WayAhead Interview with Lawrence Mitchell
I was recently interviewed by WayAhead, a mental health charity here in Australia, sharing some insights on my own personal healthy habits.
Here’s the full interview for your reference:
CEO and founder, RAW Energy, VP APAC, Wellbeing@Work and until recently Chief Customer Officer of SumoSalad. Prior to that I was the Chief Marketing and Wellbeing Officer for RELX: Risk & Analytics based in London. In this role, I created and ran the Global RBI Living Well Programme.
RAW Energy / Wellbeing@Work
WHAT ARE YOU/YOUR ORGANISATION CURRENTLY FOCUSING ON IN TERMS OF WORKPLACE HEALTH AND WELLBEING?
Both RAW Energy and Wellbeing@Work operate by having a diverse group of people spread around the world. In such a context, a big focus is connection so we feel like a team.
I feel very fortunate to be living in a time when I literally can work on a project with a team in London, Singapore and Toronto, but the downside is that you can feel quite isolated, hence we promote autonomy and flexibility which goes down well and try to get together in person at least twice a year. This really helps keep engagement high.
WHAT ASPECT OF WORKPLACE HEALTH AND WELLBEING DOES YOUR ORGANISATION DO WELL IN?
With my background as a wellbeing coach, we put a big emphasis on self-care, encouraging people to ensure that their foundational habits: food, movement, mindset, sleep and detox are as good as they can be.
We invest in education and access to good quality, toxic-free products, to empower people to make better choices.
Being a remote team, we also put a huge emphasis on recognition so that people feel valued and appreciated.
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WORKING IN WORKPLACE HEALTH AND WELLBEING?
Before the lockdown, I saw so many issues with the state of workplace health and wellbeing which depressed me hugely as I also saw some obvious solutions that could move the needle significantly.
Traditionally, the biggest challenge was being able to articulate the problem in language that resonates with key decision-makers, and positions wellbeing as a core strategic initiative, rather than a peripheral topic that has no real commercial value.
One of the benefits of the pandemic is that Wellbeing has moved up the corporate agenda significantly and the need to engage employees and support them to build resilience is more widely understood! I believe that we have a real opportunity to demonstrate the value we can bring to an organisation in language that connects with C-level executives.
HOW DOES WAYAHEAD WORKPLACES ADD VALUE TO YOUR ORGANISATION’S HEALTH AND WELLBEING PROGRAM?
I love being part of a community of people who are all driving for the same goal. We all have very different perspectives, but I get plenty of new ideas and insights and great connections which have helped me significantly and will continue to do so.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH STRESS?
Five years ago, I actually wrote a book on stress called ‘Success without Stress’. In short, I do the majority of the things I outline in the book consistently: run, eat exceptionally well, meditate etc, but probably the thing that is really working for me at the moment is my morning journaling.
I do this every morning after meditating. It takes me 15 minutes and I use this as a tool to reflect on the day before, both the successes and the learnings and also what I need to do next. It has really helped me to manage the overwhelm and stress that comes from working on multiple projects at the same time whilst also trying to balance family and personal life and also make sense of the unfolding macro environment that is impacting us all.
In many ways, my experience of working in highly volatile industries my whole career has prepared me very well for the situation we are all now facing.
WHAT ARE THE KEY ISSUES AND CONSIDERATIONS FOR PEOPLE IN WORKPLACE HEALTH AND WELLBEING ROLES?
Self care will always be number one in my book as we are the lynchpin and can’t allow ourselves to wear out or the whole system suffers.
Following that, ‘stakeholder management and engagement’ is high on the list as it’s key to get more resources for the function, and finally comes innovation and professional development to drive positive change and progress.
HOW DO YOU SWITCH OFF FROM WORK?
I find it very hard to switch off if I’m honest, primarily because I love the intellectual stimulation of the work I do, but have taken major steps to create solid boundaries in my life.
I meditate twice a day, read a lot and will always try to take a whole day to just hang out with nothing scheduled. I love this time as I just go with the flow, which is very different to the rest of the week, and see what happens.
I also try to schedule two retreats each year in Bali or somewhere like that. These immersive experiences help me to step out of my life and observe it from afar and then step back in and course correct!
WHAT IS YOUR BEST TIME-SAVING TIP?
My morning journaling saves a stack of time, and I’ve also invested in some good software like Evernote which automates a lot of processes and helps me find things instantly. I used to spend and waste so much time searching which is no longer the case.
I should also highlight quality food. I’ve eaten a plant-based diet for a long time and the impact this has had on my energy levels has been significant. It’s the reason I’ve been able to do three big jobs at the same time! We often don’t think of upgrading food as a time-saving tip, but it certainly is as all of that energy required to digest poor quality food can go into far more productive activities!
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE OF WORK HEALTH AND WELLNESS PROGRAMS LOOK LIKE?
One day I foresee a time when we’ll look back with shock and horror at the way people in workplaces were treated.
My belief is that we’re entering the age of compassionate leadership which will operate at all levels of an organisation and ensure that we’re all working towards a common goal that leads to customer and planet wellbeing, as well as financial wellbeing for the business and the employees. Win/Win/Win/Win.