Successful Recoveries from Mistakes — everyone makes mistakes in different walks of life, however, it is crucial to approach reparation with humility, teachability, forgiveness, improvement and process. For example, if an employee is let go in an inappropriate manner, the company must admit their mistake, have an honest conversation and make things right. If we are teachable, then there is always hope, because you will continually improve each and every day.

The pandemic pause brought us to a moment of collective reckoning about what it means to live well and to work well. As a result, employees are sending employers an urgent signal that they are no longer willing to choose one — life or work — at the cost of the other. Working from home brought life literally into our work. And as the world now goes hybrid, employees are drawing firmer boundaries about how much of their work comes into their life. Where does this leave employers? And which perspectives and programs contribute most to progress? In our newest interview series, Working Well: How Companies Are Creating Cultures That Support & Sustain Mental, Emotional, Social, Physical & Financial Wellness, we are talking to successful executives, entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, and thought leaders across all industries to share ideas about how to shift company cultures in light of this new expectation. We’re discovering strategies and steps employers and employees can take together to live well and to work well.

As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Purvis, co-founder and CEO of Velentium.

Dan Purvis is the CEO and cofounder of Velentium, a professional engineering firm that specializes in the design and manufacturing of therapeutic and diagnostic active medical devices. A serial entrepreneur and the founder of six companies, Dan has fulfilled his dream of building a company that puts culture before function, results before profit. “Improving lives for a better world” is more than a slogan; it means Velentium’s staff doing meaningful work on clients’ behalf so they can bring life-changing products to market. By building a company that talented people want to work for and other companies want to work with, Dan has led Velentium to become a world-class engineering firm averaging 50% year-over-year growth.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you better. Tell us about a formative experience that prompted you to change your relationship with work and how work shows up in your life.

When I earned my MBA from Rice University, it was the first time I went to school because it was something I wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, my B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University was meaningful too, but it was not until choosing to study business at Rice that I had the passion to change lives for a better world. That experience started my journey toward founding Velentium in 2012.

For context, Velentium is a Houston-based professional engineering firm specializing in the end-to-end design, development, manufacturing and post-market support of therapeutic and diagnostic active medical devices.

As you can imagine, the pandemic was a monumental occasion for the MedTech industry. At Velentium, we were determined to do our part, but we were faced with an unprecedented challenge: partner with a small medical device company and a large vehicle manufacturer to increase emergency ventilator production from hundreds per month to thousands per week — in just 28 days.

The risk paid off in more ways than simply finances — it was a spiritually moving experience. In fact, it moved me to write a book in hopes of inspiring other organizations to punch above their weight class. 28 Days to Save the World: Crafting Your Culture to Be Ready for Anything tells the full Project V story and lays out how to harness the power of organizational culture to prepare your organization to weather any challenges ahead. You can pre-order the book here, but for now, let’s dive into how companies can create a fantastic work culture…

Harvard Business Review predicts that wellness will become the newest metric employers will use to analyze and to assess their employees’ mental, physical and financial health. How does your organization define wellness, and how does your organization measure wellness?

To me, wellness is inherently connected to the health of an organization’s culture. A traditional measurement cannot be placed on the strength of a culture, however, it is helpful to categorize that health into what I believe are the key five separate buckets: Emotional, Spiritual, Mental, Physical, and Relational. I will provide more details on each of these in a little while, but ultimately, wellness comes down to heart, soul, mind, strength, and relationships.

Velentium exists to change lives for a better world. It starts at home, or rather homes — the homes of our staff. Although the ultimate goal is to better the lives of the patients whom our clients’ medical devices will serve, the first lives we strive to better are those of our own staff. Velentium’s leadership understands that improvements to their employees lives also benefit their families, and we hope every Velentonian household is permanently improved as a thank-you for their dedication and hard work.

Based on your experience or research, how do you correlate and quantify the impact of a well workforce on your organization’s productivity and profitability?

