“Mental wellness of employees has to start from the top down. If the executives do not take care of their own mental health, it will set the tone for employees to not take care of theirs as well. We aim to have open communication, for employees to feel comfortable being vulnerable and not bottle up emotions in their personal and professional lives” — Michael Dadashi, Co-Founder of Heart Water®
As a part of my series about the “5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote The Mental Wellness Of Their Employees” I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael and Ylianna Dadashi, Co-Founder of Heart Water®
MICHAEL DADASHI — Clean and sober since 2009, Michael replaced his old attitudes with a new set of principles that motivated him to extend the same Life-saving second chances he had received to others struggling with addiction. He started by employing other recovering addicts at his e-waste recycling business, MHD Enterprises, which he has owned for more than a decade. Defying just about every possible conventional hiring practice, he grew MHD into a nationally recognized award-winning company. In 2014, Michael took his mission to help addicts rebuild their lives one step further by opening Infinite Recovery. His goal was to provide a full continuum of care by equipping clients with the tools and support necessary for a successful second chance at life. In 2017 with the help of his talented wife, Ylianna, they launched a medical detox and residential facility and realized Michael’s dream of providing a full continuum of care. Michael has the unique ability to bridge the gap between business and service to others. Michael supports various non-profit organizations such as Recovery People, Lifesteps, Austin Community College Foundation and serves on the board of Communities for Recovery and Teen and Family Services. Michael’s definition of success is to live life with complete purpose and passion for all he does both personally and professionally.
YLIANNA DADASHI — A McAllen native, Ylianna was the reigning Miss Texas USA in 2015. In July 2015 she went on to represent Texas in the Miss USA pageant placing as first runner-up to Miss USA. Dividing her time between school and traveling for her reign, she graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word with a bachelors degree in Communication Arts. Shortly after Miss USA, Ylianna married the man of her dreams Michael Dadashi and moved to Austin, Texas. Together they launched Infinite Recovery, a full service drug addiction treatment facility. Ylianna is the creative genius behind the look and feel of Infinite Recovery. Her mission is to create a positive experience and a lasting impression for clients and employees alike. As a designer and licensed realtor, Ylianna also directs all of Infinite Recovery’s real estate ventures and development. Ylianna works with various non-profit organizations such as the Austin Community College Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Easter Seals, Proyecto Desarollo Humano and the Texas Children’s Hospital to name a few. Her love for children has allowed her to give back and inspire young people in Texas by teaching them to “always believe” in themselves and the beauty of their goals. Along with her husband Michael, they took Ylianna’s love for helping children to launch their own 501c3, The Heartwater Foundation, whose mission is to “Improve the lives of children suffering from extreme poverty, disease and families of addiction.” Ylianna is a Certified Yoga Instructor that enjoys spiritual retreats, travel, cooking, family time and service work.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, 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?
“Heart Water® came to be on the foundation that blue and red come together to make purple — a metaphor for people coming together regardless of their background and orientation. That is why, in addition to being sustainable, 23% of all profits flow to The Heart Water® Foundation®, helping improve the lives of children suffering from poverty, disease and addiction.
This is a cause very near and dear to us, [Michael and Ylianna Dadashi, Co-Founders of Heart Water®] as we have faced many ups and downs — we have made it a goal to give back in all ways possible.
I [Michael Dadashi] have been clean and sober since 2009 — I replaced my old attitudes with a new set of principles that motivated me to extend the same life-saving second chances that I had received to others struggling with addiction. In 2014, I took our mission to help addicts rebuild their lives and opened Infinite Recovery with my wife (and Co-Founder of Heart Water®) Ylianna. Together, our goal was to provide a full continuum of care by equipping clients with the tools and support necessary for a successful second chance at life. In 2017, we launched a medical detox and residential facility and realized my dream of providing a full continuum of care. I have the unique ability to bridge the gap between business and service to others. Ylianna and I support various non-profit organizations such as Recovery People, Lifesteps, Austin Community College Foundation and serve on the board of Communities for Recovery and Teen and Family Services.” — Michael Dadashi, Co-Founder of Heart Water®
“I [Ylianna Dadashi] am the brain behind the look and feel of Infinite Recovery. My mission is to create a positive experience and a lasting impression for clients and employees alike. As a designer and licensed realtor, I also direct all of Infinite Recovery’s real estate ventures and development. I work with various non-profit organizations such as the Austin Community College Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Easter Seals, Proyecto Desarollo Humano and the Texas Children’s Hospital to name a few. My love for children has allowed me to give back and inspire young people in Texas by teaching them to always believe in themselves and the beauty of their goals. Along with my husband Michael, we launched our own 501c3, The Heartwater Foundation, whose mission is to “Improve the lives of children suffering from extreme poverty, disease and families of addiction.” — Ylianna Dadashi, Co-Founder of Heart Water®
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
