Mental Health in the Work Place with Kim Lamontagne

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This is a podcast episode titled, Mental Health in the Work Place with Kim Lamontagne. The summary for this episode is: <p>Today's show is focused around mental health. Kim Lamontagne joins Rebecca to share her journey through sobriety. Her story is an inspiring reminder that it's okay to be vulnerable, and open to talking about your own mental health. It's also a reminder to check in on those around you. Tune in now and this episode will have you reflecting on how you can open up these conversations.</p>
Kim's Story Before Getting Sober
01:23 MIN
We Need Connection
00:34 MIN
How Kim Developed the Courage to Open Up and Share
01:46 MIN
Being Brave and Vulnerable Enough
00:20 MIN
The Power of Language
02:00 MIN

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Hello. This is Rebecca Fleetwood Hession, host of the Badass Women's Council podcast. I'm super glad that you are here. Hey, before we get into today's episode, I want you to know something. If you go to badasswomenscouncil. com you can shop there for T- shirts, tanks, tumblers, journals, all the things that are amazing that have Bad Ass Women's Council. So, you should do that. Now for today's episode, Kim Lamontagne is here with us today to tell her story about mental health in the workplace, and she's literally going to tell her personal story which is full of all of the intrigue of being a human. Here we go.( singing) Hey, Kim, how's it going?

Kim Lamontagne: Going great. How are you? Thanks so much for having me.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah, you bet. So, one of my favorite things in life is connections. God put me on this earth to connect people and things. And so people know that about me, and oftentimes when they meet somebody amazing, they will say, " Oh, my gosh, Rebecca, you have to meet so and so," because they just know one, I love connections and know that I'll find a way that I can get these people connected in beautiful ways, and that's what happened with us. So, you were doing a conference with our friends at Gibson Insurance who shout- out Gibson, has been a loyal sponsor of so much of my business. I just have love and admiration for Courtney Simpkiss, and Tim Leman, and Becky Beckman, and all the great people there. So, they had you on speaking and all of them said, " You have got the meet, Kim." So, welcome to the show.

Kim Lamontagne: Thank you. Thank you so much. And like you, I'm a natural connector too, and people say that to me all the time. They hear my story or someone else's story and say, " Oh, my gosh, you need to need so and so. Your story resonates with so and so." And it always turns out to be a great connection, a great conversation. So, I am thankful to have been introduced to you through the Gibson Insurance Group.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yes, absolutely. And the connection that was really intentional for them to introduce us was I host a seven- month experience called Rise and Thrive, which culminates into a big event called Stand Tall in your Story, and Gibson is a huge sponsor of that, and in that event, on April 20th, one of the participants of the program, Chris Mills, talked about mental health as part of the business conversation. And she's a stellar HR executive, and she was talking about her own personal story, which tied this together for you and your personal story where you have taken what was a really challenging time in your life in business and turned it into a really big part of helping others steward addiction in the workplace, and similarly, important things that are happening for all of us, especially now. Tell us a little bit about that and your story.

Kim Lamontagne: Yes. My story it's interesting because I always thought that my story was just it was different from everyone else's and it was not the story that I was very proud of, but I am basically a high- performing corporate executive who for many, many years suffered in complete silence behind my mask of high- performance while living with major depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and alcohol misuse. And I've been 12 years sober now. I got sober on July 16th, 2009. The stars aligned for me that day and I was able to find my way to the most kind and compassionate, non- judgmental nurse practitioner who reminded me that I'm a person living with manageable diseases, and he promised me, he looked me right in the eyes that day and said, " Kim, I'm going to help you and we're going to do this together." But prior to getting to that point, I was the Director's Choice Award recipient on my business development sales team, multiple occasions, and I remember one, in particular, I just one the Business Development Director's Choice Award, and I was at a business development sales summit in Baltimore. We all went out to celebrate after the fact because that's just what you do when you go to a sales meet.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Right. Right.

Kim Lamontagne: Well, you celebrate.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah.

