April 7 was World Health Day, and May is Mental Health Month. But why talk about health and wellness in the workplace? What can organizations do to promote wellness and help diverse teams thrive?

In this live-streamed episode of Brave Conversations with LCW, Host Larry Baker (he/him) was joined by LCW Consultant Emani Richmond (she/her) as she shared her experience with wellness as a Black woman, DEI practitioner, and certified yoga instructor. Join us as we dive into the cultural factors of personal and professional wellness!

After tuning in to the conversation, we encourage you to share your takeaways on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Show Notes & Highlights

6:00  Emani gives a business case for wellness in the workplace

10:00  Emani describes her personal and professional background in wellness

15:35  Emani explains LCW’s approach to inclusive wellness

20:53  Emani gives three tips to help engage in workplace wellness

26:57  Emani and Larry discuss what goes into effective workplace initiatives

31:38  Emani offers advice on asking for support on your wellness journey

37:38  Larry points out generational difference in an approach to wellness

39:10  Emani explains how keeping conversations going moves the needle on wellness


Show Transcript

Larry Baker: Hello, and welcome to Brave Conversations with LCW. I’m your host, Larry Baker, and I use he/him pronouns. For those of you that are unfamiliar with LCW, we are a global DE&I training, consulting, and translation firm that partners with organizations to develop mindsets, skills, and systems to succeed in a culturally diverse world.

Hello everyone and welcome to Brave Conversations with LCW Live. My name is Larry Baker, and I am your host. I use the pronouns of he and him. And today we will be preparing for Mental Health Month by focusing on our overall, culturally inclusive wellness. Some of you may know that on April 7th, that was actually World Health Day. Some of you may also know that Mental Health Month is coming up in May. But why should we talk about health and wellness in the workplace, and what can organizations do to promote wellness to help diverse teams thrive?

Well, I am so glad that you asked us that question for today, because today I am super excited to be joined by my colleague Emani Richmond, who is a consultant with LCW and she’s a certified yoga instructor. So welcome, Emani, if you could do us a huge favor and introduce yourself before we get into our session.

Emani Richmond: Absolutely, Larry. I’m just so thrilled to be on this stage, in this platform talking about something that I love. Like I can spend endless hours talking about this. So a bit about me—my name is Emani Richmond. My pronouns are she/her/hers, and I’m currently based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I hold down the Carolinas, and a little bit more about me…

So I have been practicing yoga for well over nine years now, which is wild to say. I started with an intro class in college and just kept rolling with it that way. I also became a certified yoga instructor last fall, so I’ve been able to expand into some other markets and just share that passion and love for movement and wellness.

I also have been plant-based for going on three years. So that’s a bit more about me, and I’m really excited to share more with you, Larry, about me and my wellness journey and the folks that are able to join this conversation live today.

Larry Baker: Awesome, awesome. Thank you so much, Emani. But before we jump right into our conversation, I wanted just to take a moment to make sure that I highlight the chat function for our session today. We want you to participate. We want to hear your reactions. We want you to submit questions throughout this conversation. So if you have questions, you have comments, you have things you wanna say, go ahead and put them in the chat, and we’ll do our very best to answer them throughout our conversation.

So, Emani, I wanna take this moment to be a little bit personal with my relationship with you.

Emani Richmond: Okay. Mm-hmm.

Larry Baker: Because when you first came into the organization talking about this whole wellness perspective and the passion that you had for that, honestly, it kind of took me a moment to get on board with this.

Emani Richmond: (laughs) Mm-hm.

Larry Baker: Cuz to understand that I’m the product of being raised by baby boomers and individuals that were around in the silent generation, and combined with those generational experiences, plus the racial component of my father and my grandfather having the simple fact of they were just happy to have a job.

So for them to engage in conversations about their wellness and taking time for themselves, that was unheard of. So because that was my influence, it was unheard of for me. So when you started talking about things like, you know, vacation time and yoga and all of those different things… I will be perfectly honest with you, I said, “That is absolutely something I am not going to engage in.”

However, your passion for wellbeing, it just made me stop and think about it. And it’s actually become something that I want to incorporate into my day. And I just want to give you a specific shout out for that because your love, your passion, your encouragement truly made me say, “You know what? I probably should think about how this is impacting me.” Because the reality of the work that we do, it’s not just facilitation—it’s like reliving my lived experiences, which can be traumatic, right? So your insight in regards to taking those mental breaks and doing things that are to preserve me, I truly appreciate that. So I just wanted to give you your flowers before we jumped into this session, but I truly feel like your influence, your passion, has given me a different perspective.

