ReSolve Riffs – Struggling Doesn’t Make You Less of a Man; It Makes You Human, with Matt Zerker
This is “ReSolve’s Riffs” – live on YouTube every Friday afternoon to debate the most relevant investment topics of the day.
Over the last few years, the topic of mental health, once taboo, has been recognized as a crucial component of our general well-being. Yet depression, anxiety and other ailments of the mind remain largely a silent epidemic, and the last twelve months have been particularly hard because of the loneliness many have endured due to the lockdowns.
Our guest this week was Matt Zerker, former Portfolio Manager at ReSolve and now Founder & CEO of tethr. Our conversation included:
- Matt’s life journey struggling with depression, losing a close friend, finding a support group and ultimately landing on a path towards his true calling
- No man is island – we all yearn to belong
- ABC – always be compassionate
- Resisting, suppressing, blocking – it’s much healthier to let go
- Why men find it harder to admit they are struggling, especially in finance
- Physiological responses, emotional interpretations and feedback loops
- How to shorten the reaction times of negative responses and build new (and more positive) neural paths
We also discussed the role of psychedelics, Jason’s experience with Trading Tribe, and how to detach one’s ego from destructive narratives. This was a deeply personal conversation and a true homecoming for Matt, and we hope it can help to spread the word on the importance of mental health in our community.
Thank you for watching and listening. See you next week.
Matt Zerker is the Founder & CEO of tethr, a peer enabled mental health and well-being platform for men. Prior to tethr, Matt worked as a Portfolio Manager at a quantitative hedge fund and even achieved the coveted CFA designation. Despite the early career success, Matt was deeply unhappy. After the sudden death of one of his closest friends in 2018 sent him spiralling into a suicidal depression Matt began the journey towards a more fulfilling life. After trying everything from therapy to medication, and even some experimental treatments, Matt discovered a men’s peer support group in his hometown of Toronto and that’s when his inner world began to shift. After attending a fateful men’s retreat in April 2019, Matt returned home on a Monday and quit his job suddenly on the Wednesday – he has been building tethr ever since.
P.S. Download the tethr app and begin connecting with other like-minded men today!
Mike:00:01:15Cheers to another Friday afternoon.
Jason:00:01:17Cheers. Good to see you men.
Matt:00:01:22It’s nice to see you guys. This is a real full circle moment for me. It’s a bit surreal.
Mike:00:01:31It’s pretty awesome. Now we miss each other so much. We all we’re all coming to work for you now.
Matt:00:01:35I can’t imagine that that’ll ever be the case.
Adam:00:01:40He’s adopted the same ABC’s that we used to knock on him except it’s always be compassionate.
Adam:00:01:48Always be compassionate with yourself.
Jason:00:01:50There you go man.
Matt:00:01:51I love it.
Mike:00:01:52I love it. Well, we’ll start off with…I don’t know that we’ll have much investment advice today. But we will be talking about mental health. And all of these things should be dealt with professionals. But we hope to provide opportunities if anyone’s in need to reach out and all that sort of thing. So I’ll say that before we start so that we can have a wide ranging and free discussion amongst us four gentlemen. And the topic today is men’s mental health. And we have a former colleague of ours and dear friend of ours, who worked in the world of finance which is a very high paced, very stressful environment, and largely male dominated. That’s changing of course, and there are more and more women entering the field, thankfully, and hopefully that will help balance things out in the field of finance. But maybe Matt, it would be great for you to give your career arc where you came from, where you started, how you progressed into Tethr and just let everybody know, who you are and how you got here.
Matt:00:02:55Yeah, absolutely. I’ll try and make the story as concise as I possibly can. I’m trying to learn how to shoehorn it into a much smaller segment. But this is actually a really interesting moment because I’ve actually never told this story of my career in front of you guys with the context of what we’re taught, what do you say?
Adam:00:03:16Keep it clean.
Matt:00:03:19I know, right? I mean, you guys know this, but I’ve dealt with mental health and wellness issues my entire life. I came from a very good home here in Toronto, and had anything a person could ever want growing up. One of the biggest things that happened to me when I was a kid was from grade two to six, I was bullied pretty much every day and in a pretty merciless fashion. And my parents did everything that they could financially, they worked very hard, very supportive. But I always felt this kind of like emotional dislocation, lack of connection with them. I don’t really know why that was the case but, the combination of those two things always kind of left me feeling like a bit of an outsider. And so there was this hole that I had as I described it, that I would try and fill in a variety of different ways as I went through adolescence, late teenage years and then into my career. And so when I was young, when I was about 12, 13 years old, it was food, so I would binge as much food as I could eat, I would make myself purge. I was never diagnosed but very likely, I was bulimic and that’s one of the things that we don’t hear a lot about is eating disorders in men and it’s typically characterized as something that only women suffer with, but there’s a huge swath of men that deal with eating disorders.
So that was an early teenage thing. As I got into my later teenage years, it became drugs, alcohol, partying, and all in the interest of wanting to fit in, and wanting to feel like I was a part of. I never really felt like I was a part of and that was a huge thing for me as I grew up. I went to university didn’t do very well when I went to Western, I was very much more concerned with like extracurricular activities than I was with actual class, I ended up leaving Western, finishing my studies at U of T. And then what I swapped for partying when I was at Western was I swapped that for achievement once I got to U of T. And so I ended up graduating top of my class. As you guys know I started my CFA designation while I was in undergrad, joined you immediately after graduating and then put all of my effort and attention into looking as good as possible and looking like a success from the outside. And in a few short years, I was able to make Portfolio Manager with you guys. I think by the time I was about 27 years old, and I don’t get to do this part, because I usually breeze past it, but the opportunity that I was given to sit in on high level conversations with you to be part of strategic thinking and strategic decision making, the training that I received throughout my years at ReSolve, and then what was most important to me was the support and the space that I was given, when I was really struggling to be able to take care of myself, while never actually fearing for the work, and my job and my income. And that was something that you guys blessed me with, and it’s something that I will always…and this is where I knew I was going to actually probably cry, was actually saying this part. But it’s something that I’ll be forever grateful for.
And while things looked really good on the outside, had a house, worn a nice suit to work, had more money than I needed, inside I was still very much hollow and very much dying. And I tried to chase that away with success. But inevitably I would always have to come home at the end of the night and I was there with myself and I would try and numb it out, I would turn off the lights, I would really try and shut out from the world. And that was going to be my pattern unless something intervened. And it was in 2018 actually that something happened outside of my control that really changed my world in a profound way. I was living in Toronto, I was working for you guys and I was living in a townhouse development in the western part of Toronto. I don’t know, it’s a little bit of swearing okay on this, or do we try and keep it…
Matt:00:07:36Okay, perfect. There we go. So one night I was out on my balcony and I remember it very vividly, I was out on my balcony, I was having a beer and there was a silhouette of a guy on a balcony across from me. And this is a bit earlier actually than 2018. So I’ll just backtrack a little bit. But I heard a voice come out from that balcony and said, Hey, man, who the fuck are you? And I literally just moved into this place. And I was like, I’m Matt what’s going on? He’s like, my name is Christian. Anyways, that I progressed, the guy ends up coming over with his roommate, we have a few beers, watch the Raptors game, nobody had cable yet except for me. So my spot was like pretty well at that point.
Matt:00:08:17And that was the beginning of a really amazing friendship. And Christian for me was one of those guys where I could talk about whatever it was, we could shoot the shit. But then at the same time I knew that he had been through the same things that I had been through. And I knew we would if we were able to relate on a much deeper level and have those real conversations about what we were struggling with. And then in 2018, he developed pneumonia very early in the year in early January, and one day he started puking in his bathtub. And his roommate at the time said, okay this pneumonia is not getting any better, it’s actually getting a little bit worse we’re going to take you to the hospital. So they call the emergency, they call the EMTs, they came to the house, they actually couldn’t get the gurney up the stairs. And this is all a story that I’ve been told they couldn’t get the gurney up the stairs. So they had to walk him out of the building. And as he was taking his last step to get on the gurney he dropped to the ground and never ended up getting up.
I was actually napping at the time across the way and I remember waking up on a Sunday and feeling like something was terribly wrong. And then I got the call at about six o’clock that night and found out that Christian had died. And I think when something like that happens to a person, you can kind of go one of two ways in life. You can kind of either go down this path of ‘I’m just going to live everyday like it’s my last’, or you go down the ‘what does it all mean’ path. And as an introspective, I definitely went down that latter path. And I went to a place of deep depression, I couldn’t get out of bed, I was so anxious that I could barely leave the house. Obviously I went on mental health leave with you guys. And I was always, I’m forever grateful for that opportunity to take that space for myself. The way that I always put it is like I didn’t want to live anymore, but I didn’t want to die. And I didn’t know what to do in that moment.
Surviving and Existing
I think a lot of, and we’ll talk specifically about men in a little bit, but I think a lot of people get to that point where they don’t know what the next step is, but they still want to be around, but they don’t want to just be surviving and existing, they want something more. And so I started therapy with medication, it was experimental treatments, I literally tried everything that you could possibly try to get better in some way. And it wasn’t until I found a peer support group, actually, a friend of mine, referred me to it here in Toronto that things started to shift. And by this point, I think I had returned to work with you guys, and I was barely getting by. I was barely able to get to the office in the morning. I was barely able to function and do anything. And there was an overwhelming guilt that I felt as well because I was just surviving the days. And he told me to go to this group. And in that first group I sat down and I said, I can’t perform, I can’t get out of my own head, I can barely get out of bed to go to work in the morning, I don’t want to live, I don’t want to die and I don’t know what to do.
I think in those situations, like oftentimes, we get uncomfortable hearing that from another person. And it’s because we simply just don’t have practice around receiving that kind of thing from another human being. But in this group, it was very much a safe space where could actually hold things like that. What I remember from that first meeting was that they didn’t tell me maybe you should go workout or change your diet or all of these things, they just sort of said you know what, we care about you, thank you for being here. We hope you come back next week and we care about you. And I didn’t know it at the time but something shifted internally for me at that meeting and I kept going back. And then in April 2019, I went on this men’s retreat down in Massachusetts and again, I had this profound shifting experience. And it was it was all around connection, I felt like I had reconnected with a part of myself that had been dead for a long period of time. And when I came back on that Monday, I don’t know, I don’t think I ever told you this. But I came back on a Monday and I sat down at my desk the next day on the Tuesday and I was like, I can’t do this anymore. And I just sort of knew. It wasn’t very long after that, that I decided that I was going to leave ReSolve and pursue something else.
And again, throughout the process feeling immensely supported. And I think one of the lessons if you’re in the finance industry, there is very much a tough it out, just get it done, grind it through type of mentality. And so if you are watching this and you are in a leadership position, one of the best things that ever happened to me was working for people that gave me the space to get better. And we don’t see that enough in finance and other high pressure professional industries, because it’s a performance based system. But a person can’t perform if they’re not well, and I know that from first-hand experience, and I kind of meandered a little bit for a summer thereafter after I left ReSolve.
And then I was just having coffee with a friend one day and we were having this innocuous conversation that I had started to dig a little bit into why I was feeling the same way. And I started to realize that there were other men that were feeling the same way as well. And the statistics started to really pop out at me. And 77% of men are dealing with some form of stress, anxiety or depression and yet 40% of men report that it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm in order to actually begin seeking help. So not actually get help, but even just begin the process of seeking help. And furthermore, men suffer from alcohol addiction and drug abuse at a much higher incidence than women do and then probably the most scary stat of them all is that 75% of suicides are committed by men currently.
