Catch Bill Lennan on the #PirateBroadcast™
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[00:00:00] Introduction: Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
[00:00:10] Russ Johns: And it's a great day. And we're going to have a #PirateBroadcast™. We're going to be talking about all kinds of things, surfing, island life, education, learning, and life experience with Bill. How are you doing?
[00:00:23] Bill Lennan: I'm great. I'm sitting out in my backyard. It was perfect. You come up and it's a beautiful day.
[00:00:29] Russ Johns: It is a beautiful day. We connected a while ago on Lunch Club. If you're not familiar with Lunch Club, it's a platform that allows you to connect with individuals that are I don't even know how to explain it. How would you explain it, Bill?
[00:00:43] Bill Lennan: Lunch Club is a very personal networking kind of model. They want you to talk to people, right? It's not designed to be a high volume connection. It's designed to be low volume and then have conversations like we did. It's the opposite end of networking from LinkedIn, which is a lot more about volume, right? And early on, Lunch Club was somewhat random in there, in there connecting people together. You had a little bit of filter, it was all over the place. Now you can be ... they're improving their targeting, but I like, I'm still random. I just left that algorithm.
[00:01:21] Russ Johns: You let it go wild.
[00:01:23] Bill Lennan: Yeah. Way more entertaining that way.
[00:01:26] Russ Johns: It's way more entertaining. I've had some great conversations though. And just like our conversation, we had an opportunity to actually connect with a few people and you've met a few people in my network and it's been great. Hopefully. Hopefully you've had a good experience. Anyway, I want to talk about...one of the things that we love to do in the #PirateBroadcast is highlight what you're doing. And you had a program that really struck a chord with me and the educational space. And you've been doing this awhile and let's talk a little bit about that and then we'll go into some other things a little bit later on.
[00:02:05] Bill Lennan: Sure. Yeah. So the heart program. So heart is, we're trying to change the conversation around how people think about, look at, talk about mental health, mental wellness, and what we're doing is approaching this from a way that nobody's done before. It's all research backed. We're not just making stuff up out of the sky, but our founder had a realization that people who are struggling, depression, anxiety, the gold standard right now in clinical interventions to help them out basically teaches them a set of skills and helps them understand their own thinking mistakes. And part of her aha was when people have the skills in advance, they don't fall into these struggles. We use analogies all the time, so one of the analogies we use is swimming, right? If I'm out in a boat somewhere, and I know how to swim, when I fall in the water, it's not really a big deal cause I'm really comfortable in the water. I'm swimming for a long time. But if I don't know how to swim, when I fall in the water, we have a whole other story that might not have a happy ending. And with the world of mental health and mental wellness, there's 50 plus research back skills that some of us got to learn accidentally growing up. A few of those skills, maybe we went hunting and we found some more. But nobody's systematically gone after learning this stuff. It's as if math didn't have a structure and you muddle your way through learning it. How far would you get without school? I never would have made it past basic addition, so we're structuring it, we're making it really clear and easy for people to understand where and how they, and to see where they run into challenges. And how to understand what's going on and how to not have it be a mystery. And how to move forward past it.
[00:03:51] Russ Johns: So do these skills, these 50 some odd skills, do they allow us to build resiliency in our ability to travel through life? Because using the swimming analogy, you can read a book about swimming and you can think about swimming and you can watch a movie about swimming, but until you jump in the water, you really haven't experienced that whole entire episode of what it takes to swim.
[00:04:20] Bill Lennan: Exactly. Yeah. So a lot of what we focus on is getting people into the practice mode, right? Getting you into the pool. Having you swim laps. And we try to encourage people to level that up. Okay, you're super comfortable in the water. You can swim, maybe you play water polo maybe try synchronized swimming, jump off the diving board get into surfing, whatever it is where they can go beyond their starting point. Like two years ago I was afraid of public speaking and I have been my whole life. I realized I needed to get over that and so I put together a recipe with the stuff that we do. I make my own dog food. And it took me two months and four speaking engagements to get over my fear. And it was all because I had this set of tools. And so now public speaking is super fun. And it needs to have this set of skills that I was able to look at the box of 50 plus skills and go, okay, what's going on? What are my challenges? Why am I afraid of public speaking? What are the things that I need to address? Let's put those Lego pieces together and a way we go.
