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Jul 12, 2022
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46. Speaker, Author, Mentor, Lawyer

46. Speaker, Author, Mentor, Lawyer

On this episode Jeff brings the topic of mental health at work to the forefront. Jeff shares from a recent large-scale study of mental health in the workplace that an overwhelming 84% of respondents reported at least one workplace factor that negatively impacted their mental health. Jeff’s guest, Frank Ramos is uniquely qualified to discuss this topic based on both his own personal experiences, and how he has helped others.

Frank is one of the top Lawyers in the U.S. and is someone who overcame a season of deep depression many years ago. He shares with Jeff how his depression affected him at work, consuming his relationships, tasks, thoughts, and projects. Although those 2 years were the darkest of Frank’s life, since then he has healed and become devoted to helping others that struggle with mental health challenges. Frank helps listeners understand how to improve mental health awareness at work and how to compassionately support employees or peers that are struggling.


Intro: Duration: (02:57)

Opening music jingle & sound effects

Jeff Hunt:

Hi, everybody! Welcome to Human Capital produced by GoalSpan, I'm your host Jeff Hunt. I love the opportunity on each episode to better understand the deeply human aspect of work. At the core of our humanness is the desire to be emotionally healthy, both at home and at work. Speaking of work for most of us, we're spending at least a third of our lives there.

The workplace can be a place of encouragement, insight, compassion, and relational connection, where all employees, whether they are leaders or individual contributors feel seen, heard and cared about, or it can feel like a production factory where these life-giving values are replaced by an achievement orientation that doesn't value human capital at the center of this is mental health and wellbeing.

Mental health has gotten significantly more attention in the workplace over the past two years. Thanks to a number of stressors, including the pandemic, school and workplace shootings, inflation, and racial and police violence. The war in Ukraine, wildfires, political unrest. I could go on and on in fact, you're probably getting stressed by hearing me just list off some of those things.

Many of these stressors have unfolded in quick succession compounding the damage to our collective mental health. In 2020 mental health support went from a nice have to a true business imperative with the pandemic. But if you fast forward to 22, the stakes have been raised even higher. Thanks in part to a greater awareness of the workplace factors that contribute to either positive or negative mental health.

C-level executives and other leaders are now actually more likely than others to report at least one mental health symptom. Let's finally put the stigma to rest and admit that mental health stressors affect everybody. According to a recent large-scale study of mental health in the workplace published by HBR, an overwhelming 84% of respondents reported at least one workplace factor that negatively impacted their mental health.

Today, my guest is an attorney who's uniquely qualified to help me talk about all of this. Frank Ramos is a partner at the Clarke Silverglate law firm. And although we're not gonna focus much on the law today, Frank is regarded as one of the best lawyers in the country. In fact, he's written 15 books for lawyers and serves as a mentor for young lawyers.

But back in 2013, Frank was in a deep depression himself that consumed all his relationships, tasks, thoughts, and projects. Frank shares that those two years were the darkest of his life. And since then, he's become devoted to helping others, which we hope to do on today's show.

Welcome, Frank.

Frank Ramos:

Thanks much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Topic 1. Who or what inspired you the most along the way? (02:58)

Jeff Hunt:

Well, I'm really happy to have you on the show. And this is a topic that's sometimes difficult to discuss but is one that is completely relevant today. So, I'm happy to have you help me unpack it. Before we get into the topic, though, let's start by having you give a thumbnail of your career journey and share with our listeners, Frank, who inspired you the most along the way?

Frank Ramos:

Sure. I have been practicing law for about 25 years. Most of the time, in the firm, now here in Miami, called Clarke Silverglate, doing litigation, almost exclusively litigation all those years here in Miami. And I didn't initially wanna become a lawyer. I was considering pursuing a career in politics or perhaps in foreign services.

And certain things opened up that integral law school jury, University of Miami. I've been practicing ever since just turned 50 last year. And, this has been what I've been doing most of my life. Along the way, I've had my shared mentors in the legal field and because of them, I've tried to pay it forward through social media, my books, and my speaking opportunities, by helping young lawyers develop themselves and their careers and their futures as well.

Jeff Hunt:

Fantastic. Who inspired you most along the way on your journey? Was there any particular person or thing that really motivated you?

Frank Ramos:

You know, I had a number of people along the way that have a focus on paying it forward a number of attorneys and other professionals who believe it's a privilege to do whatever you're doing, whether your lawyer or a doctor, accountant, whatever career or opportunity you have, and many people out there who don't have those opportunities.

We all have certain privileges, certain things that happen in our lives that are for the best that other people aren't as fortunate. And so we have an obligation to help others who may not have as much as we have and may not have the same resources or opportunities. And through, I don’t know if there's any one individual per se, but so many of them along the years, especially the most successful ones, always found curious for the ones who are most adamant.

About bringing other people along and bringing them up. So I've tried to follow their example in their pattern and the way they do things by reaching out to young lawyers, law students, and other professionals, not only to help them with their careers but also to individuals who've suffered from mental health and depression issues.

You mentioned I did for a number of years. And I think what I've learned is that so often we face difficult times, not only to overcome them but to help others overcome them as well.

Jeff Hunt:

And just as a side note, before we hear a little bit more about your own personal experience, don't you believe Frank often that when we can move through those mental health challenges, we become better as a result?

So we're able to offer people more and give back, and we have experiences that are valuable that can really serve the workplace and our communities better, wouldn’t you say?

Frank Ramos:

I agree. I think in order to help somebody who suffers from mental health depression, it makes it a lot easier for me to speak to them if I went through it myself and I know the issues they're facing.

I know the self-talk they're going through, the opportunities that they may have, and the resources that are available. And I think I can have a much more attuned conversation. And the fact that I kind of got through and came out the other end, kind of provide some sort of hope for them. Often, they’re surprised that someone like me went through it because you know, I'm a little bit older, I'm more professional.

I'm involved in a number of organizations, even, I guess if you had some sort of traditional or stereotypical view of a depressed person, I really wouldn't fit within that description. And so that kind of alleviates our concerns that they're not different or unusual for having gone through or going through that.

And then two, knowing that someone like them or similar to them has made it to the other side and kind of made it to the force is also very encouraging.

Topic 2. What is it like to deal with depression? How can you get out of it? (07:03)

Jeff Hunt:

So share about your experience, what was going on in your life back prior to 2013 when you sort of hit this difficult season and just take us through that time in your life if you would.

Frank Ramos:

Sure. I think there's a strong genetic predisposition to mental health issues, whether depression or anxiety. My mother suffered from chronic depression I had two uncles who committed suicide and her cousin who was suicidal. It all seemed to come from my mother's side of the family, but pretty much everybody on her side of the family had either suffered from chronic depression or had to come to it.

And so, it's important for anybody who is having issues to be aware of their family tree and know where that's coming from. And so, I do think there's a strong genetic predisposition toward it. And so I think even from an early age being raised by, people who are currently depressed, you know, they have a certain view of the world, which isn't always accurate and that kind of gets passed along to kids who are very impressionable.

So from a young age, you seem to be a little bit more afraid, a little bit more concerned, it's a bit more trepidation along the way. You're less willing to take the risk, more risk-averse, and that sort of compound of the life. And so, when something small may happen where somebody else would simply bounce back or overlook it, it becomes a very catastrophic view.

It kind of snowballs and becomes much bigger. So like, making that phrase, making a mountain out of a molehill, that's kind of common for people who are in that field or are in that vein. And so I think I always struggled with it, but I think it really hit me, and again, I'm trying to age myself 50, that happened back when I was 2012 or so.

I guess right around 40. I guess, and I don't think it had anything to do with that age per se. I think it was just certain things probably weren't going as well as I'd hoped workwise and some other things. And again, if I wasn't predisposed or hadn't been raised to see the world a certain way, I probably would have navigated it pretty well, but I didn't.

And it's very, it's one of those things that once you start sliding down, it's hard to like stop, you start sliding down a mudslide and there's nothing to grab onto, you keep falling down the rabbit hole, as they said, and it's very insidious, and the way you view the world, it's more than just being sad or upset.

