Strengthening Team Relationships Through Vulnerability with Michael Vargas

S03 | E02 Strengthening Team Relationships Through Vulnerability with Michael Vargas

Have you ever taken an improv class and played the game “Yes, and”? If you haven’t, the basis is that you build off of each other’s stories and energies to tell fantastic tales and create crazy scenes.

Michael Vargas joins me on the podcast today to discuss how the basis of this fun, and sometimes silly, improv game can help create connections and strengthen your team relationships in the workplace. By sharing your experiences, flaws, and personal stories, you can engage with your people in an easy, comfortable way.

During our conversation, Michael shares simple examples and tactical advice on how you can use storytelling to build a safe space for your employees, and emphasizes the importance of honesty and vulnerability in your communications. And, if you’re afraid to jump into the deep end, he also gives practical tips on getting started that won’t overwhelm you.

Tune in to our conversation to learn from his expertise!

Listen on your favourite podcast player

About Michael Vargas:

Michael is an international facilitator with nearly 10 years of experience.  Utilizing his Master in Clinical Psychology, improv, and design thinking background, Michael facilitates workshops and speaks to organizations on developing collaborative and productive team cultures. He supports teams to solve big problems in a way that is psychological safe, builds trust, and uses open communication.

He has worked with a variety of organizations like Dropbox, Salesforce, Kaiser Permanente, ACLU of San Diego, Evergreen Middle School, the County of San Diego, and many more.

To learn more, visit his website and connect with Michael on LinkedIn.

Mentioned In This Episode:


Lindsay Recknell  0:08

Welcome to Mental Health In Minutes, where we open the door to conversations about workplace mental health, and help leaders and HR professionals create safe and innovative organizations where our employees and our companies thrive. I’m your host, Lindsay Recknell, the psychological health and safety advisor, a workplace mental health consultant, speaker, facilitator and an expert in hope.

Lindsay Recknell  0:27

Each episode of this show has three objectives, to discuss the future of mental health in the workplace. To identify the best, most successful strategies for opening the door to mental health conversations at work, and to share the top ways we can engage our leadership in the workplace mental health conversation, and have them endorse and pay for the positive culture shift within our organization.

Lindsay Recknell  0:47

If you’re listening to this podcast, you know that our people need us more than ever, but most of our organizations have a long way to go until supporting employee wellness is embedded in the culture of our workplace. This episode is a resource you can use to start and continue workplace mental health conversations, and my guests will share their experiences and what’s worked for them.

Lindsay Recknell  1:06

Today’s guest is Michael Vargas, an international facilitator with nearly 10 years of experience and the founder of lead by impact based in San Diego, utilizing his master’s in clinical psychology, improv and design thinking. Michael facilitates workshops and speaks to organizations on developing collaborative and productive team cultures. His specialty is supporting teams to solve big problems in a way that is psychologically safe, builds trust and uses open communication. He has worked with a variety of organizations like Dropbox, Salesforce, Kaiser Permanente, ACLU of San Diego, Evergreen Middle School, the County of San Diego and many more. I’m excited to hear so much more about this. So let’s dig in.

Lindsay Recknell  1:49

Hello, Michael, welcome to the show.

Michael Vargas  1:51

Hey, Lindsay, thank you so much for having me.

Lindsay Recknell  1:53

I am very excited to have you here. I’m super pumped about all of the alignment we have in our work, but more importantly in our values. And I’m really excited to have other people to hear what it is you have going on.

Michael Vargas  2:05

Me too. And we had such a nice Heart to Heart Convo the other day and grateful to be able to speak more about that with you.

Lindsay Recknell  2:11

Yeah, super excited about that. Before we jump right in, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Michael Vargas  2:17

Sure. Michael Vargas, originally a kid from New York, born in the city Reyes outside of it. And what I do is business consulting. So I work with teams to help them be more collaborative and productive. And what I like to say is I make adults play nice with one another. So that’s a little bit of what I do.

Lindsay Recknell  2:34

I love it amazing. Because isn’t there that thing that says everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten?

