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018 - James Hadlock from Blunovus

“Would it be fair to say that the only reason that you habitually use drugs and alcohol was because you were trying to fix a feeling?”

James Hadlock joins us to tell his story, and about the mission of Blunovus. He tells about his history of wearing a “backpack of shame,” running away, addiction and a psychotic break, eventually leading to jailtime. 25% of Americans live with a diagnosable mental illness. 80% of those will NEVER ask for help. Blunovus is a proactive employee assistance program embraced by employers like EMI Health, Divvy, and Purple Mattress. He talks about making mental health a positive discussion in the workplace and why a “no tolerance” substance policy is failing employees AND employers. Enjoy.

The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates. They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.

Transcript (no grammar): would it be fair to say that the only reason that you habitually use drugs and alcohol was because you were trying to fix a feeling james hadlock joins us to tell his story and about the mission of blue novus he tells about his history of wearing a backpack of shame running away addiction and a psychotic break eventually leading to jail time twenty five percent of americans live with a diagnosable mental illness eighty percent of those will never ask for help blue novus is a proactive employee assistance program embraced by employers like emi healthcare divi and purple mattress he talks about making mental health a positive discussion in the workplace and why a no tolerance substance policy is failing employees and employers enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt neider i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid a conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps today is an exciting day we have james hadlock with us james is with blue novus james is the the uh founder and and instigator of blue novus and um james thanks for being with us today yeah thank you shelly it's it's great to see you again gosh i you know i was thinking it's been a while since we've been in the same room i mean it's been a long while it has been super long and and your wife alicia too i miss her too right i mean i love you guys you're so much fun and you got so much energy and every now and then i just need a little pick-me-up so i i think i need james and alicia i need them to pick me up oh my gosh well it's it's a delight to be here and and uh curtis it's it's good to meet you too i know that we haven't met before but uh i'm i'm really excited to share a little time with both of you today my pleasure i've done my share of internet snooping so it'll be interesting to hear the the real story of the unadulterated james version so oh my gosh well okay i i can do that well dude james tell us a little bit give us a little background our listeners a little bit of background of kind of where you come from and how you ended up where you're at now yeah you know i know that we all have our own path and our own journey and and it's really interesting as i as i reflect back on my career i'm going to turn 52 years old this year and you know as a kid growing up i had all these aspirations and dreams and i mean i was gonna i was gonna light the world on fire in a good way and and i wanted to even from a very early age i wanted to have an impact um i remember having a conversation in my late teens or early twenties and talking with my dad and i was looking at you know do i want to go into medicine or do i want to you know go into into some other profession and i look at finance and you know just like we all do right we're exploring and and i remember having a moment uh with my dad just going there was something inside of me where i wanted to be a part of something that could impact a lot of people and honestly i don't know if that was driven by ego i'm totally open to admitting that maybe it was but you know if i go a little bit deeper i think there was a part of me that truly sincerely wanted to do some good in the world and and little did i know that my path would be completely different than than what i had set out and so you know when i was in my mid-20s i just i i became and i caught that entrepreneurial bug and so i was i owned a chain of carpet cleaning companies uh in the state that i grew up i grew up in idaho and uh man i had a knack for marketing and and and being able to to drive sales and business and and and then i got you know i got that that itch of wanting to do more and do more and do more and and ended up uh here in utah so i've been here in utah now for 26 years maybe almost 27 and i sold all my carpet cleaning companies came here to make my millions so to speak and and wouldn't you know it within about four or five years i was able to accomplish that where i i was able to be a part of some companies and set up manufacturing in china i was traveling all over the world like i was living this jet setter lifestyle and from the outside looking in it would appear that i was on this fast track of mega success and i was married at the time i had two little daughters uh but i also was carrying around this backpack of guilt and shame and and and insecurity and um a ton of stress and overwhelm and it was you know it was something that i managed for a while and i managed a lot of that through being an overachiever and being a workaholic and then um uh i don't know exactly when that time was but there was a a incident in my life that many people would relate to trauma i lost my uncle who was closer to being like a brother than an uncle um he died in a pretty nasty car accident and i was called to go and and you know see his body totally unexpected i i didn't know that he had passed and oh my gosh i did not know how to process that and i was already kind of on the edge of wanting to figure out better ways to manage all of the stress and overwhelm and within just a couple of months i was abusing uh a pharmaceutical medication so a lot of muscle relaxants painkillers and and within six months i had gone from completely being abstinent from all kinds of substances to now i was out drinking every night and i was abusing ghb which at the time was you know this big club drug and it wasn't too long after that that i ended up leaving my wife and two daughters they eventually ended up back in idaho and it was a whirlwind like within a year i was you know in and out of the hospital for overdoses like i didn't have a turn off button for me because it happened you know relatively quickly for me to go from being a successful entrepreneur to now in complete crisis in survival mode so where did that end what was rock bottom for you yeah yeah well you know interestingly enough that this is a here's a twist of the story um i ended up um taking a company that was on the on the brink of a bankruptcy doing about two million dollars a year and within 18 months we