So let me ask you this question: why should we consider wellness at work?

Emani Richmond: Yeah. Well, Larry, I first wanna start by saying thank you for sharing the impact that my conversations around wellness has been having with you, because similar to you, a lot of individuals have not been given space in order to hold these conversations—that can be via culture, that can be via your generation, or even your working environment.

So in order for me to stay at LCW long term and for me to be happy while I’m here, I knew that I needed to have an organization that talked about wellness, that offered resources and space to even take part in those resources. I’m grateful to hear that that’s had an impact on you.

But deep diving into just this specific question “Why consider wellness at work?”—similar to what you mentioned, it benefits us all. Within the DE&I field, we’re always talking about the business case for diversity, about how diversity helps us innovate, diversity makes us smarter, and how you can ideate conversations greater with more of that mixture of ideas coming into the table. I view wellness as a part of my toolkit.

In order for me to better show up in this place, I need to make sure that Emani is taken care of so that I’m not allowing other outside distractions to come in. And we know that a lot of folks deal with a number of mental disorders, a number of mental illnesses. And if I am not taking the time to make sure that I’m nourished throughout the day, making sure that I’m hydrated, making sure that my nervous system is regulated, then I’m less present for our clients. I’m less present with my colleagues.

And I found that for myself, instead of wellness or self-care being something that I did outside of work when I’m done with work, I thought, “What if I repositioned that and instead brought wellness in at the beginning? How do we structure our projects so that we have more ease and space in our timeline so that you can make space for when life comes up?” And if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to allow more flexibility for what we matter and then better prioritize that.

But whenever I first center wellness at work, I’m able to then stretch myself in a way that I’m not left feeling empty at the end of my day, but rather I am engaged in rewarding activities that lead me to greater alignment and alignment with my career aspirations, alignment with the way that I wanna show up for my community, and also alignment with specifically how I want to contribute to the different spaces that I’m in.

So whenever I consider wellness at work, I’m allowing space for me to be more present and more effective in the things that I’m doing.

Larry Baker: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much for that, Emani. And shout out to LCW to be perfectly honest with you, because when you brought these concepts into the organization, they were welcome.

Emani Richmond: Right. Encouraged!

Larry Baker: And I was like… okay, we have virtual environments and whatever challenges come with virtual environments, but literally if I told my boss, “Hey, I took a 30-minute walk,” she’s like, “Hey, okay, no problem.” And I’m like, “Wow, this is truly something that they support.” And I do appreciate the fact that I don’t have to feel weird about saying, “Yeah, I just took a 30-minute walk to kinda refresh my mindset.” Or if I have a tough meeting or a tough session, that’s welcome and encouraged. So I appreciate our organization for being that way, but again, you’re spearheading that.

And I think you touched upon your background a little bit, Emani, but I don’t really think you gave the people what the people really needed to hear. So talk to me about your background with wellness, both personally and professionally.

Emani Richmond: Oh, thank you for this question. I was so excited when you presented it because it allows me to go on a little trip. At LCW, we are globally focused, so whenever I have the opportunity to bring in my international experiences that is benefiting me, right through that globally informed lens and also other folks.

So my wellness journey, it actually began in Bangkok, Thailand. I had the incredible privilege to live internationally, to work amongst Thai folks, to really get acclimated into that culture. And I found for myself whenever I was in Thailand in front of beautiful sunsets, meeting incredible travelers from all around the world in different stages and ages of their life, I was not showing up in a way that I wanted to. I noticed myself dimming my light. I noticed myself being less friendly, less outgoing and meeting folks and making those connections. So I thought, “What do I need to change? What do I need to change in order for me to feel differently?” And that started with wellness.

I didn’t have a great relationship with food. I indulged in emotional eating, and a lot of clients that I’ve been able to coach outside of LCW… I support women through their weight-loss transformation programs. They talk about these unhelpful patterns that they have with food.

And I also noticed that instead of me engaging with the folks in front of me, I was anxious, and I was so lost in my thoughts about how am I showing up or what should I say or what should I not say. So my wellness journey began this exploration first into myself around what are my values, what matters to me, and how do I bring that forward in everything that I do? And also what are some difficult decisions that I need to make so that I can start living more fully, so that I can start taking up more space?

