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HammerTech Talks

HammerTech Talks with Cal Beyer, VP of Workforce Risk and Worker Wellbeing at CSDZ

By Georgia Bergers on November, 24 2020
HammerTech Talks
In this episode:
  • Why is figuring out someone’s 'motivation' essential for successful partnerships?
  • The secret to developing visions for change - no matter your role
  • Why we need to wage a "full frontal assault" on stigma to tackle the suicide epidemic
CAL BEYER-FULL-med-adapt-v01

 

Georgia Bergers:

Hammertech Talks is a chance for you to join me. As we dig into the world of construction pro's to find out what makes them tick and helps them succeed. This series will open the door to an industry that we're passionate about and showcase the amazing people and ideas that are the infrastructure to building great things. Construction folk love a story and a laugh. So we're going to have some fun and you'll take away new perspectives to improve your operations and help create the next normal in construction. For those of you who don't know us, we're, HammerTech, we're a cloud-based performance and productivity platform, ensuring safety, quality, and operational efficiency. Let's get into it.

 

Georgia Bergers:

Welcome everyone to the next episode of HammerTech Talks. Today, we are speaking with Calvin or Cal Beyer, who is the VP of Workforce Risk and Worker Wellbeing at CSDZ. He's also the executive committee member for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (NAASP) and an advisor to the American Psychiatric Association Foundation. Cal and I have had quite a laugh in the lead up to this session. So I'm going to keep the intro short because I really want to get stuck straight into the conversation. But in essence, Cal has a very deep knowledge in construction, a bank of rich stories and empathy, which enables him to be a trusted bridge for stakeholders in construction on matters of risk insurance, wellbeing, and mental health among many other facets. So Cal had an insanely busy September, which was suicide awareness prevention month. And so I'm really pleased that we've now found the time to connect and to continue the conversation today. So, hello, welcome.

 

Cal Beyer:

Thank you, Georgia. Great to see you. I appreciate this opportunity for our conversation.

 

Georgia Bergers:

Absolutely. And is there anything that I've missed from the intro that you would really like to put in there before we get stuck in?

 

Cal Beyer:

No, as we've gotten acquainted, you're very gracious. I appreciate that. Thank you.

 

Georgia Bergers:

No problem. So I'd love to start with a little bit of psychology. It's quickly becoming really important to our industry from many different angles. And so motivation is the topic that I'd like to talk a little bit about. And if anyone who works for LinkedIn is listening Cal and I have a suggestion that we think that should be a new section added to everyone's LinkedIn profile, which is what motivates them. So Cal I'd really like to understand what motivates you and we're really not talking just professionally here. Cause I think, you know, people really increasingly need to bring their whole selves to work. So I'd love to hear and learn a little bit more about you from that respect.

 

Cal Beyer:

Yeah. Georgia, I agree whole heartedly. I think one area in my life I've gotten better with it's truly admitting and communicating my motivation and simply it's to make difference in the world. So I'm a father of five children. I've been married for 32 years. I try to be a role model at home and in the workplace. And my biggest motivation has been saving lives. When I was young, I worked in healthcare through high school and college and I saw a lot of trauma. I saw a lot of pain and suffering and I wanted to do something that would change that, move it upstream, focus on prevention. And that led me to the construction industry in 1996, where I've worked ever since.

 

Georgia Bergers:

Amazing. And why do you think it's important to know somebody else's motivation when you're working with them or interacting with them?

 

Cal Beyer:

The pace of business is so fast compared to when I was younger technology, all the ways that we're connected, it's pretty easy for people to portray or project in image and then not be that person. And so consistency is really important and it comes down to trust and reputation. And so my partnerships are a reflection of me and my values. And so understanding the motivations of other people gives you a sense of alignment and compatibility. And so I look for values, vision and vigor as three components, does this person have the same shared values? Do they have a vision? That's something I can believe in and be part of and do they have the vigor to carry it out? And those are kind of the things I look for. And lastly, I think the big part that I think about is strategic partnerships. If I want to change the world, I want to find like-minded people who want to make a dent in their part of the world. And I think that's where you and I struck a responsive cord and started our partnership as well, commonality, right?

 

Georgia Bergers:

Absolutely. It's like, you know, we were saying it's important for everyone to be able to butter their bread. You know, ultimately a lot of us haven't have a job to do so we have to be up front about what that is, but also recognizing that money doesn't, equal success. It doesn't equal sales. It doesn't equal change. And so being really creative to find ways to use the limited resources that we all have to really drive those messages and action for what's really important to us as well.

 

Cal Beyer:

I really appreciate that perspective because too often, people solely focus on the financial aspects, not the nonfinancial aspects of a partnership. And I think the biggest relationships and partnerships that I've had were ones that started where we built something out of scratch. We created value without trading nickels, and then they become these really important relationships where they were financial and it became lucrative, but there was trust, respect, and a process commitment to following through.

 

Georgia Bergers:

When we're talking about some of your experiences, I was really curious too, about your approach to shifting the needle when it comes to change. And while a lot of your experience has been around raising awareness of suicide prevention and mental health the fact that you, when you embarked on it, and we can get into that a little bit more, but you knew it was a really long game and many you know, construction needs to embark on many big changes, which are a long game and require a deep investment. And so I think, you know, without wishing to undermine the importance of the epidemic of suicide and in construction, I think what's really incredible is the remarkable campaign that you embarked on at the start and really looked at it as this process holistically that I think is translatable to so much other change that we're trying to an action that we're trying to bring about to, to improve the industry that we both work in. So I'd love to understand, and I think a lot of other people would be really curious is - how did you develop that, that vision for change?

 

Cal Beyer:

Well, one of the lessons I've learned in my career is the value of patience. I wasn't always the most patient of souls. I was a little bit impulsive and a little bit impetuous. So I became strategic about change. But what I would tell you is it starts with a bold vision. It comes with this compelling internal call to action, and then you've got to be able to cast a vision that people can feel. And so I speak from the heart to the heart, and those are the strategies that I used. And I think it's where you can feel empathy does create understanding and awareness. And if you can build advocates from that awareness stage, then you can equip people and empower them to be change agents. So build a coalition. And that was something I was intentional about. Can I get more authors, more speakers, people willing to bring this to their company?

 

Cal Beyer:

The strategy I learned from a mentor when I was 27, before I was patient, he taught me a strategy and the words were gentle pressure, relentlessly applied. And those have been the last words because it taught me to be patient. And to look at that long game as you call it. And last, I think the power of storytelling is something I wasn't always good about. I didn't think people really cared what I had experienced. And it turns out those are the most compelling and memorable parts of a call to action. And so being vulnerable, even if you're not comfortable sharing stories, people know this is what I've experienced. This is why I'm doing it. And that's where it starts with why Simon Sinek was right. If you let people know the why people will respond.

 

Georgia Bergers:

Something that stuck with me when we first spoke was this concept of turning, what started as the S word into the full-blown word suicide. And why is this? I guess it's sort of like an analogy if you like, or, you know, a play on words, why is it relevant to construction? This need to move from S to suicide?

 

Cal Beyer:

Yeah, that is part of stigma. That's one of the S words, but the S word I didn't use in the workplace was the word 'suicide'. I talked about this as a mental health challenge, and that didn't really mobilize people because that made it sound clinical. It made it sound personal. It made it sound family made it sound like you need a counselor or HR. But when I described this in the crisis of suicide, it became a safety, health, and wellness imperative, and it happened almost overnight. And it happened after I lost a dear friend where I realized if I'd been bolder, he might be with us. It's not guilt. It was leadership. It was a valuable lesson. And I'm always going to be my harshest critic. But I knew in the end that Jeff knew that I loved him. And I knew that he loved me. Nothing was going to bring him back. So there was no sense being guilty, but what could I do to keep others from slipping through the cracks and what I decided with the help of dr. Sally Spencer Thomas, another mentor, I've got to talk about mental health and suicide prevention and like most things in life. This is not an either, or it's a both and imperative. And once I realized that this went almost viral and I'm really proud to see how our industry has responded.

