Joy Altimare of EHE Health: “Family”

Family: It’s true, we’ve spent a lot of time with our family over the past few months. But, has it been valued time? Meaning, are we looking at the homeschooling scenario as a time to interact with our kids and learn more about their education experience? Valued time with family is about leaning into what […]

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Family: It’s true, we’ve spent a lot of time with our family over the past few months. But, has it been valued time? Meaning, are we looking at the homeschooling scenario as a time to interact with our kids and learn more about their education experience? Valued time with family is about leaning into what is important to our kids, our partners and our parents. If we’ve learned anything through this pandemic, it is that tomorrow isn’t promised. So, the beautiful moments that we can create and share with our love-ones is the most important lesson to carry into 2021.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.

As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joy Altimare.

Joy Altimare is the Chief Engagement and Brand Officer at the industry-leader in health and prevention for over 100 years, EHE Health. With over 16 years of experience in the marketing field, Joy has become an expert adviser to organizations looking to tackle growth, innovation, and technology challenges. Prior to joining the healthcare world, Joy worked on brands such as L’Oreal, Verizon, and Colgate-Palmolive, and at such agencies as Ogilvy+Mather, GREY and Publicis.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

As early as 5 years old, I can remember waking up early for summer swim team, being 13 years old and joining my dad for a bike ride as he trained for the next triathlon or pitching the opportunity to transfer my PE credit into the practical hours needed to earn my ACE certification as I led a step aerobics classes at my all-girls high school.

Even now, I am known as the early-adopter among my group of friends and I crave new information about how to maximize our lives through healthy habits — physical, mental and spiritual.

As an advertiser, working with some of the best brands and agencies, I’ve have always understood the connection between the mind and behavior. I started my career at the one of the best agencies — Arnold Worldwide — on the best account experience, working on the American Legacy Foundation’s TRUTH campaign. There I learned the importance of being confident in my opinion, being accountable for my responsibilities and how to manage multiple projects and personalities. As a woman who knows that I have a voice and a mind, I am now a vocal champion of cognitive lifestyle behavior as a leading contributor to performance and productivity.

When I’m not leading the marketing and revenue efforts as the Chief Engagement and Brand Officer for EHE — a preventive health company specializing in elevating access and the level of employee base care — I spend my time working with women wellness entrepreneurs — dieticians, physiologists, mindful coaches.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

Typically, I am the only woman of color in the room. With the exception of when I worked at the best African-American agencies — Burrell, UniWorld and Carol H. Williams, I usually the only woman of color in the room among white men. So, I’ve had several experiences where comments have flown past me, as if I wasn’t in the room. The most interesting time was when a 60ish-whie man made a very ignorant, socially unaware comment about the impending wedding between Megan Markle and Prince Harry during a lunch meeting. I will not go into detail; but, the comment was so wrong on every –ism level, that it was interesting to me that he didn’t realize that — without my prompting — every one of our colleagues excused themselves from the lunch. Until it was just the two of us and I had to point out to him his offensive comment and the “social-distancing” repercussions that he would soon face.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, so many exciting things right now. As a health care company focusing on preventive care, we’ve been steadily busy since the pandemic working on how to safely get Americans back to work — pre vaccine and post. It’s super exciting to be able to be a positive part of this historical moment and. We have impacted thousands of lives with the Safe-at-Work service/product that we stood up immediately after New York requested all employees stay at home. While many of American employees are working from home, essential workers — which includes those who deliver our mail and packages — are still going into work to keep our Country moving forward. It’s an honor to support them during this time to offer them measurable ways to keep them safe.

Additionally, because I always feel like I can be doing more, we’re also working on DEI initiatives that directly address the inequalities in healthcare. COVID-19 highlighted those inequalities — where BIPOC are 2–3x more likely to die from the virus due to the co-morbidities that exist among that population. That said, specialized services that speak to the needs to women — an initiative that helps reduce mortality rate among Black mothers — will help all women and Americans while we fight this horrible virus. Everyone should prioritize their health — and it begins with understanding if you are at risk.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

So many people have been positive influences and have helped me along my journey. I’m originally from Chattanooga, TN, and I was so blessed to have really supportive parents. As an only child, they really poured into me — teaching me the best life lessons around responsibility, empathy and hard work. They sacrificed so much to send me to an all-girls’ school in Chattanooga; and, it was the best educational decision that they made. While there — so many people helped keep me focused and engaged in the learning process — Cathie Kasch, Diane Moore, Ted Tumelaire and many more. In addition to this great education, they also provided me with a broader experience that ensured that I was ‘grounded’. I had the most amazing church community — and my pastor, Pastor W. C. Hunter, was an excellent teacher of faith — and it practical application to today’s world. Many, many lessons I learned during that time truly carry me today.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?

