Stan Gibson is a Keynote Speaker, Executive and Leadership Consultant, Well-Being Expert and Principal at Oxygen Plus, LLC where he is passionate about building sustainable cultures in and out of the workplace. Stan is also the author of the book “Living a Rich and Intentional Life” and Mike Petrusky asks him to share his insights about the challenges ahead for corporate real estate and facility management leaders as we head into the next phase of returning to offices and managing teams in a hybrid workplace model. Mike asks Stan about his years of experience as a CRE leader and he offers practical advice and inspiration for workplace innovators everywhere!

Ep. 168: Returning to Offices and Managing the Future Workplace While “Living a Rich and Intentional Life”

Full Episode Transcript

Mike P.: This is the Workplace Innovator podcast, where we talk with corporate real estate and facility management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by iOFFICE, the leading employee experience focused IWMS software that delivers real- time data and mobile tools to help you intelligently manage your digital workplace.  

Hey folks, and welcome to the show. It’s me, Mike P. And this is episode 168 of the Workplace Innovator podcast. Glad you’re here. We have another great conversation with an experienced leader from the world of corporate real estate and facility management, Stan Gibson, author, and inspirational speaker. I had a great discussion with him recently about his new book and many of the things that I find very interesting and important to discuss during these unprecedented times, as we head into the fall, so much to look forward to, but certainly many challenges ahead. And Stan has just the right amount of inspiration and experience to help us navigate what comes next in our organizations. So, let’s get right to it.  

Here we go. Joining us today on the Workplace Innovator hotline, calling in from the Heartland of America in West Des Moines, Iowa, I am excited to welcome Stan Gibson to the show. Hey, Stan. 

Stan Gibson: Mike, how you doing? Great to be on the show. 

Mike P.: It is great to have you. I wasn’t sure where you were today because I see on your LinkedIn profile, your home base is down in Florida, but I know you are living the nomadic life. Is that true? 

Stan Gibson: You know what? My middle name is Flex and yeah, so I’m fortunate enough and have been for about four or five years, I guess I was flex before flex was cool. And I took a residency down in Florida, my wife and I about four or five years ago. But we’ve been in the Des Moines area for the last 25 years and you just can’t replace good friends. So, we like to spend our time between Florida, between here and then our daughter lives in Scottsdale. So, you just don’t know where we’re going to lay our heads some night, but that’s a lifestyle that we’re willing to take on and enjoy. 

Mike P.: Flexible before flex was cool. I love it. Well, that’s what we’re talking about these days is the flexible working world and Stan, you have a long career in corporate real estate, 35 years or so, and most recently at Wells Fargo. I can’t wait to hear about some of those experiences, but now you bill yourself as a keynote speaker, an author, a wellbeing expert and the principal at Oxygen Plus LLC. So, what is that all about? Is this your new consulting career? 

Stan Gibson: It’s my new gig. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks about a thousand years before. That’s kind of been me, Mike. Yeah. I’ve been in real estate for 35 years and I’ve been around the horn. I started out in property facility management, moved into asset management. I’ve done strategic planning. I’ve been the Real Estate Director of Wells Fargo Financial. So, I’ve been around, but I’ll tell you what, about five or 10 years ago, I really started getting just intrigued and excited about wellbeing and leadership. And I think the two go together, Mike.  

I started reading some books and just the physiological and the neurological hacks around the importance of sleep and around movement, around the right nutrition, around routines. And all these things I kept reading about and I kept tying them back into leadership. And so, all of this started to morph about, I don’t know, six or seven years ago, and I started being asked to speak about it. And so, I became a speaker, a keynote speaker, and one speech led to another, led to another, and people would come up and say,” Gosh, I loved that. Where do I buy your book?”” Well, I don’t have a book.  

