Your nervous system is your business's greatest superpower your nervous system is the key to future proofing your business. It is the key to higher profitability preventing burnout. It is the key to innovation and strategic thinking and the nervous system truly is the future of business.
Welcome to the managing made simple podcast where I bring a decade of experience working in some of the most influential companies in tech to help you navigate the ins and outs of being a people manager. From conflicts to feedback to delegating, and more. We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to what makes us love managing kind of hate it and everything in between. Doesn't matter if you're a new manager looking for some tips, or a seasoned manager looking at their game, everyone is welcome to hang out with managing made simple. Let's go
Welcome back to the show. And today I am so excited to have Laura Larios with me as my guest in our first interview show of the managing made simple podcast. Because Laura and I became really instant friends we have a lot in common with the work we do we both have a shared passion for building great teams, and for helping leaders in their work of building great teams so could not be more excited to have her here. So Laura Larios is the founder and CEO of a highly sought after consulting and coaching brand that delivers cutting edge nervous system fitness for top organizations, teams and founders. So today we are going to dig into what nervous system fitness is, and talk about all things how to use this to build great teams and how how really to support leaders and being their best. So Laura, welcome to the show.
Thanks so much for having me, Lia. Awesome. So I wanted to dig in with a question just to kind of get us started thinking about you know, for you in your own in your own journey in the workplace, as an entrepreneur and as a leader, what had a bigger impact on you, you know, the the best managers, the great ones that you worked with, or the worst, which one had a bigger impact, the best manager had the biggest impact on me. And, you know, I'll tell him just a brief story of what this looked like I was in the hospitality industry for a number of years while I was studying all the neuroscience of my work. And I was in the high end hospitality industry, which is a very high stress environments, there's usually a lot going on, there's a lot of pressure, you have got to make a lot of instant decisions very quickly. And in that industry to there's most nights something would go away, something would go a little bit off the plan. And, you know, I had a manager that I was working with at the time because I was in management. But there was someone above me and this individual was just so calm, like he was very attuned to what was going on. Like it wasn't like he was so calm. And he like almost seemed like he wasn't present, he was very present. He listened to what was going on. So when something was not going right for the evening, I would come to him and within seconds of just being in his presence, I could feel my own body and brain just like coming down from the stress. And that allowed me then to like be able to strategically problem solve with him in that moment to figure out okay, what is it we really need to do next. And it was just, I will always remember that experience, because it just has such a lasting impact on me in terms of someone that was in a very high stress environment, there was a lot going on, there was a lot of chaos. And yet, this individual was able to really be an anchoring place not only for myself, but all those that work there as well.
I love that story. Because I think all of us have been in the opposite situation where that energy someone comes with, it sets the tone in the other direction, and everybody feels so stressed. And so to really have that and to see what power that had as as a leader and in that in your own experience. It sounds like that really probably shaped a lot of the work that you do into and how you empower leaders. And so building on that you talk a lot about about the importance of nervous system fitness for decreasing anxiety and overwhelm. And I think for leaders right now, with all of the uncertainty and change, and layoffs and recession and everything going on. I mean, this is a time where stresses are high. And there's a lot of pressure on leaders and people are coming to leaders for answers. And we don't always know the answers. And so what do you see as the importance of this? And how do you connect the dots between nervous system fitness and preventing burnout?
Yeah, this is a really great question. And the one that I really focus on a lot with leaders specifically, like you said, right at this time, because we are dealing with a lot of uncertainty and a lot of change at the moment. And actually there was even a recent study that came out I believe, was just even last week, Bloomberg was it's talking about how burnout rates are even higher than they were mid pandemic. So this is very, it's definitely a time where people are struggling and leaders are needing as much support as possible. And so the nervous system is essentially your brain, your body's resiliency muscles. So when your nervous system is regulated, you are priming your brain for more innovative and strategic thinking and problem solving, which is obviously very essential right now in times of uncertainty and change. So with our brain, we can either only other be in a survival response or in our prefrontal cortex, which is our that aspect of strategic planning and problem solving. So we can't do, we can't be in both the brains either in one area or the other, essentially. So if you're in a lot of high stress survival mode, and the nervous system is dysregulated, you're not going to have as much access or to that part of the brain where you can be innovative, where you can problem solve, and be strategic. So my work with the nervous system that is helping your system to is helping your brain essentially prime your brain to be more in the prefrontal cortex. So you could have more access to that empathy and trust and compassion part of your brain and also the strategic aspect of your brain as well. And so the nervous system is really essential to preventing burnout and lowering costs associated with attrition from burnout and stress related productivity, loss and absenteeism. And the reason for this is because the more fit or regulated the nervous system, the more resilience you have to stress when it comes around, because we're still going to experience stress that the goal when I work with clients isn't like, Oh, we're gonna eliminate all this stress, the goal is to actually just make you more resilient. So when stress comes, you're able to bounce back quicker from the stress, you're not spending so much time in that survival part of your brain, so you can actually be able to use your energy more efficiently.
Wow. I love that. I mean, I think it's helpful to understand the physiology behind it that like you say, when, when we're in this one mode, we don't have access to, you know, to be more empathetic, I think we mentioned, you know, we're not maybe as trusting or we can't listen, we can't focus, we can't be curious. And, you know, these are really qualities that we need to show up with as leaders for our teams, we have to be able to create a sense of, you know, stability for them, even if we have unknowns. And so when you're in that survival mode, when you're in that state, you actually can't create that I think this is now calling for any, you know, leaders that are listening manager listening to say, hey, wait, I actually have to do something about this, because I'm not even able to show up how I want to let's talk about what do you do when you're finding yourself in this, like fight or flight mode?
Yeah, so that's a really great question. So I actually, first of all, just want to just briefly explain, like what are some signs of a dysregulated nervous system. And also, because when we're talking about the nervous system, or like when I'm talking about it's the autonomic nervous system means automatic. So this is what's in charge of your breathing, your temperature, your digestion, all the things that thankfully, we don't have to pay attention to. So signs of a dysregulated nervous system are aspects like you have difficulty delegating, you feel you must do everything yourself. So everything feels like it's on you. Maybe you're over preparing for meetings you are or maybe projects that you have for the company, you feel guilty for taking time off to rest, even if you're sick, like I've worked with leaders that even if they're not feeling well, they still feel guilty for taking that time away to rest, you feel an edge are overwhelmed, even though everything looks good on paper. So you know, money looks good, you know, you, you're doing well in your career, and yet, you still have this feeling like something is gonna go wrong, or the other shoe is gonna drop, you are self critical, you have a very harsh inner critic, generally, there's an aspect to feeling tired, but wired, so struggling with switching off. So maybe at night, you're coming home from work, or even you're logging off from the day at your home office. And yet you still can't stop thinking about, you know, emails or projects or colleagues, you know, it's just you if you're having a difficult time being present at home, you may experience thoughts, I see this a lot such as, What if I mess this up and get fired? I know right now with a lot of the, you know, the the layoffs have been happening. This thought train is like been happening I've been seeing a lot for my clients is like, what if I would find next like, what if I get fired, I must work harder than others to prove myself and or thoughts. Like, I can't even look at my emails, it's just too much like they have a huge inbox full of emails. And every time they go to try to open the inbox, they can only go through a couple without like, you know, feeling extremely overwhelmed. I must hurry and respond. I need to do everything right now. Or everything's gonna fall apart. It's those types of thoughts and feelings. And so And there's more, but well, and I think every everyone, right now just heard, like, seven or eight things are like, Oh, God, that's me. That's me. That's me. And I know, I think this is why I just fell in love with the work you're doing is because it is an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a corporate leader, an executive, we all are feeling these things. And this is something like you have tools that help us figure it out.