Michael Vargas  2:41

Totally agree. Absolutely. Like just getting to see kids play, you’re like, Okay, you’re gonna see how they’re, like interact in the future. Cool.

Lindsay Recknell  2:48

Yeah, exactly. And if we had no play nice in the proverbial adult sandbox, I feel like we can create psychological safety in our workplaces. Now.

Michael Vargas  2:58

I would agree. It’s nice to share toys, get to understand each other’s toys. Hey, when you play with my toy, this is how I’d like you to play with it. So on and so on.

Lindsay Recknell  3:07

And play and fun. And improvisation is a big part of the work that you do. Can you tell us a little bit more about how, how you create psychological safety through play with your work?

Michael Vargas  3:19

Yeah, the so improv is a really amazing tool. I’ve been doing improv for about 15 years, I used to teach how to improv theatre company in San Francisco. And I would bring my psychology background because I have a master’s in clinical psychology to the improv. And what I kept hearing was that people were like, wow, you know how to bring people together? Where we get out of our heads, we could just be authentic selves. Can you bring this to the corporation, so I got to start doing that.

Michael Vargas  3:46

But some of the beauties of improv that I think is just inherent is it’s a lot about being with someone in the moment without really an agenda. It’s about being really present and here with the person and we get to create something that we don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know where this is going to go. But what we do know throughout this entire process, is I see you, I’m going to support you, you see me and you’re going to support me. And if we work to really just make each other look good, which is one of the tenants of improv, then I think we all get taken care of.

Michael Vargas  4:25

So there’s a lot of just elements in the style of improv and people are like, Wait, there’s kind of rules to improv, like, you just kind of do it off the top of your head, which is partially true. But there’s a lot of guidelines there really is just inherently about supporting each other, making each other look good and having a lot of fun together.

Lindsay Recknell  4:44

And like that, the rules of improv I was going to ask you what are the other 10

Michael Vargas  4:48

So yeah, so the other one is this the concept of yes and, right. I think that’s a pretty popular one. And in improv, the idea of yes and is I take what you gave me and then I built upon it.

Michael Vargas  5:00

So let’s say someone says, Hey, what a great yellow sweater you have, and you go, No, it’s blue. And it’s a t- shirt. That kind of kills the mood a little bit. Not as fun, as opposed to saying, yes. And it was something that my grandmother gave to me after she came back from the war, right? So I take what you build upon, or I take what you did, and then I build upon it. I think this is a really lovely rule when working with just teams in general, if you take this concept, and you can dive it a little bit deeper, where when we talk about the Yes, part, it’s about agreement.

Michael Vargas  5:41

But what we can really look at is the Yes, part is identifying the realities of the situation. What’s actually happening in this moment, and let’s all get agreement on what that really is. And now that we know the truth of the matter, now we can start building upon that with the and apart.

Lindsay Recknell  6:00

Brilliant. So this feels like a real important team building kind of exercise. And I want to say getting alignment, but I feel like that’s not the objective, because we don’t all have to be aligned on something we just all have to be present in the moment and acknowledge what’s going on is that I have that right?

Michael Vargas  6:23

Yeah, absolutely. Right. It’s, it’s the idea of like the Yes, is me understanding what you’re saying, right? Is me fully understanding your perspective, it’s us being able to articulate your side of the perspective, my side of the perspective, and we know that that’s what’s happening, it’s not about right or wrong. It’s about this idea of what’s actually just happening, and we all have different perspectives on what’s happening.

Michael Vargas  6:48

So we can use that concept of the Yes, to really hear one another to really understand one another, not in a way of defensiveness, not in a way of judgment, not in a way to get over one another, but in a way to see what’s actually happening. And then when we have all sides of the story, now we’re better positioned to actually do something about it. That’s where the and part comes in.

Lindsay Recknell  7:11

Right? Amazing. So this connects very closely to psychological safety. I feel like what you’re talking about, is creating a psychologically safe space for us all to kind of coexist and be curious and have compassion for each other. And how do you connect the work you’re doing to leaders in organizations who don’t even know what this concept of psychological safety is, and why it even matters?

