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The Anxious Achiever

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The Anxious Achiever

HBR Presents / Morra Aarons-Mele

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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 ...
 
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Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks to HBR contributing editor and podcast host Amy Gallo about why conflict is so hard and how to make conflict a force for good in your work relationships. Amy is also the author of The HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict, and she shares her four-step process for doing conflict better.…
 
For many of us, the world can feel like too much right now – a never ending cascade of anxiety-inducing news. It’s something that Christina Blacken, founder and chief narrative strategist at The New Quo, calls the “mental fire.” As we struggle to handle the pressure that we feel in society right now, our own anxieties can fuel narratives and action…
 
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s new Apple TV+ show, Mr. Corman, follows the story of a fifth-grade teacher struggling with anxiety, depression, and unfulfilled dreams. The actor, writer, and director says it’s one of the most personal projects in his career. Gordon-Levitt speaks with host Morra Aarons-Mele about media and film portrayals of people with ment…
 
There’s another podcast we love: Hello Monday with Jessi Hempel. The show explores how to make work happier, healthier, and more human. At the end of Season 4, host Morra Aarons-Mele interviewed Hempel about how work and mental health are changing for the better, as companies and leaders rethink work norms. In this special bonus episode, Hempel int…
 
Many people are leaving their jobs, in search of better ways to work. It’s a phenomenon some are calling “The Great Resignation.” But it’s also an opportunity to discuss the ways that companies and leaders can create new work norms going forward. Jessi Hempel is constantly thinking about the state of work. She’s senior editor at large at LinkedIn a…
 
For the workplace to improve, we have to try to understand and build work around all kinds of neurodiversity. This week we’re focusing on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. There’s a stereotype that most people who struggle with ADHD are white, male, and often young. In this episode host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks to Stephanie Ozuo, a…
 
Podcast host and author Anna Sale has built her career on difficult conversations. On her podcast, she focuses on the hardest topics we deal with as humans: death, sex, and money. And her new book, “Let’s Talk About Hard Things,” continues pushing that conversation forward. Sale speaks with host Morra Aarons-Mele about why, even in a world where pe…
 
Images in the media can be deceptive. Often those images depict people whose lives seem perfect and who seem to be always happy. But the entertainment industry also has incredible power to portray a wider range of experiences and to shift the conversation around mental health. Chris McCarthy, president of MTV Entertainment Group, speaks with host M…
 
When you’re struggling with mental health, the day-to-day routines of a work environment can be a lot – even for a famous author and academic, like Roxane Gay. Gay speaks with host Morra Aarons-Mele about how recognizing and enforcing boundaries helps her navigate work and stress. Plus, later in the episode, we hear from Bob Pozen, a former financi…
 
Paul English is an entrepreneur, founder, and philanthropist. But throughout his many career successes, he’s battled internally with his mental health. And along the way, he learned to be more open and honest about his struggles, even when it felt risky. His bipolar disorder creates strengths and weaknesses for him professionally, but today he work…
 
Investor and philanthropist Vikas Shah has been an entrepreneur since he was a teenager. And throughout much of his career, he struggled with anxiety and depression. But for a long time, he didn’t have the words to identify how he was feeling, let alone address it. Shah speaks with host Morra Aarons-Mele about his mental health journey, and how it …
 
The Covid-19 pandemic changed how many of us interact and feel about people. Some of us experienced more social anxiety in the past year – and may be feeling it even now, in the aftermath of the pandemic. How do we listen to ourselves and know when to address our social anxiety, especially when it comes into play with colleagues? Host Morra Aarons-…
 
As offices in the U.S. begin reopening after more than a year, many people – especially those of us with social anxiety – are feeling uneasy about the return to so-called “normal.” Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Dr. Jenny Taitz, assistant clinical professor in psychiatry at UCLA and author of How to be Single and Happy and End Emotional Eating.…
 
For Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify, anxiety has always been his super power – even when he didn’t know how to put a label on it. Today he helps other entrepreneurs embrace how they think and act differently than others, while also encouraging mentally healthy practices like meditation. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Finkelstein about …
 
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 d…
 
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-fou…
 
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, who also hosts the podcast “How’s Work with Esther Perel,” about how workers and leaders can rebound after the Covid-19 pandemi…
 
Over the past year, millions of people have moved their meetings from offices or coffeeshops to computer screens at home. It’s a new normal that may seem like a dream come true for introverts. But the reality has been exhausting – not only for introverts, but for everyone. So how do we keep remote work from totally burning us out? In this special b…
 
A military pilot and an entrepreneur – who were both diagnosed with ADHD relatively late in life – discuss how they cope with it, how it’s helped them be successful in their careers, and what they’ve learned about managing neurodiverse people. Plus, Johan Wiklund, professor of entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, …
 
Tanya Menon, a professor at Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University, studies the deep psychological and familial roots of envy. She says it’s a natural part of life, and it’s also something that comes up a lot in the workplace – though it’s often misunderstood. In the second episode in our two-part mini-series on envy at work, Menon tells…
 
Executive coach Nihar Chhaya says anxiety is common in the leaders he coaches. But he also finds another root problem: envy. In part one of our two-part mini-series on envy at work, Chhaya speaks with host Morra Aarons-Mele about how envy, FOMO, and the illusion of scarcity can contribute to anxiety and depression, and how leaders can cope. Further…
 
Aarti Shahani’s teenage years were defined by the constant threat of her father being imprisoned or deported. She says she looks back on that time in her life as a “decade-long anxiety attack.” She tells host Morra Aarons-Mele how she managed so much uncertainty during her father’s legal battle and channeled her anxiety into productive work. Later,…
 
Jessica Calarco, associate professor of sociology at Indiana University, is studying women struggling to balance work and parenting during the Covid-19 pandemic. She explains how societal pressures and our own ideas about motherhood, along with systemic failures, are causing working mothers to suffer greater anxiety and depression than before the p…
 
The tech industry is famous for its emphasis on productivity, life hacks, and winning at all costs. But that extreme culture of work isn’t always psychologically healthy for its workers. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with veteran tech journalist Catherine Shu, of TechCrunch, about improving mental health culture in Silicon Valley. And Shu shares he…
 
NBA star Kevin Love has reached incredible success in the NBA. But his drive to move ahead also masked depression and anxiety, which he’s struggled with for much of his life. For a long time, he hid his battle with mental health because he was worried that his fans would see him as “weak.” But after a very public panic attack in 2017, Love started …
 
Aaron Harvey is a successful advertising industry executive – but for many years of his life, he harbored a dark secret. He suffers from something called Pure OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), which involves repetitive, mental rituals and compulsions that can be graphic and violent. At first, Harvey used his workaholism to escape his illness. Bu…
 
John Moe took a bold step when he decided to start a podcast featuring frank, but funny, conversations about depression. The public radio personality and author created a space for humor and honesty that didn’t exist at the time. Moe was recently laid off, and his show was cancelled. He joins host Morra Aarons-Mele to talk about how he approaches u…
 
If you had more money, do you think your anxiety would go away? As a psychotherapist specializing in financial wellness, Amanda Clayman helps her clients uncover the motivations and roots underlying their money anxieties, so they can make better financial decisions. It’s a problem Clayman understands intimately, as an entrepreneur who struggles wit…
 
Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, says that many managers and leaders misunderstand what emotional intelligence really means – despite the trendiness of the phrase. He urges leaders to learn to understand themselves and their teams using a Mood Meter, a tool he developed to help people explain their emotions.…
 
Priska Neely, a long-time public radio producer and reporter, was recently hired as Managing Editor of the Gulf States newsroom, a regional news collaboration among NPR member stations in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. She’s always wanted to manage people, and she’s long thought about the best way to communicate and lead. As a Black woman, sh…
 
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 thi…
 
Many high achievers are also workaholics. Jason Kander was on track to be a major force in American politics. But for him, working – and succeeding – was a way to escape the pain of PTSD and depression, after his military service in Afghanistan. Kander had to step away from his career to focus on therapy and healing.…
 
Sleep is incredibly important for both physical and mental health. But many high-powered jobs, which require people to work long hours, operate under the false assumption that people who sacrifice sleep in order to work are more productive and more successful. For people who suffer from anxiety and depression, lack of sleep can also create downward…
 
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,…
 
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 hone…
 
Once-in-a-lifetime catastrophes like Covid-19 and the Great Recession have disproportionately affected the careers and economic stability of younger workers. In this episode, first we hear from two young professionals. Both of them have worked hard and carefully planned their careers, but now they’re confronting the anxiety and uncertainty of econo…
 
In response to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, host Morra Aarons-Mele explores the collective grief and trauma that black men and women are facing, and how white colleagues, employees, and managers can push through the discomfort and anxiety they feel when addressing issues of race and racism in their personal conve…
 
Some of the best leaders in the world know that being transparent about mental health can motivate people and encourage positive change. Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who used meditation to address the trauma and anxiety he experienced while working as a New York City cop. Now he encourages his constituen…
 
Mission-driven work can create very specific emotional challenges. Nowhere is that clearer than in the non-profit world, where success doesn’t always come with accolades and bonuses — and might not even come at all, if the problems are just too complicated for one person or one organization to fix. In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks wit…
 
Drug and alcohol abuse are sometimes painted as a black and white issue, but there are all kinds of shades of grey. In this episode, we explore the connection between substance abuse and underlying mental health issues, how addiction can affect creativity and career, and the hard lessons addicts can learn in recovery about their own limitations and…
 
What’s it like to lead a team when optimizing self-care and emotional wellness is the point of their work? Goop, a company founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, explores all aspects of mental and physical health and advocates for a rarefied and often controversial brand of self-care. But does working at a place like Goop create anxiety in and of itse…
 
Good leaders bring mentally healthy values to their teams and organizations. And that means showing weakness, at times, and facing the resulting risk of being perceived as a weak leader. But accessing that vulnerability is harder for some leaders than others. In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Jason Rosario about his own journey wi…
 
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 Jod…
 
When we go to work, we’re not just workers. We might be struggling with anxiety. Or we might have children who are dealing with a medical or mental health issue. That can also wear on us and our ability to perform effectively at work – especially those parents who seek perfectionism in everything they do. In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele spe…
 
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 important…
 
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 s…
 
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 h…
 
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 anxiety at work. Boyes is the author of “The Healthy Mind…
 
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, bene…
 
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 Hosp…
 
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