Episode 6: The Wellbeing Equation: Insights from Neuroscience with Jeff McKeon

In this episode of The Balanced Leader Podcast, guest Jeff McKeon, Chief Growth Officer at Neurocapability, shares his insights on the interplay between neuroscience, leadership, and employee wellbeing. Jeff emphasises the importance of self-regulation, emotional awareness, and the necessity of changing toxic leadership models. 


He provides tips for fostering better employee wellbeing, such as cultivating a positive mindset and implementing a daily breathing routine. We talk about the new legislative standard ISO45003 and how that will shape Australia’s work culture, which holds employers more accountable for their employees wellbeing. We also touch on the significance of habit formation in personal growth and organisational productivity.


0:05 Introduction

1:09 Jeff’s background

5:05 Reflecting on life after a near death experience

8:20 Jeff’s pivot into neuroscience

9:59 The importance of neuroscience for leaders

15:17 PTSD is not a disorder, it’s a response to something we weren’t prepared for

16:35 The quickest way to calm yourself down

22:38 The importance of self awareness and self regulation

25:17 ISO45003 and it’s implications for leaders

31:50 The future of workplace wellbeing

36:47 The neuroscience of habit formation

43:11 The importance of mindset in wellbeing

45:47 Practical tips for leaders to enhance their wellbeing

Jeff McKeon



This is the Balanced Leader Podcast. The podcast that helps leaders elevate their wellbeing and create healthier workplaces. My name is Rob Hills and I am your leadership and wellbeing coach.  

In today’s episode, we’re sitting down with Jeff McKeon, the Chief Growth Officer at Neurocapability. Jeff shares with us his deeply personal journey that took him from a potential near death experience to a new found calling. Jeff’s job is to take research and neuroscience and turn into something we can easily understand and apply in our lives. In this episode Jeff talks about the importance of self-regulation, emotional awareness, breathing techniques and the necessity of changing toxic leadership models. 

This episode is jam packed full of wisdom that you can apply today to help elevate your wellbeing. So let’s dive in with Jeff McKeon. 

Welcome Jeff and thanks very much for being here today on The Balanced Leader Podcast. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about your background and your journey to becoming the chief growth officer at Neurocapability.

I guess the way to look at it is that when you are working, you’re doing what you need to do to get by and, and, and make a living and be as good as possible at what you can do.

And then some days there’s those moments in your life where you go. I’m doing something that I no longer align with doing. Sure. I’m paying the bills. Sure. I’m, I’m good at my job, but it no longer brought me passion or joy. And that was a, a change that I had to make. And there were a number of catalyst moments of that change.

But for me, I was working in the motor industry and I’d worked in the motor industry for about 25 years. And I essentially just got tired of the greed. Of being forced. It was always about money. Everything was about money. Um, and the biggest catalyst moment was I’d started [00:01:00] studying with Neurocapability.

And this is one of those heroes journey story. I laugh about, but I was studying with them and I went to one of our One of my senior bosses and I went, look, I’d like to talk to people about stress regulation, about breathing, about dealing with the pressure of particularly our frontline staff, about dealing with stressful situations.

And I’d like to run this as a one on one or maybe small groups, three or five people. It’ll cost nothing. It’ll take half an hour max. I do that a couple of times. And they’ll come away with this new understanding about how to deal with stress. And he essentially said to me, Rob. Get out of my office, go back and do your job that you’re paid for.

You’re not qualified. Who do you think you are? And that was the moment in my mind that crystallized everything. And I went, okay, I need to change. I need to change me. I’m not going to change that person. And so that became a guiding decision. Um, I still had a mortgage, kids in private [00:02:00] school and responsibilities.

And I was in the middle of a big contract. So that day I went home with my wife and sat down and worked out an exit strategy. And that exit strategy included a big overseas trip and I wasn’t coming back. And then there was this little thing that changed the world for a lot of us called COVID in March 2020.

And that just, that just changed me completely. So that, that was, um, the Melbourne Cup Day 2019. There you go. So for the memory of when that moment and that conversation happened, and that was, ah, I need to change me. Go on this journey and learning of, you know, focusing on learning and growth and reading and listening to immersing myself in this, this new way of thinking about leadership.

And then that’s when Neurocapability, the company I’d been studying with, and I’d studied an advanced diploma of neuroscience of leadership, which is an 18 month course, they then reached out and said, We love what you [00:03:00] do. How about you come and work for us? So the people who trained me on emotional regulation and leadership and how do we be better at what we do actually said, no, we love you enough.

Come and join us. And that’s what I’ve been doing. And that’s how I got into this space that the intersect between neuroscience and leadership is about emotional and stress regulation. And that’s what I do now every day of the week. There’s another date, and I’ve listened to a couple of podcasts that you’ve recorded on before, that’s sort of stuck in my mind, and that’s the 17th of February 2019.

Can you tell us a little bit more about what that day means to you, and why that’s so etched in your memory? I’m an endurance cyclist, I do long distance cycling, raising money for cancer research in honour of my mentor, who we lost to cancer. 2015. And I’ve been a cyclist for 30 years. I was able to say to him before I went, I’m, I’m going to keep raising money in your honor.

