In this first Performance Series event, Performance Through Well-Being focused on the importance of mental and physical health and how lifestyle changes can help us achieve success in both our personal and professional lives.
The event proved a unique opportunity to network with other corporate representatives with a passion for wellness in the workplace, with presentations from both Ian Kinsella, Morgan McKinley's IT Recruitment Manager, and Aideen O'Colmain,Corporate Wellness Director of EMEA for Fitbit, who both have vast experience in well-being and corporate success.
So cheers guys. Thanks for coming. Lovely morning and all that. So it was a bit sunnier over in Dublin now I have to say. I heard it was sunny in Cork all the time so I'm a bit disappointed. But I'm okay for two reasons essentially, the first is that Niamh got in touch with Bressie and he was too expensive. The second which is the real reason is that I have a passion, a genuine passion for something that transformed my life professionally and personally in a positive way.
That's me in 2009 - sad, clearly. Depressed, anxious, very unhealthy and just not in a good place in body and mind. That's me ten minutes before I came in. Clearly very happy, very healthy, relatively successful. I'm in a place both in body and mind. But how do I make that transformation from that guy to this guy?
Well, I’ll tell you a bit about me first. I'd been working in Morgan McKinley for the past five years and I'm the IT recruitment manager. Prior to that I worked in car sales for five years as well. So I'm a used car salesman turned recruiter. Unfortunately when you hear that or when you see my profile you think I'm as dodgy as this fellow! I get that quite a lot. But that's not the case. I've had some success in both companies. When I was at Merlin selling cars I did very well, I was the top salesman for five years but I also sold more cars than any one in Ireland from 2006 until 2009. So I did very well. Then since joining Morgan McKinley in 2011 I've been one of the top performers globally and I now manage the most successful team so I've done reasonably well in both those positions.
I'm also a marathon runner. I've ran six marathons since 2010: Dublin three times, New York once, New York twice, London once. I'm going to do Berlin next month, four weeks away, five weeks away.
The plan for Berlin is to do a PB, so that's 15 minutes quicker than my previous time in London which is a big ask now that I say it out loud.The plan for Berlin is to do a PB, so that's 15 minutes quicker than my previous time in London which is a big ask now that I say it out loud. For perspective only 1% of marathoner will run over three hours, that's even less to run than what I'm going to try do in Berlin. I'm training extremely hard at the moment and the times are irrelevant, it's more to show you how I've progressed. I think anyone that does a marathon, it's a massive accomplishment on itself.
I'm currently being trained by a runner called Gary O’Hanlon, I don't know if anyone's familiar with the running scene? He has me working very hard. I think in order to do what I'm trying to do, I had to get some assistance. So Gary has been running about 50 to 80 miles a week, six to seven days a week, sometimes twice a day and around ten hours I'd say.
I think in order to do what I'm trying to do, I had to get some assistance. The week consists of hill sprints, long runs, temple runs, all these different stuff. and also consists of a healthy enough diet and what I call "body maintenance". Body maintenance is basically looking after your core, doing planks, all this ... If you don't do that you'll get injured, a 100% so you need to look after yourself.
And so as you can see, I have a passion for running clearly. But I also have a passion for something that's call active living. And active living is trying to enjoy life seven days a week. I believe that's down to a couple of key ways that I choose to live my life outside of work. I also believe that the success that I've had to date is down to a couple of key decisions that I made in 2009, which leads me to this.
I also have a passion for something that's call active living, trying to enjoy life seven days a week. I believe that's down to a couple of key ways that I choose to live my life outside of work.I most definitely wasn't always like this. In 2007 my family fell apart, and I had to care for my mother on my own for a number of years. She subsequently died in December 2008 after a short battle with cancer. That turned my life upside down. What happened was I went into a kind of a self-destruct mode and I was suffering from what I now know was quite severe depression. I wasn't helping myself. I was out drinking in all the time. I was partying all the time. I was just trying to mask what was going on in my head. I gained weight, I had anxiety issues and I just wasn't in a very good place.
Had I kept on going the way I was going I can pretty much say that I certainly wouldn't be here, happy, talking with you people. ButI don't know if I'll be here at all. It was that bad. To top it off 2009, as we all remember, it was a pretty sh*tty year in general. Remember I was in car sales, so no one could buy cars even if they wanted to. Trying to sell cars back then was a zero craic and highly stressful. I guess the best way to describe what I felt ... there's two forms of stress you feel in your life: you have your work stress and you have your personal stress. Obviously work wasn't going as well because no one was buying cars, so I just felt like I having a lot of weight on my shoulder, so a big heavy dumbbell on my shoulder.
My personal life wasn't well because I was trying to deal with my mother passing away and that was my personal life. So I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. And that's what I felt all the time. Had you have known me back then you wouldn't have had a clue! I think men, and most men in here probably agree, we're pretty poor describing how they feel or what's going on and I was very guilty. I still am. My girlfriend would probably say that I still am.
