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Yuri Kruman: “I take regular breaks throughout the day for coffee”

In my work as an executive career and business coach, the foundation for every single client is to start with their human story, formative experience, and mindset. This, by necessity, addresses any mental illness, most commonly depression due to cognitive distortions fueled by financial and career problems, childhood issues and the massive stigma of showing […]



In my work as an executive career and business coach, the foundation for every single client is to start with their human story, formative experience, and mindset. This, by necessity, addresses any mental illness, most commonly depression due to cognitive distortions fueled by financial and career problems, childhood issues and the massive stigma of showing weakness in any area of life, especially mental health.


As a part of my series about “Mental Health Champions” helping to normalize the focus on mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Yuri Kruman.

Yuri is a corporate HR Transformation/Employee Experience (EX) Consultant, top-rated executive coach, Forbes Coaches Council member and contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business.com, Influencive and a number of other top platforms.

Yuri’s consulting, advising and coaching portfolio includes corporate and fast-growth startup engagements on HR Transformation / Change Management, Employee Experience (EX), Customer Experience (CX) and PR/Media/Strategic Partnerships, impacting thousands of corporate and startup executives. He is the author of the just-published book, “What Millennials Really Want From Work and Life” (Business Expert Press, Mar. 2019). He has spoken at Google, UPenn, Columbia and General Assembly, among others.


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

As a Russian immigrant who grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, I’ve taken a winding path through careers in neuroscience, law, finance, and tech and consulting. Throughout all my transitions and in coaching hundreds of Fortune 500 executives through their own transitions, I’ve learned many of the best practices for optimizing the employee experience in companies of every size and mission. With that wisdom under my belt, I created Master The Talk Consulting to help unhappy employees activate and own their personal and professional development to win their dream jobs and start successful side hustles. With time, my consulting has evolved to helping companies truly engage and correctly incentivize their best talent to do their life’s best work with them by optimizing their employee experience.

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 reasons for the stigma are as much historical as socio-economic, cosmetic as much as profound. Along with the famed Protestant work ethic came the puritanical “witch hunt” we know so well from the Salem Witch Trials.

America has always been the land of reinvention and redemption, where barriers are not taken as real with enough “effort” and “grit,” no matter the hardship. There are the legion self-reliant myths of “bootstrapping” and “grinding and hustling” we espouse from Benjamin Franklin all the way up to Gary Vee. Nowhere in this equation is space for the burnout, loneliness, alienation, financial and family hardships faced by entrepreneurs, never mind teenagers or “regular” employees all over the country.

Our language is also full of related expressions. “Sound mind, sound body,” from the Latin. “Depression is a rich man’s disease.” And our social media is full of gleaming, vacationing, healthy, young and good-looking people trying overly hard to project happiness and wealth, making any other reality less than marketable, discussible, projectable and livable. Nobody wants to be seen as cynical or a spoil-sport, hence the stigma. Our films are full of unrealistic depictions of everything from autism to schizophrenia, too often played by actors who have no practical experience with mental health.

Add the layer of implicit bias in the workplace against anyone “not having their stuff together,” especially in terms of mental health. It’s rough out there if you’re experiencing mental illness, across the board.

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

In my work as an executive career and business coach, the foundation for every single client is to start with their human story, formative experience, and mindset. This, by necessity, addresses any mental illness, most commonly depression due to cognitive distortions fueled by financial and career problems, childhood issues and the massive stigma of showing weakness in any area of life, especially mental health.

My focus in working with clients is on the whole human, warts, issues and all. The first and most important part of my work is to humanize the candidate, acknowledge their mental and psychological issues and deal with them head-on through the proper means. Having worked with hundreds of clients of all stripes, walks of life and backgrounds, as well as having overcome my own issues with negative psychology, I always start by helping the human see that their struggle is actually quite common among people, even banal. As such, the stigma is off and we can focus on the substance of our work together, no matter its nature.

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

In my own life experience, I’ve faced a coterie of issues around negative psychology and their repercussions in my career, finances, relationships and other facets of life. Once I overcame my issues and understood that they were all actually quite common among people I met and knew, then I realized that the stigma and loneliness around mental health must be tackled and removed by helping share my own experience openly, before any substantive works can begin. I have found this to be by far the most important way to get clients (even strangers) to open up about their issues, enabling us to work on solving them. Out of this approach grew my 4 Pillars methodology, which I’ve spoken about on numerous podcasts and in articles, as well as in front of large audiences. I’m writing a book now, “Mastering The Talk To Master Your Life” to tell my story and how my methodology has helped hundreds of people unlock and convert opportunity successfully in business, career, and life by using language and psychology (conversation).

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

Individuals can always be more empathetic and stop judging others, plus lend an ear or a helping hand to those dealing with mental illness. Society can create laws to defend against discrimination based on mental illness, as well as enable better fund treatment and counseling. The government can help pass those laws and protect them in court, as well as pay for the improved treatment and counseling.

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?

My strategies to ensure my own wellbeing and mental health center around a stable daily routine.

  1. I make sure to pray/meditate every morning to center myself and to help me focus on what’s ahead, so it’s all connected to a higher purpose. This has been a daily habit for many years, as part of my Orthodox Jewish observance.
  2. I make sure to always eat a breakfast of water, banana, and yogurt with flax seeds to tamp down the acid, maintain my microbiome and maintain a good mood throughout the day, as much as possible. This has been a staple of my mental and physical health for many years after a great deal of stress and uncertainty in life caused me to re-evaluate my diet.
  3. I take regular breaks throughout the day for coffee (10 AM and 3 PM).
  4. I get up and stretch every 45–60 minutes, at most, to maintain muscle tone and prevent abdominal mass gain.
  5. I take regular walks during the day and in the evening.
  6. I do small physical challenges throughout the day to maintain a healthy heart rate, including going up and down stairs instead of taking the elevator and walking quickly.

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

MindsharePartners.org, the writing, and podcast of James Altucher, the writing and radio show of Leonard Kim, among others.

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

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