In this conversation, Shea Belsky, the Chief Technology Officer of Mentra, discusses the importance of understanding and embracing neurodiversity in the workplace. Shea explains that neurodiversity encompasses a range of conditions, such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, and emphasizes the need for inclusive environments that meet the unique needs of neurodivergent individuals.

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πŸ“ŒTALKING POINTS

02:18 - Creating Inclusive Environments

09:11 - Working with Employers to Promote Neurodiversity

12:47 - Supporting Neurodivergent Employees in the Workplace

14:05 - Disclosing Neurodiversity to Managers

17:33 - Understanding Individual Experiences of Neurodiversity

24:45 - The Importance of Open Communication

26:31 - Supporting Managers in Understanding Neurodiversity

30:00 - Challenges of Scaling and Building a Startup

Tom Finn (00:01.55)

Welcome in everybody. Today we are learning from Shea Belsky. Shea, welcome to the show.

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Shea Belsky (00:07.298)

Thanks so much for having me. I'm really excited and anxious to be here.

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Tom Finn (00:11.278)

Well, Shea, we are excited to have you on the show. You have an awesome background. I can't wait to share it with the audience. If you don't know Shea, he is the Chief Technology Officer for a company called Mentra. It's a hiring platform of neurodivergent job seekers. Now, Shea has been the manager of neurodivergent and neurotypical employees and managers, and he has advocated for the needs and the wellbeing of neurodivergent and neurotypical peers.

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Shea is an autistic self-advocate and a change maker. And I'm just absolutely thrilled to have him on the show today. I wanna jump right into this topic so that everybody understands the baseline of what we're talking about. Can you break down the basics of being neurodivergent for all of us?

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Shea Belsky (00:58.378)

Absolutely. Neurodiversity as a concept represents the different ways in which people think, act, function. It covers as an umbrella term a lot of things including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, epilepsy, dysgraphia. I could go on. There's lots of different medical terms that fall under neurodiversity, but the very broad way to describe it is the different ways in which folks interact with the world, with people, with their surroundings really describes different ways in which the brain operates on a medical level. And social level too, sorry.

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Tom Finn (01:33.85)

Yeah, I think that's beautifully said. It's sort of a clinical side and the social side, the human side, the way that we approach situations. And all of us are different, right? It doesn't matter what the letters are or what the logo is that we fall under. We all think and act differently based on, of course, our genetics and our environment, who our parents were, where we grew up, all of those different things, but this adds another layer of complexity. So, how do people think about this in the real world out there, Shea? Because nobody's thinking, hey, I need to be conscious of neurodiversity today, right? Like how do they actually take notice and become engaged in understanding others a little bit better?

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Shea Belsky (02:18.698)

One of the biggest things with regards to being inclusive or being aware or understanding of neurodivergent people is honestly just like meeting them where they're at. I just saw a musical, I'm gonna plug it right now, How to Dance in Ohio. One of the first lyrics of this song is something to the effect of, I wanna go out and do things in the world, but the world is not designed to be inclusive of people like me. It's not necessarily about people needing to change themselves for the world. It's about the world, their surroundings, their environments being more inclusive and accepting of folks who are neurodivergent, meaning where they're at, rather than asking them to bend over backwards for them. And that's a pretty shared experience for people who are neurodivergent, whether it's because of them being autistic or having ADHD or having dyslexia, that's a pretty universal experience. And on top of that as well, if you have two different neurodivergent people, their experiences can be very different. I personally have autism, so I can speak to my experience as an autistic person, but I can have very different experiences from somebody who has ADHD, from dyslexia, from somebody who has dyslexia and autism. You can mix and match different parts of it, but ultimately two different people who are technically neurodivergent are gonna be very different. And how that affects the world is people assuming, oh, these two people are autistics, and it must be the same, when that is very far from the- the truth. If you've met one autistic person, you've met one autistic person. And their experiences are not always guaranteed to overlap completely.

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Tom Finn (03:56.23)

So that's a great point. I think folks tend to put everybody into the same bucket. And what you're calling out is everybody's different. And we need to treat everybody in every situation with a little bit of common sense in that way. So how does the world approach you? Because I can't ask how they approach everybody that's neurodivergent. Help me understand your experience in the world. What works for you, what doesn't?

