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Meet Gianna Biscontini of W3RKWELL in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gianna Biscontini.

Thanks for sharing your story with us . So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My career in behavior analysis started in 2005 when I began working with children on the autism spectrum. I immediately fell in love with the science of behavior. It’s applicability astounded me and I began to gain a much clearer understanding of humanity. As my career advanced I worked in the fields of education, marketing, government, and healthcare. In each of these settings it was apparent to me that behavior was at the root of an organization’s success or failure.

While working for the Central Office of Special Education in Washington, DC, I had amazing mentors who empowered me to lead a team, to improve processes, to be innovative and to challenge the status quo. I felt the freedom to explore and the confidence to do things differently. This began my experience and hands-on education in organizational change and leadership- I knew I wanted to help employees enjoy their jobs more and to help organizations run more efficiently.

It wasn’t until I completed a week-long immersion program with the College of Executive Coaching that I began to form an understanding of how to integrate behavior analysis into the corporate sector. A few years later I was in a position to leave my current role as a senior clinician in a large NPO and start something new. I started creating meditation courses for fun and, while doing some neuroscience and public health research, I learned the extent to which workplace stress is degrading our health and impacting the lives of individuals, families and communities.

My ah-ha moment came when I realized that I could use my knowledge of the science of behavior to create health-centric organizations where employees thrive. It immediately became my purpose, I assembled a team of partners and W3RKWELL was born.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No! I knew nothing about business, had no partners at the time and had very little direction or vision. I started out with my own behavioral pediatrics clinic and, within three weeks, realized that my heart was no longer in it. I took a risky leap and pivoted toward meditation, which behavior analysts hadn’t formally discussed before. Three months later, I pivoted again and started W3RKWELL.

Most people have never even heard of a behavior analyst, so that was a roadblock for us from the beginning. It’s tricky to explain what we do, but my team and I have worked really hard on building an engaging message. Thankfully once people meet us, come to our workshops or hear one of my podcast interviews, they get it. When companies understand what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and why it’s an advantage over other consulting companies, they’re excited. It’s thrilling to watch people have the same ah-ha moment we did when we started in the field, its always so worth it.

The road was (and still is) bumpy, but I knew that pioneering a new idea- especially while integrating the field of behavior analysis with the corporate and positive psychology arenas- was a challenge I wanted to take on. I’m a firm believer that everything worth having is worth working for and I think most entrepreneurs have a need to test their own resilience and grit in challenging waters. I continue to learn about business, leadership and myself as a person everyday. It’s been an intensely enriching experience. The bumps and bruises are learning opportunities I welcome.

The most important lesson I’ve learned- no time is ever wasted. The three months I spent researching meditation and creating courses for fun became what is now Behavioral Xanax 2.0, our course that integrates meditation and decreasing specific, individualized stress responses. We are currently working on Behavioral Xanax 3.0, a course specifically for behavior analysts to gain continuing education credits. Always turn something into something!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
W3RKWELL is a behavior-based consulting company that sustainably improves employee and organizational health by modernizing leadership, performance and focus with the science of behavior (our tagline is “We Make Corporate Health Heroes”). In a nutshell, we help create environments that retain employees, produce discretionary effort (going above and beyond) and are environments where employees thrive by leveraging the science of human behavior. We combine the hard knowledge of how behavior works, including punishment and reinforcement (hint: punishment is not sustainable) with “the soft stuff’.

We define actual leadership behaviors, educate teams on the importance of reinforcement and how to provide it, and provide research on how something like a solid, behavior-based performance management system can effect an individuals’ health and productivity. We are finding that modernizing the workplace is becoming more and more critical as the millennial workforce and social media pivot toward jobs with purpose where people feel valued. We believe that investing in employees isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s a smart business decision.

Our competitive advantage is that we are a team comprised solely of Board Certified Behavior Analysts, which means we have specialized, detailed insight into human behavior and how to create sustainable change. Whenever we go to tech conferences, inevitably a few engineers will make statements like “We need to get out into other fields and find people who can create change with the big data we are gathering”. We love that!

Organizational Behavior Management (the sub-field of behavior analysis we work within) uses data to drive decision-making when it comes to change. Companies that use platforms like Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics can hire us to effectively make changes with all that data. We also have our reseach-based Health And Business (HAB) assessment for companies interested in identifying development opportunities and modernizing their workplace as well as on-boarding and retention products that we recommend depending on assessment scores and other data.

Our big hairy audacious goal is to create a standard of care for the employee experience where employees actually get healthier and thrive while performing meaningful work at the top of their game.

What were you like growing up?
Curious and social! However I also really enjoyed being alone. My favorite thing was being in nature; I can remember at seven years old sitting in the woods on my “thinking rock”, writing poetry and songs. It brought me so much solace and clarity, to this day my father will send me cards letting me know that a tree has been planted in my honor. I was always playing in the woods, smelling flowers, running my fingers through the ferns and playing with the neighborhood kids until all hours of the night.

I grew up on the east coast, so I was fortunate to have those hazy summer nights and a sky filled with lightning bugs. Not surprisingly, the behavior of others always intrigued me. I remember watching others and wondering why they were doing what they were doing, endlessly asking “why?”, which I’m sure my mother loved. A profound point in my childhood occurred when I switched myself from private to public school at the age of 12.

I appreciated the education private school provided and I was a consistent honor student, but I was bullied pretty badly and knew I was missing an important social piece of growing up. Friendship became extremely important to me and remains so until this day. My parents brought my brother and I up to try whatever interested us- as a result, I played every sport under the sun, rode horses, played instruments, took art classes and was in several forms of dance from the age of three. They both loved classical music and opera (I’m named after an Italian Opera Singer) so I was brought up on Mozart more so than Madonna.

It added a sense of culture to my small-town Pennsylvania upbringing. My parents also raised us to travel- continuing to travel into adulthood is a decision I treasure. I’ll never tire of watching people around the world interact and live their ordinary lives. I find it extraordinary.

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