Nikesh Timilsina Of Hotei Marketing On 5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote The Mental Wellness Of Their Employees
An Interview With David Liu
We talk about exercise goals with my team week by week. It doesn’t matter if it’s yoga or gym, or even a mindfulness focused conversation — everyone is requested to add something to his or her week. Our positive discussions around exercise motivate the whole team to do something on an ongoing basis and keep a check on their health.
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 Nikesh Timilsina, Creative Director at Hotei Marketing. Nikesh is based in the Nepal office with the company’s head office located in Finland.
Creative Director at Hotei Marketing, Nikesh Timilsina is a Nepal born documentary filmmaker and producer. He has been working in international creative communications for multiple industries, his clients’ focusing on mental, financial and emotional wellbeing. Nikesh prefers to be a contributor in projects that look to bring people together in acceptance despite their differences.
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 with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I was working at TAMK University in Finland when a major earthquake hit Nepal, my home country. News of NGOs helping people with the disaster was spreading, and unfortunately, there was widespread corruption amongst many of the newly registered non-profits, despite claims they were assisting earthquake victims. I felt I had to do something because these issues were affecting other reputable organizations, and tarnishing the reputation of necessary humanitarian projects in Nepal.
I spoke to a close friend of mine, from Finland, and we decided to travel across Nepal to set the record straight by focusing on NGO’s that have positively impacted communities. Our plan was to film documentaries and bring people’s stories to life by sharing the importance of their work in Nepal. I founded ‘ Good Times Nepal ‘ a non-profit filmmaking foundation to help legitimate humanitarian organizations in Nepal and raise funds. My method was to show people’s stories for transparency. In total, we helped to raise around USD $100,000 over the course of a few years.
While this was my first time using a camera of any sort, the experience of listening to people’s stories when I put a camera in front of them and retelling it at the editing table had me hooked. I set out on my path as a filmmaker and moved back to Nepal from Finland to concentrate on filming similar documentaries. I had found my passion, a passion that is now a satisfying career. As Creative Director at Hotei Marketing, I continue to tell people’s stories in order to make a positive difference in the world.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I never knew, and I still don’t know how far I will go with filmmaking, but with luck and persistence a docudrama we are making has received interest from various Scandinavian production and distribution companies, as well as producers from Hollywood. We are currently working with them as mentors so these are exciting times. This question really forced me to stop and think and look back at what my team and I have achieved to date. I genuinely believe good things happen if you release yourself from limited beliefs and stay focused on solving problems in the world.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
* Ensure psychological safety in the workplace and maintain a positive company culture. Products/services are completely secondary in comparison to your team’s wellbeing and motivation.
* Avoid micromanaging and lead with trust, take risks with clear intentions, and the team you put trust in will back you up. If you keep micromanaging you don’t leave any space for someone to step up.
* Form a daily ritual of whatever works for you, meditation, exercise, etc. And while doing it forget about everything, including yourself. Let everything go and be present.
* Make a journal of what you set out to do in the morning and how did your day go in the evening. Write everything that excited you and brought you down. Be honest.
* Self-growth and curiosity shouldn’t be shut down regardless of your age.
* Step back from the daily grind and focus on the big picture.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
* Ensure everyone feels safe to speak up and that they feel listened to.
* Delegate challenges instead of instructions.
* Ask questions rather than giving answers when your team gets stuck. Your answers might take away someone’s imagination. Spoon-feeding answers doesn’t lead to learning and growth. Patience is key.
* Be okay with not knowing. Tell your team if you don’t know something.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“This too shall pass”. I do not have a specific story for this quote, but it has always helped me stay humble and get over life’s challenges.
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?
I have actively implemented a range of measures focusing on the self-development and health of employees. It’s important to structure the success of the company at its heart and I see wellness at the intersection between mind and body. As leaders we should be continually supporting and helping employees on their well-being journey as being happier can only lead to greater success.
1. As part of our employee on-boarding process, we have introduced two hour hand analysis sessions through Brent Bruning — a master hand analyst and transformation coach. This is something I am a great believer in, as the technique really gets to the heart of who we are so we can release doubts and move forward with purpose. Once we have a firm confirmation of our deepest aspirations, we open the door to our greatest potential. The session is key to a better well being and almost always leads to a sharper focus and drive, and that kind of inspiration uplifts the whole team.
