Why Construction Safety and Mental Health Go Hand-in-Hand

Mental health is a subject that isn’t broached often in the world of construction, but according to Stuart Binstock, CEO and President of CFMA, it needs to be. Binstock is on the board of trustees for the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP). CIASP’s goal is making people aware that the problem exists in the United States and around the world with groups similar to CIASP. Based on recent trends, the group’s work has never been more critical. 

In 2018, the Center for Disease Control found that construction had the highest suicide rate of any industry in the United States. During one presentation Binstock gave, he asked a group of construction companies, “How many of you have had a suicide on the job or are aware of an employee who has died by suicide?” Two thirds of attendees raised their hands. This is an alarming reality, but it’s one the construction industry can change.

In this episode of the Mobile Workforce Podcast, Binstock shares why people need to talk about mental health, how the construction industry can prioritize mental health in their company cultures and where to find the resources to educate employees on these matters. 

 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Construction workers are highly susceptible to mental health struggles. In the construction industry, the majority of the workforce is caucasian men between the ages of 20 and 50 – a group considered at high risk for suicides. This correlation demonstrates why more construction companies need to recognize the problem so they may take steps to protect their employees.
  2. It’s time to invest in a culture of caring and well-being. The construction industry’s “Macho Man” stereotypes are destructive and detrimental. These include things like perpetuating the tough guy mentality and ignoring alcohol and substance abuse. The most critical assets a construction company has are its people. Investing in safety tools such as needs analysis, integration checklists and toolbox talks are steps in the right direction to keep everyone safe – but it’s also important to allow space for people to open up if they’re struggling with something.
  3. There are free resources to navigate mental health concerns in the workplace. Construction workers are not mental health experts but they can learn to notice the warning signs and take steps to help colleagues who are having a hard time. CIASP’s website, www.preventconstructionsuicide.com, provides free resources on how to navigate mental health concerns in the workplace.

 

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Episode Transcript:

Mike Merrill:

Hello, and welcome to the Mobile Workforce podcast. I am your host, Mike Merrill:. And today, we are joined by the president and CEO of CFMA, Stuart Binstock. And Stuart is highly regarded as an expert in construction finance. I’ve known Stewart for many years, and we’ve worked together within the CFMA organization. I’m really excited to have him on today. But we’re going to take a little bit different spin on things, and shine a light on a topic that’s a little bit different from construction finance today.

Mike Merrill:

We’re going to talk about a topic that Stuart and I both feel like is probably under-discussed, or not discussed often enough, and that is mental health. So Stuart actually leads the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. So, we’re grateful to have him on today to have this important conversation and discussion. And welcome today, Stuart. We’re excited to have you.

Stuart Binstock:

Thank you, Mike. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Mike Merrill:

You bet. Before we get into the deeper part of the conversation, could you just share with the listeners a little bit about your background and what CFMA is?

Stuart Binstock:

Sure. So, CFMA is a national organization. We’re an individual member association. We have somewhere right now between 8,500 and 9,000 members, in 99 chapters around the country. Our membership is composed primarily about 65% of folks on the finance side of construction companies, and about 35% of companies, folks like sureties, CPAs, software companies that want to work for those companies. So, it’s a very powerful synergy that we bring everybody in the construction industry together to talk about construction finance.

Stuart Binstock:

I’ve been with CFMA now for about 10 years. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over those last 10 years. We’ve gotten… probably increased membership by about 20 to 30%, and probably, in terms of revenue, about the same. But perhaps something I’m most proud of is that we’ve increased member value, I think significantly, over the last 10 years, through a myriad of things that we’ve done. But I think our members get a lot of value for spending less than $500 for being a member of both the national organization and a local chapter.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, that’s great, Stuart. Thank you for that Matt ground. And we, as an organization, at About Time Technologies and Work Max, we are involved every year. And we go to the events. We plug in. We rub elbows and talk to folks that are members of CFMA, and just a lot of value that the members get and come away with. And I notice they always come back every year. Nobody ever seems to leave CFMA. They just seem to keep coming.

Stuart Binstock:

Well, I think folks like you have really… We are kind of the sweet spot for companies like yours, that you… I mean, you essentially… I hear this from companies all the time. We need to be at the CFMA annual conference. It’s the most important event of the year for us. Because that’s where the decision-makers that will decide on our particular product, we can find them all in one place.

