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The Anxious Achiever

Host Morra Aarons-Mele is on a mission to reframe how we think about anxiety and mental health in the workplace. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. We desperately need better models for leadership and a more holistic view of mental health. Our culture tells those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression that we can’t succeed, but we tell a different story — without sugarcoating the tough stuff. We feature stories from people who’ve been there and experts who can help you thrive.

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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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. Moe was recently laid off, and his show was cancelled. He tells us how he approaches ups and downs in his career, when he seeks help, and what he does to keep everything in perspective.

39mins

2 Nov 2020

Rank #1

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Tackling Leadership Struggles, Burnout, and Performance Anxiety

Leading a group of people can produce chronic anxiety, but many leaders who suffer from anxiety don’t even realize it. In today's episode we explore anxiety related to leadership and how performance anxiety can hold us back at work. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Steve Cuss, a leadership consultant and the lead pastor of Discovery Christian Church in Broomfield, Colorado, about leadership anxiety and burnout. Then Present Voices founder Leah Bonvissuto offers Morra practical tips for conquering performance anxiety.

48mins

2 Dec 2019

Rank #2

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Managing Career Transitions Part 2: Taking A Break

Many people in the business world find their success by always being “on.” They wake up at 4 a.m., answer emails 24 hours a day, and don't take vacations. Sometimes they’re so high functioning that they don't even realize they have symptoms of anxiety until they take time away from the office. This week, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Alyssa Mastromonaco, former White House deputy chief of staff and former chief operating officer of Vice Media. They talk about running on all cylinders, realizing you need time away from the office, and dealing with the depression that can come from needing to redefine who you are outside the office.

38mins

11 Nov 2019

Rank #3

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Wading Through the Imperfect Mess of Parenthood

In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with organizational psychologist Stew Friedman and tech entrepreneur Sehreen Noor Ali about the ways parenting children with specific needs changed them and their career paths.

43mins

20 Apr 2020

Rank #4

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Battling Depression from the C-Suite

For most of his life, Paul Greenberg suffered from severe depression -- depression so bad that he had near constant thoughts of suicide from the age of 13. But you'd never know it if you met him. And he has built a successful media career, including stints at MTV and Time, and eventually becoming the CEO of CollegeHumor. To battle the depression, he tried some 75 different medications before his medical team suggested electroshock therapy, which he says has saved his life. And it wasn't until the deaths of public figures like Robin Williams, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain that Greenberg went public with an op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter. This week, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Paul Greenberg, now CEO of Butter Works, a media company, about his long, painful journey, and how he views depression at the workplace today. The number for the Suicide Prevention Hotline in the U.S. is 1-800-273-8255.

34mins

18 Nov 2019

Rank #5

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Managing Mental Health When Working for a Mission

Poppy Jaman OBE struggled with postpartum depression after the births of her children. Now she’s on a mission to promote mental health awareness to the financial and professional services industries, as the CEO of City Mental Health Alliance. She discusses 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.

37mins

25 May 2020

Rank #6

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Mental Health in the Office: Difficult Conversations

How should you approach difficult conversations about mental health with your colleagues and boss? In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Amy Gallo, author of “HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict,” about when and how to disclose a mental health issue to your company. Plus, Dr. Rebecca Harley, a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, discusses the connection between mental health and recognizing boundaries at work.

48mins

16 Dec 2019

Rank #7

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Building Mental Resilience While Building a Business

Anxiety shows up in all kinds of business situations — especially when you’re starting your own company. In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Cheryl Contee, CEO of Do Big Things, and Jeannette Kaplun, founder of Hispana Global, about how to work through anxiety and build resilience.

46mins

9 Dec 2019

Rank #8

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What No One Tells You: The Emotional Strain of Startup Life

We hear the stories of successful Silicon Valley startups all the time. But entrepreneurship can also have a dark side, especially when it involves going broke, losing sleep, and working 100-hour weeks. This week, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Emma Mcilroy, CEO of Wildfang International, who has been outspoken about the emotional strain of startup life.

40mins

25 Nov 2019

Rank #9

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Gabrielle Union on Toxic Workplaces, PTSD, and Social Anxiety

With great success can come even greater stress and anxiety. But Gabrielle Union is using her success to stand up for her truth. A sexual assault survivor, Union suffers from PTSD and social anxiety. Now the actress uses her energy and influence to speak up against sexism and racism in Hollywood. She tells Morra Aarons-Mele about how she balances self-care and being a voice for others who struggle to be heard.

42mins

6 Apr 2020

Rank #10

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Substance Abuse, Success, and Self-Realization

We speak with MIT’s Seth Mnookin, a writer and ex-addict who has been clean for 20 years, about the connection between substance abuse and underlying mental health issues, and how addiction can affect creativity and career. And we explore the hard lessons addicts can learn in recovery about their own limitations and definitions of success with CHA Center for Mindfulness and Compassion's Dr. Zev Schuman-Olivier, an addiction psychiatrist who focuses on mindfulness as a path to healing.

51mins

18 May 2020

Rank #11

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Managing Career Transitions Part 1: Facing Childhood Demons

Whether you’re getting fired, taking a promotion, or leaving a job you love, career transitions are a time of anxiety. In the next two episodes, we’ll be focusing on how to manage anxiety associated with big changes at work. This week, we focus on the tough work you should do before a big transition to understand your feelings. Our guest is career coach Jerry Colonna, author of "Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up." He argues that a lot of the adult problems we face can spring from fundamental childhood experiences. We act out childhood hurts in our leadership and interactions at work, from the people we hire to the way we think about money. Therefore, understanding how your childhood has shaped you and facing your demons is vital for anyone who truly wants to thrive in their career.

35mins

4 Nov 2019

Rank #12

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How Vulnerability Can Be a Leadership Superpower

Jason Rosario discusses 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.

33mins

4 May 2020

Rank #13

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Managing the Stress and Uncertainty of Coronavirus

The rapid onset of the coronavirus is changing our work – and our lives. For those who own businesses or work in the gig economy, the stress and financial uncertainty is even greater. When we don’t know what the future will hold, or are working in isolation, what can we do? Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Jerry Colonna, CEO of Reboot.io, about how he is leading his team through such a stressful time. And later in the episode, business psychologist Camille Preston explains how we all can cope with uncertainty by taking on a growth mindset.

47mins

16 Mar 2020

Rank #14

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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. Elise Loehnen, Chief Content Officer at Goop, discusses her own experiences with anxiety at work, how she manages employees and their mental health, and what self-care really means.

33mins

11 May 2020

Rank #15

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Freelancing, Self-Employment, and Mental Health

Working for yourself – and working outside an office – can have a lot of benefits for people struggling with mental health issues, including flexibility when you need to take a breather. But freelancing and the gig economy can also trigger stresses that impact mental health, including isolation, lack of career trajectory, and perhaps most importantly, financial instability. In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with author and entrepreneur Chris Brogan, who is diagnosed with clinical depression, and journalist Ada Calhoun, the author of “Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis,” about how to adapt work and personal life to self-employment and freelancing.

48mins

13 Apr 2020

Rank #16

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The Anxiety of Being the “Only”

Being the "only" in the workplace -- the only woman, the only person of color, the only one openly suffering from a mental or physical illness -- can contribute to existing mental health issues. At the same time, bringing your whole self to work -- even when you are an "only" and might be the only person struggling with clinical depression or anxiety -- can be a huge strength in the business world. In this episode, we'll look at anxiety and depression through the lens of being an “only” or a “first” at work. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with two experts on the topic: Angela Neal-Barnett, an award-winning psychologist and expert on anxiety among African-Americans, and author of “Soothe Your Nerves,” and Nilofer Merchant, the author of “The Power of Onlyness.”

42mins

14 Oct 2019

Rank #17

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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.

38mins

27 Apr 2020

Rank #18

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Strategies for Managing Day-to-Day Anxiety

Anxiety can affect so many aspects of our work – from how we make decisions to how we receive feedback and behave in meetings. In the final episode of Season 1, host Morra Aarons-Mele and former clinical psychologist Alice Boyes discuss the daily strategies and habits that can help to manage your anxiety at work.

47mins

30 Dec 2019

Rank #19

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Why Start-Up Culture Still Hides Mental Health Struggles

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.

37mins

23 Nov 2020

Rank #20