Velentium is driven by our ability to change lives for a better world. But that is only made possible by the company’s highly talented, highly principled individuals who ensure that we keep our promise to our customers. Culture and teamwork are crucial to the success of Velentium, and we are innovators driven by the desire to uphold our three values: Honorable, Results++, and Humble Charisma.

  • Honorable: We do Right for Right’s sake.
  • Results++: We do the job and then some.
  • Humble Charisma: We strive to be the kind of people you want to be around.

Investing in those shared values has allowed Velentium to grow tremendously since our founding. We have been able to expand aggressively in multiple areas financially and operationally, including staff headcount, manufacturing facilities, capital equipment and office space. We have earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list for three consecutive years, as well as being named to the Houston Business Journal’s Fast 100 and Best Places to Work lists.

Velentium’s overall vision is to grow to 1,000 families. We say families and not employees because as a culture-forward company, we care first and foremost about our passion to change lives for a better world — and that starts with our staff and those that they hold most dear. Velentium is constantly evaluating our 1, 3 and 10-year strategic plans to ensure we achieve our overall vision. These plans drive our goal setting, both short and long term.

Even though most leaders have good intentions when it comes to employee wellness, programs that require funding are beholden to business cases like any other initiative. The World Health Organization estimates for every $1 invested into treatment for common mental health disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. That sounds like a great ROI. And, yet many employers struggle to fund wellness programs that seem to come “at the cost of the business.” What advice do you have to offer to other organizations and leaders who feel stuck between intention and impact?

It is the job of every executive to ask themselves: how is my leadership and our company creating an atmosphere where our staff can advance their mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and relational strength?

Perhaps this is controversial, but I don’t believe that a company can create employee wellness. That is fundamentally each employee’s job. What I can do is create an environment that is supportive of each employee’s own personal wellness plan. I can create positive peer pressure towards wellness by being well myself and encouraging everyone to lead by example. In this way, employee wellness does not need to be a business case. If leaders have the intention to drive wellness from within, rather than create it, by being well themselves, then they should exemplify an impact that encourages others to be well too. Programs can be useful to driving wellness, but they are just an extra complement to the process of creating a culture that drives wellness as a whole.

For example, at Velentium we do not pay lip service to Velentonians being “family,” as each person already has one, and the staff is encouraged to prioritize those most important people. That encouragement is exemplified through continuous reminders through various mediums, compensation, benefits including generous physical and mental healthcare coverage, paid time off, and retirement plans. If an employee requires an early finish to the day to be at their child’s event, needs to take their pet to the vet, or take a mental health day, they can timely alert their managers and are free to go — no questions asked. We manage to results, not personal methods (unless the methods violate contractual or regulatory obligations or interfere with the results). Our team cares about productivity and keeping commitments through proactive communication habits, not “clock-punching.” Crucially, managing to results gives staff the freedom to pursue wellness across all five dimensions, including taking advantage of resources available through benefits and programs.

Speaking of money matters, a recent Gallup study reveals employees of all generations rank well-being as one of their top three employer search criteria. How are you incorporating wellness programs into your talent recruitment and hiring processes?

At Velentium, we attract and retain the best talent, both young professionals and experienced veterans, by continually partnering with life-changing companies and helping their world-changing projects succeed.

Velentium’s three values — Honorable, Results++, and Humble Charisma — describe not only the kind of work the company produces, but also the kind of people we are, and hence the kind of people our staff get to work with day in and day out. Because we hire people who share those values, and let people go who are unwilling to live them out, our staff are guaranteed to work alongside other brilliant minds who share the same passion and commitment to integrity, results, and strong communication. Because Velentium’s recruiting and retention is based on our values, each person that signs on simultaneously enjoys and reinforces a positive, healthy, and beneficial work environment for all. These benefits are not always tangible, but the outcomes and impact on one another and the world around us absolutely are.

Dealbreakers are individualist people who are not willing to embrace the family-first culture that we promote at Velentium. Those who are unwilling to work in a team and give 100 percent effort to change lives for a better world will not fit within our ecosystem. To ensure a healthy workplace environment for all, Velentium will not tolerate those who do not uphold our values. Velentium has carefully crafted its culture, and we are highly intolerant of culture violations.

