Abdullah Boulad is the Founder and CEO of The Balance, an exclusive luxury rehabilitation and recovery treatment center specially designed for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, VIPs, and celebrities. He is also the author of Living a Life in Balance. We discuss the basics of psychological management, how to live a life of balance, and dealing with toxic traits in your business.
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Practice Psychological Management With Abdullah Boulad
Our guest is Abdullah Boulad, the Founder and CEO of THE BALANCE, the world’s most exclusive luxury rehabilitation and recovery treatment center that is specially designed for ultra-high net source individuals, VIPs and celebrities, treating addictions, mental health issues, and eating disorders. He’s also the author of Living A Life In Balance. Welcome to the show, Abdullah.
Thank you for having me.
I think you are going to bring us some unique and interesting information. I always like to learn about the background and the entrepreneurial journey of our guests. Yours is interesting because you were born in Lebanon and grew up in Switzerland. You went from investment banking to running a larger rehab and recovery center in Mallorca. That is a unique path. Can you share with us how you got here?
I was born in Beirut, Lebanon. I was a little boy when we moved to Switzerland, around seven years old. In Switzerland, I had my journey as a foreigner growing up in a different country, but also bringing with me the burden of the war-turned country where I spent the first years of my life. What I think over the years has shaped me personally growing up in different cultures. To understand and develop the idea of why different cultures, ideas, perceptions, limited beliefs especially, and racism could affect a person.
In my case, it was pushing me further to achieve more. This is where in Switzerland, my journey continued. I studied Architecture first, then Business Administration with two MBAs later on. I went into Healthcare Psychology at a later stage after different incidences in my life where I thought it was time to change. This is it in a nutshell. From an entrepreneurial perspective, I feel that I have always had a mind of creation and productivity and wanted always to do something to create.
That’s a defining feature of entrepreneurs in many cases. What strikes me is that you started your career as a venture capitalist, private equity, mergers and acquisitions, and it feels like 180 turnarounds towards the healthcare field, and now you are taking care of people who have mental health issues and other health issues. What caused that turnaround?
I was very successful in what I was doing. I was helping entrepreneurs, startup companies, venture capital and businesses to accelerate into growth where I invested my own money and co-investing with others. I loved what I do on the one-hand side, but I was completely overworking. I was doing too much. As an entrepreneur, you tend to work 24/7. You don’t have breaks, reflection, or relaxation time. With some other health incidents within my family, my son when he was born, and my wife during her pregnancy issues and these health issues brought me together with overworking and lacking focus on my business.
I landed with a heart attack in a hospital. That was my turning point. To think about, “What if that was it of my life being here on Earth and is it what I wanted to achieve? Have I achieved what I want to achieve? Not in terms of creation, but in terms of fulfillment, and is it the right time to go?” This is where I started thinking about, “What is it I want to do here on Earth?”
This is a bit now spiritual and philosophical but I think this is a question every one of us has to ask ourselves at some point, even as an entrepreneur or a business manager because you want to know where you are going in the first place. I started to dig into the psychological side, what makes us human and interact with each other and a lot into healthcare, how holistic health could help individuals, not just traditional evidence-based health. You can imagine that growing up in Switzerland, I had the best healthcare system in the world, one could say, but still, I was lacking some holistic aspect of how the doctors deal.
I love your awareness of having this wake-up moment quite early in your life that, “What I’m here for? What do I want to achieve?” I see the younger generations growing up, Millennials and Gen Zs. They have this awareness much faster than perhaps my generation. You often see people in midlife crises because they realize that they are on the wrong path and they have to change. If you get this awareness early, you can avoid this landmine.
I love that you made this turnaround. You created THE BALANCE. One of the things that you mentioned to me is that you deliberately structured your business to be digital, global, and marketing-oriented. It struck a chord with me. How did you find these concepts, and why are they critical in your view for business in the 2020s?
In my journey doing business myself, starting at the age of fourteen, I was always trying to create something valuable to sell. Later on, when I looked at businesses, business plans, and entrepreneurs, it was always the same thing. What brings companies, businesses, and business ideas to success? In the end, it’s whether you know how to market it. There are great ideas around, but if you don’t bring them to the market, they stay great but not succeeding in the market.