Stuart Binstock:

And yes, we have a very dedicated group of members, Mike. It always kind of amazes me. Our founder, David Casey just did an interview with our chair, Pam Hepburn. And he said… She asked him, she said, “What is the one thing that kind of surprises you still to this day?” And he poignantly said, “I think it’s the passion of the leadership, the volunteer leadership of CFMA, that has never waned. And in fact, it almost seems to have increased over the years.”

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. And I can attest to that. I see it, like you said. Every year, at the national conference, we go to the local chapter conferences. And we just… We do get excited every time we get to get involved with the CFMA event. The biggest surprise to me is how plugged in, like you said, the passion, but also how companies are willing to share best practices with one another. Even though they may be competitive in some environments, they still work together and try and raise the level of everyone’s performance together.

Stuart Binstock:

Well, the best example I can give you of that, Mike, is something we… on our website, we call the Connection Cafe. And it’s an opportunity for members to raise questions to members and get them asked… answered by the 8,500 to 9,000 members. It’s incredible the amount of information that our members share with one another. They are competitors, and they’re not going to tell them the secret sauce and any thing that makes their company particularly different, but they will share information for instance, on ERP systems.

Stuart Binstock:

I got to tell you, our members can be brutally honest and make comments that I’m sure makes some of the ERP whince a little bit, but it’s a very open and honest conversation. I think it’s… By itself, its worth the CFMA membership is just plugging in and looking at the connection cafe on a daily basis. And I think you’d get just… It’s kind of like a CFO one-on-one on that listserv.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. And I can attest to that. I’ve been in some of the chat threads where there’s 50 or a hundred or more comments back and forth. And you got people from Ohio locking arms with somebody in California, and Virginia, and Florida. And people are weighing in from everywhere and, again, sharing what they’ve learned so that everybody doesn’t have to go through those speed bumps all the time.

Stuart Binstock:

Yep. Yep.

Mike Merrill:

Love it. Well again, highly encourage everybody to check out CFMA. That’s Construction Financial Management Association. The annual conference is amazing. They’ve got a lot of online events, monthly webinars. We love being involved. But more importantly for today, as much as we love CFMA, and I’m sure you get to talk about it all the time, we really wanted to shine a brighter light on something that is a little bit more important and a challenge in our society today. And I think my question is, how did Stuart Benstock, this financial guy, get involved in suicide prevention?

Stuart Binstock:

Well, first of all, let me make a minor correction. I think you may have said something about me leading the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. CFMA started CIASP, but we are very pleased that we have joined in with many other organizations to now create an entity that’s separate and apart from CFMA. I’m on the board of trustees of the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. So I don’t want to take credit from leading it, nor do I want to get the blame in case we did something wrong. So, I just want to clarify that. But the answer to how a finance guy got involved in suicide prevention, I think it comes with just one simple phrase, and that’s people make a difference. And about five years ago, one of our members, a very beloved and cherished member, a guy named Cal Byer, came forward and penned an article with a doctor who deals with this issue, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, and they wrote an article about suicide prevention.

Stuart Binstock:

Our publisher of our magazine, Kristy Domboski, came into me. And Kristy said, “Stuart, we just got this article on suicide prevention. What do we do about that?” Kristy and I looked at each other quizzically. We usually talk about tax loss, succession planning. Suicide prevention is not in our wheelhouse. And we both decided, “Well, let’s give it a whirl and see what happens.” And we had no idea what was going to happen from that article. But from that article, there was just an incredible outpouring, particularly on the Connection Cafe, I might add, of members who were impacted by suicide, by a family member, or a friend, or a coworker. And we found out that this issue was very real and resonated with our members in ways we never envisioned.

Mike Merrill:

Wow, that is very profound. And I can only imagine. I think in society today, we’re doing a better job of raising awareness. But I think this impacts all industries. But in construction, specifically, it’s really a lot of stress and pressure. And just because me as an individual may not be going through something doesn’t mean that your crew member to the right or to the left of you isn’t.

Stuart Binstock:

Well, that’s true. And I will say, first of all, and I think it’s important to say, this is not just a nationwide problem. This is a worldwide problem. We’ve talked to folks in Australia and the UK who have programs like CIASP in the construction industry. Frankly, they’ve done a better job than we have in focusing on this. And that’s really our mission in CIASP is awareness, is making people aware that this problem exists. And of course, it exists nationwide way beyond the construction industry.