So Thailand was the beginning of that. And one other thing that I’ll note just specifically about Thai culture that really influenced the way that I view health, that I view work, or even health at work is something that I noticed in that culture. When I was there, I had the opportunity to do some work with a public school, and at that school they began each day with a morning assembly with the entire school being there. And since Thailand is a Buddhist culture, they began their day with chanting. Folks offered alms and gratitude to the monks, to the folks that were taking care of the environment around them, and then also there was this pause. There was this collective centering right before the day got started.

So that was a huge shift from my individualistic-based kind of mindset that I came from the United States with into this more collectivistic culture. I saw them looking at wellness as being the responsibility of the community. So from there, there was that charge for me—how can I better involve my community in my healing path? I’m doing a disservice to myself if I’m learning all of these helpful tools about how can I get calmer before I go into a meeting, how can I clear my heart, clear my even just emotional baggage, whatever I’m carrying around before I dive into that facilitation… I’m not showing up for my community if I’m not sharing those resources.

So being back in the States at LCW in a culture that is so welcome and receptive towellness conversations is extremely rewarding. But I would say that journey first started being in a different culture, seeing how did they interact with wellness, how do they get centered, and then looking and seeing how can I adapt some of those tools and frameworks to better help me make sense of wellness culture here in the United States and then also help other folks along that journey.

So it’s been a wild ride, and I would say I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way, right? One being everyone doesn’t wanna look like a pretzel, Larry. Everyone doesn’t want to engage in yoga.

Larry Baker: Especially hot yoga, I’m just saying. Especially hot yoga. You know how I felt about that episode.

Emani Richmond: (laughs) I know! And Larry’s referring to, during our retreat last year at LCW, one of the wellness offerings that we had was a group meditation and stretching session that also was in a heated studio, right?

So we’re bringing some of those practices that some folks take it home and then spreading them. How can we make community, especially in this remote virtual environment that we’re working with in LCW? And a lot of folks are working along with that reality as well. How can we share some of those and then create a community of wellness as well?

Larry Baker: Yeah. You mentioned a lot of different pieces to this puzzle, Emani, and what I’m really gathering from your statements is… that wellness program, it differs from one person to another. Because our organization is so focused on inclusivity and making spaces for people to feel included and like they belong, how can we or how can an organization make their wellness culture more inclusive? What are your thoughts around that?

Emani Richmond: Well, I would say something that we try at LCW in order to inform our wellness initiative is first asking folks what do you value, right? What do you care about, and how do you want to better position wellness in your life?

Wellness for me, currently looks like… I have a flexible but somewhat rigid as well wellness routine. So for me, being well means that I’m waking up in the morning, and then at first I get started with my hygiene routine: washing my face and just getting done with the bathroom. And then from there, I’ll move into a yoga practice. So I do about 20 minutes of movement in the morning, maybe some affirmations, and while I’m drinking coffee or something of that nature, I’m also reading a text or maybe reading an article to get my mind warmed up and ready for the day. Lastly, I’ll light an incense because environmental wellness is important to me.

So while working from home, having those divisions in between how do I start my day or what do I do for my lunchtime is something that I’ve taken as a ritual throughout my day. So from there, once I make sure that my needs are taken care of, then I’m able to open my laptop and then give LCW what it needs or give our clients what it needs.

When it comes to asking yourself how does wellness differ from person to person, first a self-assessment needs to happen. As we were launching the wellness initiative at LCW, the first thing that Briza and I did was we created a survey. We are not here working in silos. I think sometimes folks do a disservice whenever you assume that I get in a 30-minute walk every single day, so everybody needs to do this. Well, if my goal or my value is not around movement in this space or season in my life, maybe I wanna prioritize my time being spent on nutrition first, right? So first, having that survey to ask your employees what do they want to hear and see is one way to make your wellness initiatives or actions more culturally inclusive.

And then from there, actually act on the data. How many times do folks take a survey and they say, “Well, why did I spend time doing that? My employer didn’t make any changes?” We then at LCW, through the wellness initiative, we launched so many activities that were centered on what folks at LCW said that they wanted. We were in meetings all day, every day, but people didn’t have much time to just connect with the humans that they were working with. People needed time just to check in with their colleagues, some of that watercooler talk that folks mentioned, right? So we launched an initiative called Flow on Fridays. I have the opportunity now every other Friday to hold space. We bring that cup of coffee, we bring whatever your greatest joy for that day or week was into this informal gathering, and then we also have the opportunity to move through some gentle stretches and breath work.

