Innovation Nation
Innovation Nation

Episode · 2 months ago

Stressed at Work? There is an app to address that w/ Steve Glaser


Wellness apps have exploded in popularity in recent years — and that’s a good thing. We all need support, because we are all human. 

But none of them have tackled one of the biggest root-causes of stress in most people’s lives: the workplace. 

Well, none until now. 

In this episode, Steve Glaser, CEO of ComfortZones Digital, explains how he’s helping to innovate away workplace stress and make sure people can return to their loved ones without hauling home their stressful office baggage.  

Join us as we discuss:

  • How ComfortZones Digital’s app works
  • The different kinds of work-related stress
  • Mindfulness and the power of being present    

Tune in on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Innovation Nation in your favorite podcast player. 

Innovation is all around us. In fact, everyone innovates, often unbeknowns to themselves. Many mistakenly assumed the innovation is either a big capital project, a figurative bolt of lightning that brings inspiration, or the province of some exceptionally gifted person. This is the myth of innovation. But you can innovate as well. You're listening to innovation nation, the podcast where top executives and industry experts are sharing their insights on harnessing the power of innovation. We're here to help you stay ahead of the curve by driving your own innovation. Here's your host, Jasmine Martyr Rosen. Welcome to to Zoos Innovation Nation podcast. This is your host, Jasmine. Watch for Rustin. Our guest today is Steve Glazer, is currently seal of conference zones digital. Steve has spent nearly three decades in seeing a leadership roles in the Seni conductor industry, most recently being as senior vice president and violence. He's also very active in the stardom in the incubator and accelerator space with Youdship, rules at Sky Deck and plug and clay. So I know that as Steve's start up where he's seal. COMFEREN zones digital is launching a product that's going to revolutionize how employees it would work, pay stress. Very innovative and probably very needed. See you welcome. Thanks so much for having me tell me a little bit more about this product that you're about to launch. I think it's it strives is extremely innovating and topical. Yeah, well, you know, you've all been reading about the great resignation and with the pandemic, says, so many people challenging themselves to get through every day and resilience is an awfully big topic. This is actually very personal to me because, you know, I've had my own challenges with work stress and burnout and anxiety and times and you know, various work life balance challenges, as you can imagine, especially in Silicon Valley. But my kids also have had their own challenges. So you know, my dad had just passed away and just a month ago, unfortunately had his own challenges with kind of a little many nervous breakdown towards the end of his career, all around work stress. I watched all that happened. I have lots of friends as well who've gone through a lot in the minute you start talking about it, they open up about stories you really could ever imagine, because people stay silent and you don't really know what's going on. And actually we shouldn't assume that everybody's okay. They're not necessarily okay. Everybody has their own struggles. So when I started using myself some support via headspace, which is a mindful meditation APP if anyone's familiar with that, it's gotten a lot of promotion lately along with calm, and it's actually fantastic and it really helped me a lot. But it got me thinking that it's great to have this support and and and...

...a good proactive practice. But what happens in the middle of the day when you have a stressful situation, and it could be something that really rattles you? You were just criticized by your boss or something that's ongoing you have? You feel a lack of recognition or continuous overload work like balance challenges. Maybe you feel some bullying or something that's our politics in the office. So how do you? How does somebody deal with that? I know my kids are great at knowing what to do right and thirty years ago, even today, you know, I wasn't. I didn't know what to do. So I said, what if we had a button for every stressful work situation and it had the equivalent of an expert, a specialist in that exact situation, and they just guided you through the process of how to get your head together, get your stress response under control and get your perspective expanded, become more aware and then give you a few things to do to actually deal with your stress or because, unfortunately, it's great to address the symptoms, but if you don't address the root cause, you actually can't really get through this effectively. So how do you something called active coping as a process where you also deal with the root causes of your stress, but you need the right guidance to do that. And so we call this situational stress work stress management for a reason, and it's meant to be more real time, on demand and it compliments things like head space and calm and other people that are trying to help others to become more resilient. That's very, very interesting, and you know everybody crases Silico down is that had been an innovation, which it absolutely is and has been for quite a while. But with that obviously comes a lot of stress and somehow we don't. There's no connotation of stress and Innovation Directory Life. That's an interesting insight. Yeah, well, you know innovation. I'll give you a just my little brief perspective. I don't think I mentioned earlier to you that I was involved with innovation for years. is in a strategy rolls and also in M and a and investing in an external companies and then as part of, you know, these accelerators and incubators, and also on an innovation council for Sands, a states university. So very involved with that and I think that over the years I've learned that innovation comes from a couple of things. The first one is a wider perspective, ability to look at things, also with different perspectives, different angles, maybe looking at things in a way that no one else has looked at it that way before. You know something, you new perspective. But that's only the beginning because unfortunately then there's the hard work. So if you have this new perspective and you see this new gap or opportunity to innovate, then you need to start down a process where you unfortunately can't go straight from A to Z. You got to go to be and D and F and you know all the letters in between, and it's an innerative process and it's a lot of hard work and you need to know when you're done and when you're not done. You need to know when you're still only halfway there and it's got promised but it's still...

