Share

cover art for Mel Upton | Balancing performance and care in business

Open Minded

Mel Upton | Balancing performance and care in business

Season 1, Ep. 31

Mel Upton is the CEO of Positive Group APAC, a mental wellbeing company focussed on leadership training and group learning. She’s also a veteran of the legal industry and has led wellbeing programs throughout her 25 year legal career.


Mel joins JK from a hotel room in Auckland on her first international trip since the start of the pandemic, another sign we are slowly finding our way back to some kind of normal.


JK and Mel kick off the pod talking about Mel’s background in the legal industry, and her experience in setting up wellbeing programs as a leader in law firms. She gives us some insight into how to have difficult conversations, and how to be comfortable when you’re having an off day. 


Mel also shares a first hand experience of dealing with a team member going through significant mental ill-health. She reminds us that hard conversations are hard, and that it’s important to prepare and be mindful when approaching a hard conversation to steer it toward a positive outcome.


Later, Mel gives some insight into the work she’s doing now with Positive Group, and how they communicate the sometimes complex scientific concepts behind mental wellbeing in a way that resonates with business leaders and stimulates change in their clients' businesses.


Read and Listen:

Moving Upstream: The case for a more proactive approach to mental health in the workplace - Dr Brian Marien of Positive Group

A Podcast of One’s Own - podcast by Julia Gillard

The Measure of a Man - A Spiritual Autobiography - Sidney Poitier

More episodes

View all episodes

  • Jenelle McMaster | Open Minded to Change

    49:02
    In this special bonus episode, Open Minded crosses over with the Change Happens podcast. Host and EY Oceania Deputy CEO Jenelle McMaster joins JK for a wide ranging double interview.TRIGGER WARNING: This podcast episode deals with issues of suicide and suicidal ruminations. Listener discretion is advised.Why is change scary? It’s a big question. JK and Jenelle kick the episode off unpacking the uncertainty change produces, and talk about strategies to reduce and better manage this uncertainty.Next up they dig into leadership, and push back on the outdated notion that you need to leave your real self at the door when you go to work. They discuss the importance of being real as a leader, and the end of the individual ‘hero’ leader and rise of collaborative leadership.Later, things get a little more personal. JK speaks about his ‘sharks’, those nagging elements of our personalities that can push us to ‘swim fast’ and achieve great things, but can end up swallowing us. And Jenelle talks about her experiences with imposter syndrome, and techniques she’s used to retrain her brain to reframe negative self talk.
  • 30. Rob and Lach | A business founded on wellbeing

    53:33
    Robbie Hicks and Lachland Bradford are the hosts of the Funny Business podcast and co-founders of the Wellbeing Network. After JKs recent appearance on Funny Business, the boys join us on Open Minded to provide an intimate look at the foundation of their business, and how they have embedded wellbeing into the core of their company.Rob and Lach share insight into how the strength of their friendship was instrumental in creating Funny Business and the Wellbeing Network, how their individual strengths make each other better, and how the support they provide each other has helped the business grow.The guys speak about playing different roles on a sports team relates to building successful teams in business, by aligning people’s roles with their strengths and organising around shared core valuesLater, Rob and Lach give us some insight into their back stories. How they both overcame setbacks and changes in life direction, and how they reframed success for themselves through the lens of personal wellbeing.Read and Listen:Funny Business podcast - with Rob and LachThe School of Life networkKiller Thinking - by Tim Duggan
  • 29. Nikki Hart | How nutrition feeds mental wellbeing

    58:05
    Nikki Hart is a NZ registered nutritionist and weight management expert. Nikki became well known as “The Evil Diet Witch” when she hosted the TV series ‘Eat Yourself Whole’ and ‘The Fat Chance’.In this episode, Nikki talks to JK about the connection between good nutritional practices and better mental wellbeing. They discuss the results of the recent ‘Smiles Trial’ study showing the correlation between eating more fruit and lower incidence of depression and other mental wellbeing issues.Further, Nikki examines a new study by Elaine Rush showing that carotenoids, the pigments which give fruit and vegetables colour, have a greater effect on health outcomes than previously thought, and that a majority of New Zealanders aren’t getting enough of them.As part of our Groov wellbeing campaign on Winter Wellbeing, Nikki shares tips and tricks for getting enough protection from our nutritional choices in winter, and how to eat well efficiently using seasonal vegetables.JK and Nikki also discuss “Blue Zones”, countries or regions whose traditional diets provide high balanced nutrition resulting in low incidence of obesity and a host of other related health issues. They talk about what makes up a “Blue Zone” diet and how we can build this kind of culture in New Zealand.Read and Listen:The New Serving Guidelines Min of HealthThe Smiles Trial study Carotenoid studies referenced: 1 and 2Further information on Blue Zones
  • 28. Jase Te Patu | Mana, Māori mindfulness practices, and mental wellbeing

