THE PASSONS HAVE A PASSION FOR PEOPLE
Brian and Jessie Passon are the heart and soul of A People Movement events. Being one of the founders of Wellness Underground, Brian was always a huge force behind the planning and implementation of the workshops. Each time, Jessie came alongside him, Evin Foss and the other WU members, filling in gaps with her creative details and event planning skills while still managing her own business and their three young daughters. Last year with the shift from wellness to being more about people in general, and after lots of conversations and prayer, Jessie jumped fully on board with APM 2018. Brian is the extrovert, dreamer, random abstract, big picture, crazy creative ideas and impactful speaker. Jessie is the introvert, creative details, event planner, marketing, design and photographer. God has gifted them with some mad skills and talents and together they make quite a creative pair! They both love relationships and human connection and working side by side to make a memorable and impactful experience for the APM attendees. They are full force into planning the details for APM 2019 and can not wait for February in Austin!
BECOMING A PEOPLE MOVEMENT
Putting others first and foremost isn’t always the popular opinion or what we are told to do in sales, marketing, or finance. But we think it is the right thing to do. It takes work and a heart to dig in and do what is necessary to be “well” in your organization. What we’ve found as we have “dug-in” is that we are about People. So to honor our journey we are changing our name a little bit to be more reflective of what we are about. Are you ready to join our tribe?
Wellness Underground started out in 2012 to be constructively disruptive to workplace wellness, to invite people to think outside the box of traditional workplace wellness, to push the envelope of what is “expected” in everyday practice, to think of wellness as more than just screenings and weight loss programs, and to create COMMUNITY with other professionals. We believe we have done that and more. In fact, we have been so constructively disruptive that we have pushed ourselves outside the box to the point of refining our focus to one main subject: People. The focus of any good organization has to be centered on the people: people that work or volunteer there, the clients and customers that are served, those that you come in contact with. Wellness isn’t only about exercise and weight, it is about the whole person and whole organization. Wellness is about checking your ego at the door and putting others before you. Wellness is about offering someone the tools to better themselves. Wellness is challenging and inspiring people. Wellness is about seeking a higher calling than the status quo of an “average” life. Wellness is about every part of a person and every part of an organization. Motivate, encourage, inspire, connect.
The Wellness Underground "Un" Wellness Workshop was born in 2013 out of a few meetings of several disheartened, dissatisfied, and disillusioned wellness professionals at a coffee shop in Portland, OR. While many of those professionals contributed to the initial event and overall initiative, they chose to remain anonymous for professional reasons. After the first workshop, two individuals openly helped to continue to facilitate Wellness Underground and to be the "face" of the group and the workshop: Brian Passon and Evin Foss. In addition to Brian and Evin, there are many others who continued to contribute to the events and to the community in general. Anyone who has attended one of our workshops will probably tell you that they felt they not only got to attend and learn but to contribute in a meaningful way to others’ learning and development. We consider everyone who attends a workshop or event to be part of our community--so we welcome you to join our tribe!
THE DISNEY CONNECTION
The first two workshops were held at Disney World in Orlando and the third workshop was held at Disneyland in Anaheim. These aren't locations chosen at random. Every detail of the workshop is purposefully planned out and carefully chosen. There are a lot of reasons that we chose Disney as the venue for the workshops thus far. At the workshops we worked in a lot of examples and reasons throughout the two and a half days. Now about the Mickey ears...since we like to have a little fun and just can't take all of this stuff too seriously, the ears became a gift for each of the speakers every year. For our fourth event we changed things up and pushed ourselves out of our "Disney" box and we hosted A People Movement in Durham, N.C. at a great hotel/museum. It was time to take the "Disney" training wheels off!
Wellness Underground has always been about real people! Read below for a glimpse into those that are part of our community.
Vicky has been in the "wellness industry" for only about 5 years. She came out of health care management realizing that most of the issues she was seeing in the clinical setting were things that could be prevented, if only we could find a way to help people change their behavior sooner. Vicky is full of life and passion for helping people thrive and live life to the very fullest. But she just can't understand why the main focus of worksite wellness seems to be money. For Vicky it's not about money. It never was. But when she says that, brokers and insurance people tell her she's crazy... "money makes the world go around," they say. When Vicky found Wellness Underground, she found a safe place to be who she is among smart, thoughtful colleagues who respect her perspective. They don't all think just like Vicky, but they share her passion for life and people, and they respect that she doesn't want to commodity or sell wellness.
Linda is a software specialist that had worked with many hospital information systems around the world before she “saw the light” of upstream treatment (aka health promotion). She was so jazzed, she jumped ship and started her own tech company focused on wellness. But alas, while it is 100% logical to her, not everyone sees prevention, and the common sense steps it takes, the same way. She has since found her tribe (the Wellness Underground) and by uniting these brains and the enthusiasm, is excited to help bring innovation to the wellness industry.
Mike has been in the health and wellness industry for 15 years. He’s worked in insurance, for various vendors and now has his own business. He is frequently frustrated by the lack of innovation and inability to think BIG by the industry as a whole. Mike occasionally speaks at conferences and likes to play devil's advocate, but rarely gets anything from wellness conferences. Not a great self-promoter, he often thinks about quitting the whole industry, but continually finds that there are amazing people in it that he wants to help support, mentor and challenge to go beyond "traditional" and find new ways to achieve health and wellbeing success for people and organizations. Mike heard about Wellness Underground and thought it just might be the place for him...and boy was he right! Through WU he has been able to connect with fellow peers in a new way where he can learn and make choices for himself. He hopes to attend a future workshop because it’s the one event where he actually gets the opportunity to learn with and from other professionals.
BREAKING OUT BETTY
Betty has had a unique career in wellness; she had the opportunity to build a program from the ground up internally for an organization. Having the experience of building custom programs from complete scratch, watching them grow and impact people's lives, and then measuring her own achievement against the very goals she set for the organization taught her A LOT about the successes and pitfalls of organizational culture change. She decided to take this knowledge out to the masses as a consultant for a biometric screening company. Her romantic notions of creating real change in this environment were quickly dashed by unrealistic demands from clients, disrespectful feelings towards employees by employers, and desperate employers who wanted to be wowed with solutions created, delivered, and perfected in minutes (as was suggested as possible by brokerage firms, insurance companies, and big box vendors; most of which had never actually delivered any kind of organizational change.)
So she left. She left and decided the industry was too unrealistic and void of compassion. Betty started her own business with the idea she would get back to caring for people on an individual basis. Yet, she found herself in the company of leaders who were curious about her organizational skill set, and willing to hear the guidance she provided. So Betty decided, she is breaking out. She is seeking to serve leaders who are willing to creatively and compassionately solve the challenges their employees face. She is becoming a powerful force for change in her region. Attending Wellness Underground gives Betty the boost she needs by reminding her that there are talented, successful, engaged professionals who operate with a deep sense of compassion for those they serve. The workshop reminds her she is connected to a vast network of phenomenal leaders who face the very challenges she does, and still choose to be a force of positive change!