...not good enough. And then you got to keep going and you got to keep going, and that's just to get to the idea pretty solid, knowing that it's still not perfect really. And then the implementation is a lot of hard work and then you always find yourself, you know, with typically, you know, too little time to if your resources, other alternatives or issues that make you, you know, always have to do more faster. So it does create a lot of stress for everybody, and we're all human beings and put people that are stressed together and then there could be more stress if things aren't handled properly. Excellent. So well, how does the APP work? I'm just very curious. I mean, you said situational. Yeah, this is me. So there's two things. I'll split the content itself, which is audio based, just like a headspace. You don't have to train, you don't have to educate yourself on anything. You just show up and push a button and just follow their guided exercises. Guide you through some process, guide you through with some of the right words in a right situation. So the content is split into three categories, macro categories, and there's eight or nine subcategories. The first is about what happens during the day, every day, when people are dealing with work situations, and we call these emotional triggers. So what happens when you were criticized? What happens if you were confronted, you know, with you know, an aggressive behavior? What if you are worrying about an upcoming event, that day of presentation or something where you feel you're going to be judged? What if you're just overwhelmed by this stuff that you have to do that day? As you wake up in the morning, you just feel overwhelmed or you lose your confidence for a little while, or you're just mentally fatigued and it's starting to bring you down and increase your anxiety. So there's a lot of things that happen during the day. Then there's things that happen every day. So this is where you end up with, not just little jolts of stressed during the day, but you have chronic stress, it starts to accumulate, like you have a situation with your boss that just you know is not being dealt with, you're not feelingly recognized, you're consistently overloaded, you always have unrealistic deadlines, or you're confronted with some toxic environments, for example, and you know, consistent conflicts and things like that, and you might even have some of your own fears and insecurity, like you're hounded by your own inner critic and don't you ever heard that term, you know, or pot imposter syndrome? They're kind of related and and that's a ongoing situation for a lot of people and it could be made a lot worse in the in the work environment. So so these are the ongoing stressors and we have support for those. That are a little bit different than the emotional triggers during the day. And then the third category is, and this is very personal to me because I lost a marriage, I think, because of work stresses. When you transition and home. How do I...

...contain this work stress from spimming over into my personal life, into my relationships, into my health habits, into my sleep? So we call these transition routines to help you get reset and resensitize and then more aware and then gain more control so you can be better, more present with your kids or your spouse or what have you, not make extreme decisions, not get this cynical, maintain those health habits. You know a lot of people might overeat or drink alcohol or do something that's, you know, not good for them. Obviously that stuff all breaks down under stress. So if we can reset and resensitize you before you go home and give you that awareness, we think that can help quite a bit so you can go home and it in a different mindset. It doesn't mean you do these things still don't come to you, but you become aware of it and you can can control it. So that was something I know I always had major issues with, you know, not being able to turn it off, and there's a lot of implications bringing it all home. So that's a third category. And then within that we have eight or nine categories around time pressures, around burnout, around pressures or stressors from change or fear and insecurity, these emotional triggers and then these personal life situations. Those are sort of the subcategories. When you start getting into it and there's subcategories under those and we also we have sixty six topics at the moment, seventy six we've identified a hundred eighty eight audios at the moment that we've done. That are all there to help people in real time, you know, deal with these situations. And a compliments the other efforts out there are like by COM head space or other companies who are trying to train you on these techniques and change your behavior in your habits so you have, you know, better balance and better routines and different thought processes. That's all great, but that takes a lot of effort and practice in time and when people get busy it's hard to keep that up and get it. When they get into a confrontational situation, they tend to forget a lot of that and we're there to just push that button and guide you through this process real time in the now. It's almost like my coral learning im the spot. Yeah, but it's guided. Is that so? My own personal experience, for example, I never got trained in meditation and Mindfulness. I just started using headspace and you just push a button and it just guides you through a process and it gives you some words of wisdom. There's topics like anxiety or stress or presence, you know, so nice general topics. They're not work specific, and it gives you some great perspectives, very short perspectives, and then it guides you through some exercises and you learn breathing and body scans and all these different sub exercises that are, you know, generally very, very useful, but you pick and choose the ones that work the best for you and you tend to learn them, but you learned them by actually just using them in a guided so that's why you don't have to go do all this training and education up front. We're use in the same model because people are really busy...

