Importance of Mental Health as a Professional – Erik Daly
Finding yourself in a state of poor mental health not only affects your personal life but also infringes on your work productivity. Often our stresses as professionals are sourced from high demands at work and inadequate methods of managing them. It is important that you begin to implement steps towards changing the way you deal with your mental health. If you find yourself in a poor space of mental health, being able to talk openly about your struggles goes a long way in helping you process and work through your challenges. It is key for you, as a professional, to make sure that you are finding time for yourself, finding time to invest positively in your mental health, and finding the right person to talk to. On today’s episode of Branch Out, we welcome guest Erik Daly, a corporate and M&A attorney with Miller Johnson, a west Michigan-based law firm. Erik focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, corporate financing, restructurings, and securities law matters. He also focuses on emerging technology topics such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, cryptocurrencies, and other blockchain technologies. Erik studied law at Harvard Law School, where he graduated cum laude in 2007. During our conversation, Erik and I dive into the topic of mental health as a professional and discuss some of the challenges we all face in our careers on a daily basis.
Key Points From This Episode:
- Erik shares his outlook on talking about mental health in the workplace.
- He shares his background, how he deals with his mental health, and the challenges he overcame.
- What brought the realization to Erik that he was facing some mental health challenges.
- Some quick daily tips for how to deal with mental health challenges.
- The importance of learning to manage the demands of work as a professional.
- The little things Erik does on the daily to make sure he is taking care of his mental health.
- Why it is important to monitor your work-life balance and be aware of the impact it poses on your mental health.
- The importance of talking about where you are with your mental health.
- The role exercise and meditation plays in mental clarity and health.
- The struggle with an “All-or-Nothing” mentality.
- Why finding a way to talk about your mental health helps you through the process.
[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast. Helping middle-market professionals connect, grow and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.
[00:00:20] AD: Hey everyone, welcome to Branch Out. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today’s guest is Erik Daly, a corporate and M&A attorney with Miller Johnson, a West Michigan-based law firm. Erik and I dive into the conversation of mental health as a professional and discuss some of the challenges that we all face in our daily careers. Hope you all enjoy.
[00:00:41] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders.
[00:00:49] ED: Erik, welcome to Branch Out. Excited for our conversation here today.
[00:00:52] SM: Yeah. Thank you, Alex. I appreciate it. Thank you for the invitation.
[00:00:56] ED: Absolutely. Now, Erik, you and I, today we’re going to dive into talking about mental health as a professional. And I really want to set the stage by saying, first, personal view of what mental health is, and I’m by no means a trained expert or anyone who has an educational background and talking about this. But my perspective around mental health really comes down to how are you feeling? How are your emotions hitting you? Are you happy? Are you sad? Are you angry? Are you anxious, right? All those feelings that we all deal with and some of them very positive, some of them much more negative. And as a professional and as a human in general, we have to deal with those challenges of our mental health and the ups and the downs. And our goal today and what I really want to dive into with you is talking a little bit more about what is mental health and how do you deal with it in the workplace. But more importantly, some of the challenges that you have personally faced as a professional dealing with mental health. And I know you’ve shared that you’ve had some big challenges that you’ve personally overcome. So maybe a great place to start here, if you could just share with our listeners, what have you done in your career to manage your mental health? And then again, what are the challenges that you’ve overcome and how have you done that?
[00:02:09] SM: Yeah, happy to talk about that and thank you for devoting some time on the Branch Out podcast to this topic. It’s one that’s really important to me. My mother is a psychiatrist. So I kind of grew up around an open dialogue around issues related to mental health. And it was something that was just kind of common to talk about. And then kind of moving through your education and into a profession, becomes less common to talk about.
I’m an attorney. Attorneys advocate for their clients, and it’s often something that they feel they need to put aside as their own kind of mental well-being in order to be the best advocate or attorney they can be for their client. And so balancing your professional obligations, your professional ambitions against sort of making sure you allow time to take care of yourself over the long run. And not only yourself, but also other colleagues you may work with from a mental health perspective. That’s very important in terms of sustainability.
