Amber Olson Rourke of Neora: How We Are Helping To Promote The Mental Wellness Of Our Employees
Encourage self-care. We have offered free wellness classes including yoga, meditation and deep breathing courses online so that employees can participate and learn these skill sets to include in their day-to-day tool kit.
As a part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Are Helping To Promote The Mental Wellness Of Their Employees” I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber Olson Rourke, Neora Co-Founder & Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.
Amber Olson Rourke leads a team that is responsible for all branding, creative services, communications, public relations, events, digital marketing and social media at Neora. As a member of the core executive team, Amber helped set and execute the strategy that led Neora to be the youngest company ever to earn a place on the Direct Selling News Global 100 List in 2013, as well as receive the prestigious Bravo Growth Award from Direct Selling News for hitting $100 million in sales during its first full year of business.
In 2014, Amber received multiple industry recognitions, including the Direct Marketing News 40 Under 40 list, the Best in Biz Marketing Executive of the Year Silver award, and several Stevie awards including the Women Helping Women Gold award. Most recently, Amber was named the 2015 Top Female Executive by ADDISON Magazine. She has also been profiled alongside other Neora top executives in both Direct Selling News and SUCCESS from Home magazine.
Due to Amber’s innovative approach to product marketing, including a fully integrated digital to offline product storytelling strategy, Neora consistently attracts thousands of new customers per month. In addition, Neora is recognized as a top performer in social media performance and engagement.
Amber also plays a key role in the culture at Neora and helps drive the company’s vision of “Making People Better.” She assisted in developing Neora’s core values and leads a corporate culture committee, which ensures that the core values are represented throughout the company.
Amber currently serves as the president of the Neora Ripple Foundation, which has donated more than $5 million dollars to charitable organizations including World Vision, the SUCCESS Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She also serves on the board as secretary for Big Brothers Big Sisters International.
Passionate about helping people achieve their dreams, Amber established a partnership with the SUCCESS Foundation to host teen workshops across the country. These workshops teach kids the skills needed to achieve their dreams. To date, thousands of teens have attended these free workshops. Amber is also featured in SUCCESS for Teens, the book from which the workshops are based. Since its publication, SUCCESS for Teens has been donated to more than two million teenagers nationwide.
Prior to her time at Neora, Amber owned a medical spa where she often noticed many of her clients using products that did not live up to the results they expected after seeing the before and after photos. This frustration fueled her passion to represent a product that was based on patented skincare technology and offered real, noticeable results.
A frequent keynote speaker at Neora events — which draws audiences of 10,000 people or more — Amber encourages women to put their “calling before their comfort.” She has hosted women’s workshops across the country and is on the advisory board for Live Happy and the international #HappyActs campaign.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and was always taught to set goals and strive to accomplish my goals, so I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mind and spirit. I attended the University of Florida where I earned a degree in marketing. I went down the marketing path but realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur and get out on my own. So, I owned and managed a medical spa in Dallas, and that’s when I started to love helping people feel confident in their own skin. When the opportunity came along to build what was initially a skincare brand, I was able to combine everything I was passionate about — entrepreneurship, family and helping others feel confident. Neora started as a skincare brand and has since evolved into a brand that helps people feel like their most confident self.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Avoiding burnout is important, especially because so much has gone virtual, and there’s not an organic start and stop to our workdays. Now more than ever, I try to be intentional with my time and be fully present in the moment. If I’m in a work meeting, I’m not focusing on the things I didn’t get done at home. If I’m at home cooking dinner with my girls, I’m fully present being their mom, listening to them and showing them that I’m engaged. You can do all things, but you can’t do all things at the same time.
When our phones are constantly dinging, it causes us to be scattered and all over the place, which will inevitably burn us out. It’s important to also have moments of quiet, rest and relaxation because most creative thoughts come to us when we’re not bombarded with a million signals.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Respect and communication are the cornerstones for a positive work culture, where regardless of whether someone has been at the company for 10 years or is in an entry-level or executive position, they are given an outlet to be heard. It is important that people feel heard and that as a leader, you are always striving to continuously improve the company and have open communication with employees even with obstacles or changes. There is no one answer for a fantastic work culture — you need to instill communication, trust and respect in your company and find out what that means for your team so that you can mold your culture to fit the needs of your team members.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
It always seems impossible until it’s done. I have this quote hanging in my office. It’s a great reminder because when you’re in the middle of a situation what you’re trying to accomplish feels overwhelming. This quote is a fantastic reminder to focus on getting to that finish line, enjoying the process, having big goals and doing it together as a team. Many times what we’re undertaking feels impossible, but it’s gotten done because our team believes in our company and wants to achieve the high goals we’ve set.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. In recent years many companies have begun offering mental health programs for their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, we would love to hear about five steps or initiatives you have taken to help improve or optimize your employees mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Offer mental health coverage as part of benefits so that employees have somewhere they can call and get access to coverage.
