Supporting Mental Health – How One Person Can Make a Difference featuring Born This Way Foundation

Hosted by

Steve Boese

Co-Founder of H3 HR Advisors and Program Chair, HR Technology Conference

Trish Steed

CEO and Principal Analyst, H3 HR Advisors

About this episode

529 – Supporting Mental Health – How One Person Can Make a Difference featuring Born This Way Foundation

Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

Guest: Maya Smith, Executive Director, Born This Way Foundation

This week, we met with Maya Smith from Born This Way Foundation, to discuss new research that addresses the importance of mental health support and resources.

– Lady Gaga’s vision when creating Born This Way Foundation with her mother, Cynthia Germonatta

– How the pandemic has altered how we experience work, school, and community

– The Be There Certificate – learn how to support someone in their mental health journey

– Results from Born This Way Foundation, surrounding what different generations want from their workplaces


Check out the Kindness in the Workplace Research Report here

Thank you, Maya, for joining the show today!  Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour wherever you get your podcasts.

Transcript follows:

Announcer 0:27
Welcome to At Work in America sponsored by Paychex. We welcome a wide and exceptionally impressive array of guests, business leaders, HR leaders, academics, practitioners, consultants and authors to talk about the most timely, relevant and challenging issues that are influencing the workplace today. At Work in America digs in behind the headlines and trends to the stories of real people making a difference in the world of work. And now here are your hosts, Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane Steed.

Steve 0:59
Welcome to the At Work in America show. Trish, we have a great show today, we’re going to be talking with Maya Smith, Executive Director of Born This Way Foundation about the importance of mental health support, resources and some interesting new research on mental health. I love this topic. Trish, we’ve covered mental health. Generally, we’ve covered it in the workplace. We just did a webinar recently on it. I think it’s a great topic, and it’s super important. We’re lucky to have Maya with us today. Let me introduce her formally.

Steve 1:30
Maya engages with a diverse array of partners across sectors to conduct innovative research builds authentic youth focused programming and leads effective campaigns that foster kindness and advance the conversation around mental health. With nearly 20 years of experience in the youth empowerment, civic engagement and community development fields. Maya previously served as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of and began her career as East Coast coordinator for Rock the Vote. Maya grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey (represent) and is a graduate of Rutgers University. She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband, children, dogs. Probably more interesting than their husband, probably? But Maya, welcome to the show. How are you?

Maya Smith 2:13
I’m doing so well. Thank you so much for having me, Steve and Trish. I’m talking about my favorite subject and honored for all that you’ve already done for mental health.

Trish 2:24
Thanks for coming on. If you haven’t noticed, Steve is obviously from New Jersey, as well. So he couldn’t contain himself.

Steve 2:32
I’m sorry. I’m gonna drag this out. What exit Maya was Maplewood?

Maya Smith 2:35
Are we talking expressway? Are we talking about Parkway?

Steve 2:38
I go Parkway.

Maya Smith 2:39
Probably 142.

Steve 2:41
All right. I’m 130. So we were kind of simpatico there.

Maya Smith 2:48
Northern jersey.

Trish 2:49
So funny. Maya, I have to tell you, I feel like the last few guests we’ve had have all been either born or a significant portion of their life was in New Jersey. It’s like you’re all neighbors seriously.

Maya Smith 3:02
They tend to be from that little corner of the country? But I’m not biased? Steve and I are not biased.

Steve 3:09
Yeah, so that’s great. It’s awesome to have you here. Maya, kind of a simple question, maybe, but one that deserves an answer. Tell us about Born This Way Foundation, just maybe give us an overview and describe it a little bit, then we’ll get into some of the things that that the foundation is doing, and then some of the research that you’re planning to release soon.