And I like the way that you framed it at the outset, Alex, where it’s not just about the lows and the negatives, but it’s also about making sure you take time to appreciate the highlights of your day or your week or a successful project closing. So I don’t like to frame it as just a negative thing, because I think talking about mental health for those who are comfortable doing that can be a really powerful springboard to creating an upward cycle of, “Okay, thinking more about the positives that reinforce kind of productive behavior and reinforce success and equilibrium, mental equilibrium that’s sustainable.”
[00:04:04] ED: Now, Erik, there’s two things you said there I really want to make sure our listeners here. One, when we say mental health, I think so many times in society today it does have a negative connotation that is applied to it. And when people say, “Hey, let’s focus on our mental health,” at times that’s, “Well, I’m in a rut. I need to figure out how to get out of it.” And yes, that’s part of life. But as exactly as you said there, there are positive sides to that. And I think for all of us, when you start talking about it – And as you brought up, you grew up in a household where that was much more common. And for many of us we don’t, and it’s something that we just simply do not discuss. And if you don’t, then how are you ever going to focus on it, right? And this is think about your physical health. If you never spend time thinking about your physical health and putting energy and focus and effort into it, and part of that is talking to other people, whether that’s researching it or discussing it with a trainer or someone, a gym partner, whatever it might be, right? In this case, we’re just talking about the mental aspects of that.
Now you as a professional, you said you’re a partner with a West Michigan-based firm. You do transactional and corporate law. You are someone who you know by all means is a successful professional. But you’ve also shared with me that you’ve overcome some of your own challenges in mental health. Can you share a little bit about, one, what were the challenges? Two, how did you overcome them? But also what brought that realization that there were challenges that you were facing and something you had to take a step back and say, “Okay, I have to address this.”
[00:05:35] SM: Happy to do that, Alex. And I will share a few keys, moments in my career maybe starting something that relates to what you just talked about, which is health. And going back to when I started practicing law, which was around 2007. So kind of the tail end of the last private equity M&A boom, thing’s very busy. And I think this is relevant to maybe where we are right now in terms of the potential economic consequences of COVID-19. But then transitioning into, for me at that time, as a junior attorney, the great recession sort of time period and M&A markets hitting a lull. I was very fortunate to have started practicing while there was still kind of “normal deals to do”. But I saw a lot of attorneys enter the profession or have to leave the profession just because there weren’t enough opportunities there. And so there was this attrition, and most stressful for them.
So I had a lot of friends who were going through mental health challenges at the time. And I was, for my part, still practicing with a very good Chicago law firm. But I started to realize I was having these health issues which were unusual for someone who was otherwise healthy in their mid to late 20s, chronic back pain and kind of fatigue and weakness. And at that point my wife and I didn’t have any children. And so you kind of make time to be more physically active to deal with those things. You have a little bit more freedom in your schedule to do that. You see doctors talk about it. And at that time it didn’t strike me as kind of the beginning of a first sign that the way that I was practicing law or the way that I was pursuing my profession was starting to create physical or mental health symptoms. But in retrospect, that was that was a first sign for me kind of developing chronic pain and fatigue.
I was able to continue practicing and obviously I have been practicing since then, but that pain and that that physical symptom of the depression and the stress and anxiety was really the first thing. And that’s kind of stuck with me to greater or lesser extent over the years. So I think that’s something for people to be aware of is often a physical manifestation will be the first sign that maybe something is out of balance in terms of mental health. And to do what you can.
Some of the things that are helpful might just be taking 10 or 15 minutes at the beginning of the day to stretch and exercise to try to breathe properly. Little things short of if you’re not comfortable talking with a friend or a professional or a colleague about it, what are the things that you can do kind of on your own to try to stay aware of it and be mindful of it? And I will confess, I did not do many of those things at the time. I was busy working. And I worked late nights. And I said it’s part of the job, right? It’s having – I’m going to develop some back pain sitting at a chair and a computer reading documents. And that’s true to some extent, but the worse it is, the more you kind of need to do to be proactive I think to try to head some of those things off. So that was something very early in my career that in retrospect was one of the first symptoms that as a professional mental health was something I was going to have to be more aware of and manage.
