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CWJJ Episode 68: Dan Halverstadt
July 29, 2021
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August 12, 2021

CWJJ Episode 69

CWJJ Kickoff episode

Thursday, August 5- This week Jim and James kick off a new series that will dive into the importance of mental health and their own personal journey on the topic.

Quick Links:

Jim Schauer on Linkedin
James Cross on Linkedin

Episode Transcript

Jim Schauer:  [0:22] Good morning, everyone. Welcome to this episode of “Coffee with Jim & James.”

[0:27] We’re taking maybe a little bit of a different path, and James will explain a little bit more in a second here. We’ve had some great success with sharing “The 7 Habits” over the last year, actually, unprecedented feedback.

[0:41] We started to think about other things that we could talk about more on a personal note as opposed to a lot of the industry experts that we bring to this platform. Therefore, that’s the reason for this episode today.

[0:55] James, first, welcome. Good to see you this morning, my friend.

[0:59] James Cross:  Thanks. You too, brother. Yeah, this is kind of been a brainchild, I guess, that naturally is come about as we’ve went through this past year, and then with this series. Well, with our success from Seven Habits, we had a lot of engagement.

[1:17] We’re excited about that, but this one hits a little closer to home with some people, and it’s a topic that we’ve talked about a lot, I feel like, between the two of us. Personally with folks and ourselves, but also on the show. It’s about mental health, Jim.

[1:39] Jim: Emphasis on health.

[1:42] James: Right, for sure. Being mentally healthy and how to go about that, because that’s some of the reasons we started this show, Jim, was for our own mental health. We’re starting a series that we’re calling “Get Out of Your Own Head” or “Get Out of Your Head.”

[2:03] We haven’t decided. We’ll get Get Out of Your Head, I think, it was going to be. This being the first episode really pulled back the curtain on it, and it’s going to be mental health‑based. We hope that we can reach people that need this message that, and honestly, Jimmy, break that stigma that comes with mental health or discussing mental health.

[2:30] How many mental health discussions have you had in your lifetime in the industry? [laughs] Think about that. Some people more than others, because we’re wired that way. 

[2:41] Honestly, we’re trying to break down some of those walls, because honestly, we’re concerned about people in our industry, our friends, ourselves, our family, our coworkers, everybody.

[2:54] I think that goes with the roots of the show. How do we help spread a message that’s positive and real, and impacts people? We show you that a lot. Communities say it a lot. That’s really the basis around “Get Out of Your Head.”

[3:13] Jim: Yeah, and to bring just…It’s funny, James, one of your…

[3:20] [thunder rumbles]

[3:20] James: Is that thunder?

[3:22] Jim: That was a Florida thunderstorm. It’s coming down.

[3:25] James: That the remnants of Elsa. [whistles]

[3:27] Jim: Anyways, excuse me, but the mental health, I think…[laughs]

[3:32] [thunder rumbles]

[3:32] James: Maybe we shouldn’t be talking about, [laughs] or maybe we should. Maybe that’s our…

[3:40] Jim: Maybe the good Lord’s told us…

[3:41] [crosstalk]

[3:41] James: Maybe we need to speak louder.

[3:44] Jim: I think it’s important. There’s so many stigmas. Myself who just celebrated my 10‑year sobriety, there was a time when people that are fighting, like an alcohol addiction, feel shame, and they hide it and all that. Then, when I finally kicked it 10 years ago and turn that shame into more fame, and I don’t mean famous, infamous, but more so where I’m not.

[4:06] I want to share my story because if one person could say, “Hey, how did you quit?” That type of thing. There’s so much involved, and I am not a professional. You are not a professional.

[4:17] James: No, sir.

[4:18] Jim: We are just [inaudible].

[4:20] James: Let’s make that really clear right now. Jim and I are not trained professionals. We are not having a mental illness discussion. That is not what this about. Now, I will say that there is mental illness, and we’ll talk about that a little bit later. If you are someone that struggles with anxiety, depression, whatever it might be, obviously it’s going to skyrocket those types of things even more.