[00:05:29] Russ Johns: So now that you've had this experience and you've actually utilized and practiced the process to public speaking. One example is how did you trigger that first aha moment? When you were talking to your partner and discovering this program and outlining what it was about and how it was going to be delivered, what was your aha moment in this process? Because, at some point in time, you have to get to say this sounds odd. And then it went to this makes a lot of sense until you practice it and you actually experienced it and now you're passionate about it and you're promoting it.
[00:06:12] Bill Lennan: Awesome question. And I have to say it's all my partner's fault.
[00:06:15] Russ Johns: How can I divert blame somewhere else?
[00:06:18] Bill Lennan: Totally. I wish I had all the pieces to see this, but I didn't. The backstory on this, so my partner works in mental health. She works in a clinic. And the clinical program with people that are struggling with depression and anxiety there, the emergency end of the spectrum. And she's been there for six, maybe seven years now. She's an occupational therapist. That's what her degree is in, but OTs work in mental health a lot. And her big observation five plus years ago was that this stuff should be taught preventatively and then people wouldn't end up being in the hospital, but she didn't have a framework, a model to really put it together. And then three years ago. So I've been working in Silicon valley for the last 25 years, building software. I've worked for small startups and I've worked for Google and everybody in between. And my teams frequently do things people say are impossible, pretty consistently. Three years ago, she wanted to know how we did that. And was kind of interviewing me and I wanted to know the process and when I laid it out to her, she said, oh, you use the skills that we teach in the hospital. And I said, great. Okay, what does that mean? And she said, it's this clinical skill set called dialectical behavior therapy. And I said, I've never heard of that before.
[00:07:31] Russ Johns: Okay, tell me more.
[00:07:34] Bill Lennan: Let's drill on it. And so she explained the framework, starting at a pretty high level. And we started to see where things that I had learned over the years in the valley, because I really wanted to be a good leader. All these things that I'd learned fit into the framework and also where the gaps were like stuff that I hadn't learned. And that turned into the conversation of, oh, okay. So now we can figure out how to make this curriculum where it's not just clinical, but it's also very real world and tangible, and people can use it professionally. They can use it with their kids. They can use it in their relationships. It's not just a clinical and academic thing anymore. It's a very pragmatic, real world, here's how to go use it.
[00:08:16] Russ Johns: So you can actually teach this. And one of the individuals that we connected you to was Kenyatta because she has an opportunity to start a charter school. She's working on this project. And I thought that it would be really great in that environment, because if you could teach kids or you could start at a younger age, young adults, even and provide them with these skills to make them resilient, make them available, have some tools in their toolbox to manage and deal with situations that if they fall out of the boat, they know how to swim. If they get in trouble, they know how to think through these processes. And it's a huge step in the right direction for mental health. And I just wanted to share it and highlight it today, Bill. So thank you so much for being here. I want to give a shout out to a couple of people that are in the room today. Martin's here. Martin, greetings from Nairobi. Thank you so much for being here. Elize from South Africa. Good morning, Russ and Bill, all the pirates and Elize says, hello, Martin. Martin says, hey Russ had Bill and that swimming example is absolutely great analogy. Real aha.
[00:09:29] Bill Lennan: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah.
[00:09:30] Russ Johns: So how do I float? That's a great question. Jeff Young, hello, pirates. Nice to see you this morning. Namaste. Thank you so much for being here, Jeff. Hiett says good morning, in from Texas And then Wendy says, good morning pirates, welcome Bill. Teams can do the impossible if they think that it's more important to achieve the goal than to give any credibility to the first two letters of impossible.