There’s so much more that is under that. But that is, it was it was in that moment that day after the experience that I went through, what I had felt, where I felt like I could and could not share. And then just having this conversation for some reason, a lot of things linked together in my mind and it became very very clear what I had to do. It was peer support. It was a community that honored the space and provided a space where men felt comfortable sharing about struggle openly, and being able to relate to other men on the basis of shared experience. So that is that sort of story and I’m happy to go deeper into problem and how it relates to finance, absolutely everything.
The Trading Tribe
Adam:00:15:07That was amazing, and actually there’s lots of elements of that that I wasn’t fully aware of at the time, as you’re sort of moving through those steps. And just to allow you to pause for breath, I think it’s interesting because Jason, I think you’ve got a background that might help relate to this a little bit. I remember Mike and I met you at one point many years ago when you were running something called the Trading Tribe which was, I don’t know if you would characterize it in sort of the same way as a men’s support group. It had elements of that to my observation at the time, but I think you’ve got some interesting perspective to share on this from that maybe. Do you?
Jason:00:15:53Yeah, absolutely. And the Trading Tribe experience basically, it was a, is largely men, I think the fact that it was trading and finance attracted men, we did have some women. But the one word that you said there Matt that really stood out was ‘receiving’. And men generally want to solve problems very quickly, just jump into action, find something logical, right to do. And the idea of just receiving and listening or observing is very hard for most men to do. For Tribe, I’ll just describe kind of what we did really quickly. I think Adam and Mike you participated obviously in at one point that I ran this group for about seven years. But we essentially, men have a hard time telling stories and getting into words sometimes. So we actually would focus on the feelings either by directly observing a feeling or giving words until we saw feelings and then we basically just validate and encourage and receive those feelings. Encourage the feelings over and over and over again. And there was no advice and no judgment. So men were just allowed, largely men would get into this, we just sort of follow the feeling around. And we get kind of weird because people will be squeezing our eyes or feeling that compression in their chest, we’d really accelerate that and emphasize it. And it would just start to move around, and we validate and encourage that moving around.
I think what happened was parts of your brain just start to fall away, all the judges and all the judgments because you’re in a judgment free zone, just start to fall away and drift away. And you’re truly receiving at that point. And it would allow an individual to have what I call an ‘aha moment’. What I feel, and I remember this time with you Matt, I distinctly remember the change in you, you and I went out to lunch shortly after that. You came back from that weekend and you were changed, you knew, despite the fact that you didn’t know what you’re going to do, you had the sense of calm and confidence that was beautiful to see. Ultimately, I think the experience in a group with peers, where you can feel free to send and express yourself and be received in a judgment free zone, where people will actually encourage you to feel that more and not judge or and the like, so I’m proud of what you’re doing and I’m so happy to see you go in this direction. And it was really quite amazing to see, given the logic if you wrote down on paper, I’m going to quit this great position, a great job with an obviously a great group of guys, and don’t really know what I’m going to do, like good for you, and you’re doing something that’s really truly making the world better. And I’m excited about talking more about this today.
Adam:00:18:59How do you…
Adam:00:18:59I was just going to say just to follow that rabbit hole all the way down because I think for men it’s hard to give yourself permission sometimes to start to think this way and to talk about this kind of stuff. And I think it’s useful to follow that rabbit hole Trading Tribe, down to the origin of that, which I think was from Ed Seykota, if I’m not wrong. So maybe just dwell very quickly on that, because I think it’s like, at the very top end of finance, one of the most successful traders in history. This was something that he practiced and I think that that’s a useful thing for people to hear.
Jason:00:19:40Yeah, Seykota profiled on the book Market Wizards which for many folks is one of the key books in their library if you’re interested in trading, and so I got the opportunity to meet him many years ago, and he had run Incline Village Trading Tribe there for many years, and I started a Tribe in Canada, the first one in Canada, one of the first ones outside of Incline Village and he was a great support in helping to encourage that. And before you knew it, I think there were 15 or 20 Tribes around North America. So actually, the world for that matter, and there still are. And I’ve often thought to myself that it’s really much more, it goes way beyond trading. All the issues we dealt with were never really trading related, trading would be an entry point to some of the issues.
So for example, if you have an issue hanging on to things and you can’t let go, that expresses itself in a position that you’re trading, but more importantly, it’s often relationships, or commitments, or other things in your life, or a belief in your identity. So you think you’re something and you’re not, but you think you are, and you need to let it go, whatever it may be. It’s just very fascinating. He’s just did a fantastic job and still does in this space. And again, he’s not a professional therapist, none of us are, we’re just like all of us going through life, facing some challenges, getting professional help when we need it, which I encourage everybody to do, I think you should go to the ‘mentist’ like you do the dentist.
So mental health just needs to be a regular check-up and check in what you’re doing with Tethr provides a great way to introduce people to getting more comfortable just expressing themselves. I was on the app last night in the last few days and just observed what people are expressing, and it’s I just think it’s fantastic and it’s a great way to begin the process and be heard. But, yeah, I’d encourage anybody to look at getting into a peer group, such as the one you’re working with. And cheers to Ed. I ran that for seven years and frankly looking to get back into something like that again, because you feel…
Mike:00:22:30Because you work with me, is that what you’re trying to mean?
Jason:00:22:33I’ve got the polar opposite experience of you Matt, it’s just regular maintenance. Like you can get to a point where you feel great and you can be at risk of feeling like you don’t need it. We all need it, we need it all the time and we just need to make it a regular practice. Like working out or fitness or your diet. You can go off the rails now and then but ultimately it’s just good to try to maintain.
