Dennis Miller

Dennis C. Miller grew up in an abusive household. His childhood years were filled with mental stress and feelings of despair and hopelessness.

As a young man, Miller sought out the help he needed. This included a short stay in a psychiatric hospital and counseling.

“I needed help to deal with the trauma in my life,” said Miller. “I realized that if I really wanted to have a meaningful relationship, I needed to be an emotionally open person. I learned that depression is not a character flaw.”

This was the beginning of Miller’s journey from hopelessness and failure to happiness and success.

Today, Miller is a nationally-recognized strategic leadership coach, executive search consultant and author of the book, Moppin’ Floors to CEO. He is also a former president and chief executive officer (CEO) of a major medical center and foundation.

How to Find Happiness: A Personal Story

Miller was the first speaker at The Alliance’s Mental Health in the Workplace event. As he told his personal story, Miller offered the following advice to help you find your own happiness.

  1. Follow your passion and listen to your heart.
  2. Each small achievement leads to a growing sense of self-confidence. And self-confidence is the key to success.
  3. Accept responsibility for yourself. Stop blaming others for your shortcomings.
  4. Envision your life and plan for it. Things don’t happen by themselves.
  5. You need to love yourself, before you can love somebody else.
  6. Emotional intelligence is the best type of intelligence to have.
  7. Have faith and believe in yourself. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, no one will.
  8. Thank others. When you recognize greatness in others despite their shortcomings, you will recognize the greatness in yourself despite your own shortcomings.

Advice from a former CEO

In the U.S., 30 to 50 percent of adults experience mental illness at some point in their lives.

Can successful people suffer from mental illness? Yes they can – and many do.

“Even well-known celebrities and business leaders can have clinical depression, bipolar disorders or anxiety disorders. They are people too. It can happen to anyone,” said Miller.

Leading an organization can be a high-pressure role. Miller understands the pressures faced by senior management – he has lived through them in his own career. In response, he suggested these tips to manage the pressures of the executive office:

  • Don’t suffer alone. It’s good business to treat people well – start with yourself.
  • Learn to manage your stress.
  • Understand that depression is manageable and very treatable.
  • Try to maintain a balanced life.

Mental Health America

Wisconsin created web-based workplace mental health awareness programs. View their available resources at: Or contact Shel Gross, Director of Public Policy at for more information.


How to End the Stigma of Mental Illness in the Workplace

Even today, mental illness and seeking treatment for it can have stigma attached to it – especially in the workplace.

“CEOs should be responsible for creating an environment that helps to end the stigma of mental health in the workplace,” said Miller.

This stigma can be dissolved through positive cultural change. The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem. Mental health does not need to be a taboo topic.

“It’s time we all have a change of mind,” said Miller.

Here’s how:

  1. Hold regular check-in meetings with employees.
  2. Educate yourself. The best way to maintain positive mental health in yourself and your employees at work is to educate yourself on what certain situations look like.
  3. Be careful in the language you use about mental health. Words like “psycho” and “crazy,” even when used casually or jokingly, can be extremely hurtful.
  4. Reward employees for small acts of kindness. It’s easy to overlook the beneficial effects of helping out with a mundane task or giving a compliment. Encourage employees to perform a couple of small acts of kindness each week.
  5. Uphold work-life balance. The tendency is to think that the later employees stay the more work they’ll get done and the faster the organization will grow. In fact, it can be the opposite.

“Mental illness has a major financial impact on employers and their health benefits,” said Miller.

As employers, it is our responsibility to include mental health as a part of our health benefit, wellness and organizational culture initiatives. Start the conversation at your workplace.


Learn more:

Lisa Wendorff

Lisa Wendorff

Marketing Communications Specialist at The Alliance
Lisa Wendorff joined The Alliance in 2015 and currently serves as the cooperative’s marketing communications specialist. Her responsibilities include the development of effective communications and marketing materials for Alliance members and business partners.

Previously, Lisa worked at a founding member of The Alliance for 17 years as a marketing specialist. Lisa received her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in Communications with an emphasis in Corporate Communications.
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Lisa Wendorff

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