Marketing is key. How do you communicate what you’re doing? The other aspect you mentioned is digital and global. We don’t sit in Switzerland, Spain, Lebanon, the US, or the UK. We are global. We are now talking about countries across the world. Why don’t you profit from this? I have employees in different areas. I have in Pakistan, Lebanon, Switzerland, the UK and the US. People are supporting what is needed. I have to think about myself, “What is necessary where I’m providing my service and where the client is?”There are great ideas around, but if you don't bring them to the market, they stay just being great but not succeeding. So marketing is key. Click To Tweet
In everything else, there are many specialists around the world we can profit from. Digital is important because I can build processes very lean. To make it clear, not depending on individual people, even myself or anything, doing something digitally and having a funnel where a system comes into play is crucial for any business. It’s like you put something on top, and then everything is clear on how to flow. It’s the Law of Gravity.
In your world, is digital synonymous with processes and playbooks, perhaps, with how you structure your business? Digital is the medium of creating that consistency and scalability in the business.
On the one hand side, and on the other hand side, it’s marketing. In marketing, you have to be online, be present and rule the market. Be a specialist in what you do and grow from there. Communicate this properly, but online, you need to rule your niche.
Especially when you run a global business, the only way to market it is digital, unless you are Coca-Cola and you have practically unlimited budgets to do brand advertising, you have a niche market that you’re targeting. You need a digital capability for that. I’d like to switch gears here and talk a little bit about the framework that we discussed, which we called Psychological Management. What do you mean by this concept of psychological management, and how does one puts it into practice?
My idea and concept of psychological management is about what every leader should know about when leading a business. We are not talking here about the technical understanding of the different terms and the product. We’re talking about leading businesses and serving people. We have lots to do and interact with human beings.
This is a psychological level in whatever we do, whether we focus on our employees, the clients or the community. I come to believe that leaders and managers need to understand psychology. They need to not just understand it. They need to live it. They need to be in balance themself. Self-development is key. Every leader or manager should work on his own self-development in that sense. Psychologically speaking, every management trainee should include psychology.
You have to understand people and empathize with them. You have to treat them the way they need to be treated rather than one size fits all. Is this what psychological management is all about? Is it about listening to people and tailoring your approach to them individually?
It’s about also being empathetic. Show compassion in everyday business if it’s about an employee. To be seen and be satisfied as an employee or to interact with clients. People are smart. They are not stupid. You cannot just tell them any story. It has to be genuine. It can only be genuine if, within myself, I live it. I’m the role model of what I’m talking about. Management leadership is a lot about motivating people. Motivating people entails understanding people, how they tick in general and how to deal with them. I see sometimes myself as a therapist to the organization talking now in terms of treatment and therapy. This is what the leader today should be capable of.
We talk a lot about listening to people to understand their expectations and what they’re trying to achieve in your organization if you can shape their job around achieving their expectations, then that’s going to be super motivating for them. It’s about listening. Everyone needs a psychologist at some level to be a successful leader. I love that. Psychological management is a great concept. What do business owners do when they are faced with all the negative communication or toxicity that they experience in the news or social media environment? Do you have any advice on how people can protect themselves from the negative impact of their environment?
When business leaders and managers come into a phase where toxic news and media environment affect their emotional being, they tend to feel that they have to do something. Sometimes they might overreact to the short-term happenings in the market. However, my suggestion is to focus on your strategy. You know what are you doing. You need to believe in what you’re doing and what you’re going to. Focus on what you can influence without trying to react to the markets unless you are a public trading company.
There are different dynamics in this, but in general, focus on what you can influence, like your decisions, but also on your long-term goal and achievement because you, as a leader, are a role model. Don’t understand me wrong. I’m not saying you don’t need to show all these. You can show, but we need to learn not to let these external happenings influence us emotionally. We are human beings, but this is where psychological management and self-development are important. Think about the tree going through storms. The deeper the roots are, within me, the less affected I am by what’s happening outside.
That’s a great analogy. One thing I’m regularly thinking about is when someone is focused on their own goals and tunes out all the distractions, the noise, isn’t this also a little bit selfish or self-centered that, “I don’t care about the environment. I have my own agenda. I’m pushing my own agenda. That’s great for my company, but is this great for society?” This is an open question. I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but I’m curious about your perspective.
