Oct. 10, 2020

Changing Mental Health at Work

Today is World Mental Health Day (10/10/2020) and The Easier, Better, for Construction Show BONUS episode is for us to see how to spot and help ourselves and others make building easier and better while improving our mental wellbeing. Michelle E. Dickins...

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Today is World Mental Health Day (10/10/2020) and The Easier, Better, for Construction Show BONUS episode is for us to see how to spot and help ourselves and others make building easier and better while improving our mental wellbeing. Michelle E. Dickinson, Author, TED Speaker, and advocate, discusses ways to decrease the mental health stigma and shame that prevents people from accessing care within the workplace along with her own personal story of perseverance and triumph. Michelle shared important tips and strategies to help us all stay mentally empowered during the current uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Follow Michelle on Social Media at

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-e-dickinson-7882013


Free Chapter of my Book: http://breakingintomylife.com/excerpt/

Hear Michelle with Bella Englebach and Gemma Jones on The Edges of Lean Podcast at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/continuous-improvement-and-mental-health/id1524846544?i=1000490069960



Today's episode is sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute. Join me and many others from the Lean design and construction community at their 22nd Annual Congress.  It is being held virtually this year, the week of October 19th. Our theme is the ABC’s of Lean...Transformation through Actions, Best Practices, and Coaching.  Learn more at https://www.lcicongress.org/2020


The EBFC Show Intro Music: California by MusicbyAden https://soundcloud.com/musicbyaden  

Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/al-california 

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/oZ3vUFdPAjI 



Felipe Engineer  0:00  
What drew me to you as a speaker was you didn't, you never came across as a victim. He came forward right away responsible, you stepped up, and you had to do something extraordinary that many people don't have to do or experience. So, Michelle, thank you for for being brave and courageous and sharing. I really appreciate that. I think that alone is just really good for people to see yet another example of how people being just people are enough.

Michelle  0:34  
Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Felipe Engineer  0:37  
Welcome to the EBFC show, the easier better for construction podcast. I'm your host, Felipe Engineer Manriquez. This show is all about the business of construction. Today's episode is sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute. LCI is working to lead the building industry and transforming its practices and culture. Its vision is to create a healthy and thriving industry that delivers outstanding project outcomes. Every time for everyone join me and many others from the lien design and construction community at their 22nd annual Congress is being held virtually this year, the week of October 19. Our theme is the ABCs of lean transformation through actions, best practices and coaching. Check the show notes for more information. Thank you, LCI. Now to the show. Welcome to the show. Michelle. Nice to see you. Michelle.

Michelle  1:41  
Thank you so much for having me. I'm thrilled to be here with you.

Felipe Engineer  1:45  
Yeah, likewise, please introduce yourself to the audience. So they know a little bit more about who is Michelle.

Michelle  1:51  
Thank you for asking. And again, thanks for having me today. I am Michelle Dickinson. I live in New Jersey, I am a resident of my hometown. And I'm a passionate mental health change agent. That's really what I'm up to in the world. I, about a year ago or so I started my own mental health company after completing 19 years in the pharmaceutical industry, where I held various regulatory roles, medical education roles. And while I was in my fortune 50 company, I gave a TED talk. And then I released my memoir, and both of them were really around my experience growing up and caring for my bipolar mother. So it's very intimately connected to mental illness from a very young age. And I really was surprised by the reaction, it gave me the confidence to write the memoir and talk about mental health. And really, my story was having an impact on how people were understanding mental illness. So gave me the the courage to sort of go and create my company, where I'm really out to cause more compassion in the workplace, have people understand mental health, have them get comfortable with conversations around it. So people don't have to live in fear or embarrassment, or have this stigma prevent them from care?

Felipe Engineer  3:18  
Right on. Now, there is definitely a stigma, especially as you move into different parts of society. It's, there's some, some places we're in some cultures, it's not allowed to be talked about. There's no language for it.