No Good or Bad Emotions
Matt:00:23:05And I want to jump in on that. And you were talking about letting go of certain structures and whether that’s positions and things like that. And what’s really interesting about the work that you’re doing where you’re going actually into the body and how it feels. And what’s interesting is there’s a mechanism that’s going on right there. So a feeling that we have isn’t something that actually originates in our brain, it actually originates in our bodies. And all feelings, all emotions that we have will initially originate as a physiological sensation in our bodies. We have a lot more nerve endings in our stomach than we do actually in our brains. And so what ends up happening is you start to feel something in your body, we can talk about, I don’t believe there’s any good or bad emotions, I just think that there’s constructive and destructive reactions to them. Nothing is labelled as good or bad. I think what we try and put forward is this idea of honoring whatever it is that is coming up for you because by honoring it you allow yourself to be with it. And then there’s a natural arc of the feeling that actually allows itself to resolve itself. Yeah, there we go, resolves itself. And it actually creates a new neural pathway in the brain and that’s actually how you start to begin building a certain type of resilience, which is like an emotional resilience.
But what’s interesting is, you start to notice, like with anxiety. It’s a tension in the chest, or sometimes people get numbness in their body or if there’s fear, it’s something we often say, I’ve got this bad feeling in my gut. And so it’s a physiological response that our brain then interprets, and then based on the story that we’ve been conditioned with over our lives, and we all have stories that we’ve been conditioned with through how we grew up, how we were raised, the experiences that we have, we begin to interpret these physiological sensations as things and we just put a label to it. Oh, I’m anxious or I’m always anxious, or this happens because, this happened to me when I was a child.
And so what we try and do and what you were really identifying there is this process of dropping in with the physiological sensation and then putting a feeling label to it, without an associated story. So if there’s tension, just identifying that you’re anxious and not actually saying, I’m anxious because. So actually dropping all of that, and if you can start to learn to be with that specific emotion and just being like, I am anxious, and that is okay, your brain actually starts to de-identify with the story, and then you start to think, well, what else do I not identify with? What else is part of this construct that I built in my brain from an ego perspective, and you start to actually let…you go from this latched on ego, this is who I am, this is my structure to something that’s actually observing it.
And that is something that our ego doesn’t want us to do, because our ego is primarily concerned with keeping us safe. And so if we de-identify with our story, what ends up happening is it ends up undermining a lot of the survival mechanisms that we’ve put in place. So, for somebody that maybe was abandoned as a child, they hold on to things, because it’s their survival mechanism. It’s how they protect against being abandoned. So it’s really interesting what you were saying with that, because you do actually become a better trader, you become a better operator, you just become better when you actually start to de-identify with your story. And I think one of the big ways that you do that is by allowing yourself to what I call this ‘just ride the emotion’. Like we think that when we’re anxious, or fearful, or anything like that, that the emotion’s either going to kill us or it’s going to last forever. At least, that’s what our brain says. Again, the ego, the brain is a survival mechanism. It’s not actually there to make you happy, it’s there to help you survive. And so one of the biggest practices for me, it’s like when I’ve been in those situations as opposed to trying to go find something to deal with that, whether it’s calling somebody, or soothing in some way, what I like to do now is I’ll actually lie down on my couch, I’ll put headphones in, I won’t put anything on but I’ll put one hand on my chest and one hand on my diaphragm, which are two major centers in the body. And I will say, I’m safe, I’m anxious, and that’s okay. And I’ll just keep doing that. So there’s a there’s a curve that happens, you end up riding this curve, the feeling apexes. This is where we think it’s actually going to kill us, it plateaus, and then it starts to dissipate.
And the more you actually stay with something without actually latching it on, the shorter that curve actually becomes, the less you’re actually in that state of ‘fight or flight’, or that panic mode. And that’s where resilience comes in. It’s actually not that you will never feel those things again, it’s actually that you’re just shortening the time that you actually feel something because you’re grooving a new neural pathway. And so when that emotion ends up coming up again, your brain is like, okay, yeah, I’ve been here before, it’s actually not that bad. It takes about 20 minutes and then I feel better. And this is all happening on a subconscious basis. It’s not anything that’s actually cognitive or in the frontal lobe, but it’s only by actually experiencing and going through that repeatedly that we actually build those new neural pathways in those new grooves and then we can actually shorten and shorten and shorten the reaction time to the point where it’s like, I feel anxious, what’s that? Oh, it’s that story again. Okay, moving on. And you can actually start to really have that.
And that’s where people just sort of, like the people that will walk through life and it seems like the people that are like truly enlightened. And I’m not just saying have that natural disposition, but truly enlightened, have been through hell, and just sort of walk with that lightness in life. They’ve gone through that enough where they realize that they’re not their story. They’re not what their brain is telling them. And they actually don’t believe their thoughts.
And that’s actually one of the best things is, when you can learn to actually not believe what your brain is telling you, it’s a scary thing. But that detachment from story is so powerful, and it actually leads to so much more space and freedom. And for me, it’s helped me operate so much better in the world.
Jason:00:29:30I like that a lot. And I think you can essentially learn to observe the feeling and recognize most feelings, all feelings have a positive intention. And sometimes it’s just to observe and allow it to be there. And I think one of the real strengths I found of a group was the ability to bring you through some of those points you mentioned, where it’s kind of as far as you can go on your own, I believe you can go farther with a group, because others will encourage and validate and bring you – it’s okay to go to a place that you may not be comfortable going. But as a group, it seems like those barriers are a little easier to get through. And, we spend a lot of time resisting feelings as opposed to allowing them or even just observing them. So that’s your spot on.
Matt:00:30:32That’s some science in there.