2. We talk about exercise goals with my team week by week. It doesn’t matter if it’s yoga or gym, or even a mindfulness focused conversation — everyone is requested to add something to his or her week. Our positive discussions around exercise motivate the whole team to do something on an ongoing basis and keep a check on their health.
3. Maintaining some form of personal connection with the team is important in my opinion. Treating everybody with respect and in a high regard boosts their motivation and wellbeing. Reminding people around you every now and then of their achievements. Making recognition part of the company culture might sound simple, but it has a trickle down effect to all levels of the organization and promotes empathy amongst the workforce.
4.We welcome all ideas through our idea box. This allows us to keep track of how the company is feeling. Are there any issues we need to work on to provide a productive and positive place to work? We don’t shut down anybody’s ideas even if they are irrelevant. Everyone needs to be heard.
5. We pay for gym memberships, digital libraries, and courses if anybody in the team requests it. The idea that we want people to feel healthy and happy when they are working with us is completely in the open. We are all growing into better people day by day. Life is a continual learning experience.
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?
Getting everyone around the table, and regularly is key. I feel issues only come about when staff feel as though they are not being heard. Everyone is an individual. If you want to retain your workforce there should be a balance in place Employees should understand the value they bring to the company and that their own input is valued, even when that input is negative.
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?
- Being empathetic is key, in fact now it’s a sought after leadership skill. Being in a creative fast paced industry shouldn’t detract from the fact that we need to take the time to tune into people’s behavior so we can sense when people are experiencing mental health issues.
- Having an open door policy is essential to two-way communication and getting ahead of any problems in a speedy fashion. This way, problems don’t spiral out of control. The same applies to the world outside of work. Whether it’s employees, colleagues or friends, the people close to you should be able to express their feelings in a safe environment.
- Providing access to outside support so people can work on their mental health problems is vital, as is finding/learning about coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with recurring mental health issues.
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?
When people know that they are working in a safe and caring environment, they feel more of an attachment to that environment, and there is a trickle down effect of empathy. Managers will carry that same behavior through to their staff, and their staff to their colleagues. When empathy becomes embodied within the corporate culture, people want to work for the company and they want to be there. It’s a very simple premise. People like to do what they enjoy. You then have an increase in creativity, productivity and continual learning. Ultimately, paying attention to mental health helps to grow effective and productive businesses.
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 try and go to Vipassana meditation retreats every year. It is very useful in terms of foundational self-work. It’s 10 days of complete silence with just you and your breath and your body. Imagine not getting affected by pain and not being attached to pleasure, that we are always swimming in. I always leave feeling re-energized and ready to take on the world.
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?
Since I am working remotely by video conferencing with people from around the world, it can be very draining when it’s done too much. Most of my days are filled with meetings and it is almost unavoidable for me. It is not the same as speaking in-person where we give or share energy rather than draining it.
I have been checking out the VR conferencing side of things, and I must say that it feels much more intimate and natural than video conferencing on a computer screen. I hope that AR is developed to a point that with the use of improved VR/AR glasses we are able to speak to holograms in our location. That would boost conferencing by miles!
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 am working on a project focused on telling utopian stories of the year 2092. It will be a series to start with, the episodes illustrating stories of the future where problems existing in 2022 were solved but since replaced by different and exciting challenges in the future.
We live in a world where the media and movies keep showing us the dystopian outcome. Thinking about the future positively is getting increasingly harder for younger generations. With this project, we want to change that outlook and bring hope into play, so we see the future as positive exercise in humanity.
I’m unable to go into more detail on the project at this moment, but I am confident that we will launch an inspirational series to uplift the younger generation. I am sure we won’t be the only ones looking to paint a different vision of the future. When we are crushed by negativity, for example, today’s climate change messages, we tend to avoid confrontation. If we face our fears we can be more creative in our thinking and look at the future in a positive way
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
Please follow me at Hotei Marketing or join me on LinkedIn
Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!