11.09.20 | Ep. 516 Lori Worthington| CEO and Founder of StressOS


Lori Worthington is the CEO and founder of StressOS, a company geared towards helping companies add new pathways to reach their health and productivity goals.

StressOS assists individuals and  organizations measure and reduce toxic stress so they experience better health and productivity.  Lori worked in the healthcare and insurance industries beginning in 1985.



Joel Goldberg: Welcome into rounding the bases, the podcast about culture and leadership with a baseball twist presented by enterprise Bank and Trust hashtag no stopping you enterprise Bank and Trust was founded by entrepreneurs with the core focus of serving privately owned small and medium sized businesses who have a story to tell. It's why I lie and so well with enterprise as a storyteller myself enterprises bank. They commit to listen, learn and guide clients to a lifetime of financial success enterprise bank. Together, there's no stopping you. My name is Joel Goldberg coming to you from Kansas City audio visual studios, they create engaging spaces. Check them out at kcav.com and I can connect you with Alan land ever over there. If you are looking for a connection.

Joel Goldberg: And some more information. My guest today is going to talk about a topic that is in all of our lives. Always for that matter stress. Maybe even more so right now because of this pandemic, but we've always dealt with stress. We will always deal with stress and Lori Worthington helps people and organizations, reduce toxic stress. Don't we all need to do that. She is the CEO and founder of a company that was formed in 2017 called stress. Very, very fascinating stuff with some really interesting numbers to back up so much about what we maybe don't know about stress Lori. Thanks for joining rounding the bases

Lori Worthington: Thanks for having me. Looking forward to our conversation.

Joel Goldberg: I am too because and you know i i try on this podcast to make sure that everything will be interesting and relevant and I do believe everybody has a story to tell, but who doesn't deal with stress because if if you're that person. I'd love to know who you are, but we all do, no matter what we do, no matter who we are. So let's begin with that on the simplest level. We all deal with stress. Right.

Lori W: We do do do stress, the lowest personal stress index, we've seen to date was 11 on a scale of 100 and the gentleman actually reached out to us because he was concerned should his score be that low and what we learned is, he is a clinical psychologist that works in a clinical practice all the time. And so as we talked about it and talked about how we do our scoring and he felt better. He said, Okay, then I could see what my score was 11 so he holds the record for us and being the lowest score so far at 11

Joel Goldberg: I want to hang out with that guy.

Lori W: Higher than that.

Joel Goldberg: Oh, I know that guy and figure out what he's doing, right, because he is I would imagine a bit of an outlier, and then they're probably some that are so off the charts and those might be a bit on the concerning side. But before we talk more about these assessments and what you're able to do for companies which by the way will save him. A lot of money in the long run to I want to talk more about your background before you founded stress OS and then we'll talk about how you felt stress us but but let's talk a little bit about pre 2017 and how you got to here.

Lori W: Sure. So, you know, I've grown up working in my career in healthcare. So I worked for hospital systems. I helped build pH is back in Clinton health reform era. I got us through Y2K as a health plan I with a whole team of people we, you know, dealt with HIPAA and all the privacy and security, and then we, you know, I've watched us as insurance, health insurers and brokers and companies deal with this thing called population health management and how do we help people be healthier. So the health and wellness issues and all of those things and what I've seen throughout our career is that we keep hit hammering at the same things we need to take better care of ourselves. We need to slow disease. We need to do those things, but we didn't really ever get to some of the root cause of why do we get sick in the first place. And so my background has been working for health systems. I worked for Health Net here in Kansas City.

When it was in existence as a PPO HMO worked for a national broker for over a decade. And then we started a consulting firm seven years ago.

Joel Goldberg: And eventually you founded stress. Oh, so obviously you have the background. He just talked about all that and all the years in this industry, but how did you come up with this idea

Lori W: You know, we kept as I talked to people and I'm a big believer that you keep your relationships in place intact and one of the things throughout my career, people would talk about how stress. They weren't. Oh, I guess that's just the way it is and you know, gosh, if we weren't so stress, think about what we can do and you have those conversations at the water cooler right and intelligent. Oh, can you all go back to business and go on, but as I the last few years. Listen, one of the things that I continue to hear from people you trusted me with their stories was how toxic work had become or how toxic and relationship seemed or how just difficult things were. And I started really researching stress and and is there actually a level of toxic stress or chronic stress and do we have data that supports what it does to our health and what it does to our businesses and what we learned is that it's a big problem for people. We've been taught to accept it and it actually is very measurable very well documented and they're actually things you can do to change it.