And that was a [00:04:00] wonderful thing. And that’s a legacy for him to me and that I continue to pass on. But on that particular day, Sunday, the 17th of Feb, I’m going out for a training ride and I had no energy and I was really struggling. And then I had this chest pain that I’d never felt before. And I went I’m not sure what’s going on here, but it’s not right.

You know your body well. And as an endurance cyclist, you can endure lots of pain because you have so much going on. Um, everything hurts. Like we’re talking about, um, 1600 kilometers in eight days. So 200 Ks a day, everything on your body hurts. And this pain was new. I’d never really experienced. And I went.

I think I’m having a heart attack. Now I’d only gone a kilometre down the road from home, so I decided to turn around and roll back down the hill, like it was literally back down the hill. And as I’m rolling along, I got to ask myself those really important questions in life. Did I love? Did I live? Did I matter?

You know, [00:05:00] will my family be okay? Have I had a good life? And I was lucky that I could answer yes to most of those things. Like, it was really, to be that aware in that moment of, Oh, I’m having a heart attack. Am I going to be okay? And is my family going to be okay? And I was happy with the answers and I, that, that was that clarity of moment of life.

So when you, you have those moments, I would have felt terrible if those answers were no, if I had bad responses to that, you know, was I a good husband? Was I a good parent? And if I’d answered no, that would have been a terrible moment. But sometimes that it’s what some people have to hit is that moment.

What it did for me is just filled me even more with joy for living. I had a great medical outcome, a single stent, I was out of hospital in three days because I called it early and listened to my body. We do celebrate that moment every year now, yeah. In a good way and what a great celebration. That would be [00:06:00] too.

So were you already out of the motor industry at that stage? Or were you still in the motor industry when you had that heart attack? No, I was still working in in that current in that previous role that I was before I’d left. So What that then started doing for me was giving me this new way of looking at the world.

And that’s when I started to go, my, my alignment is no longer there. I’m not invested in it as I was prior to the heart attack. So, so I got to that point. I went, Oh, look, it’s not me. I’ve been lying to myself for such a long time. And then the catalyst moments, you know, the Melbourne cup day, and then, and then COVID came along.

So for our family, COVID was totally different because. We’d already planned this exit strategy anyway, and it allowed me time and freedom and space to study and read and doing what I was passionate, deeply passionate about talking about, which is kindness and leadership. Like there has to be a better way than we’ve been conditioned over the years.

And [00:07:00] so was that why you went into neuroscience? I mean, you’ve done the course with neurocapability, you obviously found you had an interest for it. For those people who are listening, and they can’t see the video at the moment, there is a massive amount of books just covering your back wall. So I know you’re an avid reader.

Was that part of the pivot into neuroscience? Was it the interest for you? I remember sitting in a training session, um, some, something totally different, but the, the facilitator also facilitated for Neurocapability. We were having this in depth chat about fight and flight reactions. And he said, look, I think this course might be right up your alley.

Rob, I literally Googled the course while I’m sitting in having a chat. I got chills going, oh my God, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. It was that clarity of moment of going, Oh, wow, this world, this is what I’ve been struggling with. I’ve been working in a, a mainly reactionary [00:08:00] space in the motor industry.

You learn stuff instinctively, but under knowing the science behind it was like, wow. And the thing was, I was terrible at school. I never studied. Oh, it’s horrible at school. School was not my jam at all. I couldn’t wait. to finish it. And I never actively studied as an adult. And then suddenly I was like, I signed up that night.

I said to my wife, this is what I’m supposed to study. I went home that night and signed up straight away and went, wow. So it was understanding the neuroscience. So neuroscience is essentially understanding what is going on within your brain in any moment of the time of the day and how our threat response system works, because that’s what guides us.

All day long, your brain’s thinking, am I safe or am I at risk? Is there a reward here? So your brain’s just doing that, scanning that all the time, every single point of the day. Why do you think neuroscience is so important for leaders then? Why is it important for them to understand it and to take an interest in this?[00:09:00]

Well, if you don’t know how to self regulate yourself, you’re going to be spending so much time dealing with the people in your life. That you are leading or even your family that you’re creating these emotional reactions in the way you deliver information. If you don’t realize you’re creating a threat response, you’re just going to keep sending out your sermon, so to speak, and not understanding that your people are reacting in these highly, Emotional states and you’re ignoring that and then you wonder why you don’t get higher productivity out of them, you know, and, and when we look at, uh, so neuroscience as a, as a field is relatively new, you know, mathematics been around for, for centuries, um, physics has been proven over and over neuroscience really started to unlock, um, in the mid nineties with the, the functional MRI magnetic resonance imaging and that machine allowed us to look in real time.

into your brain to [00:10:00] see what was going on and it was like, Oh my God, there’s this Pandora’s box that we’ve finally opened and we can start looking in what’s going on in real time when people react. So one of the greatest pieces of research, and I so wish I’d known it in sales, it’s 2014 and it came along and it said social rejection activates the similar parts of your brain as physical pain.