We sell our culture front and center when recruiting. Most importantly, we are unapologetic about our principals! When combined with highly rewarding and challenging work, lead to workplace wellness.

We’ve all heard of the four-day work week, unlimited PTO, mental health days, and on-demand mental health services. What innovative new programs and pilots are you launching to address employee wellness? And, what are you discovering? We would benefit from an example in each of these areas.

Ironically, programs can actually take attention away from wellness. Programs run the risk of addressing symptoms, and it requires a much deeper and constant effort than that. The underlying problem is that our world is growing more dysfunctional and disconnected. In response, we must return to simple and basic principles, continually teaching, communicating and reinforcing them. Everyone wins when we create environments that push, urge, and support our people to be better versions of themselves. This is a vision that a program simply will not achieve.

However, that does not mean some programs cannot be effective. Velentium has plenty of common and unique programs, initiatives and benefits that address the five buckets of wellness I mentioned above (Emotional, Spiritual, Mental, Physical and Relational):

  • Emotionally/Relationally honor demands candor, and charisma demands that it is done with kindness. We endeavor to engage in conflict well, and healthy conflict seems to be where our best ideas emerge if we are able to be transparent and act as our true selves. Ultimately, my hope is that lessons learned at work about how to engage in healthy conflict will make it into the homes of our staff, as it has mine.
  • Spiritually/Relationally, We partner annually with an organization called Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Our entire company spends the day building bunk beds in our office parking lot and personally delivering them to the homes of low income families in the region. This provides a fulfilling program that allows people to build themselves from the soul outwards.
  • Mentally, we have a healthcare plan that reimburses mental health therapy and counseling. I am very open about the fact that I have benefited greatly for years through my relationship with my therapist. When I’m open about that and supportive of that as the CEO, it creates the freedom and encouragement for others to seek that insight and support themselves.
  • Physically, we have plenty of healthy snacks at the office and organize fun games/challenges for colleagues to compete in. For example, we had a challenge where individuals privately set deadline-based health targets for themselves. They did not disclose what their goal was, they simply indicated that they had set a goal and were committing to trying to meet it. If enough of us self-report that we met our goals by the end of the challenge, there is a group reward. Initiatives like this are flexible enough and tailored enough to allow everyone to participate if they choose, they’re manageable, and they’re inexpensive.

Obviously, being financially healthy is also a consideration, as it has downstream impacts on other areas of health. At Velentium, we directly and indirectly impact the financial lives of thousands of people. The huge advantage that the for-profit corporate world has over other organizations is that we pay people to be here. Hence, as we perform better , the company is able to provide raises and bonuses. Alongside that, we host educational programs related to financial planning and budgeting, because we recognize that income alone isn’t much of an indicator of financial health.

Can you please tell us more about a couple of specific ways workplaces would benefit from investing in your ideas above to improve employee wellness?

Velentium is a prime example of a startup company that has grown tremendously, while still sticking to our foundational principles. It is possible for companies of any size to grow and succeed, while still taking care of their people in a committed manner.

Although Velentium is a Houston-based company, today we have grown our business beyond local companies in the Texas area and into Denver, Minneapolis, Boston, California, the Pacific-Northwest region, as well as western Europe, Australia, and east Asia. By fostering a people-first culture, the company has become a global leader in medical design development. With that growth comes an even greater responsibility to uphold our values — Honorable, Results++, and Humble Charisma. As Velentium evolves, every member of the organization must be willing to adapt and embrace change, while always leaning on our foundational values. Our company leaders constantly spread that message!

Corporations are increasingly powerful and central in the lives of people. It is critical that firms know what it means to be human. Don’t check your humanity at the door. Be genuinely interested in people!

How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?

As mentioned, Velentium’s culture was carefully crafted to build wellness, and our leaders understand how to exemplify that culture. If leaders have the intention to drive wellness from within by being well themselves, then they should inherently be able to demonstrate an impact that encourages others to be well too. However, it is always important to look in the mirror and make sure you are consistently holding yourself to this standard — reskilling is sometimes necessary.