I’ve got a full- time job.” And my full- time job actually, for the last 15 years has been working for Wells Fargo. And I was the head of real estate strategy for the North Americans and did a lot of work on the international side as well. And I’ve done that for 15 years, but I left exactly 90 days ago today, to start my company Oxygen Plus, because this is the next chapter of my life that I’m really excited about and it’s helping leaders.  

One of the emphasis that I have is you got to take care of you, Mike, so you can take care of everybody else and you got to be a little selfish, so you can be a lot of selfless. So, that’s where my passion is, and that’s why I left Wells and that’s where I am today. 

Mike P.: I love that. And I really appreciate that focus on the human side of our work- life experience and how we can bring our best selves to the workplace. So, I am thrilled to have you here on the show and to ask you more of your perspective on the world in which we operate today, here in the summer of 2021. 

 Heading back to offices, it’s a priority, it’s also a challenge for organizations and this new flexible hybrid workplace is what we’re trying to navigate. So, I’m sure you have a lot of thoughts about that, but before we go there, Stan, I have to ask you about music, especially with your last name. I mean, Gibson, what a legendary name in the music biz, is there any connection to the famous guitar? 

Stan Gibson: The only connection is I have a Gibson guitar hat, and that is about as far or as close as it comes, Mike. So, trust me, and you know what? My family has always owned Gibson. Well, we had a fender or two in the group, but yeah, Gibson has been a likable guitar for us in the family. 

Mike P.: All right. Well, that’s cool. You get some cool branded product that you get to wear like hats and shirts, I’m sure. So, what artists would you say you listen to, to get you inspired today? What’s on your Spotify playlist, if I had to ask? 

Stan Gibson: My Spotify playlist, I’ll tell you what, is sacred to me because I’m really big into routines in the morning. In fact, just this morning, I start off my morning and I’m foam rolling, and I’m doing all this stretching, but I’ve got to have my Spotify on.  

I’ve got just this mix of songs that just absolutely just get my blood just… I mean, just percolating and it can be anything from, there’s some Christian music, for example, trying to think of the song right now, it just escaped me. I’m sorry, Child of Love by We the Kingdom, it’s this’70s, hippie, get you excited type of rhythm that just sends me through the roof. And then, I’ll go from that and I’ll go into Andy Grammer, and I don’t know if you know who Andy Grammer is- 

Mike P.: I do. 

Stan Gibson: …but he’s got great some tunes and they’re always super positive. And he’s got this song, that I don’t know that many people have heard of, it’s called, Good to be Alive Hallelujah. And that’s going to be my theme song, I think, when I come on stage and I do more speaking in the future. That one, if that doesn’t jack the crowd up, you know what I mean? If they only listen to that song and I bomb, I tell you what, I think they’ll still walk out with a raised or elevated heartbeat. 

Mike P.: (singing). 

Stan Gibson: Got to keep your head up. 

Mike P.: (singing). There it is. Good stuff. 

Stan Gibson: Yeah. And I’ll tell you what, that song actually comes on right after Good to be Alive Hallelujah. So, I get a double dose of Andy Grammer for my morning routine. And like I say, by the time I’m done with my playlist, I’m on fire. 

Mike P.: Awesome. There you go, folks. Add it to your Workplace Innovator Spotify mega- mix that everybody’s putting together out there each and every week. Good stuff. Stan, let’s keep this inspirational theme going. Do you have a favorite motivational quote you could share with us? 

Stan Gibson: Well, I’m a sucker for a good quote. So, I’m always leaning in hard on anytime I hear something good. There’s one I’ve had for about 10 to 15 years though and it was ironic because I just heard it when I was listening to a sermon actually last week, I heard it again. I was like, wow, didn’t know anybody else bought into that quote like I did, but it’s,” Be the thermostat not the thermometer.”  

And when you think about it, the thermostat dictates the temperature in the room. You want it hot, you get it hot, you turn it up. If you want it cold, you turn it down. But it dictates the temperature in the room. The thermometer does nothing but reads. It takes in information and it just reads the temperature in the room. So always, I think as leaders, we always want to be the thermostat. Leadership is about influence and that’s what a thermostat does. It influences the temperature in the room. So, I would say that that’s probably the one that sticks with me most,” Be the thermostat, not the thermometer.” 