[00:09:57] Bill Lennan: I love that. That's awesome.
[00:09:58] Russ Johns: Absolutely. Always providing some value here. The pirate community is always willing to contribute and pitch in and help out. And that's what I see you doing. And that's why it was so important for me to get you on and share these things because as a software developer, you grew up on the islands, you grew up in Hawaii as a surfer and you know how to relax and you know how to enjoy life. And as our conversations developed, it's one of these things that you're really finding a lot of passion in helping others learn how to relax and enjoy life as well. Thanks for sharing what you're doing. So what's the next step? What's the journey that you're positioning yourself to take in this arena? World domination.
[00:10:40] Bill Lennan: Yeah.
[00:10:40] Russ Johns: It only makes sense.
[00:10:41] Bill Lennan: It's part of the pirate code, right?
[00:10:43] Russ Johns: Yes. That treasure we have to go find, right?
[00:10:47] Bill Lennan: Yeah. It's so this last year we ran 11,000 high school students through our program, which was really cool. We got great feedback. Now we've expanded, we're teaching teachers this stuff. Because the part of the feedback we got from the students was, hey, this is awesome, but our teachers need it more than we do. Cause the students could see how the struggles that their teachers were having and the cognitive dissonance that the students were having, they were learning skills, but the teachers weren't role models. And so for the students, it was a little, it was a little confusing because they expect the adults to know whatever they're learning and they don't expect that they themselves, as students will be a level ahead of where their teachers at. So we built a teacher program to help teachers across the board, K through 12 or even college level folks. And this is really taking the fore and context to it and customizing it for different audiences. So a version for teachers now we're working on a version for parents. We had a bunch of high school, late high school, early college parents who were talking with us about problems they're having. One problem is they're having problems communicating with their students. And two, problems with students are having adapting to what's the future, right? What am I going to do when I grow up is a really common question. And that the anxiety around, what am I going to do when I grow up? Which I don't remember having, maybe that's one of those things I got lucky.
[00:12:13] Russ Johns: I'm just trying to wait until I grow up.
[00:12:16] Bill Lennan: All those little pieces, like how do you address them? What do you do with them? What, what do you, how do you handle, right? And then also what we're calling a leadership program for want of a better way to put it for folks that are thinking about this in a work context. And the way that we're thinking about this is it's leadership for everyone. Irrespective of where you're at and whether you want a leadership role or not. Because when you have the skill set, you're a much better contributor in a team, even if you never want to move above individual contributor, knowing how to communicate and how to recognize, oh wow, this conversation that we're whatever has me be really uncomfortable, what's going on or, oh, I think I should be the presenter on this, and I've got to go over my fear of public speaking, whatever it is. Even if you don't aspire to be chief whatever, just having the skills as a baseline is awesome.
[00:13:10] Russ Johns: Yeah and I think that the fundamental skills are going to be increasingly more important as technology continues to evolve. If you look back on your career and how job titles and positions and skills have changed in the last 10, even 10, 15 years, there's a lot of things that are evolving and that's why resiliency, I think, is so important. And so critical is how do we become resilient? So the idea that we had in high school about what I wanted it to be, doesn't turn out to be, oh man, a crisis because it wasn't exactly what I expected because I didn't have enough information at the time.
[00:13:58] Bill Lennan: Exactly.
[00:13:59] Russ Johns: And so you don't know until you actually going back to the swimming analogy, jump in the pool and start swimming. It's I don't know if I like it or not, because I haven't experienced it. But having the skills to be able to say, I can change my mind and it's not the end of the world and I could do something else with this skill that I've already learned and transfer it to a new industry or a new profession. There's nothing wrong with that.
[00:14:25] Bill Lennan: Yeah. The idea that... wow, the birds here are super loud. I hope that's okay for you guys.
[00:14:31] Russ Johns: We're okay. We're going to just keep going.