I wanted to change and I wanted to feel better. I knew I had to do something.I wanted to change and I wanted to feel better. I knew I had to do something. So I did ... I went to the gym every now and then and I played football a bit. I never went for a run because I thought it would be very boring. But I remember one specific Sunday after a weekend of heavy boozing and you know when you have that fear on a Sunday? And there's nothing there! I had that but I had a much, much worse case because I used to get it very, very bad. My anxiety levels were really, really high and I thought I was going to have a panic attack. It was that bad.
I just said, "Alright, I need to get some fresh air, get some exercise, and get my body moving or do something.” I put my headphones in and I went for a little run. I went in Dublin, I went to Ballsbridge which is about four miles away and I felt okay, actually my legs felt okay and I was quite surprised that I got that far away without losing my breath. The key thing that I found was afterwards when I came home I was like, "Jesus, my mind got a bit of a workout." I felt that the weight have been lifted, ever so slightly the two dumbbells that I spoke about there were kind of lifted ever so slightly.
I never thought for a minute that that moment would be a massive game-changer for me. In 2009 I decided to sign up for the Dublin marathon. Tthis is something that I gave no thought to. I just needed to find something to accompany my new found interest and it give me a bit of a goal. I didn't give it the respect that it warranted either to be fair. I also made a choice in the company that I was working in, Merlin, the car sales place I told you about that I was going to try and break the sales record for the most cars sold in one month.
Now bear in mind that's April 2009. It was a stupid goal, ridiculous! The previous sales record was broken in 2007, January. Now that's when the Celtic Tiger was roaring. Anyone could get a loan, anyone could buy a car. So it was a silly goal but I wanted to go big so that's what it was.
So I gave up drink. I worked every day, worked every hour I could, got to the phone first before every salesman ... every other salesman. I got to every customer first. I sold 60 cars in 26 days breaking the previous record of 58 in 2008 and 2007. For perspective, I think at that stage in April 2009 if a car dealership, a full dealership of ten salesmen, had sold that many cars they would have been delighted. For me to do it on my own was fairly insane and I remember at that time it actually went quite viral because I was getting emails off these guys in the States saying, "I heard your story. I'm inspired and I'm going through a tough time."
What had happened is my sales trainer, who used to train people globally, went around and explained that "you know, it's tough times but this guy in Ireland has gone through a tough time, went out and did this." I got lovely emails from all these guys. So I was a bit of a celebrity in the motor trade for a couple of months but I've actually no idea how I did that. I know that I worked very hard. Basically I managed to extract 750,000€ from 60 different people. Again, no idea how I did it, but I certainly know I helped.
If I wasn't running, looking after my body and my mind that record would never been broken.If I wasn't running, looking after my body and my mind that record would never been broken. I had heaps more energy, but I had a new positive outlook for life which I hadn't had in years. I also would never have discovered what you can achieve when you apply yourself properly to something and you accompany it with something positive externally like running.
This is a good slide because if you had asked me in January 2009 to go break the sales record I would have said, "It's impossible and I wouldn't be able.” April 2009 different story.
Embarrassing picture! This the first marathon I ran.It's quite funny when I look at this because running now I know what I'm wearing is all the wrong stuff for a marathon. To start with the runners that I'm wearing are for a six foot person that weighs about 180 pounds. They're wide fit. I have no idea what I was doing. Wearing cotton socks so I have blisters all over my feet. It gets worse. I am wearing football shorts so I had chaffing in areas that I won't get into but I just did, kind of... And I'm also wearing an Under Armour vest so my nipples were totally bleeding, which was horrendous. Lastly I'm wearing a Man United jersey.
The marathon runs through some colourful places in Dublin and there were a couple of people I think still out from the night before, so I was being heckled by people for wearing a Man United shirt. But it doesn't matter what I was wearing cause essentially I was running for myself and I was running for my mental health.
When people look at me now they just assume that I've always run and I've always been a high achiever. That a 100% isn't true. I made a choice. That's me there looking awesome obviously, more recently. When people look at me now they just assume that I've always ran and I've always been a high achiever. That a 100% isn't true. I made a choice. I still live this exact same way, and I've had some more great success such as that story in 2009. I run because it helps me deal with the sh*t everyday life can throw at you. I run because I feel amazing both in body and mind after and I get a bit of a work out mentally and I lose myself and my thoughts for a few hours.
How does this really benefit your career? Well, for me anyway I have very little stress, I can deal with change very easily. I have more energy than most people. I have a very positive outlook for life in general. I also rarely get sick which is a massive plus. I think those positive feelings alone would put you on in the right place.
At the moment I'm lucky enough that I manage the highest performing team, or one of the highest-performing teams, in Morgan McKinley and possibly amongst our competitors, but as a manager of a high-performing team I try to be a living example. The guys, they're not marathon runners but they do see how I live, they see the energy that I have and they're inspired to be a bit like me in some way.
I think the hardest part about running is going running or trying something new or starting something new. I'm not standing up here saying, "Go on a marathon and all your problems will be solved." What I am saying though is that by exercising your body and your mind by whatever way possible will definitely improve your mental well-being and going to 100% improve your performance in the work place.
That's my story. Thank you.