Ian Shea has over 25 years of experience building businesses. He founded and started I M Human, a company that partners with organizations to design, develop and implement actionable and measurable cultural initiatives to support the emotional well-being of their employees. In celebration of the mental health awareness month, Ian talks about creating healthy work environments for businesses.

Failures and Detours Shape Your Journey

Starting out as an investment banker to working in tech companies until the tech market crashed in the early 2000s, Ian saw this as a necessary detour that helped him restructure his path. 

“And I was eventually promoted to running ReplayTV out of that and sold it to DirecTV. So, back to kind of my original goal was to learn the plumbing, if you will, of the business. Or if you think of your little learnings as a clock, I was able to go around the whole clock, and get some proficiency.”

Mentors and Formal Education are Equally Important

When you’re running a company, it’s equally important to have holistic training. Ian emphasized how his mentors guided him and helped him learn valuable skill sets he used in different areas of his life.    

“I had some great guidance along the way. I had some great mentors, and all along the way, mentors would drop me into particular positions because they said if you want to go where you say you want to go, this is all valuable skill sets. You don’t have to be an expert in all these areas, but you need to know just enough, right?”

The learning he got from Haas enabled and opened him to the importance of empathy and being emotionally well as a leader.

“And so, how the idea came about was through, I guess, a variety of pathways. At Haas, for sure, what Haas really enabled me to appreciate were some of the more emotional sides of leadership and running a business.”

Overall Health is True Wealth

Being healthy isn’t just physical. Today, emotional and mental health is equally important. But, before discussions about emotional health in the workplace were commonplace, only a few businesses have programs in place to address these needs. Realizing the need for emotional support in the corporate set-up, Ian realized that this non-traditional and unconventional model will benefit many employees.

“ It took many years for me to get my own voice in it to understand, and ultimately, to get confidence that, after a traditional background that I had business-wise, I could actually be just as successful and ‘non-traditional’. What looks very traditional now was not 10 years ago. You’re trying to build a business around emotional and well-being was not something that was mainstream nor is talking about mental health as it relates to business. None of that was in the dialogue. And so, the benefits of that was that really forced me to come up with my own word, because if you were to read an article and you have an idea similar to that, that validates you and you can take snippets of that to make you sound better.”

Ian credits his success to his family’s support and knew that a supportive community was going to be part of the framework of his work.

“But if there’s nothing of that there, you really have to hone in. And I had a lot of support in that hone in. I had support from my family and my friends. I’ll never forget this. I was building this, I didn’t have any clue what I was doing, but I knew inside where I was going.

And so, people would say, ‘How are you doing? What are you doing?’ I couldn’t really articulate it in a confident way, which doesn’t make your loved ones feel that confident in what you’re doing. But they still supported me throughout.”

Building Communities for Life Moments

Ian together with his team at I M Human fosters human connections that turn Life Moments™ into opportunities for growth. They work with companies on initiatives that support the mental and emotional well-being needs of their employees.  Their goal? Create places and safe spaces that allow people to connect in their most vulnerable and authentic form—as humans. These safe spaces allow them to build trust between leaders and colleagues. 

“We are a trusted advisor for organizations that are at a point where they want to grow their culture to be more supportive of the mental, emotional, and spiritual being their employees. And what that entails is it really boils down to culture transformation and culture growth.”

Ready to learn more about Ian’s work? Listen to the full episode here.