This pandemic has drastically altered how we show up for the responsibilities at work — and at home. The data is staggering — the new data from the Lean In and McKinsey & Company shows that women are disproportionally affected by today’s pandemic. The new “Women in the Workplace” report found that one in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to the impact of Covid-19. This is alarming on so many levels, but the residual effect of this at that coronavirus is hitting us hard today and, according to the data, it has the potential to threaten or undo all the great progress we’ve made regarding gender and pay parity, increases of women in leadership and the C-Suite, and demonstrating that women can successfully manage career and home.

A recent CHIEF study revealed that women are shouldering more responsibility and taking on the invisible work of caring for other employees, regardless of their caregiver status or personal situation:

  • 70% of CHIEF respondents said they have taken on more professional responsibilities since the start of the pandemic
  • 45% said that managing others while dealing with their own challenges has been their biggest hurdle

And, for BIPOC, feelings of stress and isolation have increase at a higher percentage than their white counterparts — which further exasperates the inequalities that exist in healthcare:

  • 68% of respondents reported being more or much more isolated and lonely
  • 77% reported being more or much more stressed
  • BIPOC executive women were more likely to say they were “much more stressed” than their white counterparts (49% vs 37%)

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

Gain perspective. Be Intentional. Ask for help.

I’ve long abandoned the “I have to do everything, perfectly” mentality as I became a working mom. While I will always put my best foot forward as it relates to driving growth within my role as the CMO of an ambitious organization, I maintain balance by leaning into perspective and being intentional about how I spend my time, energy and expertise. I ask for help when I need to and I focus on a growth mindset. In life, as well as any job, you’ll encounter disappointments and frustrations. The ability to persevere — or the ability to frame your thinking that reflects viewing your capabilities, talents and intelligence as skills you can grow and improve upon — is critical. We’re spending more time on zoom calls and less time partnering through in-person interactions, so this can be difficult. It requires mental stamina and patience, but once it’s mastered, it allows you to stay peaceful during the storm so that you can clearly chart a path forward.

Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

I think most women are juggling the demands of being a professional, career-focused woman and being the primary caregiver. Pre-COVID, many women had dependable childcare (or at least their kids were in school most of the day) and they could cleanly separate their two worlds. Now, most women — 8 out of 10 — who are also mother report that they feel as though that they are working harder than their non-caregiver co-workers.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

See below…

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Do as many things before you need them — like meal prep for the week; and leverage technology for convenience.

As a busy mom who is also working full time, I’ve realized that if I can have things prepared before I need them — there is a greater chance for me to enjoy the time I spend together with my family. Therefore, I usually dedicate time on Sunday to create all the components of a dish that will greatly serve the hungry tummies of the entire household. While I don’t make full meals, I create items that allow for variety to meet everyone’s tastes. So, I bake a whole chicken, I make BBQ chicken wings, I create salmon and shrimp. I’ll steam broccoli and peas, make carrots and asparagus and then jasmine rice and pasta. This allow my daughter to learn to make great choices and that she never has the same meal twice.

Also, I now longer feel like I need to do everything personally. That said, I am so comfortable having EVERYthing delivered to my home. I love Amazon — I create a running list and order everything on Friday so that I get it delivered over the he weekend and I have time to put it away. This includes toiletries, sundries, home goods, and topical items for our holiday celebrations in our home. I also use Whole Foods to order most of my groceries (although I love to pick up fresh flowers, produce and meat/poultry when needed.

All of these practical tips help me keep a focused mind — both at home and at work — and really allow me to present my best self to my family.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?

First, I believe in the power of positive affirmation. I model it for my daughter.

Spending time to meditate and do a spiritual devotion, daily.

Every morning, I spend a little quiet time alone, I journal a bit and then I speak positivity into the day. I also have parts of my affirmation posted around the house and office. It’s a great reminder throughout the day to pause, check-in with myself and stay focused on things that move me towards progress. Now, my daughter has her own affirmation that she says during breakfast and I’ve watched her carry that confidence when she is in the virtual classroom, when things become a bit too hard on the computer; she pauses, closes her eyes, takes a deep breath and says a few positive phrases to maintain her calmness.

While it doesn’t work like magic — Tada! Computer fixed!! — it is a magical scene too observe. And, while she’s been practicing her affirmation since she was 3 years old, this season of unpredictability has allowed her to really lean into that foundation to center herself whenever she needs to. I actually find it reassuring that she has that resource/tool that, hopefully, she’ll carry with her into her teenage years and adulthood.

