Entrepreneurship And Mental Health: My Journey

#001 – If you’re an entrepreneur with mental health obstacles, you’re not alone. I’m one of the 30% of entrepreneurs who deal with depression. Yet, at the same time, I’m not just a statistic. I’m a living, breathing, and complex human being who also happens to be running a business.

In this episode, I share my history with mental health and how it’s impacted my business. I share my plans to dig deep into the scientific research regarding mental health & entrepreneurship to figure out who we are as a community. And lastly, I explain exciting future interviews with America’s leading entrepreneurs and their untold stories of mental health obstacles and triumphs. 

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Full Transcript

This transcript was done by a machine. We apologize for any errors.

You know, my, my fear of hurting people overcame me. And so instead of hurting people, I decided to just distance myself, couldn’t sleep. I literally felt like I was having heart attacks at night because of the anxiety. Uh, and then during my flight back, I had a layover in the Taipei airport and I, I was so close to leaving that airport and going to the hospital because I thought that I was dying. I had my, my chest was so tight I couldn’t hear

Ears were ringing. I was on the verge of tears and just an outburst.

Hello and welcome to overcoming the mind. My name is Joey Randazzo.

[inaudible].

This podcast is something that I’ve been very excited about now for the last couple of weeks. Um, it’s something that just hit me. I woke up one day and had this idea to create this podcast to create content and to figure out why this happens and to, to hear from other people going through it. And as someone who has experienced mental health obstacles, I knew this was something that I, I had to do. So I started digging in a little bit. I wanted to understand why this happens if I was the only one experiencing it and, and maybe what I could do to, to dig into the research in and help people understand that they’re not alone. Cause that’s something that I’ve really struggled with is the feeling of, of being alone in this struggle. Um, I went to, I went to a couple of places, I’m in a couple Slack groups and so I started asking some questions.

I, I simply asked some questions like, Hey, am I the only one that, that’s having a really hard time with this thing called entrepreneurship while dealing with some mental health obstacles. And overwhelmingly I went to places like that, like Reddit and overwhelmingly I got a ton of responses. People saying, yeah, that’s me. You know, I’m there too and we’re in this together. And people started pointing me to two others, other successful entrepreneurs and people talking about this subject. For example, Emma Milko, Roy, uh, from Portland actually where I’m more, where I’m living a CEO of wild thing international. Here’s what she had to say

through my, my own experience and also through my friends. I’ve lost a number of friends, um, actually through suicide and I probably don’t know a single entrepreneur who hasn’t struggled with mental health or depression at some point. And I think it’s a topic that we need to talk about

and more and more big names talking about this. So Tim Ferris, many people know him. I mean he is a well known guy. He’s written a number of bestselling books, the four hour body, the four hour work week. Um, he’s got an incredible podcast, the Tim Ferriss show. And in a recent Ted talk, I mean he laid it all out.

I was sitting in the back of my used minivan in a campus parking lot when I decided that I was going to commit suicide. And I went from deciding to a full blown planning very quickly and I came this close to the edge of the precipice. It’s the closest I’ve ever come

and hearing stories like this from, from well known people. I mean it just, I just wanted to dig in more. You know, people are talking about it, but what’s, what’s missing? You know, the conversations are, are starting, but I, I haven’t heard about them. You know, I grew up around a lot of entrepreneurs. My dad is a serial entrepreneur and he started a nonprofit that helps military members transition back to civilian life. And he brings in, I mean he brought in Tim Ferriss to an event and a lot of other big time entrepreneurs like this. And, and I hadn’t heard about this topic being discussed and I wanted to just to, to dig in more as to why that is. And so I thought that an interesting way to do that would be to consult the science, the science behind entrepreneurship and mental health and see what that has to say. And I began finding news headlines that sounded a little bit like this.

Well, in an environment when nine out of 10 startups will fail, it’s not surprising. We’re such as a looking at links between entrepreneurs and depression.

And the results were coming back a little bit like this

with new research finding 30% of entrepreneurs report suffering from depression in their lifetime. The study was conducted by the university of California in Stanford. That 30% is double of the percentage reporting depression among non entrepreneurs.

And I continued to dig in and found stats like 29% of entrepreneurs have ADHD compared to just 5% of the national average. Uh, 12% of entrepreneurs have addiction obstacles compared to just 4% of the national average. And then lastly, 11% of entrepreneurs have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder compared to just about two to 3% of the national average depending on some of the studies that you’re looking at in, in this, just this has hit me. It hit me like a train, you know, it was, it was, it was sad to see that this is, this is the case and I was just very, very curious. Why is this happening? Um, is there a specific reason? Is it that entrepreneurs are wired a certain way? Is that the lifestyle of entrepreneurs? Is it the risk that they take? Is it the challenges that they have in growing their business and managing a team in, in handling money from investors in the potential of failing.

