Is Wellness the Modern Secret to Business Success?

Step 1: take care of your body

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@criene via Twenty20

With more billionaires in the world than ever before, there’s no shortage of high-powered individuals with, what most of us would consider, high-stress jobs. But, much like the landscape of the industry, the image of the modern businessman has evolved. Long gone are the days of the hair-pulling CEO or powerbroker, chainsmoking in his office and making deals over whiskey (or, if you’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street, worse). These days, we see Silicon Valley tycoons and entrepreneurial leaders drinking Soylent and green juice, drip-dropping CBD, organizing office-wide yoga sessions and prioritizing balanced lives over ones spent living behind a desk. Physical and mental wellness pays off, and it just might be the modern-day secret to success.

Google searches for the term “self-care” majorly increased last summer, as compared to the past ten years, reaching peak popularity in September 2018. Similarly, the public’s interest in “wellness” has steadily increased throughout the decade. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the health and wellness industry experienced 12.8 percent growth in the global economy from 2015 to 2017 and is now valued at over $4.2 trillion.

So while moguls and money-makers certainly aren’t the only ones hopping on the healthy bandwagon, they’ve managed to harness the benefits in order to make themselves better leaders—and ensure the success of their ventures overall.

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Michael Cohen/Getty Images

Earlier this year, Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey’s self-care routine made headlines for being strict, and admittedly, somewhat bizarre. His “biohacking” approach to health includes intermittent fasting, ice baths and a daily five-mile walk to his office. He has gone on multiple wellness retreats, including a ten-day silent workshop in Myanmar, during which he meditated from 4 am to 9 pm. It’s a habit he’s incorporated into his life back home; Dorsey reportedly aims for at least two hours of meditation a day. And he’s not alone. 

Russell Simmons, Kobe Bryant, Oprah and Ariana Huffington are just some of the leaders embracing the practice of mindfulness through meditation. In addition to reducing stress, the practice has been proven to provide a sense of purpose (a must-have for anyone trying to change the world), “decrease feelings of isolation and alienation… [and] symptoms of illness as diverse as headaches, chest pain, congestion and weakness.” One study, supported by the National Institutes of Health, even saw a “23 percent decrease in mortality, a 30 percent decrease in death due to cardiovascular problems and a big decrease in cancer mortality” as a result of meditation.

Even without the promise of physical well-being, meditation can be practically applied in the business world. Fortune 500 companies have begun integrating mindfulness techniques to sharpen memory, attention, and creativity in their employees. Harvard Business School Professor, and former CEO of Medtronic, Bill George, has said that “meditation gives me an opportunity to get deep rest and refocus before my board meeting,” while billionaire tech mogul Marc Benioff of Salesforce told the New York Times that meditation has influenced how he leads.

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“Having a beginner’s mind informs my management style. I’m trying to listen deeply, and the beginner’s mind is informing me to step back so that I can create what wants to be, not what was. I know that the future does not equal the past. I know that I have to be here in the moment.”

And that’s just one of the health-driven practices more and more movers and shakers have been adopting—not just for themselves, but for their companies as a whole. 

Stanton Kawer, Chairman and CEO of Bluechip Marketing Worldwide, insists that yoga made him a better CEO by completely redefining his idea of success. 

“On a personal level, yoga has been instructive in helping me redefine my expectations for achievement. Perhaps the most salient lesson I've learned is that there are no scorecards to define success. In yoga, success emanates from within and is defined by self-mastery.”

At Salesforce, Benioff hosts a yoga class for employees twice a week. David Inns, CEO of GreatCall, takes his team surfing and organizes weekly Friday yoga sessions. Mark Bertolini of Aetna brought yoga into the office, which he claims not only increased communication and collaboration but also shed some light on the struggles his employees were facing, causing him to raise the minimum wage and improve their benefits

Hitting the mat after a staff meeting? It’s not as woo-woo as it sounds. On the contrary, encouraging and investing in the well-being of employees increases productivity and improves performance, thanks to what Inns calls “a culture of motivation.” Sweating it out as an office also facilitates teamwork and employee loyalty—vital aspects of any successful operation. 

When it comes to dollars and cents, however, physical health is the most significant pay-off—literally. Employee stress costs American businesses up to $300 billion a year, according to the World Health Organization, while 75 percent of all health care spending is on chronic illnesses that could be prevented. That’s not to mention the hidden costs of sick days and lower productivity. At the end of the day, a business is only as healthy as the people running it, a fact that industry leaders are finally taking seriously.

Related: How Self-Care Can Lead to Your Next Great Idea

Related: Alex Fine Has Trained Everyone from Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cast of 'Riverdale'

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