were doing over 20 million dollars a year so i became one of the fastest growing companies and entrepreneurs in the state so you know a little twist right but but i think that goes to that place of usually we hear about oh i just i lost everything and by the way that's coming in a minute but there was this time where even at my highest rates of use and overdoses and in and out of rehab and in and out of the psych ward i was still able to maintain some level of success for a while and the reason i want to bring that up is because oftentimes you know we we've got every excuse in the world to not take a look but in order to do that this is on and off you've come up you've compartmentalized enough that in the morning you get up and you show up for the office and you're hustling and the second you walk out the door it's where where's the where am i going where's the next fix that's exactly right and and so i was able to maintain that for just a couple of years and then and then the you know the wheels came off there's only so so much you can you can put in different silos and and then you know and to your point i started to you know i started to i was i was writing checks for a quarter of a million dollars and throwing money around like i was a rock star or you know a rapper and and next thing you know i'm completely like the millions of dollars are gone and i'm in in this mode the business is not not doing very well big surprise right and and you know what what ended up happening is um over a period of about a decade i i found myself on and off the streets i found myself bouncing from couch to couch i found myself just doing little jobs here and there yeah i mean it got it got ugly um and then 13 and a half years ago i had tried to get i was being offered this huge job from a huge company a multi-billion dollar company to run a division for them because i had a pretty good track record for success in the business world and i went to 17 interviews in wisconsin where where they were just blown away for what they told me and the incept the ceo set me down and said you were the guy we've been looking for we're going to make this offer and it was a big offer i mean it was a you know 300 000 base and yeah i mean more benefits than i had ever even known and and um i got back home and then all of a sudden just all that guilt and shame just came weighing down and i wrote them a big long email and confessed that i had had some struggles in the past but i at the time i was in a really good place and i don't know if that influenced them in fact they ended up having me fly down and meet with the regional sales whatever whatever and we had a good heart to heart and i felt confident he felt confident they said we're still going to offer you the job and then about two weeks later they did an about face and i didn't get it and there is there was a huge lesson for me and that i i had been sober for about nine to ten months and that was that moment where i'm like oh yeah i am worthless i am you know i am the piece of crap that i always thought i was and and rejection was just so so up for me to handle which is why i became such a good sales guy because i i i didn't want having a no and i took it so personally that i would do everything i possibly could to get a yes which is a scary proposition when you go to the lengths that i did to get those yeses and and and so that rejection i i immediately started to drink and and then i had a psychotic break i mean i was literally paranoid i was hiding in the closet thinking people were after me like the whole gamut so it wasn't it wasn't just substance use disorder it was mental illness i i fall on was borderline schizophrenic and i ended up going and meeting a friend and and and grabbing some ghb which i hadn't done in years and then about three hours later i found myself on the ground with about 50 police officers in springville utah and i had no recollection of any of it like you want to talk scary like zero recollection i don't remember one thing and apparently it was you know top news story on on all the channels you know some guy going 20 miles an hour down the freeway for you know for miles and miles and miles and i thought that was it i thought i was going to prison um i had you know i was telling myself all these stories a friend of mine decided to bail me out and i put a plan together that i was going to in my life that i was done and i ended up in a hotel and during that time in that hotel i um i was convinced that i was nothing that i had failed everybody including myself and all my potential and as i'm getting ready to to um complete a suicide i've got the tv on and michael buble of all people that you know who he is the singer he's being interviewed and he's talking about how he was able to navigate the years and years and years of failure of being a singer i don't know if you know this but he was a wedding singer and a lounge singer for like seven plus years before he made his big break and and somehow my ear catches this and i remember him talking about he always felt like he had a purpose that this is what he was supposed to do and his parents and his grand his grandfather never gave up on him like they were his biggest fans and something in what he said woke me up just enough and i called my mom and it was it was so interesting to go from a place of complete and utter despair that i didn't want to live again to actually pick up the phone and and maybe just as beautiful as my mom heard that and they were still living in idaho i was in midvale in one of the you know dirtiest nastiest hotels you can imagine and she came down and grabbed me and over about a two week period i got really quiet with myself and i started to ask questions like how did mr overachiever entrepreneur get to this place you know so i was asking i was just really being curious with myself and and and one of the first things i noticed is that that overachieving top sales top entrepreneur was running away from something the same way that the the the drug using um uh liar teeter still or you know fill in the blank that i i've been running away from something the whole time and these were just different ways to manage those you know one of them i got a lot of pats on the back the other one not so much but but i think it's important to note here that i think a lot of people believe that that addiction is a problem and i would say it's just a really bad solution to an underlying something right that most people would say is is a problem and and you know i tend to a lot to like to ask a lot of people who are in recovery early recovery long-term recovery and and i've asked him this question again and again and again and i've always got the same answer and that is would it be fair to say that the only reason that you habitually use drugs and alcohol was because you were trying to fix a feeling and i've always gotten a yes i've never ever not once ever had anyone tell me no that's not right and and that is