Michelle  3:32  
Exactly. And I think, you know, I want to say the silver lining of COVID is it's forcing many of us to deal with some type of mental health imbalance. And when more people experience it, I'm hopeful there'll be more dialogue and more more common conversation, more normalizing the conversation, you know, I'm not feeling so great. I'm sort of I got the corona blues, or whatever it is, we need to get the permission to talk about it.

Felipe Engineer  4:02  
Yeah. So people, Michelle, let's just give people a link. How can people find you get a hold of you for more information and go deeper?

Michelle  4:10  
Sure. My websites, the best place to reach me to learn more about me and the work I've done. And that's Michelle Lee Dickinson calm.

Felipe Engineer  4:17  
All right. I'll make sure we put that link here. And then we'll also put it in the show notes as well so that people would get quick access to that. Thank you so much for that. I spent quite a few hours on your site as well. And I saw that you've spoken to Ted before. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Michelle  4:33  
Yeah, I was I was nominated. I worked for a company where we had our own platform, a TED platform, and I was nominated by appear to actually give my talk. And it was not something that I had talked about since I was very, very young. And so yeah, I had a coach. I had preparation time and then ultimately landed on the red.so. That was quite an experience. It's like, It's surreal to think about the amount of time that goes into preparation for like a 10 minute delivery. But it was fun.

Felipe Engineer  5:08  
And then I also saw that you do some work with young kids in schools as well. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Michelle  5:15  
I growing up with my mother who was bipolar, it shaped me, it really did. It had, it had an impact on my life. And as I got older, I started putting myself through a lot of self discovery work, I did a lot of landmark education, Tony Robbins work and all in the process of sort of peeling back the onion to understand the impact that childhood had on me, and how I was thinking and my my own belief system and my confidence. And in one of the programs that I did, we created our own project, our own community project, and I created a program for children. That was actually sort of the healing vehicle for myself. It, it was a program that's designed to have kids realize that they're perfect, whole and complete, just as they are, and have them aware of their greatness, which is something I missed as a little girl with my mom being so sick. So yeah, so created a program, got the support of my organization was able to reach over 2000 children in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. And it was really all around building up self esteem, having kids understand what it meant to nourish their body, nourish their mind, and then some leadership skills. So it was tremendous experience. And in one day, when I am so successful, and I have the ability to do it again, I will return to bringing that program for free to schools. That's my that's my vision.

Felipe Engineer  6:44  
Nice. And I'm sure you like so many others have been definitely impacted one way or the other good, bad or ugly. From COVID-19. One of the things that is critical across the United States is that we've we've been lucky in our industry to continue to work nearly uninterrupted with, you know, some changes in protocols, and with a mix of people working from home, socially distancing, and additional cleaning. But it has definitely taken a toll on a lot of people, what are some of the tips and strategies that you can give us to help people coping with COVID-19 changes in the workplace?

Michelle  7:22  
You know, that's such a very important conversation to have, because I think we need to recognize our humaneness. This is not normal, this what we're living through, this is not something that people should just, you know, tough up and bear it. I mean, although it's it's in some cases being asked that they do that. The reality is one in three, one in three since COVID, are either dealing with depression or anxiety. So if you're sitting at a table, one in three of you, there's some type of a mental mental health or emotional health imbalance that you that they've experienced because of COVID, whether it's being quarantined, losing their job, some some type of financial strain, relationship strain, being home with with someone that you're not getting along with, there's a lot of impact that's happening. So I work with companies to help employers empower their people. That's what I'm up to. I mean, my goal is to help culture shift, but the first thing we need to do is have employees stay engaged in their jobs. And how do we do that we empower them. So my resilience program is really around helping people understand what they do have full control over and things they can do day to day to take care of themselves. So for example, to answer your question, one of the tips I give them in my resilience program is what what is your workspace look like? How energized Are you buy your workspace, there's three things you can do. You can change what you look at, you can change what you're smelling, and you can change what you're hearing. If you make those three little adjustments to what you're looking at all day long. Maybe take an infuser and put some essential oil in there and you're then you're you're appealing to all of your senses, you're gonna feel revitalized, and you're going to feel that you're able to focus and you're going to feel good about your space. So that's just one of the many tips that I give people my resilience program because I think the first thing we have to do is remind people the power that they do still have instead of, Oh, well this is being taken from me this. This routine is now gone. I can't go here. We need to redirect them to what they do have full control over.