Kim Lamontagne: Well, I don't remember getting back to my hotel room that night, which also means I never told my husband, I was married at the time, that I made it safely back to my hotel room. So, he was awake petrified, wondering where I was, what had happened to me. He got onto my company website and found information for my director, for my co- workers, and called and emailed them, and I woke up the next morning to over 30 phone calls and text messages from my husband, my director, my co- workers, asking, " Are you okay? What's going on? What's going on?" Everything wasn't okay because I don't remember getting back to my room because I had had way too much to drink. And I woke up in the morning feeling worthless, and ashamed, embarrassed because I overslept. I did it again, I went out and I had too much to drink. And then when I finally made it down to the sales meeting I learned that there was a fire alarm in the hotel that night, the night before. And the entire hotel evacuated and everyone but me. I was passed out in my hotel room and the entire hotel evacuated but me. Director's Choice Award recipient, passed out in her hotel room, sleeping through fire alarms.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh, my gosh, Kim.

Kim Lamontagne: Now I never did any drinking during the day. I never drove while under the influence. This was just a nightly occurrence. Five, six, seven glasses of wine every night just to retreat into that place of safety, but every morning, I would wake up and say, number one, I did it again; number two, I've got a massive hangover; number three, I better put on my mask of high- performance, and perform to the highest possible so that no one questions what's going on. crosstalk-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So, a vicious cycle.

Kim Lamontagne: It was a very vicious cycle. And when I decided to get sober, it was as a result of... I'm sorry, there's some storms coming through here right now.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That's okay. That's life.

Kim Lamontagne: So, I had woken up, we had had a 4th of July party at my house in 2009 and I woke up on July 5th not remembering what had happened the night before, wondering why I was still fully clothed, and why the white pants that I had on had black marks all over them. And I turned to my husband, again, I was married at that point, and I looked at him and I said, " What happened last night?" And he said to me, " Kim, you were so drunk that you tripped and came within inches of falling into the fire pit in the driveway."

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So, this is two brushes with could've been a really, really bad outcome.

Kim Lamontagne: Yeah, that was July 5th, 2009, and it took me till July 16th to finally make the phone call that changed my life. I called my doctor's office at 4: 45 in the afternoon from the parking lot of a mall in Manchester, New Hampshire, and I said I need to come in and be seen. And I assumed that by calling at 4: 45 in the afternoon, there's no way no one's going to see me tonight, so I'll go home and I'll have my drinks, and then the next day I'll cancel my appointment, but at least I made the phone call. So that's the way my mind worked. But when I called at 4: 45, the woman on the other end of the phone said we have a new nurse practitioner here and he can see you at 5: 15. So, 30 minutes later I was in my doctor's office seeing a nurse practitioner I had never seen before, and when he walked through those doors, I was literally cowered over in the corner crying, not able to breathe. And when I finally told him what was going on, he promised me he could help me and he did. But what was interesting is that I got sober in 2009 and it wasn't until 2016 that I started speaking openly about it to people outside of my immediate family.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Wow.

Kim Lamontagne: Because even though I was sober, I was too embarrassed in the workplace to say that I was, back then I called myself an alcoholic. I no longer use that word. I am a person who lives with alcohol misuse. I'm a person who lives with very well- managed suicidal thoughts, but I'm not suicidal. I would be a person living with those thoughts. But I was too embarrassed to say that I'm in recovery. And I was a remote employee, so I saw my team maybe twice a year in person, the rest of it was on Zoom, so I could hide the massive weight loss that I was going through. I could hide the fact that I wasn't sleeping, that I wasn't eating, that I wasn't doing any of those things. I could hide behind Zoom, and Skype, and all of those things. No one had a clue that my world was falling apart, that it was dark, that it was scary, that it was unrelenting because on the outside I was a leader, a coach, a trailblazer, top- performer, always had a smile on my face. No one saw the signs.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I resonate with this in so many ways because I was a remote worker. I still am, but I worked at a corporate role and was a remote worker for 19 years, and I resonate with that ability to be two different people. A lot of people didn't know the pain of I was in a marriage that had been falling apart for 18 years, and the place that I found my sense of worth was in my job because a lot of the other things in my life were not good and happy. And I bring that up because I'm very aware of where we are in the world today with the battle between do we go back into the office or do we stay completely remote? And I'm always advising my clients that people need connection. They need it now more than they ever have. And I don't believe that work should be your everything, but I believe it should be a part of your humanity. We bring our value, our worth, our relevance, our talents, our gifts, to our jobs, and we should also bring our humanity so that we can serve and help each other in beautiful ways, and if we're not going into the office, or at least finding a way to meet face- to- face in some way, we lose that kind of connection, and I think it puts our humanity at risk.

