Self-optimisation is not about fixing something that’s broken
By Ricky Browne
“Go west young man, go west” is an expression that seems to be holding true for Prince Harry, as it was revealed that he has been hired to be the CIO of an American company in California.
The company is BetterUp, a coaching and mental health business based in Silicon Valley in San Francisco. And the position CIO stands for Chief Impact Officer, rather than the more common title Chief Information Officer.
It turns out Prince Harry has already had the role for a few months. That must have come as something of a relief to the young man of 36 years who recently noted in his interview with Oprah Winfrey that he was no longer receiving any support from his family.
STATEMENT FROM THE BETTERUP CEO
Alexi Robichaux, CEO of BetterUp made the announcement of the new hire on the BetterUp website.
“It is with great pleasure and excitement that we welcome our first Chief Impact Officer: Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex.
“We are energized by his model of inspiration and impact through action. As a true citizen of the world, he has dedicated his life’s work to bringing attention to the diverse needs of people everywhere and advocating for mental health initiatives: from founding the Invictus Games, a platform for service personnel to use sport as part of their psychological and physical rehabilitation, to launching Sentebale, which supports the mental health and wellbeing of young people affected by HIV in Lesotho and Botswana.
“As a member of the BetterUp executive team, Prince Harry will expand on the work he’s been doing for years, as he educates and inspires our community and champions the importance of focusing on preventative mental fitness and human potential worldwide. “
STATEMENT FROM PRINCE HARRY
Prince Harry also made a statement on the BetterUp site on why he is joining the company. It’s not clear that he wrote the lengthy statement himself. The statement does contain some phrases that are more American-sounding to the ear than English – he mentions he was linked to a “truly awesome” coach for example — but that could be due to Prince Harry becoming a little more American in his outlook, thanks to his environment and his wife.
“First of all, I am really excited to be joining the BetterUp team and community! Thanks for having me.
“I firmly believe that focusing on and prioritising our mental fitness unlocks potential and opportunity that we never knew we had inside of us. As the Royal Marine Commandos say, ‘It’s a state of mind.’ We all have it in us.
“Being attuned with your mind, and having a support structure around you, are critical to finding your own version of peak performance.
“What I’ve learned in my own life is the power of transforming pain into purpose.
“During my decade in the military, I learned that we don’t just need to build physical resilience, but also mental resilience. And in the years since, my understanding of what resilience means — and how we can build it — has been shaped by the thousands of people and experts I’ve been fortunate to meet and learn from.
“When I first met Alexi, we instantly recognised a shared passion for helping others realise their full potential. As our conversations continued, it became even more clear that we hold a similar philosophy on mental health: that we must proactively take care of our minds.
“In addition to this shared philosophy, what caught my attention about BetterUp was that the company’s mission to unlock the potential in people everywhere necessitates innovation, impact, and integrity. Their team has been delivering on that work for years. I was also impressed by the scale and opportunity for impact – the ability to change millions of people’s lives for the better, through a combination of human connection, leading technology, and behavioural science.
“I’ve personally found working with a BetterUp coach to be invaluable. I was matched with a truly awesome coach who has given me sound advice and a fresh perspective. And because we believe in strengthening our own mental fitness, our entire Archewell team also has access to BetterUp coaching.
“As BetterUp’s first Chief Impact Officer, my goal is to lift up critical dialogues around mental health, build supportive and compassionate communities, and foster an environment for honest and vulnerable conversations. And my hope is to help people develop their inner strength, resilience, and confidence.
“In this new role, I’ll be focused on four key areas:
- Driving advocacy and awareness for mental fitness. We can and will elevate the global conversation around our mental health. What we’re doing is about equipping people to thrive. Whether you’re performing at the highest level, or want to get to the next level, or just want to get started, it’s all about having the specialised resources, preparation, and human connection to back you up — whatever the challenge.
- Guiding BetterUp’s social mission and impact to bring the science of peak performance and human potential into the hands of people worldwide.
- Influencing the vision of BetterUp’s platform, community, and member experience. I’m excited to help shape their already extensive library with content and resources on mental fitness and to share new stories and voices. To start, I’ve invited BetterUp to work with ‘Peak State: Mental Fitness’, a platform I helped establish which provides practical online tools to enhance our mental fitness.
- Expanding BetterUp’s global community of thought leadership, coaches, customers, and members through outreach and strategic planning.
“Self-optimisation is not about fixing something that’s broken. It’s about becoming the best version of ourselves, with whatever life throws at us — someone who is ready for the next challenge and can meet setbacks with courage, confidence, and self-awareness.
“This is what BetterUp is making possible, and I look forward to being on this journey with you.
“Join the community to get access to insights, advice, and tools on reaching your true potential, and be the first to learn about new content and programmes on mental fitness and resilience that I’ll be developing.”
INTERVIEW WITH THE CEO
The BBC also interviewed BetterUp CEO Alexi Robichaux to find out more about the new hire.
BetterUp’s social mission is to help “to change the global dialogue around mental health,” he said.
“I had obviously never spoken to royalty before in my life,” he said, adding that the Prince “likes to be called Harry in the workplace, so we just address him as Harry”.
As CIO, Prince Harry would also be “helping on product design and product strategy and helping with partnerships,” the CEO said.
It looks like the position will be for the long term. Questioned as to whether the company would be likely to keep the Prince, Robichaux said, “I hope he’ll keep us. He’s doing fantastic!”
“The most impressive thing has been his focus,” he said.
“He’s got an incredible attitude, he’s filled with energy and enthusiasm, so I have a feeling he’ll work out.”
It is not known how much money the celebrity Prince will be earning as a salary, but the international PR that the previously little-known company has gained from the association, could probably more than cover the expense.