Felipe Engineer  9:40  
Yeah, I remember one of the early things we did in my house is that we painted this room, and I remember being at the store and there was a like a teenage girl with her mom and they were also buying painting. And the paint department was like the busiest department at the store. And I remember the mom explaining to the hurt that everyone's got free time right now to paint. So everyone's got the same idea to paint and I was like, it is great idea to paint and painting this room has definitely improved my mood, even though the colors blue, it doesn't. There's there's a symbology in the blue color for me. 

Michelle  10:17  
So what a beautiful room, I mean, I want to be there.

Felipe Engineer  10:23  
Thank you so much.

Michelle  10:26  
That's so important. It's so important that the space that you're in, especially if you're home bound is a space that you've been feel good in. And you know, I'm not saying that for you to work like excessive amounts of hours, I'm saying be in, you know, engaged and be energized by your space, it's so important.

Felipe Engineer  10:45  
A lot of the people that work in, especially in the construction phase, when they get out to projects, those the organizations that mobilize people locally, they set up temporary offices. And Michelle, I've been in the business for over two decades, everybody doesn't decorate their office, some people treat it very temporary. They come in with like a little tiny box of stuff. And it's like very minimal, and you can't even get a gauge of you know who they are what they're interested in, this could be a job that they're there for three, four or five years. And then other people like come with boxes and just unpack and make it feel like an extension of home. And I got to tell you, there is definitely a difference in the productivity and satisfaction of those two different types of individuals. We've seen that similar things and workplaces you've been in?

Michelle  11:36  
Oh, absolutely. I mean, I even reflect on my own workspace and how cozy I made it because we spend time if we're going to be spending time in a space, you want it to have all the things that you love, like you said, with your space, like has everything that you love about you know about it in it. So yeah, I mean how, even like, I change some of the images behind my computer that I look at, to pull energy from I mean, it's, you know, it's not always going to be a good day. But if you're surrounded by things that give you energy, that's great.

Felipe Engineer  12:09  
Yeah, that is great. And some days are more exciting than others, that's for sure. What are some of the things that that we can see, like if you're working with a team of people, and you kind of gotten to know each other? What would be a warning sign that, that the COVID isolation is starting to get to somebody.

Michelle  12:27  
You know, different people will mask it in different ways, right? And we all come at this experience we're having with our own past traumas, past experiences, biases around Is it okay to show any kind of weakness, I think the best thing we can all do is just check in with one another, how you doing? How you doing? And even if you give me a good if even if you give me the I'm good and don't want to go there, you've created a rapport with that person where you planted the seed that I care, I'm going to check in on you, I care about you. So I think it's just don't ever underestimate the the strength of checking in and asking people how you're doing. Because in a certain moment, they might actually reach out or react to you and answer you.

Felipe Engineer  13:20  
Right? I remember for me is earlier in my childhood, the phrase, I'm fine. On paper, when you read it, it looks like oh, they're fine. And then you're studying literature a little bit in school, you're not working construction, I do occasionally read some fiction for fun. And that phrase typically is foreshadowing something's wrong. Right, and even in popular movies and culture. So when I'm at work, and you ask somebody, how are you doing today? If they say I'm fine. I always pause, feel compelled to keep talking. and expand. I'm fine is code for? I'm not okay. Typically. Right? It's the strangest phrase.

Michelle  14:04  
It is. It is and you know, and no one wants to be the one to unload. But we do each other disservice if we step over that. Fine.

Felipe Engineer  14:16  
Yeah, let's not step over it.

Michelle  14:18  
Right? You create the space to say, that's what they said. And, and I'm still here, and I'm still here.

Felipe Engineer  14:25  
And I'm still here.

