Ever wonder why the stewardess insists that you place your own oxygen mask before your young child’s? It’s because we are programmed to save our child first. We nurture them for nine months in the womb and in the instant they are born we keep them alive with a hyper-awareness to every.single.threat.possible.to.survival.

Those who have incubated an idea and devoted endless sleepless nights and adrenaline-fueled days bringing a start-up to life and keeping it alive often make similar comparisons. Referring to the new company as “my baby” and attending to never-ending, unexpected intense demands they willingly deny themselves the basic self-care required for survival — nutrition, rest, exercise…oxygen.  

Put your mask on last, however, and you could be the one who ends up dead.

At Final, we suddenly found ourselves without oxygen in the spring of 2019. We had survived the initial days and months of start-up frenzy and we had muscled through the crisis of our first holiday season only to realize that we had depleted the entire team of life-sustaining nutrients and air. The oxygen masks had deployed but no one could see through the fog of deprivation to use them.

Fortunately, humans are programmed with instinctual survival skills. Our founder, Emma Rose came out of the haze first by realizing that her team was not going to withstand the breakneck speed of operation. She insisted that we rest and regroup. Work stopped. We took a breath and then another and from that much-needed interlude, our “Werk Perks” were born.

Designed to quench the thirst for self-care, the premise of Final’s “Werk Perks” is simple. Place your own oxygen mask first. Team members are encouraged to prioritize their schedules around daily habits such as meditation, physical activity, the enjoyment of good food and interacting with other humans. Final has incorporated a monthly stipend that allows for reimbursement of almost any “wellness” related item required to maintain good mental and physical health. The company has paid for water bottles, meditation apps, subscriptions to yoga magazines and even a pedicure. The team calendar is full of blocks labeled “10-minute meditation,” “eat” and “fresh air and sunshine.”

Most significant is that the “Werk Perks” are an ever-evolving part of the culture at Final. Each member of the team is encouraged to suggest new ideas. Implementation follows the simple question “Will this equip you with the oxygen you need to be successful and fulfilled in life and at work?” If so, the answer is “Do it.” 

The ultimate benefit that we recognize from the adoption of this mindset is that a practice of strong self-care translates directly into how well we are able to care for the people around us. We are healthier and our team has grown stronger through our focus on mind, body, and spirit. 

Always place your own oxygen mask first and you will be amazed at your infinite ability to positively impact and change those around you and the world.