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The Anxious Achiever
34 minutes | 5 days ago
Why Start-Up Culture Still Hides Mental Health Struggles
The tech industry is famous for its emphasis on productivity, life hacks, and winning at all costs. But that extreme culture of work isn’t always psychologically healthy for its workers. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with veteran tech journalist Catherine Shu, of TechCrunch, about improving mental health culture in Silicon Valley. And Shu shares her own journey with depression, including the time she spent in a psychiatric ward as a teenager, and how she found her way from there into tech journalism. Further Reading: “Founders on Depression” (Tech Crunch, 2014)
35 minutes | 12 days ago
Kevin Love on Trying to Achieve His Way Out of Depression
NBA star Kevin Love has reached incredible success in the NBA. But his drive to move ahead also masked depression and anxiety, which he’s struggled with for much of his life. For a long time, he hid his battle with mental health because he was worried that his fans would see him as “weak.” But after a very public panic attack in 2017, Love started speaking out about his mental health. Love talks with host Morra Aarons-Mele about role modeling openness about mental health, how he manages his social anxiety as a celebrity, and why basketball both aggravates and relieves his depression. Further Reading: “To Anybody Going Through It” (The Player’s Tribune, 2020) “Kevin Love details his battles with mental illness” (ESPN, 2018) “Kevin Love on How to Find the Right Therapist, and What to Do If You Can’t Afford One” (GQ, 2019)
33 minutes | 19 days ago
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the Stress of Creativity
Aaron Harvey is a successful advertising industry executive – but for many years of his life, he harbored a dark secret. He suffers from something called Pure OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), which involves repetitive, mental rituals and compulsions that can be graphic and violent. At first, Harvey used his workaholism to escape his illness. But now he’s working to make sure workplaces are more adaptable and open to severe mental health issues via Made of Millions, the advocacy group he founded.
35 minutes | a month ago
Finding the Funny – and Embracing the Pain – of Depression
John Moe took a bold step when he decided to start a podcast featuring frank, but funny, conversations about depression. The public radio personality and author created a space for humor and honesty that didn’t exist at the time. Moe was recently laid off, and his show was cancelled. He joins host Morra Aarons-Mele to talk about how he approaches ups and downs in his career, when he seeks help, and what he does to keep everything in perspective. Moe is the author of “The Hilarious World of Depression,” and the host of the podcast of the same name.
36 minutes | a month ago
Success, Stress, and Money: Lessons from a Financial Therapist
If you had more money, do you think your anxiety would go away? As a psychotherapist specializing in financial wellness, Amanda Clayman helps her clients uncover the motivations and roots underlying their money anxieties, so they can make better financial decisions. It’s a problem Clayman understands intimately, as an entrepreneur who struggles with financial anxiety. But she says money isn’t always a problem that needs to be solved, if we can learn to understand what’s really going on when we stress out about money.
39 minutes | a month ago
Why Learning to Label Your Feelings Makes You a Better Leader
Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, says that many managers and leaders misunderstand what emotional intelligence really means – despite the trendiness of the phrase. He urges leaders to learn to understand themselves and their teams using a Mood Meter, a tool he developed to help people explain their emotions.
38 minutes | 2 months ago
Notes to My Future Manager Self
Priska Neely, a long-time public radio producer and reporter, was recently hired as Managing Editor of the Gulf States newsroom, a regional news collaboration among NPR member stations in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. She’s always wanted to manage people, and she’s long thought about the best way to communicate and lead. As a Black woman, she’s also been writing about organizations and race throughout the past year. Neely joins host Morra Aarons-Mele to talk about how anxiety makes her a better manager and how she injects empathy into hard conversations at work.
36 minutes | 2 months ago
Art Critic Jerry Saltz’s Reckoning with Trauma and Anxiety
Early on in the pandemic, Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Jerry Saltz wrote a piece about his unusual eating habits that grabbed the attention of many with anxiety, depression, or just Covid-related sadness. In the essay, Saltz recounts a lifetime of using food to cope with trauma and anxiety – until art helped him find a new path forward. In this conversation, he tells host Morra Aarons-Mele how his pursuit of work and paring life down to basics helped him manage trauma and anxiety and find a life he loves.
43 minutes | 5 months ago
How a Rising Political Star’s PTSD Fueled His Addiction to Work
Many high achievers are also workaholics. Jason Kander was on track to be a major force in American politics. But for him, working – and succeeding – was a way to escape the pain of PTSD and depression, after his military service in Afghanistan. Kander had to step away from his career to focus on therapy and healing.
34 minutes | 5 months ago
How the Cult of Sleep-Deprivation Affects Work and Mental Health
Sleep is incredibly important for both physical and mental health. But many high-powered jobs, which require people to work long hours, operate under the false assumption that people who sacrifice sleep in order to work are more productive and more successful. For people who suffer from anxiety and depression, lack of sleep can also create downward spirals that make those issues worse. Sleep researcher Christopher Barnes, an associate professor of management at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, explains how sleep deprivation can affect your mental health – and your career.
37 minutes | 5 months ago
How to Stop the Cycle of Overachieving
Many people who end up in prestigious careers choose their professions, consciously or subconsciously, in order to seek the approval of others. But that can create depression and anxiety. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with author Julie Lythcott-Haims about her journey from a childhood filled with pressure to succeed, to becoming a corporate lawyer, to becoming a dean at Stanford, where she tried to guide young people into paths that truly fit them. Note: We updated this episode to correct an error in the introduction. Julie Lythcott-Haims did not teach law at Stanford; she was Dean of Students.
