Agency president to bring mindfulness to marketers

Ann Gallery's MindWell-U helps participants focus on the task at hand

Danny Kucharsky August 25, 2016

High View Communications founder and president Ann Gallery wants marketers to be more mindful.

While still running her Toronto-based PR firm, Gallery has co-founded MindWell-U, a mindfulness business that earlier this year launched a 30-day online program.

MindWell-U is “a side passion project,” says Gallery who found out about mindfulness after she became dangerously close to burning out during a 2013 vacation.

“I started to get to a place where I couldn’t turn it off and it all came to a head when I went away for a spring break and spent the whole time worrying about work and clients,” says Gallery in a MindWell-U video.

Gallery took a mindfulness class and says she benefitted from it so much that she partnered with the teacher, Dr. Geoff Soloway, and co-founded MindWell-U with him.

In January, the two launched MindWell-U’s 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge, a five minutes a day online program.

Almost 5,000 people have taken the course which costs $100 per person. About 80% of the business has come from corporations such as WestJet, Coca-Cola, the U.S. Army and NBA, who offer the program to staff.

Mindfulness is “a training in attention,” Gallery says. “It teaches people to focus on the task at hand. It’s almost the opposite of multitasking, which we know doesn’t work.”

The program teaches people to get into the present moment and be engaged, so that, for example, while talking on the phone, they’re not looking at the computer.

By being more focused and present, “people perform better, they’re less stressed, and they communicate more clearly.”

People spend only about half their time in the moment, she says. The rest of the time they’re thinking about to-do lists or what to make for dinner or about the future or the past.

Distractions will still come, but mindfulness training “gives people the ability to say ‘I’m still focused on this because this is the priority and needs to get done.’”

Employees who are more mindful can improve their teamwork, creativity and brainstorming, says Gallery, who is trying to bring the program to marketers.

Leslie Hartsman, president of Toronto-based digital marketing agency Hooplah, recently brought the 30-day online challenge to his 12 employees.

“It was a nice teamwork-building piece,” Hartsman says. “People feel very good about themselves, which is a very hard thing for a business owner to find. Everybody looks for little tricks and tidbits to try and keep their employees stimulated happy

Hartsman says he has seen performance improvements in employees who took the course. Mindfulness is “like a palette cleanser,” akin to being served sorbet at a restaurant before going on to the next course, he says.

High View employees have also taken the challenge. “It improves collaboration and teamwork because people are really listening to each other rather than just jumping to conclusions,” Gallery says.

Gallery, who serves as chief marketing officer of MindWell-U, says she is talking to a number of global marketing agencies and advertising agencies about delivering the challenge to their employees.

High View, which acts as MindWell-U’s PR firm, is promoting the program through social media, media relations and some online advertising.

In-person courses and workshops are also available. Additional online training modules are being developed and the program will soon be available in French.