Kim Lamontagne: I would 100% agree with you on that, and I think in terms of mental health in the workplace, the one thing... There's been many silver linings in this pandemic. The pandemic has been awful, but there are some silver linings, and that is that the conversation about mental health and wellbeing is coming to the surface, and it's becoming more normal because people who didn't understand it prior to the pandemic who are now isolated and experiencing that anxiety, and fear, and all that, they're now understanding that it's not just something that you just snap out of, and they're more willing to have these conversations about it. And a lot of people, like myself, are afraid to speak about it in the workplace because, for me, I thought if I spoke openly, if as the top- performer of the team, if I say that I'm having a problem, I could be judged, I could lose my seat at the table, my opinions may not matter as much anymore, retribution, job loss. I did not know what would be behind speaking openly in the workplace, which is why I stayed so silent. And no one knew until I started sharing my story, that in 2015, I almost took my own life. I had the means. I had the plan. I had the text message set up telling my neighbor to call the local police, but telling my neighbor please don't come inside, let the police come inside. I didn't want him to find me. I had it all planned out.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, you're a top- performer. You knew how to plan things, right?

Kim Lamontagne: Right.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah. You had thought through the whole thing. And you know what's interesting about that Kim is you had already gone through the journey of recovery and getting sober, so this was a sober intentional thought.

Kim Lamontagne: It was. Well, you know what? And I wouldn't say that it's intentional. My mind was sick at that point. I was sober, and the alcohol was no longer there. So, the alcohol, that BAND- AID that was allowing me to make it through the day, that BAND- AID that was keeping my marriage together just by a thread, once that BAND- AID was removed, boy, my marriage fell apart. I was like, " Okay." And it needed to happen. But alcohol was definitely a BAND- AID for me, and once that was removed, many people think you get sober and your life turns into perfection. When you get sober, it is so worth it, but it gets messy because you're going inside that messy cocoon with all the goo, and the junk and everything is and you're really looking at yourself thinking, " Who am I and what am I going to do? And how am I going to use this experience to maybe to help others? Or how am I just going to get through each and every day?"

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And I can make the assumption that not wanting to expose yourself at work also threatened your basic safety and security from a financial perspective, so if you think about the things we need in our lives, survival and then ultimately thriving, survival, like to be able to have a steady paycheck was threatened, but then also, I'm assuming that your only sense of worth at that point, because you were going through something so messy internally was your performer status, your high- performer status, right?

Kim Lamontagne: Yeah, totally.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So the only place you had worth was work?

Kim Lamontagne: Yeah. crosstalk.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And if you told them that and risked it you were screwed is what I'm guessing the thoughts were every day.

Kim Lamontagne: Exactly. And that right there is a huge lesson for anyone who's listening to this today, do not overlook those high- performers. Actually, look closer at them.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, in fact, you learn that. So, when you developed the courage or were asked to share, somehow you were asked to share your story. Tell us, how did that happen?

