A healthy and uplifting work culture begins with the individual and is based on truth. In her book Radical Candor, Kim Scott introduces the concept that you cannot have an effective foundation of truth without empathy. Mindfulness provides an avenue to cultivate empathy, patience, and a sense of free will based on taking responsibility for our actions. By turning our awareness inside of ourselves, we come to realize that our thoughts are often filled with chatter about the past and the future when it’s the present moment that’s most important. Calming this noise helps us live an entirely different life. We learn to think not just of ourselves, but of others, and to respond to the present moment with clear, unbiased intentions.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Perry. He is the President of Benecard PBF. Perry and company are committed to transforming the traditional PBM model to a purely transparent one focused on clinical programs and preventing fraud, waste, and abuse. This plan sponsor/patient-centric approach is a proven model that delivers quality care while reducing prescription costs year over year.
Thank you so much for joining us Michael! What role did mindfulness or spiritual practice play in your life growing up? Do you have a funny or touching story about that?
I experienced mindfulness in my early years but didn’t have a label for it or a concept of it as a formal practice. Over time, in conversing with others, I realized we all experience these moments naturally and spontaneously. Mindfulness occurs as a normal part of life, though we may not recognize it at the moment. Now, as I practice mindfulness in my professional and personal life, I can see and better understand the role it played in my early years.
How do your mindfulness or spiritual practices affect your business and personal life today?
I engage in formal mindfulness practice every morning before coming to work. This sets the context and tone for the entire day. I commit this time to practice every day, under any circumstances, to help me separate subjective emotion from objective truth. As a result, I approach relationships with more compassion. As a leader, it helps me approach interactions as human relationships and not just in a managerial role. This awareness of the present helps me better define a path on which I strive to have more empathy, to be a more supportive leader and a better human being.
Do you find that you are more successful or less successful because of your integration of spiritual and mindful practices? Can you share an example or story about that with us?
Without a doubt, mindfulness practice has enabled me to be more successful, more creative, and less ego-driven. This resonates with others who seek to have greater connections with others and to be of service to others. When we all share a common, basic element of truth and awareness of the present moment that draws us together.
I have found in applying mindfulness to business, a team approach develops naturally. People and departments come together in more efficient and productive ways. These professional relationships grow with more empathy and a better ability to understand different perspectives. Creativity increases, and each member of the organization share a purpose that motivates them to take ownership of their work and the organization as a whole. The result is a healthier culture throughout our company, which in turn leads to delivering better service.
What would you say is the foundational principle for one to “lead a good life”? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
It all starts with awareness. When you come to understand that you are not your thoughts, that there is another aspect of you and of your existence, you can observe your thoughts. This creates a healthier perception of who you are — in both your personal and professional lives.
At BeneCard PBF, we provide opportunities to learn about mindfulness and support its practice. By bringing this level of awareness to each individual, we foster a more open, transparent and intentional company culture.
Can you share a story about one of the most impactful moments in your spiritual/mindful life?
I recall the moment when I truly understood which aspects of my life contribute to my well-being, and which aspects do not. Mindfulness allows me to focus on what’s truly important, set priorities, and manage distractions.
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?
I’ve had several key influencers on my mindfulness journey. The first was interaction with a leadership coach. He introduced me to the concept of mindfulness nearly seven years ago. That spurred me to look back and examine my emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. I have since had the opportunity to work with two mindfulness coaches who have been especially helpful in expanding and applying my awareness of the present moment. One guided me in taking my new awareness of mindfulness to another level and taught me to engage effectively in formalized practice. Another overlaid a spiritual aspect to mindfulness that has enriched my practice. I have also found The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle indispensable in engaging with mindfulness on a personal and professional level. Without these individuals, my practice and my approach to life and business would not be the same.
Can you share 3 or 4 pieces of advice about how leaders can create a very “healthy and uplifting” work culture?
A healthy and uplifting work culture begins with the individual and is based on truth. In her book Radical Candor, Kim Scott introduces the concept that you cannot have an effective foundation of truth without empathy. Mindfulness provides an avenue to cultivate empathy, patience, and a sense of free will based on taking responsibility for our actions.
By turning our awareness inside of ourselves, we come to realize that our thoughts are often filled with chatter about the past and the future when it’s the present moment that’s most important. Calming this noise helps us live an entirely different life. We learn to think not just of ourselves, but of others, and to respond to the present moment with clear, unbiased intentions.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I came across a concept once that I feel we should all embrace. In your life, you can have a direct influence on a thousand different people. Each of those people will have an influence on a thousand more. You are only one step removed from inspiring a million people. What this concept means to me is that each of us can truly make a difference in this world. If one person practices mindfulness and those benefits carry to each interaction they have with others, then that single person’s practice can have an influence on a million different individuals. Imagine what we can do if we all took just a few moments each day to develop our awareness of the present moment.
How can people follow you and find out more about you?
Follow me on LinkedIn, linkedin.com/in/michael-a-perry