So when you’re socially rejected, It hurts. And the parts of your brain light up just like you’ve been stabbed. And we have that language. Oh, I took it to the heart. I took it to heart. Right? It hurt. We actually use that language. But neuroscience says, oh yeah, here’s the reason why. And it’s really quite strange for me being a kid who never studied and never paid attention at school and never went to uni is that now that I have this deep passion for learning, uh, and I get lit up talking about how I can share this knowledge to as many people as possible.

And I have to tell a [00:11:00] quick little side story on that. With what I do, essentially what I get paid to do is take the information that the science journals. and translate that into everyday science, everyday language that you and I can talk about. Now I have my mate Jamie, who’s the barometer and the benchmark.

If I can explain it to Jamie and Jamie understands it, I’m doing okay. If it’s too complex, Jamie will say, what is that on? I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about. And that’s my skill that I’ve developed over years is how can I relate the science into everyday language and have a conversation with my mate Jamie.

Yeah, that’s great. And it’s great that you can take those hard, difficult texts that, you know, or journal articles that are difficult to read and turn that into something that people can understand and then implement or use. That’s about how we can take that information and share that broadly. Um, science journals are very, very hard.

To read them. Wonderful. Wonderful. And I never want to diminish the work of the [00:12:00] people doing the research. It is such a skill and I don’t have that skill. It’s not something I can do. I don’t have the discipline that they have. And I’m so in awe of what they do. But the problem is, is hardly anyone reads it, unless someone picks up the narrative and then takes it and shares the story.

Quite often that research paper will not get shared unless there’s extra funding to do more research or there’s a marketable product out of it. Like there was some research done by QUT here in Brisbane in, and released during COVID, which was a terrible time to release research, but they could actually predict on your DNA, the impacts of PTSD.

Wow. So they actually can, can measure and they did this on a bunch of first year paramedics and they could tell by the end of the one year, one year, which paramedics would have PTSD. Wow, that’s incredible. So that’s what science is doing, but getting that through to be like, that’ll take 15 years before that [00:13:00] information goes through all the testing and all the protocols.

to actually come up with a plan to say, Oh, we can proactively help people with PTSD by watching their DNA markers. And, and put in place countermeasures as it’s happening in real time. I live for that moment. Imagine being a first responder of any form or, and you’ve served. So imagine being in any of those roles and people do a blood draw and say, Hey, we need to provide you intervention now.

What a great thing, like that’s how you change the world and that’s how science can do it. Yeah, absolutely. And I think you’re right. I think you, you don’t really know with PTSD. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. Yeah. And, and certainly from, you know, all the research I’ve done in this area, you don’t necessarily see it coming until it’s too late.

Yes. So having that pre warning and that early alarm system to let you know something’s coming, wow, that, that would be amazing. Yeah. And each person is unique. So each person’s response is different. And [00:14:00] that’s the thing, like, so once again, research and when I talk, it’s based on what I’ve been reading.

And there’s a massive difference between what we call me search, which is where I read something, and actual research. So I’m really clear about honoring and respecting the people that do the research, the science based research. But PTSD is not a disorder. It’s just a response to the, that, to something that we weren’t prepared for, no matter how well you can logically prepare for it.

Those things are terrible. And it’s, your body is responding to a terrible thing and I hate the labelling of disorder because to get disorder, disorder is how you get clinical assistance. You have to tick boxes. So that’s where the term came from, the disorder. Um, the American Psychological Association has a tick box to tell people that, Oh, you’ve got this disorder.

Now you get extra care and treatment because you tick the boxes. But it’s really just a. Overwhelmed stress response to a [00:15:00] terrible situation and we weren’t designed to deal with it. So what do you see the link for everyday people who are working in an office environment or for leaders who are listening to this podcast?

Where’s the link there for everyday well being and neuroscience? How can we use neuroscience to increase people’s well being? I just wish people could see me. I light up when we get to this point, right. This is the moment for me. Um, okay. And we use the analogy and I heard, um, the girls talking on one of your previous podcasts about, um, the oxygen mask, right?

So the oxygen mask. So recently, um, neuroscience, once again, The quickest and simplest way to activate your calming center. It’s called the parasympathetic nervous system. The quickest way to activate it is a double inhale through the nostrils. So a big expanding up and then a large physiological size, you let it out.[00:16:00]

And that’s shown to be, you repeat that a number of times. The quickest way to calm yourself down pre or post. any situation. So you could do that before you have to make that difficult phone call, or you could do that when you’re in a situation that, that’s highly elevated, you’re trying to actively calm yourself down.

Because Rob, we all do it instinctively when we stop crying. When you listen to a baby, when they stop crying, they go, of course, right? Which is self regulating. So science shows, Oh, that’s the best way to come because it’s actually built into who we are. Now, imagine you’re a leader or imagine you’re a person in an everyday situation.

Imagine if everyone in your team knew that you can do it silently. You don’t have to make it exaggerated. You can do it while you’re on a call. You can do it while that person’s in front of you and the situation’s complex and you’re giving yourself. So once again, [00:17:00] breathing becomes a part. process. But there seems to be this thing, and there’s a great quote by the author and researcher Dan Pink, and Dan Pink always says there’s a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.