And so I think, you know, when when you go through that list, and I'm like, Oh, wow, this is something that given I have so many other things that you talked about, and I think all of us listening would agree that we really got to get a handle on if we want to be able to do those things. He said, like be creative, innovate, you know, make decisions operate under high stress that really we're all being called to do. And I imagine some of it creates a self fulfilling prophecy, if you if you don't deal with it, if you're not, then, you know, you put forth a sort of leadership style that people don't resonate with. And then they don't want to be on your team or, you know, you see higher attrition because of the way you're coming across. Yeah, 100%. And I also just want to say that if you did resonate with any of those things I just listed, it makes sense. It's a nervous system response, it has nothing that's wrong, quote, unquote, wrong with you. It is it various reasons for why your system maybe is operating from this mode, so to speak, but also to let you know that it can be shifted, it can be changed, your nervous system is malleable as is your brain. So even if there's certain aspects that list or maybe you always thought like, well, that's just me, or that's just my personality, why don't you just kind of take us zoom out a little bit more and maybe even think like, actually, maybe it's just how you're been wired? Right? It's like there's a aspect of how your brain and your nervous system has has operated up until this point, and nothing wrong. But it's like you said, Lea, it's not sustainable, though. It's not the MO we want our our nervous system operating on in long term, because it is going to lead to burnout. And it is going to lead to very highly costly things for your company will burnouts, one of them but also losing team members and things like that. Yeah, exactly. And so I think flipping that, you know, you're talking about revenue and profitability. And you know, how do you see the nervous system as the key to flipping this on his axis and having more profitability and revenue as a company?
Yeah, so I so understand the nervous system is key to generating more profit, because when your nervous system is resourced meaning and also regulated, you're you've intentionally built that resilience that you and your team have increased capacity now for creativity, like I mentioned, and problem solving, and also focus, so your brain becomes more primed and resourced to take the appropriate action in the marketplace, or take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace that present itself because you have the nervous system capacity and resiliency for it, we're in a time right now, where there's going to be consistent change, I think the days of kind of cruise controller are over essentially, because of all the technology and the I think the pandemic to just accelerate a lot of things, it halted something, but also accelerated some things for us. And so with that, then we really do need as much resiliency in our nervous system as possible right now, because there's going to be consistent change.
And so if you're able to bounce back quicker from stress, and you have an increased ability to respond to the changes in the marketplace, rather than just reacting, there's a lot of reactionary things versus proactive things, right? This is really going to set you up for really big success. And it's going to give you that competitive edge or, you know, over other other other organizations as well. Absolutely. And I mean, wellbeing is a topic on every company's mind right now, again, whether you're a small business or corporate or whatever industry you're in, we know that people are burning out, we know that people are really feeling a disconnect from their sense of purpose and meaning in their work they've had they've had maybe had time to second guess it, they're seeing layoffs, or they're changing their, you know, definition of company loyalty, we have a younger generation entering the workforce that has a different relationship with work. And so when we think about well being, we have to take this proactive approach that you're speaking to, and we need to be understanding, it's going to be part of really every conversation because we kind of people are stretched like we're not they're not gonna be able to operate at this state of depletion any longer.
100% Yeah, they and I think we're the data is showing it very clearly that we're that we're not able to continue at this pace any longer. And it's like I said, Yeah, can you were saying, Lea in the long run, it's actually going to cost us a lot more by not taking proactive action. Yeah. So one of the things that I love, you know, we always talk about are some of the tools that you've shared with leaders and with teams, because, again, with what's so exciting about your work is that there are things that you can do right away anytime, that are really fast to do that can kind of get you back into a regulated state. And so, folks, as you listen and follow along and try these things, that Laura is gonna walk us through a few exercises and tools because yeah, this is how you start switching back into that mode of unregulated state.
