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The Anxious Achiever

Author: 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 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.
45 Episodes
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Host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with the TED Business podcast about how she protects her energy and boundaries while working remotely.
Succeeding with ADHD

Succeeding with ADHD

2021-01-0443:432

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Comments (6)

Lia Thomas

Great podcast. Feels honest and relatable. Helps me be thoughtful about my process and path.

May 20th
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Alina Cota

Hello! I love this podcast so much. Truly. It struck a nerve the instant I heard it and I have recommended it to many since. When will the 2nd season start?

Mar 10th
Reply

Brooke Jackson

New to podcast, already hooked!

Jan 3rd
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carlos gonzalez batres

Great episode, thanks for your work!

Nov 27th
Reply

Meta Minds

Great podcast, we are going to be following your progress! 🎙

Oct 11th
Reply

Rosaluna

Too bad that there is this annoying music in the background, not stopping and making it very difficult to listen to what you are saying 🙄😔 Could you please look into this?

Oct 1st
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