Joel Goldberg: So you formed this company, and it really can help everyone I know that I mean an individual just any individual could certainly benefit from it, but I know that you were thinking, and there were goals of bigger picture to right i mean if we are a healthier workforce and that's true in any aspect of life, whether it's physical, mental health, whatever it is a companies are functioning better and they're making more money or not hemorrhaging money, the way they often times are so let's let's start with that. What can a reduction of stress do for a company on the whole

Lori W: Yes, different company, on the whole, the first thing you begin to feel like is you know if management's less stress, they're going to have a better they're going to do a better job managing so their workers are going to feel more respected more engaged more satisfied, but what we see is that as organizations can reduce their stress. 60 to 80% of workplace injuries are stress related. So whether that's an arm gets caught in a piece of equipment, or you're traveling on business and we all get to go traveling on business again and you slip off the curb, because you're thinking about everything else you're trying to read your phone you're doing 14 things and you know that break those workplace injuries, you know, unfortunately, the person who walks off of the high rise. You know scaffolding and and plummets all of those different types of injuries or because the brains were thinking about something else. Most of the time, right. We weren't fully engaged your focus. And that's because of stress. so, those types of things turn over 40% of turnover is stress related so

Lori W: Once someone leaves the company, it's, you know, estimated that it's at least two times their salary to replace them and get an adequately trained replacement recruited and put in place, plus you lose. Last time you lose productivity and that that realm of time so injury productivity engagement and satisfaction are all really big factors that an organization can see, not to mention they can, as people are more productive, they gain more revenue per person because they're able to produce more

Joel Goldberg: totally makes sense now the the interesting part to be. It's all interesting is how you come up with this what what's in the assessment. How are you able to measure stress. That's the first part. The second part is, how do you convince people that this is actually them that that hey, this is what we're seeing. I mean, look, everybody wants to redo them and nobody wants more stress in their life. I mean, there are those of us that do well when you're back into a corner and you're on a deadline. That's me. I prefer deadlines over I'm not as good with the structure end of things. You know, so give me a day to do it and I'll do it. Give me a month to do it and I'll probably do it in a day. However, I know that there's stress involved that I want to minimize that. So the first question is, how do you measure this.

Lori W: Right, so we actually built a pretty comprehensive assessment, we went back to the data and we looked at data. We looked at studies we looked at proven measurement instruments and we embedded about six of those into our assessment, and we then looked at questions that are really eminent issues right now for people and for businesses, we asked about bullying. We asked about harassment and we asked about concerns of violence and we asked about those not only at work. But in your personal life so that we get a full picture we look at things like childhood experiences because those drastically impact who we are. We look at the perceived stress score, which is an actual index the perceived stress index, and we're able to see, you know, if you and I have the exact same things going on. I'm like you, I need that deadline to make things happen. So we look at those things and you and I might both have the same things going on and perceive our stress levels very differently. Because of just the way we look at things and so there's the measurement of stress that is are all these actual indexes. And those change as someone's perception of their situation changes. So sometimes we can actually fix a physical problem. We can stop bullying or we can stop a personal risk concern. Sometimes we also have to then just change they learn to change the way we look at things. And so, helping people find mindfulness and gratitude and you know I always use the example a two year old when they're tired.

Lori W: Sleepy hungry exhausted. Right. And then they can't do that thing they want to do. What do they all do they just go into a Tantra mode, right. As grown ups. We see those same things. And when we don't get them. We go into Tantra mode to it just turns out to be usually far more vocal and a lot of inner stress that we hold because we're told, we have to, and so that's really, we can measure these things we actually created what we call personal stress index for an individual that's one number that they can watch and then we we provide them a roadmap that is kind of stop light colored red, yellow, green showing them areas that are better either higher drivers of stress and so that they have a roadmap of 13 categories are able to look at to see instead of blaming that driver that just cut them off what you know, which is stressful. But there are other things that made their reaction so intense. And so we can help people understand where those action layer three action leads are coming from.

Joel Goldberg: And does that red, yellow and green. I know it's got to change your stress doesn't stay the same all the time now so some of those things could could be going on for a long time, whether it's the bullying or whatever it might be and and some of them could just be done when say like me, I finished my book project and suddenly it's so the question is, how difficult is to, is it to identify those changing circumstances, and how do you combat them knowing that some days are better than others.

Lori W: Right. You know what we see changing a lot of those drivers finances and financial security are big topic right now. Relationships are really relationships are the stronghold that can make stress worse and make stress better. And so as we help people with relationships and supportive relationships are super important. So stress, high stress can be okay for a while, when we have really great supportive relationships around us and those can be at work. Those could be at home. This could be with friends, but we have them when those relationships start to digress or turn south and we start to not have them. Everything escalates. And so how we measure that is one we're creating awareness of it, right. So when you're aware that relationships are something you need to work on. You start to work on that you start to think about and be intentional about how do I work on a problem or how do I make time for this relationship, perhaps as we work through things with people, you know, they will reassess themselves every 60 to 90 days and there'll be able to see their category colors changing they'll be able to see their score changing and every time you see that incremental improvement to your point about small ball. Every time you see something change. It gives you the the momentum to keep going. And you watch that, because our stressors do change soon as you finish your book you have that wonderful relief and then you're going to have the realization of the next thing. Or the relationship that maybe isn't where you want it to be, or the something that's different, but now you're like, man, I gotta go work on that. And so there's always going to be something else to fill that space. It's matter of how we frame it

Joel Goldberg: There's always a next thing that always will be an excellent until there's not a next thing. And that's, you know,

Lori W: And then there's a whole other next thing after that.

Joel Goldberg: Whatever that is. Right. So I'll let you tackle that one in a new business hopefully never, by the way. So, but I want to talk about that and and being a business owner and you know you born a lot of hats over your career, you've obviously been able to put them all together to form this business. But what is the entrepreneurial journey been like for you.

Lori W: And the entrepreneurial journey is pretty challenging. I had been an entrepreneur for a good chunk of my career and always been asked to build the next practice charter. The next idea. Make the next thing happen. And so I had a lot of experience at bat, but I also had a lot of great resources around me always had a very supportive team. Not only a people working with me, making it happen, but also with advisors who were kind of litmus test or are we getting where we need to be. And we had capital and so as an entrepreneur and a small business.  In the Midwest, you don't have, you know, you don't have a lot of that capital and and, particularly, you have to make a choice as an entrepreneur. Early on, how much are you going to pursue capital and investors are you going to pursue the idea and keep true to that idea. And it's hard to do both because the investors influence. Where do you need to go and you find yourself answering to all of their questions. Instead of building out the product. And so it's a challenge I you know it's one of those things that it's been a very lean set of learning years, I would say for us as entrepreneurs, just, you know, making it happen and building as we go.

Joel Goldberg: What's the response been like, because so much of what you're doing is trying to make sure that companies or individuals, for that matter, know that you can provide value to them, how is that process going.

Lori W: You know companies, we really started talking heavily about stress. So, so in January two companies. And then we have this thing called COVID hit, and so what we what we've had is obviously everybody's scrambling to try to keep keep bodies covered and we're in p p and keep the you know people working from home and all the very many different things we've done, what's been really interesting is that businesses are slow to say, Yeah, you know what stress is a big enough topic, particularly this year we're going to do something for our employees and so  we've not seen that the growth that we expected to then kind of the quick reception that I had anticipated was was, you know, even before coven 19 I'm like stress. There's enough evidence about this. There's a very data driven set of facts to this and it should be fairly straightforward. And it's been a bigger if it's been harder to create that awareness and get that by him and we expected. And what's really interesting is with coded 19 and this really hit me Monday, I was talking to someone and she said, You know what, we really, we get this. We want to do it, but we're just not sure we have the budget for it right now. And sure, so, so it's not very expensive. But when you're dealing with budgets and things. I know as an unplanned expense and you know, I was, I was thinking about it. I told a friend Monday night. I'm like, man, if this was a bottle and it was a pill bottle that I could say this is a p p for every employee and it can help protect them from stress and injury and these things for an entire year. And it was a supply

Lori W: Instead of having to go and another budget item. I'm like, I think we bottled it as a pill that you take I think or a suit that you were right. It's another suit of armor that you were. I think that we'd have a different view of this right now because, you know, and it really is stress reduction is a personal protective equipment item that can really help you body, mind and soul, but it's been slow to to get the reception.

Joel Goldberg: Well, because we're a society that wants the quick fix the magic pill and that's that's the way that we have been wired and the way things go the reality of it is information, knowledge is so much more powerful. So, it's harder to sell, but it makes a lot of sense. Obviously, one more question before I get to my baseball theme questions, but I know that you were showing me a sheet that really outlines and kind of a one pager that outlines the amount of money that companies lose in employees being gone or being stressed or leaving the company. And it's really powerful to, I don't know what of all these numbers stands out to you because it's all really big stuff but I'm guessing you're surprised when he saw this and then maybe you could share some of some of those numbers and facts.