[00:14:34] Bill Lennan: The idea that you can take skills from one context and other contexts is really valuable, right? It's amazing how stuff that I... I worked my way through college and stuff I learned working in restaurants and as a first responder, I still use all the time. In my software career I use those skills. And I see the value in that and there's really no learning that's wasted. It's just a question of what's the context. How does this thing that I learned how to do fit a context of a new place?
[00:15:09] Russ Johns: How and when do you apply it? So Martin says yep, you know how to swim. There's plenty of rivers out to cross. You don't have to swim across the Atlantic every day. Absolutely. You can take baby steps, Martin.
[00:15:24] Bill Lennan: Yeah, of course.
[00:15:25] Russ Johns: And that's the beauty of where we are today. There's so much information, Bill, that we have an opportunity to go out and at least become aware of what something is about before we jump in and have to dive in and experience the whole thing altogether. And I think a lot of people miss that step of the discovery and the curiosity of what it takes and what it is and how do you analyze what or where you need to go next? And So I love what you're doing. Can you get us some real world examples of how this may help an individual?
[00:16:05] Bill Lennan: Oh yeah. Yeah, let's see, where do I start? Starting at the most basic level we teach people how their brain chemistry works and how maintaining your brain chemistry is starting inoculation against depression. At the most fundamental level, depression and anxiety are our brain chemistry problems. And if you see a psychiatrist and they're giving you pharmaceuticals for depression and anxiety, they're doing it cause it modifies your brain chemistry. So we started off by teaching people what the things are that you can do that are really simple to keep your brain chemistry at at least the baseline level to be comfortable. I go for a walk every day for 20 minutes. Generally in the sunshine and that gets me serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, which are three of the big brain chemicals. And usually I'm on the phone talking to somebody, casual conversation. And so I get some oxytocin.
[00:16:58] Russ Johns: I think we were on the phone on your walk.
[00:17:00] Bill Lennan: I was doing that. Yes. Yes. Yeah. Thank you very much for helping keeping me calm and everything else, but that's a super simple thing. Pretty much anybody can do it kind of thing that's really good for our mental health. And if you happen to get more exercise than that, you go to the gym, you go in for a bike ride, playing tennis, whatever.
[00:17:18] Russ Johns: Sheri Lally says information is important, but don't forget to take action. Yeah.
[00:17:23] Bill Lennan: Yeah. You got to get out of the house knowing...
[00:17:24] Russ Johns: You gotta get out of the house. You gotta get up, go do it.
[00:17:28] Bill Lennan: Yeah. You have to actually go do it. I don't know that imaginary walks do any good.
[00:17:32] Russ Johns: Bringing his story about a 500 mile walk.
[00:17:36] Bill Lennan: Probably not the same thing, but that's a real simple starting point about how to do that.
[00:17:42] Russ Johns: So how have you built a framework? How are you building a framework around these skills and these ideas? Because being a software developer, I can imagine that there's going to be some learning processes that you can actually help people out. The thousands of students that you've already walked through the program, how is this evolving to be world domination next?
[00:18:07] Bill Lennan: Yeah, no problem. Yeah. So it's a stack model. It's like learning math or swimming, you start at the most fundamental level and then you work your way up, right? After a certain point, you can do some branching, but you've got to get the fundamentals working. As you're moving through, it's again, it's like math, right? You have to understand how to do addition and subtraction before multiplication or algebra comes into your conversation. And so we use a combination, we have our own learning management system, LMS. And so like everybody else's teaching courses, we've got it broken down into modules. Topics inside the modules, people work their way through. It's a combination of video, audio and coaching sessions. And the people have homework. Basically, here's your practice for today. We include food for the simple stuff, like going for a walk, daily habits everybody should be doing, make sure you get enough sleep, eat, get out of the house, go for the walk, talk to some people. And as you move up the ladder things that maybe, yeah. Yeah. I love that. And keep working.