It's more than just being physically down. You really have an alternative view of reality. It becomes very different, I think the analogy I use is that people who are optimistic, their glasses are full, people are pessimistic as half empty, and people who are chronically depressed the water is being poisoned.

They just have a very different view of what they're dealing with. And so it's hard to, you're not rational. It's hard to talk to a rational person because you are seeing things that really aren't there. I'm not saying you're viewing things, but you're like delusional, your view of the world, just doesn't match up to the world itself.

And the more you try to explain it to people, the more they're kind of put it back. And you also have this mentality of trying to purposely push people away, to the point when there's no one left to be pushed away. And then it only confirms your belief that you're alone, you deserve to be alone.

So, that was kind of the cycle that I had between 2012 and I guess through 2014, about two and a half, three years, I suppose. And it was tough and it just, you know, I went to see a lot of psychologists, a psychiatrist on a lot of cocktails and medications. And my story is a little unique. I don't think you can gleam a whole lot as to how it got out of it.

I get to the point where I was on so many occasions, physically, I just couldn't really tolerate them anymore. I just had lost my coordination, couldn't even walk out downstairs. And so I basically largely just went cold Turkey, which is a terrible idea. And I would never recommend that to any of your listener's reviewers.

And then it was somewhat abrupt. I basically had hit a wall kind, hit bottom, and decided I had to get out or I was gonna end up at the end of my road. So my experience is a little unique, but along the process of that, I learned obviously it's really important to find a mental health counselor that you can work with.

There are so many out there that may have different approaches or to figure out what medication, if any works for you. And there are both, psychotropic medications, there are more natural ways of doing it, but get to find what works best for you and your system plus is different.

And not to treat mental health as sort of universal one approach to it, and always have like a good support system in place. And you have people that are willing to kind of walk through with you and walk alongside you through the whole process, and always try to be very self-aware of where you're going, what you're doing, to kind of check-in on yourself and understand or question when you see something or say something, whether that made sense or not.

Again, we constantly have these voices going on in our head and, you know, talking to ourselves and either affirming or undermining ourselves. And it's really important to be aware of what we're saying to ourselves and whether it's accurate or not, whether it's positive or negative, and what impact that's having on our psyche and our psychology and our emotional state.

Jeff Hunt:

And so, were there people in your work community that really helped you during that journey as well?

Frank Ramos:

You know, I reached out to a lot of people and there weren't that many people, I think the idea of mental health or getting through mental health has become something we're all more cognizant about in the last 5 years.

I believe that when I came up, during that time to 2012 and 2014, especially in the legal field, it was not looked upon as something you really wanted to talk about. Because it seemed like you were less, being a litigator we're kind of adversarial we're out to fight on behalf of our clients and something like mental health or depression was kind of seen as a weakness.

Even just to talk about it. I think that's become both in the legal profession and other professions I think it's become much more open about it. And curiously, there was a lawyer who I knew very well. I did defense work primarily. He did the plaintiff's work. He was considered one of the top plaintiffs' lawyers in the country.

He had multiple million-dollar, billion-dollar verdicts, and I think probably one of the top 10 plan lawyers, not only in the country but of all time. And he had actually helped me with a lot of my writing projects and then some other things gonna wear on opposite sides of some cases and in 2016, he took his life.

This is after I kind of come through my thing and he hangs himself and, you know, I read about it and I had no idea. I mean, I really had no idea. He was a gentleman who had everything, you know, he had a lovely wife. He was in great physical health, he looked like he walked out of the pages of GQ. He dressed great.

He had all the tracking, he was of a successful life, a nice home, a boat. He had stable forces again, he had tried multiple cases for huge verdicts was covered in multiple magazines, was constantly being interviewed, and had a huge reputation, like every big plaintiff's case in south Florida would seem to come up to him or cross his desk.

And no one had any idea. And one day he took his life. And I guess maybe with exception of a few people that are really close to him had no idea that he suffered from crack depression. And so you just never know, you never know who in your circle or your field or sphere is suffering from mental health issues.