Lori W: Yeah, you know, I was surprised to see from from the CDC study in 2017 published in 18 that you know 1100 dollars per year is the average cost of workers comp injuries in the country and that does not include deaths which are you know multimillion dollar settlements. So the other thing that's been really interesting to me to study is that workplace injury claims for emotional stress for mental health those claims have been on the rise. Now for a number of years, and those mental health claims that work has created mental stress for me or emotional stress and and basically debilitated me to a point that I'm can't work. Those claims are on the rise at the rate of about 700%

faster than workers comp than a normal work injury and they pay out about four times higher than a physical injury. So we see this more on the coasts. I mean, we haven't seen a lot of this in the middle, yet but but we see those types of facts coming fairly frequently and, you know, the thing that we haven't said is, as we reduce stress and people their health improves. So we're people are worried about health care costs, you know, health care costs are typically the number two item for a company. There's payroll there's health care costs and then for many companies. Number three is safety. So stress can help address all of those and health. Health care costs and well being are certainly some benefactors and stress reduction.

Joel Goldberg: Makes a lot of sense. Okay. Time now for the baseball theme questions, brought to you by kissing construction trusted team reliable partner, check them out at kiss it code.com. How about the biggest home run that you have, whether it's in your career or what stressful. So I'll let you figure that one out.

Lori W: Yeah, that was a tough question, I have to say for me, you know, as I thought about, I think we haven't hit our biggest home run. Yet I don't feel like there's that one that knocked it so far out of the park. There's still chasing the ball. And that, to me, will hopefully come with stress OS and people getting the help that they need for stress. I think the biggest one for me is really the relationships that are 2030 years old that are still in place that we still have conversations that we're still looking out for each other. And we're still being good to build each other up even in the hard times. And so I think that's the home run for me long term is is those relationships.

Joel Goldberg: Love that second question, the baseball themed questions biggest swing and miss. And what have you learned from it.

Lori W: Yeah, that would be it ain't over till it's over that, you know, 12 any overtime where you're waiting for approvals and signatures and they decided to bring in a new team in the middle of that. On the client side having to us last year. And so we went what from what was supposed to be a multi million person contract for stress so ass into a, oh gosh we brought in some new people and they want to rethink our strategy and yeah, we'll get back to you. And so that that's where that for still remains. So an unfortunate mess that's that was, you know, certainly a lot of learning lessons and a lot of changes in the way that we approach things that came from that.

Joel Goldberg: And I'll be, ain't it ain't over till it's over. I'll a Yogi Berra was supposed to be about the comeback and the win. But you're on the other side of that, which is a whole different level. I know of stress. The final baseball theme. Question is small ball you alluded to a little bit of small ball before. What are the little things that add up to the big things. Lori.

Lori W: Yeah, I think it's, I think, the little things are those those conversations, keeping going, keeping your eye on the ball and knowing that yeah you know the setbacks teach you something that let you grow to get that win right to get to that when and when series. When it's all said and done,

Joel Goldberg: Okay, for final questions as we round the bases. The first one, it's more of that entrepreneurial question again as someone that you know, had big jobs over the course of your career, not that this is is big, but I know it's different, being an entrepreneur and starting your own thing. I mean, you were at places like locked in and others, but how scary. Was it to take that jump.

Lori W: That was terrifying. I terrified exhilaration would be the words that I used. And because because it's completely different and you don't know and you're totally relying on the ability to to get favor from people. Right. And I had always been in a sales support role, never in the sales role and, you know, so it definitely was very scary and there's just a lot of unknowns that go with that because you just never know what's ahead. No regrets No no not one.

Joel Goldberg: Lori. You got to be an all in all in on it when you take that jump. Second question. Has there been a story and occurrence and I'm sure there are a lot of them, where you just got that excitement or that satisfaction, saying, wait a minute, we we helped here. We did this when everybody's got a story. I said that a million times. And as I said at the start of this podcast. Everybody has stressed, but was there one that moved you

Lori W: You know, for for us with stress. Unless we're collecting a lot of the stories. Now, as we see people progress, for, you know, our career in the last seven years. You know, we've. We did a lot of work in the first five years working with health plans and helping them reach out to people and make sure they're getting their screenings, make sure they're getting that care that they need, and in the course of that work. We actually helped health plans, improve their screening rates by 500% or better, and particularly for things like breast cancer. When you think about it, we saved people's lives. There are people just statistically when I look at the numbers, and I do the math.  But not only people that we help save them a lot of late stage of discovery and and cost that we actually, you know, I think it's 22 lives that we probably saved in the course of having a mom who's been through breast cancer recently herself, you know it's it's those things that are the priceless moments. I think that you try to keep the eye on the ball that you know the end of the day, it's about the humans and making sure that taken care of.