So we know if you create a threat response in your employees, they work for you. Less effectively. So if they’re under threat. So when you hear of mass layoffs, um, and recently the tech industry has had some horrible mass layoffs around the world. The people that lose their job, it’s terrible. The people that have still got their job, are terrified.

How are they going to thrive? How are they going to perform, you know, these great things you want from them when they’re in a threat response in a threat state. So imagine if you went through the process and you go, righto, as part of our care for you, we’re going to start everything about teaching you how to breathe correctly, as a simple first step, because you can [00:18:00] use it in every part of your life.

That in itself, but such a simple fundamental, and that’s just one thing, just so simple. And you go, Oh my God, every time you see a child or a baby cry, and you see that moment where they’re trying to get themselves under control. And it’s that double inhale, big sigh. Yeah. That’s science. Go figure. Yeah.

And I love that. I heard, um, Andrew Huberman talking about the psychological side, um, some time ago. So I use it myself and I can attest it. It makes a huge difference. Uh, and I use it in times where I feel myself getting a little bit elevator or heightened awareness and you take those two breaths and you just let it out and you can feel it instantly.

Yeah, it feels better. Yeah. And so I’m also a junior cricket coach. Yeah. So I teach it to the kids when they’re on the field. Like as a bowler, you run, you walk to your mark for the next ball. You do the double inhale, the big sigh, as you’re getting ready to focus just on that ball. Everything else doesn’t matter.

You’ve let go of [00:19:00] everything else, but you do the same with the batsman. You know, you take a poor shot instead of having that inner critic. Or you beat yourself up because you played a poor shot, you stop re sender. Um, so compensatory control is the term that athletes use when they want to keep something under control in between, like, particularly like, let’s say tennis.

They, they all have their tics. Well now, those, all those different tics and rituals they have is actually keeping themselves focused on the next point. So you’ll watch they’ll bounce the ball exactly the same way that ritual. So people do that in, in, in sport, they do that in their personal life, professional life, understanding why that’s there.

And it’s a helpful thing. You watch someone who sits down at a desk. Um, some people will just have stuff over, over the desk. Other people will lay everything out in a, in an ordered fashion. You know, those are the things when you start to understand that you can work with individuals to allow them to thrive.

And this is where that intersects [00:20:00] between intersection between well being neuroscience and leadership. The better we are at educating people about this, the better we are at coping with stress. You can’t eliminate stress. You can’t ever make it go away. You don’t want it to go away. We need stress.

Otherwise, none of us would get out of bed in the morning, you know. But you need to be able to regulate it. So allowing it to go up and down. That’s the skill set. That’s what we need to be teaching people. Children are now learning this. And this is the massive difference. We talk about, Oh, they’ve got, they’re so emotional.

They talk about this. No, they’ve now got the emotional language. that we’ve lacked so that the next generation coming through have actually got emotional language about what they feel. They’re able to label it. They’re able to tell you exactly what we’re feeling. The older generations have got happy, angry or sad.

Maybe a few more, but pretty much that’s the common thread and that’s a difference in language. So as they get closer, [00:21:00] that’s why as a leader, you’ve got this responsibility to understand yourself so then you can lead others. And that’s where, you know, with neurocapability, that’s essentially what we’re talking about is how do you understand yourself, self regulate first, so then you can teach others that then creates psychological safety within the workplace, which then creates high performance.

High performance can be measured in so many ways, but it comes back to allowing your people to thrive within the team they work. I just want to pick up on something you said there, Jeff, around awareness and self awareness. How important is that in well being and self regulation? Well, once again, you, and, and Christmas is a, is a difficult time for a lot of people.

Um, you know, there’s research around how Christmas is so stressful. So for some people, and it is not joyous time, but once again, you need to be able to get curious about what’s going on with you to then understand how [00:22:00] you can cope better with any of those stressful situations. And that’s why we talk about no two brains are alike.

We spend so much time in our lives wondering why someone doesn’t think the way we do. No one will ever think the way you do. Because your brain is molded based on your life experiences. We all have the same basic function of a brain, but the neural pathways are wired. Um, and usually from a very young age, from the first, first five years, they continue growing, and adolescents now, tends to diminish or the, the, the period of growth is about 26 to 28.

So adolescent brain still continues into your late twenties, which explains a lot of things us guys do Rob. Anyway, that’s a whole different story, but no one will ever think like you. So if you understand that about yourself, Your job as a leader or within a team and those everyday situations is how can I best present what I need to get through the messaging and that [00:23:00] sometimes is really tough conversations, but how can I do it in an empathetic, compassionate way that will still provide those people with certainty and safety, even if it’s bad news, especially if it’s bad news, you need to provide certainty because our brain is constantly looking for patterns.

That’s what it’s doing. It’s a prediction machine. It’s looking for a pattern. Have I felt threatened like this previously in my life? Oh, I’m going to react to that threat. Even if it’s no longer relevant, that your brain sees a pattern and goes, Oh, I better get upset over this. And you know, each person’s different.

Each person’s reaction. Some people fight, some people run away, some people go quiet. You know, there’s all sorts of reactions to those stresses. And if you don’t know that, as a leader, you’re just dumping things on people without any emotional context at all. Regardless of whether it’s good or bad news, you still have to have that lens to understand it.