[00:09:33] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast.
[00:09:43] ED: No. I think you hit on a really good point there. And I think so many of us, myself included, especially when you’re in that first segment of your career where there’s a huge learning curve. You’re drinking out of fire hose on top of client demands, and it’s not like that slows down as your career goes, right? The client demands just continue to grow. And I think so many of us find ourselves in a position where we are constantly fatigued and have some level of body aches, right? Myself included. And those are signs and symptoms that something isn’t right. That’s not how you should be waking up feeling. That’s not how you should be feeling on a constant basis.
Now I don’t want to discount that as a professional and if you want to be a successful professional there’s a demand. There’s a level of demand that is required in your life and you have to learn how to manage and work through that. So that doesn’t mean that at the first sign of some fatigue or the first sign of not feeling well, “Hey, throw the towel and I just can’t do this.” No. But rather let’s start figuring out how to address it, right? And this back to the physical health analogy, because I think that’s one we can all relate to. And for myself personally, I’ve spent most of my life struggling with physical health in one way or another and in trying to stay at a proper weight and trying to stay at a healthy stature and focus on myself. And mental health is no different in the sense that it’s not something that you flip a switch one day and say, “I’m just going to be in better shape or I’m going to be in better mental health.” As much as mentally, there is a lot of mindset that goes into that. It’s not something that you overnight change and it’s also not something that deteriorates overnight. It’s a progress over time in which way you’re trending, right?
I think as for yourself, and had the same experience, where you start your career, you start feeling that way and you ignore it. You look the other way. You think it’s part of the job. But then what happens? You wake up 10, 15 years into your career saying, “What am I doing? Why am I doing this? Why do I want to put myself through this?” And I mean that in one way you can call that burnout. In the other way there’s just a build-up of mental health, of negative mental health.
Now let’s shift gears on this though a little bit and say, “Okay, we’re aware of that and we know we need to find ways to focus on ourselves and find ways to keep our mental health positive.” What are things that today you do and that you make a conscious effort in your life to ensure that you are taking care of your mental health?
[00:12:16] SM: Sure. And I just want to back up briefly if I could to reinforce something that you said, Alex, which is talking about mental health and looking for kind of a quick exit ramp or some kind of cure or panacea to say, “If I make this one change, that will be the key to really addressing my mental health or my physical health issues.” And there’s a temptation to see some kind of exit ramp to take that exit ramp. And I think that’s fine. Some people need to make a big change.
For me, I got five years into practicing and we had a son at that point. And one moment for me and our family that I can recall from that time period is the first Mother’s Day after our son was born and working the whole weekend on an M&A deal, right? And I’m sure you can relate to that on some level.
[00:13:15] ED: Yep.
[00:13:16] SM: And at that point I said, “Gosh! This is not what I set out to do holistically. I’m doing the type of work I want to do and I have type of family I want to have, but there’s not that equilibrium or that balance there between them.” And so I’m happy we made this move. But we relocated from Chicago to here in Michigan, in Grand Rapids, and that has had a positive impact on what you might call work-life balance. And it’s been a positive change overall, but it wasn’t a cure, all right?
So when I moved here it’s not as though I didn’t have mental health issues anymore or life was perfectly balanced. And so I think it’s important not to have a false expectation that a dramatic change will make everything perfectly clear. And to go back to the question you posed to me, you still need to take those steps every day or every few days, whatever the right cadence is for you to make sure you’re taking stock of your mental health and taking some steps to get out in front of it if that’s what you need to do at a particular time. Or to say, “You know what? I’m in a really good place and I’m going to – These positive things have happened over the last days, weeks, months, and I’m going to focus on those.”