[4:47] Your mental health will follow suit in the ebbs and flows. As Jimmy said, this series almost is as much about us as you guys. We’re not trained professionals, but what we are trained at is we’re really good friends. We’re really close co‑workers and we’re industry colleagues, and we have our own stories.

[5:10] That’s really the why behind it all is. How can we get out there and touch those folks that really need it right now?

[5:17] Jim: We’ve done it though, over the last year. You and I have had, I couldn’t even, dozens of conversations about it, and it’s interesting our conversations are, I think, during the time of COVID, when people are feeling a lot of angst and a lot of uncertainty and weirdness, and all those type of feelings you have, you start to open up.

[5:39] Especially on this platform, it’s always been easier to maybe speak or not to speak. In this platform, if I don’t want to talk about something, I’m like, “James, I’ll be right back.”

[5:51] James: Or if I’m going to start crying in my hand.

[5:54] Jim: [laughs]

[5:54] James: You know what I mean? That’s reality, though. Behind a keyboard, everybody has a little bit more bravery, the trolls out there on the Internet. If they weren’t behind a keyboard, they probably wouldn’t say half the things they do, but you’re right, in this setting.

[6:11] Look, guys, if you would’ve told me that I would be talking to Jim Schauer about [laughs] mental health advice last year, I probably would have told you to go get mental health advice.

[6:24] [laughter]

[6:27] James: We were each other’s general counsel. We spent a lot of time together, obviously, because of the show. Also, we’ve work very closely together over the past year.

[6:38] We all have our battles, Jimmy. You mentioned substance abuse on your side. We’ve heard your story, and I’m sure we’ll dive into that deeper in the series.

[6:50] Jim:  For sure.

[6:50] James:  We did mention mental illness earlier and how it can exponentially affect your mental health. It doesn’t matter if it’s stress, anxiety, substance abuse, ADHD, depression, eating disorder. The list goes on and on.

[7:07] Jim:  Sleep disorder, I’ve had more conversations with people over the last nine months about, man, I just can’t sleep anymore.

[7:17] People are like, “It’s just this.” I’m like, “Think about it. What’s going on in your life? What are you what are you doing at 3:00 in the morning?” “I’m thinking about this, this, and this.” How do you peel back that onion and go back to a place to where you can understand?

[7:32] First of all, talking about it is the first thing because you’re getting it out. [inaudible] given a lot of conversations of being open about that. That’s a hard thing to do.

[7:44] That’s what I wanted to do today, at least the idea that it’s OK to talk about this stuff. People are judgy. Good people will not judge you. Good people will want to help you, right?

[7:57] James:  Right. Jim, all those things I mentioned, as far as mental illness is concerned, none of those things define us. If you’re somebody that struggles with any of those things, it doesn’t make us bad people. We’re not bad parents, co‑workers, friends. It’s something that we have to work through and deal with.

[8:23] Jimmy, your story has helped me work through my own battle. Not in substance abuse, necessarily, but the same kind of process no matter what it is, being conscious of it, being more mindful, being diligent and deliberate about what you’re doing.

[8:39] That’s where the series is going to be interesting. Again, like we said before, we are not experts. We are not giving you advice on mental illness, but we are able to provide our own testimony, which you know is so powerful.

[8:57] There’s no telling, Jimmy, how many people have been impacted by your testimony, that you’re, like you said, turning that shame into fame. That’s what we hope [?] in sharing some of our stories and struggles.

[9:14] A good one, Jimmy, that I’m going to reference right now, full transparency, our show, as we are coming out of the pandemic more and more and we’re traveling, things like that, it’s hard to sustain the pace that we’ve set for ourselves.

[9:33] Jim: Definitely.

[9:34] James:  In the pandemic, it was easy because we were sitting around scratching our heads a little bit, trying to figure out how we were going to do it. What we decided was to move to more, I would say, almost quarterly recording.