Mike:00:30:34I would say that that’s very true. Like, when you fight the feeling or suppress it, it’s not been dealt with. And so part of the process is feeling the feeling, not suppressing it, not ignoring it, but feeling it, and then observing the things that come out of that feeling. Taking it back to trading, George Soros would talk about his sore back and then he would exit trades. And there was something else going on that he was observing in his subconscious that was manifesting, but he was self-aware enough to realize that this, there was this connection, this quantum physical connection between these things that was trying to manifest but couldn’t be explained it would seem, and I think that a feeling is happening for a reason. And so rather than suppress or fight it, feel it. And then like you said observe it.
The challenge though becomes when it won’t go away, or you have observed it and felt it. And when you’re in that sort of feedback loop it’s really hard. And I wonder Matt, if you have any experience or how do you get through that? For all of us, I have those times too, and you just are like, this I can’t shake it. I have recognized it, I felt it. I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to do. You’re in the washing machine and it’s not stopping. So how does that, I do get the group, you sit there and talk to yourself by yourself. Often you don’t do that. So just by verbalizing with a group of other like-minded individuals, that’s very helpful. And oftentimes, you’ll be explaining something to somebody and then in your explaining of it, you kind of realize what the solution is. But you can’t do that on your own. You can’t pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, so to speak. So are there any tips or advice for when you’re in that hard part where the examples that were given don’t work?
That Hard Part
Matt:00:32:39Well, I think there’s a couple of things that are going on there. And Jason kind of alluded to it a little bit before, but it’s like when we get in that loop, it’s that we’re asking our brain in my mind the wrong question. And so the brain is designed to actually answer the questions that we give it. So if we keep asking ourselves why do I feel so fucked up? The brain is going to answer the question, why do I feel so fucked up? So if we can actually change the framing of the question of like, why am I feeling this? Well, if it’s why am I feeling this, you’re going to get an answer to, why am I feeling this. And one of my favorite reframes is like, how is this feeling actually serving? How is this feeling actually trying to protect me?
So just by asking the brain a better question. And for me, this is best done in meditation, Mike, I know that you meditate regularly. And it’s been a part of your morning routine for a long period of time. And so what I actually like to do with that is I’ll actually say, okay, this is something that’s been biting at my heels a little bit. So let’s say it’s, why do I feel so anxious? So what I will do is, as opposed to asking that question, I will actually then write down on a piece of paper, I say, how is this anxiety actually serving? And very often what you end up finding is that there’s a reason that it’s there.
And so for me, for a lot of years, my anxiety was actually there as a way for me to perform. And there was this fear that it’s like if I didn’t have this anxiety, if I didn’t have this thing, that was actually pushing me that I would just be like a wasting lump on the couch, and then I wouldn’t do anything. And if I didn’t do anything, I wouldn’t be good enough. And if I wasn’t good enough, then I would feel like I did as a kid. And if I felt like I did as a kid, I wouldn’t want to go on anymore. So you just start to follow that naturally down the rabbit hole but, there’s a reason why our brains are protecting us in that way. And it’s usually to protect us from feeling something that’s actually a much deeper wound than what we think it is. And there’s usually like a core belief that’s sitting rooted at the bottom of that, and in my experience, it’s usually I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough, I’m unlovable in some way, and there’s some connection to something that happened in childhood, whether it was an unmet need that we didn’t get, and it’s usually from a parent because those are our biggest formative relationships. Maybe there’s an actual incident, a trauma, a specific trauma. And there’s one incident that I’ve done a lot of work on personally that was very much connected to the reason why I just didn’t feel safe in the world. And my system was always kind of on high alert and it was like, there was always somebody around the corner and I had to get the bat ready kind of thing.
But what I would say just to that is like, one, maybe ask a better question, two, also don’t be afraid of what’s coming up. Because the problem is that if we’re dealing with it on the surface level, if we’re dealing with it on the actual problem level, there’s usually something a lot deeper down there that we actually don’t want to look at. And so our brain stops us here, because it actually doesn’t want to look at this thing that may be a lot more painful, it’s going to take a lot more time to work through, you might have to go to therapy to talk about it, maybe it needs to join a men’s group, you may actually need to do a little bit of work around it. But there’s something that you’re not looking at there. And there’s something that you don’t want to look at. And it’s not because of any unwillingness on your part, it’s actually literally just your brain protecting you because it knows that shit’s going to be painful.
So, if you can start to follow that and start to identify root causes and know also that that loop is actually protective. Everything that your brain does, is fundamentally about protecting you from pain, and protecting you from your own annihilation. Our brains are amazing survival machines. So there is a reason that it’s there. And then in my case, once I’ve actually found the root cause of that when I’ve been like, okay, that’s the reason why that’s there, I usually try and sit with it and thank it for trying to be there. So I allow it into the space and they say, you’re just scared. And this is actually ‘parts mediation’. There’s a thing called internal family systems, there’s all these different parts of us, there’s a little boy, there’s a critic, there’s all these little things that we can start to discover if we’re willing to go kind of underneath the hood. But what’s really happening by being in that loop is you’re not allowing that part to show up, and you’re not actually welcoming it into the party.
And this is, again, why dropping into feelings, and de-identifying with the thoughts that we have is such a powerful thing, because then it actually if we can de-identify with our ego structure, and we can de-identify with the thought loops that we’re having, we can actually start to have a relationship with that thing. And once we develop a relationship with that thing, that’s when we can actually resolve that issue. And that’s when we become integrated. And the feeling of integration is actually that feeling of peace and calm, and serenity, whatever you want to call it that I think we’re all looking for. It’s like it’s that moment when you just like you’re there and you’re totally present and nothing needs to change. You don’t need to be anything different. That’s I think the feeling. We’re not looking for happiness, I believe. I actually just think we’re looking for peace.
