The Anxious Achiever

The Anxious Achiever

By HBR Presents / Morra Aarons-Mele

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. The views expressed on this podcast are those of its hosts, guests, and callers, and not those of Harvard Business Review.

Episodes

The Power and Peril of Working on a Video Screen

The nature of work is changing, and more and more of us have been working behind screens even before the pandemic. That brings both downsides – and some upsides – for mental health. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with SheSnaps, a Twitch streamer with a huge online following, about how she manages her screen time and why she opened up about her own depression. Plus, Jackson Jeyanayagam, a vice president at The Clorox Company, explains why he advocates for turning video off in online calls.
10/05/2137m 41s

Back to Work: Calm Body, Calm Mind

This last year has been rough on everyone, in so many different ways. But as we look toward recovery and adjust to life after the pandemic, it’s important to recognize the direct connections among physical behaviors, mental health, and performance at work. Dr. Christine Runyan, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and co-founder of Tend Health, discusses the ways we can calm our fight or flight response to anxiety, and why self-care really does matter.
03/05/2132m 43s

Bonus: Finding a New Balance with Esther Perel

After a year of collective trauma and private losses, stress, and heartbreaks, how do we even start to think about returning to a more normal working environment? Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with famed therapist Esther Perel about how workers and leaders can rebound after the Covid-19 pandemic and take away lessons that we never forget.
19/04/2131m 37s

Bonus: How to Stop Remote Work Burnout

Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with the TED Business podcast about how she protects her energy and boundaries while working remotely.
01/02/219m 50s

Succeeding with ADHD

A military pilot, an entrepreneur, and a business professor discuss how they cope with their ADHD, how it’s helped them be successful in their careers, and what they’ve learned about managing neurodiverse people.
04/01/2142m 14s

Understanding Envy Part 2: Facing Professional Envy

Tanya Menon, a professor at Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University, says envy comes up a lot in the workplace – though it’s often misunderstood. But she says we can learn to draw good boundaries to better handle competition, fear, and jealousy in our careers. It’s the second episode in our two-part mini-series on envy at work.
21/12/2032m 39s

Understanding Envy Part 1: How Envy Impacts Anxiety and Leadership

Executive coach Nihar Chhaya explains how envy, FOMO, and the illusion of scarcity can contribute to anxiety and depression, and how leaders can cope. It’s part one of our two-part mini-series on envy at work.
14/12/2034m 51s

Lessons in Uncertainty, Anxiety, and Resilience

Journalist and author Aarti Shahani tells host Morra Aarons-Mele how she managed overwhelming uncertainty during her father’s 14-year legal battle and channeled her anxiety into productive work. Later, her anxiety also fueled her voracious drive for career success.
07/12/2035m 42s

Anxiety, Depression, and Working Moms in a Pandemic

Sociologist Jessica Calarco has been studying women struggling to balance work and parenting during the Covid-19 pandemic – and how workplaces can help. She says societal pressures, ideas about motherhood, and systemic failures are causing working mothers to suffer greater anxiety and depression than before the pandemic.
30/11/2034m 20s

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.
23/11/2033m 45s

Kevin Love on Trying to Achieve His Way Out of Depression

For a long time, the NBA star hid his battle with mental health. But after a very public panic attack in 2017, he started speaking out. 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.
16/11/2035m 17s

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the Stress of Creativity

Aaron Harvey is a successful advertising industry executive – but for many years of his life, he struggled with a form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) that involves repetitive mental compulsions.
09/11/2032m 15s

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.
02/11/2035m 23s

Success, Stress, and Money: Lessons from a Financial Therapist

Amanda Clayman, a psychotherapist specializing in financial wellness, helps her clients uncover the motivations and roots underlying their money anxieties, so they can make better financial decisions. It’s a problem she understands intimately, as an entrepreneur who struggles with financial anxiety.
26/10/2034m 48s

Why Learning to Label Your Feelings Makes You a Better Leader

Many managers and leaders misunderstand what emotional intelligence really means, despite the trendiness of the phrase. Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, urges leaders to learn to understand themselves and their teams using a Mood Meter, a tool he developed to help people explain their emotions.
19/10/2036m 47s

Notes to My Future Manager Self

Priska Neely, the new Managing Editor of NPR’s Gulf States newsroom, has 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.
12/10/2036m 34s

