If you can remove or reduce the news you intake, and go on what I call a news detox, you’ll likely see an immediate difference in both your mindset and also your energy levels.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Corey Poirier.
Corey Poirier is a multiple-time TEDx, MoMondays and PMx, Speaker. He is also the host of the top rated ‘Let’s Do Influencing Show’, founder of The Speaking Program, founder of bLU Talks, and he has been featured in multiple television specials. His bLU Talks brand is about to launch with a weekly video series, podcast, book series and virtual event series, and his new book, The Book of WHY (and HOW) was just released with NY Publisher Morgan James and made the top of many bestseller lists. You can found out more about his new book at www.thebookofwhy.com
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?
Iwas terrified of speaking in public for much of my life. Ironically, for me to follow the career path I have since, I needed to speak on a stage. My goal was to impact lives from early on, and speaking on stages was the sauce that brought it all together. Now, I didn’t know this right from the start but I can tell you that once I discovered the necessity for me to get on a stage, this became a major challenge for someone who shook at the idea of being on a stage. The moment that changed everything was the moment that I was tricked into performing stand-up comedy.
I had taken a two week stand-up comedy workshop and the 3rd week we went to a comedy club to watch some comedians perform. We found out with literally 5 minutes notice we were the intended performers that night. I had to decide in that moment if I was going to run out the front door or stay and perform. I had a vision of me being older and sitting at the bar watching other comedians years later, talking to the person next to me with regret about not performing that night. Knowing regret is worse than fear, I ultimately jumped onto the stage and bombed horribly. No laughs, tons of sweat pouring down my face, shaking. But I had survived. I went back the next week and the week after and along that journey I discovered the world of professional / public speaking, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I was speaking one time and I arrived at the venue a couple of hours before my talk to discover that the power was out in the entire downtown core. I once again had a choice. Speak at the event or run out the front door. I decided to stay and speak; in the pitch dark. I had invited two clients to watch my talk and they sat in the dark as well along with 250 other people. I spoke by the one generator light and peeked at my phone where I had my PowerPoint to help keep me on track, but basically I was speaking without a net to an audience who I couldn’t see, and who couldn’t really see me. It was a very unique experience and reminded me of the importance of being solution oriented vs. problem oriented.
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 showed up for a meeting with a CEO of a Fortune 500 Company wearing dress pants and sneakers (same color as the pants) because I was so new and green to business, and didn’t want to invest in expensive, or even appropriate shoes, if I didn’t last in that early business. The lesson I learned is two-fold. 1) If you have enough passion, people will sometimes forgive what they wouldn’t otherwise, and 2) Invest in yourself so you can reflect the person you want to be, and not just the person you currently are.
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?
My Grandfather was my earliest mentor. My Father wasn’t really active in my life so my Grandfather sort of became my Father in many ways. He taught me so many life lessons. He built a Fibreglass Space Shuttle Replica to scale despite being a Carpenter with a grade 3 education. In doing that, he taught me about the importance of confidence and not believing in things being impossible. He also taught me about the importance of working smart and not just hard. He taught me as well how to treat people and how to serve others. He taught me so much. He even helped me get my very first car when I was 16 and to learn how to drive it. The car was a 1980 Chevette with a hole in the floor that he also helped me fix so it was at least drive-able. I carried the lessons he taught me into my businesses, and carry them with me to this very day.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
First, Live on purpose. In my experience in interviewing over 6,000 influential leaders, I have discovered the common trait they share is that they are living their purpose. That alone helps them to whether the storms that cause so much burnout among busy professionals. I would also add that you have to find a way to decrease the negative energy that comes into your life. That toxic energy (i.e. getting consumed by the news) can also lead to burnout because it is sapping your energy and then you use up more of it just to get through the day and do all you can do. If you can remove or reduce the news you intake, and go on what I call a news detox, you’ll likely see an immediate difference in both your mindset and also your energy levels.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Lead by example. Don’t ever ask someone to do something you wouldn’t due. Bigger than that though, help your team (staff, contractors, etc.) find their purpose, or spend more time living on purpose, and they will be forever grateful and want to do all they can to return that favor. I have spent time with people who have shared that their early employers helped them discover their passion and tap into it and they still tell people how great they are 10–15 years later. I would also say, take care of your team and put them first and they will in turn take care of your customers, and your work culture.
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.
Happy to share:
- I referenced this earlier, but the first step is uncovering your purpose. I’m so big on this because, in addition to this being the top influencer trait uncovered in my interviews with thousands of influencers, it literally changed my life personally, and improved my mental health a thousand fold. In my twenties, I battled both generalized anxiety and hypochondria. There seemed to be no end in sight. Until I discovered my purpose. When that happened, my anxiety and hypochondria almost magically disappeared. Now, it’s not always a one-step or easy task to uncover your purpose, and in fact I dedicated a full book to it, but I can almost guarantee any time you spend aiming to uncover it will be a wise time investment.