Mike P.: Yeah. That’s fantastic. I love that principle, that concept for leadership and I’m sure my audience will appreciate it. So, let’s shift into this conversation around the world of real estate and facility management and the workplace. And I’m really anxious to get your thoughts on how we can help workplace leaders be just that in their organizations. So, what are you seeing out there, Stan, here in middle of 2021. What are the trends in real estate in the workplace today? And let’s really dive into some of this human experience side of things. 

Stan Gibson: Yeah. Well, the first thing I’m seeing is unchartered territory. I think CEOs are facing something that they never could have envisioned. I mean, they’re used to dealing with quarterly earnings, they’re used to dealing with revenue and expenses and things of that nature. But when you start to throw in the human side of this equation, Mike, of now, A, people have all experienced the pandemic differently.  

They’ve estimated that there’s close to 90 million Americans walking around with some kind of PST. They’ve had some kind of event in their life that has set them back. I think more specifically it’s like 34 out of 100 people have a level two stress. So, we’re going to have a lot of these people showing back up in the workplace.  

There’s people that are still processing, still trying to work through this. And I think as managers and leaders, we’ve got to be sensitive and we’ve got to have some kind of understanding as to sitting down and talking with people,” How did you get through the pandemic? How are you feeling about it right now? What are your thoughts going forward?” Just making sure that we’re just in touch and granted, most people probably, they’ve been vaccinated and they’re starting to get a second wind about all of this. But I think the big thing for leaders, Mike, is you’ve got to take the time to sit down and just be in touch with each and everybody that either reports to you or even those people just in the office. I think number one, that’s very important. 

Mike P.: Absolutely. It’s a great place to start and it reminds me of our mutual friend, Rex Miller, and his work that we’ve discussed on this podcast. In fact, I just saw a post he put up on LinkedIn about this topic of where we are today and what people are experiencing. And he broke down the difference between burnout, which a lot of us experienced early in the pandemic with the digital overload and the Zoom fatigue and so forth, but he introduced me to a new term called stress fatigue. What are your thoughts on that? Did you see that post from Rex? 

Stan Gibson: I did. I did. And I actually reached out to him last week and I applauded him for… I know he’s making this month a real focus on mental wellbeing. And I appreciate that because I think there is a lot of stress. I think, whether you’re at home or whether you’re in the office, I think we all face stress. Rex is very big as am I on wearables.  

He and I both wear a Whoop, W- H- O- O- P, which measures your heart rate variability. And if you’re not familiar with heart rate variability, simply said, we need a certain amount of stress in our life and there’s two types of stress. There’s a distress and a eustress, and eustress is positive stress. It’s that first date, it’s that big project you’re getting ready for. We all know what distress is, but you need a certain amount of stress in your life, but you also need a certain amount of recovery in your life. And so, you have to offset that. And then, there’s a measurement on these Whoops, that’s called a heart rate variability. 

 It basically tells if you’re getting enough stress and you’re getting enough recovery. Well, Rex has found out that just very simply said, if it’s a red, yellow, green, Rex was finding himself more in a red and a yellow state and couldn’t get into green. And the reason I reached out to him is because I was in the same boat.  

And me, I’m the health guy. I mean, I’m the guy that coaches leaders up on their health and on their energy and on how to live this exciting and vibrant life and here I am in red and yellow. And so, I reached out to him and talked to him a little bit about it and there were certain things I needed to adjust in my recovery. It isn’t just sleep. It’s also, it’s what you eat. It’s also maybe being careful about what you drink after seven at night. And there’s all these different things that I do and Rex does to make sure that our recovery is online, but I had to start experimenting a little bit like Rex did. I know he had to get away for about a week. There’s a term that I use called digital dementia. 