There are several sayings you will hear around Velentium frequently. Two of them are:

  • “Simple isn’t easy, but simple is worth it”
  • “If we are teachable, there is always hope”

Just those two statements alone are simple yet teachable. Our leaders and employees continually do the proverbial “head tilt and eyebrow raise” as they lean in and work on themselves each day, changing lives for a better world.

Ideas take time to implement. What is one small step every individual, team, or organization can take to get started on these ideas — to get well?

Every large movement begins with one small step. In terms of creating an overarching environment of culture and wellness, colleagues can begin by applauding each other’s steps of wellness, no matter the size or the category. Wellness steps can create discomfort and be messy. But encourage each other to be courageous and take that first step — no matter how difficult, it is worth it.

Another small action you can take is acting like a human, as we are all human. It does not cost anything! It sounds simple, but it can truly go a long way.

Finally, have a unique proposition that only your company can give its employees. At Velentium, developing life-saving medical devices gives deep, deep meaning and purpose-driven challenge to the work our teams do every day.

These steps create an environment that allows people to practice wellness and create good habits.

What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”

There are multiple trends in the realm of workplace wellness that I see being important in the future. However, the “track” portion of the question is difficult for me to wrap my head around. I am such a measurable person, and I want to have a scorecard for everything, but these trends are truly difficult to measure. It’s almost “Heisenbergy” in that measuring these trends screws them up. But, if I could find a way to measure without screwing them up, the following three items are what I would want to track:

  1. Personal Wellness Number — wellness is better measured qualitatively than quantitatively, but we live in a quantitative industry and world. That being said, it is best measured with stories that grip the heart. For example, Velentonians coming together to raise money for a former contractor that was down on their luck, ultimately paying for several months of their mortgage. Stories like that show wellness in action, where you are doing good for people. That’s where the rubber meets the road. If you want to try and get quantitative, tracking personal wellness numbers within each individual could be an interesting experiment. For example, collecting relational impact statements on a periodic basis could reveal an overall picture of how well the company is driving wellness.
  2. Successful Recoveries from Mistakes — everyone makes mistakes in different walks of life, however, it is crucial to approach reparation with humility, teachability, forgiveness, improvement and process. For example, if an employee is let go in an inappropriate manner, the company must admit their mistake, have an honest conversation and make things right. If we are teachable, then there is always hope, because you will continually improve each and every day.
  3. Empathy Incidents — We say in our book that nobody should check their humanity at the office door. Work is a human thing and we are all humans together. So with that, another trend that would be interesting to track is the idea of “empathy incidents” — moments where we took the time to be interested in one another as people, as whole persons with lives that intersect the workplace but aren’t totally defined or dominated by it. How many times per day do we pause to demonstrate interest or caring for our colleagues as more than just a function, a gatekeeper of some deliverable I need to get my own tasks done? This isn’t a switch to flip back and forth, like human/worker, but a way of being and working together that should be define by multiple “empathy incidents” daily.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?

The trend towards corporations increasing their roles as the agent of change and growth — both on an individual and societal scale — is growing. Hence, the future is bright for workplace wellness because the influence in people’s lives is growing.

Wellness has always been around and will always be around. Workplaces are also here to stay. But the combination of the two as a joint force for good in people’s lives is extraordinarily powerful. Intentional companies like Velentium can accomplish some amazing feats in their employee’s lives through an intentional culture for everyone’s good.

Most importantly, I LOVE getting to do what I do on a daily basis — leading a group of amazing people who are changing their lives for a better world.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

If any of the ideas here around organizational culture or a different vision for wellness in the workplace piqued your interest, consider ordering our book, 28 Days to Save the World: Crafting Your Culture to be Ready for Anything, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Audible, or wherever you get your books. Beyond that, the best place to connect with me directly is via my LinkedIn, here. To stay current with the Velentium team’s latest insights, discoveries and news, visit or email [email protected].

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.