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Danny Interviews Rowan Hill

March 12, 2019

Danny interviews Sandstone’s own Rowan Hill about his experience, background, and the work he does at Sandstone Care.

Danny Colella: Hello, and welcome everybody. My name is Danny Colella, and here we are at Sandstone Care going live today with Rowan Hill.

Rowan, why don’t you say hi to everybody.

Rowan Hill: Hi, everyone, I’m Rowan with Sandstone Care. I am the Empowerment Manager here.

Danny Colella: Which is a real title.

Rowan Hill: Thank you.

Danny Colella: I guess we should stop. We didn’t say this before, but we are, today’s Valentine’s Day, so happy Valentine’s Day-

Rowan Hill: Happy Valentine’s Day.

Danny Colella: To anybody that’s stopping by. We hope you’re having a wonderful day. Rowan, your title of the Empowerment Manager, I really love that. That’s really cool.

Rowan Hill: Thank you.

Danny Colella: Why don’t you share to a lot of people because that’s not a normal title used in the world. What does that mean? What does Empowerment Manager mean here at Sandstone?

Rowan Hill: We’re building out our Empowerment Team here, and the goal of that is what it sounds like. I mean, I know empowerment is kind of a popular word right now, but we really want to be making our staff feel more comfortable, feel more safe to take risks, to do excellent care, and so I’m just responsible for supporting them in that process. What that looks like right now is a lot of efforts on recruiting and finding really good people to work with us-

Danny Colella: Qualified people, right?

Rowan Hill: Yeah, and then also training and onboarding and continuing support so that they feel comfortable going out and doing a great job.

Danny Colella: So empowerment doesn’t just start when they come to work with you. Empowerment, your role is ongoing.

Rowan Hill: Yeah, absolutely-

Danny Colella: You want to make sure people are supported. You want to make sure they have what they need. You want to make sure if there’s any hiccups, you’re helping people to get over humps.

Rowan Hill: Yeah. I think right now it’s really focusing on that initial part because that’s a place where we can make a really big impact very quickly, and then over time we want to expand to create more support on an ongoing basis.

Danny Colella: I love that. So if you are watching live right now, make sure you say hello. Let us know you stopped by. We call this a check-in. Let us know wherever you’re coming from, from the United States, and comment your name and where you’re coming from. That helps us know you’re watching, and if you love this style of content, we always encourage you to click the share button to get this out to reach more people so that they can see this amazing Empowerment Manager and what he does every day.

I’ve gotten to know Rowan a lot over the last two years really well, couldn’t be a better role for you. It’s just a really good fit, but let’s dive in a little bit. You could be working anywhere that you want, any industry. You chose this industry, mental health and substance abuse. Where were you before and what brought you here?

Rowan Hill: I think to understand kind of why I do this, I have to back up to say that, I started in a completely different direction. I was a geology major in undergrad-

Danny Colella: Got you.

Rowan Hill: Because I really like being outside and the combination of studying and getting outside. For me, that’s been a real healing place and I think one of the main reasons why I feel really fortunate to have relatively sound mental health and that I haven’t had to struggle substance use issues myself, and that took me into working in wilderness therapy. I was excited about the idea of working with people outside and showing them the power of being outside on a continual basis. I kind of just fell in love with that ability to work with people and that really intense way, and some of the people in the Wilderness Therapy Program were really, really struggling, and that could be substance use or behavioral mental health struggles, and working with those in a really holistic way.

So when I moved up to Denver, I was looking to stay in that field in some way, knowing that I couldn’t do the wilderness component from Denver as well, but I could still do the behavioral health. This is just a great way for me. I was burned out on the actual direct care, that 24/7 support of sleeping next to someone who’s really struggling every day, but this is a way that I can continue to contribute and hopefully have a big impact in terms of putting together a team of people that are really excited to do that direct client care and probably do a better job than I could.

Danny Colella: I love that. You knew that was your way in, and you connected to that. That’s something important to share. At Sandstone Care and in this great state of Colorado in Denver, a lot of this therapy, a lot of this work can happen outside in the wilderness. A lot of work happens in this building and a lot of work happens in an office really talking, but a lot of teens and young adults find a lot of things outside, right?

Rowan Hill: Yeah. Absolutely.

Danny Colella: They really have some major breakthroughs when they get out and they can really start to focus on what they need to focus on.

Rowan Hill: Yeah. There’s a tremendous healing power to spending outdoors especially-

Danny Colella: I love that.

Rowan Hill: The further away you can unplug and get out into the actual wilderness. For me, that’s really important. Even just going out to Morrison after work or something like that, as in going for a quick walk or hike can be, can be a really big reset for me when I kind of get busy.

Danny Colella: I love that. So, since your job is the Empowerment Manager, sort of making sure you’re qualifying people on the way in, you’re talking to them, why don’t you share some good things working at Sandstone Care, but then also be … I know you’re about this, fully transparent, and talk about some of the hard things about working here, like, what’s difficult. Anywhere where you go in work you’re going to have some things, and I love that you’re willing and open to share that, but first talk about the great things you love here.