Maya Smith 3:27
I would love to, thank you so much. So as you both said, my name is Maya Smith, my pronouns are she, her and hers. And I’ll get into why I say that every single time I introduce myself, because sharing our pronouns and introducing ourselves in the way that we are, is a really important act of kindness that has a great impact on mental health. And that’s the type of work we get into every day at Born This Way Foundation. We were founded by Lady Gaga and her mom, Cynthia Germanotta. We were born very much out of the personal experiences that Lady Gaga had growing up. She was the beautiful, unique, different creative person that you see today when she was 4,6,8 years old. And for that, she experienced a lot of meanness and cruelty. Those of us who have children, we know that sometimes difference is treated as a liability instead of an asset. And she absolutely experienced that. And so she was clear from a very early age, that if she was to survive her life, and she talks really openly and honestly about her own struggles, she would dedicate her time, her treasure and her talent to making sure that young people not only survived, but that they thrived. And that’s what we do every day at the foundation. Our mission is to build a kinder and braver world. And our work falls in three buckets. The first is to make kindness cool. The second is to validate the emotions of young people around the world. And the third is to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. And I love doing podcasts like these because it very much hits all three of those buckets. So thank you again for inviting me to talk.

Trish 5:03
Thank you for coming on. You know, I definitely want to get into the three that you just mentioned. Before that, can you maybe just talk a little bit about your personal connection to Born This Way Foundation? Obviously, you’ve been in some sort of, you know, very active visible roles that are very important to not just the workplace, but to humanity in general. But what brought you to this role specifically?

Maya Smith 5:26
Absolutely, I’m a couple of years away from 40. I’m pushing 40. And so I’ve been here for 10 years, and so almost, yeah. And so I’ve been here for since the beginning for 10 years of my life. And I’m fortunate to be the daughter of a psychoanalyst. So for me, mental health was something that was talked about really openly and honestly, from a very early age, I would work on my little brother as big sisters are known to and my mom would really commonly asked me like what I was feeling in that moment, and why I felt the need to hurt my brother. And she’d asked me to name my emotions. And it was both the most validating and frustrating experience of my life. But as I grew up, and as I began to understand that this unique experience that we’d had in the nista household where I grew up was not it was actually the exception. It wasn’t the rule, and that mental health wasn’t often talked about, especially not in proactive ways. But that we lived in a society where mental health was talked about in times of crisis, and not something that was talked about as something that we all had, that we all experienced.

Maya Smith 6:35
And then we all needed to take care of. And so for me, the dissonance between my own mental health experience and the validation and affirmation and support that I received, and starting to lead an organization, manage employees and think about a movement dedicated to mental health, I realized how fortunate I’d been for that experience, but also that I wanted to do everything I could to make sure that we created a world in which we could be proactive about our mental health and celebrate our mental health, especially at work. Because you know, mental health is not something that we check at the door, right? When we park our cars at the office. And especially after these two years, the the places we live work and play and our mental health are just so closely interrelated.

Trish 7:19
Yeah, thank you. I know that you mentioned you’ve been there 10 years, it’s been about 10 years ago, I think close to it. Lady Gaga actually came to St. Louis and my daughter who was about seven at the time, wanted to go to the concert. And so we went and I was a little unsure if that was you know, age appropriate, it’s interesting that the, you know, sort of three buckets that I know we’re going to dig into those were things that she was already sharing on stage and with her audience, which I’ll be honest, was probably age five to 85. Literally every type of person, age person was was there and so I think that it’s it’s comforting to sort of know this isn’t you know, just something she’s gotten on board with lately, right. But like you said, this is something she’s really dealt with her entire life you as well. And so I think it’s important to know that that this is important to her and she really stands behind, you know, what we’re going to be discussing so I just wanted to share that I these messages really helped my daughter at a very young age thinking that that’s we’re all born the way we’re born and you should be comfortable sharing that and sharing your mental health issues.

Maya Smith 8:35
Absolutely. And I hope your daughter is still a fan today. My daughter’s actually she’s turning seven next month and there’s a Las Vegas show. Lady Gaga is in residency so my daughter will be celebrating her birthday there.

Steve 8:49
Wait, I know this is a little off topic. Do you know the location of those shows?

Maya Smith 8:54
Yes, she has Vegas residency picking up again on April 14 at the Park MGM. A beautiful jazz and piano show and so Logan, my daughter, and I will be donning our evening best to celebrate her seventh birthday. So that’s a full circle moment Trish. I think you’re totally right. I heard her say many times that this is the work that she wants to be remembered for. And so it is deeply personal and I think her whole career people have come to listen to her speak as much as they come to listen for affirming places that I’ve I’ve seen.