[00:19:17] Russ Johns: Keep working on it. Jeff says swimming is important pirate, especially with the boat. Wendy says this is cool because the pirates have big brains. Oh, there's Kenyatta. Happy day, Russ and Bill. Thanks connecting us, Russ. We just had a fab convo. #PirateBroadcast. Fantastic. And that's what the pirates are all about. Everyone just making connections. It's really simple for you to reach out to someone and say, hey, I'm a pirate. You're a pirate. Let's connect and have a conversation.
[00:19:53] Bill Lennan: Yeah, you need a club.
[00:19:57] Russ Johns: Yes. So all these conversations are going on and Bill, I just want to make sure that if people want to connect with you, what's your preferred method? How do you enjoy and appreciate people connecting and reaching out to you?
[00:20:11] Bill Lennan: We go to the pool, jump in, swim a few laps and yeah. So my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and it's H A E R T program. And you can certainly find me on LinkedIn. WB Lennon, I think is my LinkedIn. And that's probably the easiest.
[00:20:28] Russ Johns: It's all in the show notes. It's all in the show notes and you can goto the links in the post on RussJohns.com anytime. Listen to the replay, watch the broadcast, all the good stuff.. I remind people that you're also a software developer and you have teams of people that are doing stuff. So if there's any kind of a software project or program that needs help, is that something you're still working on and providing help with?
[00:20:55] Bill Lennan: I'm happy to provide coaching and thinking and any connections I've got, but I'm not actually writing code anymore. I'm working on this full-time now. This has become my life. And I talk to people that are working on stuff all the time.
[00:21:08] Russ Johns: I love that. I love that. The reason I ask is because coding and it's very methodical. It's very, you have to think through. , it's like poetry. It's like you're picking the right sequence of events to make sure that the outcome is exactly what you need to have and mental health, you're building a framework around this idea that we can structure a process to help you improve your outcomes. And I think it's really about outcomes. We know what the negative outcome is. And so let's work on creating the positive outcome and so pirates, if you could go connect with Bill and provide and share introductions, that would help him, who would be a good introduction Bill for you to continue to work with.
[00:21:54] Bill Lennan: I'm rabidly curious. And so I'll talk to anyone. Right now, the folks that we're talking with typically are administrators versus superintendents or principals of schools, whatever those roles look like. Sometimes they're called business managers. So it's just the people that are, they're usually the decision makers in schools of any level. Parents, if you've got kids that are either thinking about going to college or they're in that place, their late teens, if they're having challenges or if you're having challenges, we're happy to talk with you about what it is that's going on and figure it all out. In my perfect world, late teens and college age kids call their folks on the phone on a regular basis and go, mom, dad, I got a question, whatever, right? What do I do, blah, blah, blah. And it's super smooth. It's super easy. And I get that not everybody has that yet, but it's possible. I know that's possible. I've got a son in college who calls me on a regular basis. He called me yesterday and wanted to know how to change a flat tire on his bicycle. Like walking him through it, over the phone and so...
[00:22:57] Russ Johns: That's awesome.
[00:22:59] Bill Lennan: So that kind of thing, and folks are having career struggles is another area that I've spent the last 10 years plus helping people figure out and understand how to do what they want with their career. And oftentimes irrespective of the level they're at, people have blind spots about what it takes to move in their career. And oftentimes they have self-limiting beliefs. What they need to do and how they need to do it. And once you can get that out and start to talk through, oh, here's the recipe to get you from here to there and walk them through the steps.
[00:23:37] Russ Johns: Thank you so much Bill for being here. I encourage the conversation to start cause it's amazing what can take place in a couple of conversations. So everyone thank you so much for being here, all the #gratitude in the world. Like, comment and share and all those social shenanigans that have to take place in order to make it visible to other people. I love the fact that you're here and I love the fact that we can have this conversation. Bill #gratitude for you. Thank you for what you're doing. And I look forward to our next conversation.
[00:24:08] Bill Lennan: Definitely.
[00:24:09] Russ Johns: And pirates, you know why we're here because #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree.. So until next time, be well, take care.
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