Self-care: Trauma Informed Leadership with Matt Bennett

Self-care like you’ve never thought about it before

Trauma Informed Leadership with Matt Bennett

Self-care like you’ve never thought about it before

Trauma Informed Leadership with Matt Bennett

by GoldenburgGroup


We started the year off with strong intentions to manage stress, take care of ourselves and be kind to our inner child. But those of us working in the nonprofit sector have significantly more pressure on us every day. And, with the year almost 25% over, now is the perfect time to share this conversation with Matt Bennett about trauma-informed leadership and self-care.

This dynamic conversation with Matt Bennett leads us on a journey through nonprofit leadership, trauma informed care, self-care and more. In this podcast episode, listeners will get self-care ideas and tips, as well as practical leadership advice for building professional and personal resiliency throughout your nonprofit.

Listen to the Episode Here!


Matt Bennett’s Website:

Trauma-Informed Lense Podcast

Connecting Paradigms (the book)*

*This is an Amazon affiliate link and, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission. Know that I only recommend books I’ve personally read

and genuinely believe are worth your time, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to purchase them.

Matt Bennett (00:00):

Welcome to the Successful Nonprofits podcast. I’m your host Dolph Goldenburg. Today on our show, we have a guest who is the expert on a subject that is crucial for all nonprofit leaders: trauma informed leadership and trauma informed care. Matt Bennett is the founder of Bennett Innovation Group where he has created a platform for his writing, speaking and training programs. I heard Matt speak at a conference about 10 years ago and was really impressed with him. Sometimes the universe just brings people back around. And that’s what happened when the funder of a client recommended my client get in touch with Matt Bennett about doing some staff development. So the client and I had an hour long phone conversation with him and I wish that I taped that conversation for this podcast because it was solid gold – – – he was that engaging and that informative.

Matt Bennett (01:01):

At the end of the client call, I invited Matt on the podcast, and he generously agreed to do so. Since we both have busy schedules, that was probably two or three months ago. Matt offers a wide variety of training that spans from trauma informed leadership to his trauma sensitive schools series that helps organizations understand new research and findings about neurobiology and how they can implement practical strategies to have a better organization and to make a better world. Matt has also authored the book Connecting Paradigms, a trauma informed and neuro-biological framework for motivational interviewing with his practical experience in leading nonprofit organizations and educational institutions to develop research based solutions to improve the health of individuals. And those individuals not only include those served but also team members, staff members, organizations and systems. So I am so excited that Matt is joining us today.

Matt Bennett (02:09):

Hey Matt, welcome to the podcast.

Matt Bennett (02:11):

Thank you so much. It’s a real honor to be here.

Matt Bennett (02:14):

Now, Matt, you seem to train nonprofit organizations all over the country and, if I recall correctly, you have several different workshops. In those workshops, I’m sure a lot of topics probably come up but what would you say the frequent requested topics are?

Matt Bennett (02:32):

Great querstion! One of the things that I’ve really come to appreciate, and this comes a lot from my own experience, as well as kind of driven me on this mission, is understanding why so many people in our communities are struggling. Why do we have growing populations experiencing homelessness, the opiate epidemic, I know our shared work in HIV, you know all these real social problems. And one of the things that really drives me and why I love doing this work is because now our science has got better. Since I was trained in psychology, I call it the dark ages of psychology in the late nineties, a new concpet of functional MRIs have come on board, and now we get to the brain and the biology in a whole different way. We really understand the “why” behind a lot of these behaviors. And we now understand this in ways previous generations could have never have even guessed at.

Matt Bennett (03:27):

And I spent a lot of my time talking to groups serving a vast variety of folks. Even nonprofits you might not usually think about like libraries, for example. We want to help these folks, but in some ways we don’t really understand them enough to know what they need. When I’m talking about motivational interviewing, which is helping people make change, and trauma informed care, which is helping people heal from traumatic experiences, it’s really that understanding that I think people are a really hungry for. And when you start these conversations, you can see the passion come back up in really cool ways that I hope stays with them long after I get back on a plane and come back to Denver.

Matt Bennett (04:14):

Now Matt, in what ways does trauma informed care impact leadership?