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Shea Belsky (04:25.226)

Like, to be honest, when I go out into the world on a normal average basis, how I experience the world is not super different from neurotypical people, but it's not to say that it's exactly the same. For me, I have really good hearing and that could be a good or a bad thing. If things are very loud or lots of sound coming in. If I have 10 people trying to talk to me, I'm going to just be like, I have to focus on one thing at a time. At the same time, I've had some to smell. So if you ask me to smell something, I'm like, what, I don't smell that. Sometimes it can be really weird. I only smell if it's really strong or really on the other side of that. When it comes to sight, sometimes bright lights can overwhelm me. For me, my autism affects me on the sensory side as well as the social side of things. When I'm talking to somebody and they're making maybe some innuendo or social cues or some little implications of things, sometimes that goes right over my head. That happened to me today when someone was trying to imply something to me and I was completely unaware of it. And then they just now but in the future if you need to say something to me please just say it to me point blank. I'm not going to be upset with you. I'm not going to be angry with you. Please just say it to me directly because that's how I need to be spoken to. And that's me personally. Other people who are autistic can be completely different from that. And my experiences are pretty unique in the sense that I have the confidence to say to somebody, hey, I'm going this is how I need to be spoken to. I won't get upset, I won't get mad. Please just respect this and we'll have a great time. Like I have a career coach. When my career coach, I said to him, I can ramble sometimes, I can go off on a tangent. If I ramble and go off on a tangent, I am empowering you to just politely shut me down the way we can stay on topic. You won't make me mad, you'll make me upset. I'm paying for you. So please respect both our times and just let me know if I'm going off on a tangent so we can get back to business.

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Tom Finn (06:24.058)

Well, I think you're staying right on topic, my friend. So you haven't rambled yet today. I think you're nailing it. I'm gonna reserve the right to interrupt you now that I know you like a direct conversation. So when you think about sort of this in the work world and you think about neurodiversity and how it impacts the world of work, what are you doing that's special, unique, different at Mentra?

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Shea Belsky (06:29.475)

Oh, just wait. Just wait.

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Shea Belsky (06:35.995)

I have empowered you. If I ramble, feel free to call me back.

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Shea Belsky (06:54.642)

Mentra is focused on really empowering individuals, job seekers, and companies to...

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either become more aware of themselves or of their organizations. I'll focus on one at a time. If you are a never divergent job seeker and you need to be able to advocate for yourself to a hiring manager, to an interviewer, to somebody, then Mentra enables you to build out a profile saying, hi, here's me, Johnny Appleseed, here's my basic work information, and then here's accommodations that I need to be successful. Here are things which really set me up for success really well.

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environments where I really struggle because of neurodiversity. It sets you apart in a way that does not necessarily ostracize you, but it instead allows you to advocate for yourself. It says to a hiring manager, this is what I need to be successful and if you can't provide that, no shame, it's just not a good fit between the two of us. And on the other side of that, when it comes to organizations, we really challenge employers to say, why should a neurodivergent

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that creates an inclusive workspace for them, whether they need a lot of things or don't need anything. The goal of all of that is to make it really clear to both sides so if you are looking for a job, you now have a consistent easy way to not only discover but also advertise and advocate for yourself, this is me, this is what I need, not just the wants, but this is me as an urgent person asking for this so that I can do my best possible work.

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And then on the company side, the employer side, it's about them saying, this is why we can help you. This is why we are a great fit for you to do your best work, to really shine and have the support that you need or have the environment you need to do the best work you can. And that's what sets us apart from other job sites where it's a bit more generic and less specific.

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Tom Finn (08:58.438)

So do you have to, as a business, do you have to get people to sign up on the employer side so that they're using your service to help bring in neurodiversity into their organization?

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Shea Belsky (09:11.294)

Yes, so we do work with employers who they come to us, we work on longer-term business deals, and then they post their roles onto our site. With varying degrees of NDAs, not all of which I'll be able to actually talk about, but there are a lot of companies who advertise their roles on Mentra to be able to say, we are an inclusive employer, this is what we can do for you, and it's not a middle person, it is the company's recruiting team or one department within that company, or some other aspect within the organization that connection to happen. Companies I can talk about include Harvard Business Publishing, Amazon does warehousing roles with us, I believe the Autism Society of America has hired with us. I'll pull up some more as well that I know we can publicly talk about. There's a lot more which are either under wraps or we don't have the right language in place to allow us to freely speak about it, but for the most part there are some pretty big names that we work with whether people know it or not.