Michael Vargas  7:39

Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of different ways to do that. Let’s just kind of build off of what we’re working here with this concept of yes and, right? So and this is something we actually talked on a little bit earlier, where one of the things that helps create psychological safety for other people, is clarity, the ability to know what’s going on to understand what’s what happens behind the curtain.

Michael Vargas  8:03

A lot of times when decisions come through, we don’t really understand why we’re just told this is what has to happen. And that’s kind of it. And so one of the things that we can do, or leaders can do to help start bringing psychological safety into the workspace, which the idea of having psychological safety is the ability for allowing people to feel comfortable in this space where they can start sharing ideas, they can share their mistakes, they can just be open enough, which allows the team to be a lot more collaborative, reduces a lot of turnover helps prevent fires from happening in the background.

Michael Vargas  8:39

And so one of the ways that leaders can really try to create a safe space is through vulnerability. And that vulnerability is also tied to that clarity. So when there’s like a decision that’s made, it’s oftentimes saying, Hey, this is a decision. Now let’s just look forward. What a lot of people need in those moments is to understand why is this decision made? What’s going on behind the backburner? How is this going to affect me? And so that’s a really great opportunity for leaders to be open and honest about what this decision is, why it’s made, what they plan with it, who’s it’s going to affect and all the elements as to why this decision has come about.

Michael Vargas  9:24

And so even that can be feeling a little vulnerable for leaders. And you can allow as a leader, you can get as deep as you want. Without saying this, this is something that I’m really passionate about. And you could start even bringing back to your history as to why this matters for you. Why this mission matters for you. Why do you care about this on a real personal level?

Michael Vargas  9:48

So creating that vulnerability also allows the team to get to see you as a leader and gets to see you as a leader, demonstrating that it’s okay to open about oneself. And so that gives people permission to start feeling comfortable to share about their own self, to share about their own intentions with things, so that we can all start having an open conversation. And like we said earlier, this idea of now we’re at the yes part where we’re starting to get to know what’s happening, all things are as clear as possible.

Michael Vargas  10:24

And now if that knowing now I feel more safe and comfortable, because I know what’s happening on now I can figure out how do I show up in this space, rather than just being told how to show up in the space?

Lindsay Recknell  10:36

That clarity piece is really, really important? I think we don’t talk about it often enough. You know, we speak about being clear, which I think is a little bit, you know, it’s adjacent to clarity. It’s that full understanding, as well as just being articulate.

Lindsay Recknell  10:56

Somebody, I was talking about this earlier with somebody, and she used a quote that said, ambiguity breeds anxiety. Because if we don’t have that clarity, if we’re unsure, or if we, if we haven’t made a decision, right, that is stressful for a lot of people, that that transition is hard to make, when we don’t know the foundation or the context or that this the reason behind those decisions.

Michael Vargas  11:23

100%. And it’s, it’s relatively I mean, I’m not going to say in a vacuum, it’s going to be easy all the time, like there’s certain things that you can’t share. And when there are certain things you can’t share, let people know, Hey, I can’t share this, because I’m protecting other people’s privacy. I can’t share this, because you know what? I don’t know. And this is my best guess. But even that level of clarity helps put people’s minds and bodies and souls at ease. Yeah, so true.

Lindsay Recknell  11:53

So true. If I know that storytelling is a big part of kind of one of your values, what you believe in, and also the work that you do with leaders and with colleagues and teammates? How can leaders use storytelling of maybe of their lived experiences to really bring more of that psychological safety to work?

Michael Vargas  12:21

Yeah, you know, I want to kind of use an example here, something that I recently worked on with an organization. So I recently did a training for very large tech company had to do multiple trainings a day, because we were working with one half of the world. And then the evening was the other half of the world. But at the end of one of those, there was a woman that she waited until everybody left, so her and I could talk. And one of the things she shares with me was, hey, thank you so much for talking about this. And we’re talking about psychological safety and trust.

Michael Vargas  12:54

Because like, you know, I’ve, I’ve always had a hard time articulating this, but you’ve helped me understand better, like, what’s going on. And, you know, one of the things challenges that I have is I don’t know how to tell other people about the biases they have against me, as a woman of color. And I was just so grateful in that moment that she was able to share that with me. And the first thing I told her was, hey, look, as a, as a relatively light skinned man, I will never know what it’s like to go through that ever.