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.
05/10/2036m 26s

How a Rising Political Star’s PTSD Fueled His Addiction to Work

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.
06/07/2040m 23s

How the Cult of Sleep-Deprivation Affects Work and Mental Health

Many high-powered jobs require people to work long hours and give up sleep. But 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.
29/06/2032m 20s

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.
22/06/2034m 50s

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.
15/06/2031m 38s

Millennials, Gen Z, and Generational Anxiety

In this episode, 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. Then host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with The Atlantic’s Annie Lowrey about the collective psychological and financial impacts economic crises can have on entire generations.
08/06/2039m 29s

Discomfort, Anxiety, and Grief: Confronting Racism with Colleagues

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, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Benish Shah, Chief Growth Officer at Loop & Tie, about how white people can support their colleagues of color in a meaningful way.
05/06/2048m 58s

When Leaders Model Openness About Their Mental Health

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. 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.
01/06/2039m 15s

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.
25/05/2033m 27s

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.
18/05/2047m 7s

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.
11/05/2030m 2s

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.
04/05/2029m 44s

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.
27/04/2034m 18s

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.
20/04/2039m 46s

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.
13/04/2045m 3s

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.
06/04/2038m 11s

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.
16/03/2043m 7s

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.
30/12/1943m 31s

Designing the Mentally Healthy Workplace

In earlier episodes of this show, we’ve talked about how to open a dialogue about mental health and work, and how both employees and leaders can navigate a mental health issue at work. In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Kelly Greenwood, founder and CEO of Mind Share Partners, and Alison Nasisi, former director of compensation, benefits and work life at The Broad Institute, about what companies can do to truly create mentally healthy workplaces.
23/12/1949m 55s

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.
16/12/1944m 57s

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.
09/12/1942m 42s

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.
02/12/1944m 13s

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.
25/11/1936m 48s

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.
18/11/1930m 11s

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.
11/11/1934m 12s

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.
04/11/1931m 51s

How We Cope: Food and Eating Disorders at Work

Work is a part of our daily lives — as is food. Disordered eating and diagnosed eating disorders can be tricky to deal with at the office, but they can be common in high achievers and are closely tied to anxiety and mental health. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Melissa Gerson, director and founder of the Columbus Park treatment center for eating disorders, about the relationship between anxiety and eating, and how it can play out at work.
28/10/1936m 26s

How the Mental Affects the Physical

Anxiety and stress can have detrimental effects on your physical health — which can affect your job and your career path. In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Jason Miller, the director of the Leadership Academy at OhioHealth. Miller, whose work specializes in awakening joy, purpose, and meaning in work, had always driven himself very hard. He was the first in his family to go to college, followed by becoming a senior executive at a global company. But then Miller found himself in the ER, convinced he was having a heart attack and realized he needed to make some major changes (and no, he didn't Eat, Pray, Love). Morra also shares her own story of a recent panic attack that left her hospitalized. Plus, Dr. David Barlow, a pioneer in the field of treating stress, discusses strategies for coping with anxiety, stress, and phobias, and how to "right size" your problems — while admitting anxiety isn't necessarily a bad thing.
21/10/1941m 22s

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.”
14/10/1939m 21s

Social Anxiety and Success

We're often told that to succeed in the workplace, you need to bring your A game, play office politics, and network nonstop. But how do you do that when you suffer from social anxiety? Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Ellen Hendriksen, a clinical psychologist, and Arvind Rajan, the CEO of Cricket Health and a former executive at LinkedIn, to discuss his journey with anxiety.
07/10/1937m 26s

Your Mental Health and Your Work

At a time when we bring so much of ourselves to work, mental health is still something we don’t like talking about at the office. But so many high-achieving people have suffered — or are currently suffering — from anxiety, depression, or other mental and emotional issues. Our guest, Scott Stossel, national editor of the Atlantic and author of “My Age of Anxiety,” explains where anxiety comes from and how it affects us in our work — for better or worse. We look at why it is so important to align mental health and leadership, and to better understand how anxiety impacts our working lives.
30/09/1932m 11s

Introducing The Anxious Achiever

New from the HBR Presents podcast network: a show about mental health in the workplace. We explore the ways anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues affect people at work, for better and for worse. We’ll hear from leaders who have succeeded in spite of their mental health struggles, and from experts who offer advice on how to reach your professional goals.
19/09/193m 28s
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