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Tom Finn (10:15.418)

Yeah, it's pretty cool. And what I like about this is we're giving people access and we're helping both sides of the equation, Shea. What we're saying is, look, if you're a neurodiversity candidate, we're gonna give you the tools to find a great employer who wants you there. And if you're an employer and you really want neurodiversity and you really wanna be inclusive, and it goes beyond gender and ethnicity and language and those types of things, and it goes into these kind of brain functions and you want that in your organization, we're gonna give you a platform to really find great people. And I love that we're using both sides of this equation as an organization to bring the right people together.

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Shea Belsky (10:57.378)

Yeah, and like the next evolution of that is not just hiring people, but it's helping them be retained and stay there for a while. It's trivial to hire people and say, great, you made your hire, have fun. It's another vein to build retention and to enable people to feel like they want to stay long-term. If you hire 20 neurodivergent people to your company, but you don't have a culture to support them, if what you signed up for is not what actually is there, they're just going to leave and go somewhere else and it's a waste of your time and money. So not only do we support companies in the hiring aspect of it, but also the retention and the inclusion. Building an environment where people want to stay, where people want to feel like I am respected, I am allowed to be my genuine self. I don't have to mask. Masking is a huge thing for autistic people and neurodivergent people. It's this, for people who don't know what masking is, it's the notion of pretending to acting basically pretending to be somebody that you're not for someone else's benefit its Masking can for example be making eye contact with somebody because they expect you to I do struggle with eye contact like I Sometimes have to look away or I'm looking away. It could be somewhat difficult for me you could be in an environment where that's not a social requirement being in the workplace. There are other aspects of that where a company can say we care about you and we want you to be your most successful and that means us providing you with the support you need, providing with accommodations, providing you with the mentorship, the guidance, or just the understanding that you are welcome here, you are accepted here, and that goes a huge way to making people want to work for a company and then want to stay there.

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Tom Finn (12:47.354)

So I'm thinking about sort of human history, Shea, and I'm thinking about equality of pay and those types of things. Do you tend to find that neurodivergent employees make the same as others or more or less? What's your gut on sort of compensation around these roles?

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Shea Belsky (13:15.25)

I haven't generally found that a compensation is different because one of the things we really try to focus on as well is hiring people for well-paying roles, not just cashier, not just like working in shelving or something. It's using the skills that someone learned how to do, trained to do in well-paying roles, the same role as anybody else, but with the support and structure that they need to be successful. So it's not necessarily the compensation I found has been any disparity.

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specifically how they're treated during the interview and on the job. And that's where I've seen much more disparity and that can be whether or not someone discloses their being neurodivergent to their team, to their manager. That introduces a lot of unconscious and conscious bias into the picture which makes things very complicated and often messy.

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Tom Finn (14:05.818)

Yeah, so what is the right way to play this? If you're a neurodivergent person, do you share that with others or do you keep it private? I imagine this is a very personal kind of decision, right? On how you do that in the workplace.

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Shea Belsky (14:23.858)

It's very personal and everybody's gonna have a different level of comfort with talking about it as openly like I would say I'm definitely the odd one out for talking about it as openly as I am but that Comes with time and that just comes with me being aware of how does my autism Affect me as an individual working at a company and that empowered me be able to say to my manager at previous companies Hey, mr. And mrs. Manager. I am autistic and what this means between us is ABCDE I want to work wellness with you and that helps a lot making it very clear like you set the terms of discussing it not your manager so if you are autistic, ADHD, dyslexic, whatever it is in your best interests to disclosing their adversity to your manager or to HR as long as you have a strong idea of what do you want to get out of it. What you don't want to do is just pick up a big load and say, I'm autistic, end of sentence and walk away, because then the owners is on your manager to figure out whatever the heck that means. Are you autistic like their son who is nonverbal and needs support to go to the bathroom? Are you awkward like Sheldon from Big Bang Fairy? Do you count cards like Rain Man? You leave a lot open to interpretation

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So if you're going to say anything, you need to have a very clear idea of what do you want to say and what do you want to get out of it. Because if you don't, it's going to create more problems than it will solve, ultimately.