But that all came from that survey that we initially sent out first asking folks, “How do you wanna bring greater value or how do you wanna bring greater balance into your life?” And then from there, asking folks, “What are some areas of your life that you’re dissatisfied in?” Because how many times do folks spend energy complaining about things, not being solutions-oriented? I wanna provide solutions, resources that folks see how they can clearly get from point A to point B while their wellness is in the forefront of those conversations.

Those are some strategies have helped us and that we’ve seen great success at LCW and look forward to leaning more into as folks deepen their understanding about wellness in general.

Larry Baker: Yeah. Yeah. So you’ve mentioned in regards to how our program has been kicked off at our organization, and you talked about the first thing we did was to take the survey… which again—full transparency—I kind of struggled with that because I never had anyone ask me these types of things at work, and it was almost this feeling of “this really isn’t work related,” right? And until I have that epiphany that’s like, well, If I’m not taking care of myself, then I’m probably not going to be able to do the work at hand. So that’s what helped me to see, “Oh, this is important to actually engage in this survey at this level.”

But that’s just one tip. And Emani, because I know you, and you talk about this with a passion, I know you have some more tips. What are some tips that you would give to that organization that may be 10 times bigger than LCW? What kind of tips can you provide for folks looking to promote this or to engage this in their workplace?

Emani Richmond: Right, I definitely have three tips that folks can take with them today.

So similar to what I first mentioned, ask employees what they believe their levels of wellness currently are. Allow your employees to self-diagnose themselves. Because Larry, I think it is so illuminating for me. I hope I take this data back. We’re gonna act on it. The fact that when you took that survey, it was difficult for you to pause and think about these things… A lot of times folks are just moving throughout their days trying to get things done and then showing up and wearing so many different hats. So first holding that space, like I mentioned, for employees to check in with themselves.

If you’re looking to promote wellness in your organization, what you value is what you spend your time on. If you tell me you value folks having a flexible work policy, but whenever I need to leave early for something then I get a lot of pushback for that, I’m gonna think that your values don’t really align to what you say that they are.

So first asking employees to check in and self-diagnose, and then two, just get the conversation started by holding real space for how you’re doing. How many times, especially in the United States context, do we ask someone, “Hey, how are you?” and then you just respond, “Fine. I’m okay”? One way that I wanted to change that narrative is by taking that moment to pause and ask myself, “No really, how am I?” And then that starts creating some of that psychological safety for us to pause and really check in with one another.

Now, if you don’t have a lot of time to get into everything that’s going on with you, use discernment, use some of that wisdom to mitigate that. But just holding space for you to talk about what you have going on.

And I believe a comment was actually mentioned about how LCW has been really supportive with our colleagues that are going through a number of things.

Larry Baker: Mm-hmm.

Emani Richmond: And then lastly, define what does wellness mean for you. So having that internal definition—I like to call it my wellness manifesto. It includes me inviting more space and ease into my life. I know that I’m well when I’m not rushing from one thing to the next, I have time to breathe in between engagements. So just figuring out for yourself, based off of your culture, based off of your values, what does a well-lived life look and feel like for you?

That can start to help you diagnose and then also create programming that meets employees where they are along their wellness journey and also start to promote a culture of wellbeing in your organization—in a way that’s not just giving lip service to the idea, but supporting folks with what they have going on.

Larry Baker: Yeah. Emani, your statement about your wellness manifesto, that really resonates with me because one of the things that I came to realize is that I needed to have some boundaries, right?

Emani Richmond: Mm-hmm.

Larry Baker: Because with this work from home environment, I find myself, for whatever reason, never shutting off the laptop, right? So anytime if the laptop is up and I look over and I see something there, or I may see something from something else that may inspire me to add something to something else that I’m working on… it was this constant struggle with setting boundaries of when I’m done with work and when I’m at work. And I struggled with setting the boundaries, but what I realized is that once I set those boundaries, it kind of pushed me into a wellness manifesto.