Rowan Hill: Yeah. Absolutely. Some of the things that I really like is that we’re very value-based. We want to be really transparent. That aligns us with our value of integrity, doing what we say we’re going to do. We’re not going to over-promise, and so I think, again, for people that are coming to work here, we’re not going to tell them that it’s going to be one way ideally and then they come in and have a very different experience. So, we’re really trying to be as transparent as possible about that. That’s part of that kind of value-based decision-making is really important to me, and it’s really wonderful to be a part of an organization that puts that as such a heavy emphasis, and then the culture.

We really are a family here, and I feel like it’s really amazing to be part of a team that’s all moving in the same direction together, where we can be adaptable and say, “How are we going to best serve our clients and our families and how are we going to best take care of each other?” We constantly have new ideas for how that can look. So it’s really exciting to be part of that, of like “Okay, let’s try this. That didn’t work so well. Let’s try this. That’s working better,” and constantly evaluating how we can provide the best possible care.

Danny Colella: As a unit, you work through these things. I love that.

Rowan Hill: Yeah.

Danny Colella: You’re one of those companies that’s really creating a very, an amazing work environment for their associates and employees-

Rowan Hill: We’re trying to. Yeah.

Danny Colella: Because you know a healthy organization ultimately can serve a population a lot better. You fully understand that.

Rowan Hill: Yeah, and that’s a big part of my role as the Empowerment Manager, is if we’ve got a healthy team that is taking care of each other where people feel safe to make mistakes, to come and speak out when they’re not doing so hot, when they’re struggling with a certain aspect of their role or their personal life and they still feel safe showing up as who they are, then they’re also willing to take risks in the client care in terms of doing things that are really challenging. Calling clients out on something can sometimes be really uncomfortable and-

Danny Colella: Totally.

Rowan Hill: Knowing that you’ve got a team that has your back that’ll support you through that process-

Danny Colella: I love that.

Rowan Hill: So that’s a big part that I think if we can create a healthy culture internally for our staff, then we can help other people be healthy too.

Danny Colella: I can say that’s important here at Sandstone Care. I’m an outsider. I don’t officially work here, but it’s important. You see it in the people. You see it in the people you meet. You see it in the people you interact with. It’s very important. What are few of those things that could be difficult for people-

Rowan Hill: Yeah. Absolutely.

Danny Colella: That might not fit their personality if they’re about this A, B, and C? What are those things?

Rowan Hill: I think one thing that comes with that even though we’re very value-based is that we might not have a really set protocol for everything. It’s all nuance and it depends. We’ll say, “Well, it’s generally like this, but then there’s all these different exceptions.” It’s kind of like French grammar. You learn the rule, but then you have to learn all the other exceptions. There’re almost more exceptions than rules in some cases.

Danny Colella: Right. I love that. That’s funny.

Rowan Hill: Yeah. I think that can be really challenging for some people who are used to coming from an organization where it’s like in this situation you do this, in this situation you do this. I think a lot of those things we’re still developing, and we’re still trying out lots of different things-

Danny Colella: Well, too because you’re growing, right?

Rowan Hill: Yeah. Exactly because-

Danny Colella: As you grow, things need to kind of adapt, right?

Rowan Hill: Exactly.

Danny Colella: You’re not the same organization-

Rowan Hill: There’s a lot-

Danny Colella: As you were when you were opened the doors.

Rowan Hill: No, absolutely not, and so I think that’s both an exciting part about working here, but it’s also a really challenging part. I think people that want to just be able to clock in and clock out have a hard time because it requires so much of you. This field is already so challenging, and then we’re also asking for further buy-in in terms of vulnerability, ability to step into new challenges and say “Okay, we’re going to try something this way or we’re going to bring this person back who really struggled before.” That means that we’re going to have to show up differently for them in order to, we can’t expect different results and do the same thing. That means we’re going to have to step out of our comfort zone and provide care in a more nuanced way for some of our individuals. So, yeah, those are things that can all be really-

Danny Colella: Absolutely the definition of individualized care.

Rowan Hill: Yeah. It’s hard. I think a lot of times it gets thrown around as a term, but to actually do that, that means that we have to be constantly evaluating. We can’t just plug-

Danny Colella: Totally

Rowan Hill: Plug in and say “We’re going to do this group and do these steps.” Does that actually make sense right now for who we’re working, the clientele that we’re working with?

Danny Colella: Yeah. Your model isn’t-

Rowan Hill: Not always-

Danny Colella: “This is our box and how we treat. You either fit in it or you can find another treatment center.”

Rowan Hill: Right.

Danny Colella: Your model’s more like “We want to meet you where you’re at. This box is kind of fluid.”

Rowan Hill: There’s a little bit of fluidity.

Danny Colella: There’s a little bit of fluidity

Rowan Hill: Because again there’s a balance because I think individualized care does not necessarily mean we do what the client wants.

Danny Colella: Right.

Rowan Hill: And so there is still structure for the clients and stuff, but we then have to kind of flex around that while we’re still holding that structure, and that-

Danny Colella: I love that you said that. That’s powerful.