Steve 9:31
Maya, I’d love for you to share a couple of examples, if you will, of maybe the actual ways that Born This Way Foundation, either partners and you could take it however you like with schools, communities, workplaces, you know, what are some of the ways that this work gets done?

Maya Smith 9:47
Yeah, absolutely. So I would be remiss if I didn’t start with the Be There Certificate, which I’m so excited about. So the Be There Certificate we created in partnership with our friends which is an incredible Canadian Mental Health nonprofit. And this certificate is a free self paced interactive online mental health course. It’s available in English, Spanish and French. And it’s for young people and youth activists, and it trains them to provide mental health support to those to those around them. Really simply put, we talked about how it helps one, learn how to be there for themselves and each other. We’re really, really excited about it in the first couple of days since the launch, we have young people from over 140 countries visit. And what shows it’s really underscored in the research that we do around the world, young people want to learn how to support themselves and each other young people are more and more the ones being turned to in crisis. And they need the tools and the resources to support themselves and each other.

Maya Smith 10:47
And so we’re really, really proud of the certificate, and you can look at it, you can take the training, at and follow the conversation at #BeThereCertificate. But our hope, especially from an HR component, is that workplaces, the places where young people and parents and teachers live, work and play, that they integrate this proactive resource so that folks just have this information. I’m sure all three of us have been in situations where we didn’t expect to need to access that information that day, especially as a parent, I see it every day. But I’m glad I know the difference between panic and anxiety. I’m glad I know how to deescalate suicidal ideation, I’m glad I know how to do breathing exercises, these are essential pieces of information that we should just know and be there certificate is a great way to learn them.

Trish 11:39
Thank you for for highlighting that because I think you’re right. It’s something that is a resource, I can’t think of a time in my career where I really had something like that, to help when I needed it. And it was something that just mental health awareness was not something you know, we’re all so close in age here. That wasn’t something when we started our careers that was readily talked about are available. So I love that it’s starting to be, you know, made available to young people. I know it’s self paced. Can you give us a general idea just about how long are you finding that it takes someone to go through this? Or is it something they’re going through and maybe the course of a few days? How does that typically work?

Maya Smith 12:19
Absolutely. Thank you for asking. And I think it fits in really nicely, whether it’s continuing education credits or leadership development are off sites. I got a lot of the questions wrong, which was a really humbling experience in and and it just shows you that the real time scenarios in the role playing is so important. So I probably took a little bit longer than most folks, I took probably about an hour and 45 minutes, but blocking anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours. So we have our incredible PR firms called they’re called DKC news. They’re training all of their offices around the country in the next couple of weeks. And they’re just doing an extended lunch period. I think there’s really creative ways you don’t have to do it all in one sitting there built in these modules, these five Mulk modules. And you can take it at your leisure. But really what it does is it provides a comprehensive and holistic resource for folks to learn how about their own mental health, learn how to lean into hard conversations, learn how to ask the right questions, learn how to have the resources at their disposal to support someone who may be struggling. And it’s it is an investment that pays off exponentially.

Trish 13:31
Thank you. And I should also

Maya Smith 13:33
And I should also say it’s not only for young people, I think the foundation exists for young people. We were built from the experience of one young person and now we have this incredible belief in this generation. But the Be There Certificate, whether you’re a superintendent, whether you’re a parent, whether you’re a high school student, this is really created for you and with you in mind. So our hope is that it’s integrated into all of the places that have an HR department and more.

Steve 14:03
Hi, my thanks for pointing that out. While it may be focused a little bit or somewhat on on young people and young people’s experiences. And we’ll touch we’ll get into some of the data from the recent research that that’s come out. This is a universal challenge. It’s not a young person challenge. It’s not an old person challenge. It’s not a male or female. It’s everyone, right. And honestly, even prior to the pandemic, mental health challenges in the workplace were an absolute epidemic on their own. And we just didn’t talk about them enough right there. So the last couple of years have made this all worse and shined more of a spotlight on the issues because employers quite frankly, are being forced to respond to these challenges, right, just because people have gone through so much but it kind of was always there right before and it continues to be there now.