But on the flip side of that, I began to realize that the people that were getting upset with the fact that I had started creating these boundaries, those were the ones who benefited from me not having set up boundaries. So if there was one thing that I could take from that whole illustration of creating a wellness manifesto, it was about setting boundaries.

And it really resonated to something that I’ve been taught, and I don’t even remember who told me this or where I picked this up from, but they told me that in your life, everybody has a start date, or you have a date that you were born, and all of us are going to have an end date. And those two things will be placed on our headstone. But the other thing that’s placed on our headstone is that dash in between the start date and the end date. So the question becomes, what are you doing in the dash? And that really just resonated with me. I forget where I heard that message from, but that question always sunk in with me, and it helped me to understand that this is my life. This is my time, right? This is my story. I need to own that. I need to take charge of that. So that whole wellness manifesto that you just spoke on, it really resonates with that.

Do we have any questions? We can open it up to some questions. Okay, let’s see. I have something,  and this is from Tamika Walters. And Tamika, if I mispronounce your name, I apologize. “I like the idea of a wellness manifesto as a personal practice. Interested in organizational solutions. What sort of workplace programs have you seen that address employees’ wellness goals and priorities?” Emani, wanna take that one?

Emani Richmond: Thank you so much, Tamika, for this question. It is energizing because it’s actually fueled by something that we’ve initially rolled out at LCW that has also came from conversations that I’ve had with other professionals in the wellness industry.

So something that we’re currently offering to our employees are personalized wellness coaching sessions, and what those wellness coaching sessions look like is my colleagues will come into that conversation first with a goal, something that they have predetermined that they wanna focus their efforts and energy on. And then during the conversation we speak about why is this goal important to them, specifically what that goal is, and then lastly, we talk about how can LCW or even me specifically support you in achieving those goals.

So something that’s needed and that’s been effective in promoting that individual wellness is that first setting the goal and then follow up. We have so many initiatives that get started at the beginning of the year with the best of intentions, but without that follow up, without me knowing that you care about this based off of you spending your time that way, then I’m not sure if that’s gonna be effective for me. So setting those goals, having follow up, and then even wrapping those conversations into your biweekly or monthly manager check-ins. So just like this, an agenda item: “How are your relationships going with your clients?” or “Do you need any support on the projects that you’re working with?”

Something that we’ve embedded into our coaching conversations is “How are you? How can can we decrease your workload? Are things manageable for you?” And since LCW, we’ve rolled out an unlimited PTO policy, we’re also moving more in this direction of how do we even assess productivity potentially differently in our organization. So allowing that flexibility and follow up for individuals has proven to be effective.

And, and one more note about that, Tamika, cuz I’m so excited about this question, is we host events and programmings based off of what our employees say that they need help with. There was at least a three-month kind of trajectory where folks were saying, “My back is sore. I need a new office chair.” So we thought, well, let’s have a posture clinic. Are we in this virtual environment? Are we taking care of our body while we’re taking care of everyone else? And if we don’t leave that space to talk about what resource and support will look like, people just continue to dismiss their wellbeing in our practice. So offering events that target areas that folks need support has also been proven to be effective.

Larry Baker: Yeah, and Tamika, one of the things that I’ll say in regards to what types of workplace programs are effective… The reality is it’s not necessarily the program per se; it’s the support within the organization.

Our organization does an extremely wonderful job of not only talking the talk, but walking the walk. And what I mean by that is I don’t believe that I have been in a meeting, at least in the last year and a half or so, where my supervisor has not started off the meeting by asking, “How are you doing? What’s going on in your world? What are you most excited about? What are you concerned about?”

Whatever the program is, it’s not going to be effective without the support. And that’s what any program that you put into your organization—I don’t care if it’s a DEI initiative, I don’t care if it’s a wellness program—if it is not being supported right throughout the organization, from the top to the bottom, it’s going to be challenging for any program to be effective.

So hopefully, Tamika, that helped you. If not, we can pull back and give you some other information a little bit later. But thank you, Tamika, for the question. Anybody else? Any other questions that we have Emani in the space?

So we have a question in regards to how do I ask my employer to support my wellness journey? Great question. I’ll let you start, Emani.

Emani Richmond: Yeah, I think this is a great question because it illuminates the fact that we are all on our own wellness journeys. So I first connect with folks by just getting centered in our humanity. We are all humans going through this human experience. And so sometimes that includes kind of triumphs and things that you wanna celebrate, and then other times you absolutely fall down and you just need to pick yourself back up.