I think there's this belief that people who are depressed, you know that they're depressed, but I think most people that are depressed, do a pretty good job of hiding it. Cause they see it's a weakness or they perceive it that way, and so a lot of times it's too late. Like by the time you have a real inclination as to what's going on, that person's already, you know, like you often hear about it after the fact.

Everybody's so surprised that so, and so took their lives or so, and so ended up being baker acted or whatever else, and someone had any idea and, and I was pretty good. And I think most people are pretty good at hiding it until you're not until it really, everything just starts falling apart around you.

You just never know it's very insidious, sometimes it's not apparent, and it's hard to deal with because it's not like, you know, a broken bone or some other health issue that has an ABC approach to it, if you have a cold, you treat it this way. If you have a virus treated that way, mental health is each of us, again is different.

Each of us is gonna react differently to certain treatment protocols. Each of us has different approaches and it's very time-consuming, dealing with depression, coming out the other end or anxiety or bipolar, whatever it is, it's, it's a very time-consuming thing. Most people who treat depression are seeing their psychologists or mental health professional once a week.

They may be in support groups. They may be journaling. They may be meditating. If you have some sort of disease, you shoot a doctor, maybe once a month, you got a prescription, and then goes away. So it's a big-time commitment. It's something that you're constantly aware of.

And conscious of, and it's something that requires a lot of effort on your part to deal with and address.

Topic 3. Can a healthy workplace culture and trust save lives? (16:13)

Jeff Hunt:

And it seems like with the example of your friend, one of the statistics that's becoming more commonly known is that employees stay at the workplace, they stay in their jobs if they have a friend in the workplace.

And they're also finding that the higher levels of engagement mean, actually knowing people personally, in addition to their profession and what's expected of them at work. And it seems as though your friend who took his life had had somebody with a deep connection at work that he could have confided in.

Then that could have possibly benefited him. Wouldn't you say?

Frank Ramos:

I agree. I think employers and companies should do a better job, can do a better job being aware of what's going on with their team. Obviously the bigger the company gets, the harder that is to do, but you find a way to make sure that everybody is responsible for somebody else.

You have the company and it's like a hundred employees. You know, one person can be responsible for all hundred employees, but you know, you manage in such a way that maybe somebody's responsible for 10 people, and somebody's responsible for that person watching those 10 people. So everybody has somebody to ensure that, somebody starts acting differently or, you know, I don’t like using the word unusual, but I think the best way to approach is different.

We all have our baselines of behavior and we all act a certain way and suddenly act differently it doesn't have to mean that suddenly you're depressed. Sometimes people become very manic, people who are very reserved, become very manic in their behavior and that's unusual.

And a lot of times they're trying to do that cause they're trying to hide the fact that they're depressed. So they figure if I act really happy then who would think I'm depressed. So I think in order to change the baseline you have to know what the baseline is.

So you have to have people who know your people well enough, so what baseline behavior is. And so you can say, well this is a little weird, he's always on time, suddenly he's late, uh, or she's late, they're always very talkative at lunch, they're not talking at lunch anymore.

Whatever it is and you notice these things again. If you work closely with your team, you'll notice that something's different. And again, you have to have enough ability to communicate and be open, and transparent. So that you approach that person and say to him, or her I notice this, or that you are okay.

Is something going on? And then be able to facilitate assistance, does your firm have health insurance that provides mental health? Do you know somebody who they can talk to? Again you may be the only person between them and them doing some drastic. So, it's kind of a large weight on all of our shoulders, but I think if we all do our part, then we can probably save some lives along the way.

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah, and it seems to me like the workplaces that have a culture that really promotes mental health must be undergirded in trust because to have somebody be vulnerable and share difficult things that are going on in their lives, if trust is not there, it's just not gonna happen.

You also need to be engaging and ask the right questions of people. So once you have this trust asking the right questions, which are really framed and come from a place of compassion, so you actually care about the person it's not just that they're not performing well, so you're gonna inquire, what the heck's going wrong, but you actually care about them as a person.