[9:47] Jim: Quarter, monthly…

[9:49] James:  Every other month, whatever it is. We haven’t set the cadence 100 percent yet. We’re still working through it, but it allows us to record a whole bunch at one time, maybe a two‑ or three‑day stretch or a week.

[10:01] We had our first one maybe eight weeks ago, a couple of months ago, something like that. Anyway, so we were starting recording maybe 10:00 or 11:00, Jimmy, on a Monday morning.

[10:14] Jim: Monday morning, yep.

[10:15] James: Jim and I set time aside beforehand to set the stage, get ready, go over who’s going to be on this week. Everyday, we had pre‑production meetings kind of thing. What was it? Me and Jimmy wake up early, speaking of sleeping disorders. [laughs]

[10:36] We wake up really early and he’s in Florida so he’s perfect for me, because about time I’m up in Central, he’s an hour ahead. We both had an anxiety attack that Monday, because we really didn’t feel the levity of how much work we had to do in that time up until that point.

[10:58] Probably the most we’d recorded in a day would have maybe been two if that. There’s a lot of times if we have multiples, they would be spread out in a week. We both let the stress wear on us over the weekend. As we rolled into Monday morning, we both hit rock bottom at the same time. We had to get on and get our lives together in order to [laughs] record.

[11:28] We say that because, again, this series is going to be about telling our stories, and the tips and things that help us work through it. It’s not about mental illness. It’s really about our stories, and how we can bring it. That, I mean, what better catalyst?

[11:44] That’s when we realized that we need to bring this to people, because if we’re fretting this much over a podcast, imagine people with more important roles of…People out on the pipelines with integrity of pipelines, and imagine the folks that are over the IT security right now over pipelines.

[12:05] Can you imagine what they’re thinking about it through the morning? You imagine the anxiety attacks and stress that I had up on those. That became a catalyst for us to start this series, and here we are.

[12:21] Jim: I’m glad we’re doing it, because you often say it to me and say it to everybody. Your big hashtag is be brave. It’s one of them, besides let’s go. Be brave. I tell you, it’s easy to say, “Be brave.” It’s much different to walk off now and to take the step, and to come out of your…

[12:49] I don’t want to say uncomfort, but we’ve lived with society’s saying, “You should do this, and you shouldn’t do that, and this, that, and the other thing.” Lord knows I’m a good example of that, because a lot of people say, “Why do you talk about your alcoholism?” I’m like, “Why not?

[13:06] James: Have to. [laughs]

[13:06] Jim: “Well like, you like me as a person. You couldn’t tell I was drinking when I drank because I hid it so well, so what’s the difference?” They were like, “Oh, it shows you’re weak.” I’m like, “Really?” I said, “Try getting sober, you know? I mean, I’ll show you who’s strong or not.” Stay strong and to stay sober, those are…

[13:26] James: Jimmy, this is probably for another episode, but I’m sure those times for you when you told me at one point, the day you decided, “I was going to…”

[13:37] You were already recovering, but what I mean, when you decided you were going to stop the shame and start the fame of telling your story and not saying, “Oh, I’m on medication,” or “You know, I can’t drink today because I got a doctor’s appointment in the morning,” or “I got to travel.” 

[13:53] Whatever the thing is, to the day you decided, “I’m going to make this part of my story,” there’s got to be other folks in that spot of…

[14:07] Maybe you’ve been dealing with substance abuse for a long time, and you decided six months ago that you were going to be sober and you have been. Maybe it takes Jim’s story to be the catalyst for you to say, “It is OK to go out and make that a part of who I am, right?” Man, but Jimmy, I’m going to ask you a question real quick.

[14:28] Jim: All right, sir.

[14:30] James: Why do you feel like, right now, this is so important?

[14:34] Jim: I mean, us and we and I, we talk to 100, 200 people a week in the industry.

[14:41] James: It makes sense.