Yeah, so that's the thing. Thank you for saying that because a lot of the tools I believe they maybe your listeners have used in the past or even where were maybe recommended in the past had been things like meditation, or yoga, or maybe even you know, I don't know, journaling or mindset work and all these things are really great. There's if there's nothing wrong with it, in fact, they can be very impactful on one level however, when you're like let's say you're at your at your desk at the office, or you've just done a meeting, right and your system is getting in that survival mode, you need tools, right? In that moment, they can switch you, your brain from that survival thinking to more of that prefrontal cortex, problem solving, innovation, creativity, empathy part of your brain. And so all the tools that I give my clients are things like, like Lia was saying, Lia, that you were saying, Are you can do right at in the office and only take a few minutes. So you don't have to wait till the end of your day to you know, work on your nervous system with meditation, which also can be very, a lot more challenging for you, if you have more of that fight or flight mode type of nervous system, it's gonna be more challenging to do meditation. So some recommendations I give my clients for helping their nervous system move in their brain move out of that survival mode is to actually just, You can be seated at your desk, and you're just going to look straight ahead. So you're going to keep your head straight, and then you're just going to look all the way to your right, so your look peripherally. So you're going to take your eyes and just look to the right hand corner, and just sort of notice what's there and the right hand corner and keep them there for roughly 30 seconds.
And what you're looking for when you're doing this as a breath change, so maybe just naturally, you take a deeper breath, perhaps you notice more saliva in your mouth, perhaps you just notice, like your shoulders relaxing, if there's less tension in your jaw, or even your thoughts begin to slow a little bit, the thoughts may not stop, but they're the pace in which they're going seems to get maybe a little bit slower. And so this eye of movement, what it's doing is engaging your vagus nerve, which is this 10th cranial nerve in your it's located in the brainstem, that part of your survival mechanism of your brain, and it runs units all the way down to your throat, into your heart down into your belly and kind of just wanders out into the around your or your other internal organs. And then so you're gonna do this, you look to the right, and then you're gonna look all the way to the left. So after 30 seconds and look into the right, you're then gonna look 30 seconds to the left. And this is, like I said, sending a direct cue and a signal to your brainstem, that we're not in danger. And then that is helping them the nervous system to begin to come down from some of that, maybe anxiety or overwhelm or fight or flight and then triggering the part of the brain that we want more available to us, which is the prefrontal cortex, which is for that critical thinking and problem solving and innovation.
I love that. So next time you get a passive aggressive email, or Slack message, or before you start furiously typing reply, do this, because it's one minute, and you can completely change how you approach this. And I think this is something that's heightened right now reactivity, people are jumping in response to something we misunderstand what someone's tone was, because we're using a lot of written communication. And so using a tool like this, it can slow you down, it can let you be in the driver's seat of how you want to respond to something
100%. Yeah, it does put you back in the driver's seat. And I'll just mentioned another one, too, that's really great. It's called a tongue exercise. And you can use this same thing, when you're in meetings, when you're at your desk, when you're at home with your kids preparing dinner, and it's essentially what you're going to do is you're going to take the tip of your tongue and just place it behind your upper front teeth, and then you're going to flatten the rest of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, and you're going to hold it there for just a few seconds. And then you're going to release it. And you're gonna just do that a couple times, like a couple reps of that. And what you're doing is, so when you press the tongue to the roof of your mouth, it's fully it's calming cranial nerves there, the roof of your mouth. So when you're pressing your tongue up there, you're engaging those nerves. So it's like, if you're going 100 miles an hour in your car, you're just applying a little bit of brake. So the car maybe now is going 70 versus 100. So you're not slamming on the brakes, you're just, you know, slowing some of the acceleration there. And that is helping to then you know, cue to the system. Again, we're not in danger. And that part of the brain that we want more available to us, it comes back online. I love that. So now we have two exercises, to get us out of that state of, you know, automatic reactivity into really being in control. And so let's kind of turn up the heat. I mean, we talked about getting to a regulated state, I want to hear about how to apply this to peak performance, because I think that is something that is on executive mind, on leaders minds on entrepreneurs mind is, hey, I don't want to be like in a status quo. I want to be on fire. How do I get there?