And if the trust is there and you do care about them as a person, the likelihood that they'll open up seems to be greater. Wouldn't you think?

Frank Ramos:

No, I agree. I think your team, your employees, and the people that you supervise have to know that you actually care for them, that you're more than just a resource for them that you're creating, you're performing a job for them.

And there's really no way of being cute about it or somehow trying to pretend that you really care. I think we all intuitively know when someone genuinely cares about us and that we count and quite frankly, not everybody at your company is probably suitable to be a mentor, to be someone who is empathetic, someone who has emotional intelligence, some people just aren't like that.

And you have to understand who on your team is more conscientious and conscious about those sorts of things and put them in positions where they can supervise and observe and bring to others' attention when something's wrong. Some people just have this old world view that you're here to do the job and you are not here to complain, you're here to work, and whatever issues you have deal with that at home.

And those certainly aren't the people you wanna sort of put front and center and deal with these sorts of issues. People are people, there are people who are good at this. Some people aren't bad and aren't good or particularly bad at it. And to try to make somebody who is not equipped to handle this is quite a mistake.

That's not really good for any sector. It’s not good for them, it’s not good for people who may need their help. I'm pretty sure pretty much at any company, no matter what their size there is somebody, I'm usually more than somebody who has the right skill set and mind frame, communication skills that are necessary to do this sort of thing.

And so any employer, I think the first thing to do is kind of identify those people in their organization that is equipped to handle that and give them some responsibility to do just that.

Topic 4. Removing stigma and shame, identifying if someone is struggling with mental health. (21:45)

Jeff Hunt:

So it sounds like you're actually advocating for some process to be put in place so that we systematize this a little bit.

We gain a better understanding and we try to learn about who is competent internally. And then we leverage those people to help us create a culture and an environment where mental health is promoted. And we try to remove the stigma and the shame that is associated with it.

Frank Ramos:

Absolutely. I think any organization, any company, firm, any non-profit, whatever organization or company or you're running, there should be some sort of mental health component to it in terms of addressing the needs of your team.

Especially in light of what happened with COVID, for two years we were in peak isolation in terms of just the role that you mentioned, all the things that were constantly bombarded with in the news and our daily lives, and you know, our emotional component over who we are and our psyche and our psychological persona is such a big part of who we are.

And to somehow assume that we leave a door at work is naive. To suggest that we can kind of ignore it, doesn't really help. And I think it also is a good way to create stronger teams. If your team knows that you're genuinely concerned about who they are and what their interests are, you create a lot of loyalty that way.

I think individuals who feel like they're marginalized or don't have the resources they need or don't feel that they can be open about what operations they're going through are probably gonna be looking elsewhere. And this job market where there's so many job opening, so a few people and some just a little talent.

You run the rush as an employer or supervisor it's to lose quality people. If you're not attuned to what their emotional and psychological needs are and helping them address them.

Jeff Hunt:

And I would underscore one thing you said earlier too, which is really the importance of not allowing people who don't have the skills or competency to have these conversations. And I shouldn't say allowed, but not putting them in a position or encouraging them to have these types of conversations with others that may be struggling with mental health issues, because it can actually backfire. So, in other words, if you have somebody that's not equipped and they're trying to, and it might even be a manager with one of his direct, his or her direct reports if they try to enter into a conversation and they're trying to inquire what's going on.

And they're also trying to coach the employee in an inappropriate way to just move on and move through whatever they're dealing with, when it's a much more complex issue, then that could be really problematic and ultimately, lead to increased turnover as well, right?

Frank Ramos:

I think the biggest problem employers have is that they don't realize how long-term commitment it is to help somebody through a mental health issue. Some people think it'll take at most, a few weeks and sometimes it takes a few months and even a few years. And the idea of that is a bit overwhelming for employers. Like what do you mean we have to deal with this as a long-term problem? especially when I can't see this, it's not like he or she has cancer or, got into an accident or something.