 

Georgia Bergers:

And so what's your process been for implementing that vision over? I think it's been, I think you said, 2014, 2015 is when it really, you really committed to this cause.

 

Cal Beyer:

Yeah, in Georgia, my first workplace suicide prevention project was in the early 1990s. The first trigger for construction was thinking about it. Post 911, seeing construction workers show up at the trade center site. Side-By-Side with the first responders that were getting all the attention. And I always say, rightly so, they risked their lives, but construction workers were side-by-side in the same Promatic environment. And there was no research being done. We didn't know how to take care of those folks. We didn't even know how to ask them. And the same thing happened post hurricane Katrina, and a gentleman who mentored me, Bob Van DePaul, was an expert in critical incident response and post hurricane Katrina. He was in new Orleans. I was traveling the country, teaching people, emergency preparedness, disaster response, and critical incident management. And Bob said, I think we're going to see worse things to come.

 

Cal Beyer:

So we started doing workshops and seminars, but the real effort started in 2014. I moved my family from the state of Minnesota to the state of Washington. I left the insurance industry, went to work for a construction company who gave me a green light to bake mental health and suicide into our safety and risk culture. And then we started a media saturation campaign to write articles in various trade publications to reduce stigma. And then further stigma reduction techniques were really simple hardhat stickers, wallet cards. And then fortunately the construction industry Alliance for suicide prevention was formed by my friends at the construction financial management association. And we had something that we could point people to. And that's really when the adoption grew strong. So it was a laborious process.

 

Georgia Bergers:

I bet. And what are some of the barriers that you've faced through the, you know, the process of, of implementing this vision and trying to get people on board to understand that this is something that isn't isolated, it deeply affects all different facets of our industry.

 

Cal Beyer:

So the first barrier was that barrier of self, self-doubt, self-confidence, who the heck am I to take on something so big, but after my friend died, I did declare war on suicide and said, that's it. Next time you've got to come through me, if you're going to take one of the good guys. And so that solved my confidence problem. Then I had to align with some really good people. So the folks I mentioned, Bob Van DePaul, Sally Spencer Thomas, getting my friends at CFMA to write an article, other publications doing the same. And we started this snowball effect and it, the momentum couldn't be stopped and really, really dynamic. But the biggest barriers that we faced were the stigma that this was taboo. It's not a workplace topic, it's a family topic. And a second one was that the union contractors have union benefits. It's not really a contractor responsibility. And then a third stigma was whose job is this? Is it HR? Is it safety? Is it risk management? Is it operations? And the reality is we taught it's everyone's responsibility to build a wellbeing culture focused on mental health and suicide prevention takes everybody all hands on deck.

 

Georgia Bergers:

And so where, where are we at with, with the stigma at the moment? And you know, what, what more can be done moving, moving forward to I guess, make it stick and make it the responsibility as you say of everyone involved.

 

Cal Beyer:

If you think back to how wars are won, it comes from a focused effort and it's knowing your enemy and knowing yourself, stigma is still the adversary stigma is that fear of the unknown. It's what keeps people from seeking help. It's what keeps them from believing that they can get better. So stigma is the barrier that keeps us from breaking through. And what I would say is we've made dents in its armor, but we haven't completely knocked it down. And that's what we need to do is a full frontal assault on stigma. And to just knock it on its backside, kick its rear. If you know what I'm saying, it's hard to unroot because we have many multi-generational families in construction. This is a male concept. It's a female concept, it's a gender concept. We've got to get multiple cultural competency to help us really understand how to break this down in our very now becoming diverse industry. The workforce is changing, but by saying, we're going to talk about it and that we're going to make a commitment to address this with our workforce.

 

Georgia Bergers:

And so with all of the work that you do in, you know, particularly having had a really, really busy September like you probably do every, every year and with such a full book of, you know, articles and calendar events and things like that, how do you find how do you manage your own mental health? And I guess tackle this in a sustainable way?