[14:43] Jim: Our friends, our [inaudible] relationships, and I just can’t say how many times I’m talking to somebody where that they’re, “Well, I’m down today. This COVID thing, when’s it ever going to end?” This and that, and the other thing, and then you hear the little triggers like, “I just can’t sleep,” or “I just feel anxious or I just…”

[15:05] There’s so many of these little things out there. I have to tell you though, James, for me this last year, you and I just having conversations helps so much. Not that we solved anything, but for me, just to have a springboard or a person, that bouncing board, that I can talk to about things where I feel comfortable. I think that’s why now so many people are unconsciously incompetent.

[15:32] Meaning, if you know that whole thing, consciously competent, you just don’t know what they don’t know. That may even be about themselves that they don’t know. They don’t know that they’re under stress. I’ve used this example the other time.

[15:46] We’ve all been to those classes where they were like, “OK, you’re in a safe room, and you’re all talking about. When you get under stress, count to 10 and breathe deep.” When you’re not stressed, it’s easy to do, but I…

[16:00] James: You’re like, “Hey man, I can’t spend my whole work day breathing out my nose and counting to 10.”

[16:05] [laughter]

[16:05] Jim: I don’t do it when I’m stressed is the problem.

[16:09] James: [inaudible].

[16:10] Jim: I forget about it. I think when people are anxious right now, or they’re under stress, or their high anxiety or whatever the case is, they may not recognize themselves. Sometimes, it’s good when you just talk to somebody, and somebody can say to you or I could say to you, “James, are you all right? You just seem a little off today. Can I help with anything?”

[16:31] It’s a hard part, because all of a sudden, when we first did this year or so back, it’s like testing the water. Can I talk to him? [?] Can I not? Then, it just builds and I can’t tell you how much it…Just even before recording today, we just talked about life. Nothing important, it was just talk.

[16:51] James: Could have really nothing to do with this episode, but everything to do with this episode, right?

[16:55] Jim: Yeah, it did and it didn’t, but it [inaudible].

[16:58] James: Yeah, for sure.

[16:58] Jim: I had to do with having that friend. In my opinion, that’s why now.

[17:04] James: Then, I’m sure a lot of people are thinking, “What are these two knuckleheads are going to do for us?” I don’t disagree. [laughs] What have we done for you for the last year? I mean, we’ve been here where a constant…Hopefully, where somebody that you can reach out to.

[17:26] I just put a post out on LinkedIn this past week, whenever we recorded this, that some people probably saw that I said, “You know, I’d been down for the last couple of months mentally. If I was down, I knew there were others, and if anybody needed it to reach out” basically.

[17:46] I was so…Not surprised, that’s a terrible word. I was so proud of how many people reached out to me, not for help which is the funny thing…

[17:57] Jim: [inaudible] here.

[17:57] James: …but they’re still here to help me. Absolutely. Emails, and messages, and text messages, and comments on the post from all kinds of folks. Some people I didn’t even know. It said, “Hey man. You know, you may not know me, you might. We connected a long time ago. I’ve kept up with you and I saw your post today, and man, if you need anything, let me know.”

[18:22] I was floored by it. Again, to just confirm that we’re doing the right things, it felt like…We had talked about the mental health series, you and I had, and then to hear and see that in action. It just told me, “Man, we’re doing the right things, right?”

[18:42] Jim: That’s right. That’s what doing it, right? I mean, we want to help you. If we can help one person and that person helps another one, that’s why we’re doing it. Then, let me ask you a question. A lot of people may or may not know this, you’re our brand guru. I mean, James is. When we say creative, that’s an understatement.

[19:00] James: It’s a big word, guru. I mean, it’s a little big word.

[19:04] Jim: Here’s the weird part. He’s over brand, all the creative, and he’s also over HR, which to me, it just makes my brain go, does not compute.

[19:13] James: All right, because I’m a liability. That’s one.

[19:18] [laughter]

[19:19] Jim: I don’t know.

[19:19] James: I’m sure there’s some people right now that are going to go in the comments and say, “I think I have mental health issues, because James is apparently over HR now.”