Maya Smith 14:52
Absolutely. And I think everybody, we all are facing some serious barriers, right. So whether it’s access or there’s cost, whether it’s very access to quality support, right? The Be There Certificate eliminates those barriers, it’s totally free. It’s online, you can access it at your, at a time that works best for you. And so a lot of these barriers are based on what we heard from young people, but they’re not youth barriers, right? I absolutely identify with those issues, and many of your listeners do as well. And so, pre pandemic, and especially now, as we think about this next phase of the world that we’re entering, which is absolutely not post pandemic, by any means. But we’re sort of thinking about how to come back together safely in workplaces and other places in our community. I think this is a really urgent and important tool.

Trish 15:43
Yeah, I’m wondering too, a little bit aloud, because this is a new certificate, right, based on this research. But I’m thinking too, sometimes what you lack in an organizational setting is a common language to make it okay to talk about things. So that’s often the barrier. And I’ll ask in case you have any sort of early, early results, but are you starting to see that it actually, once you have a group of people or a department or something like that, a group of young people? Does it provide that common language then for them to articulate better than what they would have before?

Maya Smith 16:17
I do think we will find that and what we find even before that is the ability to say, you may need this or you may not need this, but we should do this together. Right? The proactive conversation around mental health tools is so transformative in the workplace. Lady Gaga always talks about it being okay to not be okay. Right. But that is not often a message that we’re hearing in our workplaces. And even though that’s my job to tell people that at work, it’s still difficult, right? Because there’s so much stigma and vulnerability in that. So when we can create a tool that says, Wherever you are in your mental health journey, whatever information you need access to and whatever the personal struggles you may or may not have in this moment, here’s a tool that proactively talks to you about your mental health. So I think, yes, we will absolutely find that data Trish to your question, but I think they are entering an opening that conversation in workplaces about the need to take care of your mental health is such an important important first step. And you were seeing in really important ways that employees that employers that can talk to their employees about mental health have have higher satisfaction rates, they have lower employee churn rates, there’s all of these measures that show that mental health in the workplace makes a huge difference.

Steve 17:36
I want to take a pause for a second Trish and thank our friends over at Paychex. This episode of At Work in America is brought to you by our friends at Paychex one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement and software solutions for businesses of all sizes. Trish, Paychex, recently surveyed more than 600 HR leaders and 2000 employees at different sized businesses across the US and found out what employers are getting wrong when it comes to supporting the needs of our workforce. And certainly mental health and support in the workplace. It will be one of those things for sure that many employers are getting wrong. So you can read more about what Paychex found and some of the recommendations that you can implement in your own organization to help you right now. And what’s really difficult talent market for sure, you can download the findings at We’ll put that link in the show notes and thanks to our friends at Paychex. Speaking of research, which we weren’t, but I kind of just did. Maya, I’d love for you to comment a little bit about some new research that Born This Way Foundation has collaborated on. Is this is a problem for all workplaces and all cohorts and all generations etc? Are there a couple or three things you’d love to highlight from that that research?

Maya Smith 18:53
Absolutely, I’d love to thank you for bringing that up, Steve. So we worked with our friends at Indeed and Benenson Strategy Group to dive into the connection between kindness and mental health in the workplace. We have always believed in data continues to prove it to be true that there’s an inextricable link between kindness and mental health. And that proves true again here. So a couple of the key findings and excited for this to be shared with the world. But 79% of people surveyed think mental health needs to be a priority in the workplace. In a very personal way, the same number of folks. 79% of respondents say it’s important that their direct manager shows kindness. So again, we’re seeing results that map to the connection between kindness and mental wellness. And because we don’t want to put out research that just says these things without an actionable things for both employers and employees can actions for employers and employees to take. We found that only 32% of employees work in environments where paid personal days or mental health days are provided to them to support their mental health.

Maya Smith 20:00
Oh, and I think that’s one area that we can absolutely look at I am, my nine and six year old took mental health day on Friday, that is language that we use very commonly around the foundation, I think employers are sort of a little bit lagging on their adaptation of the changing needs, their workforce and the language around that. And what a powerful signal it sends to your workforce, to talk about the need to take care of your mental health proactively. So those are just a couple of the findings and what we what we found in the past piece of research that’s mirrored here, we did a big piece of research called kindness and communities. And we found that employers that had employees who said or sorry, workers that had bosses who said hello to them by name had higher mental health inventory scores. Right. And that is just another actual piece of research that we talked about all the time, because a lot of times we think about kindness, or mental health in the workplace as these expensive long term interventions where you need to take a day off or close the office. And absolutely, there’s ways to do that. But also these small, important acts of kindness, like using your pronouns, like checking in on your colleagues, like providing opportunities to volunteer and serve in the communities, they have profound impacts not only on on your community, and the good you do in it, but also the mental health of your employees.

