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Become the CEO of your Well-Being with Naz Beheshti

Aug 26, 2022

I had the honour of sitting down and chatting to Naz Beheshti in this episode.

Naz Beheshti is the author of Pause. Breathe. Choose: Become the CEO of Your Well-Being. She is an executive wellness coach, speaker, Forbes contributor, and CEO and founder of Prananaz, a company that provides corporate wellness solutions for improving employee engagement and well-being, company culture, and business outcomes. 


Naz Beheshti’s first job was as Steve Jobs’s executive assistant at Apple and he quickly became her first and most influential mentor. Not only did he teach her to how to live and lead in alignment with her head and heart, he also taught her, through his words and example, that well-being is the ultimate wealth.


Pause. Breath. Choose: Become the CEO of Your Well-Being, is an outgrowth of more than twenty years of Naz’s work experience at Fortune 500 companies, her first-hand experience learning from luminaries ranging from Steve Jobs to the Dalai Lama, and the consulting and coaching work she has done with international business leaders, entrepreneurs, startups, universities, and major global organizations. 


 “Now more than ever, when stress and burnout are ubiquitous, we must access our authentic Self by closing the gap between leading with our head and our heart,” writes Naz. “When we integrate every aspect of our life and fuel that ecosystem as a whole, we can both be well and do well.”

My top take aways from this interview were:

  • What are the red-flags that burnout is just around the corner for you? Hard time sleeping at night. Racing thoughts. You're too busy. Slightly irritable from time to time. Experiencing anxious feelings and thoughts. Not eating so well. Take on Naz's mantra of Pause. Breathe. Choose.
  • Well-being drives success. When you are unwell you will respond to others in a negative and disempowered state. You will lack patience and empathy.
  • Your well-being is the platform of your success. Don't short-change it!
  • What can you do today to improve your well-being? Take a walk in nature. Book in for that yoga class. Drink that glass of water. Take a five minute break to breathe.
  • Choose better. Fell better. Do better.

Full Transcription

SPEAKERS 

James Laughlin, Naz Beheshti 

 

James Laughlin 00:00 

Welcome to lead on purpose. I'm James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician, and now an executive coach to global leaders and high performers. In every episode, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you lead your life and business on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show. 

 

James Laughlin 

Would you like to connect personally with some of my podcast guests? They are arguably some of the most influential leaders and high performers on the planet. Each month, members of HPC, my high performer's club, get to connect with a leadership titan in an intimate question and answer. They also get access to powerful high-performance leadership coaching, and monthly masterminds. There are only 20 members at any given time, would you like to come and join us? You can apply by emailing [email protected] That's Caroline, C A R O L I N [email protected] And put in the subject line HPC Apply. Caroline will get back to you with the application process. Just remember, everything rises and falls on leadership. 

 

James Laughlin 01:20 

Right after graduating college with a psychology degree, Naz was given the opportunity of a lifetime. She had to think about it but in the end, she said yes to being the EA for Steve Jobs. For those of you who don't know Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs was the CEO and founder of Apple. Naz had an incredible experience working with and for Steve and understood the importance of wellbeing. She's the recent author of Pause Breathe Choose: Become the CEO of Your Well-Being. So, a huge welcome to Naz Beheshti. 

 

James Laughlin 02:13 

Naz, a massive welcome to The Lead on Purpose Podcast. 

 

Naz Beheshti 02:18 

Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here today. 

 

James Laughlin 02:21 

I'm so excited for the listener to get to hear your story and get to hear what you do because so many of our listeners are leaders of different sorts. And they've got the challenges that come with being a leader. And often one of the greatest challenges is managing wellbeing. So, I'd love to rewind the clock before we jump into some of your incredible insights and solutions. So, you were the EA for the one and only Steve Jobs. Please tell me a little bit about that experience and how that even came about? 

 

Naz Beheshti 02:53 

Well, it was my first job out of college, I had just graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz. And I happen to accidentally find myself alongside Steve Jobs. He hired me on the spot, I was tempted to say no, only because that was not what I had planned to do. After college, when my psychology degree I was going to be trying to go do something else back in San Francisco in the city. And I ended up my you know, because of my parents and friends everyone said, you will be crazy to say no to him. So, I said I would do it just as a temporary, you know, for experience temporary experience. And I ended up saying yes. And it really changed the course of my life and my path. And so, I'm so grateful and happy that I did say yes to something that I was about to say no to. I was young, you know, a bit naive and you know, 21 years old right out of college, my first corporate job, and being his EA amongst all the other older EA's who that was their career, you know, they had been EA's for 2030 years and I had zero job experience. Except for working when I was very young at my mom's clothing store. She owned a Benetton and I used to fold clothes when I was like in my early teens. So, it was a very intense experience, to say the least as my first job and in a corporate setting to be his assistant. As we all know, he's an iconic visionary. He's super intense. And so, my experience with him was I could say highly influential and inspiring to say the least and it really did change my life. 