Joel Goldberg: And when we start talking about topics like why and purpose. There's a lot of purpose obviously in there can't be too tough to find that when you're talking about saving lives and, making an impact. So that's a really awesome thing. Okay. The third question, as we round the basis. I know everybody's got to ask you this, but I'll do it to what stresses you out the most

Lori W: stresses me out the most is wondering, honestly how quickly companies will get it and decide to purchase stress iOS, so we can have the funding to to build out some of the new features we want. We have requests coming in to help schools with teens and children and to help with all of the stress that's going on at school and with the learning. And we have to be able to fund that. And so for us subscriptions, getting people using the platform means that we're able to do those philanthropic and those you know requested services for the communities and populations that really need them.

Joel Goldberg: Okay. And the last question, and it's more the big picture, long term. What are the long term goals for stress OS.

Lori W: long term goals for stress, alas, really have to do with helping companies and individuals, see the benefit of stress reduction that we're able to see those scores, reduce over time that we hear companies say gosh we're running better than ever. You know, we can tell there's been a change in our air and we see you know reports of personal life and work life being better for people. And there's also the long term goal of, you know, really building our community centers that are about kind of family therapy and equestrian therapy for those people who are at risk and those first responders and people who need an extra set of Care Services to help them deal with the intense stress that they've had in their life. And so that's really the long term goal is that the profits from stress. So let's go back into a foundation. That's all about caring for veterans families people with PTSD children with autism and all of the things that go with those extra it's felt

Joel Goldberg: It's fantastic. And I'll just throw one follow up in there because it's certainly relative to the times we're in right now, but like so many of us, you have to be bracing for so many of the after effects of this pandemic, we all can't wait till it's over, and it will pass at some point when I don't know. Good luck, figuring that one out. But there are going to be so many lasting effects from this. How much have you thought about that.

Lori W: Yeah, and you know, one of the things that you're starting to see a lot in research now and even some comments from the CDC is this shadow condition. And so what they're talking about is the stress that when people are living under is slowly creating its opening the door for other conditions to start to show up. So the shadow effective than 19 maybe that you didn't ever have that you because of the stress because of those situations, you're more susceptible to developing diabetes to developing a heart condition developing anxiety or depression because we're not dealing with the stress in a necessarily a healthy and productive way. And so we're because we don't see an end in sight, because many people have lost their supportive relationships because they don't have a water cooler at home and maybe relationships at home weren't aren't great. All of those things are driving our stress levels up and that that's that's going to open the door as our immune system, a stress goes up our immune system goes down. That's what opens the door for a lot of diseases onset. So we're going to see, you know, we're going to see a lot of shadow conditions emerged that are going to show up as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure, all this

Joel Goldberg: It affects everyone and, you know, the couple of reasons why I wanted to really have you on was one I love talking about entrepreneurial journeys and pivots. I think it's so interesting and fascinating, but too is, as I said at the start. This really truly applies to everyone. And I know that that you're going to be a tool that so many hopefully us and can use to be able to combat so much of what is it having so much of what we're dealing with right now the website stressed. Oh, s calm. If people want to find out more. Yeah.

Lori W: They can go there and find out. They can also subscribe themselves and they can subscribe their organization right there, straightforward. So stress OS.

Joel Goldberg: Commerce dress os.com slash subscribe and everything that you need will be right there. Lori Worthington is the CEO of stress OSS they've been added here for a few years now, and a lot more to come. Lori. Thanks so much for spending time on the podcast today. Yeah, thanks for laying around the bases with you. Appreciate it. All right. That is Lori Worthington a shout out to my sponsors Kansas City audio Visual case, the construction and enterprise Bank and Trust businesses often come to enterprise bank because they demand. And frankly, are worthy of boredom, the status quo and need a local partner who understands their business enterprise bank together. There is no stopping you. My name is Joel Goldberg. You can reach me at Joel Goldberg media.com and thanks for listening to rounding the bases, presented by enterprise Bank and Trust.

Rounding the Bases with Joel Goldberg Podcast was created to share the stories of men and women in business and entrepreneurship that are both well knowing and or hidden gems. Joel believes that everyone has a story and their story matters which is why Joel is eager to connect with individuals that are bringing value to their community through innovation, leadership, entrepreneurial journeys, and developing company culture. If you would like to be a guest on Joel's podcast please email us at joel@joelgoldbergmedia.com.

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