that was kind of the first insight i had is that i was running away from something and then you know the obvious next question was well what the heck you running from dude and and what i what i what i came to understand in that two-week period of my mom and dad's house was there was some foundational belief system that i had bought into that i would never amount to anything that i would never be good enough that i would never be um worthy of love and and i had i had made this association that the only way people even accepted me or like me is if i could produce something for them so the deal um you know it was all performance based so literally my entire life was based on performance which is a really crappy way to live your life because news flash we all fail like we all go through stuff oh my goodness isn't that the truth i'm listening to you talk about you know sitting with yourself and being curious and asking some of those deep questions but the question that arises as you talk about that is how did you learn how to do that how did you even know to do that oh my gosh what a great what a great question um and and it really speaks to what i've come to understand today and a lot of the work that i do when i do some of my executive coaching with people um there seems to me that there is and and a lot of people will call it god or universe or you know you know the energy behind life but there seems to be this deeper intelligence you know behind everything and and in the addiction world a lot of people will refer to it as a higher power and frankly i don't care what people call it i just want i want everyone to recognize that you know when was the last time you had to worry about figuring out how to beat your heart or to breathe in air like there is some innate things that are just built into the system and i'm going to tell you as noisy as my head was at the time i got to a point where i just i had run out of of thinking and there hadn't been enough space within in my life that some of that deeper intelligence just kind of came through i like whether i intentionally tuned into it or i was just ready for it or you know i tend to think that maybe i just kind of gave up on everything and all of a sudden there was you know it's kind of like tuning into it to radio stations i think i was you know i was always turning the dial and then all of a sudden boom without me even knowing that that signal came through and it really was i didn't even think about it it was just i automatically was curious so but i think we can leverage that too which which is probably something we ought to talk about in a little bit um but it just occurred to me in that moment of uh of just asking myself some bigger questions you know some really reflective questions and and what's interesting is once i came to understand that i was running away from something and then i understood that i had always felt like i was unworthy of love and that i had to earn it and i had to show up a certain way then then the most beautiful insight uh just just came up and it was um from from this question that occurred to me and it was well jim james buddy if you are so unlovable then how in the world are your parents right now with you like you are the most destitute and the most like you're at the lowest of lows who are they loving then if not you and i'm telling you it was like somebody turned on a life switch in my life and instantly i knew that i was that i was lovable that i was worthy of love and i knew that i would never use drugs and alcohol again in my life like i just knew in that instant like it was somebody had turned on the light it was like i was walking around this room that was completely blacked out with furniture and all kinds of stuff on the floor and i was just trying to work my way through it and then somebody turn on the light and i'm like oh that's where the sofa is no wonder i keep bumping into something there it opened me up to an entirely new world that by the way my wisdom also said that's probably not something you ought to share with a whole lot of people because you've said that before i mean i had been to rehab and i had relapsed you know multiple times more times than i can count which points me back to i think we get so caught up in being tactical around substance abuse but we forget that that the real the real power comes from being able to see it from the inside out from what i like to call an insight you know where because here's the thing my parents told me my whole life i mean they showed up to all my baseball games they were too super supportive but i just couldn't see it i i i didn't believe it and it needed to land differently and it had to come from within me rather than it being reinforced outside of me well and i think it's so interesting because you're not alone in this james you're not the only one that's you know that that just can't see their value or that that you know recognizes or believes that their only value is what they can produce because that i don't know there seems to be a theme out there um least was among the people that i work with that you know they have to give something in order to have any value and and i've even you know i've even gone through my own recognition of oh my gosh look how loved i am and i didn't even recognize how much i was right so these can't be unusual stories um but incredible but you know i as i listen to people tell their stories the one thing that seems universal so far is there's these pivotal moments in their lives that that change everything yeah i you know i had a a mentor tell me that when these kind of things happen it's like is is nothing has changed but everything is different and then everything changes and and that is exactly what's happened like you know i was facing i was still by the way i was i was facing a court case um i had no money i mean i was broke i was born in a car like literally none of my circumstances had changed but i remember writing uh you know in a in a notebook that i just could i literally could see a new twinkle in my eye like there was something that had had opened up or or lit up within me and i have to go back to the mike kubublay experience because even in my darkest days of habitual using i always felt like i was going to get through it and but it was one of those where i never shared it with anyone but there was seriously there was something inside of me and and i also knew that there was there you know that i would want to work in purpose that i would want to feel like i was contributing in a meaningful way for me like and i believe we can do that in really any profession and do anything but i just knew that i i wanted to make sure that i was aligned with something that mattered to me um incredible story i'm still letting it settle of all of this hard that you've come up to you're facing charges and everything is different everything looks different it's like you've had a paradigm shift within yourself and you can now see