Michelle  14:27  
Yeah, it's great. It's great. Because, you know, I mean, there's too much. If one and three are dealing with something and we still have a problem with the stigma. You know, if we don't do something, we're going to lose people to suicide. That's the reality.

Felipe Engineer  14:42  
Guys. I saw the show you're on the...

Michelle  14:46  
Oh, yes, Gemma and Bella.

Felipe Engineer  14:49  
You're with Gemma and Bella on your show. A lean podcast. This shows how to lead podcast that's what happens when you're on podcast all the time. Michelle.

Michelle  14:58  
I hate to say that. I know. I am but you know what I'm on a mission to, the more audiences I can talk to you about this, the less, there'll be a stigma. So I do do a lot of them, you know.

Felipe Engineer  15:08  
And I remember on that show you gave the stat for, you know what's happening in the world. And it's, I boiled it down to the math, it's about every 40 seconds, somebody makes a choice that they can't undo, or decision, a permanent decision gets made every 40 seconds. And that's a lot of people. It really, really is. And it's preventable, if we just talk about it, if people created a space to engage someone, if they didn't stay in the vortex of their head, you know, Lady Gaga has a quote.

Michelle  15:40  
She's a big advocate, she says, If you feel that you're struggling, grab someone you trust and bring them up in your head with you, it becomes a lot less scary than just being there by yourself. So have the courage to find that one person you trust and take them up into your head with you. 

Felipe Engineer  15:58  
It really is powerful, very powerful, powerful Lady Gaga. She is, yeah, it can be a little intimidating for people, especially if you're not used to having emotional conversations at work, which I think is kind of funny, because we we walk around with quite a few emotions attached to us at any given time.

Michelle  16:19  
When I'm talking to my corporate clients, and I'm saying to them, if you have an employee who's struggling with with a mental illness, and you don't have a culture, that they feel comfortable being 100% themselves, that they have to leave their diagnosis at home, put their game face on and go to work, you're causing unnecessary stress on them. And it's not going to serve anyone, you're not going to get the best out of them. Why not just create a culture where it's okay to talk about anxiety, depression, it's okay to talk about what you did to overcome it. And here's an employee who's been through it, and they're okay. And maybe you can help each other and maybe there's more resources available. Maybe EAP comes and talks about what's available. If you need support for your loved one. Just start talking about it start start having it be a common conversation. Like I got to lose 50 pounds, I gotta lose 20 pounds. You know what I mean? Like, why not? Why are we not doing that with mental health? Like, we're all in this game of life together?

Felipe Engineer  17:24  
Yeah, we can talk about sports dads at nauseum. We can't talk about consecutive days of happiness or consecutive days a challenge, you know, that we're facing ourselves. Why not?

Michelle  17:36  

Felipe Engineer  17:37  
One of the interesting things. Michelle, I want to get your opinion on this. We learned doing some research on collaboration with the construction industry Institute. Over the last two years, I've been lucky to be on a great team of collaborators with some academics, as well as some industry professionals from around planet Earth. And one of the things that emerged in the research was so simple, and yet so strange. And it was this idea that alignment with the owner for understanding the customer was of like a, at a high correlation prediction rate for success of the project. And I remember reading on your site, you talked about some things on purpose and understanding. And I think it'd be great if you can share some ways where people connect, and how can people pull that type of information out of the people they work with? Or the people they're working for?

