Do Something Great

In the first of many CEO Tips features, I introduce Adam Helweh to you. Adam is CEO and founder of Secret Sushi. which has since grown his marketing agency based in Silicon Valley working with many of the top companies in the tech industry. Adam also has a podcast entitled, Marketing in the Raw which you can find on most Podcast platforms.

Today, Adam shares one of his favorite tips for CEOs that may benefit many readers. The remainder of this post is entirely written by our CEOInsights guest. Enjoy.

As the CEO of a growing company, I’ve found that how I lead is inextricably linked to my mental health. The CEO’s frame of mind has a ripple effect that impacts those dependent on your clarity to lead. Making yourself a priority might seem counter intuitive, but remember, the flight attendants always tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before you try to help someone else with theirs. That’s the only way the system works. I want to share with you some of the ways I’ve found to reduce stress and increase resilience:

  • Physical Activity & Fitness
  • Mindfulness & Meditation
  • Peer Group or Executive Coach
  • Therapy
  • Socializing with Friends & Family

For some, this is going to seem like a lot. The point is to reduce your stress, not add to it with additional time commitments or new skills to learn. Find the blend of solutions that works for your current needs

It wasn’t until I hit my 40s and became a first-time father that I started going to the gym. I was amazed by how much better I felt on the days that started with a workout. The gym isn’t for everyone, and it’s certainly more challenging in a pandemic, but there is an easy alternative. Just walk. I find that I have at least one meeting every day that can be done via a phone call while walking in my neighborhood park or just down the street.

When I first heard the words “mindfulness” or “meditation,” I imagined having to do yoga, chant, or strive to “send my spirit to a higher plane of existence” or something. I was wrong. I was surprised to find out how rooted in science the benefits of mindfulness and meditation are.

But how does it benefit CEOs? My good friend and executive mindfulness coach, Janet Fouts said: “The job of the mind is to problem solve, to think thoughts, and that’s OK. But sometimes it keeps us from being our best. What meditation allows us to do is not get hung up on those thoughts or let the thoughts take over.”

“I teach (clients) how a microdose of mindfulness helps build a habit of being less distracted and more focused. Taken in small doses, mindfulness is quite doable; it makes sense. Once that tiny dose works its magic … we want more.”

CEO peer groups pair you with a group of other leaders, along with a group facilitator who often is a seasoned CEO. The group commonly shares their challenges with one another, gaining insights from those who have faced similar issues. Because of the varied experiences and collective wisdom, it is a great way to get out of the isolated whirlwind within your own head and tackle challenges with others who understand.

This year, I hired a private executive coach. The key to this is finding a coach that clicks with you. A great coach helps challenged leaders overcome critical roadblocks, and helps successful CEOs tap into even greater potential within themselves.

In 2014, my mental health took a tremendous nose dive after the death of my father. It affected everything in my life. There was only so much I could allow my grieving to impact my daily life before I was forced to address it.

There is a bevy of reasons why people don’t talk to therapists. One of my biggest hurdles was finding a therapist that was the right fit for me individually. The process can take time, but it is worth the effort. I find it most helpful to have someone with whom to co-process things. I’ve become better at understanding the people I work with and serve after having gotten more in tune with myself.

In a time where socializing needs to be done at a distance, it’s even more important to find a way to connect with friends and family. Morning coffee or lunch breaks on any number of video or voice apps with a group of your besties will lift your spirits. There are a ton of games you can play with friends and family via Zoom. Grab a bowl of popcorn and use the Disney+ GroupWatch or Netflix Party feature to stream a movie or show with friends. Put everyone on speakerphone to hear reactions in real-time.

Mental health remains severely under-addressed in our society. The good news is that it’s getting better. As a leader and CEO, you have the opportunity to influence those around you. By addressing your own mental health, you will become a more focused, compassionate, human leader and have a better understanding of how to support your employees mental health in the process. I hope that sharing my experiences with you has been helpful.

Thank you for stopping by our CEOInsights blog, and please come back soon!

(Image by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash)