Lisa Smith

This past year or so has been tough for each and every one of us. And the quarantine has surely taken a toll on our lives. Some people have been able to leverage this time and space, but many others haven’t, and as a result, their mental health has been affected. Stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness. These are some of the feelings being experienced.

Whether you are one of those people or not, you have been affected in some way.  So I’d like to invite you to join us on this new episode of The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast. Today, it’s my absolute pleasure to be coaching the talented award winner Lisa Smith, President and CEO of The Staff Room, a specialized Human Resources Management (HRM) consulting firm focused on helping those in search of human resource consulting, staffing, and/or career coaching.

In this episode, Lisa and I talk about the issues the pandemic has brought about to people’s personal lives, how it has been affecting everyone’s mental health, and, as I come up with the best advice for this, I reveal our new big secret at Frame of Mind Coaching™!

Tune in to discover what it is!

Have you been experiencing an impact on your mental health during this time? Or is something else causing trouble? Share your story! If there's a challenge you'd like to discuss here on the podcast or privately, please reach out to me at:

Episode Transcript

Kim Ades: [00:00:05]
Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades. I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching, and you have just joined the Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, where we invite leaders from all over the world to join us on the podcast to get coached live and in-person.
Today it's my pleasure to introduce to you my guest. Her name is Lisa Smith and she is the CEO of a company called The Staff Room. I love that name.

Lisa, welcome.

Lisa Smith: [00:00:30]
Thank you. I'm happy to be here.

Kim Ades: [00:00:33]
So what is The Staff Room? Explain it to us.

Lisa Smith: [00:00:36]
So, The Staff Room is something that I founded 21 years ago now. Good Lord, I just aged myself, sorry. We are a Human Resources Management Consulting firm that also helps with COVID, as well as some HR Law. We deal with a lot of lawyers, so we're able to help and connect and it's something where we're quite proud of.

We're also multiple award winners. So, we're nominated again, which we're proud of. And yeah!

Kim Ades: [00:01:05]
Okay, so award winning. Who's giving you the awards? I want an award too.

Lisa Smith: [00:01:12]
There's different awards. Ajax Pickering, Board of Trade. We won an award there. We were Top 5 across Canada, with

Kim Ades: [00:01:22]

Lisa Smith: [00:01:23]
...we were nominated. And I've been in magazines as Rising Star of the Year.

Kim Ades: [00:01:28]

Lisa Smith: [00:01:29]
I was also given an award by the MP-- at the time she was the MP or the MPP, I'm sure I've messed that up, but she's given me the award of Leading Girls Leading Women (Leading Women Leading Girls Award), which was a complete honor, a complete shock. I have to say, I was just in awe. Also nominated as Business Person of the Year for the city of Pickering.

Kim Ades: [00:01:54]

Lisa Smith: [00:01:55]
There's a list where we've been nominated. It's a shorter list of actual awards, but at least we've been nominated for very, very nice awards, global awards as well. So we're recognized around the world, which is nice to hear.

Kim Ades: [00:02:09]
That's fantastic. Congratulations on all that success. So tell me a little bit about who's your clients. So when you say "we provide HR services", who's asking you for help?

Lisa Smith: [00:02:23]
Shorter list on who's not asking us for help.

Kim Ades: [00:02:26]

Lisa Smith: [00:02:27]
You know, when you've got the large corporations, they have their own team of successful HR people. So they're not really asking so much our help. They're asking a little bit of, you know, as colleagues, but they're also help-- they're asking for help for recruitment because they're busy doing their, their other things.

The other clients that we really focus on is the entrepreneurs, the small to medium. Those are the ones that really need our help because it's how do I get started as a business? What do I need to be a successful business? And everybody knows the successful business has a great HR.

Kim Ades: [00:03:04]
Right. And is it mostly Canadian companies who are working with you or is it across the board? Okay.

Lisa Smith: [00:03:09]
No, it's mostly Canadian. We do have the odd calls and emails from abroad. And what we will do is ask them, you know, what is it they're looking for and where are they looking for? Because if they're trying to put a business here in Canada, we're able to help them with some of the logistics for here.

If it's abroad, we can't really help them, but what we will do is we'll say, you know, "we have heard of XYZ company and we recommend them".

Kim Ades: [00:03:34]
Okay. So what's the size of your company? Like, it sounds like you've been doing this for awhile. You're quite sizeable. Give us a sense for that.

Lisa Smith: [00:03:43]
Actually, we're not as big as what you would think. Now, when we did have birck-and-mortar. Yes, we did have-- we had up to 15 employees. Since then-- And we did do-- another achievement mentioned is we were the heads recruiting for the NBA All-Star games when it was here in Toronto. So we had 300 people at one point. But since then, after brick-and-mortar, we got rid of it.