But some of the things that I do, when I’m at my best, and we’re never at our best all the time, but when I’m at my best in terms of managing mental health issues, it’s really little things. And it’s kind of a cliché. But you’re in the habit of taking a little bit of time to exercise each day or every other day. That really does go a long way to laying a foundation both from how you feel energy-wise, but also your body chemistry and what that does to set you up for success mentally.
I think also, for me, taking time to meditate a little bit and reflect is a habit I’ve gotten into just kind of on a personal level. It’s something – My son is nine years old and he’ll sit with me and do that occasionally too. So it’s not something I need to totally isolate to do. It can be something that I do with family.
For me, taking time to be outside, enjoying nature. I think for me that’s probably harder to do in the winter where we live in Michigan. And so that’s a trickier time to make that work. But it’s something I definitely do this time of year and especially under the current circumstances with COVID and the stay-at-home orders is making sure I go out and hike and kind of take the time to appreciate the things that I might not otherwise if I were just buried in my laptop or on conference calls all the time.
So little individual things like that and hobbies, like photography while I’m outside, are good. And it’s going beyond that to things that are more in the workplace or that involve other people is – I’ve been open with people and I realize not everybody is in a position where they feel like they can do that or that that’s the right step for them. And I really respect people making that judgment on their own for me. It was the right time to talk about it, because I just found that when you were dealing with mental health issues, for me anyway, if I’m not talking about it, if I’m not clear with other people about kind of where I’m at, whether it’s a high or low. They’re not going to understand where I’m coming from mentally in terms of workflow, in terms of providing instruction to colleagues I might work with or in terms of just decision making in general. I think, for me anyway, it’s good to kind of be open, because if you’re not open about mental health, at least yourself, I mean I think at a bare minimum you got to acknowledge to yourself that mental health issues, stress, anxiety can all impact your judgment and decision making. And if you try to hide from those things, it’ll deteriorate your ability to make sound decisions to kind of view things the way that they really are rather than projecting whatever worst case scenarios you come up with onto your circumstances.
And so I think that’s very important for people to do to whatever degree they feel comfortable doing it. So I’ve reached a point where I’m very comfortable talking to colleagues about it, because one, this better for me. But two, I think I’d hope that people would feel comfortable talking to me if they’ve dealt with an issue, if they are experiencing an issue. And I’m not a professional psychologist or psychiatrist, but I’ve been through a lot of the same things professionally that I think you know others have. And I’ve had a lot of people confide in me both from the legal profession and other professions that, yeah, they’ve experienced similar things and that they were happy that I was open to talking about it because then they feel like they can talk to me about what they’ve gone through.
And if we can talk about those things, then I think there’s not a lot that we cannot talk about in the workplace. There are some things that are more taboo, hopefully becoming less taboo. But mental health is definitely especially, I would say just from my perspective in the legal profession, one of those things where it can be viewed right or wrong as a sign of weakness or people misperceive it as some kind of failure. But I just view it as being honest with yourself if you’re that way, and that’s going to lead to, like I said before, better decision making, better judgment and just an all-around better atmosphere where people have the full context for working together as a team.
[00:19:24] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle market professionals.
[00:19:32] ED: So Erik, I want to unpack what you just said there about talking about mental health. But just real quick, I want to go back and reflect on some of the habits and some of the things you said you’ve done to help with this. And I think this is broadly applicable for everyone and myself included. I struggle with creating these habits. Exercise is a great example, right? And like you said, whether it’s daily, every other day, but some consistent cadence of exercise goes so far. My personal struggle, I’m sure many people feel this, you step back and say, “Man! I am so busy. I have so much to do. How am I ever going to find an hour by the time you exercise and clean up and everything else that goes into it? How am I going to find that one to two hours of extra time in my day to make that happen?”