Trish 21:26
I love that you’re mentioning that tie in, because I think that’s maybe again, if you’re someone who’s been maybe in business a long time in the workplace a long time and didn’t sort of grow up with these resources in this language and all of the support, it’s helpful to know that it is those those small acts, one of the things I took away from you have, you know, videos on your, your website, for example, there was a point where when Lady Gaga is describing the foundation, but also this Be There Certificate, and she says kindness heals all things. And when you think about all the things we’re going through in these last two years, but even before that, right, all of the times where human resources might be dealing with unkindness in the workplace, just having that communication will probably resolve more issues than not just that small step, right. It’s not an expensive program, for example, it’s just being nice.

Maya Smith 22:24
Absolutely. And I think we, you know, in the beginning, we definitely had to make the case about kindness in the workplace. And I think that is not the case anymore. Hopefully, everyone believes the thesis that I have dedicated my life to, but acts of kindness, they can put a smile on someone’s face, right, which is sort of one best case scenario. The other best case scenario is you don’t know what someone’s going through that day. And your act of kindness can actually keep someone alive, right. And we see that every day on both sides of the spectrum. So if you’re holding the door open for someone at coffee, that’s a nice thing, they may say thank you to you. But for some people, it may be the first time in a long time they’ve been acknowledged for or cared for in a small way. And so living your life in terms of keeping that spectrum in mind about what your kindness gives you and will give the folks around you is so important.

Trish 23:19
You know, if that ties, Steve, and maybe you want to tell the story, I’m sure you can tell a little better than I but we just did a show recently, with talking about, you know, having talent communities of people who were formerly incarcerated. And one of them was sort of the story of, you know, people who might have been incarcerated for quite a long time, may have never been hugged in the last 10,15, 20 years, right. Or they might not have had that sort of gesture of kindness. Steve, do you remember?

Steve 23:47
It was specifically around an organization that had really dedicated resources and investment into recruiting and hiring formerly incarcerated individuals to honestly for a business reason, they were having a real hard time, it was it was a manufacturing facility, and they just were having a hard time finding employees. And so they were tapping into this group of employees. And part of the training that they would provide to their managers was very similar to that what you talked about was basically these kind of just check ins, you know, Hi, Joe, or whatever, you know, how are you today and cetera. And the story in the book was one of the HR managers who ran into one of these new employees at the plant and said, Hey, Joe, how are you? How you doing today? Just but more genuine than just hey, how are you doing? Right? Like, most of us do, like 89% of the time we asked that question. It was really like, look the person in the eye and say, Hey, how are you doing? And in the book, the gentleman teared up, literally teared up. And she’s like, what’s the matter? Are you okay? Like, and he said, no one’s asked me how I was doing and cared in 25 years, like no one like You know, you’ve never family been in jail for a long time. And that small element, that small aspect that’s, you know, I guess a good kindness story Maya, even though It was a different context than we’re talking about here was really meaningful. And that person’s not just their employment experience, but also just their, their health or their life. Right. So I think it’s a great story. And so I’m here, I’m happy to tell it again.

Maya Smith 25:12
No, that’s so powerful. And I think these folks that have varying levels of experience with kindness, right, whether it’s my kid having a bad day, whether it’s my husband getting yelled at at work, whether it’s, you know, my, someone who just lost a family member, like, we’re all going to work every day, right? We’re bringing all of those things to work every day. And so the act of being asked how you are, you know, someone remembering that you’re going through something or helping celebrate a milestone with you, these all make profound differences, and we hear it every single day. And so I think there’s sort of two pieces of it. Right? There’s the preparation, right? So be there certificate is how do you prepare? How do you prepare to discuss mental health? How do you know the resources? How do you support someone that’s struggling? And then there’s the kindness piece, which how can we just proactively put more kindness into the world so that hopefully, we can undo some of the small and big struggles that folks are going through? So we try and work on both sides of the of the scale?