We do contract people, so, we don't have technically people on payroll. Having said that, we've got five people that we actually have that are consistent full-time. And then when we need more, we have other people that we have that are part-time that come on board.

Kim Ades: [00:04:24]
So you have a bench.

Lisa Smith: [00:04:26]
Pardon me?

Kim Ades: [00:04:27]
You have a bench.

Lisa Smith: [00:04:29]

Kim Ades: [00:04:29]
Like, people you pull in for different projects. Got it.

Lisa Smith: [00:04:32]
Oh yeah. Lawyers included. So that's why we can help with HR Law more so. As much we're mandated as HR professionals, when we reach out to particularly lawyers, absolutely. We're able to say, "okay, well, this is what our client needs", and we get suggestions and advice from an actual lawyer. So it's-- we're very rare.

Kim Ades: [00:04:52]
That's very interesting. I might be needing your services down the road. We're working on this very interesting secret project that might need a little few HR/legal eyes. So I might come back to you.

All right. So tell me, what is your biggest challenge right now? Tell us about that.

Lisa Smith: [00:05:13]
Oof... COVID. Let's be very blunt.

Kim Ades: [00:05:18]

Lisa Smith: [00:05:19]
COVID is forever changing, you know, you've got new variances, you've got people with mental health issues and then add COVID on top of it. You know, it's-- now it's COVID. "I'm in lockdown. I can't see my friends and family. I can't feel them touch them, smell them. How do I deal with this?"

I have employees that are just, you know, they're not used to working from home or we have to lay them off. And people are having a hard time now. So we're getting a lot more... ask, I guess you could say. I don't want to say, you know, issues because I don't think that's the proper word. But we are getting a lot of ask for help and you know, myself included.

I'm going to say, I'm going to be very honest and I'm an open book. I find sometimes it's very difficult. I can't see my family. I have two sisters. You know, it's difficult when it's like, you're used to being able to go and have dinner with somebody or, you know, go see dad or whatever, and they're not there.

So it's almost like dealing with a death in a certain way. It's very troublesome when you can't touch, feel, smell them. And that's what you're used to. And, you know, people that have a mental issue, it's having a huge impact on them. And we're hearing that, you know, they reach out for the help and they kind of get a slap on the hand.

It's like, "oh, well the help is there", and then you reach out for it, and it's like, "well, no, it's not. Now you go six month waiting list". Six months. I mean anything can happen in six months.
Kim Ades: [00:06:44] What kind of help are you trying to access?

Lisa Smith: [00:06:47]
So, we know that there is some help in the respect of counseling and, you know, you can speak to somebody, you can text with somebody, all of that. But there's a waiting list. And that's where the problem is. How do people deal with their issues when they're told "yes, we can help you". And regardless if it's KMH or just an individual, we have a waiting list. And that waiting list is pretty long.

I've even contacted the Psychiatrists' Association and they'll do an assessment. And then they'll tell you it's still a minimum four month waiting list minimum. Now somebody with a disability such as mental illness, and then add COVID on top of it, it's like... I'm not a psychologist, so I can't help you. I can give you the information that we have. But even myself, when I sit there and say, okay, well, I'd love to talk to somebody about this.

How do we really get a grip on... now we're working from home, for the most part, can't go to an office because, you know, the zones are locked down. You're in the gray zone, you're in the red zone, whatever zone you're in... You know, in Ontario, we've got those wonderful colors. So, how do we get around this?

Like, we're used to having face-to-face meetings. I would be in a room with you.

Kim Ades: [00:08:06]

Lisa Smith: [00:08:06]
Now I can't do that. Now I can have a video with you, but at the same time, it's like... you know, I usually tell people, try and get up in the morning, and it's something I try for myself, get up in the morning, do your normal routine that you would pretend you're going out the door, put your keys in hand. And if you need to go out to your vehicle, start your vehicle, sit in it for a few minutes and come back in.

I know that's something that I've done and it's helped a little bit, but when it's ongoing this long, it's been almost two years.

Kim Ades: [00:08:38]
Yeah. It's interesting what you're telling me, because there's lots of things that come to my mind as you're describing this problem. And so, let me just kind of begin. I'll touch more. Is this-- are these clients who are saying, "Hey, I need help and I don't know where to turn"? Or is this a personal matter?

Lisa Smith: [00:08:54]
Both actually. It's scenarios that I'm giving that, you know, we have clients with employees that have issues and it's like, okay, well, do you have a program that maybe they can turn to somebody?