34 minutes | 5 months ago
Facing Reality, Modeling Positivity
For managers struggling with anxiety and stress right now — or worrying about their employees feeling that strain — it can be hard to find the right mix of transparency and positivity. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Acceleration Partners CEO Robert Glazer, host of The Elevate Podcast, about how he tries to model both a positive outlook and honesty to those on his team. They also discuss how to deal with the setbacks we’re all facing because of the Covid-19 pandemic and use a growth mindset to keep moving forward.
42 minutes | 6 months ago
Millennials, Gen Z, and Generational Anxiety
Once-in-a-lifetime catastrophes like Covid-19 and the Great Recession have disproportionately affected the careers and economic stability of younger workers. In this episode, first we hear from two young professionals. Both of them have worked hard and carefully planned their careers, but now they’re confronting the anxiety and uncertainty of economic forces beyond their control. Later in the episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with The Atlantic’s Annie Lowrey about the collective psychological and financial impacts that economic crises can have on entire generations.
50 minutes | 6 months ago
Discomfort, Anxiety, and Grief: Confronting Racism with Colleagues
In response to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, host Morra Aarons-Mele explores the collective grief and trauma that black men and women are facing, and how white colleagues, employees, and managers can push through the discomfort and anxiety they feel when addressing issues of race and racism in their personal conversations. Amelia Ransom, Senior Director of Engagement and Diversity at Avalara, offers advice for how people of color can get what they need from their employers to help protect their mental health. Later in the episode, Benish Shah, Chief Growth Officer at Loop & Tie, shares guidelines for white people who want to support colleagues of color in a meaningful way. Be sure to check out these additional resources referenced in the episode: Shenequa Golding: “Maintaining Professionalism in the Age of Black Death Is…A Lot“ Benish Shah: “How to Talk Trauma and Protests at Work“ Q&A with Dr. Howard Stevenson: “Talking About Race with Teens“
41 minutes | 6 months ago
When Leaders Model Openness About Their Mental Health
Some of the best leaders in the world know that being transparent about mental health can motivate people and encourage positive change. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who used meditation to address the trauma and anxiety he experienced while working as a New York City cop. Now he encourages his constituents to meditate and do yoga. Later in the show, tech CEO Joel Gascoigne explains why he was transparent with his employees at Buffer when he had to take time off to recover from his own burnout.
33 minutes | 6 months ago
Managing Mental Health When Working for a Mission
Mission-driven work can create very specific emotional challenges. Nowhere is that clearer than in the non-profit world, where success doesn’t always come with accolades and bonuses — and might not even come at all, if the problems are just too complicated for one person or one organization to fix. In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Poppy Jaman OBE, the CEO of City Mental Health Alliance, a network of thought leaders from London-based organizations committed to improving and raising awareness of mental health in the workplace. They discuss the difference between empathetic and compassionate leadership, the therapeutic joy of being silly, and what it’s like to devote your career to mission-driven work, while caring for your mental health.
49 minutes | 6 months ago
Substance Abuse, Success, and Self-Realization
Drug and alcohol abuse are sometimes painted as a black and white issue, but there are all kinds of shades of grey. In this episode, we explore the connection between substance abuse and underlying mental health issues, how addiction can affect creativity and career, and the hard lessons addicts can learn in recovery about their own limitations and definitions of success. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with MIT’s Seth Mnookin, a writer and ex-addict who has been clean for 20 years. And later in the show, we’ll also learn about treatment for substance abuse with CHA Center for Mindfulness and Compassion’s Dr. Zev Schuman-Olivier, an addiction psychiatrist who focuses on mindfulness as a path to healing.
32 minutes | 7 months ago
Goop’s Chief Content Officer on Balancing Self-Care at Work
What’s it like to lead a team when optimizing self-care and emotional wellness is the point of their work? Goop, a company founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, explores all aspects of mental and physical health and advocates for a rarefied and often controversial brand of self-care. But does working at a place like Goop create anxiety in and of itself – anxiety to be balanced and perfect and constantly share your emotions? Host Morra Aarons Mele speaks with Elise Loehnen, Chief Content Officer at Goop, about her own experiences with anxiety at work, how she manages employees and their mental health, and what self-care really means.
31 minutes | 7 months ago
How Vulnerability Can Be a Leadership Superpower
Good leaders bring mentally healthy values to their teams and organizations. And that means showing weakness, at times, and facing the resulting risk of being perceived as a weak leader. But accessing that vulnerability is harder for some leaders than others. In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Jason Rosario about his own journey with depression and anxiety, and the lessons he’s learned about vulnerability, masculinity, and leadership. Rosario left a career in finance to found The Lives of Men, a social impact and creative agency focused on decoding masculine psychology and challenging false concepts of masculinity.
36 minutes | 7 months ago
Leading Through Grief in Life and Work
Throughout our lives, we will all experience grief in one form or another. It can also translate into depression, anxiety, and other emotional strain. But as we grieve, we often have to keep working or growing our businesses. And that is true even in a time of mass grief, like a pandemic. In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with chef Jody Adams about the period in 2016 when her long-time restaurant, Rialto, closed. At the same time, her sister was dying of cancer. Now Adams is helping the staff at her current Boston-area restaurants grieve for their struggling industry, amid the coronavirus lockdown.
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