Matt Bennett (04:25):

Beautiful question. So trauma informed care started with the folks we were trying to serve. But we realized early on that peoples’ brains change after repeated trauma. I learned through my own experiences in working with survivors of sexual abuse, military folks coming back from war, domestic violence, and poverty that we would learn all about this. And we started to learn about how their brains and even their DNA is different after repeated trauma. And it changes how we behave, how we think, how we see ourselves, and others in the world. And so many people were coming back from that and saying, “Yeah, the folks we better understand the folks we work with and are trying to help, but what about me and my coworkers? What about our trauma? And so one of the big realizations a lot of us were having early on in the movement around the early 2000’s was “What about us?”

Matt Bennett (05:24):

As that evolved, we developed the terms vicarious trauma and secondary trauma. Because we know that emotions are contagious, and we can be traumatized just by hearing people’s traumatic stories over and over, being exposed to the behaviors and the symptoms of mental illness and other traumatic issues. And that’s really why physicians, nurses, social workers, teachers and principals are the most burned out professions out there. And I think it really speaks to that emotional intensity. Around 2002 or 2003, I found myself with a kind of interesting skillset. I received a master’s degree in counseling psychology, started out my career working as a therapist, and got promoted to leadership aery early on in my career. Most people would normally read a book.

Matt Bennett (06:23):

Most people would normally read a book, but I decided to get an MBA in healthcare administration. And so I had this unique psychological background with a growing understanding of trauma and trauma informed care. And I really saw that most of the books written in leadership did not really tell me what I needed to do. It didn’t tell me what happens when trauma walks through the door each day. What happens when patients or students or clients we’re trying to help might attack us? You know, I’ve been spit on. And how do we keep morale up in those organizations when people are hearing stories of child abuse and staffing crisis lines. How do we keep our staff not only healthy and not traumatized, but how do we also keep them producing and bringing their best self to work every day? And so I believe that those of you in leadership have the hardest jobs, and I’ve been trying ever since then to create models to help leaders really look at their work and think about it in a different way.

Matt Bennett (07:23):

To add onto that, Matt, I think one of the things that we as leaders are often not considering is that most of us choose to do this work because at one point in our lives we were really close to it. We experienced some of the things that some clients are going through. As an example, I’ve done a significant amount of work within the LGBTQ community and our organizations, but a lot of the people attracted to that work are attracted to it because they have felt marginalized as an LGBTQ person. And then they walk into a workplace, which at times can be a marginalizing experience. and there’s this disconnect where they think to themselves, “Gee, I thought I was going to feel embraced every day that I’m here. And I just don’t. And not only that, but some people I work with are reminding me of some of the trauma I’ve experienced in my life.”

Matt Bennett (08:16):

Absolutely. And there’s a great resiliency for those of us, including myself, who’ve experienced hardship in our own childhood or later on in life. It’s because people were able to support and help us back then that we’re called to give back. And so on the one hand there is a great resiliency there. On the other hand, there’s an incredible vulnerability there as well, both for people that come from the communities or histories of trauma. And this work can traumatize the healthiest individual because we’re not really created psychologically as human beings to sit with people and hear story after story about racism, discrimination, stigma, abuse, war, and all those things. So it’s a challenging work for all of us. But I think you’re absolutely right. So many of us have, have been in that client, that patient role at some point in our life.

Matt Bennett (09:12):

And again, that can be our greatest source of resiliency, but also can be a huge vulnerability as well. And so leaderships and nonprofits really need to, at the very least, be aware of that. But I really argue that organizations should proactively and reactively respond to that environment and create healthy work organizations and cultures.

Matt Bennett (09:34):

So let’s talk about some of those strategies. Like what are some of the top things that you feel leaders in our organizations should be doing to respond.

Matt Bennett (09:41):

First and foremost, if you take one thing away from this podcast please, this is the one: You are the role model as the leader for self care. I also challenged direct care workers: You’re the role models for your clients and students. If you’re not well, you’re failing in a big way, so your own self care is foremost.

Matt Bennett (10:03):

If the leader is burned out, if the leader is experiencing trauma, then stress and trauma just spills everywhere. So leaders, wellness and self care has to be a priority because your staff are also going to look to you for how to act. If you’re working 12 hours a day every day, they’ll work longer and longer each and every day because you’re setting that role model for them. Other things that I think are key just for the individual is mindfulness is a big thing. Not just mindfulness as a yoga practice or a meditative practice, but also keeping our calm in the storm. We’re the person that’s steady. So when our staff struggle we can be there for them and offer them that support and just our discipline as well, showing that we’re the role models for professional development as the foundation for a learning community.