out and see light and see see something different of yourself so what's the rest of the story how what happens from there yeah and and and what a great transition so something inside of me told me do not fight the court case and it took them like six months before they actually charged me because there was a lot that went on there i'll just say and and i just kept getting like i was destitute so i actually got appointed an attorney who's since become someone i just adore um and i i stay in touch with him from time to time um but the the sense and the feeling i got was don't fight it don't fight it don't fight it so i didn't here's the here's the here's the funny thing though that feeling of don't fighting it i kind of ran with that and thought oh i'm totally something's going to happen and i'm i'm not going to have to do this or blah blah so i had all these stories going on but what's interesting it took more than 18 months to get through the system and they they had offered me mental health court because it was in utah county and they have mental health court and i just kept getting accountability accountability you get to you get this is that you could own this dude and even though it would have been easy and that would have been a nice little off um i i refused and i decided to go through the system and and what was interesting at the time i was working with the mayor of provo city i was i was already because it took so long to get through the system i had already become this this community member i was working with yusera i mean i was i was i mean i was like the model citizen not because i felt i needed to be that's just kind of where i was at and um i i had since met my wife we were married we just had our first son together he was like six weeks old and i'm standing in front of the judge i've got like 17 recommendation letters from some of the you know from presidents of colleges and i mean you name it like i was mr model citizen and the judge looks at me and he goes i don't think you've learned your lesson i don't think you know um you know the ramifications this 100 days in jail boom next thing you know i'm carted off to jail my wife is in the stands with our little baby and her jaw's dropping my jaw's dropping and and i'm going to tell you this one of the most beautiful experiences of my entire life to get to be in jail for 100 days from a place of of way more awareness than what i was used to i mean i became mr i taught everybody meditation in there i taught everyone on how to kind of you know get get a little bit quieter inside um i ended up working in the kitchen which gave me all kinds of privileges so i lived in a barrack instead of a 6x8 cell for like 90 of those 100 days i actually came back with a tan because we have these huge gardens that i got to go work out in like it wasn't easy from the aspect of being away from my family for 100 days but i got to learn how to be present and in the now because it was scary for me i mean i was in with gang members and you know i was just this that this this humble little kid from idaho that had never gotten in real trouble and here i was in the midst of you know you know a lot of habitual um uh uh people who who habitually were committing crimes and so um it allowed for me to to almost accelerate my learning curve on accepting what was living in the now like all that stuff i mean it was kind of like going on a meditation retreat for three months i mean look honestly it was amazing and scary and tough like all of that all all grouped into one i uh i'm listening to you talk about being in jail and and like you're on the fast track right you're like you've already decided that you've got something to offer and and here you are offering it to everybody and and i'm thinking that you know i'm listening to the scary piece because you're not the only one that i've talked to that's been in jail going this is this is a scary place and you got to be really careful or you're going to end up you know hurt um and then you're meditating in there and your whole world is different even though that's where you're sitting oh i don't even know the question to ask but tell me more it's interesting to me that where you come from this like performance-based perception where every all of your self-worth is based on what you are doing or have done right and we're getting to a place where it has to be more of who i am right i'm just lovable no matter who i am i have to let go of what's accomplished it's interesting to me that you go through this court case and your attitude is i need to just own it right i need to take responsibility for what i've done it's interesting to me to kind of consider the idea of if you had been let off right if you had taken an easier way out would that in itself been a form of failure right would that have been a form of i cheated i cheated the system right and having gone through this i stood square with my shoulders right i did what the judge told me to do i did my hundred days is that also still a form of really performance-based action right where you're now saying hey i i've i've accomplished this but it's an honest accomplishment right it's a real authentic i'm owning who i am i'm paying you know my my kind of whatever they call that debt to society and and now that gives you this freedom to move forward as you all right does that make sense yeah i i appreciate the thought behind the question because there was a piece of me even before even as i'm walking in jail and even those first maybe 72 hours were like i'm better than everyone else in here which is funny because i had such a sense of inadequacy and insecurity which always is accompanied right by the ego trying to overcompensate in that so so i'm going to tell you what i i have no idea what it would have looked like and where i'd be today without those hundred days but i would never ever take it back it was so hard like being hard for my wife and all of my kids and our new little baby and thinking about what's my wife going to do and you know i was the primary breadwinner of the home and and and you know all that stuff was coming up and i i could have gone the other way by the way i could have gone up i'm the biggest piece of crap when i get out of here or you know and and i came out with so much like not made up i i wasn't like making a list of gratitude like i was in i was living in gratitude from a place that was so deep and organic and it was it it was like boot camp for me on this transformation that just has continued over the last 13 and a half years but it was a fast track there is no question like there were days where i mean i remember how unsettling it was when the dogs came in because when you live in the barracks here's the other side of that you get a little bit more freedom but they're also checking everything because it's easier to to to sneak stuff in because people are going to work release jobs and those type of things and so we were getting i mean we were