He just has the blues as we say or has some, they're not feeling well, whatever it might be. And so, I think companies are best served to understand that it's a one-on-one sort of case-by-case basis. And sometimes somebody just does need a couple of counseling sessions. Just needs a reset, maybe, a vacation or something that they feel burnt out and work. And some people it's much more serious in the chronic long term. Also, I think some of the more high-performing, high-functioning people, some of the biggest stars in your team are the ones that are most struggling with depression. The gentleman I mentioned earlier, I mean, he was literally one of the best plants lawyers ever seen and he ended up taking his life.

And I think there was some correlation between high levels of IQ, people who are geniuses, a lot of them suffer from depression, and anxiety. People who are really at the top of their field suffer from depression, and anxiety. I'm not sure why that is, I've never sat that and studied it, but it seems as if there is some correlation, I think our brains are just wired differently.

When you get that certain level of performance, you see that a lot with celebrities, you see that with sports stars, and then maybe due to the pressures that they face otherwise, but it does seem disproportionate to affect the people that are your best folks. And so the odds are, if you have some superstar in your team, they're probably disproportionately affected by mental health and your other team members.

And those are the people you really wanna keep. And those are the people you're gonna have to invest in or long-term to ensure they get the help.

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah, and I would add too that sometimes it seems as though when achievement orientation is so closely tied to identity, it can lead to a greater incidence of depression or other mental health challenges, because once there is a failure or a problem, it becomes about the person's identity rather than actually just looking at it as a stepping stone along their career journey or some learning and new information about something that they tried, that didn't work well.

Wouldn't you say?

Frank Ramos:

No, I agree. I think we so equate ourselves with our jobs and our careers, and depression and anxiety can really throw monkey direct in things. Suddenly we can't concentrate. We can't focus. We don't have the energy just getting up in the morning sometimes is a chore. And so that's over the long term that's gonna adversely affect your job performance. And then adverse job performance somehow undermines your view of who you are, which then creates that cycle with them doing even worse.

And a lot of people who suffer from depression or anxiety enter the suspicious cycle where they don't have the energy or the ability or the cognitive wherewithal to do something. They don't do it. They underperform, that sort of confirms their own personal bias that they're not good enough and then just sends them off a spiral.

Topic 5. Step by step, how to help someone at work? (27:43)

Jeff Hunt:

Let's get really pragmatic for a minute. Let's just say I'm a manager or a leader in my organization. And I can see, I have a hunch that one of my direct reports or even my team members if I'm on a team is struggling. What's the first step that I should take in that situation?

Frank Ramos:

I think, first of all, you have to confirm for yourself that that person is not acting as you expect him to act. And it may have just been a one-off thing. Maybe he or she said or did something that was a little unusual. We all say or do things sometimes that are a little unusual, this happens.

So first of all, you have to sort of see if there's a pattern, not a very long pattern, but some pattern, once you acknowledge that there is one that he or she is showing up late consistently, or we're taking longer lunches than they usually do, or they're more argumentative or. If they're shorter with you or they're not being as then you really should ask yourself, am I the person to approach him or about this?

You may or may not be, am I the best person? Again, if there's something that is wrong with that individual, your primary concern is getting him or her help. And you may not be the best conduit to do that. So, you have to be honest with yourself and find out how good you are. And you may be one of those people that maybe you're not really the right person to approach.

But let's assume you feel like in a good relationship with that report that individual and you know him or her, your share of communications, you each talk about your weekends and your family and everything else. And there's enough of a basis of a relationship that you can approach him or her, your private setting, you approach them in their office or maybe after hours, then one else can kind of interfere and intervene or sort of overhearing the conversation.

And you say, I noticed that you said, or did this I'm little concerned and you don't make it about the work. You don't make it about their performance. You make it like you're genuinely concerned about something that may be going on, and you see what the response is.

And I think a lot of people if they approach the right way and you know, you're not being defensive, you don't put them in a defensive position. If you don't make it sound as if it is a performance-related issue, then they're willing to be more open about it. And so it's really important at first, foray to trying to figure out what's going on.

