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Chip Hautala Of MotionSource International On 5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote The Mental Wellness Of Their Employees

An Interview With David Liu

As a part of my series about the “5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote the Mental Wellness Of Their Employees” I had the pleasure of interviewing Chip Hautala, owner, founder and CEO of MotionSource International.

With 20+ years’ experience as a C-Level Executive and business owner in industrial equipment and manufacturing, Chip Hautala has exhibited incredible insight and skill with startups and reviving fledging businesses. He relies on a lifetime of experience of team building to cultivate a corporate culture that thrives on cooperation and teamwork to optimize individual abilities and build winning teams. He founded MotionSource International as a startup and has overseen its expansion to an international leader in industrial equipment and technology.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I’m not sure if there’s one story that’s more interesting than the others. But there are a lot of interesting stories. What was it the Grateful Dead used to say? What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Possibly the most recent though, was how we navigated through the pandemic so far. Being an IT guy, when I founded MotionSource in 2012 I opted for the newest technology at the time and put everything in the cloud. Our inventory system, network, CRM and even our phone system. At the time my thought was that in Northeast Ohio, if we ever had a snowstorm, everyone could still work………..just from home. Never did I imagine a worldwide pandemic would cause us to work remotely for 15 months. But it did, and we were prepared.

Our team was able to keep our customers taken care of without anyone noticing our sales and support team were working from home. We had our warehouse and production team coming in and masked up with social distancing, so we were still able to ship, receive and build orders without putting anyone in danger. We utilized Zoom for customer and company meetings, and while not quite the same as interpersonal contact, it worked well. In fact, in some ways we benefited as we held continuing education classes for our sales and support teams, holding supplier-led “lunch and learn” sessions that brought new products into better focus.

During non-pandemic times, I have a habit of visiting each teammate’s workspace every morning, checking in, and seeing what challenges I can help with. So, to not completely lose the personal touch, and keep a sense of normality, I made sure to Zoom or FaceTime each team member every day so it was just like my routine morning visits. We don’t have 200 people here like some larger companies, so that made it easier to accomplish.

So that may not be the most interesting story, but it’s a significant story on adapting to change on the fly and still servicing our team and customers.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Keep it light, trust yourself and your team and maybe most important …………… learn to laugh at yourself. Trust that you’ve assembled a great team to work beside you and that you can’t do it all alone. We have a Bruce Springsteen quote on the wall outside my office, “Nobody wins unless Everybody wins”. It grounds me and reminds me that we’re a team and I have teammates I can count on. Burnout happens when you focus on the “me” instead of believing in the “we”.

I’m an old ballplayer, I always say that business is just a sport for past-your-prime ballplayers. You need to remember to file yesterday away, build on your victories and make today your focus. One day at a time does it every time. You’re going to have your share of errors and strikeouts but don’t carry it into tomorrow. If you’ve built a good team and been a leader, teammates will pick you up when they must. Remember, NOBODY hits a home run every trip to the plate. So, take it easy on yourself.

Lastly, keep it light and learn to laugh at yourself to avoid burnout. Unless you’re a surgeon, there’s not much we do in business that’s life and death. Once you can admit that to yourself, it’s easier to step away mentally for awhile and avoid burnout. At MotionSource, any member of the team can take a “mental health day” when they need it………myself included. Remember that you’re human and if it won’t matter in 5 years, it doesn’t matter today. Laugh at yourself and you’ll avoid burnout and find success despite your mistakes.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

To begin, you’ll never hear me say that someone “works for me” ……………. I don’t have employees; I have teammates that work with me. This may be how I feed my family, but it’s how everyone here at MotionSource feeds their families too. Remember that and empower your team. Remind them to make decisions as if they owned the company and ask advice, not permission when needed. It’s said that a rising tide lifts all ships, instilling that in the mind of your team, and trusting them to make business-based decisions will accelerate growth and improve work culture.

Secondly, remember that the workplace has changed over time, and people’s expectations have changed. Make the workplace someplace your team doesn’t dread coming to. One of the greatest compliments I’ve received from members of the MotionSource team is hearing that they get excited on Sundays thinking of coming into the office on Monday. We do a number of things to enhance our culture. At MotionSource, we encourage team members to bring their dogs into the office with them. If you stop into our offices, you may need to step over some bones and squeaky toys, but nothing helps you get over a difficult customer like having your dog at your feet to reassure you. We have two office cats too that belong to everyone. Everybody takes care of them, and they lighten the mood for all of us.

We encourage our team members to make a difference as well in our communities by working with their favorite charity. We don’t have donation drives; we have a program that allows each team member to take an extra paid day off every 6 months to donate their time to the charity of their choice. We’ve had people donate their time to Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross or even visiting veterans at our local VA Hospital. I’ve always believed people want to make a difference in their world and we do what we can to facilitate that.

We also offer unlimited vacation time at MotionSource. When we started offering unlimited vacation, colleagues warned me that people would take advantage of it. I argued that if you trust your team, they’ll return the trust and not abuse it. No one has abused it to this day.