And what I will challenge people that if you find yourself having that internal dialogue with yourself, where I’ll really challenge you to step back is are you really that productive in the day? Or do you find yourself in lulls in the day where at the end of the day you’re saying, “I’m just not getting anything done.” And nine times out of ten it might – And this is only my own personal experience that I’ve seen, but those days that I will find and carve out the time to make sure I’m consistently exercising. This isn’t, “Hey, I went and did it once and everything’s better.” But when I’m in that consistent rhythm, I feel a lot better. And ultimately my ability to focus and my mental clarity and everything else is better. So ultimately I still get all the same amount of work done in less time, in less hours, because I took that time out for myself to begin with.
And I think that goes for meditation as well. And meditation I think looks very different for everyone and everyone finds their own place for that. But finding that time to carve out for yourself where you do step back from that anxiety and that stress and detach yourself from the – And as professionals, we live in this world especially today with technology. You work goes everywhere. Especially today where we all work from home, right? I mean you’re sitting at home right now but you’re also sitting in your office and your desk, and all those things. And it’s too easy to never flip that switch and stop thinking and worrying about everything that has to be done. And when you find that time for meditation or for yourself, that separation, that really goes a long ways.
[00:21:48] SM: Yeah. I totally agree with that, Alex. And I would challenge it a little more and say that it doesn’t even need to be an hour when you do it, right? I mean we work with a lot of high-achieving people, whatever profession you’re in. You’re going to have folks who have done ultra marathons or can squat 500 pounds multiple times, whatever it might be, right?
And you might have been able to do that at one point. I could at one point fifteen years ago. I was a lot healthier physically and stronger. But where I’m at right now, it’s fine if I can exercise for 10 or 15 minutes in the morning. That’s a good place to start. And if it’s less than that, that’s a good place to start and you just build up from there to what is sustainable. And the same thing goes for whatever spiritual or meditative practice you develop, right? For some people, a yoga retreat is great. I think that’s how they are going to spend their vacation. And for other people, it’s going to be, like you said, sitting at their desk and taking five minutes to do a breathing exercise. And for some people it’s something entirely different that we haven’t mentioned at all yet.
And so I just think this is kind of all or nothing and not to suggest that that you were advocating for that. There’re few things that are helpful for mental health that need to be an all or nothing proposition. Usually you can start from a time perspective, a low time investment and build up from there and get a huge payoff, kind of that 80-20 rule. That first 20% is going to give you a huge payoff initially. I always encourage people and myself, try to remind myself, that that kind of barrier to entry is actually quite low to get that payoff from a mental health perspective.
[00:23:45] ED: No, I think that’s well said. And you said, it’s the all or nothing. I mean just speaking openly for myself. One of the biggest things I have struggled with as a professional is the all or nothing mentality, and that is something I am relatively extreme type A person that says, “Oh, if I’m going to do something, I’m going to go all-in.” And to your exact point, for myself personally, that has gotten in my own way because of that mentality at times. And exactly as you said, for me, starting out and trying to get myself in those right habits. And meditation is a great example I can talk on for myself. I started with you know a minute or two minutes or three minutes of meditation and brought that up to five minutes. And I’m actually very proud. I find myself in a place today where I’m relatively consistently doing a 20-minute meditative exercise every single day. And that has helped me tremendously, but it wasn’t something I was able to flip a switch on and just start from day one. It takes time to build that up.
And to your exact point, those little baby steps, those little starting points will go – One, they go farther than doing nothing. So no matter what, you are in a better place by doing that rather than doing nothing. And that starting place of getting that rhythm and that momentum going, if you find yourself in a rut or if you find yourself in a place where you need those in your life, start small and just slowly start building those in there. So I think that was really great advice, Erik.
[00:25:07] SM: The other thing I was going to just – And this is a bit of an extension from that context to kind of bigger work decisions, professional decisions. So I would say that your work decisions. And this is calling back to something we talked about already, are also not an all or nothing proposition. You asked at the outset about some of the moments in my professional career that have stood out from a mental health perspective.