Mike P.: Okay. 

Stan Gibson: And I think that a lot of us are facing digital dementia. And I’m just as guilty. And given that I’ve started my new company, I typically have a harder time walking away from work because there’s so much to be done, but I think we all need to be very careful about the amount of digital input we put into our brains. And I think that there’s a lot of stress out there. And so, I don’t know if I’m veering away from your question, but I do think that stress is something that needs to be addressed. People need to be on top of it. And again, heart rate variability is one of the ways that I do it. 

Mike P.: No, sure. You’re describing exactly what I’ve experienced and one of the reasons that I asked the question is because as we now have this exciting opportunity to return to office, return to engagement with other human beings, face-to-face, there’s going to be some resistance to that I feel. And I wonder what you would recommend to leaders when it comes to encouraging their workforce to come back.  

I know we can’t demand it, or it might not be wise to demand it, even if you could, but there’s some value there that I think many of us may need to be made aware of that, yeah, you’re comfortable. You’ve gotten used to this new work from home experience. You’ve adapted. I know I have, but there’s more to life than sitting in your Hobbit hole, as I say, on some recent broadcasts, I need Gandalf to come and summon me away from my fireplace, with my pipe in hand and drink in hand. And I need to get back out into an adventure of public experience and return to our pre- pandemic work lives. What do you think about that? 

Stan Gibson: Yeah, Mike, I think you’re actually right. And I’ll tell you, there’s two ways I want to answer this question. One is, I’ve been doing a lot of speaking for probably the last six or seven years on workplace and around the country, and this and that. I’ve had a common theme even before the pandemic, and that was, I called it the 10-hour preposition, and it might be the 15 hour preposition, but the 10-hour preposition is really, by the time you get up in the morning, some people have to get ready, get the kids off to school, either get on a subway or they take the car, they have a commute.  

There’s at least an hour there. There’s at least an hour coming back. So, you’ve got two hours a day in commute, and so times five days you’ve got 10 hours. And so, that’s the 10-hour proposition. So, to me, there’s a return on time investment. I mean, CEOs look at return on investment. We all look at return on our time investment.  

What makes you want to come in the office? I mean, just to take that 10 hours, there’s got to be a return on that. There’s got to be something, there’s got to be, I always call it like, there’s a party going on and I want to get invited. That’s how the office needs to take place. I know that we’re all working now more with we’ve got huddle rooms and working with these ubiquitous types of workplaces that we want people to come into. I think that that package has even got to be greater. I think the amenities have got to be something that makes people want to come in and have collision and collaboration. 

 I think there’s got to be this environment that makes it exciting and fun and it might even be to where there’s a grocery store in the building, or there’s something where you can pick up a meal on the way home. You’ve got to blend it in. But I think we want people to want to come in the office, not have to come in the office. And the second way I would probably answer this, Mike, is again, in some of my coaching, I talk about relationships and relationships, they say, people can die from a broken heart. Well, that’s actually very true because when you have poor relationships, your arteries start to restrict and you have a hard time pumping blood to your heart. And when that happens, you typically get memory loss and your heart starts to fail. And so, there are all these things about isolation and poor relationships.  

So, I look at that in the office place the same. I think that there’s this euphoria. We get a shot of dopamine and serotonin every time we’re around positive people and dopamine is that neuro- transmitter of drive. Serotonin is that neurotransmitter of happiness. And as business owners or getting people back in the office, that’s what we want. We want people to come in and get that shot of dopamine and serotonin. 

 And you want to make the environment one that is inviting and they want to come in. The solutions to that, I’ll leave that up to the experts, but I still believe that you can’t overlook that as one of the solutions going forward, Mike. 

Mike P.: Well, Stan, time is escaping us as it always does, way too fast. But I want to mention your book, Living a Rich and Intentional Life. Tell us a little bit about it. What will people find if they pick up a copy? 