...and they're not always good about this proactive stuff, as you know, and we hope that they are because it's actually very complimentary and important, but we can't count on that and so they need the on demand support. So you have been remarkably candid about your long struggles and shown long ability spoken about it right. Even awesome a marriage. Ye, Oh yeah, that's a very important part of leadership, by the way, is showing vulnerability. We're all human and that that's everybody precisely and how? But yet somehow, or a long corporate career, you were able to navigate in tables. How did you cope at the time? I mean how did you complish? You know, it's really hard in many, many times. I can tell you that going through a divorce while I was going through an acquisition, and we're in about my thirteen year old and eleven year old and everything was going on. That's tough stuff, right, and you know, back in the day it's like suck it up and you had no real support. You just did it. You know that then maybe your family or closest friends. Hopefully, in my case, you know, my dad was really important to me in the support you gave me during that time. Everybody need support and that's why, you know, I think people need support in their pocket. You know as well when these things are happening, best you can. Of course, you never can replace the right human but, by the way, one thing that worries me as you can get the wrong human too. So some of these offerings that give you online support, I think the top twenty percent of a lot of these coaches are probably fantastic, but I've heard, you know, you might get someone online. That is not as great because there's a huge shortage of people, and I'm not talking about just mental health professionals, just generally mentors and coaches for these situations. Many of them aren't experts in stressful work situations. It maybe experts in psychology or experts and organizational design and things like that, but unfortunately, you know, there's not enough really good, good people. So we tried to get the best, at the best of the best, using experts to filter what the best is and contribute, you know, an actual real world, frankly, experience base that we have about what does it really mean to deal with these things in the middle of the Work Day? Absolutely, that is so true. And you know what's interesting, you also talked about three generations in your family very candidly, your dad, yourself your kids. Interesting to hear. Do you see generational shifts and attitudes you're vent? Well, yeah, I mean the older generation was truly just suck it up and don't talk about it at all. And you know, I'm not sure my generation was that much different, to be honest, but it was a little bit better, a little bit more open. But then this generation is really different, like my kids. You know who are twenty nine and thirty one, and in that case, the in if you start looking at the EXP variances of the Genesis of the millennials and you look at...