    01:02:52
    In this episode, Jase Te Patu talks to JK about growing up between worlds in New Zealand, and finding his way to mental wellbeing through rediscovering the wisdom contained in the traditional wellbeing practices of Māori and other indigenous cultures.Jase gives JK the down low on the work M3 Mindfulness are doing in schools across the country, sharing stories of the work they’ve done with Māori youth to rediscover their heritage and rebuild their mana. Through M3 Mindfulness, Jase is also highly active in the business community as a keynote speaker and board member. He provides his perspective on the current business landscape in New Zealand, and the work still to do in fully embracing diversity in the workplace.We’ve recently featured some practices from Jase’s new bi-lingual mindfulness platform Hā in the Groov app. He gives us some background on the development of the practices, and how he’s taken inspiration from traditional practices of hā (breathe), tikanga (customs), and karakia (prayer) to create mindfulness practices that are accessible to all New Zealanders.Read and Listen:Matariki: The Star of the Year - by Rangi MatamuaTwo Worlds - by Anne SalmonEveryday Māori - podcast by Hēmi Kelly and Āpera Woodfine
  • 27. Tazmayn Goode | The importance of diversity & uncovering our biases

    01:00:48
    JK is joined this week by Tazmayn Goode, a South African expat, who founded the 360 Academy and Wellness Hub to bring wellness programs to leaders and employees in businesses around Australia.She’s also in the process of launching Empowered, a program building pathways into the workforce for disadvantaged communities, from indigenous youth and refugees to women who have suffered domestic abuse, and people who are aging out of the workforce.Taz gives us her perspective on the Australian business landscape, how companies can benefit from embracing diversity, and the opportunities that companies can unlock by employing people from a wide range of skill sets and backgrounds.Then Taz puts JK in the hot seat, taking him through some exercises to uncover his own biases. We highly encourage you to try these exercises for yourself, you might be surprised at what you discover. Read and Listen:On Combat, The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace - by Dave GrossmanUnlocking Us - podcast by Brené BrownThe Tim Ferris Show Feat. Susan Cain - podcast episode
  • 26. Tofe Evans | Recovery, Resilience, & Ultra-Marathon Running

    01:03:25
    JK sits down with Tofe Evans, a young man with a big resume; author of ‘Everyone has a plan until shit hits the fan’, ultra-marathon runner, wellness coach, and business owner.Tofe talks candidly about his addictions to drugs, alcohol and external validation, and shares the tools he has developed to build practical resilience and overcome these struggles. A big part of Tofe’s journey has been with The Man Kind Project, a global program providing wellness coaching for men. JK and Tofe dig into this program and how it uses classical literary archetypes to contextualize emotional expression and foster better mental wellbeing.Finally, the guys talk about Tofe’s experiences with ultra-long-distance running, from the challenges he faced in a race across Scotland, to the triumph of running the highest foot race in the world on the slopes of Everest.Read and Listen To:‘Everyone has a plan until shit hits the fan’ - by Tofe EvansKing, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine - by Robert L. Moore, Douglas GilletteDiary of a CEO - Podcast by Steven BartlettTRIGGER WARNING: This podcast episode mentions suicide, as well as drug and alcohol abuse. Listener discretion is advised.
  • 25. Dr Hillary Bennett | What should be on the 2022 workplace wellbeing agenda

    01:01:06
    Dr Hillary is the director of Leading Safety, a consultancy specialising in safety leadership, safety culture, human factors, and workplace health and safety. She is a registered psychologist and works with organisations across all sectors to develop safe and healthy workplaces. With a particular interest in mental health and wellbeing at work, she was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the New Zealand Health and Safety Awards 2019.After appearing on a couple of our Mentemia customer webinars to offer up her advice for workplace wellbeing, by popular request this episode gets a full hour of her insights, advice and where the agenda should be focused for workplace wellbeing in 2022.In particular Sir JK and Dr Hillary dive into:What is psychological safetyAs people leaders and business executives, how we can’t just help build mental health literacy and create a psychologically safe environment. How we’ve got to really start tackling the issue of workloads and make that a real focus.Dignity in the workplace - without dignity you can't have wellbeingDignity in leadership and how it is different to respectThe importance of taking restorative breaksEnjoy this episode!
  • 24. Joe Daymond | Turning points & taking care of number one

    01:08:50
    Comedian and Celebrity Treasure Island contestant Joe Daymond joins JK to share his journey with self-acceptance, imposter syndrome and the turning points that have got him to where he is today.When Joey D returned home to NZ after travelling at the age of 21, he stumbled into the first and biggest turning point of his life so far. Realising his lifestyle didn’t align with his values and the people he surrounded himself with were not making him feel good, he made the tough decision to distance himself from the relationships that were impacting his wellbeing and hindering his personal growth. He talks to Sir JK about the impact this decision had on him, and the steps he took to take care of number one and build the life he wanted by eliminating the things that didn’t make him feel good, and pursuing the things that did. Raised in Wainuiomata, Joe Daymond, the 25-year-old Fijian-Māori comedian is barely four years into his career but he’s sold out the SkyCity Theatre, been on TV and is about to have his own web series ‘Bouncers’ shown on Comedy Central in the UK. Listen to this authentic and open discussion about connecting with yourself, healing, acknowledging when you need help and the experience of imposter syndrome.