Featuring: Patty Purpur de Vries
Female Fingerprints is a monthly feature created to highlight women around the globe who have had an impact in their local communities and beyond. Each month throughout the year I will share some of the best and brightest stories of women who are making a positive and lasting imprint on our world.
“Wellness” is an extremely relevant topic, especially in our current global environment. So, in this month’s installment of Female Fingerprints, I aim to highlight someone who is truly leaving her mark on the world of wellness.
One of the highlights of my career at Stanford Health Care, was interacting and collaborating with some of the most brilliant and gifted people. Patty Purpur de Vries, was one such person – the epitome of seva.
I wanted to feature Patty’s story, to honor her time and incredible work at Stanford and her many contributions to the wellness of many. It seems appropriate as 2022 comes to a close. I celebrate Patty, in her new and courageous journey and wish her much success in all that she does and the people that she touches with her many talents and immeasurable insight.
Patty was instrumental in several Wellness Initiatives at Stanford University, Stanford Children’s Health, and Stanford Healthcare. It was a great privilege to work with this dynamic lady on several of the food and nutritious meals for the programs. We discovered that we both wanted to serve with purpose, care and in excellence.
Born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Patty’s father was an entrepreneur and her mom earned her credentials as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Patty’s brother is also working at Stanford, as Deputy Athletic Director. Her son is a Fire Engineer and her daughter an artist.
She adds, “we also have three wonderful dogs.” I had to ask their names: “Zara, Sadie and Gypsy”, adorable names!
An alumni of Stanford University, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Patty received a full athletic scholarship. She is a nine-time NCAA All-American in shot-put and discus. Winner of the 1989 Women’s Olympic-style weightlifting championships in her weight class, and she competed at the 1988 Olympic Trials in the discus.
Patty, do you think athleticism is an inherited trait?
“I always looked up to the excellence in my family and much of this came from the men. I related best to my dad. My paternal grandfather was inducted into the UND Athletic Hall of Fame in 1976. He groomed the athletic fields and hand painted the lines on both the football fields and the hockey rinks.”
He created what I consider the first Zamboni. His brothers were also excellent in their domain: his brother Ken Purpurparticipated in the 1956 Olympics and his other brother Cliff ‘Fido’ Purpur played for the professional hockey team, Chicago Blackhawks; and was even in the Guinness Book of World Records for scoring 4 goals in 24 seconds in an amateur game.”
Patty speaks most fondly of her father, and you can hear the expression of emotion in her voice as she shares how much she misses him and loved him. She learned all her ‘tinkering’ from him.
“I was not overly tomboyish, but by some means, I wore my sweatpants most of the time and was kind of a garage-sale kid.”
“I learned a lot from my high school coach as well. ‘You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do’ and ‘Be nice to everyone, it doesn’t cost you a thing,’ by Henry Ford. It was these words that helped me uncover and embrace my authentic nature.”
In 1992, Patty founded TimeOut Services. Based in the Bay Area, the company provided a comprehensive range of services including wellness program development and implementation. As this quickly flourished, Patty and her team were instrumental in designing the original wellness programs for Google, Cisco and Yahoo and others.
What were the key takeaways during this time?
“In 1994 an early employee who had worked her way up from mailroom staff to Vice President of Cisco. She inspired me by her story, made me feel that anything is possible. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and longed for the times when my client opened a door for me to nudge my way in.”
Inspired and empowered by a spirited woman, a mentor of sorts, who saw her character strength and her appreciation for excellence. Patty’s world would soon change.
“I am forever grateful for that call in 1995 when I was offered an opportunity to bid on designing their first fitness center and later was asked to bid on its management. Some of my happiest days were overseeing that first program and developing Community BootCamp© there.”
Patty, what are some of the values you hold on to?
“My mom taught me discipline and how to hold my words. This is a skill that still serves me. I learned to read the warning signs when she was at the bottom of her roller coaster which makes me sensitive to others. She taught me how to keep a house clean and work hard. If I helped her around the house, she was calmer and kinder. Even today, order helps to keep me calmer too.”
Armed with values learned from her past, Patty embraced much-deserved awards and recognitions, including: ‘The Key to the City of grand Forks, North Dakota’, ‘Business Journals Top Women in Business’, Top 50 Influential Women of Silicon Valley’, ‘Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) Top 100 Wellness Professional’. Patty’s ambitions and resolute took her on her next journey to Seva.
In 2009, she wrote ‘The Soft Side of Success’: 5 Steps to the “S” Factor for Stellar Success in Business and in Life.
From 2011-2022, Patty supported the Wellness Initiatives at Stanford as the Director of Strategy, Outreach, and Innovation for Stanford’s Bewell Program. Her dedication, kindness and smiling demeanor attracted many, including myself.