[19:29] [laughter]

[19:30] James: That doesn’t make any sense.

[19:33] Jim: It certainly helped me, and we’ll just leave it at that. Anyways, tips or tricks. I mean, we’re going to dive into this series much [inaudible]. I call you up, James, and I say, “Hey, I’m just struggling right now. I just…I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I’m gaining weight. I’m losing weight. I’m up. I’m not…”

[19:52] What advice would you give me? If I were just…

[19:57] James: Jimmy, I think, as we go through the series, we’ll get more specialized with what we’re talking about. Again, we’re not medical professionals. We’re not going to go down that route. However, there are things that we do in our situations that do help us.

[20:11] Sometimes, it’s just being cognizant of it and speaking it into existence, whatever it might be. I’ll tell you, you’ll probably hear this every single episode front and back, [?] bookended. A lot of what we’re trying to do in the Human Resources world is constantly share information, because Jimmy used to be in sales. You know that world. We’re all in sales, right? Let’s take it in that perspective.

[20:41] We always say, “You keeping that constant contact with folks because you never know when they’re going to have that moment.” Be that Tuesday afternoon that their system blows up or that one support person doesn’t support them right. If you’re the one that picked up the phone and called at that moment, you suddenly have an opportunity.

[21:02] From an HR standpoint, I will put on my HR hat as uncomfortable as it might feel. Now, we just say, “We’re going to put out a cadence in messages that point you to resources, OK? Whether its internal to your company being your HR department.” A lot of people don’t know that’s even HR’s problem, and I think that’s important for us to do.

[21:27] The second being there’s other resources that we can provide, but again, pointing you to your medical professionals because a lot of people don’t know that their health care covers behavioral, all right? That’s an easy move. Then, the other is creating a network of people, and we’re going to use our audience.

[21:53] Right now, if you’re watching this and you’re one of these people that [?] Phil is passionate about Gemini, as Gemini, I would urge you to comment. Then, we’re not trying to get engagement, don’t freak out. Leave a comment and say, “Hey, anybody that needs somebody, just shoot me a message. Here’s my email.” Shoot me a message on LinkedIn.

[22:17] If you don’t want to be part of that network, that’s where it starts for us. I mean, I think that’s why we’re doing it, Jim, is so that we can hopefully build a network of people that are pinging people when they need it.

[22:33] Again, I can’t touch all of my network everyday, but if you’re doing it and the next person’s doing it, we’re just checking on people and doing that. That’s what we’re trying to do is just be there in that moment.

[22:47] Jim: I absolutely herald everything that you just said. Speaking on behalf of you and I, people reaching out to us, all the better.

[22:58] James: Absolutely.

[22:57] Jim: I do want to hit, though, on if you’re fortunate enough to have health insurance. If you’re fortunate to work for a company as a HR department, some of these things you may not even be aware are available and especially in today’s [inaudible], I’ve learned that through our health plan you can do virtual sessions with a licensed professional, very easy…

[23:23] James:  Again, we talk about being safe behind a keyboard thing. For some people, that’s really daunting to go into an office for that.

[23:29] Jim:  It could be stressful.

[23:31] James:  I’m not. Look, man, I’m a dude. I’ve been told my whole life not to cry in front of girls, really.

[23:42] Jim: [laughs]

[23:42] James:  Then you’re like, “What? I got to go talk to somebody and give them my soul and my heart and my mind?” That’s a daunting, but look at us. Who would’ve thought we’d be this brave?

[23:58] You’re right. That’s a good point. There’s virtual visits out there. Jimmy and I both have talked about that. There’s a lot of options. We just got to put that information out there.

[24:11] Jim: We’re going to explore that going forward. James, what should our audience expect going forward? I have a couple thoughts. What’s your thought with that?

[24:20] James:  We’re going to play it by ear, like we always do…

[24:24] Jim: We do.

[24:25] James:  …like we’re doing today. We’re going to get out there. We’re going to be safe about it. We’re going to do what needs to be done.