Michael Vargas  13:28

But one of the things I do know is that you’re not alone in this, that there are so many other people who have had that experience. And so one of the things that I can share with you is what I’ve seen other people do that they have found to be effective, and she was very excited about that.

Michael Vargas  13:43

So I share with her, one of the first things that we can do, is instead of telling people how they have biases, to start sharing, first how you have biases. And so I shared with her one day, I’m walking down the road, my head is down, and all of a sudden I hear a lot of noise. And I look up and it’s from a car, and there’s a gentleman kind of hunched down, turning in the keys, and he looks up, and he’s a Mexican man. And there was a part of me there’s a small part of me that there was a that I thought he was there was a higher likelihood that he was stealing the car because he looked Mexican. Meanwhile, he looks exactly like my uncle.

Michael Vargas  14:25

And I share this because we all have biases. No one on this planet has no bias. That’s never gonna happen. But we all have biases. So one of the ways that you can help this other person to be able to receive something that’s a little more challenging, is by showing up and sharing how it shows up for you first, and then having them feel comfortable to share their own biases. And then we can start talking about where else is that show up.

Michael Vargas  14:55

And so I think that’s just a small example of what leaders can do in tough situations is to explain to them explain to whomever it is, or whatever the situation is, how this affects their life? How does this show up in their everyday life? We’re all people at the end of the day. And so how can you relate to this person as a human being, by sharing one’s flaws that we want to talk about in public?

Michael Vargas  15:21

You know, sometimes we expect other people to share theirs, but yet, we’re not willing to share our own. And I think that’s a really great way that leaders can use stories, their personal stories, to help create more vulnerability with everyone in the room, and also allow for them to create safety, because the ideas, when we share these stories, it’s not about judgment. It’s about learning from one another, it’s about understanding one another, it’s about connecting with one another.

Lindsay Recknell  15:48

I was going to ask you, as a leader, so that feels terrifying. An open feels terrifying to be, you know, because I think like, you know, I walk the things going on in my mind. Or are, what if they judge me? What if they think differently of me? What if they, you know, treat me differently? Which are probably not what people are thinking at all? And even if they are those probably not people I want to hang out with.

Lindsay Recknell  16:19

But if there’s others listening to our show here, who are having those same kinds of thoughts, how might you help them kind of get over that barrier?

Michael Vargas  16:29

Yeah. So Lindsay, everything you said is 100%. Right? Like, oh, great, this person is gonna think I’m a moron, this person’s thing’s gonna think I’m racist, this person’s gonna think I’m an idiot, this person and all those things can be true. Like, just because we have these thoughts, and they’re not good doesn’t mean we go against them. It’s about No, that’s the reality of the situation is people might think those things. So how do we know? So how do we like manage that, like, Oh, dear God, that feels terrifying to share that.

Michael Vargas  17:01

One of the biggest reasons why I was able to share that deeply with her was because she opened up in that way. She afterwards she, during it was saying how she felt so comfortable to talk about this. And she was never able to talk about it before. For the for 20 years that she’s been working with American companies. And this is the first time that she had the space felt safe enough to actually talk about this topic. So it can happen in all different ranges and level.

Michael Vargas  17:30

So what I would say is, instead of you know, bringing out the big guns of saying how I have all these biases, and that can be a scary thing to talk about. Start off small. Start off small like I you know, with, when we first got on, I talked about how I just ate a big bowl of chips. Like, that’s not always a great first impression, right? But it’s a small thing. And then you got to share how much you love chips. And that, you know, we might be tired from chips later. But that’s okay.

Michael Vargas  17:58

Start off small, start off human, get to have those interactions with people try to understand who this person is, and just get to know. Okay, so one of the things that like the processes and steps that we can do, like what does this actually look like? If we want to talk to someone about something that’s maybe death a challenge, or we want to create more more ability or create that connection? Start off with like, just every day life things? What is this person will like to do on the weekends? What are some of their favorite hobbies? Who’s their favorite movie, what are their favorite movies, and so on, and so on. Just find those little areas that you can connect.