Stuart Binstock:

It is a problem that youth have. I’ve been told… The quote I’ve been given many times as 132 veterans die by suicide every day…

Mike Merrill:

Wow.

Stuart Binstock:

… which is a startling and very overwhelming and awful number. But it is a nationwide problem. The problem for us in construction is that… The CDC did a report… Center for Disease Control did a report in 2016, and later in 2018, and found out that construction had the highest suicide rate of any industry in the United States. That was a real punch in the gut for all of us. And I think that it was only a punch in the gut, but it made us realize how important this initial initiative was and how important it was to carry it on.

Mike Merrill:

Wow. Well, I know CFMA is always involved in good causes, charities, other things, but it’s really very… I mean, I just have reverence for the fact that they have put this organization together and taking this initiative, because I do know… I come from the industry. And I do know and understand that this is a real problem. And it makes me wonder, I don’t know if you know the answer, but who seems to be the most at risk of this plague, really, is what it is?

Stuart Binstock:

We look at the workforce, the labor workforce. And that’s really where this lies. By the way, I want to just mention one thing before I forget. I do have a opportunity to go out and speak to an awful lot of groups. And one of the groups I spoke to a year or two ago now… Given COVID, I forget when it was, probably close to a year and a half ago now. And it was the largest construction companies in the United States and all of their safety directors. They have their own kind of particular small group, about 30 to 50 of the largest construction companies in the United States. And I am a lawyer by training. And you’re always taught never to ask a question that you don’t know the answer to. But I went out on that plank and I decided to go ahead and ask the question.

Stuart Binstock:

So, at the beginning of my presentation, I asked them, “How many of you have had a suicide on the job or are aware of an employee who has died by suicide?” Two thirds of those companies raised their hands. Once again, that was also just an incredible punch in the gut to see how prevalent this is. But let me get back to answering your question. So, white men from the ages of 20 to 50 are kind of the group that died by suicide the most. And if you know anything about the workforce, the construction industry, it is largely white men ages 20 to 50. So, male dominated industries tend to have more suicides. And Caucasians die by suicide more than others. And we are unfortunately, primarily, and hopefully this will change, but largely a Caucasian workforce. But there’s also kind of the nature of the work that has impacted this and explains, in part, why suicide is so high in the construction industry.

Stuart Binstock:

First of all, there’s this kind of tough guy mentality, kind of stoic. I’m not going to tell you if anything’s bothering me there. And because of that… There are a fair number of injuries on work sites. This is not sitting at your desk. You all know that. And so, people have pain issues. And unfortunately, sometimes, they use opioids. Sometimes, they get in problems with opioids. And opioids and suicide are very, very much related. There’s also kind of the isolation when… Sometimes, a company has a project and it’s out of town, so people will travel. And they’ll be out of town. And they’ll be alone for months on end. And that’s not good for anybody’s mental health. There’s project layoffs, the end of the season kind of way offs. So, there’s kind of the financial stress that, that causes. There’s sleep deprivation due to shift work.

Stuart Binstock:

Unfortunately, there’s a tolerant culture for alcohol and substance abuse. And then, probably, some people say the biggest impact is access to lethal means. I’m not sure it’s fair to say there’s a gun culture in the construction industry, but it might be an accurate statement to make. And the more access you have to lethal means, the more able people are… What experts tell me is sometimes this is a spur of the moment decision that somebody makes.      And in that spur of the moment, if you have access to lethal means, you’re probably going to be more successful in doing and dying by suicide than others that don’t have access to those lethal means. That’s kind of a weird way to think about it. But if you think about it, it’s true.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. It’s very eye opening and difficult to even think about. I mean, even talking about it’s a challenge. It feels heavy. No question about it. How do companies create a culture that helps avoid or improve people that are struggling with these things? Do you have any insights to that?

Stuart Binstock:

Well, we talk about that. And I really encourage people, after listening to this, to go to preventconstructionsuicide.com. That’s the website for the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. And we have a fair number of tools. We have an assessment tool that a company can take. I encourage companies to look at this. And it is called… I want to just make sure I get the name right, so you understand what we’re talking about… a needs analysis and implementation tool. So, it really goes through a company. And it helps you determine if you have addressed some of the issues that might negate this from happening.

