Talk to people. When I was running a large organization I made the point of talking to the people. Not to the employees, rather the person sitting there. Everyone needs a hug from time to time, but everyone can use a selfless ear and positive energy. Leaders are people too and the best ones are the ones who will make sure their people are heard, with ears and also with the heart.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Mario Veraldo.
Now he is the CEO of the start-up Reinvention Revolution but until October 2018, Mario spent 24 years in the world’s largest shipping line Maersk Line with a career in which he started as an office boy in Santos Brazil and finished in Mexico where he was the CEO of the business for Mexico and Central America. The time was right to help people reinvent themselves and their business due to the unprecedented development in multiple industries, the low barriers for entry in different businesses, and the convergence of diverse technology. COVID-19 made the interest grow tremendously, especially as people understood that the acceleration Mario has been talking about for years, it is now real and more pressing than ever.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! 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?
InAugust 2018, the company I had worked for during 24 decided it was time for me to continue my career somewhere else. It not different than in many of the times I had moved before, however this time, I had one of my daughters starting 1st grade and did not feel it was the right time to move.
That is when I decided to start helping people Reinventing themselves. I was an amazing life transformation for me and wonderful to see how reinvention resounds with people.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
It was the early days, and I was selling TV sets for living. One gentleman walked into the store and pointed at the most expensive TV set in there. He did not dress like someone who would buy anything in the store to be quite honest. I did not take him seriously until he got upset at me. He showed me a cash stack and proved that he was indeed a customer I should pay attention.
I am grateful for that lesson so early in my life. It was pivotal for never taking anyone or anything for granted.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I think the story above was pretty humorous after the fact. I was scared about the whole situation. However after that he took me to his very large car and tipped me. Somehow I think he was laughing on the way back home. I learned a great lesson that day.
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?
There were several people along the way. I was always looking for someone who could teach me, and also that I could contribute to that person. The idea that someone will invest time in you if you are not willing to spend time on them is a misconception.
My first boss in Maersk is probably the most impactful person still today, Wlademir Xavier. He was the operations manager, and I was the water boy and driver — he told me to work as hard as I could because that would lead to the development, and that would lead to opportunities. He was the person who took me by the hand and showed me the path forward. My first international business travel I did with him at age 20. And then I never stopped. I am forever grateful.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
First work and life are intertwined like never before. You have to find the peaceful, recharging moments during your day. Sometimes it is about having a reflective moment between activities. Sometimes it is a breathing exercise. Sometimes it is a cup of coffee.
The important thing is that there is a purpose to the peaceful moment. If you understand the value of the time you are investing in you (albeit small), you will ensure your calendar has that set for you.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Talk to people. When I was running a large organization I made the point of talking to the people. Not to the employees, rather the person sitting there. Everyone needs a hug from time to time, but everyone can use a selfless ear and positive energy.
Leaders are people too and the best ones are the ones who will make sure their people are heard, with ears and also with the heart.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.
I completely agreed mental health is not binary. Somedays we are dark, somedays we are bright and many days we are somewhere in between. What is happening now with COVID-19 is not only a sanitary and economical crisis. It is also a psychological crisis — we are social beings and not being able to do that will certain demand more effort from all of us to ensure we are balanced. So my five are:
- Establish and follow routines: something you adore doing before starting your day or on the very end of it. Nothing works for me, like playing guitar before the sun rises. Why? It gives me a sense of accomplishment that I need to energize during the day.
- Reduce your cognitive load: I have the feeling I can do many things at the same time. I am wrong. I can do one thing at the time and when I realized that my life changed.
- Focus on a space that allows for well-being: even if you do not have a large place, having a corner where you can unplug and sit quietly for a few minutes will make a huge difference.
- Walk: I make an effort to walk as much as I can. If you have a phone call and can walk, walk. If you have a meeting you can walk, walk. Have 5 minutes, walk. The movement will allow you to decompress and change the mood immediately. I usually schedule 1 hour a day to lump meetings that I can take walking. It helps get me to the 10,000 steps one needs daily.
- Close your eyes: Now. You just opened them. For real, close your eyes, take a deep, deeper breath, and stay like that for one minute. We underestimate the small routines that will make us decompress. Going into autopilot is a threat to our mental health. Focusing on taking control of how we feel is vital to enjoy the pleasant moments that life brings and withstand the bad ones.
Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
Well, you could argue that retirement is a reinvention. Purposefulness is critical in this process. I usually ask my customers about their ability to understand why they are making the decision to reinvent themselves. Retirement is a reinvention most of us were taught to dream of. Planning for is critical, and creating a purpose on what you will do with the time you have is the most vital decision you will make in your life.
How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?
Create ANYTHING !! We seldom dare to lean out and create something. Instead, we are taught to consume. Well, statues are made for the creators, not the consumers. Failing early on is a great way to learn and improve. Do not get discouraged. One of the best-kept secrets I have is I write songs. I don’t know if they are good or bad — I don’t care. I started when I was 14, and almost 30 years, I still do it, nearly every day.
Creating for oneself is the first step to self-compassion and also a growth mindset.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
When I read The 100-Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott that I realized things had evolved to the point where a lot of the ideas I had would become opportunities in the years to come. I was driving around New Jersey, listening to the audio book and then decided to stop and buy the physical book to start taking notes.
Imagine you are going to live to 100 years. Would your decisions by different? Would you be bolder in your choices? Would you plan your life and career differently? That is how Reinvention Revolution started.
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. 🙂
I love that question. The Reinvention Revolution is about helping people. It is about showing the path that you can actually focus on something you are passionate about, create a side hustle that can, in time, become a full-time career. And that you can repeat that model.
Today’s barriers to innovation are low, and we need to teach people how to get that done because that is a 21st-century skill. Learning to Reinvent, that is the Revolution.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“You must become the change you want to see” (Mahatma Gandhi). Over the years, I have seen people pleading for success to strike but not intentionally doing the work of helping others to get there. This is the change I think most people mistakenly avoid.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
We are also developing a weekly newsletter which you can subscribe to on our website http://www.reinventionrevolution.net and a facebook group called you reinventing. All these are free resources and meant to help as many people as we can.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!