Matt Bennett (11:02):

I know you do a lot of work with strategic planning, shared vision, shared values, hedgehog concepts, big hairy audacious goals. Don’t get me started, but all of that’s gotta be built on a foundation of trust and psychological safety. So a lot of leaders want to get to that big strategic plan or that big initiative or starting a new program. But if the trust and psychological safety aren’t there, we’re building some castles on some real shaky ground. So with the psychological health of our workforce being very vulnerable because of the nature of the work, It just takes an additional focus on our part to always be looking to maintain, build and strengthen that healthy culture and climate built on trust and psychological safety.

Dolph Goldenburg (12:03):

I want to go back to one of the points that you had mentioned. You talked about the fact that the leader is the person that keeps things stable, And I say this all the time. I do a lot of chief executive coaching, and when the leader panics, everybody else panics too. Because everyone looks and goes, “Oh my gosh, this person is worried and this person probably knows things that we don’t. Now it’s time for us all to get really worried and really nervous.”

Matt Bennett (12:28):

Absolutely. Again, we’re that role model. There was an interesting study that I don’t have it right in front of me, but about 75% of the time during meetings, people are looking towards the leader. Again, this is all unconscious behavior. Nobody’s knowing they’re being monitored for this, but we’re looking to the leader about how to respond, how to be in the organization, how to handle stress. So I think if we see ourselves as that role model for wellness, for professional development, for stress management, it’s such a key thing. And I love the concept of if we don’t remain calm as leaders, then that stress spills and really overwhelms everybody. And again, there’s plenty in a lot of nonprofit organizations that can overwhelm you on a good day. So this is the real challenge that unfortunately you don’t see enough books written about how our workplaces have this intense psychological work, emotional work, emotional labor and some of the additional difficulties.

Dolph Goldenburg (13:29):

Absolutely. So you also talked about leadership self care, and you discouraged leaders from working 12 hour days. What are some of the other things that leaders need to be cognizant of? Not just for their own wellbeing, but to make sure that they’re setting a good example?

Matt Bennett (13:44):

At the leadership level, we need to start with wellness. Diet is one, I’m not going to lecture anybody about diet, but what you put in the mouth becomes the food, your energy for your brain. Exercise is critical. When we’re stressed out ,and most of your listeners jobs are highly stressful, We release cortisol. Best way to get that out of the body in the short term is to go be active. Stress historically has been a trigger for activity and then sleep. You want to do one thing to bring your best self to work the next day, get that eight hours of sleep. So, some of it is just the basic stuff. And then I mentioned a mindfulness practice. There’s some amazing research around the role of mindfullness in maintaining mental, as well as physical health.

Matt Bennett (14:33):

Also like to really live your passion. What is it that brings you to this work? I really worry about people in the nonprofit arena that lost their why. Why do they come to work? What is it about them that draws them to this work where you usually sacrifice fortune and fame, so to speak, to serve your community. What is it about that? And keeping that in the forefront of your mind. And I think if your staff sees you living your passion, talking about your passion and giving them a chance to talk about that as well, it’s going to bring that energy into the culture. One other thing from the personal side that I see really stick out in the research is making sure that we have surrounded ourselves with people that love and care about us in our personal life.

Matt Bennett (15:18):

We can talk about the importance of the organizational culture, but we also know that people who surround themselves with folks that bring joy and love into their life, stay healthier, live longer, and deal with stress better. So a lot of this is just fundamental stuff, but I see too many leaders who start to neglect our own wellness. I want everybody to be healthy, that’s one part of it. And to me self care is quality care, self care will determine the level and quality of work we’re able to do. I mean the quality of our work determines a lot of life outcomes out there. So self care is quality care and, again, the leader is the role model for that.

Dolph Goldenburg (16:16):

Matt, I need to put a pitch in there for friendship. I think this is especially true for men, but I think it’s true for all adults in our twenties and early thirties. We have a friend group and then, as we move into our 30s and our 40s and our 50s, that friend group kind of dissolves. People have families, people move away because of their careers. But people are not building new friendships. When those friendships end, there’s no big bang that ends them. They just dissolve and you just fall out of touch. I have been just so incredibly lucky – across cities and across decades – to be friends with people. I’ve moved across the country and we’re still friends, we still fly to see each other.