Michelle  18:32  
Yeah, so when it comes to mental health, so, you know, there's it I have to I have to first address the, the sort of like the, from what you just said, like, when we're connected to one another, things just flow easier when I know you human to human before employee number two and point number three, like, you know, report, you know, like, so I love that, but yeah, I have I'm in for a company that's interested in saying, Okay, I know the prevalence of mental health imbalance because of COVID I really should be doing more for my culture, so people feel accepted and included. Listen, it's not something you can do overnight. You can't just immediately turn a switch. key steps to create and condition your environment. You know, there there are some basic things, have your leader talk, have your leader, talk one of your leaders who has been through something because you know, you don't get to the top without having something happens in your life. Right? Having them lead by example, maybe tell their story of anxiety or their story of a loved one with depression, humanizing a conversation that it affects even the most senior people that people are looking up to can really set the tone for shifting the culture. And then, you know, I'm a fan of peer communities. I'm a fan of creating an employee resource group, an employee resource group to bring people together. Are you affected by mental illness? Do you have a loved one at home that you struggle with, we're not leaving that at the door when you come here. So why not create some type of support mechanism where we are all helping each other, and slowly the culture will start to adjust. And I think, you know, people underestimate the small steps that you could do to create change, you know, a recorded vignette, a panel discussion with a therapist, and maybe someone who, who's survived depression and wants to tell their story, humanize it, little by little take baby steps. And before you know it, your culture will be much more engaging and, and accepting of people of all abilities.

Felipe Engineer  20:41  
It's people working together, like you said, and you've got to make those connections and, and even, you know, awesome that construction research, we were all surprised that it was something so fundamental, like understanding what the client really wants. And then we started looking in the deeper into the literature and our own experiences and having little dialogues ourselves. And it's something that we just took for granted was so obvious when people weren't doing it.

Michelle  21:09  
I think you know, we're so busy in our society that we don't really listen, what we do, what we do do is we hear, and we react, right? Imagine the relationship with a customer when you really step into their world and really just sort of get what they're up to what they care about what they genuinely care about, instead of pushing forward an agenda and trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, right? Like, it seems like common sense. But we all are so focused on the end game that we lose that, you know, rapport building moment to really connect.

Felipe Engineer  21:46  
Yeah, and those connection points don't have to be so formal. No, data can be really informal. But I really liked that. That idea of being able to connect slow down and listen, I mean, we we know from the research that when people really connect, like you said, it really helps a team come together and move forward. You know, someone has this quote, I'm going to totally butcher it. But it says the, the many are smarter than the few or the many can do more than what I can do alone. Something like to those lines, one of my friends is always has cool, like team quotes in his email signatures. And I'm just always thinking, as I read his message, and his messages are usually really good. And it's just good to think about. And let it like understand that we can't all do it by themselves. Like even in the movies. You know, the idea of the single superhero has moved away from us. And now we see teams of heroes coming together to overcome challenges. Yeah, even in popular culture, we recognize it in the work that you do when you're connecting, do you find yourself doing more one on one or more group type of engagements?

Michelle  23:02  
It's actually all over the place. And because you know, when you come from a place, so I'm coming from a place of how do I be the greatest service to the world, which is very different from when I worked in regulatory quality, my former company. So I'm open. So I have a I have a background where I know what it's like to care for someone with a mental illness. So I want to help the caregiver who gets lost and caring for their loved one, because I know what it's like to get lost in that. So I have one on one clients that I coach, but then I also think about how do I affect more people with my message, and that's where I want to work more with more companies. Because if I can help shift the culture, then I can help a group of people feel included, feel connected, feel willing, feel like they're able to get support if they need it. And it's not such a thing. Because Listen, the reality is so many people are suffering in silence and in isolation. And that's where, you know, that's where we need to be careful, because those are the people who, you know, unfortunately land in the statistic of making the the permanent decision that you mentioned earlier. So if I can help a company shift their culture, so more employees are engaged and feeling connected and and don't have to pretend and take on that added stress. Like that's so fulfilling for me. And I'm also working with teachers, because, you know, educators right now are really worried. They're really anxious about returning to this hybrid model. I had a conversation with a key educator this morning who said, You know what, Michelle? All the teachers are also now being watched by parents. Imagine that layer of anxiety. All the parents are watching them homeschool their children, so they're really struggling. So I really am out to also help educators just be more empowered. What can they do to take care of themselves? proactively, so they can deal with the strain and the stress of their new work experience.

Felipe Engineer  25:05  
I had a guest on. One of my first shows Josh, and he mentioned, some IQ points do drop off. Michelle, when you're under a lot of stress. I can't remember the numbers today, I think it was something like 10 or 20 points, if you're under chronic stress drop right off. And I've seen people in meetings after, you know, 14 hour power zoom meetings all day. And they're trying, they're being asked by people to make a decision. I'm like, pause, let's put this decision off till tomorrow, when you got your willpower and full strength, like, there's no reason to bolt somebody over at the end of the day. 

