Hello, February!

Welcome to Quarantine 15: a spot of joy in your inbox on work, life, and navigating the start of 2021. In case we haven’t met, I’m Nikki Gusz, a co-founder of Lloyd, a career GPS for young professionals. You can follow me on Twitter @nkgusz or subscribe to this email newsletter here.


Today, around here you’ll find:

(1) A little reflection on the week

(2) A conversation

(3) A treat (or two) from me

(1) A little reflection on the week

Hard to believe, but over 8% of 2021 has past (thank you, January). I know the sense of time can be warped these days, but here we are, friends. This week, I’m excited to return to a conversation, this time around wellness at work. I’ve thought of a lot of ways to spend 5 minutes, but Jon definitely gave me a new idea (which I am not close to mastering, but maybe one day!) February also brings the honor to celebrate Black History Month. I know many of us look to nature for peace and inspiration, so I’m excited to share stories of the Buffalo Soldiers in the U.S. National Parks. Onward!

(2) A conversation

Recently, I had the chance to connect with Jonathan Shooshani. Jon is a social entrepreneur that has been working at the intersection of health, wellbeing, and technology over the past decade. Jon is the Co-founder and President of JOON, a flexible and personalized wellbeing benefits platform. 

He is passionate about the future of work, building businesses that help people lead happier and healthier lives, and creating greater access and affordability to wellbeing. Prior to JOON, Jon worked with a variety of purpose-driven companies and health food brands. 

You can learn more about JOON by visiting their website or connecting with Jon on LinkedIn.

The name of your company, JOON, is a Farsi word that relates to an inspiring story of a taxi ride, a revolution, and a punch card stretching across borders and generations. How has this made you think about the role a job can have on a person’s life and identity?

The story behind why we named our company JOON serves as a constant reminder for our team. It’s a reminder that the act of caring for one another endures the test of time. That even decades later what people really remember is how you treated them, your kindness or lack of compassion, your energy and overall vibe. 

The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. Our jobs have the potential to make a huge impact on our quality of life as well as the lives of our families and friends. Feeling supported and taken care of in your workplace or job is part of our greater mission at JOON, and comes back to the way our families and culture have given us love and support. 

The last year has been pretty unique (to say the least) for all of us living through a global pandemic. How has it influenced your perspective on wellness?

The last year has been wild and has impacted my perspective on wellness by reminding me that the simple things are the big things: getting ample sleep, staying hydrated, getting outdoors and feeling the warmth of the sun, moving daily even if it’s something as light as a walk or stretch, taking some time to follow your breath and think without being distracted by technology, eating some plants, listening to a beautiful piece of music, catching up with a friend or connecting with a loved one, doing something creative and getting into flow. 

We are all bombarded with marketing and promotion of new things that promise us a happier life. And there are plenty of products and services that make healthy living easier and more accessible. But oftentimes what it comes down to is making sure we do the simple things. Those little habits and practices are often the hardest to build but usually the most impactful. 

The pandemic has also made it clear that we all need to invest more in preventative care. 

“Future of work” is pretty buzzy these days. What does this term mean to you—and what does it actually mean to us as individual workers?

Today’s workforce is more diverse and distributed than ever before but we’ve also barely scratched the surface. The future of work needs new and better systems, playbooks, infrastructure, and technology to support the needs of the individual workers in this rapidly changing environment of business. 

  1. Automate the things that can be automated. 

  2. There are no replacements for human capital and creativity. Give people more time, energy, love, and support to do what humans are good at. 

You’ve incorporated behavior science and economics into your product and your team has had the opportunity to work with Dan Ariely and his team at Duke. What are the ways you bring this research out of the textbook and into reality?

1. By removing friction: our platform is super simple and easy to use, and we’ve removed many of the bells and whistles that detract a user from getting where they want to go. 

2. Making JOON feel like a relational benefit: we don’t just focus on health and wellness, our platform experience reinforces things like recognition, belonging, and employer-employee appreciation, which are the cornerstones of culture. 

3. Understanding our members’ motivations and goals: people are more likely to achieve their goals or resolutions if they understand the reason and motivation behind them. Parts of our user journey help us and our members get familiar with their why, which creates awareness and helps us personalize their JOON experience. 

If you have 5 minutes and need a wellness refresh or motivation, what do you do? 

I do a quick head or handstand. It’s amazing for your blood flow and a quick perspective change. 

JOON is focused on wellness, and I’m sure you’ve thought a lot about how you build this into the DNA of your organization. Are there any unique ways JOON operates to encourage wellness?

Our weekly dose of gratitude is a simple and nice way to encourage employee recognition and appreciation. It’s an informal note of thanks our team sends to one another at the end of the week (on Fridays) recognizing each other’s individual super powers. It’s a heart-warming way to end the week. 

We also promote a flexible work schedule in case someone wants to exercise, meditate, work remote, go see grandma, move into a new apartment, watch the kids, etc. As life and work blend, it’s more important than ever before to remember we’re human.

(3) A treat (or two)from me

Really, a treat from Ranger Shelton Johnson, who shares powerful stories of the Buffalo Soldiers and hidden history in the U.S. National Parks. Perhaps you’ve heard his compelling storytelling, but if you haven’t, know he is the one who convinced Oprah to go camping (among many other accolades). If you’re needing a little inspiration (and perspective) on your morning bike ride, listen to the story of the rides the Buffalo Soldiers took across the west, include to Yellowstone National Park (the second half of the podcast is more local STL history, and still great!).