Tell me about the projects that excited you, and the people you met at Stanford.
“One of the guest speakers I had invited was Jeffrey Pfeffer, PhD, author of ‘Dying for a Paycheck’: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance-and What Can We Do About It. We had a powerful and authentic event which included a reactor panel with our C-Suite”.
Though the book was published with intent as a business management book, Patty believed that it was a wellness must read. She knew instinctively that it was a topic that needed to be addressed and volunteered herself to work with leaders to bring this to life.
“Burnout was rising and many of our best employees were impacted. In order to see change I was ready to go through some discomfort and hold hard discussions in order to bring healing”.
It is the gift of other mindedness that encapsulates the appeal of Patty. She received the support from leadership in aiding and tackling through tough topics in order to bring them to life.
“We hosted 49 Fireside Chats, including high profile guests like Condoleezza Rice and Trinny Woodall from What Not to Wear”.
What was it like being in the same room with Trinny?
“She told us we should all start with sixty seconds of laughter”.
The power of humor: the utmost tension diffuser and attention grabber, great idea, Trinny!
“We also created on-line events including: BeWell and Creative, BeWell in Nature, BeWell and Play. These met a need for our employees at a critical time of Covid and our participants shared their gratitude deeply”.
What was your most memorable achievement at Stanford?
“In early 2022, a paper was published on the effectiveness of our coaching program for physicians. I know our participants loved our programs and people remember our creative and thought-provoking events”.
In 2022, Patty and her husband, Greg, founded Livingwell USA, a magical space ‘Created by nature. Nurtured with Love’. Located on top of Santa Cruz Mountains with panoramic views of Monterey Bay, the property measures over 4.5 acres. Nature that inspires growth, personal exploration, and reinvigoration of soul. to explore and reinvigorate souls.
What drew you to this gem? Was it in the plans?
“In 2004, I was standing on the property and besides the spectacular views, I found myself drawn to this big wooden pink and white house. We pictured orchards around, an herb garden, peach, and fig trees. We knew instinctively we were called to purchase this land.”
How befitting is her title “Chief Experience Officer and Steward of the Land”. She is tasting the sweet mint, her first mushroom, and beaming with pride as she observes her twenty exquisite trees blossom and yield the fruits of her idyllic land and her laborious horticulture. It is during these moments that Patty truly experienced how her Great Grandma, Elida, must have felt “keeping a beautiful garden and canning her bounty.”
“For a period of time, I could not walk and had to have back surgery in January 2020.
During that time my physical therapy consisted of walking, where nature spoke to me. I noticed spaces I had never seen before. I started weeding the evasive French Broom that covered at least half of the property and a calm came over me. I became curious about nature, spirituality, and purpose.”
“In 2021, while working on the hillside, I developed a new framework”:
Recognize your value, spark, and humanity.
Inventory your strengths and areas of opportunity.
Select your mindset with selfcare.
Enjoy sharing your gifts.
Where is your lifelong love of value-learning going to take you next?
“I am adding to the R.I.S.E. curriculum that I may eventually publish. I love to support women in transition and women business owners/leaders. Recently, I spoke to the women’s softball team at Santa Clara University reminding them of their ability to RISE together”.
“Over the past three years I spent hundreds of hours on the hillside. I’ve cut over 400 stairs into the clay and pulled weeds from the land as I’ve released the nuisance thoughts from my mind. I have watched the native plants flourish on the land and felt the love grow in my heart.”
“I hope to grow and learn every day of my life. The moments of complete bliss happen often these days. My goal is to mindfully watch for the opportunities for joy and help them multiply for myself and others.”
Patty has a unique perspective of upcycling natural materials, orbs, metal rings etc., to create blissful spaces on the land. Her keenness for building forts crafted from a wooden water tank, she found and cleaned up is a reminder of her many magical milestones in her forest!
Patty and Greg are enjoying their land, the right place for all occasions, where offering well-being workshops and magical event space. They have hosted many weddings on their property, the memories of which Patty holds dearly, as she helps to build and bring dreams to life.
Patty Purpur, a role model for everyone who wants to take care of their personal health and well-being. A woman with an infectious personality that makes a positive impact on others, who has left her ‘Fingerprints’ on every threshold she has crossed.
One who has an innate ability to inspire others to dream more, learn more and then do more. Like each one of us, Patty has faced adversity. Her gifts and resources: discipline of an athlete, building resilience, equalizing herself with nature, practicing the framework she developed, is her legacy to us to follow her prints!
Thank you, Patty, for sharing your life’s journey with us and with that, your truth. Touched, humbled, and gratified in equal measure. I know this will resonate with many.