Michelle  25:41  
Yeah, I totally agree. I totally agree, your energy is everything if you if you do what you can to, you know, preserve your energy, take care of your energy, show up the best of your ability. And know when you're depleted, or like in moments like that, okay, not a good idea to be making a critical decision after that level of hours. You know, this is it doesn't have to be like that.

Felipe Engineer  26:06  
No, it doesn't. We are between adults and kids, would you like to work more with?

Michelle  26:13  
I don't know. I mean, I like the curiosity of kids. But I also love the ability to empower people to find peace in their life. So I like the adult piece. But kids, you know, kids, they are full of curiosity and energy. So there's something about that, too. So I like them both.

Felipe Engineer  26:35  
Very cool. What else would you like us to know about brain health that you think the average Joe and Jane don't know on the street.

Michelle  26:45  
Um, there's more people suffering than you will ever know. And so never assume because that person I mean, we could look at famous examples like Robin Williams, or other people that on the surface, they look great, they're, they're happy, they're smiling. They're the ones that are making you laugh. Yeah, they're the ones that probably needs to be checked on. So never underestimate the power of being kind, the power of checking in the power of just creating that space that you mentioned earlier, and just allowing them to, to know that you're there and that someone cares. Not everyone has a loving family at home, don't assume they have a loving, supportive family that's going to check in on them, you might be the only person checking on them. And that could make them feel cared for.

Felipe Engineer  27:37  
So that's actually one of the biases that they say mental biases, that your way of thinking is something you automatically assume others think the same way. And we are just a bag of uniqueness and variation with all the things that happened to us growing up. Right, two people can have the same exact experience and react completely differently because of how they got there.

Michelle  28:02  
Yeah, our complexities make us different. Right? Yeah. And the other thing, too, you know, you say what do people need to know about brain health? I think we all need to do a better job of reflecting on our own biases our own. And I want to say this, like unconscious bias, people would say, Well, how do I know my unconscious bias? Well, just reflect on what is your relationship to mental health, like if you've never had a mental imbalance, or you view it as crazy Aunt Sally, know that that's what you're bringing every day, to your workplace or to your family. And that's how you relate to mental health. Or you relate to it as a school shooting you see in the media, and those are crazy people know, like, check your biases, and do yourself a favor and educate yourself on what is schizophrenia. What is depression, what is bipolar disorder, because that knowledge is going to help you perhaps have a little bit more compassion for someone who you you just might be sitting next to who's struggling?

Felipe Engineer  29:04  
Yeah, no, definitely true. My, my wife and I, when we were in college, we had a friend who was trained to be a social worker. And we were in Chicago. We'd be you know, hanging out with her, and we'd go to dinner with friends. And she'd see some of her clients like as we're walking down the street, and, and I was always nudging her, I'm like, you're so famous, like, everybody knows you. And she wouldn't be like, these are my clients, very respectful. And she'd share stories of how they're just no hope point, what she was trying to do is just make a space so that people can, you know, plug in and be part of society and culture. And I thought I never would have even imagined, you know what that was, I didn't know anyone in that space. I went to school with a bunch of engineers and we were all focused on very nerdy things. But there wasn't any, you know, outside of the electives, any kind of psychology or even teaming or things of that nature, it was all about science and numbers. And construction management were a lot of people on design and architects as well, I think they're in the same boat, unless they get some exposure to the humanities or they've got like a passion for it on the side, it's not something that you're going to be exposed to naturally, like, we just got lucky that we had a good friend that could love what she did and could communicate it to us in a meaningful way that, that we paid attention.