 

James Laughlin 04:46 

I can imagine! And for the listener that's going on, I've been thinking about getting an EA and I really need one and I'm busy. I'm swamped with this and that and everything. What were the key things that you really helped Steve with? 

 

Naz Beheshti 04:59 

Well, it was really just maintaining his healthy lifestyle and work schedule, keeping him on track and making sure he stuck to what he was prioritizing for the day, keeping, you know, in charge of his calendar, his meetings, and making sure he had like, for example, his regular fitness instructor several times a day, he meditated daily, he made, you know, made sure he had time for all those things, made time for his family had strong relationships. These are all like parts of him that not everybody gets to see. And think that he's just a workaholic. But because I worked so closely with him in his office, I had a firsthand view of what it was like to run a very successful company, be passionate about what you do, but also prioritize your well-being and he really my biggest takeaway, and you know, what helped lead me to create my own company was seeing what a holistic approach he took to life. He wasn't just solely focused on Apple or work without all those other areas that I helped like creating space for in his calendar and prioritizing his well-being he wouldn't be able to do all the things and have the energy and creativity to innovate and work alongside Jony Ive and create all those amazing, you know, products and have the vision to build Apple as the brand as it is today. 

 

James Laughlin 06:39 

In terms of communicating with a powerful visionary, someone who's very decisive, and very direct, what skill set does a good EA have to have to be able to communicate and cut through and have influence with that level of leader. So, what kind of skills does a great EA have to have to influence a leader that's a visionary, that a real powerful thinker? 

 

Naz Beheshti 07:17 

Skills. Well, as I said, it was my first job out of college, but I think it's more character and confidence. And I think that is actually why I got the job because I treated him just like any other person, I was just myself. And sometimes when you really want something or you know, want to impress you, the nerves get the best of you, I wasn't nervous at all, in that interview, and I wasn't nervous at all, in any of the days or encounters I had with him. And so, because of that, he felt more respect and just comfort with me. And there was more of an authentic, you know, the connection between us, and he could have hired anyone, and he could have and should have probably hired someone who had way more experience than I did. And so, I think, you know, growing up, my parents always instilled the idea of just be yourself, you know, they always like trusted me and my judgment and always their advice to me, it was just yourself, because, you know, I had good judgment. And I did that in my interview, and I did that when I worked for him. So, when you're trying too hard to be someone else, or do something and you know, impress, it doesn't come off as authentic. And often the nerves get the best of you. 

 

James Laughlin 08:35 

Good advice for somebody listening there that's about to hire an EA or you're an EA, but to apply for a job, be confident. I love it. Look for that confidence. That's so cool. So, workplace wellbeing I mean, I would say 20 years ago, we didn't talk about that. It wasn't something certainly my parents acknowledged ever. And what's interesting is that anxiety, depression, suicide, those things are all going up. Yeah. And so, the conversation is more important than ever. We look at corporate so good example, Arianna Huffington, woke up in a pool of her own blood because she was overwhelmed and burned out, she was asleep fell asleep at the desk hit her cheekbone, broke her cheekbone, and woke up. That was a wake-up call for her to start to thrive globally. So, for you what was your inspiration behind the movement that you're creating in the book that you've written? 

 