Kim Lamontagne: So, what happened is in 2016, a March- April timeframe of 2016, my director, who lived in New Jersey and I was in New Hampshire, she noticed. I give her credit. She noticed that something was off. She finally figured it out. She's like, " Something's not right with you, Kim. And I'm going to come up and we're going to spend the day together." So, she actually flew up from Newark, New Jersey to Boston. We had one meeting to do, but the rest of the day was let's just sit and talk. And we did. And I told her everything about the suicidal thoughts, the major depression, the anxiety, but I still wasn't ready to tell her about the alcohol. I told her everything else, and she looked at me, and she said, " How in the world have you been performing at such a high level, Kim, with all of this stuff going on in the background?" And I'm like, " I don't know. I just do." And like what you just said, I mean that was my foundation. I knew if I performed at work, I at least had control over something. I could handle that. And at the end of that day, we cried, we laughed, we hugged. It was an amazing day, and she did not turn into my counselor, but she was a leader who saw me, and she created a safe place for me to actually tell her what was going on, and she did not judge. As a matter of fact, she said, " Kim, you have been doing such great work in your role. The Memorial Day weekend is coming up and I want you to take extra time off, so take the Thursday or the Friday off before Memorial day weekend and the Tuesday off after Memorial Day weekend. Give yourself a long weekend." And I had been yearning to go away to go on like a yoga retreat, or a spiritual retreat, or a women's retreat, so I literally googled, Memorial Day weekend 2016 women's retreat. And I came up with the work of Byron Katie. If you've never heard of Byron Katie, it's a woman, she has this process called The Work, you just go do the work. com. And she allowed me to start questioning my thoughts. And I spent the weekend with her and about 300 other people, and by the time I left there, my light had finally come back on because her work was so impactful for me and it made me realize that my thoughts were what were taking over my mind. And I had control over them. After that, I was in an MBA program doing my master's and I was doing my research project on mental health in the workplace and I came across the National Alliance in Mental Illness, and they have a program called, In Our Own Voice, where I could go and for a weekend and become a trained presenter to share my own story. So, I started doing that. I got certified. I started going into the workplace. I started speaking to students. I started speaking to corporations about my story. More and more people were coming up to me, every single time I shared my story to say, " You are speaking directly to me, Kim. I am you. And thank you for being so brave." And it was then that I'm like, " Whoa, I'm onto something." So, the more and more I shared my story, the more and more I realized that I was not alone. And even to the point where I shared my story at a healthcare conference in Houston in 2018, there are about 150 senior vice presidents in talent development at this conference, from hospitals in the Houston area, and I shared my story in front of all of them. Now I don't get nervous, I'm not embarrassed, and I say, " I'm going to share some things that I'm not proud of. They happened. And I've learned from them, but I'm going to share what happened and I'm going to share what I learned." And by the time that conference was over, it was a two- day conference, I had 13 senior vice presidents who sought me out at that conference, found me in a corner, found me at lunch, came up to me and said, " You are a brave, courageous woman. I have the same issues. I saw so many pieces of myself in you." I did the same thing for my work family too. I was at my own business development sales summit and my vice president recognized that I was doing speaking and teaching. She said, " Come on in and at our sales summit share your content. Teach our team about mental health in the workplace." And I said, " Well, that involves sharing my story." She says, " That's fine."

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So, those were your peers?

Kim Lamontagne: Those were my peers.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah, those are tough ones.

Kim Lamontagne: I stood up in front of about 35 of my own peers, two vice presidents, two directors, marketing, PR, business development, HR, and I shared my story. To say that you could hear a pin drop in that room is an understatement.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I bet.

Kim Lamontagne: No one got up for coffee. No one moved. Everyone was just jaw dropped, oh, my God. They were just waiting to hear what was going to come out of my mouth next because they did not know that Kim Lamontagne I was describing. But at the end of that, eight of my own coworkers stepped forward. So, that's two instances right there. That's 21 people between just two times that I shared my story, 13 senior vice presidents, eight of my own coworkers, and those are just the ones who had the courage to step forward. That's why I'm so passionate about sharing my story and teaching leaders how to change the conversation about mental health because my story is not unique in any way, shape, or form. What is unique is that I'm brave enough and vulnerable enough to get up there and get out there and share my story to help others.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: There's so many places we could go with this conversation and it's just critical. The one that I personally resonate with is as leaders and as companies, I know it's important to celebrate the success of the business, we have jobs because of the business, but the framework that I use is that the business is there to control, measure, and optimize goals, strategies, systems, processes. We as humans are personal, emotional, and social, and our needs are very different than the business needs, and unfortunately, what we do is we do is we reward only the business outcomes, top- performer awards, top- sales. I was that person too. I sold$ 35 million for my company. I was at every trip. I was top- performer status. And I realized, nobody really knew me. They loved me. They were good to me. They needed me. They wanted my participation. But even my friends as peers didn't really know me. They didn't know my personal, emotional. And the social side was drinks in the bar afterwards celebrating the Glass Award that I had to figure out how to haul home on the plane that I tried to give away.

