taking care of our whole selves first so that we can truly be at our best and care for our organizations, our families. And Brilliant is about connecting the dots between leadership and wellbeing. And I’ve been in practice for almost a decade, and I just really wanted to share all of the methodologies and tools that I use with my clients every day to make sure that they’re taking care of their full selves in order to be at their peak performance as leaders. And that’s really been the focus of the book. And why I put it out there was just to be able to give those tools over and share the stories and how to apply those tools to our leadership and our lives.
Jo Meunier [00:02:36] Okay. Can you tell us a little bit more about the notion of self, what it means and how we can take leadership of our own self?
Jamie Shapiro [00:02:44] So what we really talk about a lot at Connected EC is what we call vital leadership. If we have the awareness of self and the energy for self, then we have the capacity to give to others. When we get on an airplane, they talk about putting an oxygen mask on ourselves before we try and put it on other people. And what I like to explain to leaders is you can’t serve from an empty vessel. When we are completely depleted, completely exhausted, unfortunately, we don’t have enough energy for us to even make it through our days sometimes at our best, we find ourselves dipping in our energy, dipping in our engagement, and not truly able to show up for the people around us. And there’s a great quote that says, “don’t give people what’s left of you, give people the best of you”. And so taking care of self means that we’re taking care of our physical body, making sure that we understand that leadership is a full body experience. It’s not just about what’s in between our ears. It is truly a full body experience. So taking care of that full body, taking care of that energy, taking care of our emotional well-being and all of these aspects allows us to be at our best with others. And oftentimes in leadership, we skip that step. We talk about, how do we have more emotional intelligence? How do we be more visionary leaders? I really firmly believe the first question is, how do we be vital leaders in order to step into those other areas of our leadership?
Jo Meunier [00:04:23] Gosh, I love that about giving people the best of you. And I think in the flexible workspace industry that would really ring true to a lot of community managers who are running and managing workspaces. But they’re also, more importantly, looking after the communities within them. They get pulled in hundreds of different directions. They have busy day to day lives, but their main focus is to look after the people that come into the workspaces. So that’s quite a challenge. So from your experiences, how do you think we can make the workplace into a healthier community, both for the community managers, but also the people that use those workplaces?
Jamie Shapiro [00:05:01] Yes. The first thing I think we need to start talking more about is the connection between leadership and well-being. When I first started connecting the dots between leadership and well-being, a lot of people were confused. Well, what are you doing? Are you talking about leadership development or are you talking about health and well-being?
Jamie Shapiro [00:05:20] And I’m really talking about both. And so I really think one of the first steps is that we look through a different lens and we recognize to be our best as leaders we need to have a foundation of well-being in the workplace. I talk a lot about businesses truly being communities and treating them as communities and really caring for and nurturing for the well-being of everyone in the workplace. And recognizing when we do that, we truly get the best, not only for our people, but also for our businesses. So a lot of programs out there really separate this concept of leadership development and well-being. And I think one of the first steps we need to take is to integrate those conversations and not make them separate conversations anymore.
Jo Meunier [00:06:08] Mm hmm. Absolutely. And when you talk about the foundation of well-being, what are the… Can you break that down for us? What are the fundamentals of a workplace that has this well-being ethos?
Jamie Shapiro [00:06:22] Yes, I’d like to talk about mind, body, heart and spirit, even though I feel like those are talked about all the time. I still think they’re worth breaking down and talking about and thinking about how all of those areas can be nourished to take care of our well-being. So when we talk about the body, we’re talking about the physical body. How are we making sure that we’re eating the foods that actually serve our energy, that we’re getting enough movement for our bodies? There’s so much research coming out these days that talks about when we are sitting all day, it is so detrimental to our health.
Jamie Shapiro [00:06:57] So not just thinking about working out or going to the gym, but how do we create movement in the workplace? How do we encourage people to move more and not be seated all of the time? And then the body also includes basics like sleep. We have a lot of people that are chronically exhausted, that are overworking themselves and not taking that time to recover. How are we making sure that we’re managing our stress levels, that we’re getting enough relaxation and enough back into the body to make sure we’re keeping that stress hormone cortisol down? And then when we look at the mind, how are we making sure that we’re taking care of ourselves and our mental well-being? Again, we can talk about stress; stress is both physical and mental. How do we make sure that we are taking care of our mind, that we’re doing activities for our mind that are really beneficial? Whether it’s stress reduction or whether we’re just making sure that we’re doing activities that actually give us energy, not deplete us in the mental category. And how are we caring for our well-being, our emotional heart center. What are the things that nourish us? What are the relationships, whether it’s with our families or our communities, giving back? What are the things that are taking care of that emotional center for us? And then Spirit, people ask me all the time, am I talking about spirituality? And I really am talking about what connects you to something greater than you. What connects you to your best self. Maybe that is spirituality and religion. Perhaps it’s time outside. Perhaps that’s meditation. But really knowing how do you connect to something greater than you? And how do you have access to that? So when I talk about well-being, I am talking about those four pillars. And I know I’m not covering everything in those pillars, but I just wanted to share some of the things I am talking about in each of those pillars and some of the things we address in Brilliant.