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Tom Finn (15:54.566)

That's a beautiful explanation. And I think that level of detail is really important for people to understand that you can't just have a half conversation. Land this with your manager and expect them to figure it out. We've got to be really detailed here. And I think that comes down to some level of comfort with that manager. You've got to be pretty comfortable to walk in and say, hey, look, I've got, you know, severe ADHD or I have autism and here's what that means to me and here's how that might show up at work, it takes a heck of a lot of confidence to do that.

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Shea Belsky (16:32.622)

The biggest problem that I've encountered personally and anecdotally hearing over people is that when you just say, I'm autistic, ADHD, dyslexic, whatever it is, they will immediately equate your experiences to the next closest one that they know, unless you stop them and you define it immediately. If I just say to a random person, I'm autistic, they're gonna be like, no, you're not, because you're not, you don't act like the impression of autism that I know best, or it was my family, or friend, or whatever it is. So unless you are very clear with the

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Personal definition of autism then it can go very off the rails like I said before you met one person of autism you've met one person and

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Some people have no experience in neurodiversity. Some people are very personally aware of it. Some people are neurodivergent. And you can't expect everybody to know the same things. You are ultimately your own best self-advocate. So you have to do the best job you can controlling the conversation, because ultimately then you leave it in someone else's hands if you just let them decide.

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Tom Finn (17:33.938)

So what do you say to people that are neurodivergent, that are not feeling like telling anybody? Like you are highly confident, Shea. You are incredibly well put together as it doesn't matter what your scores say. You're just a really warm, confident person. But it doesn't matter if you're neurodivergent or not. Not everybody has that, right? Not everybody has that confidence. So how do you how do you tell somebody that's neurodivergent to have some confidence and it's okay to share and it's okay to be who you are and love Who you are as a person?

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Shea Belsky (18:16.979)

Ultimately… in the context of a work environment, it is supposed to be in your manager's best interest to want what's best for you. Now, that is what's supposed to happen. Ultimately, we live in a reality where different people have different inclinations to do what they're supposed to do versus what they wanna do personally. So, while I do recommend, the first thing I'm gonna say is, again, you know yourself better than anybody. If you know that as, just to say, if you're an autistic person, if you know that you struggle to read between the lines

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Understand when someone's implying something then you'd want to say to your manager I have trouble reading between the lines if you want me to do something, please tell me outright You don't have to say if you don't know Everything up front start with the small stuff like that and then move on to bigger stuff over time. It's Ultimately, what's gonna happen is it's going to enable you to do better work incrementally

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It's going to just make your life a whole lot easier. And again, it doesn't happen overnight. It happens you recognizing This is getting in my way of allowing me to do

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Better work, however it's less stressful work, more efficient work, faster work, more work, whatever it is, if you can point to something about yourself and say, this is really taking a lot of my mental energy, a lot of spoons, whatever word we want to use to do something, and if your manager can do something about it, then they should. But again, we live in reality, so they are supposed to do something about it, but in reality, they may not know how to.

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Shea Belsky (19:54.154)

they may not want to. So you still win by disclosing it to them. If you're in an ablest work environment and you don't know it, then putting it out there in the open, then at least it makes it very crystal clear. Does your company care about you or not? If they care, you'll know. If they don't care, you'll really know. So it only works to your advantage.

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Tom Finn (20:15.79)

Yeah, look, I am, I believe I'm neuro-typical. I've been told, you know, I've been called many things in my life, Shea. But I think I'm probably on the neuro-typical side. I wonder for those that are neuro-typical, like is this similar to setting boundaries with your organization about just how you behave? So for example, like I have four kids, Shea, right? So I...

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You know, when it comes three o'clock, I really have a hard time from three to six working. So I shift my work day to really early in the morning so I can help with my kids. Now that has nothing to do with neurodiversity, but it is who I am, right? That I have children that I have to help with, you know, when they come out of school and take them to different places, right? And so is it the same thing kind of these are the things that I need to be successful in the job.

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Shea Belsky (21:07.382)

It's very similar, whether it's a thing about how your brain works, something in your life, because like while...

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you may not have kids for the rest of your life, you will always have autism for the rest of your life. And how you internally think about your autism or how you strategize with it or manage it is gonna be different for every person. But ultimately, it's a very personal subject. And you and your manager have to be on the same page, whether it's because you have kids or whether it's because your brain doesn't work that way.