Naz Beheshti 09:27 

Well working starting at Apple working you know, at Apple with Steve and not having been young, I had the energy to thrive and work hard and handle stress. However, that's not sustainable energy alone, in the beginning, is just it not sustainable if you don't take care of yourself. And I found like you said, back in the day, these are decades ago, a couple of decades ago, corporate wellness was not at all common or even like heard of, and so there weren't the tools or strategies or support in that environment to help people who were stressed or on the verge of burnout. And so, I kept going from one job to the next from Apple, I went to a tech startup. And then I got into a sales position at Yahoo, which was the Google of its time and I excelled there. But you know, is exciting and fun. But then again, like on the verge of burnout, and no stress management workshops, no coaching offered, no yoga offer, no, you know, like, nothing to help at that time. Employees who needed help and support managing stress or even building resilience. And so, I wanted to start a company to help people that were, like me, stressed out after I learned how to manage my stress through yoga, meditation, and a holistic approach to well-being like what Steve did, I took like Steve, as my role model, he was my first boss, and he was my mentor, and he highly influenced me and my daily habits. It wasn't immediate, because I was only 21. As I said, young and naive, and it took me a while to pick that all up, it took me a while to connect the dots and realize, like, wow, there is a wellness gap in our society, in corporate America, in the workplace everywhere. And I need to help close that gap, I need to fill that gap. And I'm going to take everything, all my passions, everything, I've learned everything that's helped me everything that helps Steve and I saw as a role model firsthand, as he led by example, and create my own method that has worked for me and start my own company. Of course, I went back to school for more training, just putting all my experience together. And then one pivotal experience I did have that really was like the last experience that just like basically, I got home, I went to India for six weeks on my own to an ashram and had like a life-changing experience. And the day I got back, I quit my last corporate job, I was working in pharmaceutical sales at AstraZeneca. And I quit my job and started my own company. And in tandem, I was going back to school, but I was planning to graduate from my program before quitting. But I went on this on this trip, and I just couldn't live another day doing something that was not on purpose and was not my passion. And so, I quit. And I started a bit earlier. And I started with one-on-one coaching and then the leaders, I coach executives and senior leaders, and then they want me to come in and do talks and workshops on stress management, mindfulness for their team. And then their team wanted me to come in and then became like a bit like, you know, employee wellness, talks, workshops, and then programs. And then I started implementing creating and implementing actual employee wellbeing programs. So, it started with one-on-one coaching and expanded. 

 

James Laughlin 13:03 

That's incredible. I love it. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, what was interesting with AstraZeneca, so pharmaceutical sales. So, I see that as often someone's got a condition, and then they take the medication to help them with it. But now, what I see what you're doing now, you're in the prevention stage, like what you're doing, I was like, let's deal with it before it becomes the issue, right? 

 

Naz Beheshti 13:23 

Absolutely. And it's funny because as a pharmaceutical sales rep, I used to go and have meetings with doctors and take them lunch and have conversations and I slowly start realizing that I wasn't actually talking about the drug that I was supposed to be selling, but actually about prevention and holistic approaches. And that's why they liked me so much because I wasn't trying to sell something to them. You know, it's like we're just having authentic genuine conversations about their thoughts on you know, preventative medicine or holistic approaches to it, functional medicine. And it was just so interesting. And that actually not knowing at the time also was part of leading me and like connecting those dots and hindsight led me to o realize how impactful and meaningful it is to do it a different approach both to go through wellbeing and health and wellness, through preventative measures and through healthy lifestyle habits. 

 

James Laughlin 14:21 

I love that. And often we can be in denial. We're humans, right? Sometimes we don't want to admit things. So, for the person that's listening, going, I don't think I'm burnt out I don't think I'm stressed. I don't think I'm unbalanced in my well-being. What are the things that people should be looking for the red flags start to pop up? That would suggest that perhaps you are on the road to burning out you are on the road to depleting your well-being what are those things that you could see as telltale signs? 

 

Naz Beheshti 14:48 

Well for one you know a lot of my clients come to me saying they have a hard time sleeping that they have racing thoughts every night and or they have like anxiety, and they don't know how to get rid of it and even they won't admit they're on the verge of burnout or burnt out. But just like, oh, I'm just anxious or I feel really stressed, I feel overwhelmed. This can appear in the form of not sleeping, not eating well, having seen relationships start slipping away, because you're getting either you don't have time for them, or you're getting more irritable, or like, aggressive and just feeling not like yourself. And also, just like, it could appear in the physical form of, you know, feeling ill or under the weather or, you know, aches and pains that it can, mentally, emotionally, physically, it all can show up in different ways, depending on the person. And sometimes it's a combination of all of those. But overall, when you can't like to sit quietly or be in peace or sleep well, or just feel good and feel energized. A typical question is, when was the last time you felt good? Or do you feel energized? Or that you slept? Well? When was the last time and if it's typically a long time ago? Or they can't they're like, good question. I can't remember. Well, that's, that's a good sign right there. 

 

James Laughlin 16:08 

100%. And often, when we experienced these red flags cropping up, it's easier to self-medicate through food, alcohol, smoking, or other substances. So how can we break that pattern? Because many, we know many top leaders that love a glass of wine or two, every single day of the week? How can we break that pattern so that they can then take more control of their well-being in a more holistic way? 