- Provide a space for reflection. We have a yoga meditation room in our office where people can take a break to meditate and think.
- Encourage self-care. We have offered free wellness classes including yoga, meditation and deep breathing courses online so that employees can participate and learn these skill sets to include in their day-to-day tool kit.
- Make an open-door policy for people to talk about any issues they might have with their manager and human resources team.
- Vocalize your support for your employees so that they know they are appreciated and their hard work is recognized.
What you are doing is wonderful, but sadly it is not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?
Any company is only as good as its people. Taking care of your employees and helping them achieve their best state will help your company succeed long-term, even if it feels like you’re making short-term sacrifices. Open communication is key because if people don’t feel comfortable talking to their manager about an issue because they fear being seen as weak or not good enough, they’re going to stay silent.
From your experience or research, what are different steps that each of us as individuals, as a community and as a society, can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling stressed, depressed, anxious and having other mental health issues? Can you explain?
It is scientifically proven that people with good support systems are less anxious. When people don’t feel comfortable talking about an issue, it is much harder to progress. When you have a strong support system that encourages and doesn’t judge you, it’s much easier to be resilient. We believe in uplifting our employees and building a strong, supportive environment.
Habits can play a huge role in mental wellness. What are the best strategies you would suggest to develop good healthy habits for optimal mental wellness that can replace any poor habits?
Healthy habits that help center our bodies and focus can have a huge impact on our overall well-being. I recommend starting your day writing down three things you’re thankful for. This practice gets you in the habit of expressing gratitude and focuses your brain on those good things. Your subconscious mind is one of your most powerful tools. A lot of people start the day by waking up and searching social media and the news, and they’re bombarded with negativity, and as a result, subconsciously think negative thoughts throughout the day. You need to develop a routine that includes reflecting on the good you can find in the world. Turning off phone notifications at certain times throughout the day can be helpful because we do not always need to know the second someone likes our post or responds to our email.
Do you use any meditation, breathing or mind-calming practices that promote your mental wellbeing? We’d love to hear about all of them. How have they impacted your own life?
Yes, I do all three depending on the circumstance. Before going into a stressful situation or an important meeting or presentation, I take calming breaths and focus on the outcome that I’m trying to achieve. I also have affirmations or prayers I repeat when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed. If I’m feeling stuck, then mediation is good for that. In my line of work, I have to be creative and come up with new ideas, so as part of my meditation, I often take walks to get Vitamin D and free my mind in nature to come up with a creative idea.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
The Slight Edge by my dad, Jeff Olson, Neora founder and CEO. This best-selling book focuses on habits and breaks down that success isn’t something you’re just born with. Success is about developing consistent habits over time that help take you where you want to go. It’s empowering to know that by showing up consistently with a good attitude, whether it’s health and wellness, your career or anything, you can make great progress and get to where you want to go with good habits. The good habits I’ve developed have helped me become who I am.
When I got to the University of Florida, they said that the average GPA was 4.03. I looked at my dad and said, “Oh my gosh, how am I going to compete?” and his response was, “It’s easy — you’re just going to show up consistently over a long period of time.” Weeks later, I was showing up to my classes when other people weren’t. I would study an hour every day and developed other little habits that seemed to make no difference at the time but ended up making all the difference. I graduated magna cum laude even though I was not the smartest in my class.
Daring Greatly and Dare to Lead by Brené Brown have influenced me the most in my leadership style. Twenty years ago, we were taught that being vulnerable leads to weakness and sets us up to fail, but Brené teaches that leading with vulnerability and clarity helps your team become more open.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would start a movement that encourages others to take action. I lead tens of thousands of brand partners across the world, and what I see is that most people don’t lack a certain skill set or knowledge, they lack the belief that they’re good enough to do something and make an impact. As a result, many people wait around and are hesitant to take bold actions, but everyone has skills, assets and passions. If people learned to take action on the things they are the most passionate about, there would be so much change in the world. Unfortunately, so many people sit back and wait.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work