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And it is the same thing. Something that I also believe in at a team-wide level, let's go a little bit about how managers can support, is kind of allowing each person to advocate for themselves whether or not they're neurodivergent. This is the idea, I got this from HubSpot, it's called a manual of me or like Bible of me, kind of describing this is how I work, this is how I operate. Whether or not you are neurodivergent, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, everybody gets to say about themselves,

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this is how I work. I have kids I have to pick up from the bus stop. I live with my parents or my parents live with me or I am training for the Boston Marathon. Whatever it is, it allows you a space to say this is me, this is how I work and I would like my manager and the rest of the team to understand that and acknowledge it. And again, it is a personal thing. But ultimately you want to be able to do what's best for you and how you do work.

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have the ability to work less stressfully that's in your best interests to do something about it.

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Tom Finn (22:46.802)

Shea, I'm not hearing you asking for special treatment for neurodiversion groups. I'm not hearing you asking for specific special accommodations. I'm hearing you asking for kindness and empathy and love and a good conversation, understanding. I'm hearing you ask for those things when we talk about neurodiversity in the workplace and I hear you recommending.

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Shea Belsky (23:05.683)

understanding.

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Tom Finn (23:15.302)

that this is how we should all behave in a workspace.

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Shea Belsky (23:19.382)

I'll also like, recognize as well, I am, I would say...

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1% of 1% of people who generally doesn't need a lot of accommodation to support during the day to get through life But by and large there's a lot more people out there who need a lot more help need a lot more support So i'm not going to sit here, but they don't exist because there may be people who need Physical accommodations they may need big headphones like I have they may need a lower light environment They may need executive functioning coach. They may need a lot more day-to-day stuff

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that I'm not talking about. And that's not to say those people don't exist, but it's a huge aspect of understanding neurodiversity doesn't have one look. I am one person and...

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I think where companies where HR gets really hung up is like, what the heck am I doing here? There's so much to think about, so much to take in. And you can sit all day and list every single possible accommodation you would ever think of in the face of the planet, or you can just sit down and listen and ask someone, what do you need? And then find the best happy medium that you can.

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Tom Finn (24:24.442)

Yeah, it kind of goes back, Shea, to this whole idea of dress code. And for decades, right, organizations said, this is the dress code. You're allowed to wear this. You're not allowed to wear that. And there was this lengthy list of what you were allowed to wear. And what a lot of organizations have come to the conclusion of is they use one line. They say, dress appropriately.

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Shea Belsky (24:45.542)

that really gets me hung up too. Like, I interned at Google, and they advertise like, wear basketball shorts if you want to. But like, just because you can't wear basketball shorts doesn't necessarily mean that you should. And I didn't get that until very late in my internship where it's like, I didn't wear basketball shorts, I wore like, worse cargo shorts.

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boxing big cargo shorts. And I didn't realize, oh, maybe I should be dressing a little bit nicer. I didn't get that until I think I was two months in. And at that point, the damage had already been done, so to speak. And then...

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Tom Finn (25:16.778)

Yeah, your brand was already established as somebody that didn't want to or take the time to look a certain way to come to work. Is that what you're saying?

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Shea Belsky (25:26.434)

Basically, and like if my manager, not to fault them, but if my manager had, if there had been the expectation placed on me to dress a certain way and have to make clear to me, I would have run out to the store and gotten some nicer outfits, a couple polo shirts, a couple of nice pairs of pants really quickly. And as it was, I had maybe one or two pairs of that, not enough to get me through a week.

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Tom Finn (25:48.698)

Yeah, and that's kind of what we're talking about, right? Is open communication from the manager to your entire team and trying to meet people where they are. I think that's what I'm hearing you say.

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Shea Belsky (26:01.23)

Part of this is also managers having the support that they need to understand, how do I support my neurodivergent employees? Because when someone who's autistic comes to them and says, hey, I'm autistic and I need ABCDE, a lot of managers go, what the heck do I do? I don't know what to do with this information. They don't know who within the company to ask, they don't know where to turn. They, it's not necessarily damaged on, but like they now have this burden

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which has been lessened by the, hopefully lessened by the employee making it clear what they need, but now they still have to actually do something about it. And that varies wildly between organizations. Some is very easy, some who knows what to do. It really varies based on each company.