 

Naz Beheshti 16:36 

That's an excellent question. And that is sometimes extremely difficult to do if you are not willing, and able to do it, like if you, I can't, as a coach, force anyone to change or break a habit unless they are willing to do it, right? Willing and able to do it. So, when people come to me, for example, if someone comes to me like a CEO of a company and says, my so and so needs coaching, the first question I ask is because they have these bad habits, or they're underperforming or whatever, the first question I ask is, do they think they need coaching? Or do they want help? And if they say no, then I'm sorry, like I'm not we're going to be wasting each other's time here. So, for them to break a habit or that vicious cycle is that they need to want to do it. And so, something either they have to either hit rock bottom, they have to get sick and tired of being sick and tired or just like want to change. Once they want to change what I do is start very small, not say, okay, we're going to turn your whole life upside down, we're going to, you know, create all these new habits. No, the way a new habit sticks are by starting really small and attaching it to an existing habit that you do every day, right? So you know, behavioral scientists have cracked the code on you know, BJ Fogg, tiny habits, bestselling author of tiny habits, you know, he has a formula of like, you know, I'm going to XYZ, whatever the habit is that you want to start, after I whatever it is, you do every day, like I brush my teeth, so I have my own RPM, rise, pee, meditate, I rise every day, I have to pee. And then afterward, I meditate, but I don't do that, that my day gets, you know, started on the wrong foot, or I tried to squeeze it in another time. But a lot of my clients don't want to meditate. Okay, well, let's pick a certain time. And let's do it always at that time because if you say I'll try it sometime in the day, it's most likely not going to happen. And I'm not going to ask them to meditate when they've never meditated before and just want to get started. I'm not going to say meditate for 10 or 20 minutes. I'm going to say one minute, two minutes, let's work our way up. Because that's doable, right? And it's you don't need intrinsic motivation. When it's something so small like that. right? You are just a minute. 

 

James Laughlin 18:57 

Yeah, I love that. And I love that. That from BJ Fogg after I and it could be brushed my teeth. I will do 100 pushups whatever it is, but your existing trigger and then insert new behavior that's a really easy and powerful way to build that trigger loop. 

 

Naz Beheshti 19:12 

Right, but never 100 Pushups. So, it'd be like five because hundreds is a lot, right? Actually, that was one of his habits after I brush or not, after I flushed the toilet if I remember correctly. I will do I think it's like five I'm guessing but it was a small number of pushups by right you know, you go to the bathroom several times a day and so you flush the toilet, you end up doing several more pushups. Once you're down there, it's like a bonus. Okay, I said I'm going to do five but I'm already here. I'll do six or seven, so people end up doing more. The hardest part is to do it and then everything else is like gravy on the top. 

 

James Laughlin 19:45 

I love it. For the person that's listening right now going oooh. You know what? I'm not really happy with my health. I look at myself in the mirror I can see I'm not healthy. I feel unhealthy. I don't sleep well. I do self-medicate. My relationships are probably not as great as they could be. If they say, you know what I want to be the CEO of my wellbeing, where do they start? How can we get them started? 

 

Naz Beheshti 20:07 

I would say get my book because Pause Breathe Choose: Become the CEO of Your Well-Being, I have over 80 proven strategies in there. And so, I have a lot not to be overwhelming, but everyone's different. So, there isn't one magic answer or approach to answering your question, because you have lots of different readers, I mean, not readers, listeners, you have many different types of listeners. And so, one approach or habit method strategy is not going to work for everyone. So, I would say, either, you know, get the book or choose something that you know, that has worked for you in the past that makes you feel good, whatever that is, is it meditation? Is it exercise? Is it starting to eat more healthfully? And light organic foods? Like what is that one thing, just starts with one, and then do that, and then see how good you feel. Once you get a taste of how good you feel, you're going to naturally the ripple effects take place, and you're going to naturally want to add more and extend those habits into better, healthier habits. And then before you know it, your life has been greatly impacted. And you'll just naturally want to feel good. So, ask yourself, how bad do you want to feel good? How bad do you want to feel good? And then just do the things that make you feel good, and start implementing taking action but small action, because small action creates sustainable change, not big action. 

 

James Laughlin 21:41 

It's so great to hear because so many thought leaders are like massive action is required to take massive action. And actually, not everybody wants to need to or can take massive action. And it's a big deterrent. It's friction. So, I love that you're like, hey, take micro-actions like let's start small. 

 

Naz Beheshti 21:58 

Yes, first, for habits for sustainable change. You want to start small, but like taking massive action to like to disrupt an industry or do something like in the workplace, I could see that. But when it comes to lifestyle habits, massive action could be awesome in the beginning. But then how sustainable is that? How long have you taken that massive action, like because you have so many other things going on in your life, like your career, family, whatever it is, that that massive action can be too massive to actually work long term? 