For myself, being self-employed, we don't have  that luxury of having that assistance. So it's something where when I need to reach out to somebody, I have to reach out to an individual. And, you know, whether it's a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist or whatever the case may be.
A psychiatrist, to me, I find that they like to, you know, "take a pill". No, thank you. I'm good. A psychotherapist I'm finding, and I do speak to one from time to time, but I can't really book her because she's booked. So--

Kim Ades: [00:09:39]
Okay. So, I will say this. Okay. So I'm going to say a few things. One is from my personal experience. I have a big family and they're not-- you know, we can't see them, touch them, have them in the house, all that stuff either. And so one of the things that we do, that's extremely helpful is we have a... let's call it a ritual.

It's the Friday night ritual where every Friday night we meet on Zoom. Everybody in the family, we show up and we have our meal together and we know we can count on that. So when we start to create rituals, that helps. Does it solve the problem? No, but it helps.

Now what I want to say also is that, what it sounds like is, you know, when someone has a mental health issue, what do they really need? Do they need therapy? Maybe. Right? Some people do. I don't want to discount that. But it sounds like the biggest absence is connection. The biggest absence is connection.

And so I want to share with you how we coach, and I want to... The big secret that I was keeping, I might share it just because it's so relevant right now.

Okay, so, when we coach people, right? So for example, if I were coaching you, we would start off with a 10 week coaching period. We would have a call every week. I would record the call so that you could hear it. But, in addition to that, you would be journaling with me every single day.

So at the beginning of the week, I would give you a journaling question or a prompt, and you would start journaling. And every time you journal, I would read and respond to your journal. Now, I have a team of coaches, so it might be me, or it might be somebody else on the team depending who you're assigned to.

But you're in this journey with that person every single day. Even on the weekends, there are no days off. Sometimes, in my experience, I'll have a client who journals three times a day and we're still there responding.

And so that presence of somebody who's hearing you, catching you, kind of holding you in your moment when you're feeling stressed, anxious, whatever it is that you're feeling is extremely helpful.

Lisa Smith: [00:11:47]
I like that. So you've got a team, which is good. So my question is how many are on your team?

Kim Ades: [00:11:52]
So, I have a team of 10, but you are assigned one coach to one person.

Lisa Smith: [00:11:57]

Kim Ades: [00:11:57]
Right? So it's an individual, you're having a one-on-one relationship with somebody and they know all about you. Right? So you're-- right? It's not like... it's a one-on-one experience.

Lisa Smith: [00:12:09]
Oh, perfect. I love it. And the fact that you're able to do that. So, my thought process, and correct me if I'm wrong... So, are you using Google docs then, so you can see?

Kim Ades: [00:12:19]
No, no, no, no.

Lisa Smith: [00:12:20]

Kim Ades: [00:12:20]
We don't use Google docs. We use a private and secure online journaling platform that we created. We call it Journal Engine, but it's our proprietary software that's very secure because it's your journal and it's very... you know, it's private.

Lisa Smith: [00:12:36]

Kim Ades: [00:12:36]
So... Go ahead.

Lisa Smith: [00:12:40]
I was going to say, as somebody that has a journal, I've always journaled, even when I was younger, it's something where, you know, to be able to write... so that's... I think that's better than this texting thing that they've got going on in.

And I know somebody that says, you know, like, they want to be able to, and here's something that we've heard. They want to be able to see the person, but they want to be able to be in person with them.

So here's a challenge that we have. And it's like, I don't know where to direct you. Because they want to be able to speak to somebody in person, but they can't do that, obviously, right now. So this journaling, to me, would be perfect for them.

Kim Ades: [00:13:18]
Right. So it's the combination, right? Called and journaling. So now that's our, let's call it our premiums service. Right?

Lisa Smith: [00:13:27]

Kim Ades: [00:13:27]
But then the next level down is that we have groups that we work with. So now you have a coaching call with a coach and let's say, you know, anywhere from five to ten people in a group.

Lisa Smith: [00:13:42]

Kim Ades: [00:13:42]
And now you're also journaling with your coach and the rest of the people in the group. So the rest of the people in the group can connect with you, read and respond to your journals. Should you choose to share it with them? So that's another area of connection, point of connection.

And I-- honestly, I feel like a lot of what's missing right now is that connection. That feeling of being heard, a feeling of being cared for, that feeling of being seen. And sometimes we're looking for visual being seen, but really we want to just be seen as a person, as a human. "Here's what's going on with me, please give me your time and attention".

Lisa Smith: [00:14:18]
I agree.

