Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
July 13, 2021
Derek Lundsten | LifeGuides
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Derek Lundsten and I’m president and CEO of Life Guides, PBC – a public benefit corporation that gives conscious business leaders a transformative solution to support employee emotional health and well-being. Our mission is to measurably reduce unnecessary stress and suffering of one billion people in the next 15 years. We aim to create more happiness and vitality in people’s lives, families, communities, and businesses by providing peer-to-peer support to help people navigate life experiences and overcome challenges.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I’m one of those guys who has gone down the entrepreneurial path a few times. About four years ago, I was in the process of building another software company when I met Mark Donohue, founder of LifeGuides. He presented the opportunity to become one of the first investors in the company. I had a really strong desire to get involved, then over the last few years increasingly became more active in the organization. I had the opportunity to step in as CEO around the time the business was commercializing in December 2019.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I stand for people in a broad sense. I stand for humanity in the sense of wanting people to live their happiest, healthiest, most productive, most fulfilling lives. I want to equip people and get them the resources they need in order to do that. Our goal is to utilize business as a platform to create change and to make a meaningful difference and create goodness in the world.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
I mentioned earlier the idea of reducing unnecessary suffering. In many ways suffering is caused by the way we perceive our lives, or our relationships in particular, with our expectations and uncertainties. At the core of what we’re doing is connecting people to share their stories and to help them develop more healthy approaches to working through the unexpected in a challenging situation and see those as opportunities for growth. We’re helping them see a challenge as an opportunity to develop new skills in a way that’s ultimately providing more character in their life and to transform that into a way that’s of value and service to others.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
What inspires me is hearing and seeing the stories of people whose lives are being positively affected. We hear about the conversations Guides have with members and the positive impact it makes for members to have someone who understands them and the ability to connect with someone who gets what they’re going through. By creating more meaning on both sides, and giving people the support that is needed at a time is needed, that’s motivating in and of itself. I’m eternally optimistic that if we as people are able to see more of ourselves in each other, to find common ground and shared empathy and connection if we seek to understand each other and do that more effectively, anything’s possible.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
The big vision is to imagine a world where people are part of a platform, where they are literally helping other people. The vision is that people are feeling more connected. We’ve heard a lot about this loneliness epidemic and we’ve heard a lot about social status comparisons, but we’re flipping it. We’re saying, how do we reconnect? For example, in tribal times you lived in a village and had your tribe, your people, and your close-knit community. How do we create depth and relationships in a global tribe? That’s really what we’re trying to do.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
There are two main challenges. We need to get clients because our model is a business-to-business model. Historically mental health and emotional health have been taboo, stigmatized topics. We believe by creating a platform that companies advocate for, that will make people feel it’s okay to seek support. It makes it acceptable and in turn, more people will use it. Getting the word out and getting people to use and experience the platform are challenges. It’s often common that we hear people say, “I didn’t know how much I needed that” until after they had their session. People don’t know how impactful the experience will be until they try it.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
We’re all human. It’s bringing that awareness to it. If anything, the last year has brought us the recognition that we’re all more alike than we are different. This is bringing it to light a little bit more. It’s about how we can use our experience for a positive gain.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
There’s the old quote that says “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.” That’s true when you look at how you approach life challenges and when you have someone along the way to help guide, mentor and support you, that’s a huge step for people to find the right path.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
First, promote LifeGuides in your organization. Make people aware of us and what we can do to help companies and their people. We’re also looking for people who want to become a Guide to share their stories. Finally, be willing to reach out and seek support when you need it.
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We give do-good businesses the resources and support they need to increase awareness and grow their audience so they can expand their impact. If you would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.