getting shaken down if you know what have you heard that term before like literally they're dumping everything out and i'm having anxiety attacks because i was you know part of this was also letting go of all that control that i i had i mean i i was listen i grew up a really nice childhood i i made a lot of money at a very early age i was totally spoiled didn't think i was but you know i was used to being in complete and utter control of everything in my world and this was the ultimate opportunity to let go to accept what was to roll with it and like i said it was it was beautiful i mean i just genuinely i am i you know i i have never want to go there again by the way let me just state that but i genuinely um i have such a sweet soft place for for that time there like i could go on and on and on about the lessons and the things that i was able to let go and release because of that experience so speaking of lessons you talked about you know you had your michael blubley moment right you're two weeks at home with mom and nothing changed but everything was different is that it now you know james is a new james and it's just squeaky clean from then on or you know what are what are the actual daily lessons right what are the things you do every day to keep to keep where you are to keep from going back there yeah well it has a lot to do with the company that that my wife and i co-founded back in 2017 um we we had been in the behavioral health space we so i was fascinated first of all with my own transformation because that's even though we've heard of other people that have had these type of transformations it doesn't seem to be the most prevalent way that people talk about about sobriety and i was fascinated with that because i had been told i'm going to be on medication my whole life for mental illness i'm going to struggle day-to-day with with a substance use disorder and none of that in 13 and a half years has happened with me so i got very curious about my own personal transformation and what i come to came to understand was oh yeah like i can speak to it from the neuroscience i can speak to it from all kinds of different philosophies and and so i became a student of my own experience frankly because i'm like i wonder how many other people because listen my drug dealers were afraid of me like i was that out of control so i wonder if there'd be some people interested in being able to transform their entire life to the to the to the way that i was able to in my own life and so i wanted to model that and the funny story is is it took me several years to really have a grasp of what had happened and and that's been an odyssey i mean my wife and i have done retreats and trainings we've worked with professional athletes and and ceos and executives um but back in 2017 um we had this aha moment and we were working on the behavioral health space which is where i met shelley originally um and you know we had seen so many people that were in crisis that just like i had been right and a lot of them were business professionals and every single time we talked to business professional um they would they would have this sense of hesitation of you mean i got to tell my work or what is my work going to say and and that's when we have this aha moment of gosh you know we're working so downstream in in the behavioral health space what if we started work upstream what if we took the conversation to the one place nobody wants to have the conversation what if we went into the corporate space and we started to talk about mental illness and substance abuse like we talk about diabetes and and obesity and um health and wellness like what if we did that and and and so that was kind of the vision and what we what we found is that it's an interesting story you know there are currently today 25 of the population live with a mental illness a diagnosable mental illness 25 percent one in four but you know i i think that's just part of the story i think the other part of the story is four out of four struggle from time to time like we all get upset and overwhelmed and freaked out and reactive to life and and if you don't believe me look at the last year and a half with with the pandemic right and so my wife and i we didn't just want to have a an awareness campaign although that's important we wanted to create actionable solutions that companies could utilize to not only help their people but to also change the culture around how we see mental illness and substance use disorders in the workplace because here's here's the most devastating stat um that i can share with you eighty percent of all the people that live with mental illness and ninety percent of all the people that live with the substance use disorder will never ever reach out and get the help that they need ever so you're working in the treatment space you're treating at most ten percent of the people who need it think of any other disease or issue in the world that we are in today and imagine if you were only treating 10 percent of those who actually needed it yeah 10 of those who have diabetes and the rest would die or you know 10 percent of yeah you think about heart disease and and if we don't ever treat that those people will die well and the way that we address uh substance use disorders and mental illness in the workplace is very similar to if somebody decided not to brush their teeth not to floss and to wait until they needed a root canal before they went into to the dentist that's how we treat mental illness and substance abuse in this country well like an example of that would be you know let's say let's say that you have an accident right a physical accident a car accident or whatever it is what's the first thing you have to do right straight straight to a drug test right there's not it's not just that there are perceived stigmas there are actual requirements that make it difficult to have this be something that you deal with and make your employer aware of it's embedded in the culture and it's embedded in the policies of our organizations have you ever heard of the no tolerance policy that most companies have well let me ask you this if you have a no tolerance policy what are the odds if i if i fall into innocently like james hadlock did where you innocently are just self-medicating because you're not sleeping you're freaked out blah blah blah blah um am i going to go to my work to get help or am i going to hide it until i just can't hide it anymore and then and then my entire life is in chaos and then you know what happens i get fired so so we can talk about it from a morality standpoint i like to talk about it from from a a roi or a voi a a value on investment or a return on investment perspective because the numbers would will just blow people away i mean deloitte came out last year and said for every one dollar that we will invest proactively in mental health and substance abuse programs preventative five dollar roi in absenteeism presenteeism um emergency room visits the list goes on and on like where can you get that kind of return on investment with your company and your employees five to one well then it's hard too right because even hey it's hard to believe but it's even harder to track if you're an individual company right like it's that's a challenging one to actually trust right and we've so we've seen these programs on the physical fitness side right some of the some of the that style of health what does this program look like for a company yeah so specifically uh with blue novus we we take we take a multi a multifaceted approach so we have an emotional support platform so we have a call center um we have an app so when we onboard a company they download the app that app gives them one touch access to call into the call center to text into the call center and then to access a myriad of resources that we can provide outside of even that call center so that emotional support service is available 24 7 to all of our employer groups and their employees and loved ones and and we wanted to eliminate some of that some of that friction and so they can call in they can text in guess what 65 to 70 of engagements via text so you know maybe there's some eaps out there now that you can text into but when we started back in 2017 nobody had a text messaging feature but but that's just common sense to me like how many people feel so scared that they don't even want to pick up the phone that they might text you so so we we looked at this from the viewpoint of how do we reduce the stigma and the friction points both at the same time so you can text in you can call in you do it through an app so you don't have to remember the phone number the other thing is is that with our system and because we do it through the app people are assigned a phone number so you can remain anonymous we don't even need to know who you are and we can still help you because we know you're calling from purple mattress or divi fintech or whoever one of our clients is so that anonymity 30 of the people use our service we never know who they are so if that doesn't speak loud and clear about about stigma which is by the way stigma and job concern are the two reasons that people will not seek help it's it's not cost it's not insurance it's not a lack of services it's statement job concern so our call center is there to do three things and then i'll tell you about about the other side and really the difference maker of what we're doing today but in that call center we really have a job to do three things number one is to connect we want to make sure that you feel heard that you know that you matter and that there's hope well gosh that sounds exciting and that sounds inviting and guess what guess what i was looking for guess what everybody who is struggling is looking for guess what every human being wants they want to know they matter they want to feel heard and they want to know that there's hope in their life so it tells us it's not even about mental illness or substance abuse it's about being human the second thing we do is we'll do some coaching in the care center most of that is more through self-reflection so we take that shelly what i learned back 13 and a half years ago and we prompt people so when they ask us you know i just got in a fight with my with my husband i don't even know what to do well what are some of the things that you've done in the past that have worked for you right we put it back on them we don't take that from them we we kindly support them into seeing those answers for themselves and then the third one is is we become a concierge service so we partner with with therapeutic communities with different providers therapists counseling centers rehab centers and and we we use those those resources those third-party networks to match them up so we're really the bridge between the two so our whole thing was we wanted to solve the 80 and the 90 and never get help we wanted to solve that that was our number one thing we wanted to solve that one and and that is by making it easier for people to and giving them a great experience but the other thing which brings me to the second one there's another staff that was really interesting to me and that is 87 of leaders will never receive any kind of training as it relates to mental health first aid psychological safety signs and symptoms of what to look for if somebody might be struggling 87 and and frankly i think that number is too low and i'll tell you why a couple of uh uh i want to say about a month month and a half ago i was the keynote at the utah worksite wellness conference here in utah first time i've been able to speak in person in a year and we got about 150 people in the room and then another hundred that were streaming it live and i shared that stat 87 of leaders will never receive any kind of training and then i raise their hands how many of you out there and these are all hr professionals wellness professionals how many of you out there have your companies that have either in the past or are currently providing any kind of training as it relates to mental health guess how many hands out of 150 went up none you got it zero uh seriously my jaw dropped i i mean i could not i i had this i was just like are you kidding me so it speaks to the second thing that we do here at blue novus and we have invested heavily we have our own learning management system and provide a library of trainings and resources and then provide specifically leadership and manager trainings around all the things that i mentioned how do you create psychological safety in the workplace how do you identify the signs and symptoms of somebody who might be struggling how do you provide mental health first aid and most importantly how do you get your managers to partner with blue novus in a way that your managers literally become the number one referral source at your company as to why your employees reached into the care center and let me tell you you know i mentioned purple and there's a reason for that purple caught the vision of this with us a year ago do you guys know who they are the big mattress company yeah they're just they're a phenomenal organization um and they were looking to up their game as it related to the uh emotional well-being of their employees so they partnered with blue novus and they they they wanted you know white glove service all the way around and they pushed us and we started to look at different solutions on how could we literally transform the culture of an organization and and what they've come to us and said is who knows isn't a vendor blue novice is a partner and you you literally have helped us transform the culture of our organization and here's how i know that's true the number one reason for um employees call in to our call center because a manager invited them to yeah if that's not the most beautiful thing now and the reason is because they either notice something or they have utilized the the the skills that we have taught