 

Cal Beyer:

Well, the family that I described is one of my great sources of strength. I rely on faith and some great faith partners, so that accountability partner to make certain I'm holding myself accountable to self-care. I didn't have a great month of exercise in September. I've got to get back to practicing what I teach, but I think diet, nutrition, hydration, those are three things the day that are really important and they just helped me stay focused on self care. I like to read, as you can probably tell from the bookcase, that's just one of like three different bookcases we have, and that one's thin down, but I really love connecting and I really love engaging with people and sharing ideas. And that's what fuels my passion.

 

Georgia Bergers:

One question that I always like to ask people I guess this is along the lines of stigma too. So construction and the people that work within it has a stigma of being male, white and middle-aged, and that's really unattractive to the type of people that we're trying to bring into the industry to help us combat a lot of these issues and, and reinvigorate it. It's already awesome in my opinion, but it could be phenomenal. And so what advice would you give to someone that is looking to enter a construction, whether it's in, from the insurance side of things, whether it's from the construction wellbeing side of things what's, what's some advice that you would, you would give to them to encourage them to explore it further and take the leap?

 

Cal Beyer:

Yeah. What a great question. To me, this is such a dynamic industry. No two days are ever alike. There's so much diversity in our industry from the occupancies, the type of construction, the numbers of jobs, and it's the teamwork that makes construction special. I think the pride in craftsmanship, the ability to solve problems with your brain, that critical thinking, and to just take ownership for doing something we're building monuments, right? That lasts generations. And for me, the opportunity to impact the world through the built environment is powerful. And I think that's what excites me about this industry. So the advice would be explore it and really look for an opportunity to make your Mark in our industry. There's many, many opportunities to use your skills and talents.

 

Georgia Bergers:

And so Cal, if people want to hear more about the work that you are doing or get in touch to have a conversation. What's the best way to reach out to you? And maybe what are some projects that people should keep an eye out for whether it's articles or I mean, I know we'll be releasing this, but there might be other podcasts and things like that that people would like to listen to.

 

Cal Beyer:

I think the greatest thing for me, is the opportunity to use LinkedIn, to share resources and information. So that's one source, secondly, construction, business owner, construction, executive magazine. They've been really kind to give us series during COVID 2018 construction executive allowed us to start putting together at least a monthly article. And so we've got a series of authors that regularly on these topics. And so for me, I'd welcome anyone to follow me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/calvinbeyer/). I'd be happy to connect with you by email. And especially if you want help, figuring out how to address this topic in your company, I'll share ideas and resources with you to help you get started on that journey.

 

Georgia Bergers:

And I, I, that sort of reminds me as well, you know, if someone's listening to this and they think they know someone who needs some support from you know, whether it's you know, suicide prevention point of view or, mental health what are some of the signs that they should be looking out for with other people and where is a great place to direct them or to seek help themselves?

 

Cal Beyer:

Yeah, I think that's one area we've really been focusing on teaching people, warning signs. It would be changes in behavior recognizing that there's a difference in how that person is responding, how they're showing up differently, their behavior, their attitude, their outlook on life. Are they withdrawn? Are they engaged? Are they isolated? Have they lost hope? If you sense those things, please direct them to the national suicide prevention lifeline. And that number is (800) 273-8255. And also if they're not willing to make that call Crisis Textline is 741741, and you can text, help or connect. You'll get back an automated reply that says, they're looking for a counselor, stay with that person, make sure that they seek help. And if they don't want to do either, make sure that they're not in immediate harm. Maybe you could take them for coffee. You could ask if they want to go for food, invite them to come with you, to your home, be a source of light and give them hope in that time of darkness.

 

Georgia Bergers:

Thank you very much for sharing Cal both that and all the stories of, how you got to where you are and your vision for the future. It's very inspiring.

 

Cal Beyer:

Well, Georgia, thank you very much. And I look forward to our continued partnership as well.

 

Georgia Bergers:

Absolutely. I look forward to finding more ways to work together. Thank you!

 

Cal Beyer:

Absolutely. Thank you, Georgia.

 

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