Michelle  30:35  
You know, I have no shame in admitting that I'm still in therapy, I have to say, I feel like people get embarrassed, like, Oh, I go to a therapist, I go to a therapist every month. And you know what, I learned something new about myself every month. And I think there's something to be said about being curious about your own your how your own brain works, and how your own experiences shape who you are as a human being, and how you can become a better version of yourself. So I have no shame in that. Um, I think, you know, one of the biggest things that I am out to do with some of the work that I'm doing is helping men be more comfortable talking about mental health because men do not and, and when you look at the statistics, men are the ones taking their lives more frequently than women. So I have a I have a series that I'm doing, where I'm trying to highlight different conversations about men's mental health so that, you know, it's not so taboo to grab a beer and talk to your friends about like, I'm dealing with anxiety, or I'm dealing with like having a hard time being motivated, because I lost my job, like, make a cool, like for men to connect on a deeper level and not just talk about the game, you know.

Felipe Engineer  31:48  
Right. That that is an interesting I saw on your, on your guest blog, that some people got together and had a beer and then decided to make an employee resources group. And I thought, that is so cool. There's even a part of the job that I do. where it started, the part that I do is this one specific type of training for scheduling and planning. It started with a couple of us just grabbing a beer and talking about what we were frustrated with, in terms of projects being late. I mean, there there can be some power in the liquid courage that gets people to loosen up. right are you know, we say to like some people don't drink, grab your favorite beverage, your favorite latte? Get the get the caffeine to kick in and let your mouth run. Good things happen.

Michelle  32:37  
You never know. You never know. Yeah, that was a Splunk. Actually, Steph Stephanie. Stephanie created an employee resource group and in Splunk, and had a robin williams son helped her to launch it, which was a pretty big deal, because he's a Zach Williams is a very huge advocate for mental health and has his own company and is really on a mission as well. So you never know, I think there's power with employee resource groups to shift cultures, I say it all the time, the people leading that change is powerful.

Felipe Engineer  33:10  
100% fair. We've got a an organization where I work now we've got a little volunteer group of people that are just committed to improving how we work. And when COVID hit, we had like 20 people strong. And then while the pandemic was going on, we we got over 60 people, like the group just grew, the word of mouth just grew, and people were pivoting and adapting. And, and it was, it was actually really good. And it created some camaraderie. But I see some nice connections, you know, people that don't they're not on the same project. You know, they might be in a geographic region together. But otherwise, they wouldn't interact in this way. And there's enough people from the hierarchy of different levels, but they're getting some really good exposure to people with a lot of experience. And I think that, you know, I'm a big believer in empiricism and hands on experiences are priceless. Oh, totally.

Michelle  34:07  
Yeah. Hands on. Absolutely. Couldn't agree more.

Felipe Engineer  34:12  
Yeah. So there's still, you know, a stigma around mental health, especially with men. What's a good break in conversation? That if somebody knows someone that's struggling, like this, think like peer to peer, what would be a good way for them to just ease into a conversation?

Michelle  34:30  
Yeah, so if you're talking specifically about men, you know, I think I think it takes something to go first. So you're sensing someone's not doing so well, like maybe reflecting on a time when you struggled or a moment where you were down, and maybe just sharing that and how and how crappy it was and see if there's a relatedness that shows up oftentimes I have people ask about like, what can women do wives. So say like, you know, your wife or someone want knows that their husband is struggling? What can they do. And even though we want to fix it as women, the best thing you could actually do is not try to fix it not.

Felipe Engineer  35:19  
Try to show as men, we want to fix it, do I know that a government.

Michelle  35:24  
You're going to shut that down? Like, I think I think the best thing women can do is send them off with their guy friends, like go out, go, go, go get a beer with your buddies. Like, I think our role can actually serve men, by encouraging them to be with their friends, encouraging them to connect, not necessarily get drunk, but Connect connection men connecting with other men. And I know a lot of conversations with men are topical, but you'd be surprised just the ability for them to connect with another man can actually make a difference. So if there's a woman out there who wants to do something, just encourage them to be with her to be with their community of support outside of your marriage, you know.