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Tom Finn (26:50.662)

So Shea, I want to switch gears a little bit. I want to talk a little bit about you for a second, because I think just getting to know you as we are here, you've got some really interesting insights into things, and you are a chief technology officer for a really cool organization, but you didn't start there. You didn't start day one as a chief technology officer. Yeah, I don't think anybody does. So tell me, pardon me?

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Shea Belsky (27:14.166)

I don't think anybody does.

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Shea Belsky (27:20.534)

Except maybe Mark Zuckerberg. He started off as CEO in Facebook and never looked back. But that's like, that's like number one out of billions. Yes.

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Tom Finn (27:24.045)

That's right. That's right. All right, well, he's one of one. I think that's a fair assessment. But when we're thinking about you, what did your career path look like? How did you overcome some of these perceived obstacles? They may not actually be obstacles. They may be gifts. That's the way I look at it. But how did you overcome some of this learning to get where you are?

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Shea Belsky (27:51.578)

One of the most important things about me getting here was having, I think, confidence in myself and having patience with myself and trusting in the people around me.

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I didn't get here by doing everything right. I've made mistakes. I've broken production. I've bungled things before. I've lost data. Not gonna lie. It just comes into territory. But I think you can't be afraid of letting fear hold you back. You have to be able to reflect and understand what did you do wrong? How can you improve going forward? You can't also let it shackle you to the past and not allow you to move forward. It's very easy to stew in a mistake

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more effort to acknowledge what happened and then prevent it from happening in the future and then building on top of that.

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building respect for people, building patience with people. I didn't, like, my first job was at Wayfair, and I was handed the reins of a project pretty early on. And I didn't know if I could do it, but I knew that I had the strength to try. And I was in an environment which allowed me to, allowed me to fail, basically. It's very...

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It's very important to find a space where you are allowed to fail, where it's okay if it doesn't work out exactly the way you want it to, but you're surrounded by people who give you that safe space. And then you build on top of that, and then you figure out what works, and then you iterate and you improve, and that eventually gives you more confidence to go then tackle crazy challenges like building a startup from the ground up. Coming into Mentra, I had never done what I'm doing before. It's my first time doing all of this.

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Shea Belsky (29:35.376)

I don't know what I'm doing here, but I'm gonna figure it out. And I have the confidence in myself to try. And a lot of it isn't gonna work, a lot of it is not gonna work. But I just have to make sure that I'm staying aware of what I need to do, what the business needs me to do, and listening to everybody to make sure that we're doing everything that has to be done, not just for myself, but for the people around me.

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Tom Finn (30:00.518)

So what's been the hardest part for you of that build?

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Shea Belsky (30:05.202)

I think I'm going for that right now actually when we're leveling up from like a very small hobby project, a very small business to now one with a lot of steam, a lot of eyes. Mentra was invested in last year by Sam Altman, OpenAI. He's been in the news recently, big person. And when that kind of name gets up on the project, people pay attention to that. So now I'm very under the microscope when it comes to making sure that what I'm doing here, we are building things that are stable.

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reliable, that are scalable, that are gonna last where we have a hundred jobs or ten thousand jobs. That is the biggest part of me because everything that has worked up to now has worked.

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there will come a point when it stops working. And it's not necessarily because of any problem that people have had, it's because we have to get to a point where it needs to last. It needs to be able to support 10,000 jobs, 100,000 people, a million hits a day, some extreme, extreme numbers. So that's my challenge right now, is to get us to the point where we can go out into the future and confidently say, we can handle a million people coming in every day. And it's a crazy challenge to tackle on,

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I don't know if I know if I need right now to do it. I know I'm gonna figure out what I need to do it and figure it out.

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Tom Finn (31:24.69)

Well, I love that you're expressing how difficult scaling is, because for those in the technology sector, it looks easy to the outside world, but scaling core HR technology that has enterprise software component to it, and then has individual employees, members, whatever you want to call them, job seekers, that is actually a really difficult balance to build the DevOps the right way and then to build the security infrastructure, and then to build the modular scalability, right, in terms of the server work that you have to do and tying that to your application. So it is really tough for those that haven't done it. So Shea, I follow you. That is really hard, difficult work, but I'm sure you're gonna break through and do all the right things to climb over this mountain.

