The Redesigning Wellness Podcast

063: Wisdom vs Knowledge with Dr. Joel Bennett, President of Organizational Wellness & Learning Systems (OWLS)

JoelBennett bio pic

In today’s episode, Jen interviews Dr. Joel Bennett, coachsultant and president of Organizational Wellness and Learning Systems. Joel is a certified wellness practitioner with 28 years of experience in his field. He creates science-based wellness and learning systems that will help structure and manage wellness in organizations. In today’s episode of Redesigning Wellness, Joel and Jen take a in-depth look at what it means to approach wellness from a place of wisdom, as opposed to knowledge.  They define the terms, discuss the current trends of workplace wellness today, and explain why wholeness is synonymous with wellness.

3 Key Points:

  1. Part of wellness is making your wholeness a priority; one exercises and eats well to experience a sense of wholeness.
  2. Wellness professionals should prioritize their OWN health before they can effectively help others.
  3. Wellness professionals may disagree, but should always have the attitude of being a support to one another.

Time Stamped Show Notes

04:01 – Joel is a business owner, entrepreneur, researcher, consultant, author, speaker and family man, he also calls himself a “coachsultant”

05:08 – A “coachsultant” is someone who is a consultant, but not an expert and they pay attention to the nuances of the relationship and the process

06:17 – The work is to bring out one’s local expertise and act as a catalyst, spurring them on to take action. Instead of programming and interventions.

07:06 – Why Joel started a business 28 years ago. Joel evolved as an entrepreneur from doing training and workshops

07:32 – Joel was at a workshop for listening when he felt that he had to create the business

08:41 – Joel read three books that pivoted him, the first one is Gregg Levoy’s Callings, the second book is Thomas Merton’s No Man is an Island where he talked about having a vocation and the third book is Marsha Sinetar’s Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow

10:20 – Reading the books validated John’s thoughts in believing that he COULD do something different; John says when you are doing your vocation, you are doing what is right

10:51 – Joel finds inspiration in the Dylan song “You Gotta Serve Somebody” (spoiler alert: Joel sings the song at the end).

11:25 – Jen says it took a series of lessons and nudges that prompted her to becoming an entrepreneur. Joel says he did not have a clue what his calling was.

13:07 – Joel says they are privileged to live in a time where they have the ability to choose wellness as a work lifestyle. We have a responsibility because of this privilege.

15:27 – Jen says she feels blessed to be living in today’s society where she can connect with other wellness professionals

16:13 – Podcast listeners are people who are eager to learn and Jen tries to extract the knowledge of the guests.

17:18 – Joel encourages Jen to step back, look at all the interviews, and see if she can find any common themes

18:31 – The way wellness is being done today is not the way the guests want it to be—incentives are a common theme that are discouraged.

19:04 – To focus on positivity—how can we start with what is right, rather than what is wrong with an employee

20:42 – Most of the guests Jen has interviewed want an shift in the industry

21:33 – Jen wants to help the wellness person in an organization and give them the tools they need to help them shift the organization’s thinking

22:01 – Joel noticed that all the guests have a passion for implementing a transformational approach to wellness in an organization

22:41 – Joel says the Creating Workplace Well-being chapter just came out in their 2017 handbook. Linked below.

23:01 – Joel states wisdom is different than knowledge, he quotes Miles Kington, “knowledge is knowing that tomato is a fruit and wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad”

24:13 – To do things right (instead of doing things right), you need to approach from a place of wisdom rather than knowledge

25:27 – Wellness as a commodity is rooted from knowledge, not wisdom. Joel thinks there is a movement from the knowledge view of the world to a wisdom view.

27:30 – Jen asks Joel what this wisdom means – how can we be wiser?

28:31 – Joel explains the audacity of wholeness

30:03 – Whole, health and holy have the same word origin and we know as human beings what this means on a deeper level

32:26 – There is a large number of people using supplements and a surge in practicing meditation and yoga – practices that are not mainstream wellness

33:02 – Wisdom means to allow non-rational and subjective elements to influence us while making decisions. Joel says this also means to not take a dualistic view.

35:20 – As wellness professionals, they should look at what is best for the whole

37:52 – Joel says people can have different opinions, but still be supportive of one another

38:44 – Joel says re-designing wellness is an ongoing process

39:37 – Jen also receives tactical insight from her guests

40:32 – Joel states one needs to understand the tactical and strategic aspects of wisdom and know when to use one strategy over another

41:30 – In his book, Well-Being Champions, Joel shares that where tactics and strategies cross become the areas of competency and competency development

42:06 – Competency starts with one owning one’s well-being, you cannot do wellness well without being healthy yourself

43:48 – Joel says there is a meta-society that is growing and practitioners need this community

44:14 – Jen’s Facebook community not only shares tactics, but creates intimacy with one another by being a support system for one another

46:06 – Joel encourages Jen, saying she is nurturing the community of practice through her work with the podcast and Facebook group

47:31 – The magic happens when people come together and realize their commonalities as human beings

48:45 – Wellness professionals can focus on wisdom by looking at what is inside their hearts rather than their minds

49:31 – The growth of business schools in the United States has caused a decline in the liberal arts

50:02 – This is an indication of people choosing knowledge over wisdom and wellness practitioners should learn how to focus more on BEING rather than DOING

51:36 – Joel congratulates Jen on her work that is taking wellness to another level

52:10 – Joel sings Dylan’s song – “You Gotta Serve Somebody

Links Mentioned:

Mindful Eating Resources:

Linked In article:

Link to the chapter on wisdom:

Joel’s book on Well-Being Champion Competencies:


Full bio:

Dr. Joel Bennett

Joel Bennett, PhD, is President of Organizational Wellness & Learning Systems (OWLS), a consulting firm that specializes in evidence-based wellness and e-learning technologies to promote organizational health and employee well-being. Dr. Bennett first delivered stress management programming in 1985 and OWLS programs have since reached close to 100,000 workers across the United States and abroad.

He is primary developer of “Team Awareness” and “Team Resilience,” evidence-based, culture of health programs recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Health as effective in reducing employee behavioral risks. Team Awareness was adapted by the U.S. National Guard as one of their flagship prevention programs and it has been used by municipalities, hospitals, restaurants, electrician training centers, small businesses, Native American tribal government, and in Italy and South Africa.

OWLS clients include corporate, private, non-profit, local and federal agencies. OWLS has received close to $5 Million in Federal Research Grants to assess, design, and deliver workplace wellness programs. OWLS service-line includes the Small Business Wellness InitiativeIntelliPrev™, PrevTools™, ExecuPrev™ (livewell, leadwell), TeamUpNow™ and the popular online resilience training: Team Resilience: Finding Strength through Stress.

Clients who have used OWLS tools or consulting services include Southwest Airlines, Caterpillar Corporation, Carlson Restaurants (TGIF), National Electrical Contractors Association, Owens Corning, Wyndham International Hotels, Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA), American Council of Engineering Companies, and various health and non-profit community agencies.

Dr. Bennett is the author of over 20 peer-reviewed research articles and he has authored/co-authored five books, including “Raw Coping Power” “Heart-Centered Leadership” (with Susan Steinbrecher), “Time & Intimacy“, “Preventing Workplace Substance Abuse,” and “Well-Being Champions: A Competency-Based Guidebook.”

In 2008, he was acknowledged with the Service Leadership award from the National Wellness Institute. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Philosophy from State University of New York (Purchase) and his MA and PhD in Psychology from University of Texas-Austin. Dr. Bennett was previously on the board of the Academy of Management’s “Spirituality and Religion Interest Group (MSR)” and is currently on the Board of Directors for the National Wellness Institute. He provides key-note speaking and continues to train facilitators in team (culture of health) and resilience workshops. Visit to learn more.