And, um, and this is why I’m creating this podcast. It’s, it’s to help people understand that one, they’re not alone in to, to dive into the, the psychology, the physiology, the, the science behind it, and to hear from real entrepreneurs from some of the nation’s leading entrepreneurs in terms of building businesses that have great impact in, in drive value to their, not only their shareholders, but, but to their, their clients, their customers, their, their tribe. And by interviewing these folks, we’ll, we’ll get to see the real struggle behind it. It’s not just the hero’s journey of, of, you know, it’s kind of this grandiose idea that entrepreneurs, they, they have the struggle. They grind, they work 15 hours a day, the Gary V type stuff, but they come out on top day, they make the money, they exit, they have a successful exit in. And this is, this is healthy.

So this, this is why this podcast is being created a little bit about me. Um, my name is Joey Randazzo and, uh, I’m a newer entrepreneur. I’ve been doing this for about a year now. I worked for a, I am an agency for about two, two and a half years. I worked my way up to their chief marketing officer and I decided that it was, uh, it was time to exit that company and to, to start my own business. So I created becoming media, which is a content marketing agency that helps businesses drive more high quality traffic to their website through the creation of incredible content. And I’m very, very, very excited about this new business, about helping, helping clients. I’ve already helped a number of clients, massively changed their business, get more customers in, and uh, it’s exciting. It’s exciting to see that, that value that I’m adding it, it’s, man, it was terrifying to make that leap.

Uh, I pondered over it for months. Um, you know, you have that, that voice inside your head telling you that you’re absolutely crazy, that you’ll fail, that you’re not, you’re, you’re not smart enough that you, you don’t have the right skills that, that you’re not made for this. Um, and since starting my business, I’ve noticed that certain certain aspects of my mental health are more challenged. Uh, they’re more at risks there. There’s a lot of ups and downs. You know, you go through the day sometimes and an entrepreneur and, and it seems like you’re on the highest highs and the lowest lows all in one day. You know, you, you have this, this new idea or this new potential partnership that comes up and you’re, you’re hyped on it. And then later that day you get an email from a client saying, Hey, we’re no longer working with you.

We can’t, you know, we’re running out of money here and we can’t afford to pay you. And it’s like, uh, that, that those two things in, uh, you know, a lot of stuff can happen in one day as an entrepreneur, that that is an emotional roller coaster. And all in just to take a step back to, to my history of, of mental health. I remember becoming aware of it in about the seventh grade, I would say. Uh, I remember hating myself for things that I did. I, I was a bully. I was not a very nice kid, you know, I wanted to be that cool kid, uh, star that basketball team, popular kid. And uh, I did some things that I’m not proud of and I remember hating myself for that. And I changed schools for big reason was because I wanted just a fresh start.

I went to a different high school and then I absolutely shut down in high school. Uh, you know, my, my fear of hurting people overcame me. And so instead of hurting people, I decided to just distance myself from people. And, and while I was like the captain of the basketball team, valedictorian, stereotypical popular kid, I was super unhappy. I w I was, I had crazy social anxiety. Like I would be drenched in sweat sitting in class because I just, I couldn’t take it. Um, I didn’t have many friends outside of, out of sight of high school either. You know, a couple times a year I would hang out with friends outside of the basketball and, and that sort of thing. Literally just a couple of times a year I’d hang out. My parents would try to force me out of the house and, and that, um, and things got slightly worse.

Uh, you know, in early college, social anxiety got worse and we were one class. I just had to leave in the middle of class. I just grabbed my bags. I felt like I was going to explode. Um, I would just had sweat dripping down my face and we were just sitting in, I think it was like a statistics class. And, and, and from there, the depression got worse. Um, you know, even even some suicidal thoughts were, were a thing that, that happened. And it’s, you know, it’s saddening to say, but it, uh, that’s my history. Um, and things, things got slightly worse too. So I went after school, after graduating, my sister and I, we went to, to, to teach English abroad. So we got our teaching credentials in Prague and then I went to Thailand to teach English abroad. I was supposed to be in Thailand for about two months and then Nepal for about two months doing volunteer teaching.

I was very excited. This is something that I had been wanting to do for about a year. I’ve been planning for about a year. I graduated a year early from college to do this. So I took a really heavy course load and this is what I wanted to do and this is what, um, I spent so much time and energy dedicating myself to and, and after about a week, I don’t even know how long was it? Probably about a week of arriving in Thailand. I canceled my trip. I couldn’t sleep. I literally felt like I was having heart attacks at night because of the anxiety. Uh, and then during my flight back, I had a lay over in the Taipei airport and I, I, I was so close to leaving that airport and going to the hospital because I thought that I was dying. I, my, my chest was so tight, I couldn’t hear, my ears were ringing.