Dolph Goldenburg (17:02):

Or one of my best friends who happens to be straight, he and I have what we call a man cation every year. We we go away without our spouses for a long weekend somewhere. And we try to meet for breakfast six to eight times a year just to keep that connection. There’s the sense that like, yeah, there are people who really just give a darn about me.

Matt Bennett (17:38):

Yeah. My work in homelessness is really just shown how lucky I am that I just get to hang out with people that bring joy into my life. So many people I work with in extreme poverty are just trying to survive, and everything’s about survival. Hopefully your listeners are in a place where they can have a one or two people at least in their life who just bring them joy. And I think that after a hard day of people work, the last thing you might want to do is talk to one more person who, God forbid, who has a problem as well. But it’s the healthiest thing we can do. So I just totally backed that up and there’s so much great research out there that shows the stronger your social networks are, the more joy those folks bring into your life. And the healthier you are.

Matt Bennett (18:22):

Jim Rome, an author who puts things much more succinctly than I do, says you’re the average of the five people you spend the most this time with. And that’s a good challenge for your listeners to thinking about those people and decide those folks bring joy into your life. I joke that I have a friend named Travis, he used to be in our field, but now he works at Whole Foods baking bread. And his joke is tha I take my work home with me every day! He’s just a guy like who wasn’t always in my top five. I do everything I can to get him in there because he just brings such great energy and usually good bread every time I see him.

Dolph Goldenburg (18:56):

So it’s funny like from my perspective, if I can give listeners a homework assignment. If there’s someone you were really, really good friends with 10 years ago and the friendship just dissolved. It did not end because you had a huge disagreement but just kind of fell out of touch, give the person a call, send them an email, try to get together with them. Even if you’re eac living in other cities. I mean, we live in this miraculous time like the Jetsons where you can just Skype and can actually see people and see people’s reaction. I really have to put a big pitch in for that. If you’re taking care of yourself, make sure you’ve got a good friend network.

Matt Bennett (19:29):

Absolutely. And one more final piece of that, and this kind of goes over into the work arena a little bit as well, is I’m so lucky to have folks all across the country and some of these networks might be more local for other folks. But just people in our field, I call them professional friends. They’re more friends than colleagues. And they’re folks that I share a passion with, and I’ve gotten to know their families over time. I’ve gone on vacation with some of them over the time. I think there’s something that draws us to this field and connects us through our shared values and shared passion. So those professional networks can bring you a lot of joy as well. If you don’t talk about work the whole time, make sure you work some personal friendship stuff in there when appropriate as well. And I agree with what you say about executive coaching. If you’re at the top of the ladder as a CEO or an executive director, don’t work in isolation and make sure you’ve got that professional support as well.

Dolph Goldenburg (20:28):

I love the fact that you o talk about those professional friendships because those folks can celebrate your professional successes with you in ways that your other friends can’t. Like the best friend I was just talking about who I take an annual mancation with. He’s in information technology, and he celebrates my successes. But maybe he does not understand them and vice versa. When does a big integration. I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s awesome”, but I don’t know really how much work that is and what kind of blood, sweat and tears went into it. Whereas with those professional friends, people can genuinely understand and celebrate your successes because we all have times when we don’t succeed. I do, you do and every listener does. But then your professional friends can console you by saying, “I get it. You did everything you could, it was a tough fight and you lost. Okay.” To me, there’s power in those types of friendships as well.

Matt Bennett (21:16):

Absolutely. Again, whether we’re talking about leaders or whether we’re talking about staff, people think of self care as what you do to outside work. I would challenge people to think of yourself more as an athlete or musician. Somebody who needs to prepare for a performance. Self care is crucial because we know work stress can destroy you, and a lot of your listeners are in social work and mental health fields where we dominate a lot of the categories for burnout. So that’s part of it. But the other part is how do you structure your work in a way that allows you to get things done.