Being and Doing
Jason:00:38:14Yeah, we’re going to launch on something there. So you mentioned the word ‘be’ several times, and I noticed that you’ve recently had an event about ‘being’, and I’d like maybe your thoughts on being and even said being and I think being lives on the vertical dimension, you’re present and you’re there as opposed to doing which is the future and the past? What have I done? What am I going to do? That type of thing. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on being and doing as it relates to men and mental health.
Matt:00:38:48Yeah, were incredible doers. And by the way, Mike did that sort of that thing about the loop did what I said kind of gets…
Mike:00:38:56It does, I guess what we’re saying is that we just haven’t got there yet. So you’re trying to feel this feeling and the loop is telling you, the feedback loop that you’re re-experiencing the anxiety, the feeling that you haven’t felt it yet. And so that is your, it’s not anything bad, it’s just telling you, you’ve got to go a little deeper here. There’s something that’s, you’ve got to ask a different question.
Matt:00:39:27It’s not resolved. There’s something that is not quite resolved.
Mike:00:39:31If you through the loop a couple times and it’s not resolved you’re asking the wrong question, or you haven’t gone deep enough. And so that is a reflective thing. So sorry to…
Matt:00:39:42I want to make sure that I resolve that question, and that there was like something that was said. And when it comes to being, absolutely. Men like ‘to do’. We’re very action oriented, and it’s something that is deeply wired within primitive aspects of our brain, we were very much, we were fighters, we were warriors, we were providers, we didn’t have time to be, when a woolly mammoth was like running after us and trying to fuck with our children and take our food and stuff like that. We had to be on guard for those things. But ironically enough, without all the distraction that we have in modern life, we were actually able to be a lot more, we were much more connected with the land, we were much more connected with spirit of some kind and depends on the cultural background that you’re looking at. But every society, civilization had some kind of a spiritual thing that they were very much connected to. And we’ve kind of gotten on the hamster wheel and I really believe that’s because of this outdated structure of what, we’re trying to get our man card stamped basically, and what we’ve been told validates and makes a man which is accomplishment, money, providing, all of these things. And all of those things are based in action and none of like, we don’t value being as a society, there’s no monetary value we associate with a person who’s able to simply be.
And if we look at the people who are best at being, I don’t know, yeah, best at being, we look at monks, we look at people who are in the spiritual realm, we look at people, but we don’t necessarily associate any external value to that. We value guys that get up, fix problems, build companies, close deals. That’s what we value. And that’s what we validate people for by patting them on the back and giving them a monetary reward. So they can go buy a Beemer in a bigger house. We don’t validate… I mean, Mike, have you ever been validated for meditating for 20 minutes in the morning by somebody? Has anyone ever paid you to do that?
Matt:00:42:04Except for you.
Mike:00:42:06You’re right. There’s a few people that meditate as well that validate that for you, because they do it as well.
Matt:00:42:11But there’s nothing, you don’t put any inherent value on a person. Like, now there’s like a bit of like a hustle culture and there’s like a spiritual hierarchy that we’ve started to build with people who are super woke, which I think is another way that we’re measuring ourselves in an act of doing, for something where we’re actually just trying to be, but there’s no inherent value. And so it’s very hard for us to slow down if we’re constantly measuring ourselves by what we do and what we achieve, sitting down and just sort of sitting there and twiddling your thumbs and breathing. You’re like, I’m not getting anything from this, there’s no validation, there’s no dopamine boost.
Our brains are very much wired to getting a dopamine boost and getting that kick and technology, all of these things, the pat on the back, the big check, the closed deal, all of that bumps our dopamine up and wires us. We’re like, yeah, we’re basically like dopamine addicted rats. That did like doing an achievement because there’s a much slower moving, but I think a much more meaningful chemical in the brain called oxytocin. And oxytocin it’s like, imagine it’s like the happiness chemical, but like on keto, it’s slower burning. It lasts over much longer periods of time. It’s not that big rush and that dopamine boost that we get where we’re like pumping ourselves full of carbs and we get that really big energy spike oxytocin is that used more that lasting feeling of wellbeing. But dopamine is addictive, achievement is addictive. And that feeling that we get from it is addictive so we literally just have to beat it out of ourselves, train it out of ourselves by doing things that are uncomfortable.
Lines and Levels
Mike:00:44:04So Ken Wilber has a context on this, he talks about lines and levels, so lines of development and levels of achievement. That always resonated with me because you talked about the monks, like very high self-actualization. So there’s a line of development that they’ve achieved very high levels of enlightenment. But if you look at technological development, the development of food production or whatever, there are other lines where they haven’t developed enough and I think it’s just a matter of trying to have balance and develop yourself along many of these lines, in order that you can live a peaceful existence so to speak. Society is going to put some domain on it, there’s some judgment on it I guess. But I don’t want to demonize maybe…
Matt:00:45:02Achievement. You don’t try to start a company unless you want to achieve something.
Mike:00:45:09Correct. I think we want to be clear that this is not about just sitting on the couch all day and meditating, it’s about having balance in your self-awareness and your enlightenment of whatever your purpose is, that you’re feeling at the time, and making sure that you’re taking care of that line of development You’re not just ignoring it for this other line of development and achieving a higher level on that line. And, you can see that in different societies, they have different development lines that they’ve focused on, and it can create imbalance as well.
Jason:00:45:46I think it’s important, it’s not being or doing that we’re ultimately after. Some just be, some just do. We want to find that balance, like so many things in life of being and doing. Being can inform your doing and vice versa. That’s kind of that balance we all need to find. It’s just sometimes there’s parts of your life where you need to spend more time being, because you’re in a difficult situation. And then there’s other times where you just doing, you just find that balance and awareness of the recognition of the two, I think is a key factor.