Kim Ades: [00:14:19]
So we have a group format. Now the big secret we're revealing, hopefully in September, is something we are calling The Journal That Talks Back. It's not launched yet, we're working on it right now. And this is for young professionals who maybe cannot afford coaching, but who really need someone to talk to. Right?

So, they have a lot going on, maybe a new job. Maybe they're not sure about their relationship. Maybe, you know, they feel stress, anxiety, whatever it is that they feel. And this gives them the opportunity to talk to someone who has been certified in the Frame of Mind Coaching Method, who's equipped to read and respond to journals.

And so, what we have is a situation where the person can journal as much as they want. Every day, multiple times a day. And they will be assigned a responder who will be reading and responding to their journal on a daily basis.

So, it doesn't answer your question immediately, as far as that goes, but I really believe the issue "yes, we want to see people, we want to hug people", but really the issue is connecting with people. And can that happen... you know, when we're not, face-to-face? Absolutely.

So, I'm kind of throwing some ideas at you and in the absence of this piece of software that's getting ready to launch in September, right? So maybe there are other bench members you could tap into that could help you with this service you're looking for.

Lisa Smith: [00:15:51]
I love it. I am thrilled that this is available because there's so many people out there, like I said, they reach out and they get their hand slapped for whatever reason. It's, you know, this wait long, you know, month, month, month, month, month.

It seems to... what we're seeing when we're working with employees is it's deteriorating them and it's like, where can I turn to? They have THIS to turn to now, which is fabulous. Thank you for that! That's great! I mean, kudos to you.

Kim Ades: [00:16:26]
Yeah, well, we've recognized that there is a huge need. There's a huge need and you're 100% right. Therapy is not for everyone. It's complicated. It's inaccessible both from a price standpoint and just from a... it's hard to get the service.

Lisa Smith: [00:16:41]
That's right.

Kim Ades: [00:16:42]
So we recognized that there's a need for something very unique. Right? That doesn't necessarily fall under the therapy category, but falls a little more in the coaching category, right?

Lisa Smith: [00:16:57]
I love it.

Kim Ades: [00:16:57]
People need someone to connect with, someone who gets them, someone who gives them the time and the attention and who has the experience and the ability to read and respond appropriately.

Lisa Smith: [00:17:09]
I love it. And you know? What I've always said that the most successful people have a coach and a coach has a coach and a coach has a coach, has a coach. And it's down the line because, I mean, that's a service that we have done in the past. It's not our niche, so we've cut it out.

And I'm really glad to hear that there's people like you that are coming out with these different ways in order to connect, especially in a pandemic. Hats off to you. And I can just imagine this wonderful app that you're going to launch. And I would love to be able to see this, even if it's in beta form. I think that's great. Phenomenal.

Kim Ades: [00:17:48]
Well, we're working on it right now. And you know what we'll do is we'll talk after this is over, this podcast is over and we'll connect you with the right people to see what it looks like.

Lisa Smith: [00:17:59]
Awesome. In the meantime, let me ask you this. I'm going to flip it around on you here. So when I have clients that have these employees that feel that there's nowhere to turn to, I'm able to actually say "here's a service that we now connected with, and Kim and her team would be more than happy to connect" and they would be able to get service of at least speaking to somebody almost immediately, is that correct?

Kim Ades: [00:18:25]
Absolutely. So, you know, what we will do, in this case, is we'll have an orientation call and then see if for the moment, if a group coaching experience is the right fit for them. And you know, like, as soon as this other product is available, I'll be able to go right into that immediately. Like, we're just waiting for the technology to catch up with our ideas.

Lisa Smith: [00:18:48]
Perfect! I love it. I can't say enough on how, even for myself, as much as I speak to somebody, there's the times when I'm not having an appointment and I might need to do something. Do I journal? I haven't even thought of that. Never even thought of journaling, to be quite honest. So, great idea. Thank you.

Kim Ades: [00:19:05]
And what journaling does is it allows you to express yourself, like, put out what's going on inside of you and, like, literally lay it down. When you have someone on the other end, who's catching that, who's reading and responding, it's all that more powerful and more effective at releasing some of the stress and the tension that you're feeling.

It's a very, very powerful and underutilized tool. And a lot of people point to meditation, like, "go meditate", but we weren't born knowing how to meditate, right? Like, nobody taught us how to meditate. It's not something that comes naturally to us. And also when we meditate, what we do is we calm ourselves down, but whatever's inside, doesn't really go away. Right?

Lisa Smith: [00:19:46]
That's true.

Kim Ades: [00:19:47]
It's not released. And so this is a different concept where you're putting it down. You're literally taking it out and writing it down and separating yourself from it. And, you know, we grew up learning how to read and write. And so it's a lot more natural for us to actually journal. And now that we're texting all the time, it's really a very natural experience.

Lisa Smith: [00:20:09] I love it. You know, I do journal, like I said, but I never thought, you know, in a work day and I'm like... you know, and you kind of get that moment where it's like, you know, what can I do? Who can I help? You know, or, you know, something might be said to me, that kind of puts me on a different scale.

And it's like, I'll go for a walk, but, you know, sometimes I think journaling would be a great way to release it. Because going for a walk, yes, it gets me some fresh air, but it doesn't release what's bottled up inside. And I'm a firm believer that when you keep things bottled up, you are going to explode and it's not going to be a good explosion. So...

Kim Ades: [00:20:47]
Well, that's exactly it. Like, so you want to release it, but then also you want someone to say, "Hey, you know, let's look at this thing". Right? "And let's look at what just happened. Let's look at your interpretation of what happened. Let's look at your goals and let's realign you to get back on your track quickly".

Lisa Smith: [00:21:07]
I love it. And it's something where, you know, definitely we're going to talk of off this podcast because I can hear so many opportunities for people and I can hear so many-- and I'm sitting here and I'm thinking "that might work for so-and-so. And I'm thinking about this person. And what about that company?" And it's just--

Again-- Obviously, I... It's not very often that I'm at a loss for words. I'm at a loss for words. I'm very surprised.

Kim Ades: [00:21:34]
Amazing! Well--

Lisa Smith: [00:21:37]
Believe it or not, I'll tell you: I'm not one that's lost for words, and right now it's like, I'm in awe. Thank you for that. I really have to say thank you.

Kim Ades: [00:21:45]
I have to say also that I don't think you're alone in this journey. Like, I think a lot of people are facing a point in their lives, especially right now, where they've had enough. Right? And it is mounting, right? It's mounting and there's no place to put it.

And so, you know, journaling, our coaching services, everything that we're trying to do is really designed to provide people with a place to put it. That's it.

Lisa Smith: [00:22:16]
I love it. I mean, again, it's something where it is very needed. You're very right on that one. It-- you know, this is not going away anytime soon. It is only building up. People are getting angry and they're lashing out, inappropriately. You know, and... you know, who's the next target? Who's the next victim? I mean, it's...

Kim Ades: [00:22:41]

Lisa Smith: [00:22:42]
It's releasing things from people in such an inappropriate way that I think that, yes, I have to agree when you're releasing it, journaling it. You know, it's the same as I was also taught many, many moons ago, you know, if you really wanted to release something, write it out and then burn it.

Kim Ades: [00:22:59] Right.

It's a way to-- it's a way to release. Now, if I was to write something and somebody wrote back, I'd be like, "somebody is listening to me. I'm not even speaking to them, but somebody is listening" and then like, "oh, they want to know more. Well, that's odd".

Lisa Smith: [00:23:15]
I mean, normally, when you speak to somebody about an issue, they're like "an issue. Oh yeah. Okay. Yeah. Tell me about it..." But they have no interest. I mean, let's face it.

Kim Ades: [00:23:23]
There's no interest, but there's no skillset in knowing what to do with it. And really it's not that they lack interest, they lack training.  They lack the readiness or the understanding of, "Hey, somebody is throwing something hard, heavy at me. What do I do with it?" Right?

And so what we're doing is we're saying we have a team of people who are trained or certified, who are equipped. So that's the concept there.

Lisa Smith: [00:23:50]
And that's exactly what is needed. And I, again, I can't stress, you know, how many companies that we have heard from where we don't understand the performance, that they're a great employee working from home, wasn't too bad. We understand they have to get used to it. It's kind of the norm now.

But why is their performance down? You know, why are we not getting the quality that we would normally get when they're in an office?

Kim Ades: [00:24:17]
People are a little disengaged, they're a little depressed. We understand. Yeah.

Lisa Smith: [00:24:21]
Yeah. Absolutely.

Kim Ades: [00:24:22]
We need to reignite their passion. We get it. I understand.

Lisa Smith: [00:24:26]
Perfect. It's absolutely something great.

Kim Ades: [00:24:29]
Lisa, I want to say one more thing. Where do people find you if they need HR services?

Lisa Smith: [00:24:34]
They can find us on the web. or they can give us a call at the office. We're not in it, but (289) 842-7181 and they can talk to whoever's available.

Kim Ades: [00:24:48]
Amazing. Thank you so much for being on this podcast. Usually we're talking about you, this time. I got to talk about me. Thank you.

Lisa Smith: [00:24:56]
You're very welcome. It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Kim Ades: [00:25:00]
Thank you.

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