Michael Vargas  18:37

And then with that, when someone shares something that they like that you like, then you get to share your own personal story of that. Over time, what you can do is then try to have a little bit of a little bit deeper conversation, share a small thing that maybe you feel might feel judged about or like a little worried, but not the whole kit and caboodle.

Michael Vargas  18:59

So I would say the biggest thing is about the levels in which we share. And I think that’s something me personally, I don’t think everyone gets trust. I think trust is something that’s earned. So let’s earn it together. That’s one of my philosophies around it. Share a little bit, see how they respond, how do they react? If it felt good, share a little bit more, share a little bit more share about maybe like, one of your scariest moments as a kid growing up? Right? It’s in the past, it doesn’t really affect you. But yet, it’s still a little bit more vulnerable, right? Share a movie that might have or a song that emotionally impacts you. Why does it emotionally impact you?

Michael Vargas  19:37

So I think you don’t have to share that your deepest, darkest secrets by any means. I do think though, we can share a little bit, see how the person responds and if they’re earning our trust, but share a little bit more, a little bit more, a little bit more. And as a leader, that’s kind of your role. So as a leader, it’s on you to take that first step.

Michael Vargas  19:58

And again, as a leader, you don’t have to share that Whole thing, but share a little bit, even just share the idea of how are you doing? I’m having a hard day. Instead of good, great, everything’s perfect. Yay, yay, yay, you know, I’m having a hard day. I didn’t really get to sleep last night, my kid kept me up all night. Oh, I know exactly what that’s like when I had, you know, when my little one was two, and so on and so forth. So I think those are the little ways that people can start sharing, and be more vulnerable to create more and more vulnerability over time.

Lindsay Recknell  20:32

And that’s a theme I picked up in there is that time, right? This is not a one and done kind of operation. Yes. And aligning our behavior with what we say is important to us is super key as well. You know, if, as a leader, we say our doors always open yet it’s actually physically always closed. That is clearly not aligning our behavior with the way that we’re speaking and feel like sharing stories can demonstrate or can talk out loud how that behavior aligns to our character.

Lindsay Recknell  21:10

I think that’s a really cool way of saying who you are as a human, how you what you value without actually saying I value this thing, but sharing that story, to convey that to convey that character.

Michael Vargas  21:25

Absolutely. And it’s the stories where we can connect. Yeah, we can relate. And that’s what kind of makes it a little bit easier for people, rather than us always talking about this high level concept of how we should be it’s like, no, hey, here’s just a story of how I lived.

Lindsay Recknell  21:40

Yeah, yeah. Um, one of the things I get asked a lot is, How do I open the door to these conversations? You know, it’s a, we know, we should talk out loud, we know, we should ask for help when we need it. But how do we actually have those conversations? What do we say?

Lindsay Recknell  21:57

And I think using story is a really good way to just carefully open that door, even if it’s to reference a movie, or a new story that you heard or, you know, Simone Biles at the Olympics, you know, all of those kind of relatable human experiences that are out there already. It’s a nice connection point to open the door to those conversations

Michael Vargas  22:22

100%, you know, and to like, yes. And on that. Another like another way you can start presenting those stories, too is most companies know how to do surveys, right? So for, like the leader, or someone else to be able to send out a survey asking a particular question, anonymous survey, on what challenges do you face? How could we improve, so on and so forth. And then what you can do as a leader is go over those things. And then speak to them in the group meeting, not asking anyone who said what, or who said anything.

Michael Vargas  22:56

But talk to the stories of your experience with that, talk to your stories about, you know what, you’re right, we, we definitely work way too much here. We are working on average, 60 hours, and it’s exhausting. And I know, as a leader, you know, this is from the leaders perspective, that that sucks. And I’m sorry, and I will work very hard to figure out how to do that. I don’t know how to do that right now. But I want to work with you all to figure out how to do that.

Michael Vargas  23:24

Because I know that I have kids that I’m not getting to spend as much time as I would like with I’m not getting to go on and dinner dates with my wife. And then you get to, again, share the stories and these already things that people talked about. And so we can also use that, as well as a way to kind of open up the conversations because these are already on top of people’s minds.