Matt:00:46:26And I think the question is, where are you getting your validation from? This is the thing, if you’re achieving from a place where it feels good and right to you, and it’s something that is being drawn out of something that is your values and your desire, that’s one thing. If you’re doing it to please your parents, please your wife, have a bigger car than the guy next door, have a better job, the title, so your validation is coming from external, that’s never going to fill you up. And there’s a really interesting hierarchy that we can look at which is purpose and meaning, identity and then action. So most people attack things from an actions perspective.
So it’s like, I’m going to go get up in the morning, I’m going to work out, I’m going to eat better, all of that type of stuff. But they actually don’t deal with the identity piece that’s sitting at the top. So the identity that we have for a lot of people that are unhealthy it’s that for me it was like, I’m a heavy kid, I’m unhealthy, I don’t take care of myself. So if I don’t deal with that core belief structure on some level and at some point, going to the gym and eating well just ain’t going to happen. So we actually have to invert it. And the question I said is like, so first off, where do you start from a purpose and meaning perspective, that dictates what your identity is, and then if I’m a person that’s here to love myself, care for myself, be healthy, be of service to other people, that dictates my identity. So if my purpose is service, then my identity is one of giving and then my actions will dictate that I give, because otherwise, you’re out of alignment and you won’t be able to do anything that you’re out of alignment with, or at least not without significant external force which will feel uncomfortable.
If you’re somebody that has a healthy, let’s say related to health, I’m a healthy person, I’m a person who loves myself and takes care of myself, that will filter into your identity and then very naturally it’ll filter down into the behaviours that you do, eating, exercise, meditation, time for yourself, all of those things. Self-care, it’s such a…I don’t like the word self-care, but all of the things that we do for ourselves become a lot easier if we come at it from a place of ‘I actually care about the person that I’m doing this for’. If you don’t actually like yourself on a fundamental level, why would you quit drinking? Why would you quit smoking? Why would you go to the gym? Why would you take care of somebody that you disdain? So it has to be from an inverted perspective and you first have to deal with the fact that you got to start liking yourself a little bit. Because if you don’t like yourself, you’re not going to do all the things that you need to do for yourself that are actually going to be in part of your wellbeing, good for your wellbeing. And I think that’s where again, going to the gym, eating healthy, like so much of this becomes a status and an outward validation thing. And that’s why those habits aren’t sustainable for people. They’re only sustainable for people that care about themselves, because it’s in alignment with their identity. Otherwise, it’s just a phase that you’re going through.
Adam:00:49:45I want to make sure that we have a chance to talk about how you are bringing some of these thoughts and the spirit of what you’re trying to achieve to life with this idea of yours. It’s not just an app like the app facilitates the vision, what is Tethr and how does it sort of facilitate the vision that you’ve been talking about here today.
Matt:00:50:16Do we have another hour?
Adam:00:50:18 I wanted to make sure we got to it.
Matt:00:50:20I know right? I ultimately want Tethr to be something that’s not only like a global platform for men’s mental health and wellbeing, but I think what’s much more important is actually this is a vehicle for massive social change and massive change in the way that the idealized masculine form is portrayed and what we end up deifying in terms of like men. So like moving from deifying men, for being stoic, for being unemotional, for being successful, for being providers. Can we actually swing the pendulum a little bit more in the other direction and actually build men that are actually vulnerable and honest, and that have a positive attitude towards struggle and things like that. And I’m not saying, there’s definitely where the pendulum swings too much, and I’ve experienced that personally where I’m just so in my struggle that you end up actually becoming a victim and that’s not healthy either. So what we’re trying to do is, we’re trying to normalize struggle as something that is acceptable and masculine. The way that I’ve tried to crystallize this is by saying I want to live with a soft front but a strong back. So I’m very much compassionate, I’m empathetic, I want to serve but I’m also not a pushover.
So we think that these characteristics of being in touch with our feelings and being vulnerable are actually aspects of weakness, but I’ve actually never been more confident in my life than I have been now, when I’m actually vulnerable and honest ,and I do have those spaces for myself where I can share openly and say this is what’s going on for me. And what’s super important is this concept of ‘holding space’ and ‘modelling behavior’. One of the biggest reasons why this isn’t done is because either we didn’t have it modelled to us when we were kids by our fathers, society, uncles. Movies and media, like really ingrained this idea of that masculine archetype of stoic, unemotional, solves his own problems, all of those types of things. So, because of that what’s really interesting is we’re all walking around thinking that the other guy doesn’t struggle and he has it all together, and inside we feel like in a lot of cases this crippled small tiny unmasculine thing, and yet the other guy’s walking around thinking the same thing too. What’s interesting is the more unique you feel the more universal your problem is. and the problem is that we don’t actually hold space for each other to express these things. We don’t actually give each other permission to express vulnerability, to express struggle, and I think the biggest thing is normalizing that relationship and also normalizing emotionally connected relationships between men.
Like, I have a tremendous amount of love for all of you, and we’ve said that to each other. I’ve said that to you, like I’ll say that to you now and I’ve said that to you when I worked with you guys. Love was never something that we had a hard time expressing, but that is not something that is actually expressed freely between men and because we have connotations about what it means to love another person. And in the context of like heterosexual partnerships between men and women, love is a very specific thing and usually connotes some kind of a sexual intimacy. But we’re not talking about romantic love, we’re just talking about love as a feeling, and you can feel close to somebody and you can love them and there doesn’t need to be anything more to that .And I think that’s a big thing that is kind of hiding in the background all of this, is our relationship with loving other people, and for men, especially heterosexual men, for heterosexual men the only person that they’ve ever been genuinely emotionally vulnerable to in a lot of cases has been their opposite sex partner. And that also has been accompanied by physical intimacy, and so when your only route to emotional intimacy is actually through physical intimacy you end up blocking yourself off because if you don’t have that physical intimacy you can’t get to the emotional intimacy.