 

James Laughlin 22:32 

Yeah, that makes sense. And pause, breathe, choose. So, talk me through what that means to you. 

 

Naz Beheshti 22:40 

Well, a pause is just a moment to be able to, I mean, first, you have to be it all stems from mindfulness, like you need to be mindful in order to take a pause from a situation whether it's like mind wandering, ruminating, something that is creating anxiety or stress. So, catching yourself in that moment, and realizing you're not present. So, pausing at that moment. And then taking a conscious breath, you know, just breathing like if we just do it together, like pause and just take a deep inhale, like inhale. Exhale it all out. Like, it just feels so good, right? It's a moment to yourself to reset to ground yourself. Take a breath, take another breath. You know, conscious breathing is mindful breathing, is a way to set you up to choose better. So, when you pause, and you breathe, you can choose more wisely, you could choose to self-direct, and self-correct. Choose better to choose to be happier, healthier, whatever the choice is in that moment. So, to me, that is my mantra, pause, breathe, choose, that is the way you can make better choices. And life is all about the choices you make. And that just sets you up to make good choices. 

 

James Laughlin 24:11 

I love that. And to me, I hear that when you do that it can heighten your awareness. And so, then you make can make better choices. And in the end, you get better results, right? 

 

Naz Beheshti 24:20 

Absolutely. Absolutely. And that even impacts from the small choices. I read somewhere you make about we make about 35,000 choices decisions a day, right? That's can sound very overwhelming. Are we mindful of all those No, like we can't be it's like so many, right? But if we start to be a little bit more mindful of the choices that we're making of those 35,000 the ripple effects travel far and wide in all areas of our life because it's so important, the choices that we make and if we could just choose better when you're not feeling so great. Just choose better you'll feel better, and you will do better. 

 

James Laughlin 25:05 

I love that. And I've been hearing you talk about mindfulness and meditation and some type of practice for several years; I love to meditate. And often when I talk about it with a client or with a friend, there's pushback with meditation is like, no, I can't do that. It's weird. I don't know how to do it. So obviously, it's a very important part of well-being and self-awareness, where can someone start, in your opinion was a great place to start just to do that one minute of mindfulness or meditation. 

 

Naz Beheshti 25:34 

I mean, there are great apps out there like headspace and calm. I know some of my clients like those, but I don't personally use them, because I have my own TM, transcendental meditation practice. But apps are a good place to start. If not, I just say sit quietly for one minute and focus on your breath. That's as easy as it can be, you know, you could do it anywhere, anytime, of course, except when you're driving, or handling, you know, machinery or swim, it's not safe, you don't do it. But that's a tool you have all the time with you and your breath. And your mindfulness moment, like it's a micro mindful check-in. And when you focus on your breath, I actually at the beginning of every coaching session, well, like 95% of the sessions I run, I start this way, and the other 5% are for people who aren't into meditation, or maybe just don't want to do it. I start with a two-minute guided meditation. And part of that guided meditation has a visualization of a balloon, which can help people visualize a balloon in the sky when you have any thoughts or sounds that may disrupt the pattern of their breath because your focus is on your breath. So, you're sitting there focusing on your breath, but of course, we're all human. We have thoughts in our minds, like, what am I going to have for lunch? What's you know, what's so and so doing? What's What about my next meeting? Am I prepared for that presentation, those are going to come and go, you know, and that's okay. Just think of the balloon, put, be aware of the thought put it in the balloon, and watch it float away. And then come back to your breath. Another thought comes in, put it in the balloon, watch it float away, come back to your breath. And just keep doing that even if the sound there's like construction outside or you could hear you know, your colleagues speaking or whoever, just acknowledge it. But in the balloon, come back. So balloon digitalization is also very helpful. 

 

James Laughlin 27:37 

That's amazing. And for the listeners listening right now, that's never tried anything like that. Could we do that right now? Do you want to treat me as the client for two minutes and take me through that so that they can as long as the person listening, right, does not be driving? If you're running, this won't work. Please be sitting stationary. Yes. So, I could be the client from an experience where that might be like, everyone else wants to join us. That'd be awesome. 