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Shea Belsky (32:16.362)

Yeah, it's crazy stuff.

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Tom Finn (32:19.132)

So how do you handle stress? Do you handle it differently than me? Is there a way you deal with stress at work and in the home and socially?

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Shea Belsky (32:27.862)

When I get stressed...

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I normally go for a run. Like I was feeling stressed out a few days ago. And I know that I'm feeling really wound up and really tight in my chest. I have to go force some air down my lungs, get my heart pounding, and then almost always I feel better. I live outside of Boston right now. One of the best places to run in the country, I would say. And every time I run around here, I'm almost always passing a runner or a cyclist or someone else doing something outdoors. And it makes me just, it relaxes me. It gives me a chance to either,

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think about my problems or not think at all. I'll just, I'll blast music in my ears and just kind of stop thinking. I get to turn my brain off and that almost always helps a lot.

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Tom Finn (33:11.174)

Yeah, I think we all have to figure out these ways to deal with stress and pressure. And stress and pressure are not exactly the same, right? Pressure can be okay. It can force us to do our best work. Pressure can get us out of bed in the morning and can produce really great work products and make us the best version of ourselves. Whereas stress can do the opposite. Stress can bring us down, can alter the way that we behave, can change our profile in how we deal with other people in the world. So pressure versus stress is a really important component to thinking about how we deal with our daily activities and pressure's okay.

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Shea Belsky (33:51.854)

Pressure is putting kidney on a fire. Stress is the fire getting out of control and you burning out.

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Tom Finn (33:58.722)

Yeah, that's an easy way to visualize it, isn't it?

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Shea Belsky (34:03.026)

I haven't burned out in a while, but I remember in like my first job when I did like really kind of spit out and burn out. I'm like, I gotta just kind of mentally check out for a little bit and relax. This was actually April 2021 after the vaccine had come out but not before everybody had gotten it yet. So I just did a spontaneous trip in New York City and I got like an amazing hotel room right by the Empire State Building for like 100 bucks a night. I couldn't do that right now, it's now like 500 dollars. But it was just such a cool thing to like go and get an ice hotel room in Manhattan and go have whatever was open at the time. I think it went to the 9-11 museum and that was like one of the few things that were open at the time and just get to experience and relax for a bit before going back to work.

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Tom Finn (34:47.51)

I love it my friend. So look, I gotta tell you, Shea, I have appreciated hearing your experiences and how you're looking at creating a more neuro-inclusive workplace for everybody. I think it's really, really important. And I love that mentra is kind of a brainchild of neurodivergent plus neuro-typical individuals working to kind of bridge the gap between recruiters and candidates and all of this really good work is gonna pay off. And I'm sure you all are gonna do amazing things in the space of inclusivity and making the world a little bit better for everybody. So from all of us that listen and myself as well, a very warm and heartfelt thank you.

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Shea Belsky (35:18.05)

Thank you. I appreciate it so much. Thanks for having me. I so enjoyed this conversation and getting to talk with you about it.

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Tom Finn (35:39.598)

Yeah, well we enjoyed it too, my friend. Where can people tap into you and reach out to you and get to know you if they wanna connect?

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Shea Belsky (35:47.878)

I am on LinkedIn, I am on the web, I am on Instagram. If you Google me, find me on whatever search engine you prefer. There's only one of me. If you search my name, you'll find me. If you find somebody else, let me know and I'll fix it. But there's only one of me, I promise. If you search my name on the internet, you'll find me on LinkedIn, Instagram. I have a website too. I'm in all those places.

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Tom Finn (36:09.699)

Well, my man, I can confirm that you are one of one and I'm thrilled to get to know you. We'll put all of this stuff in the show notes from Shea. You guys just go ahead and click and find them. We'll make sure you can connect with them. Very grateful for having you on the show, my friend. Thank you being a part of Talent Empowerment.

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Shea Belsky (36:13.134)

Hehehehe. Absolutely, thanks again for having me. Have a great night.

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Tom Finn (36:29.702)

Thanks everybody for joining the podcast. We'll see you next time.

Tom Finn
Podcaster & Co-Founder

Tom Finn (he/him) is an InsurTech strategist, host of the Talent Empowerment podcast, and co-founder and CEO of an inclusive people development platform.

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