So one way that I would approach asking my employer to support my wellness journey is by asking them first, “What is something that brings you joy in your day that you want more of?” I approach my coaching from a strengths-based perspective. So I first wanna understand what do you enjoy about your life? What do you wish you had more time to do? What makes you feel most alive whenever you’re doing it? So I would throw that question to my employer or maybe to my manager, “What’s something that makes you feel most alive?,” and then that opens up the conversation for me to share more about myself.

Well, it makes me feel really alive whenever I’m practicing yoga. And then once we look at that container of my strengths, from there we can develop strategies or even maybe steps to bring that greater wellbeing and balance into our life. So that might look like somebody making space for you to have that 30-minute walk within your busy work schedule, or that might also look like you perceiving resources for more nutritious lunch options. But if we don’t start from sharing what do you care most about first, then it can just be misaligned, I would say.

Larry, how would you add to this?

Larry Baker: Yeah, for me personally, like I said, having those upfront conversations tend to promote understanding me as a full person or as a whole person. I don’t have a problem with tying it into business results as well, right? So if I’m saying that I’m under stress with X, Y, or Z, and I could use some assistance and A, B, and C, or whatever the case may be, fortunately enough we have created this environment where we can be honest and truthful about what is impacting my overall performance for the organization.

And again, at the end of the day, we’re here to get work done, but if I am not at my best then I’m not going to be able to produce my best work. And I think that because we have this understanding that we want to do the best work that we possibly can for our clients, if there’s something in the way that’s preventing that, I’m a hundred percent comfortable with sharing that with my manager and honestly anyone that’s in leadership within our organization.

Emani Richmond: Larry, I wanna add onto that. How did you create the condition for you to share that? Because it requires a certain level of vulnerability, of transparency for someone to say, “I need help” or “I’m struggling.” So can we just dive into that from maybe even a culture-based standpoint of what that means and looks like and how you’ve built that?

Larry Baker: So for me, I established it based on a DIN model. And what I mean by that is if you do what you say you’re going to do, then I will trust you. And over the years, the relationship that I have with my manager, she has done enough of the ifs that I understand the then. So we’ve established that trust with one another.

But you’re right, it did involve some time where we were like, “Yeah, I’m not really so sure if I should share that.” But I had to understand that in order for me to be my best, I have to get to be able to trust this person. So we established those guidelines and as soon as I saw that she did what she said she was going to do, yes, she earned a little bit more trust.

And when I gave her something that was a little bit transparent and there was no backlash for that, there wasn’t any animosity or hard feelings, then I knew that I can open up and give more. But you gotta start somewhere, right? You gotta take that first step, and however you establish your trust, get it going early so that you can establish that trust as soon as possible. Because at the end of the day, you want to be able to perform at your best level, and if you don’t have trust with that manager, that’s going to cause some conflict.

Emani Richmond: Larry, I’m so grateful that you brought that up because something that hasn’t been surfaced in our conversation yet is for me to gain the trust of my colleagues, that first involved me showing up to them in an authentic, open way, in a way that I’m most comfortable with.

So for folks that are leading wellness initiatives that wanna get that wellbeing conversation started, I want you to be aware of some of that precursor work that has to happen on that front end for folks to believe that you care about their wellbeing, folks that believe that you are able to show up for them in that way. And that’s been really transformative for me in building these relationships and having the success with our initiatives.

Larry Baker: Agree, agree. Let’s see… there’s another question in the chat. “How do we move the needle on conversations about wellness? Larry mentioned generational differences in perspective. How do I make a business case for wellness?” (laughs) That’s such a great question.

Emani Richmond: It is! I wanna get started with the second one a little bit and maybe we can jump in and out. Larry, I’m not sure if you had an initial perspective that you wanted to share… you do?

Larry Baker: Yeah, only about the generational differences. Because honestly when you started this, Emani, I was just like, “Oh my goodness. This generation and all of the things that they wanna bring to the table.”

Emani Richmond: (laughs)  Our beanbag chairs, uh-huh.

Larry Baker: Exactly! I’m like, “Can we just do our job?”

Emani Richmond: No!

Larry Baker: But when I really took time to be open to the possibility that maybe the old way of doing things or the traditional way of doing things… maybe they just don’t work anymore. Because we have been thrust into this new work environment, maybe we need to have some new ideas to get different results.