[24:33] We don’t know if this is a 4‑part series or 27. When we get going, we may find out this might be our new show, might be its own podcast. I think our audience will tell us, just like they have over the past year.

[24:51] They told us they loved “7 Habits,” so we kept going. They loved this or loved this angle. We’ll craft that feedback into what we’re doing and, again, hopefully build a network of people that have broken that stigma that comes with mental health sometimes.

[25:10] Jim:  Definitely.

[25:11] James:  If we do that, Jimmy, I don’t know what success looks like here other than just doing it. If we catch that one person somewhere, we’ll never know it, more than likely. I don’t think we can even measure success here. Just getting out there and doing it probably is success in itself.

[25:32] Jim:  The more we discuss it, the more that we show. Especially next time, we should peel back the onion into some of our conversations to let people know how we talk and what comes up.

[25:47] If two vice presidents are having this conversation openly with each other and supporting each other, there’s a lot to be said in that.

[25:57] Again, I don’t use the title as anything more than the idea that it can affect your children. Your grandchildren could be affected by this whole COVID thing, going from a school to a virtual school. Then maybe you’re stressing out over your kids or your wife or your husband or your neighbor or your co‑worker.

[26:19] James:  The weather, the thunder.

[26:22] Jim:  This stuff, this has been…

[26:24] James:  Awesome. I’m telling you, it just confirms what we’re doing, right?

[26:29] Jim:  Yeah.

[26:30] James:  We always talk about wearing your weather and those dark times. I can see the storms rolling through your glasses, I think.

[26:41] Jim: [laughs] It’s been…

[26:42] James:  Jimmy, I don’t want to beat a dead horse here. It’s the kickoff show. Just like you said, I’m more excited [?] because we’ve got to get more specialized in these episodes and talk about that.

[26:55] How cool was Scrum for you this year?

[27:00] Jim:  It was fantastic.

[27:01] James:  For those that don’t know, it is anti‑Scrum. That’s what we joke about. We started a meeting that we had pretty much every day during the pandemic with our group.

[27:12] Jim: 8 AM start.

[27:14] James:  Honestly, when we quit having those might have been when we both had an anxiety attack, [laughs] when Jim and I quit attending Scrum.

[27:25] Little tips like that, I see us taking a subject, unpacking it, and then hopefully breaking the stigma with it and then ramping out of it. Then again, [?] booking it in with resources.

[27:38] Jim:  Absolutely. James, with that, we’ve given our audience just enough to let them understand what we’re going to be doing. I would imagine that these are going to probably come out like the 7 Habits, every four to six weeks, thereabout, three to six weeks.

[27:53] James: There’s no rules. We’ll play it by ear, but I think that’s what we did with the others, four to six weeks. If you have any ideas, just for the audience, drop them in the comments.

[28:06] Jim: Absolutely.

[28:06] James: Shoot us an email, text message. Also, just to reiterate, Jimmy, before we get out of here is if you are one of those people that want to be those people for other people ‑‑ That’s a lot of people’s comment ‑‑ comment, reach out to us if you’re listening on the podcast, wherever you’re interacting.

[28:27] Give that to us, man. We’re not hard to find. [laughs] I don’t think so, right? Chime in, man. Be that support network for someone else, because we haven’t even started yet.

[28:40] Jim: As we say, spread the love.

[28:44] James: Let’s go.

[28:48] Jim: There we go, up there. All right, thanks for tuning in, everybody, to this week’s episode of “Coffee with Jim and James.” We hope it touched you a little bit, and hopefully it helps you get back to do some reflection and see how you can reflect some goodness out into the world and onto yourself. Until next week, we will see you soon.

[29:10] [background music]

[29:10] Jim: Everybody, please take care and stay safe. See you soon.

[29:14] James: That was [inaudible]. Thank you so much.

[29:16] Jim: Thanks, James.

[29:15] James: You too, Schaeur.

[29:17] Jim: All right.

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