8 Things We Learned in 48 Hours

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 1.38.40 PMA group of Banyanites recently joined with friends to enter the 48 Hour Film Project in St. Louis. Here’s some insights from the making of their award-winning* film:

  1. Assemble – Can I really get along with this guy? You’re going to spending a lot of time together over the next couple days.  Temperament and stress-management skills should not be overlooked – or undervalued.
  1. Story – Video is a means of telling a story, no matter how little time you have to tell it. Things didn’t come together for us until we started asking some big questions of our characters: what do they want and what’s stopping them from having it?
  1. Sleep – Simply put, to succeed you need to be awake.
  1. Eat – All of these basics seem to slip the mind, but that film’s not going to make itself if you’ve passed out from exhaustion.
  1. Be Unexpected – Every team had to use a certain character, but we were the only ones to kill the guy off in the Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 1.39.17 PMintroductory title sequence. With the time crunch, you can be tempted to go with your first ideas for everything, but it’s your later ideas that will help make it stand out.
  1. Have Back-Up Plans for your Back-Up Plans – Having drawn Road Movie, we needed some outside scenes. But not only was there threat of rain, a triathlon training ended up happening right where we needed to be.
  1. Wear Sunscreen – I guess our whole health consciousness-thing doesn’t ever turn off. But we were one of the only teams without sunburns!
  1. Enjoy the Madness – There are few things that can really give you a great burst of creative energy like gathering together a group of smart people and tackling a problem with an intense deadline. It may be madness, but you can also enjoy every minute of it.

*Award-winning = Audience Favorite Award, the Best Of screening, and Best Use of Genre (road trip).


Nice to Meet You, Magic

Thanks to Banyan’s passion for wellness, I often have the opportunity to meet some pretty incredible people. And sometimes, those incredible people all show up in the same place.

People like…

Not to mention a major chunk of our nation’s top business leadership, and a lot of other folks all of whom are focused on wellness.  The American Cancer Society (ACS) brought us all together as part of their annual Corporate Impact Conference, to talk about what we can do and what we should do to help America stay healthy.

What a great event.

Banyan also endorses corporate wellness programs. My colleague Jared Gordon created Banyan’s own corporate wellness effort and we’re all involved.  We walk during meetings now, even when it is St. Louis or Atlanta “hot.”

Banyan’s wellness program inspired our interest in this ACS event.  We worked hard to get the attention of ACS to let us help with marketing and outreach for the conference. This year, I had the best job in the world– I got to emcee along with Dave Minifie from Centene (that’s how I met Magic).

Meeting this icon of basketball success may not mean a lot to you, but I’m from Indiana and I feel like I’ve known Magic for a long, long time.  I watched him win at basketball, against HIV… I wondered if he would live up to his image.  Well, he did not disappoint.  Somehow, Magic managed to hold a one-on-one conversation with 300 of us in the Washington University auditorium for a full hour.  He said, “Our legacy is all about how we touch our communities and others less fortunate.” Imagine the presentation…

Picture a man, almost 7 feet tall, reaching you with his smile, explaining how he met his life, “head on.”  He talked about the schools he attended, basketball, HIV, his family and business, the black and brown community he hopes to help.  He claims to be the best-prepared man in any room he enters because he is all about the “win.”

By the way, Magic followed Norm Stewart at the conference.  The former University of Missouri player and coach boasts a lifetime record of 731/375 over 43 years.  Late in his career, Norm contracted colon cancer. Over time, he won that battle but he didn’t walk away from what he experienced. He inspired the Coaches vs Cancer program and has raised over $100 million.  Can you imagine?

ACS ConferenceThe last speaker of the event was the Chief Medical Officer of Express Scripts, Dr. Steve Miller, who shared some of the vast achievements of science in its work to prevent cancer.  He called out the National Institutes of Health and other corporations who have changed the entire cancer landscape and illustrated the amazing progress man has made against this disease.

His final message: the importance of prevention. Don’t smoke, eat healthy, watch portions, exercise, maintain a healthy weight, limit drinking.

Speaker after speaker engaged the audience. There were breakout sessions where folks rolled up their sleeves and collaborated about their successes and their disappointments with employee wellness programs and corporate responsibility initiatives.

It seems that there is no real proven textbook to inform their work, so they are writing the rules from their own experiences.

And so can you. It doesn’t take much to inspire a little change for good.

Exercising for Charity: The 2014 Wellness Challenge

WellnessCollageMore is at stake than waistlines, exercise minutes, and eternal bragging rights this year in the Banyan Wellness Challenge.  The biggest winner hopes to be families in need, as the challenge raises money for local Atlanta and St. Louis food banks.

With family members joining the fray, our 15- week challenge boasts:

  • 28 participants
  • Collective goal of 116,400 minutes of exercise

Challengers are awarded a point for every minute of exercise achieved (so long as it’s done for at least 10 minutes) with double points given for high-intensity workouts, such as running.

LevelsNearly 26% of challengers are going for a new level this year, Prestige, which demands 400 points a week to stay on track. Nearly a third are taking advantage of another new feature, plus programs, which slowly advance participants to the next highest level throughout the course of the challenge.

Challengers are organized into support groups that meet weekly, share encouragement and support, and often exercise together.


ActivityIn their first week, participants:

  • Rallied 9,299 points
  • Surpassed their first collective goal of 7,650 points
  • Walked more than they ran
  • Ran more than they strength-trained
  • And strength-trained more than other activities, like biking or swimming

The challengers will need to achieve their full 116,400 points by the end of the challenge to see the greatest donation possible to charity. Smaller donations will be given based on small goals along the way, and some participants are also donating for individual milestones.

Change for good, all the way around.


Value in Lessons Learned

There is a specific personality trait that runs through my family.  My grandmother used to call it being “bullheaded.” Now, we refer to it as being stubborn or headstrong. It often got us into more trouble than it should. But, it also taught us the value in learning things by making mistakes and the satisfaction of success.

159276704I often have the privilege of speaking with community members and organizations that are on the front lines of public health. Every day they are implementing programs, interventions, and activities that make the lives of their community members better. They are eager to share their success—even those on the smallest scale. And we celebrate each and every one of them.

But we should also celebrate the lessons learned. At a young age we learn the oven is hot for two reasons:

  1. We can feel the heat radiating off the oven door if we get close enough
  2. Our parents or guardians told us it was hot and have taken steps to prevent us from touching it

We modify our behavior accordingly for both of these reasons. The first implies that we see what could be painful or harmful, and we adjust our actions accordingly. The second means we rely on the experience of others to guide us in the right direction.

When crafting success stories, we should share the important lessons learned. We may help others on the front lines realize why specific activities are not producing the anticipated results. Or, we may expand the evidence base for activities because we felt the heat radiating off the oven and can adjust a program or initiative accordingly.

Even if you are a little bullheaded, don’t be afraid to tell others the oven is hot. It will help us all in our journey to create change for good.