It's very open, very natural, and very supportive. And I would think most times you would find that they're willing to share something or at least let you know what's going on. It may be something external at home. Maybe they're not getting enough sleep or maybe something happened, life has been happening.

That wasn't that significant, but it's a bit of annoyance for them and that's, what's causing them to be distracted, or sometimes it's something bigger. And so you start having those conversations and you have to kind of make an evaluation as to whether or not whatever they're discussing or sharing with you.

It's significant enough to sort of encouraging them to see professional help or at least talk to somebody else. And professional op isn't always the first. If you go to, maybe they wanna talk to somebody else that has gone something similar or there's somebody else at your company or firm that can talk to them about that.

But you're constantly trying to ensure that either their behaviors are going back to what you consider normal or baseline, or if it's not, then they're digging the help that they need. At some point, it may require seeking professional assistance.

And may require you to find out for them or share with them what insurance of your work or through other sources are so that they can get mental health coverage. Whether it's a counselor or psychiatrist from medication, whatever it might be, and kind of assume that you may be the only person that's noticed this, like never assume, well, somebody else has it.

They're married, you have children, adult children, or they, their parents, whatever it is like, somebody else is taking care of. I think people end up taking their lives and everybody in that internal circle thought so, and so should have been on top of it. And that person thinks that you should have been on top of it.

You think somebody else should be on top of it. So, I think a real thumb is to until you know you've actually passed it well off to somebody else legitimately soon that you're sort of the point of contact. So, you know for sure that the spouse, or the son, or the daughter, the father, the mother, the cousin, or the brother, or whoever, like really is taking responsibility for it.

Then you're responsible. And then along the way, just trying to stay in tune and there's a line, obviously people want privacy, people don't really wanna talk to you about all their issues or problems, people feel vulnerable about talking about depression, anxiety.

It's a fine line, you wanna help people, but you don't wanna be particularly intrusive. You don't want to sort of make their realm of what they want to keep secret. And certainly at no point breaching the confidential information that they shared with you cause that could break your trust.

So, that's generally, I think the process and I think in order to. Have that process and enact it. You have to train your people on how to do that. And for some people that'd be very intuitive. Like what I just told you. So like, oh yeah, it's obvious. And some of your other listeners are like, oh, I've never thought of that.

So you can't assume that everybody in your team is going to know to behave that way or behave in a similar fashion. And so it's important to provide some sort of training to your people. And I'm not talking about like bringing in a formal counselor, but just simply kind of talking through with them.

Or something of a lot of similar veins where there's a process in place. And so people know how to identify somebody who may have an issue and, and knows how to respond, to deal with it and address it as best as they can.

Jeff Hunt:

And it seems like, with that training, one of the greatest opportunities is to actually normalize the conversation, to make people understand that it is okay to bring this up and just to talk about it.

Topic 6. Lighting round questions (33:44)

Jeff Hunt:

We're gonna shift into some lightning-round questions. So, I wanna toss some questions at you. You give me your top-of-mind answers. The first one is what are you most grateful for?

Frank Ramos:

I'm most grateful for the people in my life. Who's always been supportive. You know, my spouse, my boys, some close friends who have done a lot of different things. As I said, I went through depression and they've always been very supportive I have close friends who have been very supportive of weird. It's always important to have a group of cheerleaders behind you.

Jeff Hunt:

For sure. I'm just reflecting as I continue with the other questions that gratitude and service are often the antidotes to depression, right?

So if we can focus on things that we are grateful for, there are almost always things within our lives that we are grateful for. And we couple that with serving others in some way and physical fitness, I didn't add that one, but the kind of the trifecta, if we do those three things, the likelihood that will either come out of a mental health challenge or depression or that we will stay mentally healthy goes way up.

Frank Ramos:

Absolutely. Absolutely. I think those are all very important and key issues to address. For trying to stay clear of any chronic mental health issues.

Jeff Hunt:

Yes. And of course, they never replace the important professional help that people may need. Okay. The next question is what is the most difficult leadership lesson you've learned over your career?