Talking about stress there, [00:24:00] and I know this from listening to another podcast you were on around ISO 4000, no, 45003. And this is something that’s new in Australia. This has only come out in the last few months, I think. Why is this something that leaders need to know about? And how does it relate to wellbeing?

So beyond workplace health and safety. So this is the next layer of workplace health and safety. And it’s essentially saying this psychosocial risks is if you knowingly put someone in an environment that is going to damage their well being as the employer, you are now responsible for that, whereas they used.

To be some years ago, uh, and it, ironically, it came from the movie, the Godfather and was championed in the 1980s. And it’s, it’s nothing personal. It’s strictly business. Now that quote was from the Godfather about, um, Michael Corleone was going to shoot a corrupt copper, a policeman. Like what a [00:25:00] terrible thing reference, but it got picked up in the 80s and 90s.

By business and big business to shut down the emotional response. It’s nothing personal. It’s strictly business So psychosocial safety is saying well, actually your our business is responsible You’re for your safety at work. If we’re compromising your well being at work. We are responsible for that now this is currently in a lot of organizations still a bit of Tick the boxes on the paperwork Our country and the well being of our employees will change once the court cases happen.

So once it starts to become proven legislation that people go, Oh, Oh, we can’t just tick and flick this. We really have to care for people’s well being. That’s when you change the culture of the country. So keep in mind, there was a recent survey, a recent research published that showed that worldwide. Um, burnout rates, um, [00:26:00] by employees, random surveys, uh, is 48 percent worldwide.

Australia is at 62%. Wow. Because we had some of the hardest lockdowns in the world. And we haven’t actively had enough time to still grieve and respond to that process. So our burnout rate in Australia is actually higher than places around the world. So we actually have some of the best legislation now going around, ISO 45003.

So that, that standard has been put in place. Now, like anything, it will take time to go through. But like I said, once it gets into a court case that says you actively created harm in your workplace, That will change Australia forever and, and that’s a great thing. It will be messy, like any of these things, Rob, when we change them.

It will be, there’ll be things that don’t work and do work and people have great initiatives and some of them won’t work. But the main, uh, principle of it, and it’s, and it’s a [00:27:00] quote I’ve seen written and I reference it quite often, but it’s, you can’t stem the bleeding if they’ve still got the scalpel in their hand.

So no amount of wellbeing programs will overcome poor or toxic leadership. So if the leadership model from above is command and control, um, which used to be military leadership, but it isn’t. Military leadership’s far more advanced than that. But a lot of business has still got that old school mentality of I’m the boss, do as you’re told.

Now, there has to be that, you know, there still has to be control and given, however, you now have to look after the wellbeing of those people in your care. That’s what defines a leader. It’s not the people that you, it’s, you care for their charge, you’re in charge of them. So you’re responsible for their wellbeing.

And that’s what the standard backs up to say, this is now legislation. And if you get it wrong, you will pay the consequences. Regardless of [00:28:00] what your, your profit margin is and what your shareholders think, it’s no longer, you know, because we’ve had that shareholder supremacy and, you know, profit over oils.

Well, now it’s no longer that case. It’s the wellbeing of your employees over profit and shareholder supremacy. That’s the big shift catalyst. The catalyst of change in during COVID was the imbalance of work conditions. So it changed everything completely changed the way we look at well being at work for the better.

Yeah. And you mentioned a term there, psychosocial safety for, for those who aren’t familiar with that term, what is psychosocial safety? And is it something you can measure? Yeah. So there are active tools that can do it. So the legislation and that’s been brought in place in Australia. Is about, it goes beyond bullying, so bullying is, is a repetitive process, whether it’s, it’s physical, sexual, uh, abusive, whatever that standard is, but psychosocial [00:29:00] safety is saying, do your staff feel threatened by your leadership decisions and your leadership coercion, your leadership instructions towards how to make money.

So if you feel as an employee that I’m, I’m not being heard, I’m not like, I’m, I’m saying I’m overworked and they don’t care because it’s all about the, the dollar, it’s going to change that side of business where it has to be, uh, a balance of, Working effort versus income, which is fine, but there has to be a point where you go, okay, enough’s enough and there’s, there’s court cases happening, which were in place already, but like one of them is, um, Victorian junior doctors saying, no, we’re not going to work the extra hours because we know it impacts the lack of sleep impacts our decision making, which increases the fatality of our decisions.

Like science is there the lack of sleep is like [00:30:00] driving drunk and yet because previous generation of doctors said well you must do this because this is what we did but their their decision making is impaired through lack of sleep you we wouldn’t expect that of a truck driver. We can’t, you legally can’t do that as a truck driver, but it’s all right for junior doctors to work extended hours and then have to make high level decisions with someone’s life on the line.

And so that will change, you know, we’re seeing the pushback and we’re seeing this change now for the better, but like I said, it will be messy during the process, but it, you know, it, it will change society and it’ll change it for the better. So it sounds like it’s already having an impact. What do you think, if we look five years ahead, once we’re through that messy phase, what does that look like?