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons to Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

  1. Gratitude: never has the phrase “Health is Wealth” meant more than it does now. As we near our 9th month of COVID and its effect on the population, I am grateful to have a healthy body and mind to carry me into 2021. This year, I am so thankful for the amazing care that I’m privilege to have — and it’s one that allows me to a part of positive change for my family, my community and my Country. Our organization, EHE Health, is a pivotal player in keeping American safe and healthy — both physically and mentally — during this incredibly unpredictable pandemic. And, for access to evidence-based science and testing to keep me and my family safe, I am truly thankful. Showing up every day — either in the office or via zoom — allows me to express my gratitude, while modeling it for my daughter.
  2. Family: It’s true, we’ve spent a lot of time with our family over the past few months. But, has it been valued time? Meaning, are we looking at the homeschooling scenario as a time to interact with our kids and learn more about their education experience? Valued time with family is about leaning into what is important to our kids, our partners and our parents. If we’ve learned anything through this pandemic, it is that tomorrow isn’t promised. So, the beautiful moments that we can create and share with our love-ones is the most important lesson to carry into 2021.
  3. Perspective. More than anything, the lock-down forced us to slow-down and gain a bit more perspective on what it is we want our life to mean. For me, it was important for me to look at 1) my values, 2) the values of the friend group and 3) the values of my community. Where are we aligned? Where are we not? Am I living a mission driven life — and am I surrounding myself with those who a pursuing a mission driven life? If not, how can I extricate myself move towards a more intentional life that can add greater positivity and perspective for my future? This was so helpful for me during months 5 and 6 of the “new-Covid normal” — while everything around us was beyond our control, practicing my daily affirmation helped to center me and give me an invaluable perspective on the current situation and what I could and could not control. Focusing on wanting to emerge from this season with greater perspective of the future I wanted to build for me, and my family is at the forefront of my daily intention and tasks.
  4. Do not normalize fear. Revisiting the concept of modeling the behavior we want for our children; this is a super important lesson that we should embrace as we enter 2021. The facts are that we’re currently in a second wave of this pandemic, many of us are still working and learning from home — or will return to that at-home scenario in the new year. Or, alternatively, we may be faced with the mandate of returning to our offices/travel schedules in January. Either way, fear is there. It’s present and usually visits us when we’re alone and still and thinking. That said, a key lesson we should embrace for the future is to not normalize fear for ourselves or our children. Developing a healthy respect is valuable; but, meditating on the hypothetical scenarios can be unproductive and rehabilitating. Not ideal for forward momentum. That said, face the realty and truths of our situation, but refuse to be paralyzed by fear. Get the facts, make a game plan and lead yourself, your family and community towards prosperity.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Although most of us are still spending most (if not all) of our time in the same home, it’s really important to spend individual, one-on-one time with your partner and children.

I call it “special time-in,” and it’s a great way to be present with each person you love to reinforce how special they are.

It could be as simple as making cookies together, while you ask some questions to check in on their schoolwork and mental stamina; or maybe 15 minutes in the morning for a cup of tea (and maybe juice for the kiddo). This works for kids of all ages; individual, uninterrupted (no cell phones!) time with each of them helps everyone feel special and ready to be their best selves. You can also mimic this with your extended family via zoom.

For your partner, commit to a “date-night-in” where you cook a new recipe together (order pizza for the kiddos) and enjoy a new bottle of wine. Reconnecting emotional with your spouse is so important to keep a sense of connection while we all navigate this unpredictable time.

While being productive is important, it’s also key to decide, today, where you want your family to be when we get on the other side of this pandemic. When this school year is over and we’ve figured out a way for all kiddos to be in class and we no longer have the benefit of time together, where do you want your family unit to be? When you both have returned to a schedule that includes in-office time, traveling, etc., how do you want your love ones to feel? Stronger together? Happy and positive? Loving and supportive? That’s the focus — to emerge better than how we entered. And part of that is listening to yourself and carving out time to listen to your spouse, kiddos and friends to create a sense of support and peace, despite the pandemic.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have two — and they are so relevant as they help center me, especially during our currently, unprecedented time. I live facing forward — it’s something that my grandmother, Ella Geneva (yes, my daughter, Ella Helene is named after her) taught me very early in my life. She was the most beautiful, fiercest person I ever met. Until I met my full adult self. Here are two other quotes/lesson that use often to remind me of “who I am” when life is a bit unpredictable and tough:

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”
Stephen Covey

“Mistakes are a fact of life: It is the response to the error that counts.”
Nikki Giovanni

How can our readers follow you online?

Insta: @joyaltimare 
LinkedIn: Joy Allen-Altimare

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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