Felipe Engineer  36:07  
That's one of the great if you have a spouse or a partner that can listen to what's going on with you. I had a job early in my career, I've done dozens of construction projects, and one in particular was just extremely frustrating. It's just like the perfect storm of all kinds of things happening. And I remember my wife telling me, she's like, This job is affecting you. Just like when you when you had a really long commute back home. So I used to have to drive for two hours in traffic, which is amazing for your mental health, Michelle, and two hours in bumper to bumper traffic. My wife would she would start off by saying, No, call me when you're on your way home. And then just talk. And she would just out to be like, Hey, are you still there? like she'd be listening so well that she was really almost saying nothing, and just taking it all in and, and Michelle used to get so frustrated that I would actually hit the steering wheel with my fist. I mean, that's how frustrated my level of frustration was like to hear on the job perfectly cool and calm game face on just like you said, when I got in my car, and that's just re talking the stories, but by the time I came home, he was like a release valve. You know, by the time I got home, I was good to flip it around and say how was your day, and then be present and listen, but it didn't start that way. It started with like, you know, chronic stress, like, Not good, not healthy at all. And just got lucky that my wife is an amazing listener. And she would just take it all in. And she and through all that experience. Michelle, I learned something cool. A little question to ask. At the end of all that is what are you going to do? Rather than you should do this? You shouldn't have done that. You should? Or should? or shouldn't there are no sureness, no judgment. And what are you going to do next? And sometimes I was like, I don't know. And it would she would push it.

Good. And I think that's Yeah, and I'll share that, the details of that with anybody that wants to connect with me on LinkedIn. Like I have no problem talking about the ugly parts of experience. Because I think those are just as powerful shapers to how we are today. Like you said, you know, the bad things that happened when you were younger, those traumas made you a stronger person today, they can connect with other people and be helpful.

Michelle  38:37  
Yes, yeah. But teaches us something and shapes us in some way. I always believe that life is happening for us, not to us. And I think even in those darker moments of my life, those moments or moments that have shaped me to be able to better serve now, which is cool, right?

Felipe Engineer  38:58  
Yeah, you took personal responsibility. That's one of the things I loved about the things that I've heard you saying and what you got to have your your experiences and, and be on your adventure. I was I tell people, I mentor a few people and I say you're the hero of your own movie. How do you want to play it?

Michelle  39:15  
Yeah. I love that.

Felipe Engineer  39:17  
You can steal that. Love it. I stole it from somebody else who talked about it in a book. Shout out to Joseph Campbell. And he was amazing thinker. So, no, I'm really glad you're out there doing that work and we need it. We don't learn these skills. They're not right. I know that just born and then you know how to do these awesome connections. You got to learn it. And sometimes you need some, some really challenging experiences. And I want to say to everybody who's out there that struggling. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I struggle. Michelle has struggled. I don't know any leader in an organization to De, that hasn't struggled immensely, to get where they are, and to survive and thrive. So if you're down, you know, just getting started on your career, or you're halfway through, or you're looking towards the end, and heaven forbid, you're going to retire. I don't know why you would I love my job. I love what I do. But you have nothing to be ashamed of, at all, is part of the human experience.

Michelle  40:29  
So true. Well said.

Felipe Engineer  40:33  
Well, cool. Michelle, thank you so much for coming on, and shining a brighter light on mental health, and giving some people some inspiration and courage and definitely ways to connect with you, and get back in touch with you. I think that we have a lot of work to do. And I'm glad you're doing the work.

Michelle  40:50  
Thank you. Thank you for having me and for wanting to talk about this.

Felipe Engineer  40:54  
Yeah, anytime. If you get bored and you need to talk to somebody about frustrations, and steering wheel pound pressure hitting events. All you give me a call and I'll unload on you.

Michelle  41:07  
Amazing. Thank you.

Felipe Engineer  41:10  
Thank you, Michelle.

Michelle  41:11  
All right.

Felipe Engineer  41:18  
Very special thanks to my guest. I'm Felipe Engineer Manriquez. The EBFC show is created by Felipe and produced by passion to build easier and better. Thanks for listening. Stay safe, everybody. Let's go build!