You can and should always care about others because this is the biggest satisfaction you will get at the end of the road of your life journey if you care about your employees, clients and the environment. Caring about something means you can still think about, “What can I do for them?” You can do something, but ruminating about something you cannot control or influence is lost energy and might create a downward spiral because these energies and feelings might affect others within the organization.
I like the perspective and I agree that when you’re a leader, you’re leading the organization. Your number one priority is to take care of this organization and the people that are the stakeholders of this organization. That’s a great perspective. The best way to make an impact outside of the organization is to help the people in the organization and the customers, and then they’re going to have a broader impact indirectly. That’s what you can drive. What is the impact that you wanted to create by founding THE BALANCE, your treatment center? What is the problem that you’re solving in the marketplace with this unique health center that you created in Mallorca?
I created THE BALANCE part of the need in the market for high-net-worth individuals to get treatment, like entrepreneurs, business leaders, celebrities and royal families. We had them all. Before I started this, I was leading other clinics and before, I was interacting with high net-worth individuals in the financial world, traveling in that sector, meeting a lot of people, and understanding what their needs are.
I saw in the market a need for that segment because they’re under public pressure. They cannot speak up. They need privacy discretion. You cannot put a celebrity or a business CEO in a small room somewhere in the hospital to be treated. The willingness is not there to stay and finish. It has to be pleasurable without too many burdens along the way.
That’s why I created THE BALANCE. First, the environment or houses where they stay are luxurious. This cannot be an excuse not to go into treatment. The other thing is the team and the empathy they can do to bring in the interaction. That’s very crucial. It’s not just a job. I’ve handpicked every single person working with me. I look at that they need to be genuine and want to do a change in someone’s life.
You create the environment that helps these people recover and you have a great team that is focused on addressing the specific needs of this group. The ultimate objective is to bring them back to balance, like the name of the organization. You also wrote a book Living A Life In Balance. I was wondering what prompted you to write this book and what is the main message of the book.
The book came with the idea I asked myself, “If I would leave this Earth now, what would I like to tell my children when they are grown up?” From this idea, I develop the concept of the book. In the end, it has become a story about how I perceived my life far, explaining my development and how I grow while going through different experiences. On top of that, I give them practical aspects and theories about the different topics. Someone could also eventually apply it for himself. That was the initial idea. The concept I want to achieve is that if someone reads this book, he gets a holistic view of what life and especially health, is about.
I look at life as a health journey. I look at it as a higher need. At the bottom, you start with your physical health needs. Only if you are physically stable you can grow mentally. On a mental level, you can focus on your processes, mindset and this aspect. Only when you are in yourself physically and mentally stable you can be in interaction with your social environment. This could be the business environment, your family, children and friends. If you have this level of interaction, the ultimate stage of health is spiritual health. Understanding the concept of beyond life and consciousness with the goal to become more resilient along the way.Only if you are physically stable can you grow mentally. And only when you are physically and mentally stable can you interact with your social environment. Click To Tweet
This reminds me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where you have the physiological needs, your shelter, food and drink, then you go up and there are the belonging needs. Eventually, you get to self-actualization, which is a spiritual way of living. I like how this can be created through intentional attention to creating the physical well-being of people.
Sometimes we are low on the hierarchy of needs, not because we are starving or because we don’t have a place to stay, but because we don’t have robust health. That creates mental health issues. That’s a great way of pushing people out through their hierarchy by helping them create physical and mental well-being and having them focus on the social environment and spirituality. It’s super powerful. It’s very interesting information.
Entrepreneurs, many of us are struggling, if not most of us, with some of these things, not having the balance in our lives, whether it’s physical, health-wise, mental or spiritual. If someone would like to learn more about your ideas, they can go on Amazon and they can buy Living A Life In Balance, which is a great book. Where else can they find out more about THE BALANCE, your center and yourself?
On our website, TheBalance.rehab. You can go and look around. We have a big block about different kinds of topics around addiction, mental health, and general health aspects if you want to read or know something about a specific topic. If you want to get any recommendations or you’re struggling, we are happy to help or to recommend something to do, read or focus at in your life.
Check out Living A Life In Balance, Abdullah Boulad’s book that was published and the website of THE BALANCE, the center in Mallorca, which is an amazing place. Also, Abdullah is on LinkedIn. You can connect with him there as well. Thank you very much for coming to the show and sharing your wisdom. Readers, stay tuned. Thank you.