Kim Lamontagne: crosstalk.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I was always trying to give them away in the elevator because I was usually a little tipsy too, and I'd be like, whoever was in the elevator on my way back to the room I'd be like, " Hey, you want this?" They'd be like, " Oh, congratulations, you won an award." And I'd be like, " Do you want it?" And they're like, " What?" And I'm just like, " I just have to haul it home, and it's heavy, and it's just a kind of pain in the arse.

Kim Lamontagne: I know.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: What I really wanted was to be seen. Not even necessarily for my challenges, I just felt like I was only worthy and valuable when I was... If you didn't have to scroll down one time to get to my name on the sales report, I was great.

Kim Lamontagne: Exactly.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: If you had to scroll one time, nope.

Kim Lamontagne: Yep. Exactly. Yeah, and you just made a great point. You just wanted to be seen. That's all we want is to be seen, and heard, and understood.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And when we're seen for our top numbers, we'll do anything in our power to stay on our top numbers because God forbid that our numbers drop because then who are we? We don't know who we are without them. Now I will tell you that I had a situation where when I was going through my divorce and I was trying to maintain a huge property on my own and I was exhausted, I called my boss who had been my friend prior to being my boss, well, he was still my friend, but we were peers before he was my boss. And I said, " I'm going to be real honest with you." Because I was trying to keep it all together. I was trying to keep my top- performer status, and I was not doing well. And I called him and I said, " Hey, rather than this just be a slow decline into my own misery, I need to tell you right now, there is no way in hell I'm going to hit my number this year, and here's why, and I'm actually going to stop trying because it's killing me to try not to disappoint you and try to keep up with everything that's going on in my life. I don't know if I can maintain my house if I don't hit my number, but I also know I'm not going to hit my number, and I am spiraling with the combination of all of this worry." And to his absolute tribute, and I'll never forget this, he said, " Do you know what your monthly expenses are to maintain what you need?" And I said, " Yeah." And I told him the number. And he said, " No matter what happens, I will ensure, even if it's personally that you meet that until you decide what you want to do with that house and you can get your life together."

Kim Lamontagne: Wow.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So, that was a time I was seen. He was special. Because the other parts of the company just wanted my$ 2 million a year. They needed it. And I got it. I'm a good business consultant. I know why they need my$ 2 million a year, but he had been a friend first, and when he saw me, when he just as a personal friend saw me, it was the most profound moment of my career. And I had another colleague that realized what was going on and reached out and said, " If you ever need anything, including money, going through this, we have a fund, my wife and I, and no questions asked, just tell me what you need." Those were two times where I thought, " This is the humanity of life that I want to live in." And that was special.