Lindsay Recknell  23:47

And then what about the follow through, because I feel like that’s a piece that’s missing. We do these awesome surveys, we hear from the people, we throw these big town halls we do a press conference, and we say, and I’m gonna do something about it. And then life goes on.

Michael Vargas  24:04

Hear ye hear ye. we hear all of you. hear ye hear ye? Yeah, I mean, that’s gonna be one of the biggest things about when we go back to this idea of clarity of psychological safety of all that. One of the things that also helps people feel safe, and it’s a nuance that I often talk about, is people want to be heard. But what I think people want more is to be considered. So what does consideration actually look like?

Michael Vargas  24:36

And that’s something that you need to be clear with your team of talking them through the whole process. Hey, we got your surveys, we identify X, Y, and Z. Here are the steps that we’re going to take with X, Y, and Z. After three weeks, we’re all going to meet up again and we’re going to have another conversation about XY and Z and see how it all felt for you or we’re going to send out another survey and then we’re going to do Y Z I don’t know how that happened, by the way with the alphabet, but I’m very happy that that did happen.

Michael Vargas  25:08

So you see when you talk y, z A, and then next week you talk about z A, B, and then ABC, it’s, it’s creating that clarity upfront, letting them know, this is what we’re going to do, to follow through. Because if we don’t, that is going to kill the creative kill, while creativity, but also the safety, that’s going to kills people’s ability to feel like their voices matter. So why would they even speak at all. So if, if you’re going to do something like this, make sure that you do follow through. If you can’t follow through, but you want to do something, talk to your team about what you can and can’t do.

Michael Vargas  25:49

Be clear, we don’t have a whole lot of money, we don’t have a whole lot of time, we want to address this, what are the things that we can start doing, create that clarity, create that conversation, and just be as transparent as possible, about how we’re going to keep going through all this and what you can and can’t do.

Lindsay Recknell  26:09

And I think to to on that consideration piece and carrying the idea of storytelling is, after you’ve done the survey, and you’ve done your rah rah, and three weeks later, you come back to them and say, you know, here’s the things I’ve heard from you guys, here’s the stories I heard, here’s the impact of, you know, this work our culture, our actions on you guys, because you’ve been sharing your stories, you know, it’s, it’s a way for that consistency in messaging, I find also, that we get as leaders as humans, we get super motivated to do the things.

Lindsay Recknell  26:44

And then it feels again, it feels like uncomfortable, or we’re starting over. Or we have to look for a new, you know, rabbit out of the hat to make it to make it exciting and cool again, but if we continue with that idea of just keep telling the stories, Keep listening for the stories, I think that’s a really nice consistent way to continue adding that clarity and continuing with that consideration of other people because that that consistency is going to allow people to keep sharing, because there they are now, knowing that they’re being trusted, and they can trust you to hold their confidence and those kinds of things.

Michael Vargas  27:26

Yeah, absolutely. And, and we can also go back to the concept of Yes, and is then you have a story. And then how cool it is that you then get to tell the story later, but with a continuation. Okay, we the original story was this, and now we’re doing this, and then we were doing this, and now we’re doing this to continue that story. That’s something that gets super exciting for people.

Lindsay Recknell  27:48

And that is what creates the culture transformation that we want. That’s what we want for the future of our organizations and making conversations about mental health as normalized as any kind of conversation because we can all get behind the storytelling.

Michael Vargas  28:03

Yes, absolutely. Including that. I really appreciate you know, how ulinzi really focused on that idea of or how do we make sure that we’re creating the space for people to feel mentally healthy, mentally strong in the workplace, so that they can show up fully as themselves?

Lindsay Recknell  28:20

Yeah, I absolutely. I mean, you and I know we work in this industry, we do this thing all day long. We know how powerful having a safe space is for people to show up as their true selves. We know the ROI. We know the math, right? We know anecdotally what it means. And it’s so so cool to have conversations like this with you to continue to spread this message, you know, to continue to share how it’s not easy stuff.

