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My passion for connection and relationships was forged during my childhood by the losses I suffered—particularly my father’s suicide. The isolation and loneliness I felt at the time were debilitating, but through these experiences I came to realize just how profoundly I needed trusting relationships in my life. By cultivating these connections and through a willingness to be completely vulnerable and open, I was finally able to heal, moving beyond my pain to a place of profound gratitude, happiness, and service to others.

Today, with nearly a decade of clinical experience as a psychologist and grief specialist behind me, and through my own journey of growth and transformation, I have gained an intimate understanding of what it takes to create environments that engender trust, honesty, vulnerability, and courage, while encouraging change, growth, and learning—all things that are absolutely fundamental to success in our lives both at home, and—as a wealth of new research shows—at work.

I talk to companies about the value of recognizing, accepting, and encouraging humanness in the workplace; the science of social connection and its importance as a fundamental prerequisite for individual performance; and how culture has the power to make or break a company.

Over the years I’ve appeared as keynote speaker at both national and international conferences, I’ve been a frequent media contributor both in print and on television, and I’ve given lectures to multimillion-dollar corporations around the country.

Talks I’m currently taking bookings for:

Social Connection

The foundation of a high-performance culture

What does every single company have in common, no matter the industry, scale, geography or maturity?

People.

But with businesses typically preferring terms like ‘headcount’, ‘resources’, or ‘talent’, it’s easy to forget that a company’s employees are in fact human beings. Individuals with unique thoughts, beliefs, emotions, personalities, perceptions, desires, and fears. 

This humanness we all share is central to everything we do, driving the decisions we make and informing how we tackle the many challenges a demanding job might throw at us. Most businesses fail to recognize this simple, foundational truth, but those that do—those who understand that humans are biologically wired for connection—are able to use this knowledge to cultivate high-performance cultures based on social connection and trusting relationships.

As a result, they are able to leverage what may just be the single greatest competitive advantage any company can hope to gain: engaged, motivated, and loyal employees ready to give their all for the cause.

Social Connection – The Foundation of a High-Performance Culture, explores the myriad ways in which an understanding of what drives us as human beings can be used in the workplace to increase performance, innovation, and ultimately, profitability.

I offer valuable insight into the science of employee performance, utilizing socio-psychological principles and cutting-edge research to shed new light on the connection between high-trust cultures and highly-engaged, productive staff who are less stressed, more energized, and more loyal.

This talk will explore:

  • Our innate need for connection

  • The impact of oxytocin-rich environments on performance

  • How humanness, vulnerability, and trust are powerful motivators.

  • The power of leadership in inspiring change

  • Three actionable ways to deepen trust and connection while driving performance


Social Pain

Our Greatest Gift

Every single one of us will experience social pain in one form or another in our lives. But while undeniably unpleasant, this pain is both vitally important and incredibly powerful. 

We humans are hardwired for social pain because it motivates us to maintain social connections. Without this built-in vulnerability, we wouldn’t need other people at all. We wouldn’t build relationships, and without relationships we wouldn’t have the means to collaborate or to grow and learn from the experiences of those around us.

Just as physical pain protects us from harm—bumps, bruises, and burns—social pain protects us from the long-term emotional and developmental damage that comes about when we are isolated, cut off from social connection and trusting relationships. 

I know first hand the pain of loneliness having lost my father to suicide, endured my parents’ divorce, and suffered through postpartum depression.

Growing up, I learned how to hide my pain—I simply hadn’t been given the tools to confront it. Instead, by 12 years of age I began to bury my feelings beneath a crushing perfectionism and obsessive work ethic. On the one hand, my drive has brought me incredible success. But on the other, it lead to deep loneliness, isolation, and disappointment in my life.

My experience of pain and my willingness to take ownership of it and share my story openly is what gave me a deep sense of connection and belonging in my life. It’s what made me the leader I am today. Hiding didn’t work.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to do the hard things in our lives if we truly want to show up for others. When we leverage the fact that we all experience pain, even leaders, then we can truly connect—can truly embrace and own this topic that nobody talks about—and use it as a trust-builder, connector, and powerful tool capable of moving our companies forward.

Social Pain – Our Greatest Gift explores how recognizing and addressing social pain can help us to deepen trust, connection, and belonging both in our personal lives and by extension in the workplace to boost engagement, loyalty, and motivation.

This talk will:

  • Explore how our brains are built for pain

  • Demonstrate how social pain is a motivator for connection

  • Reveal how connecting over pain is a key driver of trust and connection

  • Show how social pain can be harnessed to drive engagement and performance

  • Outline three actionable ways leaders can cultivate safe environments in which their people can be human and vulnerable