Jo Meunier [00:08:55] Mm hmm. And all of those things you mentioned, for instance, creating movement in the workplace and the food choices, managing stress levels… a lot of these things have been amplified given the current situation. And also a lot of people are finding themselves at home and under lockdown of course, movement was restricted. It was sometimes even difficult to get a food delivery. So our choice of food was somewhat limited too. So in terms of the present and where we’re going with workplace wellness, I mean, to be honest, even before the health crisis, a lot of workplaces were substandard when it came to well-being. So in your view, what were some of the biggest wellness issues before quarantine and what sort of issues are we likely to face as we start heading back into the office post lockdown?
Jamie Shapiro [00:09:49] So I found one of the biggest issues of workplace wellness is we were talking a lot, but we weren’t actually walking the talk. And so I would see leaders stand up and say, this is important to us. And these are the things that we’re offering. But then when you really see who is modeling the behavior, it wasn’t being modeled. Unfortunately I think we’re in a burnout epidemic with leadership, and I feel that a lot of leaders stand up and talk about why it’s important. But then they don’t create the permission and the organization to do it because they’re not doing it themselves. So there are so many times where I’ve walked by a corporate gym and there’s no one in it. So we’ve got to, as leaders, model what we’re trying to instill in our organizations. And the research shows that when leadership truly models that behavior, it gives people in the organization permission to do the same. And so I think, again, going back to how do we connect the dots between leadership and wellbeing? Well, we should be talking about it throughout the organization and connecting those dots to really make sure people feel permission to take care of self, to recognize that working twelve hours a day, not taking any breaks is actually not good for our well-being and it’s not good for our productivity. It’s not good for our engagement. It’s not good for our creativity. So we’ve got to lean into the research and the science here and start giving people permission and also sharing the data that says, hey, if you get up and move every hour, that’s actually better for your productivity. It doesn’t hurt it. So I do think that’s step one and that’s pre-quarantine and pre-COVID. So that’s my perspective there.
Now, with this transition into a lot of virtual environments, a lot of being online, I think we have to think about things a little bit differently. And there’s had to be a redesign, to be honest, a redesign of, what does it look like to make sure we’re taking care of self? I know a lot of people I work with, when we first went into quarantine, we were in back to back meetings, no breaks, no movement, just sitting in front of a screen. And that’s not only physiologically not good for you, that’s psychologically not good for you. And so we’ve had to really redesign what well-being looks like in a virtual environment. And so really making sure that you’re creating space, that you’re not sitting all day, that you’re not only on screens. I encourage every single leader I work with every day to take a look at their schedule and say, hey, what are the meetings I have and what meetings could I actually do, not in front of a screen, but walking? Can we both put in headphones and walk through this meeting? Can we find ways to stand and move in our home? Can now that we’re having more access to healthier foods and getting grocery deliveries and all these different things, can we make sure that we’re stocking our pantries and our fridges with foods that actually nourish us and nourish our energy? It’s really easy in high stress because our bodies are craving things that break down into glucose, that simple sugar quickly, to start eating more and more unhealthy food. And can we start to shift our mindset and make sure that we’re thinking about food to serve our energy versus just grabbing that quick and easy thing?
So those were a couple of things. But I think the conversation moving forward around workplace wellness is going to change. And one thing that I do want to say is I really believe the focus on well-being is greater now than it’s ever been. And that’s something that is good that’s coming out of this timeframe.
Jo Meunier [00:13:50] Going back to what you said a moment ago about burnout being an epidemic. I could really believe that. I think a lot of us realized that there was this epidemic happening. But like you say, there wasn’t enough action to actually help people cope with it and to recognize the warning signs. So on that note, what are the warning signs of people who could be facing burnout?
Jamie Shapiro [00:14:13] Yes. Number one is just a constant fatigue level and engagement level. You know, I always ask people to think about their energy throughout the day. Are they able to keep energized and feel good throughout their day, or are they finding themselves not able to concentrate, focus, feeling a low level of fatigue that eventually turns into a higher level of fatigue? Your attention to joy is really important. You know, how much joy are you finding throughout your day or the reverse? And are you feeling when you get out of bed in the morning, are you feeling energized and ready to go? Or are you feeling depleted and you don’t want to face what’s in front of you? So I think just paying attention to those first warning signs are really a lack of focus, lack of motivation and that low level fatigue, which unfortunately can go even further if you don’t pay attention to those early warning signs. And one of the things I do see with people in burnout is they start to face as we get past those warning signs, the body starts to say, hey, I’m not OK. And then you’ll start to see people with, you know, either getting more sick, more colds, the flu, different things that are starting to make the body shut down. When we get sick, we have to rest. And so as people get further and further into burnout, you start to see their immune systems get more compromised because their stress levels are higher and higher, and then, unfortunately, you’ll start to see more sickness creep in.