- Adding positive energy (positive deposits) to your life is the second step. This can include reading positive, or educational, books, quotes, listening to podcasts, watching TED Talks. Essentially bring things into your life that are designed to improve your life. My girlfriend and I starting doing what we called TED Tuesdays. Essentially, we would choose a TEDx Talk to watch each Tuesday and then we sat down to discuss what we learned and how we could incorporate it into our lives. The result was almost transformational. We were even able to watch a talk when we were in different parts of the world. And it cost us no money and we got to pick the video that sounded best, and most appropriate, to us.
- Removing negative (toxic) energy from your life is step three. This could include going on a news detox (like I mentioned earlier), avoiding negative social media posts, gossip and the like. In terms of the news detox, a number of years back my Mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer. When she went to see the Doctor he wrote her a prescription. She didn’t read it until she got to my car. On the prescription paper, it said, ‘don’t watch or read the news’. The doctor later explained to her that his patients that didn’t read or watch the news had a much better survival rate. This is not medical advice but I can tell you that my Mother’s cancer, 18 years later, is long gone.
- The fourth step is an exercise that changed everything for me mentally. I call it the surrounding yourself with exercise. It involves making a list of the people you spend your time with and adding a plus sign to the people who bring you positive energy and a negative sign beside the people who bring toxic energy into your life. Once you know who is bringing you positive vibes and who is bringing you negative, you can remove people or at least reduce the amount of time you spend with negative people and increase the amount of time you spend with positive people. The reason I came up with this exercise is years after I had beaten my anxiety and hypochondria, it started to return. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. But I ultimately decided to see what was new in my life. What inputs may be having an effect. I ultimately decided I need to look at who I was spending my time with. When I did the exercise above I discovered that I was surrounding myself with 14 somewhat negative people and only 4 positive. I immediately started removing toxic people and reducing the amount of time I spent with others. My anxiety again almost immediately disappeared.
- The Fifth step relates more to self-care. Strategies that continuously work for the influencers I interview include meditation, yoga, and exercise. The great part is it can be just 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night in terms of meditation. Exercise or yoga, it can be just 30 minutes a day 3–5 days a week. I struggled with low blood sugar for a time a number of years back and was ultimately told that my blood sugar can drop low on its own if I don’t eat meals regularly throughout the day. Shortly after I started meditating, and on the days I meditated, my blood sugar levels seemed to level out on their own. It was staggering. That’s why when I started to hear that so many influencers were meditating, and that meditating was showing dramatic results for people who practiced it regularly, it came as no surprise to me.
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.
Find something you’re passionate about and spend your time doing that. I know I mentioned purpose earlier, but it is also important to mention it here as well. My own Grandfather’s passion was his work. When he could no longer work I watched his health deteriorate very quickly both physically and mentally. A lot of people say, I’ll do that when I retire and they push things off. But if you retire and don’t have a passion or purpose to pursue, you may not live long enough to enjoy your retirement, and do the things you did put off in the first place. I would actually add that rather than wait to do those things, why not do them now rather than live for a later date. But if you do push them off, and if you do live long enough to try them, you may not have the mental health to enjoy them either if you don’t have enough purpose in your life. It’s amazing how powerful having a purpose is, even in cases where it’s one we don’t enjoy or feel called to. I personally think that is why so many people sadly die right after their retire to the life they thought they were working toward. So my advice would be to find a passion (or hobby), volunteer, find a group of friends you meet with regularly — in essence, find a purpose once you retire if you want to both keep your mental and physical health in check.
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?
With teens I would simply say when you’re stressing out over something, ask yourself this: “Will this even matter in a year, let alone ten years? Will I even remember this thing that is currently stressing me out so badly?” If the answer is no, then ask yourself, why am I letting it ruin my today, and simply let it go.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. A lot of people don’t know this but I barely graduated high school, didn’t know the difference between fiction and non-fiction when I did, and I didn’t read my first book until age 27. How to Win Friends was that book. My Mother bought it for 25 cents at a flea market and put it a bag I was taking on a trip with me. I ended up reading that book and it changed everything. Carnegie’s masterful storytelling pulled me in and changed the way I viewed books and reading since. That book has been worth more than a million dollars to me, and I now read upwards of 3–4 books every month. As they say, price is what you pay, and value is what you get. The Carnegie book may not have costs much, but it has been the gift that keeps on giving.
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 would have people begin to think in terms of the invisible impact they can have by one simple action (i.e. opening a door for someone, a smile, helping someone across the street) and the ripple that action could have. Then I would have them take action. If I could have one person do one thing every day to help someone else, I would love to see that happen, and I feel that alone (those random acts of kindness) could have a profound impact on the world at large and those of us in it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar
I live by this quote every day and it has literally transformed my life. I aim to help people every day, including helping to share and spread people’s stories through my books, podcasts, and more, and the result is people have in turn shared my story and message in a bigger way than I could have on my own.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
I’m very active on Linked-in and people can find me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/speakercoreypoirier/
I’m also active on Facebook on my personal profile at https://www.facebook.com/corey.poirier.1
And I’m somewhat active on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/thatspeakerguy/
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Thank you for allowing me to contribute.