Trish 26:13
Thank you Maya, can you maybe share a little bit, I wrote down something a few moments ago, you were talking about, you know how your daughter was taking a mental health day recently. And as someone I have, I have twins, they’re 18. They’re seniors in high school, they have mental health days available. They’ve not taken any yet. And I think that they’re still either kind of stigma might be too strong of a word right now, because it’s definitely available. I know, some workplaces are putting mental health days in, could you maybe just talk about the stigma, or even just hesitancy and taking advantage of some of these offerings, like a mental health day or days? What are you seeing from sort of the young people or the organizations you work with?

Maya Smith 26:57
Absolutely. And this for me, as parent and as leader has been the most transformational piece of information. So we did this, and I’ll keep it away from you and your kids are near mine, even though I think we’ll both hear what we need to hear in this story. We did this piece of research that asked young people to rank how their parents were talking about mental health. So we asked kids and parents in the same home to talk about it. The parents, no surprise, we’re like, I’m nailing it. I’m doing an amazing job. I’m so good at talking to my kids about mental health. And the kids for more honest, right. And so that, that that that wasn’t necessarily the case.

Maya Smith 27:33
And when we began to dig into why that disagreement was happening, we found that young people believed that their parents were asking for them a level of vulnerability that they themselves weren’t modeling. So to answer your question, right, I’m very clear to tell my kids when I’m taking a mental health day, right, because they see me at this level of busyness and accomplishment and success. And if they don’t also see me say Mommy needs a break. Mommy made a mistake today, Mommy had to apologize to somebody because she said something that wasn’t kind, right. And so what I heard in that piece of research is that we need to model for young people, the type of vulnerability, the type of openness, that type of transparency that we need from them, right. And so it’s amazing to see this younger generation that’s, that has these resources available to them out of love to take a mental health in high school, right? They need someone to show them what it means to take a mental health day, they need someone to make it okay for them. Right. So our mental health day was like, we slept in late, I made them take a nap with me and made Oreo milkshakes. Because I’d been traveling a lot, right? And, and so I asked them, like, what they felt like their bodies and brains needed that day. And we did that.

Maya Smith 28:51
But I think, to answer your question, we as employers, as employees, as neighbors, as parents, as as every other category that we have, we need to use the spaces and places and platforms that we have access to, to do our part, to break the stigma, not just tell other people that the stigma should be broken. And a lot of times that’s stepping out of our comfort zone, right and saying, I’m struggling with my mental health, right, one of the biggest pieces of learning for me is I’ve worked for the foundation for five years before I could say to folks that I’ve had postpartum depression, right, because like, that just felt really deeply personal. And I never wanted my kid to hear that I in any way struggled being their mom. And and what it what it made me realize was that I was telling people to be open and honest and vulnerable, and that there was no shame. But I was still sort of holding on to that a little bit myself. And so I think we just need to examine our own beliefs and biases around mental health, and then push ourselves out of our comfort zone. And I think, you know, the question is like, Well, how do I start that and again, not to bring it back to to my favorite current program, but be there is really the way to start that right so take the beat or certificate roleplay how to have those conversations with your kid? If I had 18 year olds which time seems like it’s flying, they might wake up tomorrow on VHS, they will. I would take it with my kids. Right. And so I think it’s an incredible conversation starter.

Trish 30:17
Thank you so much for that. That’s gonna be my biggest takeaway. I think. I just, I love that I hadn’t really thought about it. Like, I’m not modeling it at all.

Steve 30:26
Yeah, same thing, the model, the modeling aspect of this both sort of in, in family settings or friends as well as in organizations, right? It makes news because it’s so unusual. But every once in a while, you’ll read a story in the news about some big company XYZ, CEO, took a week off to just recharge or something like that. And it becomes noteworthy, it’s become such a huge story, because it never happens. Right? How are hardly I shouldn’t say never, that’s not really fair to say. But I do think there’s a real element here for organizations to think about what what signals are your leadership sending to people about mental health, about the need to take a break about the need to sort of support each other be kind to each other? Right? And we’d go on and on and on. But I think so, so much of what still passes for leadership, right? In corporate America, is that really just old fashioned, you know, 12 hour days in the office all night, and on and on, and on and on, run that treadmill and succeed, succeed, succeed. And it just sends a message that that’s, that’s what’s acceptable. And like my, you talked about, like, it’s important for people to see people in leadership positions like yourself, like, hey, I need a break, too. I need to recharge, I need some self care myself, right? Because if you don’t sort of admit to that you’re kind of lying, I think to everybody. I think it’s fair to say.