So that was just for me, my personal difference, because I was just like any other… And I’m not a baby boomer. I’m Gen X, but close enough. I’m like right on the cusp of the baby boomer. At the end of the day, it took your passion and your persistence to get me to have that paradigm shift that says, “You know what? Maybe this isn’t the best way to be. Maybe me being exhausted isn’t a good thing, and there’s more to life than just having these accomplishments at work.”

But I’ll let you expound on your thought with the second part of that question.

Emani Richmond: Absolutely, absolutely. So to answer one part of the question, and I forget which one… Thank you for dropping it back up. In terms of moving the needle on conversations about wellness, keep the conversation going. If you are only talking about wellness in May or for heritage months and days, folks will realize that is not where your value is because you’re not investing time in that conversation.

Larry Baker: Agreed, agreed.

Emani Richmond: One way that we keep that conversation going about wellness is we released a wellness newsletter. So every single month our organization has a focus on which one of the five areas of wellness will we be focusing on tips, tools, and resources for, and then we also follow up those newsletters with programming. So folks have some self-directed learning opportunities. If you wanna get a healthy recipe, if you wanna learn about the impacts of stress on the brain, we have those resources in the newsletter. But if you want to talk to an individual about something that you’re managing, we have Flow on Fridays. We have that human-centered kind of connection.

So one way that we move the needle about wellness is we keep the conversations going. And by keeping those conversations going, wellness has become one of our top strategic priorities for LCW, and it comes from efforts from me and my colleague leading the wellness initiative and then from there also individuals saying, “Thank you for this.” “Oh, I needed this.” And Larry, to your point of, “Well, I didn’t know I should spend time thinking about this, but maybe this really does benefit me.” Let’s dive into that more. So keeping it going, definitely.

Larry Baker: And I can wholeheartedly testify that that’s the reason why I started to engage in it because it wasn’t going away. I thought that if I just wait them out, maybe they’ll stop talking about this stuff. No, every month, every two weeks, and it’s like, “All right, I need to dig into this and see the benefit that it can have for me.” So excellent point.

Anything else? Any other questions that anyone may have? This has been an amazing conversation, and I promise you it makes a difference—it really does—when you start to invest in the wellness of your employees. They truly have that sense of “Oh, they do care more than just what I can give to them.” It’s that reciprocity that I think really gives you the passion to do your work at even greater levels.

So maybe we’ll leave it open for another question or two, but if not I’m gonna definitely give you a moment, Emani, to let the folks know how they can get in touch with you. But I just wanted to check the chat to see if there were any other questions that we needed to address… No more.

All right, so what I’m gonna do, Emani, is first and foremost just to let folks know—or to let you know—that this was such a great conversation with Emani, but the reality is it doesn’t stop here. We really hope that you learned something today and that you share it with your friends, you share it with your coworkers.

Thank you so much again, Emani, for joining me today. But before you go, I do want to give you that space to promote some of your personal and professional endeavors. How can our listeners get in contact with you? So go ahead and respond.

Emani Richmond: Of course. Well thank you Larry for the space, and the best way to get in contact with me: you can find me on LinkedIn at Emani Richmond. And I’m actually working on launching my personal wellness brand. It will be called Rei of Sun, that’s spelled “R E I,” Rei of Sun. You can look forward to personal stretching sessions coming out of that, mindfulness opportunities.

And I also make some body butter on the side because I need my inner and outer wellness to be shining. You see this glow? Okay, I don’t wake up with this. This is created. So following me on LinkedIn will allow you to know about when my website will officially launch and other offerings that are coming.

Larry Baker: Awesome. Awesome. And Emani, I do have a bone to pick with you because you said it was a heated room. No, that room was hot. So don’t try to minimize that. And it was over the summer, so I just wanna understand that that was a hot yoga session, but I definitely appreciate it. So thank you.

Thank you so much, Emani, for joining us or joining me today. And thank you all for joining our conversation. I am Larry Baker, and this has been Brave Conversations with LCW Live. Thank you.

Thank you all so much for joining us, and to all of you who are listening, we want to know—what were your biggest takeaways from this conversation? Please share it with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or you can reach us at Language and Culture Worldwide, or LCW. Until next time, I’m Larry Baker and this has been Brave Conversations with LCW.

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