Kim Lamontagne: That's amazing. And kudos for you for doing that because you recognized that your health, your mental health, and wellbeing was falling apart, and I get that. I mean I'm sure you were a lot like me, you wake up in the morning you're on email. I used to take my laptop to bed at night and I'd be on email all night long, and then I would say, " Okay, well I don't have time to do this expense report this week, I'll save that for the weekend because I don't have time to do that, I have to focus on this." And it was okay to work on the weekends and put all the admin stuff to the weekend because I had to work during the week. And I'm like, " Wait a minute, what about me?" But I wanted to share with you that when I did get up in front of my coworkers, my peers, and shared my story, what happened is similar is what happened with your former boss. I'll never forget. There was one gentleman, who I actually trained him when he came on board, he stood up when I was done, and he said, " Kim, I love you." And you don't hear that in the business world. He said, " I love you. If you ever," and I'm getting goosebumps, " If you ever, ever need help. If you ever feel that you are not worthy, that your life is not worthy. I don't care what time of day it is, you call me." And more and more people were saying that to me, and it was like, " Wow." But I purposely isolated myself because I was so ashamed to talk about what was going on, yet when I started to open up, I felt a little lighter, and lighter, and lighter because I realized that people around us if given the opportunity, will step up and help. And leaders want to step up and help. And some of them, like you and I, we had two great leaders that saw us and took action. But there's a lot of leaders out there who are afraid to do that because they don't know what to do. And it's not about training leaders to become counselors. It's about training leaders to have the confidence to just have a conversation, and then crosswalk that employee to the right services.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah. Just open the door to the conversation. Absolutely. And the reason I create the capstone of Rise and Thrive seven- month experience with just seven women is a large event where they stand on a stage and tell their story in a seven- minute TED- like talk, and the reason I did that is because when we stand tall in our stories, we give others permission, courage, and confidence to do the same. And I wanted our stories to be special. I wanted it to be a celebratory kind of night, even if the stories were challenging and oftentimes they are. I wanted a band, and music, or music is a band. I wanted music and a spotlight. I wanted to say, " I see you. We see you. And this is a beautiful celebration of life, not something that needs to be hid in the corner quietly." And I want to get that to that place where it is celebrated, that the leader goes to the person and says, " Hey, I see you. Let me help you find the resources that you need." And it doesn't have to be that hush- hush, I'm not saying anything because I don't know what to do with it, or I'm afraid for my own story to be exposed, so if I start talking about yours, that means I have to talk about mine. I want it to be just this open door of celebration of sharing our stories.

Kim Lamontagne: Yeah, and I agree with you on that. And if leaders have powerful stories, I encourage them to share them, to whatever degree that they would like to share them, but when we share our stories, we become human. We hide behind our stories, we're like robots. And I went through a whole program called Seeds to Stage with my coach, that culminated in a 40- minute presentation that was dumbed down to a three- minute speaker reel, and it was powerful to be able to stand on the shoulders of the story and look at it from above, and be able to say, " I'm up here right now. Not because I'm any better than you, but because I found my way out, and now it's time for me to extend my hand and allow you to grab onto my hand and come out the other side." And one of the things that I talk about a lot with people is the power of language. And we were talking about celebrating in the workplace, and I talk about the power of person- centered language, how I no longer call myself an alcoholic. I'm a person living with alcohol misuse. But when you think about people returning to the office, or actually, think of a water- cooler conversation pre- COVID. Monday morning water cooler and everyone's coming together, and John Smith, their coworker who's a crazy nut, psycho, alcoholic junkie who just went off the rails and he checked himself off to the loony bin this weekend, and God knows how long he's going to be away from work, but man, that guys just off his rocker. If I was standing around that water cooler, and we know the statistics through National Alliance on Mental Illness is that one in five people will live with a mental illness. There are five people standing around that water cooler and I was that one in five who is living with undisclosed mental illness, I would never, never disclose to that group of people what was going on with me because of the words that they were using. Now if I was part of that conversation, that same conversation with the same people, and they were saying, " Our coworker, John Smith, I am so proud of him. He recognized that he had a problem. I had no idea that behind that mask of high- performance, he was living with addiction, or living with alcohol misuse, or any of the issues that he's living with, but I'm so proud that he took the step and he had the courage enough to come forward and say, 'I need help.' And to take the steps and seek treatment. And when he returns back to work, I'm going to welcome him with open arms and I'm going to give him as much support as he possibly, possibly needs because I see him as a human being who is courageous, who is just like my other coworker who might've just returned to work from having a heart attack. I'm going to see John Smith just like him because even though the heart attack is physical and he's got something going on in his mind which is a mental illness, he's one person. So, I'm going to support him when he comes back." Now I may open up in that conversation. Big difference between inaudible. And many of us we don't even recognize that the words that we're using are barriers for people to speak up because there's so many stigmatizing, derogatory words out there that we wouldn't use someone who is living with heart disease or high blood pressure. It's a big difference.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And even my divorce situation. I was emotionally incapable of having the clarity and the focus in that season of my life that I had traditionally, and I was beating myself up because I was unable to focus enough to do the same number of sales calls and to make sure my forecast was accurate, and I just my brain was so full of hurt and trying to keep kids okay, and managing the lawyer, and managing the finances. Even those life events, to be able to see somebody and say, " Hey, how can I support you? Do you need a pass on performance for a little bit so you can just take a deep breath?" I mean where's the harm in that. My numbers were going to suck anyway, why didn't you just give me permission to... That's why I finally just said, " I got to come out with this. My numbers are about to stuck. My pipeline is dry. I can barely get out of bed." To recognize that in somebody in a very human personal, emotional, social way say, " This is probably going to be a tough time for you and I know you're probably going to need a pass, and I want to give it to you."