Matt Bennett (22:02):

So a couple of things that I see leaders being terrible at, and I’d love to get your thoughts on it as well. If you can think about going into work each day, knowing all of our jobs are stressful to a degree. And I would say most of the your listeners jobs are more stressful than most other jobs in leadership due to some of the things we’ve been talking about. And you I plug into stress when you go into work ,and ideally when you leave work at the end of the day you unplug. And where I see leaders really both being terrible role models for this, but also destroying their own health is you go home, maybe unplug for an hour or two, but you’re working on dinner and you pull out your phone and you check emails or you log into your computer.

Matt Bennett (22:50):

So ideally what we really need to do is disconnect from work. And this is research based, this isn’t just me saying it feels good to do this. This is definitely shows up in the literature. Now, if the building’s burning down, they need to call you. So there are some realistic times when you need to be notified if big things happen. But you also need to train your staff about where the line is. I don’t need a text about every little thing, but here’s what I need if I’m not on right now. You and I probably worked at one point where you didn’t have work emails at home and maybe you had a pager at one point.

Dolph Goldenburg (23:39):

I’m old enough where I worked in a workplace where there was no email yet. Yes, I actually remember when there was one shared email address for the entire organization, and it was an organization of 60 people. So yeah, there was no email at that point.

Matt Bennett (23:54):

I remember as well, and it’s a great productivity thing, but, at the same time, we’ve got to try however we can to disconnect . The further you get up ladder, the more you’re going to have to be called in at times. But so often now, I’ll be on a call about an upcoming training or consulting work that I’m doing and I hear waves crashing in the background. And it’s always one of the top three people in the organization who is on this call while they’re on the beach. And so whether it’s in the evenings, whether it’s on the weekends, we biologically need a chance to recover.

Matt Bennett (24:40):

You get stressed out throughout the day. It’s just a normal part of work. Hopefully you can unplug and both de-stress so your recovery gets some of the stress out and you’re not adding any more stress to your cup. But when you again log into your emails or get texts at all hours of the night, you just have to think about work. You’re plugging yourself back in so you don’t have the chance to recover and you’re putting more stress in your cup.We’ve got to start to disconnect. We’ve got to start to get focus back in our workplace. And again, leaders sometimes I see as the worst role models and just some of those basic workflow productivity pieces that we know can destroy our productivity, our creativity, and also our brain power as well.

Dolph Goldenburg (25:28):

So Matt, I’m going to share with you my weekend email strategy and then you can tell me I’m all wrong and I can live with that cause I’m a grownup. But this is my weekend email strategy. It is actually not at all unusual for me to do work on the weekends. But I typically schedule itthe work, and there’s something specific that I want to do. As an example, I’ll decide to spend two hours working on this final strategic plan project for one of our nonprofit clients. And if as part of that I need to send an email, I’ll send an email, or if I need to see if someone has responded to me about an email on that project, I’ll check and then I’ll reply.

Dolph Goldenburg (26:15):

But what I don’t do is say, “Oh, it’s Saturday afternoon, this is a great time for me to get to email zero, let me sit down and do it.” But I do typically work at least for a few hours every weekend and I schedule it. Now. I’ll also share with you, that I do a lot of interim chief executive engagements. And there are times when I need to email a direct report to ask them a question. So I will email them and they respond just 10 minutes later. And literally I will either pick up the phone or will immediately reply and say, “When I email you, I don’t expect an immediate response after hours. I’m just emailing you so that it’s in your inbox. When you show up at work, please respond. But I’ll share with you people ignored my request and responded anyway. So then I discovered this great app that works with Outlook called Boomerang It allows me to schedule emails. So then I can prepare that email and schedule it to send on Monday morning at 6:00 AM or 8:00 AM. So just so you know, it’s not at all unusual for me to do some work on Saturdays or Sundays, but it’s always planned and I’m always clear that I need to do X, Y, or Z. And then I’m done.

Matt Bennett (27:27):

And the reality, like a lot of executives I know, at any given time you probably have quite a few balls in the air. And we do have to put in some work on the weekend. I think scheduling it makes sense. My challenge would be if you have to do work on the weekends, try to keep it to at least one of the days so you have at least one full day to just recover. And then you better schedule some really good healthy stuff in there as well. I want you to be working out. I want you to go for a hike or hang out with friends. Don’t just sit around watching netflix the rest of the weekend.