Stuart Binstock:

So, you create a healthy and wellbeing kind of culture, a caring culture in your organization. That’s one of the ways in which you can do this. I encourage folks to look at this needs analysis and integration checklist. And I think, if a company goes through that, they’ll probably learn some things along the way that they can do better to support their people. Because at the outset, and let me be very clear about this… The most important asset of construction company has are its people. And if you’re not going to invest in your people, then you’re missing out on the most valuable resource, then you’re missing out on the place where you can probably make the biggest difference.

Mike Merrill:

Hmm, wow. Profound statement. Yeah. Equipment and machines don’t have a heart or a brain.

Stuart Binstock:

Not that I know of. I mean, maybe they will in a few years, as I watch it on different shows might, but not now.

Mike Merrill:

Wow. Yeah. So, I know in construction, obviously, we do toolbox talks, or safety trainings, and requirements for OSHA and other things. Are those some areas that you’re seeing companies take advantage of an opportunity to communicate more clearly about these issues?

Stuart Binstock:

Absolutely, Mike. Absolutely. Yes. So, we have some toolbox talks on our website. I think another element that’s important is to have an effective employee assistance program. A lot of companies have EAPs, but they… What I’ve been told is they vary substantially. So, you really might want to look at your EAP and determine whether it will bring value to members, whether employees will really consider using it, and whether it helps them address some of the mental health problems.

Stuart Binstock:

It’s that whole building a caring culture of support. Those two things, building a caring culture and the construction industry, don’t exactly go hand in hand. Those two words don’t usually coincide. But it’s something to consider and think about doing if you want to have everyone come home at the end of the day, safe and sound.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. I love that. I know. I mean, here in our organization, one thing we do is regularly we’ll have book clubs. And not that I necessarily know that construction companies are going to do something like that, but I can tell you firsthand that, that is a wonderful experience to get to know people personally, and to be more vulnerable in ways where you can communicate about some of these things that are not easy to talk about out on a job site necessarily.

Stuart Binstock:

You’re absolutely right, Mike. I mean, this is not the conversation you have on the work site. You don’t walk up to Joe and go, “You look a little bummed out today. Joe. Are you thinking of dying by suicide?” And by the way, you’ll note, I use the expression “die by suicide”. I don’t say “commit suicide”. And that’s because people who kind of work in this field don’t really believe someone can commit to suicide. It’s… There’s got to be an underlying mental health issue for someone to die by suicide. So, you won’t hear people knowledgeable in this area talk about someone committing suicide. You still heard it on TV. But it’s interesting. Every once in a while, I’ll hear somebody on the news talk about this issue and say they died by suicide. That’s really the proper phrasiology to use.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. And I heard a statistic. And maybe I’m speaking out of turn here. I don’t have the exact reference. But I did hear and read a story. And they talked about survivors of that attempt. And in a hundred percent of the cases that they interviewed, they all had regretted making that choice.

Stuart Binstock:

And that’s why I mentioned lethal means and spur of the moment, because that’s exactly right. A lot of this does happen kind of in that spur of the moment, and someone has access to lethal means. They can accomplish what they probably would regret afterwards, but it’s too late. So, you’re absolutely right, Mike.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. And I know… So, we’ve talked about… I mean, I brought up the book club idea. You talked about toolbox talks. Are there some other tips, or tricks, or ways that companies can bring this subject up more comfortably?

Stuart Binstock:

Well, we have… Within the website, we do have Living Works training. So, it’s a group called Living Works. And they’ve created some training programs. You could start off and have your supervisors trained through this Living Works program. It’s really a nominal fee through our website. But every once in a while, I’m not sure where we are right now, but sometimes we even offer the training for free. But if it’s not for free, it’s for a nominal fee. And you could get maybe your supervisory staff trained and go through that program. It’s not very long. And that would, I think, help… There’s another expression that people in this area talk about, and Cal Byer used to talk about, and still does, which is remove the stigma, remove the stigma of having this conversation. And I would say that’s probably the most important thing you can do as a company. The single most important thing you can do is remove the stigma, because… I gave a speech on a association that has safety and health conference, and I kind of leveled them a little bit.