 

Naz Beheshti 27:59 

Absolutely. I love this is like a treat for me. At the beginning of all my sessions, I get so excited because I love doing it. It's just as helpful for them as it is for me, so awesome. Let's sit in a comfortable seated position. So, legs or uncrossed feet are planted on the earth. Gently close your eyes. Your palms are resting on your lap, facing upwards. Let's roll our shoulders up to our ears back and down, lifting your chest up. Let's do a couple of neck rolls rolling your neck in one direction. Slowly and gently release any tension that you may be carrying with you and reverse the direction coming back to a full circle back to a neutral spine. Your chin is parallel to the earth. Let's take a deep inhale together. Inhale. Exhale it all out. To more like this. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Continue breathing here at your own pace with your awareness of your breath. Whenever you have any thoughts or sounds that may disrupt the pattern of the breath, that's okay. Just imagine a balloon in the sky, putting those thoughts, putting those sounds into a balloon, and just allowing them to float away. So, you're going to acknowledge them, let them go, and return to your breath. We'll be here for just about a minute together, sitting still, with our awareness on our breath. 

 

Naz Beheshti 31:11 

When you're ready, slowly begin to bring your awareness back into the room. Wiggle your toes and your fingers. And whenever you're ready slowly and gently begin to open your eyes. 

 

James Laughlin 31:36 

I feel so different energetically, and emotionally than I did three or four minutes ago. 

 

Naz Beheshti 31:42 

Awesome. I love that. 

 

James Laughlin 31:43 

That was great. Just such a biochemical change. In such a short time, I could see how that can make such a difference. If a leader was doing that once a day, or even a few times throughout the day, that's so powerful. 

 

Naz Beheshti 31:58 

Yeah, and even just starting our sessions, you know, they are usually running from another meeting and back-to-back meetings, you don't know where they came from, it's just a great way to reset, you know, get focused and grounded. And I even suggested for people who are giving big presentations, get nervous or like going into a big meeting. Just a great way to reset at any point or if you're feeling tired or stressed like any emotion just it's a reset, it's a very easy tool that you have everywhere you go that enables you to reset, recenter, get grounded, and become more at peace to an energized at the same time. 

 

James Laughlin 32:41 

I love it. And I really, I really hope that everyone will grab a copy of the books, if you're listening, I know you're probably listening on your phone, I'm going to put the show notes in the links of grab, grab a copy of the book. And I'll make sure to put that in all the show notes across all the different platforms now. Thank you. No, it's amazing. So for the leader that's listening that are going, wellbeing I'm almost not going to cost me you know, what am I going to have to invest in that for my company? Let's just answer this for them. What's it going to cost them, if they don't invest in their staff well being? 

 

Naz Beheshti 33:16 

It could potentially cost them their business to be honest, because when your employees are not functioning and performing at the top of their game, and they're not happy and healthy, they're not doing their best, like they're going to either they're going to jeopardize whatever their role is there that they're supposed to be doing what they were hired for, because they can't perform and or they're going to leave and then you're going to have to start all over and fill, fill that headcount and find someone else right. So, it's only in the best interest of the employer, to the leaders to treat their employees as they would want to treat themselves or their own family because your employees are the energy, the prana of the company, they are the life force without them and without them feeling their best, they are unable to do their best. So, I always say in order to do well, you must be well, and the biggest, biggest lesson in a nutshell that I learned from Steve Jobs and starting my own company is that wellbeing drives the success period, like wellbeing drive success. It's three words and the most powerful words that sum up everything. So, it could cost them the success of the company, essentially. 

 

James Laughlin 34:35 

That's huge. And so, it's not worth the risk of not investing in wellbeing. For the leader that's going you know, yep, there's a budget. I've got a budget this year for wellbeing, but they're the leader who sends out the 4 am email. They're the leader that is in the office first and then leaves at 10 pm. They're the leader that gets grumpy when they're irritable. They're the leader that skips lunch. What's the point of investing in well-being if we don't actually walk the walk, is there a correlation between successful well-being culture and the leader embodying it? 

 