Kim Lamontagne: Yeah, and you know what? The other option is to not talk about it and to have that employee become sick, go out on disability, or feel like they just can't keep up, and they cannot stay at that high-performers status so they walk away. I don't-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: See, I did think about it, I was like, "I'm going to have to go find a new job because I'm going to be so embarrassed that I wasn't able to maintain." Those thoughts do come up.

Kim Lamontagne: That came up with me all the time. And the other stuff that came up with me constantly, and I'm sure you had the same thing is that imposter syndrome. I'm an imposter. I'm a high- performer, but God, you guys have no idea who I am behind this mask. I mean, I am a person. I am an honest person, but man, I just felt so dirty and flawed, and just because I just felt like I had just a deep dark secret. And when it was exposed, that's when I started to heal.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Because light is the best disinfectant.

Kim Lamontagne: It is. Yes, it is.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: When you can shine the light. And I'm a God- fearing, Jesus- loving girl, so it's a metaphor as well. And that's the kind of work that you and I are both committed to now is shining that light on these situations so that we can bring conversation which brings healing, and community that brings healing, and let humans come together. So, you've taken it all the way from hiding it in the dark corners to your business in the work that you now. Tell us a little bit about that before we close today. I want people to be able to find you, and hire you, and work with you if this is something that they want to do.

Kim Lamontagne: Thank you. Yeah, it's definitely, it's come full circle. I mean I've been doing the speaking, teaching, and training for several years while I balanced a full- time job as a director of partnerships at a company in New York City, and then prior to that, I was a senior account manager in a national sales team, and then I was doing speaking, teaching, and training on the side on mental health, and after I started getting out there and having people come up to me on such a frequent basis, people reach out to me all the time and say, " I'm just like you." And I felt, " I need to do this full- time." And I thought, " How in the world am I going to leave a corporate paycheck, 401K, steady paycheck, steady benefits all of that."

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: crosstalk.

Kim Lamontagne: inaudible. I can do that. So, I put it out. I set an intention, I just put it out there, put it out to the universe. And I was in the process of selling my home in New Hampshire, sold my home, bought myself a 40- foot class A diesel- pusher rockstar motor home, bus, which I'm in right now.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Which I love.

Kim Lamontagne: Right?

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yes.

Kim Lamontagne: It's so much fun. I love her. Her name is Hope on Wheels. Yeah, I'll be traveling around the company doing my speaking, teaching, and training in Hope on Wheels. But I had an influx of cash, and so on April 1, right in the middle, the beginning middle of the pandemic, I walked away from a six- figure salary. I left every single penny on the table and I told my vice president I need to step into my passion, fully. And I doubled- down with my two coaches, and I said, " Here we go." And I wrote an entire-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Let's do the damn thing.