I was on the verge of tears in just an outburst. And, um, and that, that was, that was the low, that was, that was bad. And, uh, since then, my mental health has drastically increased in, gotten better, uh, relate to the thanks of and help of my family and friends and, and really my, my fiance, Emily, um, she has been, uh, she’s been incredible and in, in helping me with some of those challenges, but I know that I’m, I’m still susceptible and I, I still go through challenging highs and lows, although they are less frequent and less intense than they once were, but I know that I’m success susceptible to them. And especially with the start of this business, they have been coming back every once in awhile. Um, and then recently I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that set my mental health in, uh, and not the best spot for a while.

Um, the autoimmune disease has been really challenging. I’ve had now anF a flare up of sorts for about five weeks straight. And, uh, you know, the mind, the mind can wander the mind can, can do some, some damage when you let it, when you let it take over and it’s been taken over a bit. And so with the creation of this podcast, in a way it’s, it’s selfish. You know, I want to hear the stories of other successful entrepreneurs for my own benefit. You know, I want to dive into the science and history of mental health to better understand who I am and understand why my mind works the way that it does. I think that’ll be empowering to understand how the mind works. Why am I mind, does what it does. And then in a sense, I kind of want to Guinea pig myself out there and self experiment to test what works for me, what doesn’t work for me.

Maybe in through that process I can help others, um, sort of shortcut some of the challenges that they’re facing if they’re facing similar things to me. So I’m extremely excited to delve into this topic and really understand who I am as a person to understand that I’m not alone through the interviews that I will conduct with, with successful entrepreneurs, with folks that have had their own struggles in, in issues that they’re, you know, maybe haven’t shared with the world. I wanna I wanna unpack those and see where they’re coming from, what they’ve done, how it’s affected their business and uh, and, and share that with, with other people. Build a community so that, you know, other people don’t have to feel as alone. And so with that, there’s gonna be some really exciting, exciting stuff coming up that I’m very excited about. Uh, there’ll be some super authentic, deep, intimate, real conversations with, with top performing entrepreneurs about their mental health.

I’m going to really try to unpack these, these people’s stories to hear what challenges they’ve faced in growing their business, how it’s impacted their team, how it’s impacted their product, how it’s impacted their bottom line. And, uh, I think that will be really eye opening to hear real people who have gone through similar things that, that us folks ha are going through. And then I’ll be taking a journalistic approach to many topics surrounding mental health and entrepreneurship, things that, um, things like psychedelics, you know, the stigma surrounding mental health. Where did that come from? Why is that the case will, can, what is being done currently to sort of de-stigmatize that, you know, if the mind of an entrepreneur is wired differently to taking a look at science and seeing, Hey, are people that are entrepreneurs, are they likely to just be wired differently? And if they’re wired differently, how are they wired?

How can we understand ourselves a bit better if we are wired differently? And then how can we optimize who we are, our mental health and take control? Um, you know, I’ll be taking a look at some of the new startups are using technology to help entrepreneurs with mental health. There are a couple of really interesting new startups that are using the power of technology for good to help people with mental helps us mental health. Obstacles and in much, much more than that. Um, obviously all of the interviews that will be taking place will be, will be spectacular in that. Um, we’ll be able to hear from people that, that have gone through it. You know, I am a new entrepreneur and I’m starting this journey and I’ll be sharing my journey with you guys, but to hear people 20, 30 years into it that can share their ups and downs, can share things that they’ve tried, that have worked, things that, that they’ve done that have been damaging and so that we can sort of, um, know those obstacles before they come up and we can navigate around those before they become a challenge for us personally.

So very, very excited that you’re onboard. Uh, extremely, uh, blessed and humbled to be able to take on this project and try to add value, share resources, take a deep dive into, into who we are as entrepreneurs with mental health into, to build that community so that we aren’t alone. You know, you’re going through it. I’m going through it. I’m not saying that, that this is going to solve any of the problems, but if it can let you know, at the very, very least that you’re not alone and that you are, you are loved. You are, you are not some other that, um, this podcast will do its job. And so today I want to leave you with this. I want to leave you with the fact that that you are not alone. You are not alone on this journey and you are loved. You are who you are. And, and that is for a reason. And, um, and I’m excited and blessed to be on this journey with you. Thank you so much for listening to this first episode of the overcoming the mind podcast. Please subscribe. And also you can go to overcoming the mind.com to get access to our exclusive, uh, newsletter that we’ll share some pretty cool resources and information surrounding everything about entrepreneurship and mental health.

[inaudible].

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