them on how to be better listeners on how to to just make themselves available to their to their their staff to see them as people and not just as a cog in the wheel and it is converted into extremely high we have about a 10x in in engagement and utilization than a typical employee assistance program does nationwide like i don't know anyone who even comes as close to what we're doing in creating that engagement but it's because we didn't look at it from the status quo we looked at it from the ground up of how do you change the conversation in an organization to get them to to make mental health and and and everything that's that that's about it to make it a priority and part and weaved into the culture and again even into their policies so we recommend a right to work policy when it comes to their drug policy do you guys know what that means say more oh it literally means if they are performing their job no problem now someone say oh my gosh that's like the wild wild west and i'm telling you the other i'm just telling you people are hiding it there it's not there is a no tolerance drug policy is not stopping anyone from using and so it's helping change the mindset of going now we don't recommend you just hey change your policy to a a a a fit to work policy change it and then change the culture to support that with managers that make them leaders that make themselves available so here's the thing you can't just do one and and not the other like they go hand in hand right you've got to have the outlet you've got to have the training and you've got to match it with the policy that's what will change culture and i think that's what's been missing in leadership trainings for you know forever is we have not taken into account the mental health of our employees yeah no tolerance to right to work that shift goes it's a shift from me versus you to us right and from kind of this fear based leadership to kind of a hope based leadership we're in this together how do you draw the line on that because without with a lot of professions and a lot of jobs there's a huge increased amount of risk that comes with that because it's not just are you hitting your objectives there's a lot of are you putting other people in harm's way how do you differentiate that yeah there are some professions where we would not recommend a fit to work or right to work policy simply because of risk but what we would do is we would still have them reword it in a way where it's not in no tolerance like there is there is some buffer area there to be able to work with them like you know you come to us but again if you're if you're not matching it with the culture like it's it's that whole you know do what i say not what i do you've got to you've got to live this i mean and so one of one of our uh initial trainings that we do with all managers is is around what i like to call the art of innate listening so we teach you know how funny like mr talker here mr keynote speaker i teach people how to listen more effectively but it is so powerful when you can just be with someone without saying anything much like what the two of you have done today like you have given me this platform to let me share right just and and and let it flow and that is a that is such a beautiful gift that you can give someone and so we teach managers on how to be present and to be curious and to be more open so what's interesting about the art of innate listening is is when you can start to just be with people and be present and be more curious about what's going on rather than thinking you know what's going on and allow yourself to be open and you listen for insight rather than information uh people are going to experience a connection with you and and the benefit it builds trust and when you build trust guess who they're going to come to when they feel out of sorts like it's super logical and it's got so many benefits not just for mental health but it can change everything in an organization well it can change everything in a life because when you think about you know most of us have to work just to survive and most of us are spending an awful lot of time at work you know doing what we do and and that becomes sometimes our primary family if not our secondary family and when you create a culture where you can be safe where you can come and say you know show up however you are or or you can come in and know that you can come talk to your manager or your supervisor and you can say look i'm really struggling today and i need some help well i mean that's that's a deal changer that changes not just that person's life to know that they've been heard that somebody's listening to them and that they have a safe place but it changes the trajectory of their illness too and and of their healing and recovery and it makes it exponential how they can recover because somebody cares and they know somebody cares because they showed them yeah you know it comes down to i think we talk a really great game in the in the workplace around being more compassionate and humanizing but you know where does it really count and and where it counts is you know utah i'm going to talk utah for just a minute here because that's where i'm at you know we lead the nation in depression and that's by hard data that's by prescriptions and you know everything that goes along so that's hard data and we're number five by last count i know that jumps from five to eight but number five in suicide in all the united states so so when you yeah and again those stats jump because there's you know there's there's a couple back and forth my point of that though is is we have we have to do different i mean there is no and and honestly what we've seen through the pandemic as stressful as it's been has been it's shined a light on people's mental health and on these issues in a way where i think people are are now starting you know it's no different than when all the sexual harassment cases were going on and then all of a sudden sexual harassment training was required right with a lot of companies so that there is a silver lining in the respect of one companies can't ignore it any longer like even from a crisis perspective they can't number two and and this is maybe the best news of all most employees are now demanding a more robust mental health benefit when they're looking for jobs so so that's exciting i mean we have grown in the last year we've quadrupled in size as a company uh with with uh nothing but but but that picking up steam and and kurt i wanna i wanna go back to something on the analytics so we we've had this discussion we consider ourselves an analytics company as well so we track a lot of data and we have started to partner with even some of the healthcare carriers to start tracking the hard stuff like emergency room visits opioid prescriptions and seeing if we can take that information and create trainings and and videos and education to be more proactive so if i go back to my metaphor of of waiting you know