Yeah, so this is a really yeah, a lot of the clients I work with actually, specifically in a one on one setting, this is generally what they're out, you know, they they desire is to really, you know, give themselves more of that edge or increase that peak performance. And so part of like the work that I do that with the nervous system, it's connected to what's called HRV, which is your heart rate variability. So one of the ways that we can kind of increase peak performance essentially is through working with your nervous system regulating it more so that it's not so much in there.
As always assessing something as a danger, like you're spending more time and this feeling of being regulated as feeling of being safe. And so when I work with an individual and their nervous system, I actually use some technology to help measure their HRV, which is your heart rate variability. And so contrary to popular belief, the whole a healthy heart beat does not beat like a metronome, it actually is consistently changing between beats in a rhythmic way. So these changes are driven again, by the nervous system consistently trying to find the most efficient way for the brain and body to operate. So when your body's having a hard time establishing equilibrium, your HRV is going to drop. So a lot of our auto peak performers and high performers, this is key, because for a lot of individuals I work with they're consistently trying to output all this energy, and they're not, they're not getting the proper recovery. And the recovery is is essential, then, for the system of the nervous system and your brain to really get that optimal and peak performance. On the days your body has established equilibrium, your HRV is going to rise, meaning you've recovered properly from the prior day's stress, then you're going to have more energy and more resources available to you, essentially the following day, and even the following weeks. And so you want HRV high because high levels of HRV are associated with resilience, well being health and performance. And this isn't to say that having a day where HRV drops is bad, it just means that your body needs more time to recover from the prior day's stress. So when we're talking about peak performance, you have to account for recovery time, and for a lot of individuals, because their nervous systems are very will be called the nervous system world in a hyper aroused state, meaning a very anxious sea or fight or flight state. This is why it's essential to work with the system so that it can properly come down from that state and not be consistently living there because the body can't recover. The brain can't recover. And when you can't recover, you can't get peak performance.
Yeah, we make so much sense like, and I think, especially over the last few years, going from a pandemic to which kind of never ending into a recession. It's like we're in this state and this state, heightened state, excuse me, where we're kind of having to just like figure out every day, what is normal? What do I have to do next, like another challenge has been thrown at us. And the recovery point, I think, just hammering that home, again, that our teams need this, that this is not something that is losing your edge. And I know you talk a lot about this, Laura, and it's not about not having a high standard on your team, it's not about not having a high standard for yourself. It's not about taking the foot off the gas on on productivity and results and outcomes. It's about understanding that less, you just said you have to recover, that you can only you know, Olympic athletes like everyone yet to get an ice bath and like take a minute to repair.
So I think really reminding ourselves that, you know, people can only go so long, even if they have sprinted a three year marathon. They are people are feeling it. And that's why people are, you know, great resignation, people are leaving. Without, you know, backup plans, people are leaving a lot of folks that have been laid off and these mass layoffs that have been happening, aren't looking for another job. They're actually stopping and they want to figure out, hey, what do I want to do? what environment do I want to be in? And so this is why this is so important to teams and companies is if if we don't get in control of this, ourselves as leaders, then we're not going to have the talent that we want.