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Jo Meunier [00:15:59] And, are there ways to avoid burnout? What is it that causes it? We can recognize those warning signs, but how can we work around it?
Jamie Shapiro [00:16:09] Yeah, great question, Jo. One of the things that I think we need to pay attention to and I know I keep saying this, but I think it’s really, really essential is that time is not a renewable resource, but energy is. And I think we as leaders, as people in the workplace, need to pay attention to how much energy we have going out versus how much energy is coming in. And I think an every day plan needs to be, getting energy back in, to make sure that we’re not giving so much that we become depleted and burned down. I mean, it really goes back to physics, right? If all our energy goes out — think about a candle — if all the energy goes out, we burn out. But if we’re replenishing that energy source, if we’re intentional about that, that’s what’s going to change what causes burnout. And that’s different for every individual. So we often say to people in the workplace, you need more work life balance or work life integration. But the truth is Jo what brings me energy is different from what brings you energy or brings someone else energy. It’s thinking about, in the areas I talked about, mind, body, heart and spirit. What brings energy back in and how do I be intentional every single day about making sure that I’m getting energy back in throughout the day. Because that really matters and making sure that we don’t expend all of our energy.
Jo Meunier [00:17:43] I just made a quick note of what you said there. I love that! “Time is not a renewable resource, but energy is”. I think that really sums up what we’re talking about. And another question on burnout. What is the role of leadership in helping people to avoid burnout? How can leaders address burnout in the teams? And also, how can they help people rebuild from it?
Jamie Shapiro [00:18:09] So, number one, I think be aware of it. Be aware of something that is really a huge problem right now and be intentional about creating the programs and creating access to those programs that help people in these areas. And then back to what I said earlier. You gotta walk the talk. It’s not enough to stand up and talk about why it’s important. You’ve got to share. You’ve got to be transparent. Share your journey. Talk to people about what you’re doing and how you’re taking care of self. Model the behavior. If you model it, it is totally different than if you just talk about it. So it’s a combination of, yes, talking the talk, but it’s also about walking the walk. And when I see leaders really do that and share their journey, I have a lot of clients who’ve shared their journey publicly about what they’ve done in order to take care of self and how they’re getting energy back in and what they’re doing to really make sure that they can lead at their full potential. That transparency, that openness, that vulnerability really helps give access to everyone within an organization. And so I encourage leaders to stand up, talk about it, but more importantly, do it and share it and be vulnerable because we’re all human. And I talk a lot about, you know, we connect with each other’s humanness, not each other’s perfection. So leaders can share that we’re all on the journey. And it’s not like we hit a destination and well-being — we’re constantly having to reevaluate and find new ways to take care of self. And in this new environment that we’re in, we’re all having to do a reset and say, OK, now how do I take care of self? How do I make sure that I’m getting that foundation of well-being? Because the world doesn’t look like it did six months ago. So that’s what I think is most important for leaders, is to think about their own journey and share their journey and make sure they’re walking the walk.
Jo Meunier [00:20:15] And something that you talk about is change resiliency.
Jamie Shapiro [00:20:20] Yes.
Jo Meunier [00:20:21] Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Jamie Shapiro [00:20:24] That’s a big topic. I’m happy to talk about it!
Jamie Shapiro [00:20:29] You know, when I first started my coaching business, one of the things I heard over and over again in corporate America was, oh, you need to have balance. And I was like, oh, great. Sign me up for that class. How do I get more work life balance?
Jamie Shapiro [00:20:47] That sounds awesome. I have no idea how to do that. One of the first things I did in the executive coaching world was really start to define what’s the roadmap? What are the tools we need to actually have balance in our life? And how do we really focus on that? That looks different for everyone. And so this topic of resiliency was similar to balance for me. Everybody said, oh, we want our teams to have more change resiliency and we need our organizations to be resilient. And I thought, wow, that feels like balance. Sign me up for that. How do we get it? And I think there really is a roadmap in understanding how we build resiliency and how we understand mindset. And so we’re born with physical resiliency. Think about if we break a bone or we’re not well, our bodies are physically resilient and know how to recover.