Stuart Binstock:

And I said, “I know you’re going to talk about safety. I’m not sure how much you’re going to talk about health during this two day conference, but I can well almost guarantee you will not be talking about mental health.” And that’s because people are afraid to talk about it. It’s not an easy topic to talk about, but you’ve got to start the conversation. And that’s… Part of our message is do something. Start the conversation somehow. Go have some folks in your company go through training. Have an EAP. Do a toolbox talk. There are a myriad of ways. Go through the integration checklist. There are a myriad of things you can do to start in this area.

Mike Merrill:

I know, just statistically speaking, I’m, I’m a hundred percent confident that we have somebody listening to this right now that’s either contemplated this action, or they know somebody who has. What would you tell that person that is dealing with that right now that might be listening?

Stuart Binstock:

Well, I mean, one of the dilemmas in this area, particularly for construction companies, is we are not mental health experts. And so, thinking that you are, and you’re going to be able to provide mental health expertise to someone, I think is a mistake. And so, you need to get them in touch with something like the suicide prevention hotline. We have, on the website, the warning signs to look for, for someone who might be thinking… having suicidal thoughts. Either someone in your company, or even if someone’s listening today, who has this, they should contact the suicide prevention line, and immediately.

Stuart Binstock:

And they will get some kind of assistance. If you are talking to someone who has suicidal thoughts, and they admit to those suicidal thoughts to you, it’s probably important to not leave them alone. You probably want to initiate getting them some help. And then, you can leave somebody alone. But you probably should not leave somebody alone who has expressed some of these thoughts. If that’s you, or someone who’s listening, or someone in your company, you want to help let them get some help before you leave them alone. I think that’s just a basic important premise.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. And I think, like you said earlier, these things are often a spur of the moment, or they may come on quickly. And so, it would be urgent that we don’t leave anybody in that moment.

Stuart Binstock:

The other thing I’ll tell you, Mike… This isn’t coming from me, but it comes from mental health experts, and it’s in our Living Works training. There’s nothing wrong with asking someone if they have suicidal thoughts. I know, when I first went through the training, I thought, “Why would I ask somebody that? What if I spurred them to do something that they weren’t already thinking of?” Mental health experts tell us, “If you ask someone that, and they said yes, it’s not like you put it in their head. They were already thinking of it.” So, you shouldn’t be shy about asking that if you see someone that you think has some signs of this. It’s important to actually get that out. And sometimes, just talking to somebody can make somebody feel better. This is kind of a labor intensive kind of issue.

Stuart Binstock:

You can’t have a process in place, and have someone go through four steps, and feel like they’re going to be great at the end of the tunnel. This is one-to-one kind of personal contact that you need to make, and connect with somebody, and take them aside, and ask them how they’re doing. I did a webinar yesterday for a group. And somebody asked the question, “I’m a female supervisor. And I think it would be really hard for me to approach one of my older laborers and ask them. And I don’t think they’d be that receptive.” And I think a good response to that is, “Well, find someone who they value, find someone who they look up to or see as an equal peer, and have that person do the work for you. But don’t not do it because you think you’re the wrong person. Find somebody else to have that conversation.”

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. I love that. And I love how you said earlier, this is a process, and it’s not just like four quick steps. I mean, it’s not like pulling a sliver out or something. I mean, there’s… This is a deeper seated issue that probably requires some professional help and direction by those that know how to best help that person. But in the absence of that, or before that can happen, talking about it, raising awareness, normalizing it to a degree that you understand that it’s okay.

Stuart Binstock:

Yeah. That’s the whole notion of removing the stigma. Yep. That’s exactly right.

Mike Merrill:

Love that. So, obviously very heavy subject, and not easy to talk about or even think about, but I think it’s important. And I’m so thankful that you’re able to share this with us today. Is there a website URL? Obviously, we’ll link it in the show notes and elsewhere, but can you tell us where to this information easily?

Stuart Binstock:

Preventconstructionsuicide.com. That’s the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s website. It has a whole host of things. One of the things we would like people to do is stand up to suicide prevention. So, that’s an acronym that stands for five different things. And we want people to kind of take the pledge to stand up for suicide prevention. And we’d love companies to do that. We run this organization on a shoestring budget. If anyone has the wherewithal, and feels compelled to support this, we would love that kind of support. We get it periodically from some big construction companies.

Stuart Binstock:

And we very much appreciate the support that we get. Anything you can do to help support that. Here at CFMA, every year at our conference, we have a run, a fund run. And it’s for charity. And every year, over the last couple of years, we’ve made all of the funds that we’ve been able to accumulate go to CIASP. I think, last year, we were able to give CIASP $17,000. So, anyone who feels compelled to do that, we’d love to hear from you as well.