100% And you might you probably you probably you mentioned something really key Leah too. And we kind of had this perfect storm of events that happened over the past several years. So in the past, and we knew we did have a recession right back in to the housing crisis like 2007 2008, there was there was some layoffs, you know, there was, you know, the housing market dropped, you know, on report, there was a lot of phone companies that got started and founded at that time. So, you know, but the thing was, was we just were dealing with that aspect of the economic piece, right? So, but we've never had this combination of a world pandemic. And now this economic peace, right. So for companies that are looking at this, too, is like, if you're trying to apply how whatever you did back in 2007, or 2008, when it was like a similar kind of economic time, it may not work now, because you have another variable here that needs to be considered, which is the pandemic. And like you were just saying the constant sort of unknown or the change fatigue that people are going through because there's been so much change in the past three years, like an unprecedented amount of change. So we do have to look at new cutting edge ways to support our teams at this time because a lot of the things that maybe took us out or supported them
Um, in these other economic, you know, times like this may not work in the same way now, or I don't, I really don't think that they would, because we have this other variable of the pandemic that we're also dealing with here. And we've never had a situation like this, where we had both at the same time and such in such a short amount of time. So there's really is unprecedented times, and it really is about also recognizing that, like you just said, it's not about like taking your foot completely off the gas or nothing's not getting done. It's about properly timing your efforts. That is the key. Yeah, absolutely. And that's what's so exciting about the work you're talking about is you can, you can actually measure the change it's had on yourself, and then in turn on your team. And so I think I think that's what's unique about this work, and especially exciting is, you know, getting a sense of that heart rate variability, you can, you can sort of chart your own progress, and you can understand, hey, what are the stressors that impact me? Am I getting in touch with those? Am I Am I really working through that, so that, you know, especially leading up to a situation, maybe you have to have some hard conversations at work, maybe you have to, you know, your your, your navigating some structural changes, whatever it looks like, you can know, how do I need to prepare as a leader to go into that situation?
Yeah, 100%, like, you know, having that quantifiable data there, which was great with the technology, we have now to be able to have that data and that information as to where's my nervous system today? You know, where's my HRV? And like, you know, working with that in a way based on the tasks that you have planned for that day, or that week or that month, right? And so again, working with your system versus against it, and really is really going to give you that competitive edge.
Yes. I love that. So what's something that you're working on that you're excited to share with our listeners?
Yeah, so several things. Actually, like I said, this is sort of like an interesting time right now being with all the changes that is going on, and the the company's embracing more of this cutting edge sort of technology of neuroscience and the nervous system. So I'm currently working with clients and companies in a couple of ways. One is I offer one on one nervous system, fitness coaching packages for top tier leaders. So those who are desiring again, that cutting edge approach to sustaining growth and long term success, these are individuals that are in your flow for the long game, and they really want to, you know, really have that edge around their peak performance. And then I also offer team and group nervous system coaching as well. And virtual workshop trainings on preventing burnout and building resilience to the power of the nervous system. So this work is really again, key around building that muscle of resilience, that change isn't going to stop. But we want to build the resilience within the body and the brain for all the change to so that we can still continue to access the parts of our brain where we can be innovative and strategic and take and take advantage of the marketplace opportunities that are available to us right now. So those are some of the ways I'm, I'm working with individuals and teams right now. And it's really exciting because I love both a one on one and the teamwork that I get to do and really get to see the the the changes that happen in people's brains and their ability to connect with one another and the in the way in which they're performing. I love it. And so how do people find you website or your where? Yeah, so they can find me on my website, Laura, Lisa larios.com, and also on LinkedIn,
Awesome, and I'll put that in the show notes. Before we go anything you want to leave our listeners with?
Yeah, I guess I would want to leave the listeners with as your nervous system is your business's greatest superpower, you know, we're always kind of looking for that that little bit of that edge that we can get. And the nervous system is that edge is the driver of your impact and higher profit. If that's what you desire, then that's what you need to be working with your nervous system, your nervous system was the key to future proofing your business. It is the key to higher profitability preventing burnout. It is the key to innovation and strategic thinking. And the nervous system truly is the future of business. And I've been saying that for quite some time. And it's just really exciting to see that. We're actually here now.
So awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing all your insights and tools that we can apply right away and everything you talked through today. It was awesome having you on the show.
That's all I have for today. Thank you so much for tuning in to the managing made simple podcast where my goal is to demystify the job of people management so that together we can make the workplace and where everyone can thrive. I always love to hear from you. So please reach out at Lia garvin.com or message me on LinkedIn.
See you next time.