Naz Beheshti 35:07 

Absolutely. And I'm so glad you brought that up, James, because I always say that it always starts at the top, you have to must, must lead by example. So, I work with a lot of CEOs. And I actually asked them, I like the example that you gave of sending an email at 4 am. I said, Listen, you cannot be sending emails at 4 am, or even like 8 or 9 pm, like you, if you are sending and needing to work outside of working hours. That's, that's not great. But sometimes we all have to, but at least automate it so that you can plan for it to be sent the next morning at 8 am. Not at 4 or whenever, you know, when you're sending it. And they, they always say, oh, well, I didn't even really think about that. Or why does it matter? It really does matter. Because not all employees have strong boundaries or confidence to be able to, like stand up for themselves and be like, well, I was busy, I couldn't respond or like that was after hours, they may feel the need to because it's their boss to respond immediately. And then that creates that ripple effect of like a toxic work culture that you're working around the clock. And so that's a good example of like, creating boundaries and healthy boundaries, right. So, you must, you must lead by example. And even taking further when I implement employee wellness programs a lot when I first started my business 10 years ago, everything came from HR, it was like HR's responsibility for employee wellbeing. Now I'm like, no, this notice that we're implementing this workplace wellness program needs to come from the CEO or like sea level, not HR, this is not an HR department issue it should not be silent. This is a leadership contribution, a leadership investment, not HR. And so when it comes from the CEO, or you know, sea level, the communication of the employee wellbeing program, it's there's so much more meaning and impact because then people like perk up, I mean when you're I remember when I worked, you know, at Apple or wherever, Yahoo, AstraZeneca, when I saw an email from the CEO, which was not often at all, you read that email, when you see an email from HR, you may not read that email, sorry HR. Like, you get a lot more communication from HR, and it may get buried and may unintentionally be not read, right? But you're going to read what the CEO is saying. And if the CEO participates in the programs, I have CEOs sitting in on my workshops, and that really attracts more employees, because then it shows that, oh, the CEOs attending? that means I can tune I'm not going to look like I'm slacking off, because I'm attending this stress management workshop, for example. So, it's really impactful for the CEO to be and all of the senior leadership to be all leadership, everyone to be involved. 

 

James Laughlin 38:05 

I agree, I wholeheartedly agree. And so, for the CEO that goes, hey, I'm a data person, I need statistics. So, whether it's through neuroscience, epigenetics or any kind of data science was one of the most damning facts that you could share with a CEO who's gone, I'm not going to engage in this investment in wellbeing unless I know this stuff that backs it up here that shows me, I'm going to get healthier staff, better productivity, more engagement. Is there anything that's quite enlightening? 

 

Naz Beheshti 38:36 

There was a Harvard, there was a study that from Harvard Business School that from business leaders that showed I believe it was like in the 90 percentiles, people being leaders being stressed out and like extremely stressed. And so, what does stress do like stress is like the epitome, the core of, you know, feeling poor, doing poorly underperforming, not being productive, being unhappy, like stress is linked, connected to so many so much disease out there, right and death. And so, it only would help them to realize how prevalent stresses and how prevalent burnout is, and I think that they do know, because a lot of them themselves are experiencing it, right? So, I feel like you know, these types of statistics before I would need to share more statistics or studies which there aren't that many that exist, honestly, especially back then. Now, though, people are experiencing it for themselves. So, they know and they're losing top talent as a result of it. I mean, I can't tell you how many people I work with that have like transition. They're like, I'm not going to work here at senior leaders. I can't work here anymore because the culture is toxic. And so, when people start when the turnover increases, and there's high turnover, they start realizing we need to do something different, right. And in the exit interviews, they learn that it's toxic work culture, working too long hours, not feeling supported, not having psychological safety, you know, not having kind colleagues or supportive bosses, managers. So, all of that gets back to them. Now, I also have worked with people who the CEOs or startup founders don't care about. They're like, whatever that was them. But then another exit interview says reveals the same thing. And it keeps revealing. So that's up to them to take action. And if they're not going to take action, they're going to lose people to their competitors. I mean, it's just plain and simple. So, the people who know the value of employees while taking care of themselves, and self-care are the companies and the people who have a competitive edge. It's plain and simple. And I'm not even a corporate wellness consultant and an executive coach. I'm not here to try to convince anyone of that. And in this day and age, if you don't know it, I'm so sorry for you. Like I am so serious, I'm sorry that you haven't woken up, like wake up, open your eyes like, look around you. That's kind of how I feel about it. 

 

James Laughlin 41:22 

Yeah, no, absolutely. It's interesting, I had a high performers leadership event last week, there was a pre-event form everyone filled in. And the question was, What's your greatest stressor in life? And 70 to 75% of them were working. 

 

Naz Beheshti 41:41 

Their work and their boss. 

 

James Laughlin 41:43 

Most of them were CEOs. And they were running, running, or they were business owners or some description. But yet, people-related issues, productivity, engagement, and fulfillment at work, but all work-related 70-75%. And so that spoke volumes.  