Mike Merrill:

That’s great. And do you have like a donate now button on the website or is there…

Stuart Binstock:

Yep. Yep. There is.

Mike Merrill:

Fantastic. And I will certainly raise awareness to this as I am able, and use our platform to do the same. We’re heavily involved in our local AGC chapter also. And so, I will bring this to the attention of local group here as well.

Stuart Binstock:

AGC, and actually ABC, are both very involved in this initiative. The current chair of CIASP is actually a staff member of ABC. But the problem that we find, and this is true of CFMA, is we have this national initiative and we believe in it very much from the headquarters level, but it doesn’t always get filtered down to the chapter level. So, anything somebody can do to help grow this initiative, and grow the interest at a local level, is really important. The grassroots is where it’s really happening.

Mike Merrill:

I love that. And that’s… CFMA is definitely a grassroots organization. How many years have CFMA been in existence?

Stuart Binstock:

This is our 40th anniversary. So, you’re… Good question, Mike, the perfect timing for me to plug CFMA’s 40th anniversary.

Mike Merrill:

Wow. Yeah, I was going to say, it’s got to be the high thirties, at least. So, 40, that’s that’s a big deal.

Stuart Binstock:

Yeah.

Mike Merrill:

Love that. So, before we wrap up.. And again, thank you for having that difficult heavier conversation, because I think it is very important, and I appreciate the opportunity to help you get the word out on that. I do have a few personal questions for you.

Stuart Binstock:

Uh-oh.

Mike Merrill:

Not too personal.

Stuart Binstock:

Okay.

Mike Merrill:

I’ve been to a few cocktail mixers with you here and there.

Stuart Binstock:

We’re going down…. We’re going down a rabbit hole here.

Mike Merrill:

Just kidding. CFMA does have a lot of fun. They do find some time to let loose a little bit.

Stuart Binstock:

They do, absolutely do.

Mike Merrill:

So…

Stuart Binstock:

Love that about our members.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. That’s a great time. So, thanks again for helping us learn more about this important organization. Just to wrap up, what is one thing that you are grateful for in your professional life?

Stuart Binstock:

Well, I’m grateful for, I’d certainly say, my family. But my professional life, the last 10 years, CFMA has been the highlight of my career, no question about it. I’ve dealt with an amazing group of volunteers. As I talked about before, we have really passionate leaders as part of our organization. And they are so dedicated to this organization. If I was heading down a wrong path, they would correct me very quickly.

Stuart Binstock:

I try not to go down any wrong paths. But if I was, trust me, I’d get yanked back into reality. We really have some tremendous volunteers. We have folks who volunteer on our committees. We have an executive committee. We have an officer group. They’re all super, super dedicated to this organization.

Mike Merrill:

That’s great. Well, I love that. And I know it’s clear, you love CFMA and I know that CFMA certainly loves you, Stuart.

Stuart Binstock:

Thank you very much.

Mike Merrill:

What about a skill or a superpower, something you’ve kind of developed or learned over the years, and honed, that’s been a blessing to you and in your pursuits?

Stuart Binstock:

Well, I guess I’m someone, I believe… I’m not… This is not a superpower. I was going to say two separate things. First of all, I do believe physical health is connected to mental health. And so, I do pretty religiously walk 10,000 steps a day. You can’t see it in my physique because that hasn’t changed all that much, but it does make me feel good. And I think it’s really important to get out there. And so, I do walk 10,000 steps, which is about five miles every day. At the end of the day, if I haven’t walked my five miles, I’ll walk around in my house, walk up the stairs and down the stairs.

Stuart Binstock:

It looks kind of silly, but I’m pretty committed to my 10,000 steps. The other thing I would just say from a business standpoint, I’ve really been a firm believer in, keep your head down, and do your job, and you’ll be recognized. Once again, that’s not a super power, but that is kind of a belief that I have. Too many people, I think, worry about, “Did I get credit for that? Did I get credit for this?” trust me. You get noticed when you do something well in an organization. You don’t have to tell it yourself.

Mike Merrill:

I love that. There is absolutely no substitute for activity, getting things done, right?

Stuart Binstock:

Hard work.