Stan Gibson: Well, as I say, never let a good pandemic go to waste. So, I repurposed my time that I found, not playing all the sports that I did on the weekends and everything else, and decided to finally write that book. But the book started really about 10 years ago in my mind. And a lot of it, it comes down to, there was a friend of mine, is a friend of mine, and he was CEO of a investment firm, Mike, and he’s a foster parent and he’s successful. He and his wife have a ministry, a marriage ministry around the world.  

And just one of these guys, you just look up to. My wife and I used to travel a little bit with he and his wife, early in our early years when we moved to Des Moines. And we saw him about eight or nine years ago and we hadn’t seen him in a couple of years and he came over and he said,” Here’s what we’re doing. Hey, it’s good to see you.” And he walked away. But then, he walked back over about five minutes later and he said, “Stan, I just feel like I’m compelled to tell you but,” he said, “I’ve got cancer.” And he said, “I’ve got a 50/ 50 chance of living the next five years.” And when somebody says that, you don’t know what to say. I mean, I stumbled. I couldn’t say anything because I just have this tremendous admiration for this guy. And I just said,” I’m so sorry.” And he said, “No, no, no.” He said, “You don’t understand.” He said, “I didn’t come over to make you feel bad. I came over to tell you that while I wish I didn’t have this diagnosis, the last 90 days have been the best days of my life.  

I have more clarity right now with my wife. We’re having these intimate conversations we’ve never had before. I’ve taken all my children on individualized trips. I’m saying no to things so that I can say yes to the right things. I’m delegating at work. I’m doing all these wonderful things.” And Mike, when he said this to me and he just looked at me and he said,” When death becomes certain, life becomes rich. When death becomes certain, life becomes rich.” And when he said that it was like this ignition just went off in me. And from that time forward, I started laying out all my slides about the proper health, the proper way to live, having purpose.  

What’s the neuroscience around sleep and around movement, around hydration, around relationships, around routines? And so, I started building on all of this. And when I showed Jerry that information, Jerry is still alive and well, and when I showed him that about five or six years later, he said,” Stan, everything you wrote about in this book is what keeps me alive because when we’re healthy and we don’t have inflammation, inflammation is what typically causes disease and inflammation comes from stress.”  

And so, that’s why I started writing about this, Mike, and that’s what my book is about. It’s about just living a healthy life, and trust me, it’s a little bit of science but it’s a lot of storytelling because I don’t want to lose the readers too quickly, but I didn’t write it to make a gazillion dollars, but I will tell you the people that are reading it are sending me messages and just thanking me for a lot of the information in the book and it’s resonating well. 

Mike P.: Wonderful. Inspirational stuff, Stan. I really appreciate you sharing that. Stan, it’s been fantastic having you on the show. Thank you for taking time to be on the Workplace Innovator podcast. 

Stan Gibson: Mike, thank you very much. And as I always say, live a rich and intentional life. 

Mike P.: There you have it, everybody. Stan Gibson sharing just a few of his thoughts and insights around the future of work and the workplace. I hope you’ll check out the show notes for this episode of the podcast. I do offer some links there to connect with Stan. Tell him you heard him here on the Workplace Innovator podcast and check out his book, Living a Rich and Intentional Life. I’ve left you a link to make it easy to find that as well. So many things we have to deal with as we head into the next phase of this new frontier, always evolving and that’s why I’m so glad you’re here and part of this podcast community.  

Please share this show with a friend or a colleague, anyone who is interested in learning and hopefully making a positive impact on their organization in the future of work. And we’ll do it again next week so join me as we continue to encourage and inspire each other to be a workplace innovator. Peace out. You’ve been listening to the Workplace Innovator podcast. I hope you found this discussion beneficial as we work together to build partnerships that lead to innovative workplace solutions. For more information about how iOFFICE can help you create an employee-centric workspace by delivering digital technology that enhances the employee experience, visit 

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