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A Global Perspective on Well-being with Dr. James Kelley

A few years ago, I was thinking about starting a wellness podcast and decided to search what was already out there. That’s when I found the Brave Endurance podcast hosted by Dr. James Kelley. Although he didn’t know, he inspired me to get off my ass and start my podcast!

James recently rebranded his wellness based podcast to one titled Executives After Hours: Real Conversations with Leaders where he has authentic conversations with real leaders and their personal journeys,

James is also CEO of BraveEndurance, which is a well-being consultancy which he recently relocated to the UAE to expand the organizational footprint to the Middle East.

James and I discuss what organizational well-being is like in the Middle East, a bit about his journey relocating his family of 5 there and a bit about his upcoming book on Authentic Leadership. We also talk a bit about Western Australia where we both spent some time, so forgive the reminiscing.

The Interview:

James talks about his previous podcast and what inspired him to start it. People like to talk so he created a space for people to talk about their passions. James hosted 70 episodes in the wellness space then found he wanted to broaden his reach.

His current home, UAE is 5 years behind the US and solely focus on physical challenges. The population is 9.5 million but 7 million of are expats. The three major cities are one hour apart. James believes in meeting employees where they’re at but that’s difficult in the UAE with the extreme cultural diversity.

Living outside the U.S.

I ask James what prompted his move from Philadelphia and how he ended up in the UAE. He gives a very honest answer that includes not getting tenure. He and his wife started talking about living abroad. Then this is when we start talking about Western Australia.

James tells us why U.S. wellness professionals have an ethnocentric point of view. There’s a Happiness Minister sponsored by the government but no one in the U.S. knows that’s happening. There are several happiness officers and offices that help people rethink their day to be more engaged.

Is there a possibility to look at different societies and see what we can learn from them and potentially incorporate these ideas into our societies?

We discuss the GCC Well-being Association and why James thought to form it. There was no groups or associations for people to belong to. The meetings will include three parts: having someone nominate a problem they’re having and help solve the problem, education and networking.

James tells us how he works with employers and how he plugs in vendors. HR typically owns wellness and there aren’t many wellness professionals in the UAE. It could be an opportunity for wellness professionals.

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