How would that change the landscape of wellbeing in the workplace? So wellbeing in the workplace will not be, and we say it’s not free lunches or bean bags. So many things are tokenistic. [00:31:00] No, no, it will come from the top, and it’ll be a demonstration from leadership all the way through the network, as opposed to, um, just the HR team running an initiative.

I feel for everyone in HR because they have this, they’re in the middle of that. Quite often they don’t have enough power. They’re trying to enforce legislation, but leadership is saying, no, we’re not going to pay for that or we’re not going to do that. That’s where we’re going to see the change. It’s kind of come from the leadership model above because the board is no longer immune.

So that’s one of the thing to see the CEO and the board, they were immune from all this sort of stuff. Not now. The psychosocial safety says that goes all the way up the, up the chain of command. And so they’re responsible for the wellbeing of their employees. You will see those benefits making employers of choice.

And we even see it now from recruiters. They’re being asked, what is the mission of the [00:32:00] business? And you won’t attract future employees. If you’re not mission aligned, your business aligns all the way through from you, from you. So in other words, it’s not HR or the line person on the line manager telling you about it.

It’s coming from the whole leadership. That’s the difference. And wellbeing will be a massive part of that because we know that, um, it’s how people thrive. The best businesses have their people thriving because they create those environments. It’s like a plant. A plant will thrive if the environment’s right.

But if the environment’s no good, it’s not the plant’s fault. So, human beings, we’re a bit like houseplants, you know. You get the environment’s right, we grow and we flourish. If you get them wrong, they don’t perform. Pretty simple, really. So, if prevention’s better than cure, and that’s a pretty commonly accepted phrase, prevention’s always better than cure, why does it take legislation, or why are we still not focusing more on preventative well being rather than [00:33:00] waiting for sickness or illness?

Because we’re human beings. So human beings, um, we’ll always put off what we put off today. Yeah. What you can do tomorrow. No, put it. Yeah. Like, and so the term is called hyperbolic, hyperbolic discounting. So that means we’ll have the, the sugary treat today, even though we know we pay the price. It’s why people still smoke because they can’t see the problem down the track.

So by human beings, it’s, it’s a delaying. Process. So that’s why we know. So, so, um, post heart attack, right? This gives you this idea of how hard human behavior is to change without any active intervention, but being told you’re at risk for coronary artery disease. So you’re going to have a heart attack.

Only one in seven people will change their diet, their exercise and give up smoking. So one in seven, the other six will do some version of that, but essentially they’re going to keep going down that path. We go back to the [00:34:00] neuroscience of change. When you understand to get people to change, you have to start small, you have to create a new habit.

So habit formation using the latest in neuroscience is where the game changer is. So you still have to force a change. So a big catalyst or big confrontation. So in this case, the new, um, uh, the new standards come in place that creates mass, the companies that will thrive. Are the ones that best understand their people and how to increase the new habit or create these new habits of social change, knowing that human beings essentially are wired to be lazy, our brains are wired to be lazy, our brains look for patterns and it doesn’t want to change, but you have to create this friction to then have change.

So the pandemic was a great catalyst. And then this ISO. Standard is, is the next step, um, and it was already being planned anyway before the, before the, the pandemic. So it’s now reached this point. We will look back in [00:35:00] 20 years time and go, Oh, wasn’t it amazing how society changed. That’s the part I look forward to is that what did, what lessons did we learn?

It rewrote the map and laws of business. People working from home. I work from home. You know, there are still frontline companies that, that exist and people have to be in frontline situations. But given the choice, people want a hybrid. Arrangement. They want the choice because we want choices. That’s a change.

You know, society changed. You mentioned habits there, and I really think habits are so important for for well being. So what is the neuroscience tell us around habit formation? What’s the best way? If we want to implement something new in our well being, what’s the best way to do that using neuroscience?

Yeah. Um, keep it simple. It’s so it’s such a fundamental thing to create, uh, make it as easy as possible. Um, and then they, we talk about habit stacking. So you’re [00:36:00] already doing something, add something next to it. So if you’re already brushing your teeth, add something else you do after you brush your teeth and right.

So just keep asking the question, I do this, right. And I will add this and allowing yourself to, to take time for it to create. You’re literally wiring a new neural pathway. So the best way to try and understand it is try and brush it, brush your teeth with the opposite hand. It’s really weird, right?

Because you’ve been doing it with your right hand or left hand, whichever it’s been. You’ve been doing that for most of your life. Try doing it the other way. That’s what you’re up against. You have to create that process. And so by starting small, you can build and stack that habit. The, the other thing to know is, is that it’s about being deliberate.

So if you don’t focus on it, um, it’ll just, it’ll stop. You know, New Year’s, New Year’s resolutions are the best things for it. Great time to start, but the gyms make all their money by selling yearly memberships in the first four weeks because they know people in [00:37:00] February just aren’t turning up anymore.

You know, the model’s changed a bit now, but, but they know that there’s a decline rate of people. starting new habits. So that’s why understanding the science behind change at an organizational level is how you get these well being protocols. You know, you’re changing culture and it’s not a just do it once and hope it’ll change.