Matt Bennett (28:27):

Some weeks, honestly, I can work six days a week if I need to. I was training last Saturday, so I was really working. I was doing a seven hour training in San Diego, so I’m a guy who will work some weekends, some evenings as well. Whenever I try to do that though, I also try to make sure I have something to balance that off. If I have a big grant to submit and I’m working a couple of weekends in a row, I will schedule a three-day or four-day weekend to recover so we can manage our wellness. So knowing that we’re the role models for that and if everybody sees us working on the weekend, our staff is probably going to start working on the weekend. At least a lot of them who want to impress us, and then we may have a more burned out workforce as well. So you can manage that. That’s where I think mindfulness really comes in play too, and keeping an eye on how your body’s reacting to stress and how your health is being effected. And if you can stay healthy, your habits are keeping you there. Keep doing it.

Matt Bennett (29:52):

The other thing I’ll share with you is I took all social media off my phone, so Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And I still have both my personal and my work email on my phone, however, they’re not on my home screen and I do not get any auto notifications. So again, it has to be intentional. So like if I’m bored and pull my phone out, I don’t just see work email and say, “Oh, let me check work email real quick”. Instead, I actually have to go into my droid’s apps folder and scroll all the way down to the O’s and click outlook . And that’s a pain, so I’m not as likely to do it unless I really need email somebody. For me. That’s one of the other boundaries I set – – – – I really took a look at the apps on my phone and cleaned ruthlessly. Although I will admit to still having the Washington Post app on my phone ,and I do when I’m bored. I do love to read what’s going on with the impeachment (this is being recorded in November. The impeachable will be over and, and hopefully the Trumpster will be out office at that point by the time this is released. But that’s what’s going on when we’re recording this.)

Matt Bennett (30:50):

There’s a lot of stress out there, both in the media and, and again, we deal with things like racism, poverty and all that’s really heightened in our communities now. So I have my two shows. I get my news from each day and I give myself an hour, or at least as much as I can stand after work. And then, if I want to catch up on what happened in the evening, I give myself about 10 minutes at the end of the day. But I found that I had to manage that too because watching the news became a little bit of an addiction for me.

Dolph Goldenburg (32:07):

My phone’s currently on airplane mode, but when this is over, I’m going to pick up my phone and I’m going take the Washington post app off. I think you’re probably right that I probably do spend 15 or 20 minutes a day on it. But every time I do it stresses me out. So thank you. I appreciate that. Now Matt, I’ve got to make sure that we ask you the off the map question.

Matt Bennett (32:27):

All right, I’m ready for it. I’ve been waiting for this

Dolph Goldenburg (32:29):

Awesome because this way our listeners will know the person behind the profession just a little bit. So Matt, I understand that you have some very specific ideas About heart rate variability and I happen to have a Fitbit on my wrist most of the time. So now I’m curious. Talk to me about heart rate variability.

Matt Bennett (32:40):

Oh boy. The can of worms you just opened. So for your listeners, I’ve been working on my elevator pitch on heart rate variability. So I’ll try to be as brief as I possibly can. So most of us are familiar with heart rate and that is beats per minute and it would usually what you hear is the lower the resting heart rate, the better. So you see some elite athletes with crazy low resting heart rate variability. And then if you go to the gym, you see those charts where you’re in the green, red, yellow zones as you work out for your heart rate. Since the 1960s, we started to see another variation within that and that was heart rate variability – which is the difference between the beats.

Matt Bennett (33:37):

So if you think about somebody with a low heart rate, they have less heart rate beats per minute and that gives more room for variation between those beats. Now to get a little nerdy with you, that variation shows how well your autonomic nervous system is reacting to or recovering from stress. So the more variability you have, it shows a healthy nervous system. So if I can dig just a little deeper beyond autonomic. The nervous system is the parasympathetic, the fight or flight nervous system and the rest and digest nervous system. And so the higher the variability it shows those two systems are working well together. In other words, your biology is in a very good state to take on something stressful or challenging. If you’ve gone for a long run or had a long day at work, your body’s recovering well from that.

Matt Bennett (34:35):

The exciting thing about this biometric to me is that it can predict a lot of different things based whether your body’s reacting well or poorly to distress. It predicts how well you’re going to engage cognitively in a task, how productive you are. Studies have shown heart rate variability is correlated to ability to socially engage with things like therapy but also education, and obviously emotional regulation andmental health as well. And so what I got really excited about and my podcast had about a six week series on, was heart rate variability. You can find that at the Trauma Informed Lens podcast, and it’s the first time I got really exposed to it. And you can tell in the first couple of episodes, I was like, “Yeah, this is cool.” And by the end of the series I was like, “We need to have heart rate variability monitors on everybody.”

