Too Many Cooks- Ft Gather Social MD Sam Evans, The Mindful Managing Director.
Having reached out to Charles Burns to feature on Spotlight, Charles got in touch with MD of Gather Social, Sam Evans to feature on his podcast ‘Too Many Cooks’. Chatting all things business, Sam and Charles discussed what being a mindful managing director means, and handling your mental health.
There are many reasons why people choose the path of entrepreneurship. For some, it’s the freedom to create your own routine. For others, it’s the ability to work on projects you really believe in. Another is being in control of your own professional and personal development.
But on the other side of entrepreneurship are long hours, unpredictable workflows, and a sink-or-swim attitude that can make running a business one of the most stressful experiences of your life.
As entrepreneurs and business owners, how do we manage our mental health effectively and lead the growth of business at the same time? The key is gaining mental health awareness and developing a plan to overcome these obstacles if they appear.
Working from anywhere
Upon starting Gather Social, Sam's main goal was to ensure that his politics and philosophies were adhering to his personality. Being an Ibiza lover as well, Sam wanted to incorporate a Flexi-working balance to allow his staff the freedom he didn’t experience at the start of his career.
“When you start a business the dream is to have a better life for both you and your staff, filled with better choices. If your staff are coming to you saying they need a break and I look at their performance and this person is stellar then I’m more than happy for them to take that time for themselves. It should be just that easy. “
This concept was born out of deep hatred and resentment of a hostile and rigid working environment. Creating a community that puts individuals' mental health before anything else. People shouldn’t feel anxious about spending time with their family over Christmas or taking a city break to recharge. As long as the work is being done to a high standard, where you do it doesn’t matter.
Mental health affecting how you conduct your business
In many ways starting a business is stressful enough so if you add on top this internalised fear of not being successful it's a recipe for disaster.
“My life has always been spent with people telling me no, you can’t do that so in a sense that made me work even harder for the things I wanted, getting good grades at school, travelling the world, excelling in my career and then ultimately starting my own business.”
Unfortunately, this level of demand in your life can cause breakages in other areas, in Sam’s case, Insomnia is something he openly talks about having struggled with, eventually spiralling into an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and an addiction to the ‘lifestyle’. Sam talks about feeling obsessed with the logo on your shirt, how shiny your shoes, penthouses and blowing money in bars. Leaving you feeling unfulfilled. From the outside looking in this lifestyle is desirable but it comes with extreme highs and lows.
“No one fully understands the brain, my biggest advice would be to make sure your mental health is good because no one thinks about it if I was to hit you across the kneecaps how would you feel then? Not good right because it is visible but with the brain with it being so complex as a person you have to manage your mental health.”
Knowing the reasons for your stress and anxiety is just the first step. The real challenge is learning how to manage them.
It’s important to have a heightened sense of mental health awareness, specifically when your mental wellbeing is being compromised. If it is, here are a few actions you can take to help prevent a negative impact.
Talk about your feelings
Take a break
Keep in touch
Accept who you are
Ask for help
Care for others
Following your own dreams
Ultimately for Sam, something that has always been a present is a sense of drive and determination for business. Life is too short to be working for someone else's dreams.
“Professionally you’re being constantly affirmed as to how great you are and how brilliant it is going but personally it’s a bit of a car crash it’s easy to buff people away by staying look how successful I am though its great my life is great”
“It’s only when you visit a shantytown you see just how unbelievably happy these people are with nothing, you have to look in the mirror and see that despite how perfect your life looks from the outside, you are not fulfilled. “
Sam openly discussed his battle with depression and insomnia. He talks about a time when it was so frowned upon to say you were depressed. Sam noted how he often found it easier to tell people he was struggling with substance abuse rather than admitting you’ve ‘lost yourself’.
Since recovering, Sam has taken a more open approach to mental health, often the aftermath can be just as damaging if you are stuck with all these labels. It's hard to shake off. Talking about it eases the stigma and if it can help one person you’ve won.
Know that you’re not alone if you’ve battled feelings of worry, stress or anxiety on your entrepreneurial journey. It’s normal and healthy to have these emotions when you care deeply about something or you have a fear of losing it. Sometimes these feelings can drive an entrepreneur to success – but not if they are sustained and unrelenting.
No amount of “traditional” success is worth it if you’re miserable. Prioritising your mental health is one of the best things you can do for you and your business. Try to identify your stressors and what strategies can help you get closer to the happiness and fulfilment you deserve.