Rowan Hill: Is really, is really challenging.

Danny Colella: Can be.

Rowan Hill: So I think the main challenge is this field is already challenging, then being part of a growing organization where a lot of things are not set yet and being part of an organization where we really talk things through. People who are going behind their supervisors back, we have very low tolerance for and so that’s going to be challenging. People who are-

Danny Colella: I love that.

Rowan Hill: People who are uncomfortable expressing their needs or expressing or stepping up and saying “I see this happening and I don’t feel comfortable with it,” and doing that in a way that is vulnerable and not saying, “That’s wrong,” but saying “I don’t feel comfortable with this. How can we address this together?” And really kind of constantly evaluating that but while keeping, staying in relationship. That’s really hard for most people. It’s hard for me.

Danny Colella: Yeah. Definitely.

Rowan Hill: It’s easier to be like, “That’s good and that’s bad.”

Danny Colella: Right, to see it from all angles and understand that. If you could sum this up in one word, how does working here make you feel?

Rowan Hill: One word?

Danny Colella: It’s a descriptive word, but how do you feel about working here?

Rowan Hill: Engaged.

Danny Colella: Engaged?

Rowan Hill: Yeah.

Danny Colella: Okay. That’s a great word.

Rowan Hill: Yeah.

Danny Colella: That means you’re engaged in what you’re doing. You’re part of your work-

Rowan Hill: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

Danny Colella: You show up excited every day to do what you do?

Rowan Hill: Not every day. Most days.

Danny Colella: Well, I love that you’re human there too because the human in is all can’t show up fully engaged every day. The topic of today is Inspire, Empower Change. How do you really inspire and empower change in this industry or here, or how do you touch this industry?

Rowan Hill: I think for me it is authenticity.

Danny Colella: There we go.

Rowan Hill: I’m kind of a quirky guy. People who’ve been around me for a while get to know that. That kind of comes out over time, and I try to kind of bring that into my every day. Yeah. With that comes a certain amount of vulnerability or a certain amount of kind of off-the-cuff too. I’ll just do things not necessarily by a certain procedure every single time, and with the goal of keeping the humanity in it-

Danny Colella: Totally. Totally.

Rowan Hill: And so I think that’s where, that’s how I can inspire, empower others to change. I think a lot of suffering comes from people trying to be something they’re not.

Danny Colella: There we go.

Rowan Hill: I try pretty hard for myself to stay true to that for myself.

Danny Colella: And show up authentically, and it shows, man. It really does.

Rowan Hill: Thank you.

Danny Colella: You do a great job with that, and I really see it with you, it’s this pride you have in the organization-

Rowan Hill: Oh, yeah.

Danny Colella: And the pride you have in the onboarding process and making sure that the right … I know this term’s overused, but it always makes sense, “The right people in the right seats of the bus.”

Rowan Hill: Yeah. Yeah.

Danny Colella: Yeah. Or “Should you even be on the bus?” That’s more of a current trend, but I think Sandstone Care does a great job at it.

Rowan Hill: Thank you

Danny Colella: And that’s why you’re in that role because they recognize your authenticity, and they recognize your passion to create culture that really matters.

Rowan Hill: Yeah. I’m very passionate culture.

Danny Colella: Keep it up, man.

Rowan Hill: Thanks.

Danny Colella: So that was our live broadcast for the day. If you found value in today’s content and you want to get this out, if you’re a past Sandstone client and you’ve met Rowan and you know he’s about this authenticity and he’s about this, then go ahead and share this. Get this out to more people because they’re always looking for great people to work here. Did you want to share a little bit about who you’re working for … who you’re looking for now or just employments, employments pretty over?

Rowan Hill: I think right now the pieces that we’re trying to fill still are we’ve got two newer locations down in Colorado Springs and one right outside of Colorado Springs, and so we’re working, looking for some nursing staff, especially some LPNs that can work overnight shift. That’s probably the one right now. I am actually in, kind of in the evolution of this empowerment role. I’m looking for a recruiter to work with me, so kind of an entry-level recruiting job. We’re still looking for admissions coordinator. We’re still looking for a counselor with a CAC II or like an LPCC Masters level, but not fully licensed yet would be probably a good place to continue getting those hours for Colorado Springs. Just go to sandstonecare.com and check out our careers page in About Us, and there’s all of our jobs that are currently open are listed there. We look forward to seeing your application.

Danny Colella: Love it, and he’s likely one of the guys you’re going to be talking to very early in the process.

Rowan Hill: Yeah. Yeah.

Danny Colella: Until you fill that recruitment manager or that recruitment.

Rowan Hill: Yeah.

Danny Colella: Thanks for stopping by today-

Rowan Hill: Thank you.

Danny Colella: We appreciate you spending any amount of time you did with this content, and again, if it was valuable and had meaning to you, then we always encourage you to help share it. Because if you share, you care, and this message can get a little deeper into the Facebook stratosphere. We’ll see you guys next week with the Sandstone Care Live Video Series where we’ll be talking more in depth about the people that work here and what this organization is all about. Have a great day.


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