Kean Graham: “No harmony is possible without achieving mental wellness”

Focus on You: In the age of social media, a lot of dissatisfaction is caused by comparing oneself to other’s portrayal of their lives. To encourage a stable and healthy state of mental wellbeing, it’s important to avoid any urge to compare one’s life to others. That is a big step towards unconditional happiness of […]

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Focus on You: In the age of social media, a lot of dissatisfaction is caused by comparing oneself to other’s portrayal of their lives. To encourage a stable and healthy state of mental wellbeing, it’s important to avoid any urge to compare one’s life to others. That is a big step towards unconditional happiness of who you are and what you have.

As a part of my series about “Mental Health Champions” helping to normalize the focus on mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Kean Graham. Kean is the CEO of MonetizeMore, an 8-figure ad tech company that is a Google Certified Partner with 100+ full-time team members remotely based across the planet. MonetizeMore was conceived in the mountains of Machu Picchu and has grown to 20M dollars in revenues. Graham has traveled to over 90 countries during the 9 years that he has been growing MonetizeMore.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

I originally fell in love with the online industry when working for a large online classified network. The job was an immense learning experience but once the recession hit, the company decided to lay off the marketing department. I lost the best job I ever had but I was determined to turn the bad into something great.

Five days later, I’m on a plane to South America to go on a life changing trip. Four months into my backpacking trip I was on a four-day trek through the incredible Inca trail towards Machu Picchu. By the end of it, I was sitting on top of Wayna Picchu reflecting on my experiences throughout my trip. I have had the most fulfilling time of my life and it finally clicked:

I will work and travel when I want, where I want.

I have to start a digital business to enable this autonomous lifestyle. I came back to Canada with the goal to create a business that would offer value via increasing revenues for businesses in a measurable way using digital means.

I decided to use my old employer as a case study. There largest revenue source was Google AdSense. When I realized Google had a monopoly over their ad inventory, I saw the opportunity. I came up with a proposal to increase their ad revenues by initiating and optimizing an auction that would compete Google against other ad networks. I offered to charge them only on a percentage of their increased ad revenues. Since there was no risk on their side, they happily tried it out.

According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?

The majority of Americans associate mental illness with extreme cases where people are not functional within society. Unfortunately, most would incorrectly picture someone with a mental illness in a stray jacket or a psychiatric ward.

The spectrum for mental illness is a lot more broad than you average American is aware of. Americans should be made aware of the wide variety of mental illnesses there are and how common they can be.

Most Americans don’t realize the possibility of how mental illnesses can be overcome. With the proper resources and an empowered attitude, some people can triumph from their mental illnesses and become stronger and more stable than they’ve ever been.

Can you tell our readers about how you are helping to de-stigmatize the focus on mental wellness?

MonetizeMore focuses on work lifestyle harmony and encourages it within each team. This is the optimal integration of work and lifestyle to get the most out of each. When someone is empowered with location and schedule freedom, they have the ability to engineer their ideal lifestyle and eventually achieve work lifestyle harmony.

A big part of achieving work lifestyle harmony is focusing on mental wellness. No harmony is possible without achieving mental wellness. A big step towards achieving mental wellness is engineering one’s ideal lifestyle which is a very different equation from one person to the next.

At MonetizeMore, we take mental wellness very seriously by making it a consistent topic via HR announcements, questionnaires, 1on1s and team member assessments amongst leaders. There is a high correlation between average team member mental wellness and achieving company goals. Therefore, we are incentivized to value mental wellness and encourage this focus amongst each of our team members.

Was there a story behind why you decided to launch this initiative?

We released our Company Culture initiative back in 2013. When I started hiring full-time team members, I realized that I had to be purposeful with shaping MonetizeMore’s company culture. This was especially important because we are 100% location independent. A virtual office setting without a purposeful company culture manifestation could end with negative traits like lethargy, apathy, lack of ownership of responsibilities and unreliability.

Therefore, I had a lot of reasons to shape a company culture that would proliferate MonetizeMore in the long-term. It took many years in the making for MonetizeMore to see material benefits of this purposeful culture. Today, we see huge benefits of the momentum we’ve built with our company culture and the team members who are advocates who truly believe in the values of the company and ensure the execution on a day-to-day basis.

In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?

Individuals: People should encourage their loved ones to value the importance of focusing on mental wellness. A lack of awareness could lead to insufficient levels of mental wellness and a helpless outlook on being able to improve one’s mental state. Empowerment to get through mental wellness issues should come from those that are closest to them.

Society: Perception of mental wellness from society is skeptical at best. Societal perceptions sometimes take generations to change, however, long-term efforts are worth the additional utility. Society should encourage more open conversations of mental wellness to promote awareness and encourage healing when possible.

Government: The government could be the greatest driver for mental wellness awareness and incentives amongst its population. This can be achieved via government grants for organizations who promote mental wellness, tax breaks for businesses that achieve average team member mental wellness benchmarks and to provide necessary resources to enable healing for those that struggle with lack of mental wellness.

What are your 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

Reflection: Oneself is the best determiner of their own mental wellness. Reflection can be difficult these days with so many distractions in day-to-day lives. Regular solitude can be the best medicine to encourage reflection to get the best idea of one’s mental wellness. During my travels around the World, I embrace solitude to encourage my own reflection whether it’s on a plane looking out of a window, a weekend camping on my own or a solo round of golf.

Initiative: Many people are aware of their lack of mental wellbeing but also lack the initiative to take action. Mental wellbeing issues do not tend to fix themselves. Often times, healing requires uncomfortable reflection, asking oneself tough questions and tough life changes. Without initiative, most people are doomed to stagnant levels of mental wellbeing.

Learning: Education is one of the best ways to empower oneself with the tools to improve their mental wellness. The most accessible and sometimes the most powerful can be found via books, articles, conferences, lectures and podcasts. There’s no lack of useful resources to dig someone out of a mental wellness pit.

Conversations: Making oneself vulnerable and to talk about their mental wellbeing can prove to be a great healing process and can promote greater awareness of one’s mental wellbeing. Talking about one’s problems with those that they trust can alleviate anxiety and improve relationships which could have been the original source of the mental wellness deficit.

Observing: It’s important for people to step back and observe their internal reactions to outside stimuli. This is a great practice to learn about one’s self and improve emotional IQ by responding rather than reacting. High emotional IQ enables one to be more in control of the quality of relationships and interactions. Gaining the power to improve relationships at will is an incredible tool to improve one’s mental wellness because quality of relationships have been proven to be highly correlated with mental wellbeing.

Focus on You: In the age of social media, a lot of dissatisfaction is caused by comparing oneself to other’s portrayal of their lives. To encourage a stable and healthy state of mental wellbeing, it’s important to avoid any urge to compare one’s life to others. That is a big step towards unconditional happiness of who you are and what you have.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?

Four Hour Work Week: My inspiration to start a location independent business using the 80/20 principal and automate as much as possible came from this book. People started questioning the rat race because of this book. All of a sudden, commuting, working endless hours and dealing with office politics just to save enough for a retirement in their senior years wasn’t necessarily the best option. Four Hour Work Week foretold a better option that lead me to an empowered lifestyle of entrepreneurism, location and schedule freedom which allowed me to engineer my ideal lifestyle and achieve a healthy level of mental wellness. This has been my favourite podcast for a long time. It focuses on problems and opportunities for location independent businesses. While it’s greatest focus is on business, the podcast hosts value and focus on lifestyle. As a result, they constantly reflect on mental wellness and how to assess and manage it in light of running a business and being able to live anywhere in the World.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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