 

Naz Beheshti 42:03 

Yeah. And what was their reaction, though, like to see everyone else feeling the same thing? Right? It's great to get lots of people, lots of CEOs and founders in the room to know that they're not the only ones, right? Sometimes, I also coach a lot of CEOs and startup founders. And they, it's very lonely at the top right, they think they're the only ones feeling this way because they don't have that support of other CEO friends or, you know, colleagues because they're the CEO or founder. So, it's nice that if you're doing these roundtables or these events with others, they realize that they aren't alone, and they can lean in and support each other too, hopefully. 

 

James Laughlin 42:42 

100%. Yeah, I 100% think there was a sense of relief in the room, and everyone can see that they had similar challenges. And yeah, they're lonely at the top thing. It's so interesting, I would say, probably at least 50% of people that I'm chatting to before we start working together will say, it's lonely at the top. And I come back to him, I said, well if you're leading, it should never be lonely. Because if you're leading, you have followers. So, if you're lonely, get off the top, get done amongst your people, and get involved. 

 

Naz Beheshti 43:11 

Absolutely. I love that. Yeah, that's so true. That is so true. Yeah, that's that kind of also reminds me of like, when I was working for Steve I, I felt lonely just as EA because I felt like I couldn't connect with other people in the company at Apple, like even just going to the cafe at the Apple cafeteria to get food I was so busy, I would be the one bringing it back to my desk and eating. And I felt isolated, but it was also because there was like kind of separation of like, from the executive level to everyone else. Like physically, we are on a different level and separated from everyone else. So, there was a big feeling of disconnect. And I really don't like feeling disconnected, like socially, physically, all of that. So that's similar to like, you know, CEOs feeling lonely, not connected. 

 

James Laughlin 44:06 

Definitely 100%. Well, I just want to say I love what you're doing. Your work is so powerful and so important. For the listener that's listening right now grab the book, and why don't you grab a second copy and give it to someone you love who is also experiencing the challenges of life and work. And one last question for you though, before we do wrap up. I know you've recently become a mum. So, congratulations. 

 

Naz Beheshti 44:28 

Thank you. 

 

James Laughlin 44:29 

If we fast forward 80 years way into the future, we're going to live a lot longer now. Because of all the health care we've gotten that we live after ourselves. So, you're on your last day, and your child says Hey, Mom, I got one last question. How can I lead my life with purpose? What would you say to your child?  

 

Naz Beheshti 44:54 

Wow. Well, first of all, the very sad day if I was leaving my child that's like I can't even imagine but that's a great question. And I think it's so important to lead on purpose. Because I think the purpose is everything. And the purpose is in my mind and heart about being human and humane. So being good and doing good, in a self-actualized way. So, the purpose is what fulfills us and helps others. And it's really a source of joy and healing that keeps us grounded and motivated as we navigate this physical world. So I would tell him, you know, to do whatever it takes to find that purpose, that joy that you know, that joy to fulfill your purpose, but also help others and I always think of it as there are two types of purpose on a macro level there is that our life purpose, the reason we exist, and sometimes that's a much harder, you know, thing to find some people never find it or you know, and then there's a micro-level, which is the purpose of, you know, taking action on a daily basis, I took action with intention, and ambition on a daily basis. So, so there's something for everyone. In other words, it took me some time to find my life purpose. And when we think of purpose, sometimes it's on that bigger scale, right. But for the people who haven't found that yet, are still looking, you know, there's you could take, you could live on purpose, day to day on a micro level with intention, and purpose. And I always say, I would tell my son, that your heart would lead you to your life's passion and purpose. And the way that you can follow your heart is by quieting your mind so that you could hear the true desires of your heart, and then take explorative action based on what your heart is. So, connecting that mind-heart connection. 

 

James Laughlin 47:01 

That's so beautiful. I think, if any leader listens to that, now, they could pass that on to young people, kids, or grandkids in their lives. I mean, that makes such a difference. So, thank you so much for sharing that. And I really appreciate the incredible work that you're doing. I hope this book gets into millions of households over the next five and 10 years. It's an incredible book and published by none other than New World Library, you're amongst some of the best authors on the planet Deepak and Eckhart so really great to see you in there. And I've no doubt that this book is going to make a huge impact on so many people's lives. 

 

Naz Beheshti 47:36 

Oh, thank you so much, James. It was a true pleasure to be here with you today. 

 

James Laughlin 47:41 

It's fantastic to connect. We'll talk soon. 

 

Naz Beheshti 

Thank you! 

 

James Laughlin 48:01 

Thanks for tuning in today and investing in your own personal leadership. Please hit that subscribe button. And I'd love it if you'd leave me a rating and review. I've got some amazing guests lined up for you in the coming weeks. And leaders. It's that time to get out there and lead your life on purpose.