Mike Merrill:

Love it. So, what about in your career earlier on, are there some things that you worked through, that you’ve improved upon, and you wish your younger self would have known earlier? Anything you could share with our listeners?

Stuart Binstock:

I would say yeah. I certainly… yes, under that category. And I think one of those is, if you’re going to leave an organization, make sure you better look behind to make sure you got people supporting you, and they’re behind you, instead of knifing you in the back. And that can happen. You get knifed in the back if you’re too far out front. You have to… There’s a delicate balance, in leading an organization, to lead and yet follow the lead of those that you’re trying to lead.

Stuart Binstock:

And sometimes, I would say, in my career, I just forged ahead. And I was going like blockbusters, gangbusters. And I turned around and I went, “Oh. Now, is there that really anybody supporting this?”

Mike Merrill:

Where is everybody?

Stuart Binstock:

“I think I better look backwards before I look forwards, and make sure I have the support of people.” You don’t get the support of people when they think you’re a little too out front, and you’re trying to do things that are not supported by the whole group.

Mike Merrill:

That’s an interesting insight. I think that’s not what I’ve heard before on the podcast. So, thank you for bringing that up. It’s important to make sure your team’s still with you.

Stuart Binstock:

Yep.

Mike Merrill:

Leadership means you’re still there having an effect on them, not out ahead, too far of the curve… the group. Love that. What about… Is there one challenge, or something really that was difficult, that you overcame? And what did you learn from that experience?

Stuart Binstock:

Well, I think, over the years, I’ve learned that it’s really important to collaborate. When I came on board with the staff, I inherited a staff. And I’m not sure I would have hired every single person that was on the staff. But I think, over the years, we’ve built a team here. And you don’t do this by yourself. And collaborating with my team. And giving them the power to do things on their own, I think. Has been very, very freeing to them, and I think important to our success.

Stuart Binstock:

I think they really appreciate having the freedom, within certain parameters of the organization, to do the right thing for the organization, and then collaborate together. I think no one is an island. No one does it on their own. And I’ve learned… I think I really have learned how important collaboration is. And the thing I’ve learned is I don’t always have the best ideas. There are other people in the room that have better ideas. And so, you really elevate the organization the more you get input from everybody in the company.

Mike Merrill:

I love that. I heard a quote the other day. They said, “If you’re the smartest one in the room all the time, you need to find another room.”

Stuart Binstock:

Right. That’s good advice.

Mike Merrill:

So. Thank you. Boy, I can’t add much to what you just said there. I love your advice. You’re clearly a veteran leader, and a great individual, and we really have enjoyed having this discussion. I guess finally, just for the listeners, what’s the one takeaway that you would leave them with here at the end of our discussion?

Stuart Binstock:

Thanks for asking that question, Mike. Do something. I made a comment at the outset, or during the middle of my presentation. Have a conversation. Do a toolbox talk. Have an overall conversation with your folks, maybe the… When a construction company… Maybe you have a… You bring everyone in and you talk about this issue collectively. And you’ll be shocked at some of the comments you’ll get from people. Do something.

Stuart Binstock:

And if you do something, you will lead to removing the stigma. And if you remove the stigma, and you create awareness, we can actually make a difference when it comes to this topic. I think we have made a difference so far, but there is a long way to go. There are still way too many people who die by suicide. Mental health is really not discussed enough in our society. It’s too difficult a conversation, and we need to remove the stigma.

Mike Merrill:

There you have it folks. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Stuart. I’ve really enjoyed the conversation, and always get to know you better when we have these opportunities. I appreciate them.

Stuart Binstock:

Thank you, Mike. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk about this important subject. Thanks for your organization and your leadership.

Mike Merrill:

You bet. All right. We’ll look forward to connecting again soon.

Stuart Binstock:

Thanks, Mike.

Mike Merrill:

All right. Thank you to the listeners for joining us today on the Mobile Workforce podcast. If you enjoyed the conversation that Stuart and I had today, and have an opportunity to share that out with your coworkers, or associates, or other contacts that you have in the industry, we feel like this is a very important topic and something that cannot be overstated, or discussed enough.

Mike Merrill:

Again, thank you again for your listenership. We always love those five star ratings and reviews on the podcast. Give us a review. Let us know how we’re doing, what you liked. And make sure to share this episode with others. Again, we appreciate the opportunity to bring these valuable conversations to you. After all, our goal is to help you improve not only your business, but your life.