May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but changing the stigma around mental health requires year-round advocacy. That being said, dedicated months (like May) or days (like World Mental Health Awareness Day in October) are an easy way to spur conversation around mental health in environments where there may be silence.
As someone who is vocal about my own struggles with mental health, I was honored to help plan a Mental Health Week at PFL to tie in with the monthly theme. For those inspired to do this at their own offices, you can drive impactful awareness around mental health without much overhead or effort. All of our activities required less than an hour of planning, occurred during our lunch hour, and cost PFL around $300 total.
Each day centered around one of 6 key elements for personal mental wellness. Below are simple ideas you can put into practice at work today, organized into five of those themes (the sixth is quality sleep, which is arguably the most important element). I’ve bolded the activities we planned for PFL’s Mental Health Week, although many of the ideas are existing initiatives.
Meaning and Purpose
What does your workplace do to promote mental health? Would love to generate more ideas in the comments.
From a young age, we’ve been bombarded with the philosophy that, “if you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life.” (Barf.) If you work in the tech industry, it may feel like the culture at your business creates an extremely blurry line between work and life. More and more tech companies are creating organizational norms like self-managed PTO, catered meals, and company-sponsored outings. All of these initiatives are created with the goal of people loving their time at work.
But what if you don’t love going to work? Worse yet, what if you don’t love doing ANYTHING? What if you can’t seem to find the drive to even get out of bed, let alone make it to work for that free lunch?
I’ve worked more than six years in technology. It’s the only industry I know, and I love tech in many ways. I love that I live in a city with an intimate, yet growing, startup scene. I love how technology companies harness data (often mined from other softwares) to set and achieve aggressive goals. I love being able to quickly test and evolve new ideas without red tape or bureaucracy.
But working in the startup industry has also led to hundreds of sleepless nights, worrying about how to solve that complex problem that’s holding up productivity. It’s led to panic attacks in the bathroom over missed deadlines, and mornings where I’d rather cancel those coffee plans again than get up and face the world. I know that tech isn’t the only industry that takes a toll on mental health, but for one of the most digitally-mature sectors in our society, we sure do stay pretty quiet about it.
Fellow tech and startup employees: if you’re reading this and struggling with mental health issues, you’re not alone.
In a 2016 survey conducted by Open Sourcing Mental Illness (a group that promotes conversation around mental wellness in tech), 52 percent of respondents stated that they’ve struggled with a mental health disorder in the past. This is twice as high as the national average of one in five people. Seventy-one percent of participants reported that mental health issues have compromised their productivity at work, with depression, anxiety, and ADHD being the most common disorders among respondents.
Yet, when asked if being open about mental health would hurt their career, more than 80 percent of survey takers thought that it might. This. Is. Not. Okay.
Being vulnerable about your mental health proves that you are working toward becoming a more effective person. In fact, I work at a startup that preaches capacity as a key condition of employee engagement. If you are overcapacity or unable to take time for yourself, your productivity and engagement suffers.
Self-care is badass.
In September, I intentionally put my mental health first after suffering a panic attack during a meeting with colleagues. I had been working 60+ hour weeks and neglecting relationships, health, and sleep. Since then, I’ve started regularly seeing a counselor, taking an antidepressant medication, exercising daily, and minimizing work outside of the office.
While I still don’t wake up every day with a smile on my face, some of my best work at my current job has been produced since prioritizing my mental health. I’m more comfortable around my colleagues, I’ve lost weight, and I’ve been drinking less alcohol. I’m more attentive with my husband and honestly, just a better person.
That being said, I know I’m not the only one struggling with mental illness in the technology or startup space. I’ve had countless one-on-one conversations with colleagues and friends who see therapists, take medication, and practice self-care to alleviate the overwhelm caused (or at least inflated) by working in this sector. However, these discussions have always been discreet and often are among people with whom I have a great level of trust. And they always seem to be brushed off by the quip “well, that’s just what you expect when you work at a startup!” There’s a difference between being immersed in the success of a business and achieving hard, meaningful work and being burnt out because you’re over-utilized.
Speak up and get help.
No matter the industry, if you’re struggling with mental illness, there is help available. Here are a few ways to begin exploring options for your health:
As massive as it is now, the tech industry is only going to expand even more in the coming decades. We are the precedent for how mental illness will be perceived in tech.
Thanks for reading,
I freaking love a good list. Top ten lists, grocery lists, bucket lists, email lists (I am a marketer, after all) -- you get the picture.
So it should come as no surprise that I also freaking love checking tasks off of my Wunderlist app each day. If you’ve ever used Wunderlist, you’ll relate to the satisfying feeling of hearing that “ping!” when you check off another task. It’s like productivity crack.
Unhealthy obsessions aside, I’ve actually harnessed the power of lists to stick to most of my New Year’s resolutions that I made a year ago. And since I used an app to track progress, I can look back at what I accomplished this year and use that to fuel my goal setting for next year.
I’ve used Wunderlist in 2017 to tackle debt, build closer relationships with family members, expand my professional network, and create lasting memories with my husband. It sounds super cheesy, but it’s been a fantastic accountability tool for me this year. However, it took a lot more planning than a typical New Year’s resolution.
As we near the start of 2018, I thought I would share a few tips for how I set and measured my goals using Wunderlist:
I’d love to chat more with anyone individually about how I set and measure my 2017 resolutions, as well as about some of my goals for 2018. Just shoot me a message on LinkedIn or comment below. Otherwise, thanks for reading, and happy goal-setting!
Disclaimer: I’m mostly writing this post because I thought the title was hilarious. Please feel free to click away if you disagree.
Certain buzzwords in marketing are so overused that they eventually transcend to a level of jargon that makes even the most jargon-y of marketers question its meaning. And to be honest, “account-based marketing” (ABM) is slowly rising to that same rank of vagueness also occupied by terms like “thought leadership” or “dynamic content.” As Blades of Glory so eloquently puts it …
In other words, ABM gets the marketers going.
Will Ferrell/Kanye West jokes aside, Emplify is in the process of transitioning to an account-based marketing model. Through this process, I’ve learned that ABM truly means something different to every marketer I’ve talked to. And I think that’s okay.
Like Agile, ABM brings certain principles that need to be modified and adapted for every team and their demand generation needs. In the process of building an account-based marketing strategy for Emplify, I thought I would share some of my interpretations of what this phrase means for marketers, as well as some common misconceptions I’ve encountered as well.
But first, what actually is account-based marketing?
According to Marketo, ABM is defined as:
“an alternative B2B strategy that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts within a market and employs personalized campaigns designed to resonate with each account.”
Essentially, account-based marketing is a cohesive marketing and sales effort to convert a select group of accounts (usually called ICP or “ideal client profile” accounts) using customized, multi-channel methods like remarketing, direct mail, and call/email cadences.
And when executed well, account-based marketing can demolish your demand gen goals. According to the Altera Group, 97% of marketers said that ABM had higher or much higher ROI than previous marketing initiatives.
But beyond value and definition, account-based marketing can still be a vastly overwhelming concept to apply to daily planning and operations. In conversations with fellow (genius) marketers in the Indy area and through our own trial and error at Emplify, here are a few early definitions I’ve realized during our transition to ABM.
What ABM is:
What ABM isn’t:
I’ve read approximately 37 blog posts, perused 13 e-books, and attended at least 3 webinars about ABM, and I can still understand why some marketers may be scratching their heads about what it actually means. Hopefully my post provides a bit of clarity around the subject from my experience so far.
Account-based marketing experts, I’d love to hear about what I got right (and what I got wrong!) and I’d love to hear additional questions that fellow marketers are having about ABM applications. Please leave a comment below!