Thought /

A Conversation with Chris Boyce

By Jonathan Bingham | April 3, 2015

The rain may have been torrential, but that didn’t stop our thought leadership series (#drinksandthinks on Twitter) from continuing with Virgin Pulse CEO Chris Boyce. Held at the dynamic Life Is good headquarters, the who’s who of the Boston tech and wellness communities enjoyed networking, raffle prizes from Equinox, catering provided by b.good, and, of course, an engaging discussion with Chris.

Chris’ first discussion point turned to the idea of unintended consequences. Defined as outcomes that are not intended by a purposeful action, Chris began to illustrate the eye-opening unintended consequences of technology in our world today – we live and breathe it, and by anyone’s measure, it’s a necessity.

But, at what price?

Chris’ presentation hit the audience with some staggering statistics. 70 percent of adults in the U.S. do not get enough physical activity, which is defined as 30 minutes of movement, seven days a week. Seems like it should be completely doable, right? But let’s reflect on Chris’ example of the car. Cars are a great technological development. Billions of us use them every day. But the unintended consequence of driving cars to work or school is that we walk a lot less and spend more time sitting. Then, when getting to work or school, we return to sitting at our desks. If our days become filled with sitting, then we’re seriously in trouble.

Haven’t you heard sitting is the new smoking?

All in all Chris argued, modern life is depleting us. This demanding, technologically advanced world we live in is causing us to become overwhelmed, depleted and disengaged. And, because of it, we’re tired, eating poorly, and not moving enough.

Can this be fixed?

According to Chris, we’ve got to change the habit to change the problem. Better habits will ultimately replenish people and give them the ability to thrive in both their professional and personal lives. Make it a point to exercise frequently and get enough sleep during the week. While technology may have unintended consequences, if we’re smart, we can use it to improve our well-being, too. For instance, wearables can easily monitor physical activity and, although possibly frightening to think about, how much sleep we’re actually getting. We can then take that data and set achievable goals for ourselves that get us more active, better rested, and generally happier.

Chris also highlighted the important role employers can play in bettering the lives of their employees. Encouraging them to incorporate workouts into their daily routine isn’t only going to improve their lives, but the corporate bottom line: exercise can positively impact work performance.
Employers must also educate their employees on how severe sleep deprivation truly is. Did you know that getting five hours of sleep every night for a week is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol level of 0.1? As the CEO of a company, you likely don’t want your crew being drunk on the job. Who knew lack of sleep would present the same characteristics?

Perhaps most importantly, be the example – don’t work on vacations, late at night, etc. Chris mentioned a study that found 85 percent of CEOs incorporate exercise into their daily routine. Do you see the correlation? Everyone needs an opportunity to unplug and recharge – whether it be formal email and phone policies, or just being the example, make sure you’re fostering a culture where employees know and respect that.

Long story short – if we take care of our employees, they will take care of our business.

Chris’ presentation was captivating, and highlighted things we don’t often think about as we go through the day. We must all do a better job in living healthier lives and balancing our personal and professional life, but it starts at the top. Technology can help us on the road to forming better habits, but only if we’re mindful of the unintended consequences.

Jonathan Bingham


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