Frank Ramos:

The most difficult lesson is you can't change people. And so people are who they are. And I think the biggest lesson for any person or position of putting together a team is that you better be really good at hiring people and bringing people in cause they are who they are. And if they're not a right fit, then that's on you, you know?

And somehow you bring somebody in and they're not doing their job. They're not really equipped or talented, or they don't have the right attitude. Then you really have to think through how you hire people and onboard people.

Jeff Hunt:

Great point who's one person you would interview if you could living or not?

Frank Ramos:

One person I could interview, you know, I'd love to interview Bono from U2. Somebody who has sort of passed the test of time over so many decades with really resonant music. And has touched people's lives. I know he recently went to Ukraine, with one of his bandmates and they performed in the subways there. To be I guess, a musical celebrity or any celebrity and actually have an important impact.

I know he was very front on the issue of aids. He's been in the issue of homelessness. He's really met with world leaders, and he has a number of charities he's related to. To be able to use his soapbox and made so many changes is wonderful.

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah. He is trying to change the world.

Do you have a top book recommendation? Maybe not necessarily a law, a legal-oriented book, but one for our broader listening community?

Frank Ramos:

I read a book and I think I read it last year. It's called 2034 at the exact year, but it was a fictional version of World War III where we go to war with China. And it was really uncanny how, not so much how realistic it was, whether they come across as very realistic. It's how fragile our relationships are. And before Russia invaded Ukraine, you're like, oh yeah so what? Now they're talking about nuclear war, God forbid, something like that happens, but you don't really appreciate like how close we are.

We used to always talk about the Doom’s clock back in the eighties and really how we're only a few minutes away from somebody making a really bad choice. It's really eye-opening and sobering.

Jeff Hunt:

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Frank Ramos:

I think the best piece of advice is to figure out early on what your purpose is and pursue it. And the way I define purpose is finding out where your talents, passions, and dreams overlap or creating a Venn diagram, that'd be where your purpose is. Unless you're really pursuing it and pursuing it wholeheartedly, you're gonna be kinda dissatisfied. And I think everybody has an opinion as to what we should be doing.

And the world certainly has one and that may not be consistent with what we really wanna do. And the world thinks we should make a ton of money. There's nothing wrong with that. But maybe your desire isn't to do that, it's to be a school teacher you might never gonna make a lot of money, but really wanna do that.

And to go off and become some venture capitalist, you may live in a huge house, but you never be fully satisfied. So, try to figure out who you are, and what you want to do I think is really essential to pursuing happiness and joy.

Jeff Hunt:

Great advice. So, Frank, what's the most important takeaway that you would say to leave our listeners with, from our talk today?

Frank Ramos:

Be very cognizant of the people around you, and really pay attention. Most of us don't pay attention very well. We don't listen well, we don't look at other people really closely. We're preoccupied with our own concerns and worries and issues.

And that's fine, but pay attention because you'll be surprised by what you see and what you hear and there are patterns and everything. There are patterns in each of our behavior, how we interact what we say and what we do. And once that pattern shifts there always has an explanation, we're creatures of habits.

So if we're doing something different, there's a reason why we're behaving or saying something different. And if it's bad, suddenly somebody is very, you know, much more gregarious and happy and suddenly they're a much better place. Cause they've lost weight, they're exercising, whatever else, somebody is just kinda slow and more lethargic.

And they're not as engaged unless they're sick unless they have a cold or the flu or something. And there's something else going on and you need to do your part, try to figure out what that is.

Jeff Hunt:

Sure. Well, Frank, thank you so much for coming on the show I appreciate your vulnerability and just being a model setting an example.

Frank Ramos:

Well, thanks for having me. I really appreciate that. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.


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Jeff Hunt:

Thanks for listening to the show this week. We release new episodes every other Tuesday. Let me know what you thought of this episode by emailing humancapitalgoalspan.com. Human capital is produced by GoalSpan. Subscribe, wherever you get your podcasts. And please share this podcast with your colleagues, team, or friends. Thanks for being human kind.

Human Capital — 46. Speaker, Author, Mentor, Lawyer
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