It will not change. It has to be small, it has to be simple and it has to be regular, repeated actions. The name of the company you work for is Neurocapability. What is Neurocapability? Yeah, so Neurocapability was founded about 20 years ago by Linda Ray. And Linda just got curious about the brain.

That’s pretty much how it started. And so she started researching and reading and studying herself. And then it became, oh wow, there is so much more we need to know. Um, and now it’s about how do we integrate that into leadership models? So first it was about understanding the [00:38:00] brain and translating that into everyday language.

Now it’s how do we get that through leadership teams? So we do it at both individual level, so an individual can study with us, but also organizations can take it through as a cultural change from their leadership team down. That’s when you see massive change, when the leaders are invested. It just changes the culture of an organization to this most wonderful place.

You feel it when you walk in, when you walk into a business that is thriving, you just feel it, you know. Um, I have a local coffee shop and, uh, you know, change of ownership and you get the The people who get coffee and get customer service, it’s so different selling the same coffee, ironically, but the people who are thriving, who love what they do, you just instinctively, because as human beings, we are wired for connection, goes back to our tribal existence and you want to connect with the person in front of you.

And so if you don’t feel threatened, you [00:39:00] perform better. If we can teach that to a leadership team, wow, you know, the benefit to that or the return on investment, you know, like when one of the things we talk about return on investment on mental health spend. So beyond blue and PricewaterhouseCoopers did the survey, did the work and the minimum or sorry, the average return on investment is 2.

3 on every dollar you spend across all industries. But some industries. Um, it’s 10 to 15 times the benefit. Wow, incredible. So, you know, for every dollar you spend, you’re going to get 10 to 15 dollars back in increased performance because suddenly your, your teams are thriving. That’s the stuff that’s, rather than, uh, a lot of organizations look at the spreadsheet results at the end of the month.

And you have to have that. You have to know where you’re making money and how you’re making money. But we’re talking about a lead measure of active daily habit formation, which will move the lag measure, the results. So if you have an active wellbeing program being [00:40:00] daily implemented across your organization, you will move that spreadsheet.

You can’t not influence that spreadsheet going up because you’re looking after your people. And that’s, that’s obviously really important, right? And I think even with this legislation, I think if leaders are trying to do the right thing by their people, if they are putting the people first, then they’re not going to have a problem with this new standard.

It’s more of a warning for big business who aren’t putting their people at the forefront. Correct. Yeah. And, and there’s organizations out there now that have been doing this for a number of years and they’ve gone through the process. So for them, the, the, the legislation was, Oh, we already do that. It literally was just here to fill out the paperwork because we’re already got that covered.

The other organizations, it’s a lot of work. And to change culture, you have to change in bed beliefs, particularly in senior management from what they’ve always been conditioned. Goes back to that, um, it’s, it’s nothing personal. It’s strictly business. They have to, um, you [00:41:00] imagine trying to unlearn that a lot of senior leaders have been conditioned over the years of, you know, um, it’s nothing personal, just, just, you know, be hard and aggressive and, and they read the art of war by some zoo and then they’ve got to, you know, they employ that as their tactics for, for demoralizing and driving performance.

And it’s like, that’s not getting the best out of human beings. Yeah, that’s why there’s so many lessons. We learn from the military because it’s no longer it stopped being command and control so long ago because people’s lives Are at stake right and and so the care of the the people involved is so high Because the commitment I want you to get home So so I can get home to my family so you can get home to your family like what a pure thing You know, but then we get into business and remember, I go back to that Dan Pink quote, there’s a mismatch between what science knows.

What business does. Yeah. [00:42:00] Business is about drive profit, drive, you know, this, that, and the other, but get your people to thrive. The profit just happens as a byproduct. Yeah, that’s great. Jeff, how important is mindset when it comes to well being? If you look at research side of it, it will always go back to the, the choice you make.

on a daily basis. So if your habit is to search for something positive or your mindset is strong, you will have better outcomes. Um, so there’ve been, there’s been research done, um, and it shows that there’s a default set by who you are as a human being. That’s about 50 percent of who you are, and you can be negative, positive, or just neutral in that.

About 10 percent is what life does to you. The 40 percent is entirely up to you. So if you can influence the 40 percent of your well being because of your mindset, why wouldn’t you want to do it? But it’s not always trained into [00:43:00] us, Rob. That’s one of the things. It’s about have we been trained? Have we been told?

Or have we been given this information but we’re still in a threat response? So if you’re in a threat response, you can’t learn anything. Yeah, so true. And this is, goes back to the, the, the very fundamentals of, of the neuroscience of leadership is, is if people are in a threat response, they cannot learn.

So that’s such a fundamental thing. You know, if a kid’s in, in, in a terrible, uh, family existence, that child will struggle to learn in a school because their, their mind is constantly on a threat alert and a high threat alert, similar to being in a war zone because in their family. It is war at home, you know, what hope have they got coming to school, um, and being calm and quiet and learning, you know, eight hours a day or whatever they do and ticking the boxes that school says that child will not, I was one of those kids, you know, that’s, that’s for a whole separate podcast.