“When we first started our social campaign, #PourYourHeartOut, which encouraged people to share their stories and ultimately pour their hearts out, we shared a story of a mother whose daughter had struggled with substance abuse issues. In the story, the mother shared the struggles her daughter faced, and how grateful she was that her daughter eventually found recovery. Months later, a client checked into our treatment facility, Infinite Recovery, who was struggling with heroin addiction — she had decided to check in after reading the story on social media that the mother had written. It just so happened that our nurse at the treatment center was the mother who shared her story and our nurse and client bonded over this twist of positive fate. It just goes to show that the ripple effect of sharing your story can truly save someone’s life.” — Ylianna Dadashi
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
“If you’re not truly passionate about the work you’re doing, then you’re in the wrong industry. If that’s the case, life is too short to do something you are not passionate about. Find your passion, and pour your heart into it. Together, Ylianna and I have created something beautiful that we are able to give 100% into and that is because of our strong passion for giving back to the community” — Michael Dadashi
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
“When you are enthusiastic and passionate about what you’re doing as founders, it feeds into the culture of your work community. Additionally, creating an environment of transparency allows your employees to feel connected and have a mutual respect for one another and authority we have found.” — Ylianna Dadashi
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“‘There is no substitute for persistence! It cannot be supplanted by any other quality! Remember this, and it will hearten you, in the beginning, when the going may seem difficult and slow. Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage.’ -Napoleon Hill
We love this quote because some of us may hit roadblocks in cour careers and companies, but it is actually the universe leading us to the actual path and the direction that the business is intended to run. When we never lose that faith, we truly are pouring our hearts out. We may have temporary failure, but it is actually the universe guiding us to the path of success. “ — Michael Dadashi
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. In recent years many companies have begun offering mental health programs for their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, we would love to hear about five steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?
“5 steps and initiatives we take are:
- Giving employees mental health PTO
- Incorporating meditations before meetings to get centered, set a positive tone, and get everyone on the right frequency
- Incorporating Law of Attraction vision boards, allowing employees to envision what they want to manifest and how they want to grow.
- Staff Yoga
- As founders and owners we are very vulnerable about our own mental health story and journey, encourage employees to seek therapy or counselors when needed, and support them through the process”
– Ylianna Dadashi
These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?
“Mental wellness of employees has to start from the top down. If the executives do not take care of their own mental health, it will set the tone for employees to not take care of theirs as well. We aim to have open communication, for employees to feel comfortable being vulnerable and not bottle up emotions in their personal and professional lives” — Michael Dadashi
From your experience or research, what are different steps that each of us as individuals, as a community and as a society, can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling stressed, depressed, anxious and having other mental health issues ? Can you explain?
“We strongly encourage our employees to not be afraid to ask for help, and most importantly not to bottle up emotions and issues. It’s all about setting the tone for being open and honest in the workplace and in life, that is why Michael and I often share our personal stories with our staff to create an open line of communication between us and our employees.” — Ylianna Dadashi
Habits can play a huge role in mental wellness. What are the best strategies you would suggest to develop good healthy habits for optimal mental wellness that can replace any poor habits?
“We often recommend and practice nourishing and focusing on the mind, body and spirit, holistically and beyond. Finding the right coping mechanisms when those harder thoughts creep in is always very helpful to keep a clear mindset. This is especially important as we run our businesses.” — Michael Dadashi
Do you use any meditation, breathing or mind-calming practices that promote your mental wellbeing? We’d love to hear about all of them. How have they impacted your own life?
“We both practice mindful meditations, and Ylianna is a certified Yoga instructor. Over the past 4 years we’ve attended mindful meditation retreats with Ram Dass (before his recent passing) to wrap up the end of the year and start the new year off with a clean slate and mindfulness.”
– Michael Dadashi
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
“A book that has made a significant impact on us is The Secret by Rhonda Bryne and Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill –
When Michael and I first met in 2014 we connected on how we both were practicing the law of attraction throughout all aspects of our lives. We were also simultaneously reading Think & Grow Rich. We credit practicing manifestation through the law of attraction to meeting one another that led to creating our life together.” — Ylianna Dadashi
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
“Our goal with Heart Water is that it will have a massive ripple effect on the world. We started five years ago sharing stories of hope which we still do to this day. The main purple color of our company directly correlates to bringing red hearts and blue hearts together. By sharing stories you create empathy for one another. We trademarked “Pour Your Heart Out” for that exact reason. When you ‘pour your heart out’ you never know the ripple effect it will have on another person.” — Michael Dadashi
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
Social Handle: https://www.instagram.com/heartwater/
Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!