Lastly, we have fun days at MotionSource and keep it light. We’ve all heard of Christmas in July, we have July in Winter parties. I’ll bring enough sand into our warehouse to create a virtual “beach”, we turn the heat up to 95 degrees and all change into shorts, sandals and Hawaiian shorts at the office. It may be snowing outside, but we’re enjoying the heat, sand and a Hawaiian BBQ. A little “thank you” like that goes a long way sometimes.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

There’s a quote from John Lennon I often think of. He said, “When I was a child, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. So, when I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

Happiness is so important to a healthy life. “The pursuit of happiness” is even an inalienable right ……….. bestowed by our Creator in the US Constitution. Even Socrates wrote of happiness, saying in part that it’s not external and can’t be found in wealth or power. So, it’s a timeless pursuit as well.

Happiness may mean a million different things to a million different people, but it’s the constant that we all look for as we weave the fabric of our lives. There’s not much in this world that’s as important and as elusive. But understanding and working toward what gives you happiness gives you unique insight to help your team.

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 that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?

Rightfully so, this has been a discussion that has been brought to the forefront recently as employers are becoming more aware of employee’s concerns. We need to provide a balance to team members. The prevailing opinion has always been that customers are our greatest asset. At MotionSource, we’ve always held the belief that our team members are our greatest asset.

As a responsible company, we realize that people’s schedules change with the seasons. Team members have young children in school and their hours need to be flexible to accommodate school and sport schedules of their children. That’s why we offer flex hours and the ability to work remotely. We trust our team that offering the freedom to fit work into their lives instead of fitting life into their work benefits us all. I’m told it’s made a big difference to our team.

We also realize that physical health leads to mental health and so we offer gym memberships to team members. With flexible hours, they can visit the gym during the workday if more convenient. We also stock our kitchen with fruit and healthy snacks for our team. As I said, our greatest asset is our team. If we take care of our team, they’ll take care of our customers.

These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?

Listening to your team. One of the sincerest forms of respect you can show someone is to actually listen to what they say. Listen to learn and not simply to respond. Once you begin to listen, you can help your team.

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 or having other mental health issues ? Can you explain?

As I said above, the first step is learning to be a good listener. There are times when someone needs to vent and isn’t looking for a solution, they’re just looking to have someone listen to them. Then there are times when someone needs you to listen and help them to find a solution. Know the difference between each and be a good listener.

Also remember that no one wants to be depressed and be kind. I think it was Robin Williams who said, “People don’t fake depression, they fake being OK. Remember that and be kind.”

My teammates here at MotionSource know I’m always available to listen. Build trust and listen. It’s easier than you think.

This might seem intuitive to you, but it will be helpful to spell it out. Can you help articulate a few ways how workplaces will benefit when they pay attention to an employee’s mental health?

Mental health means that people are happier, more focused, and more willing to help others. All of which promote teamwork and a productive work environment. People that are mentally healthy realize that mistakes are just part of the learning process. Teach your team to look at mistakes as a teacher and not a judge. Plus, openly admitting to your own mistakes goes a long way to building trust with your team.

I make a big deal out of pointing out my mistakes to the team and often laugh at them. If I learned something, I share that as well. Perfection is often the enemy of greatness. People that are cognitively aware know that being able to talk about mistakes, fix them and move on makes for a healthy work environment. Remember that there are 7 billion people in this world who don’t know what you did wrong and don’t care. Fix it, laugh at it and move on.

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?

I start every morning with yoga and a 3-mile run. It focuses me, grounds me, and clears my mind for a new day. I recommend it to anyone.

I work in the communications industry, so I’m particularly interested in this question. As you know, there are a variety of communication tools such as video conferencing, phone, text, and push-to-talk. What changes or improvements would you suggest for these technologies to help foster better mental health?

I believe we work in an age of communication, and nothing is more important to mental health than consistent, positive communication. Any improvements that are made should be something that makes the communication more personable. I don’t pretend to be intelligent enough to suggest anything more than, “wow that would be cool” ideas, but if the next step in video conferencing is holographic communications that would be a big step. I’ve read recent articles that state this is the next step. Currently it’s clunky though requiring a green screen and several cameras, so it’s not economically feasible. If improvements and cost reductions could be made, it would make inter-personal communications more productive.

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. :-)

For over 30 years, I’ve been a member of the Pay it Forward Foundation. Pay it Forward promotes “random acts of kindness”. Whether it’s paying for the person behind you in line at Starbucks, picking up the check of the elderly couple at the next table in your favorite restaurant or simply recognizing someone with an unexpected compliment. No matter how small, studies have shown being kind can also increase serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate moods, in both the giver and the receiver.

If you perform one small random act of kindness each day, you will have improved 14,600 people’s lives in 40 years. If each of those people pay it forward we will have touched the entire world in one generation. It’s amazing and Isn’t that reason enough?

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

I post often on LinkedIn; anyone can follow me at I tend to leave positive tips on leadership. I also have a blog on our website,

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!



In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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David Liu

David is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, a unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication