Dr. Dani Kimlinger became the CEO of MINES at the age of 30. She is deeply passionate about mental health and well-being. Through her personal experiences and work and volunteering in other organizations, her passion was ignited when she found herself being frustrated by systems and the lack of resources and support in systems.
In an interview with Insights Success, Dani highlights her professional tenure and her journey in the niche.
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at your company. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
It seemed to me that there was so much working against the people that I love and people that who I worked with professionally. Access to mental health services, the acceptance and ability to access services, and the high cost of services were not available to most people.
I have faced several challenges as I’ve grown into my leadership role. The two that come to mind that I continue to work through include self-confidence and my people pleasing tendencies. I have found that it is impossible to make decisions that please everybody. Although this is still difficult for me to let people down and disappoint people, I have worked on feeling steadier in my decision-making, through input of my team and being more confident that I’m making the best decision possible.
One of the most challenging years for me as a CEO was 2020. COVID forced us to go to a remote environment immediately and our organization was not remote-ready. We did it though! Because we are in mental health, the need for our services and crisis calls also increased significantly and this was trying on our team. We also had significant changes in our leadership team that year.
We had changes with two of our four executives. One of our executives was transitioning out to run for public office, and the other leader had an upcoming retirement.
We were also faced with some financial challenges and funding cuts due to COVID. My business partner and I were committed to keeping everybody’s job intact and not decreasing compensation or benefits. We were able to follow through on this commitment and grow significantly in two years following.
Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision; how does your company thrive towards enabling advancements in the dynamic business arena?
MINES save lives and influence the course of human events. We believe that to provide optimal care to our clients; you must be able to meet the client where they are with the best possible modalities and resources. This may include accessing therapy virtually, or in person, engaging in coaching, working with a mindfulness resource, engaging in self-learning, and working with peer groups. In 2019, we introduced message-based and robust virtual counseling, which was well-timed for COVID when many providers were not comfortable seeing people in person.
Ensuring that clients do not fall through the cracks is also important. I’ve been there myself. Our team has put in a number of safety nets and checks to catch people so that they do not fall through including services where they take on the process of finding a provider for the client and ensure that they have availability and the expertise that they are looking for.
Describe the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
Integrity– MINES’ employees must be honest, trustworthy, and follow through for their colleagues and clients.
Team-focused– The employees at MINES must be committed to each other, collaborate, engage in shared accountability, and be open communicators with each other and flexible with needs as they come up.
Continuous learning– One needs to be a continuous learner. The employee should have a growth mindset and strive to learn more and grow professionally. They should also be adaptable; significant events change our days drastically, and they have the humility to recognize that they do not know everything and be willing to learn from others.
Initiative – The employee should be self-motivated to grow and therefore seek out and take the initiative in new learning opportunities.
Innovation – They must value their own creative ideas as well as others’ ideas and engage in taking risks to enhance our services.
Client-focused – MINES’ is client-focused, including being empathic and responsive, meeting the client where they are in their journey, and looking for ways to enhance the client experience through client-centricity.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
We leverage technology by offering therapy via video, telephonic, message-based, and in person. We are also offering a digital intake for clients who do not want to call mines to access services.
Additionally, we have invested resources into updating our digital access and adding other digital tools such as mindfulness, personal and professional development, coaching, leadership tools, and soon peer support services that can be accessed online.
In addition to individual client service needs, MINES’ utilizes technology to offer virtual training, organizational development services, and crisis incident support debriefing services.
What, according to you, could be the next significant change in your sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
With the well-documented provider shortage and access challenges that continue to become more problematic, we are already seeing an increase in virtual care services, and MINES has embraced them.
I’m excited to see where artificial intelligence goes and the integration of technology and AI in mental health care. There is no doubt already some effective AI engagement in the industry, and I think that it will only get better and provide consistent support and resources for individuals. MINES is preparing to be part of that change by watching the AI evolution in our field and exploring how we would want to apply an AI model and what that evolution might look like.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for your company?
MINES has had significant growth in the last two years. The mental health and well-being space has offered so many opportunities to shake up how we provide services and the service mixes. MINES is expanding its services.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the dynamic business arena?
The advice I would give to a budding entrepreneur includes two main things. Build relationships. This is the most important component of breaking into and growing into any industry. I think to myself how fortunate I am to be surrounded by like-minded and similar-valued professionals.
It’s important to network with professionals in your industry and professionals who may have a similar role in a completely different industry. The perspectives, guidance, and support you get from such a diverse group of professionals are beneficial. Surround yourself with people who are further along than you and who may be better than you.
The other piece of advice that I would give is that you are never done growing and learning. I spent nine years in school post high school to get my bachelors, master’s, and doctorate degrees. I have had more impactful and deeper learning since finishing my Ph.D. Also, there are concepts and models that did not exist when I went to graduate school. Part of the learning journey is also surrounding yourself with people who are further along their professional journey than you, being around people who know more than you.
We are not finished products; we can always be better and no more, and it’s important to be humble and keep yourself open to all learning, including the areas in which you feel you are an expert.