We won’t have time for that story, [00:44:00] but I was one of those kids. I was in constant threat response. I was in survival mode. You can’t learn in survival mode. Yeah, that’s so true. Actually, your, the front of your brain shuts down, your prefrontal cortex shuts down and you’re being driven by your amygdala and your fear responses.

So You can’t possibly learn. So mindset is about giving yourself that space. But sometimes it’s like you have to have the teacher and whether that’s books, whether that’s a podcast, whether that’s someone you follow, you have to have someone influence you. If you haven’t had that already. That’s why mentors are wonderful people.

Doesn’t matter who they are, where they come from. A mentor is a wonderful person. What can leaders start doing today to increase their wellbeing, not only for themselves, but for their teams as well? Well, the first thing is going back to that breathing . Just breathe. Take a double inhale and breathe. Yep.

But actively understanding that if you are role modeling the way. [00:45:00] Your team will follow your example. Now, they may not necessarily do what you do. I mean, I’m a long distance cyclist. A lot of my family and friends think there’s something wrong with me, deeply wrong with me. I mean, I’ve just signed up next year on doing a half Ironman for the first time at 54.

Wow. Like, my family thinks there’s something seriously wrong with me. But. everyone who sees me goes, Oh my God, you’re doing that. Whatever it is. If you’re a leader of a team, it’s the active passion. Now, whether that’s your physical wellbeing or your mental wellbeing, when you role model the way people will follow you on their own self care journey, because you’re already demonstrating it.

You’re already showing them that you either prioritize exercise or you prioritize reading or, you know, going for a walk or doing whatever you need to do. Um, just, and just on that, there’s a really great bit of research about going from looking at your screen as we do in our office and going outside and looking, using our [00:46:00] peripheral, looking left and right.

When you’re looking left and right in an open area, it calms and once again activates your parasympathetic nervous system because you are looking out and there’s no threat response. That actually helps you. So literally taking a walk outside will help calm you down. But in that moment of really high stress in the workplace, you need to be consciously aware of the research to go, Ah, I need to go and walk outside.

Most people will not do that moment. So go outside, take a walk. Like you hear it. I can hear my mother saying it to me, take a walk outside or go and calm down. And when you walk outside, your eyes shift from focus tunnel vision on a screen to going left and right. And that helps to calm you down. See, mum was right.

Love that the mum was right, hey? And she was going to remind us about that too. Yeah, yeah, she was always right. Yeah, that’s right. Geoff, what’s [00:47:00] one question that I didn’t ask you today that maybe you’d hoped I would have? And if I had, how would you have answered? I think the biggest thing, and questions for me are always about curiosity, about what we can do to help other people.

And, and for me, My favorite quote, and this is, I have quotes, I realized once again, going back to my mum, she bought me a book of quotes when I was a teenager and I never realized the significance. So now I talk to people and I read and reference things and I’m always looking for quotes, but it’s, I’m here to plant trees under whose shade I’ll never sit.

And it’s an old Greek proverb of society grows great. Um, when, when people plant trees under whose shade they’ll never sit, um, and, and I, you put that together with the greatness of a man is not how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to impact those around him positively.

That’s me. I just happened. I’m a beacon of positivity via [00:48:00] choice. I’m a guy who had a really, really tough childhood. And like I said, that’s another, that’s another podcast. Um, I survived a heart attack at 49. And if anyone was to ask what, what’s Jeff like, Oh, he’s really happy. It’s really positive. Now I’ve learned something from when at 15, when my life, I almost ended my own life.

So at 15, my life was pretty bad to now being 54. And I’m about to do a half Ironman. Um, triathlon and just loving life. There’s got to be lessons in there. And those lessons are there for us to share, Rob. And I think there’s so much. When we don’t ask the right questions, we don’t get to know, you know. One of the greatest things I will do every day is the people who are serving you at any counter do not wear a name badge because they’ve forgotten their name.

They wear a name badge so you can use their name, you can ask a question, you can say their name and thank them using their name. So for anyone out [00:49:00] there, just, that’s why the name badge is there. It’s not to report them to management when something goes wrong. It’s to say, morning, Carol, thanks for making my coffee.

Like who doesn’t want that? So if that’s the only thing I can leave, particularly as a leader, I once worked in an organization where everyone in that world name badges and the boss only ever walked into his office and never said good morning to his staff. Made, made them all put name badges on, but never used their names to say good morning as human beings.

We want to connect, Rob. Like that’s what we want to do. We want to feel seen and it’s such a simple thing. So yeah, there to your audience, if someone’s got a name badge, thank them and use their name. It’s such a beautiful human moment. Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you, Jeff. This has been a wonderful conversation and there’s so much wisdom there for anyone listening to this podcast.

If people want to connect more with you or find out more about what you’re doing, how’s the best way for them to do that? Ah, the best way [00:50:00] is on LinkedIn. I, I write and post and our organizers, so Neurocapability write and post daily. So Linda Ray and myself daily on LinkedIn, that’s where we have our biggest audience and share our message, you know, and that’s both, um, wisdom, psychology, neuroscience, um, and, and a bit of everything else.

So there’s a whole range of stuff there, but it’s all focused on how can we be better humans and be better leaders. Thanks, Jeff. Thanks for being here today. I really appreciate it. 

Stay awesome.