Maya Smith 31:53
And I think for me, I don’t know if it took becoming a parent to realize this, but like, people are watching me, right in the very public way of like, people will listen to me speak right now. But my team is watching how I rest. They’re watching how I talk to my husband, they’re watching the amount of time that I spend with my kids right at the grocery store. People are watching, right. And so we have these opportunities in public and private, big and small ways to model the type of behavior that we want to see in our communities, right. And so if we glamorize busyness, if we and this is something I struggle with all the time, right, because I get really productive at 10pm. And I want to pop off emails, and I want everyone to wake up because I have a great idea, right? But I need to, to celebrate rest, to celebrate the way that our team rhythms happen. And I need to find ways to to prioritize that not only for myself, for everyone else I had, when I first became CEO of I love to nap. I’m like very unapologetic about myself care and love to take a nap. And but I just didn’t know how to say that. Right? And so my assistant would block these chunks of time. And on my schedule, it would show up as a board meeting. Right? But that was like Maya and Nick code for naps. Right. And I thought here I am like, I work that out.

Steve 33:18
Pulled over on everyone there. But that one yeah.

Maya Smith 33:21
It was not only was I pulling one over on them in a very unfair way, I was also not being honest about what it took to do the job. Right? The job was a very exhausting one. And sleep was needed. Right. And I should have, and I learned, not too late. But I learned later than I should be really unapologetic about self care and what keeps us in this work. And if we could have more more open and honest conversations about it, I think we’ll all be better for it.

Trish 33:47
Yeah, that’s another huge takeaway, right? I liked a minute ago, when you said there. It’s not about having shame, for meeting care for yourself. And so that combination of not being ashamed of modeling it, of then sharing it, I do want to ask you something you just mentioned what you know, like if you’re more productive in the evening, or at night? How do you feel about then maybe letting your team know? Like, I am going to occasionally be working at night? This is not an expectation, or are you more in the camp of like, No, I’m going to try and still not show that I’m doing that kind of out of hours.

Maya Smith 34:25
So what I would say first is that each workplace should set their collective norms, right? So it should be like, This is how Maya works. So everyone get on board. For me, I do the work and I leave the emails open. Right? So I’m still working in the ways that I because I also need to pick my kids up at 3:30, right where a lot of my team are still in meetings. So we’re really open and honest about the times in which we can work. But what I try and do is not like in case someone wakes up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water. I don’t want their light to be like their emails. Right because that’s really anxiety inducing. So what I do if I’m feeling productive at 10pm, is I’ll just leave the emails open. And the next morning, I’ll click, send, send, send. And imagine that’s also stressful.

Steve 35:12
I use that send later move all the time, though that little send later and you pick the time move. I like that. It’s mainly because I want to send the email, but I don’t want a reply within eight seconds, which I know I’m getting. So I guess that’s, that’s a me problem. Last thing I’ll say, too, since we’re just kind of talking about how we sort of openness and modeling, et cetera, et cetera, I think there’s still a lot of people and I’ll put myself into this camp, you just grew up in a certain way, both in the workplace as well as in your personal life, where it’s just so much stuff was just not discussed, right?

Steve 35:45
I don’t know if I’ve ever told the story, but I’ll tell it really quickly. The person in my life probably that I would, would have been certain would have been struggling the most with what he went through in his life was my dad. My dad’s been dead for a long time now. But spent two years in the jungle in Vietnam, like in combat, you know, came home shortly after he came home, like his dad committed suicide. And my dad found him right. And it’s still a fairly young man. And here’s the thing the point bring up the story because it’s kind of a terrible story. My dad had a great life was was a wonderful dad absolutely was in every every aspect. But I didn’t find out that story about the grandfather, who I barely knew died when I was very young. I got told that story by like an aunt after my dad died. He never talked about it. And I never heard the story, which like, how do you not bring that up? Like one time in like, 40 years, right, or something like that? So I think there’s a lot of, you know, I probably saw a lot of that and experienced a lot of that too, from the person I looked up to the most who never talked about what was going on in his own head and his headspace and his mental health never, never mentioned at once, right. So you you grew up seeing that your whole life, it’s difficult to try to break free from that.