...the surveys, eighty percent of them are saying they're just burnt out right now. And you know they want their they sort of want, in some ways, you know, their independence, which is great. But how do I say this? It's very hard on them when they don't get the kind of support and accolades and security that you know, I think you know many some of them anyway had and then they just sort of expected as they got out in the real world and you know, there's things that they unfortunately have had to learned that has made it really hard on on that generation and they're they're struggling to cope. So what stands out to me is, interestingly, through this whole ordeal of decade, Dinis is right, maybe sometimes concealed, maybe sometimes open, you managed to stay relevant and current and to innovate. And to him this, Famina, to I've started new start up, stay active with the incubators, serve on boys. Where does that energy count from to keep you well? You know, to be honest, I think it's all very personal, so there's no formula for everybody. But I will say that as you get older, and I just turned sixty at the end of December, so I'm also very open about that, although I love it, I'm active. I played tennis four times a week and try to play a little bit of golf and work out and walk my dog twice twice a day. So you know, I think you know the whole wellness thing is a big part of it, but there's the body and then there's the mind and they all go together, as you know, and a big part of it comes down to purpose. So if you as you get older, your priorities change, as you probably know, and you have got to align what you're doing more and more to the to a purpose that you know, you feel in your heart is is something that you're meant to do and make a difference in. And you know, like tech for me, is still exciting and there are some great opportunities, like autonomous vehicles that you know. I'm involved with a little start up, for example, that's in that space and it's exciting. I love it. I still am involved in tech in a lot of ways, but the idea to use tech to say impact millions of people's lives is a whole nother opportunity that you know it, and that's what I'm doing. That's my dream. And when I hear that head space, for example, a calm they have seventy, two a hundred million downloads and two to four million subscribers, I say that's what we want to do. We want to affect, you know, millions of lives and that change is completely how you wake up in the morning. It's all about purpose. That that's a very good insect. Purpose and mission really make a difference. Hearing that is critical to obviously driving innovation as well. And what's interesting in this particular instance what comfort zone digital is doing. There's a lot of technology that actually creates stressing people's lives. Right, being tended to the cell phone all the time,...

...the seven being on culture right, all that is getting like this is using the same medium to combat it. Is that a fair statement? It's a very fair statement. I'll give you another example other than the head spaces and the cons that I think are great uses of the technology for the positive. You know, spotify. I love spotify and I think it's excellent for people to be able to put their headphones on and listen to their favorite music and just getting gulfed in it. It's in my mind it's another form of meditation and Mindfulness. You can truly be in that moment and you're not living in the past or the future. You know, I work with a great, great team of people and one of them is Dr Brian Robinson, who's our chief architective comfort zonns digital, and he always says that's stress comes from living in the past or in the future. So you are catastrophizing potentially about the future and you are ruminating about something that happened in the past rather than just being in the present, and that's really a big part of what mindfulness is about. And once you can get in the present, you can expand your perspective. So He's huge on perspective expansion and with that will come awareness and then a whole different, you know, set of opportunities. Excellent. Well, any thoughts about your new product or innovation that I should have asked about and they missed out on? Well, you know that. There's one other element, and I talked about the content a lot and I didn't talk about the APP but the APP is about a process, enabling the process of evaluating and prioritizing your stressors that you have and then being able to get the self help and then tracking progress. But I just want to say one thing that we've been hearing from our companies and testers we've been working with. The people have over a dozen. We had recently one that had eighteen different stressors or stressful situations that they faced at the same time, and that's really a difficult thing for people right so a big part of what we've what we're doing in the APP is allowing people to first quickly evaluate through the different categories we have, be able to pop in look at what's with the list of things are that are in that category. That's the root causes and they can say they can basically label it as green, yellow or red. That just says, Hey, this isn't a problem, but oh wow, I never really thought about it. That actually is a problem, but it's medium. Oh, that is a huge problem. What we're finding, and our Berkeley certified coach, xsp Hr, as well as our psychotherapist that I mentioned, Dr Robinson, that they're seeing this, we're hearing this. The people don't really know what's stressing them out. They have a couple of things in mind, but until they look at this list they actually don't know. So there's a two step process where they can look quickly at everything and just say, doesn't matter to me, and how much does it matter? Then the prioritization that's...

...going to allow them to look at everything that was high impact in one list and everything that was medium and just move things up or down so they can think through what's more or less impactful to them and also look at some of the interdependencies because, for example, a difficult boss could cause five or six different issues like unrealistic deadline, lack of recognition, too much work, you know, etc. Etc. So this is huge that people just don't know. So we're trying to provide a process in the APP so they could, you know, not only evaluate but really internalized, prioritize and, you know, think through, you know what all those interdependencies are and why they should focus on something first and then something else next. And that's that's just an enormous challenge and enormous, we think, mandate for someone to manage your stress properly excellent. Well, looking forward to seeing you. You know, APP and I'm sure if if I were betting person, I'd say it's going to really take off. So I thank you. Let's keep on innovating and thanks for joining our podcast today. So I guess today with Steve Lasers, you of Comfort Zone Digital, and this is your host, Jasmine, watch us and see next technique. You've been listening to innovation nation. For more subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast player or connect with us on Linkedin. Thanks for listening. No.

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