Lindsay Recknell  28:48

But it truly can be simple, you know, and storytelling is one of those simple ways that we can tactically start to do this transformation and really engage with our people in a what feels like a comfortable way. And isn’t doesn’t feel hard, right? We don’t want to feel like it’s hard work. And this is a nice, easy way to open the door and have that conversation. So

Michael Vargas  29:18

and allowing people to feel more and more comfortable. The more stories that you share, the more that you know, it’s the sharing of the stories, and then also the kindness and the non judgement after the stories and the support after the stories. That’s what helps, you know, run get that train moving is that we tell these stories, or I told the story and no one’s like telling me I’m done. Okay, oh wait, people are like seeing that they connect to that. Oh, okay. Cool. Now I can feel comfortable sharing more and then that will leave stress.

Michael Vargas  29:50

You know, instead of people having to fight back and like bite their lip about things that they want to say. It creates so much more ease for people. Whoa, that’s gonna have so much lovely return on the back end for them emotionally and for the organization.

Lindsay Recknell  30:05

Yeah, amazing. Love it, this conversation has been so, so good, I can’t even believe that we’ve come to the end of our time together, I could keep storytelling for.

Michael Vargas  30:16

Like, I had, like 20 stories I wanted to say. But

Lindsay Recknell  30:21

that will save that for the next episode. It has been such a pleasure connecting with you and hearing how you work with people and just what your values are, and to hear how you connect your behavior and how you show up with those values. So thanks for taking the time with us today.

Michael Vargas  30:35

Thank you so much, Lindsay. And again, thank you so much for creating the space. And the means in which we can have these conversations so that other people can have these conversations and feel that connection. So thank you for allowing me to be a part of that.

Lindsay Recknell  30:50

And can you tell others how we can get a hold of you, when they get inspired by your greatness?

Michael Vargas  30:56

Yes, why Thank you. So yeah, so you can head out to my, my, my website at And what I also have for your people is a little bit of a resource. It’s basically an infographic that gives you very broad general understanding psychological safety, some of the research some of the basic steps. So you can go to i n fo. So again, it’s just like a simple infographic to give you a general sense of psychological safety.

Lindsay Recknell  31:28

Amazing, we will absolutely link to all of those places in the show notes. And, again, just thank you very, very much for being here. And I look forward to continuing the conversation with you.

Michael Vargas  31:39

Thank you, Lindsay.

Lindsay Recknell  31:40

Take care.

Lindsay Recknell  31:41

Thank you for listening to another episode of mental health in minutes. On this show, I talk a lot about how to lead from a place of authenticity. And I loved Michael’s perspective on using storytelling as a way to break down some of those barriers that pop up when we think about opening ourselves up to others. It can feel terrifying, but this tactic of storytelling, along with his improv techniques of curiosity, and yes and feel simple enough, and I can see how they would be powerful in practice, Michael and I both believe in the power of our leaders to create psychologically safe workplaces, and we know you do too, or you wouldn’t be listening to this.

Lindsay Recknell  32:15

If you’d love this episode, please consider subscribing and leaving a review on your favorite podcast player. You can find this everywhere at mental health in minutes, as well as on the web at mental health in The thing we do best at mental health in minutes is open the door to conversations about mental health at work. And episodes like this give us real things we can try to truly make a difference. I know you’re making a difference in your workplace or you’d really like to be or you wouldn’t be listening to podcast episodes like these ones.

Lindsay Recknell  32:42

I’d love to help accelerate your impact at work, help you really move the needle on mental health maturity in your workplace and get people to a place where they’re feeling less stressed, more fulfilled and able to integrate work in life in a way that works both for them and for you. And your organization. Being a people leader is especially hard right now, you might feel like you’re managing both up the corporate ladder and down and at the thought of figuring out how to best support your people and yourself. They must feel overwhelming and impossibly hard.

Lindsay Recknell  33:12

Let me help you by doing the heavy lifting with resources and materials along with training and facilitation and you can get back to doing what you do best engaging with and supporting people. I have many ways to support you from full service hands on to guidance and support from afar with a hands off approach. So let’s chat about what works best for you and your as always, I’m here if you need me

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