Maya Smith 37:00
Thank you for sharing. And I’m so sorry for your loss. But I think that your reflection on it and your willingness to be open because of it right? You can’t I think we we talked about this I lost my father in law, there’s suicide as well. And and we can just like the the shame piece that you were saying Trish, we can’t assign guilt or shame on either side of it, right? People are doing the best with what they know, with what they have in that moment. And what what they’re comfortable with. And all we can do right is sort of push to give people more information to access more information to tools, more information to data. And that’s sort of what we’re trying to do so that families like ours theme are spared. You know, I always say that, like one family doesn’t have to go through what mine goes through, then 10 years will have been worth it. Right. And that’s the goal of the Be There Certificate. That’s the goal of the foundation. That’s the goal of I think our work every day and thank you for sharing that with us.

Steve 37:55
Yeah, no, thank you for allowing that. And I think the last thing a little a little heavy. Let’s go one more fun for the end before we start telling people where to find all these resources, the research, the Be There Certificate. What’s the best Lady Gaga song? I think it’s an easy answer. I know my answer. What do you say? Or best is not the right word favorite. I will say.

Maya Smith 38:16
Okay, what do you think Trish?

Trish 38:18
Oh, there’s so many, I love her so much. I will just say this right now. It’s not even one particular song. It’s anything she’s done with Tony Bennett, which and I’ve, I’ve been a fan of his a long time. And so it was not too long ago, they had the special on where she was, you know, performing with him. What I like about her honestly, even more than a specific song is it’s the way she interacts with him. And the way that like, for example, she just interacted with Liza Minnelli the other day. My grandmother died of Alzheimer’s a few years ago, about five years ago, and we were super close and and she was always moved by music even after she didn’t know who we were and everything. You could always kind of get that communication going with her with song. And so to see Lady Gaga doing that, to me is maybe my favorite thing versus a favorite song.

Steve 39:11
All right, asked a very simple question and answer.

Trish 39:16
It’s true. She just has this connection with people that it’s just indescribable to see it in action.

Steve 39:24
The answer is Bad Romance.

Maya Smith 39:30
I’m really partial to the Cure, which never landed on any album, but it’s amazing. And then on your note Trish, she said I think probably one of the loveliest things that’s ever been said about me. To your earlier husband comment Steve, she dedicated the What a Difference a Day Makes by Dinah Washington to me once at a concert. That moment, of course and that song are probably my favorite.

Steve 40:05
Yeah, that’s a great story. I have learned over the years my of interviewing many, many guests on this show that most of our guests would much prefer to talk about their pets than their spouses. So that’s, I usually lean into the pets. But all right, there are tons of resources that we will share in the show notes. We have, which we’ve mentioned several times on the show, we’ll link to that as well as the website for Born This Way Foundation. We will link to that as well. Research coming out too. We’ll put that in there plenty of stuff off the right to an extra long set of notes for the show, because there’s so many valuable and important and I mean, deep resources on the board in this way. Say I’m looking at some of them as we even speak about just even self care and caring for others and what questions to start asking and things like that. There’s tons out there. So we’ll put all that in the shownotes. Maya, thank you so much for spending some time with us today and sharing all that great work you and the team that are doing.

Maya Smith 41:00
Thank you. It’s been a pleasure and I hope you go have a wonderful week and thank you for including me. Thank you.

Steve 41:07
Thank you so much. All right, Trish. Great stuff. You go back and think about how you didn’t answer my final question. And do you want to be better next time?

Trish 41:15
All right, I’m gonna give you an answer. I saw her sing Happy Birthday to someone acapella Happy birthday. I love how she sings happy birthday.

Steve 41:24
Fair enough. Okay, great stuff. So okay. All these things in the show notes. Thanks so much for listening, all the resources, everything at My name is Steve Boese, for Trish, for our guest Maya Smith. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see you next time. And bye for now.

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