Matt Bennett (35:25):

So I spent about six months trying to figure out how I could use the existing technology, like the Fitbit for example, to really get this insight because we know those experiencing trauma or work burnout will show up in poor heart rate variability reading. So one of the things I got really excited about is that it gives you a reading of the condition you’re currently in, but also a baseline. So you can see how you’re doing in a a couple months. this is not unlike your trait versus your immediate condition. I never thought I’d say these words come out of my mouth because I couldn’t find a way for nonprofits to really integrate the existing technology because so much of it’s for elite athletes at this point. When you look at the whoop strap, elite heart rate variability, HRV for training this has been big in the athletic arena but less so on the mental health side of things.

Matt Bennett (36:24):

So in about six weeks I will be able to say that there is a heart rate variability app to help organizations. And I hope this is the future of trauma informed care where we can really measure the impacts of our interventions in real time. So instead of waiting three or four months to see if something works, we can start measuring the impact of our interventions much more quickly. I hope this is the future of self care because here’s a biometric to say this is how you start an exercise program or intermittent fasting or mindfulness. Here’s how it’s improved your heart rate variability. And one of the things our app’s doing as well is giving organizations the ability to look at the overall health of the organization, the programs groups within both the client population, patient population, but also the staff as well. So the fact we have this biometric that tells us so much, we’re trying to keep this incredibly cheap and help people write grants to do it. So never thought I would say the words, but I will hopefully have an app and a tech company started up here in the next six weeks

Dolph Goldenburg (37:40):

That’s very cool. You will also be a tech entrepreneur and that sounds really interesting.

Matt Bennett (37:44):

Yeah. I might be a B Corp because of one of your past podcast episodes.

Dolph Goldenburg (37:49):

No way! That’s awesome!

Matt Bennett (37:50):

Yeah, I saw it but I wasn’t committed to the idea. But then once I listened to your podcast I was like, “I want one of those. So we’re researching going that direction.”

Dolph Goldenburg (38:00):

That’s really awesome. Matt, I have loved having you on. I am looking forward to seeing this app rollout and seeing what it can do. It is such a really cool idea for nonprofits to be able to see results real time and not have to wait three months or six months. That’s awesome. I want to make sure that all of our listeners know how they can reach out to you. You’ve got several websites. Obviously you’ve got one for your podcast. You’ve also got one for your book, trauma sensitive early education, but they can get to all of that including your blog at And at that website you can also book Matt if your organization would benefit from his facilitation, consulting or speaking services. Once again, that’s Make sure you check it out.

Dolph Goldenburg (38:51):

Hey Matt, thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Matt Bennett (38:55):

Absolute blast my friend. Thanks for having me on.

Dolph Goldenburg (38:58):

Hey listeners, if for any reason you missed Matt’s URL, you can always go to the show notes at We will also link directly to his podcast, which you should totally check out.

Dolph Goldenburg (39:23):

I know we are still a bit of a ways away from spring being in full tilt, but I am sure that you are thinking about all of the new life that is growing outside in the ground and maybe even inside of your organization. In my practice, I have the absolute pleasure of helping nonprofits grow and see all of the amazing life that some strategic planning or coaching can bring to fruition.

Dolph Goldenburg (39:48):

So if you think that I can be a service, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m easy to connect with – Just go to and of course if you enjoyed today’s show, do me a favor and hit the subscribe button on whatever podcast platform you’re using. And, if you’re feeling just really great about the show, why don’t you rate us as well. And maybe even leavea review.

Dolph Goldenburg (40:10):

Finally, one last ask listeners. Be sure to connect with me on LinkedIn. I am fairly active there and I reply to all messages that I receive. And I mean, seriously, even the salesy ones, I typically even respond to those. That’s our show for the week. I hope you have gained some insight to help your nonprofit thrive in a competitive environment.

Disclaimer (40:35):

I am not an accountant or attorney and neither I nor the Goldenburg Group provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. Always consult a qualified licensed professional about such matters.



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