But the question was, what about emotional resiliency? Are we all born with a certain level of emotional resiliency, and that’s our set point and we can’t grow that? And what I found through my research is, yeah, we all are born with different emotional resiliency, but we can grow our capacity for resilience and we can grow our capacity for resilience in many different ways. One of the tools that I share in my book is around a resiliency model that helps you really think about how do you have a positive mindset in the face of pressure and change? Because no matter what role you’re in, we’re always going to be facing pressure and change. It’s part of our experience as human beings. So how do you transform your mindset so that you can be resilient in the face of that? And I will tell you what’s taught me more about resiliency than anything is just being a mother of two children who have different resiliency set points when they were born. My son, I’ve really helped to help him grow his mindset and helped his resiliency. Whereas my daughter, she was just born with a natural resiliency about her and a natural mindset. And so the model that I developed is something that I use in parenting, and it’s also something I use in my leadership development and coaching.
Jo Meunier [00:23:02] And you mentioned a few times there, work life balance. But I’m still pretty sure it’s a myth. I don’t think it exists!
Jamie Shapiro [00:23:10] But you know what? It does feel like a myth.
Jamie Shapiro [00:23:13] I feel like it’s talked about so much in the workplace, but we don’t talk about how to actually get it. We don’t talk about it on an individual basis. And so to me, it’s energy in versus energy out. How do we make sure we’re getting enough energy in, in order to be fulfilled and to make sure we have enough vitality as leaders to really meet the demands not only of our workplace, but of our life? I always say if I’m coaching a leader and they’ve got all the energy they need for their workday, but when they get home, they’re depleted and can’t show up for their family, I have failed as a coach. So it’s about having enough for our lives, not just enough for our leadership and workplace.
Jo Meunier [00:23:56] And that’s really difficult, especially now, isn’t it, where a lot of people are working from home. So any line that did exist between the work and the home life has evaporated. And, particularly as leaders, we’re having to communicate with them remotely so that human to human connection is not gone, but it’s on hold for the moment. How do you think people can cope with that?
Jamie Shapiro [00:24:20] I think we have to be really intentional about reestablishing boundaries. It’s very easy to be online nonstop. It’s, you know, for many of us who used to go into an office and come home, we had these defined physical boundaries where we could have that drive home to decompress and then show up and be present with our families. But right now, everything is really blurred. And what I’ve encouraged leaders to do is think about what are the new boundaries you need to set for yourself that are going to allow you to create transition time to be present with your family and not feel so online all the time. I think it’s really important and that looks different for every person and every different role. But I really encourage people to think about that. Whether it’s shutting down the computer at a certain time or creating some reflection time for yourself after your workday, before you transition into family time, just really thinking about what are the boundaries I need to create for myself and how do they look different now? I also ask people to think about pre-covid what was working for them and how do you think about what would work for you now that might reflect what was working before and while it does look different. It’s important to keep thinking about, how do we continually create boundaries so that we’re not blurring the lines continually day after day. We’re online for twelve hours and that’s not a healthy way for us in any aspect of our life.
Jo Meunier [00:25:59] Absolutely. Well, finally, we’re nearing the end of our episode, but before we wrap up, I’d just like to get your thoughts on well-being and the future of work. So in terms of the discussion we’ve had today, what are some of the top takeaways that listeners could take away with them? And how do you think we can use these to move forward to build a happier and healthier future workplace?
Jamie Shapiro [00:26:26] Yeah, I really do believe we have a beautiful opportunity to create communities of well-being in the workplace. And when I think about the future of work and everything that we’re going through as a globe right now, I believe there’s more focus and intention on putting people first than there ever has been. And when I think about the future, I hope that we look back at 2020 and say, that was the time we realized how essential it was to care for the well-being of every single person in the workplace and put that as a top priority and to create as much awareness, attention intention around that as possible. Because when we have a healthy workplace, we have a healthy organization. And I don’t just mean physically. I mean emotionally. I mean from a business standpoint economically. So I do think there’s a shift right now happening in that perspective. And I hope that the future of work holds that well-being as a top priority. I also hope that we stop talking about leadership as an intellectual experience and we start talking about leadership as a full body experience and that we recognize if we want the best out of our people, it means caring for the full self, not just the brain part. And the reason I named the book Brilliant is, brilliant is often thought about as intellectual brilliance. And really what I want people to start thinking about is brilliance as an energy brilliance and how do we all shine at our brightest? And when we do that, that’s when we create a healthy workplace. And so I hope that we transform into thinking about leadership as full body versus just mind.
Jo Meunier [00:28:16] Fantastic. And putting people’s well-being first, I couldn’t agree more. That should be top priority. Well, that’s fantastic. Thank you, Jamie. I really appreciate you joining us today on the podcast. I’ve learned a lot. And we’d love to have you back on again sometime.
Jamie Shapiro [00:28:33] Thank you, Jo. It’s been an honor. Really appreciate it.
Jo Meunier [00:28:36] Thank you, Jamie. Take care.Jamie Shapiro [00:28:38] Thank you. Bye byeShare this article