Interview with John Martinez, CEO, Founder and Owner of Shocklogic
Based in the UK, Shocklogic works internationally and provides a range of solutions for event planners including event management software and hands-on solutions for organising and managing conferences, events, members and contacts. John, Founder of Shocklogic, recently joined the MDI team in one of the quarterly member BOOM calls and led our discussions on “Work Life Balance”. John shared with us many ideas about how to create a more ‘mindful’ attitude to life and work and talked about how this is very important within his own company, so we wanted to find out more….
1. Why is ‘work life balance’ important for you to bring into the office and work culture?
Actually, I don’t believe in “work life balance”!
The term “work life balance” is letting employers (like me) get away with murder, and demands that life (the person, emotions, personal issues, etc) should be kept out of the office. We, as leaders need to create a workplace where life is integrated, and to
acknowledge that we are complete beings. The term I think is more like “Work - Life harmony”
In today's “always connected” world, I don’t believe our personal and professional lives can be completely separate, they will invariably interconnect. My goal is to create an environment where both work and life are embraced from every angle. By the team members and the team leaders.
I think it just makes good sense (personal and business) to take care of the people in our teams. If a person develops skills such as the capacity of prioritising, dealing with difficult situations, delayed gratification, grit, then this idea of work-life balance is a misconception. I want to work in an organisation where I love coming to work.
I want to create an organisation where people want to come to work every day, and enjoy what they do.
2. What made you take ‘mental health’ seriously in the workplace and how did it start?
At Shocklogic, we started implementing different initiatives on mental health a few years ago. Every initiative is discussed in our management meetings, which we call “LeadershipScrums”, where we discuss and share different ideas.
In the knowledge that event planning has been ranked as the 5th most stressful job out there, so we strongly believe that taking care of the mental health of our team is essential.
Although we have been implementing these strategies for the last 4 years, our first campaign about wellness was when we got involved in EventWell’s “Event Wellbeing Week”. We created videos with our team members, like these ones with Johnny D. Martinez and Xane Richards , to share the different initiatives we have been implementing in our company,
Our most recent campaign that we are working on is an eBook, called “Wellbeing in the Workplace”.
I’m truly passionate about the development of human potential and I want to create an environment where we embrace both work and life. I want to create an environment of trust where people feel that they can express themselves, as I see these as essential ingredients for innovation and creativity to happen.
3. How do you encourage your team to realise the importance of mental health and what steps have you taken to help them?
When I introduced the term “compassion” into the team a few years ago, it was met with rolling eyes and moaning faces from people saying that they don’t believe in that in a business environment. I believe that if we don’t introduce compassion and kindness into our lives, it will be very hard to really put ourselves in the shoes of the others, and I believe companies should be people-centred first. Without a team there are no customers, and no business to take care of. One of our values is “Be kinder than necessary because anyone that you come across is fighting some kind of battle”.
One of the initiatives that we implemented within the teams is mindfulness. The two most common words we hear from millennials and IGen’s to describe their lives are anxiety and stress.
Also, every Wednesday at the end of our company-wide meeting, we practice 10 minutes of mindful meditation with the whole team, including the remote team. It’s about taking 10 minutes out of our busy schedule, to relax and simply do nothing. To be present.
We also have a dedicated counsellor, who acts as a coach, who is available for any team member to schedule a one-to-one session. In the past, people used to be ashamed of sharing their feelings and doubts, but now we hear more often that people enjoy seeing our counsellor, sometimes just to have a chat. Some members of the team see him for private issues and we pick up the tab.
Another initiative that we implemented is that every morning during each individual team’s check-in (going through our todo list and prioritising into “Must do”, “Should do” and “Coulddo”) we do a mindfulness breathing exercise at the end, guided by different members of that team. This has had a dramatic effect on the team, as it really helps us to focus, visualise, and calibrate.
If you could say one thing to another company in the industry about helping them find a way to create a better work life balance for themselves, their company overall, or their colleagues, what would it be?
There’s a phrase which says there’s no “I” in “team”, so as a leader it is truly important to bring kindness and compassion into your company culture, and to listen carefully to each member of your team. It is much easier to be a tyrant than lead with compassion.
Another one of our company values is “Integrity - Responsibility - Generosity - Compassion” which we use as compass and as a guide in every communication that we make. It is way easier to say to your team members “Do this, because I say so” instead of communicating and listening with compassion. So, I constantly remind myself to listen to others, because the wisdom of the group is infinitely greater than mine.
Do you have any particular examples of how this mindful approach at Shocklogic has changed things with your team and your clients?
It’s been a constant journey of continuous learning for both myself and my team here at Shocklogic. Leading with compassion is a tough process, so I’m constantly learning how to adjust, aiming for the best outcome for the team. The culture of a company is just as
important as it’s processes, so implementing values that align with the team's needs is crucial in understanding how to be truthful and lead with integrity. We are a value-centred company, and our values are the compass and lens that we see the world through.
For the past few years, we changed some of the policies of the company such as giving a longer lunch break that allows the mind to rest, recharge and refocus, which can directly improve productivity for the rest of the day.
Another example is the sharing of our elevator pitches. Every week during our company-wide meeting, three team members are selected to present their elevator pitch out loud, and one member shares their version of one of our company values. Throughout the years, this process has helped our team members to become greater communicators, and be that version of ourselves that we’re proud of.
We constantly strive to speak from our “why”. Our “why” are our values. As we become better at communicating for this place, we create deeper and longer lasting relationshipswith everyone around us.
How did you originally start on this mindfulness path and what did it do for you as aperson?
This mindfulness path comes from a very difficult point in my life - a point in my life where I thought I was going crazy!
Over 10 years ago, my partner at the time took me to a movement meditation practice, and from then on, I was hooked. For the last 10 years, I’ve been attending a 10 day meditation
retreat twice a year. Now I yearn for it.
This journey has made me realise that the only thing that I can change is the present, and it made me focus on the here and now, and my state of harmony. The more I meditate, the easier it is to find my center and my ground, after moments of stress or anger. Expanding the gap between my thoughts makes me better at problem-solving. I believe it is the place where true creativity comes from. The less I think about problems, the better I become at handling them. It is rather counterintuitive as the more I slow down the quicker I go. We need to always remember that the past is only data, and the future hasn’t happened yet.
As I meditate, it is easier to tap into my compassion. I am kinder to myself and therefore to everyone around me.
Awareness is a wonderful thing, and once there is even a modicum level of awareness, one has to take radical responsibility. I can never again assign blame for what happens to me or what I do, on external factors. It takes courage, as I have to take full responsibility for everything that happens in my life. Another one of our values is: “It's not communicated when it is said, it's only communicated when it's understood” that puts the responsibility on the communicator and not the receiver. If everyone did this, there would be so many less misunderstandings. As we would show up to every interaction with the sense of responsibility that the whole connection depends on us.
Have a look at Shocklogic's website here.