Another series of moments or events was in 2013 my father being diagnosed with a brain condition called progressive supernuclear palsy, or PSP, which is similar to ALS. And so it affects the, really atrophies, the part of your brain that controls movement. And the prognosis is not great for anybody who gets it. So my father ended up passing away from that in 2016.
At that time I was just dealing with stressful professional issues. My wife was having a surgery. That was meaningful. And I was feeling kind of bombarded personally and professionally. And then my father passed away and I thought at that point maybe I’m better off just walking away from the legal profession and making a huge change. And I talked a lot with my wife in particular who’s been a huge supporter of mine. And I’m lucky to have her as one of my people that I can talk to about mental health issues. And at these points where I’ve been tempted to make an overly dramatic change or view professional life as an all or nothing proposition, she has always reminded me while being empathetic to my situation that it doesn’t have to be. That if I’m honest with myself and with the people I work with, that I can develop or what you might call job craft I think is kind of one of the terms that people might use now. What are some of the things at work that I can do a little differently or new skills that I can develop that draw my interests and my professional development along in a way where I don’t feel like I’m stuck in that rut or I have to view everything as an all or nothing proposition?
And so making those smaller investments in professional development to expand your skillset, or in the law firm world, don’t just view yourself as a machine for billable hours. View yourself as somebody who can be a resource for other attorneys or to encourage different ways of doing work. Things that interest you intellectually, professionally and have helped me deal with some of those types of issues where you feel like you’re just stuck in this situation and the only way to change it is to go do something entirely different. That is a false choice and it took me a long time to realize that and I attribute a lot of my getting around to that to being able to have those types of discussions with my wife and then also to people at work being receptive to listening to me and to kind of understanding some of the value proposition of that type of – Whether it’s a temporary or permanent arrangement to explore other interests. I think I credit the people I work with for being open to kind of allowing me to spend some of my time pursuing and learning about other professional avenues where I can contribute to the firm or to others professional development.
[00:28:42] ED: No. I think that’s such a good point, Erik. And it ties back to the point you had made earlier. One, it’s being able to start talking about this, right? Talking about it. If you are in a place of poor and negative mental health, which again I’m a believer, we all find ourselves in that place at one time or another and it’s part of being a human and you will continue to go through ups and downs. And when you are in those down moments, being able to openly and vulnerably talk about, “Hey, I’m struggling with this. I’m having a challenge with this.” That goes long ways in helping you process and helping you think through that. And whether that’s talking to a colleague or talking to a professional or talking to your spouse or someone in your family members or even something that’s been really beneficial for myself. I journal a lot. And if I’m finding myself struggling with thoughts, journaling and writing and talking to yourself through the written word really does help you process and think through some of those challenges.
And what I would say for everyone out there, one, if you find yourself in that place, find a way to go talk about it. Find a way to start processing through that. Again, it’s going to look different for everyone and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But make sure – Back to the baby steps comments, start finding ways to do that, because if you don’t start it, it’s not going to magically fix itself overnight.
The other side I will say, if you are in a position where you are feeling strong and you’re feeling good about your mental health or even if you’re not frankly feeling the best, but you feel like you’re in a position where you’re comfortable talking to other people especially if you see someone who is in a place that needs that helping hand, that extra voice to help them through things, be there for someone. Ask them how they’re doing. It goes so far.
You as a partner in law firm, sit down with an associate who you know is just getting buried and overwhelmed and saying, “How are you doing? How are you really doing? Tell me what’s going on.” Not talking about work. Not talking about what they’re getting done. But talking about how they’re doing. And I’ve seen it myself. I’ve experienced it from both being the person asking the question, but also being the person that the question is being asked to. And that goes so far when you start talking about it.
And I know there’s this taboo around it especially in a professional services world whether it be legal or other. There’s this type A dominant, strong personality that we all I think try to exhibit in the workplace. And I get that. I understand that. That’s important and that’s part of being a capable and competent professional that your clients are looking to for answers. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have those conversations still. It doesn’t mean that you can at times admit that, “Hey, this is just a struggle for me and I just need to talk through it with someone.”
[00:31:26] SM: Yeah. I would echo that. And I think the longer you’ve kind of been around your profession, you’ll pick up some of the vocabulary that might be a proxy for some of the mental health verbiage that professionals might use. And just anecdotally, I think during the current situation with COVID-19, there’s some overlap between those things, right? Being fatigued is a genuine thing because we’re all fatigued of being on Zooms. But that’s a word that if you hear it in the office place, outside of the COVID context, that’s probably setting off some alarms. Ask some follow-up questions of people. And like you said, try to connect with them on a more personal level and not ask necessarily the questions that relate to the professional assignment. But to ask questions that relate to the person and forge that connection if you can if the person is receptive to it and respect it if that’s not where they are at that moment.
As an attorney there are so many people who cope with these issues on their own. And I’ve been there and I know that I did that for a long time. And you can come through that, but you just hate to see the tragic statistics or anecdotes or news reports about people who didn’t come through that. And so if the first step is talking to a professional or do attorney help support line, that’s great. And if that’s the way it is for a while and you’re not comfortable talking to colleagues, that’s fine. But if we can get to a point where we can use some of the same vocabulary that helps us to signal when we may need some space or some support, then I think that’s a win for everybody.
[00:33:14] ED: I think that’s well said. And as we kind of wind down the episode here, I think is a recap to listeners. One, make sure you’re finding time for yourself and finding time to invest positively into your mental health. And again whether that’s exercise or meditation, journaling, having a hobby, finding white space for yourself, whatever it is, right? It’s going to look different for everyone. I think there’s some combination of what I just said there that is applicable to everyone in their own ways.
And then the second side of that is let’s talk about it. Let’s bring these conversations in the workplace, because I think all too often that they’re not brought up, as we know. And when they’re not brought up in the workplace exactly as you just described, it can create a situation where people, they become worse and worse and worse in terms of their mental health because it’s not being discussed. And someone has to start the discussion somewhere.
And I understand that’s not easy especially depending on what your role is and what the culture of the firm is. That can be difficult. But I highly encourage our listeners, find some time to start talking about that and being cognitively aware of what your mental health is and what the mental health of those around you are, because it will go so far in creating not only a better life for yourself, but a better life for everyone around you. And in the end, what more can you ask for if everyone is feeling good, right?
[00:34:34] SM: Well yeah. I think that what more you can ask for is actually an extension of all these things, which is that you have a better balanced workforce and you have less attrition from people just deciding that they’re not in it anymore and that they want to walk away. And the cost of losing people you’ve invested in is so high. And so even if you just view it through that perspective as a manager, making sure that you’re attuned to mental health issues especially in the current environment to retain the talent that you’ve invested so much time in I think is the extension of that from a business case perspective apart from kind of the personal and sort of social and psychological support issues.
[00:35:20] ED: No. I think that that’s a great point. Like I said, there’s not the personal benefit, but there is there is an ROI to a firm. It may be hard to put a specific number and to explicitly tie certain actions to that ROI on the backend. But as you said, we all know turnover. Turnover is expensive and turnover hurts and turnover happens in many cases because people are unhappy with their job, unhappy with the place they work. And whether that be because of the firm itself or because of something going on in their personal life, if you aren’t finding ways to have those conversations and help people feel better, it is going to happen. You’re going to find people that continue to be unhappy. And again, they leave and there is an economic damage to the firm.
So Erik, I really appreciate this conversation today. Again, as I said, this is something that should be talked about more. I’m excited that we had the opportunity to do this here and excited to be sharing this with our listeners. So again, appreciate you coming on here today.
[00:36:19] SM: Oh, thanks so much for having me, Alex. I really appreciate it. And thank you for devoting an episode to this topic, as it’s one that’s very important to me. So I appreciate the fact that you took the time to talk to me about it. And we’ll share this with others.
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