Kim Lamontagne: crosstalk. I wrote an entire curriculum called the Four Pillars of Creating and Sustaining a Mentally Healthy Workplace Culture. When the COVID restrictions lift, it'll be a full- day live training, but right now, I do it live via Zoom. It's also available On Demand, so organizations can say, " You know what? I have 100 leaders that I want to go through that training because we need our leaders to feel equipped to have these conversations, to know the signs and symptoms, and how to change the culture." But we can't get them all on a Zoom call, so we have the On Demand version. Ever since I made that decision, the people that have shown up, my team, I have an amazing chief technology officer, web design team, graphics, assistant. I'm working with John Broderick, who is the former Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. He is also a mental health advocate, mental illness touched his family. The two of us, they call us the John and Kim Show up at Dartmouth- Hitchcock Medical Center inaudible patients every quarter for nursing grand rounds. He's provided me some phenomenal introductions to state agencies, lots of organizations. And I expected, because my background is heavy in the healthcare space, I expected that a lot of my clients would be healthcare- focused, but I have clients coming from hotel and hospitality, from education, from schools of nursing, fire, EMS, state police, you name it. People are coming to me. I just lead a CEO roundtable at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce in Manchester, New Hampshire yesterday. There were folks there from the airport, from the Boys' and Girls' Club, the local mental health centers. This topic's huge. And what I found is if you step fully into your purpose, you can do it. And it was scary, but within this past year, I have built a solid foundation, and this company, I tell me team every single week, " Buckle up buttercups because it is coming. It's here."

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Bigger and better.

Kim Lamontagne: Bigger and better. I just hired a PR firm and we're doing press releases. He's got me out on the national PR wire, so things are coming through that way, and it's like, " Buckle up you guys because everytime I do a training, every time I speak, people just say,'Whoa, we need to listen to you.'" And John Broderick, former Chief Justice said that this training, the Four Pillars belongs in every organization around the globe. He provided a testimonial for that, and that's my goal is to be everywhere.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I love it.

Kim Lamontagne: And very timely.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Very timely. Oh, my gosh. For such a time as this, as I like to say. What is your website so people can go and find you, and contact you, and book you, and all the things?

Kim Lamontagne: Oh, well, it's pretty easy, it's just my name, so it's so it's kim L- A- M- O- N- T- A- G- N- E. net. I would love for people to visit the website, they can look under you can see my bio up there, there are videos of John Broderick and I doing grand rounds presentations. There's testimonials up there. There's also a section on the Four Pillars training and you can book a consult. I would love to have a conversation. You can also email @ kim @ kimlamontagne. net, and that could be on LinkedIn as well as Facebook. And I just got into the Twitter world because my PR guy said you need to be on Twitter.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh, girl. It's a dumpster fire, but I know why he wants you there.

Kim Lamontagne: I know why he-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I've been in and out of it. I've been out for a little while because it got super ugly, but there's lots of people that need you on Twitter.

Kim Lamontagne: crosstalk. I know there's lots of people that need me, so I guess technically I'm on Twitter, but I don't know how to work it yet.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, you know what? Because you stepped in the light, the people that need you will find you.

Kim Lamontagne: They will.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I am so proud of you. I'm so excited to know you. And I know that your work is going to save lives.

Kim Lamontagne: Yes, absolutely. And I'm proud of you for stepping up and having that courageous conversation with your boss, and you should share that more frequently because I bet you there's a lot of people sitting in the same shoes that you were in thinking, " I got to keep this to myself. I have to keep this imposter syndrome going on." And if they open up just a little bit in the right way they might find a leader who's very understanding.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Absolutely. Absolutely. Thanks for being here.

Kim Lamontagne: Thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure.( singing)

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Thank you for being here. I hope today's episode has you reflecting on how you can open up conversations and look around your team, your coworkers and see if anyone needs to be seen. If you're looking for a community where you can be yourself, come on into the Badass Women's Council Online Community, got to badasswomenscouncil. community and answer a few questions about yourself and we'd love to have you jump in. Thanks so much. Make it a great day.( singing)


Today's show is focused around mental health. Kim Lamontagne joins Rebecca to share her journey through sobriety. Her story is an inspiring reminder that it's okay to be vulnerable, and open to talking about your own mental health. It's also a reminder to check in on those around you. Tune in now and this episode will have you reflecting on how you can open up these conversations.

Today's Host

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Rebecca Fleetwood Hession


Today's Guests

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Kim LaMontagne