not brushing my teeth not taking care of myself until i need a root canal what blue novus is doing in the workplace is we're teaching companies how to brush their teeth every day that's it and then here's the good news it's not it's not a heavy lift as soon as you can see it it really is it's it's incredible like like our our partners are raving fans because they hear they're actually hearing from their employees about their experiences so you know we're helping them open that conversation but more importantly we're able to support people proactively and upstream and then in the event that they need treatment then we we're able to also help them navigate that in a beautiful very respectful easy way i am i think it's it's really amazing what you do and and how you're out there in the in the industry and in in in the world of work right the workspace and my head goes back to you telling your story of being in jail and some of the some of these some of these guys that you're in jail with and and some of their history and what they do and i can i can hear i can see them sitting here listening to this conversation going yeah right james you're talking about guys that are in your league you're talking about people that have an affluent life or that had opportunities that i didn't have is this for is this for the guy that's been you know lived a good share of his life in jail or in prison and didn't have that support as a kid is this for the same is it for them the same as it is for everyone else yeah so i'm going to go back to what i see that is an innate in all of this and what i see is it doesn't matter what your past was it doesn't matter what opportunities you had or didn't have i see that there is there is this energy behind life that as we open up to that and we don't get so caught up in our heads see the problem is is that most of us we have this belief system thinking we're a certain way and i can only have you know this kind of a life and and the moment you can see where your experience really comes from and notice that it has nothing to do with your circumstances and we're living our lives moment to moment to moment um from the inside out and we're experiencing that through what i call the thought feeling relationship um it opens you up to i mean listen when i when i got out of jail i i couldn't have got a job at mcdonald's you guys like i may have had some skill sets from the past but i really could have let that get me down and go ah and yeah there was a struggle like i i feel it i know it um this program i mean we we help not only the employees of these organizations we help all their loved ones which includes people who have no insurance who have been habitually in and out of jail so our program is for any and everyone and then in particular the work i do um outside of blue novus with whether it's my retreats or my courses or my trainings like i i'm a champion for i like in my heart of hearts i'm a champion for the underdog like i you know i still have close friends that i was in jail with that have been habitually in and out of jail their whole life you know their dad was teaching them how to cook meth when they were 13. so to me i and call this the optimist in me but i think it's deeper than that i see we all have the birthright of living in mental health and healthy productive lives we just don't think we do i could not agree more and i love that you use that word birthright we're born to it but we got to be able to believe it it reminds me we just we just had a conversation with um todd sylvester i don't know if you know who todd sylvester is right he's amazing and and he you know he's very much about belief and and he kind of shared some of those very same ideas is that it really is about believing it and if you get one other person that sits across from you as willing to listen and believe in you that can sometimes change everything well and i would suggest i i i have noticed in my own life i think there's something deeper than belief i really do i i because i'm going to tell you i had it knowing this that i would never use again 13 and a half years ago i couldn't explain it i i actually felt very hesitant as i shared for years that i would not even utter that and and i and and that's it's just i think there is there is something beautiful underneath even the belief systems and the thinking that provides us with even a deeper knowingness of who we are and that's that's where that insight lives you know that new that new wisdom that deeper wisdom that comes through so just something that you know that i would throw out there that uh i i think is interesting to explore i love it and and i don't think that those systems right that belief system and that feeling system and our neurological pathways i don't think they exist separate from each other they all intertwine right and so if you can change it in one space regardless of where it is it starts to impact the rest of them but i don't disagree with you because some of the very biggest changes of my life are on a feeling on a gut knowing if you want to say or a spiritual level and then the belief follows so i don't disagree with you and sometimes as my sister who's life coaching it right and she'll say no it's all about your belief system and what you think and if you change that it changes everything else so i don't think we need to get on that but i agree with you that's another podcast yeah right that's exactly right but but you know james you've talked about some pretty incredible things and you've shared some ideas that are and put into practice is are going to change our worlds our work worlds our work lives and then again our families in our communities and and you're gonna and you're so inspiring what you've done is incredible people are going to want to get a hold of you they're going to want to know you know how to access your resources and what you've put together tell them how to do that what's the best way yeah well if you want to get a hold of me uh directly you can find me i'm i'm pretty active on both linkedin and instagram a little bit on twitter but mostly linkedin and instagram and it's really simple uh just my name james hadlock and uh and then if you want to learn more about our business and bluenovis and our emotional support platform and leadership trainings that's just at and that's spelled b is in boy l u n is nancy o b is in victor u s dot com perfect fascinating you mentioned some pretty cool um companies you know shout outs and kudos to those groups for doing that exciting it'll be exciting to see how this rolls out and see the success that you find from here yeah thanks kurt thanks shelly this has been a real pleasure i appreciate all the work you two are doing too thanks well i'm excited to catch up with you here in another year and see just see exactly what you've done and how much you've been able to impact lives yeah thanks you too okay thanks james

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