So if I’m pushing that to the side, what I want to normalize is emotional intimacy between men and what that is really just really connected deep friendships. And what’s super interesting about the guys that are on our platform it’s like it’s not that they really always want to talk about what they’re struggling with. In fact sometimes, they don’t want to talk about it. They want to talk about football, they want to talk about stocks, they want to talk about whatever it is. But they want to be able to do that with another person that they know if, they needed to talk about their struggles, if they needed to be emotionally vulnerable, that that person would be capable of actually holding that and they don’t have to be afraid of actually expressing what they’re really feeling. That’s what creates the connection. That’s what creates depth. And that’s really what I think creates such a richness in our lives is having relationships that have depth to them as opposed to a service.
One of my buddies mentioned to me, in common, one of my buddies who has been to our groups and has experienced the app and all of that kind of stuff. What he said to me was, ‘real life is kind of like a hockey interview’. It’s all at the surface, nobody says anything, we dug hard in the corners, we gave a really strong team effort. Okay, I’m going to go back to the locker room, un-gear and on to the next game. That’s the way a lot of our interactions are, especially with men, and especially in finance. Think about how often you’re in, like you are in a relationship with your clients, whether you like it or not, you are in a relationship with the people that you buy and sell with, especially the people that you transact with frequently. How often when we get on the phone do we say hey, how’s it going? Oh, yeah, pretty good. How are you? Okay. And then we just dive into business. But we never actually stop and say, how are you actually doing? What’s going on? We don’t explore the depth ever, and it’s because we’re actually terrified of being vulnerable. Because we know that inside, we’re not feeling so great either. But if there was more permission to have those conversations, or permission to have those relationships, I just think it enriches all of our lives.
So, long term, what do I want it to be? I want us to be at the forefront of men’s mental and emotional health. I want you to get whatever you need for your mental health, for your physical wellbeing through our platform. And this is kind of why we chose the slogan for our brand of “We Fuck With Feelings”. I think this is about empowerment in a lot more ways. I think this is about empowering men to be emotionally healthy, and to be emotionally deep, and to have depth in their relationships. And so the reason why we use We Fuck With Feelings is because it’s kind of playful, it’s approachable. It’s like, yeah, I’m the type of guy like, I fuck with my feelings, like, it can be something that is empowering to a person.
So I think on a much larger scale, this is a reframing of male identity and a reframing of genderized norms that we’ve had that are really killing more men than it’s actually helping. And if we look at the statistics, we’ve been living with this outdated structure of masculinity for a long period of time, 75% of suicides are committed by men, almost 80% of men are dealing with some kind of an emotional wellbeing issue. Men are underutilizing mental health and wellbeing services by 50% right now, and we over index for drug addiction, alcoholism, and self-harming behaviors. That’s not good. That’s not good. So that system ain’t working. Let’s try something a little bit different.
Jason:00:58:40There’s enormous resources being put towards mental health and wellbeing, I think certainly in the last 5, 10,15 years, certainly my career from the day I started to today, it’s awesome to see. And you’re right in there and I’m proud of that. What else do you see in the industry? What other areas do you find exciting right now or hold promise going forward?
The Future is Bright
Matt:00:59:12What’s interesting is actually even though we do have the proliferation of more accessible, cheaper mental health and wellbeing services, and they’re more accessible and more widely available in corporations, men are still not actually using them. That’s the interesting thing. And that’s the permission piece. And that’s the modelling piece. And that’s where the actual identity structure needs to be flipped in order for men to actually be utilizing the proliferation of services that we’re actually seeing. There’s a couple of interesting areas right now. I mean, digital therapy is becoming pretty much ubiquitous right now and I think that’s going to continue. We’re seeing a wealth of peer support communities exist out there. We’re actually the first ones that are doing this exclusively for men. Which is, it’s kind of cool to be first to something even though it’s terrifying and uncertain all of those good things. And peer support I think necessarily has to be part of the digital mental health landscape. And a big reason for that is because even if everyone could afford, and that’s where we’re heading, everyone will be able to afford it in some way have access to some form of therapy, I hope that that’s the case. But even if that was the case, you would not have enough practitioners to satiate that demand.
So California actually just passed legislation within the last month and a half or so. And Gavin Newsom actually created a bill that created a process for validating people as peer support specialists. So that’s going to be part of the mental health landscape, it’s going to be indelible. The other thing is, obviously, alternative treatments. Psychedelics are going to be a big part of the landscape going forward. You’re starting to see later in later stages, the stage trials for things like MDMA therapy, psilocybin assisted therapy, ketamine assisted therapy, and there’s huge potential and I know that, not only because I’ve utilized those treatments myself, I have done psychedelics in a therapeutic and safe setting, I have done ayahuasca in a safe setting, and I put that out there and I say don’t just go do this, you need to have trust with the provider, please for God’s sakes do your research on this, know what you’re getting yourself into and make sure that you’re safe doing it. I’ve done it obviously, because I would go to the ends of the earth to do my healing work. Plant medicine, psychedelics in a guided setting, ketamine, MDMA, psilocybin, those are all going to be a big part of the landscape. And we see like ‘Field Trip’ has listed publicly, there was another company in Canada that went public on the Venture Exchange about I think it was two or three months ago in November, that has facilities in Costa Rica, in Amsterdam, and then I believe also in Utah. I think is Utah that’s decriminalized ketamine assisted therapy, only for specific things. So that’s a big part of the landscape going forward.
And then all of the diagnostics, better brain imaging, better understanding of how the brain works. I think all of that’s going to start to play into it and then the meditation space and the mindfulness space. I mean, that’s already huge. “Calm” and “Headspace” are both billion dollar companies, I don’t think that’s going anywhere. And then you have really interesting products like, and forgetting “Muse”, which is a headband that you wear that actually monitors your brainwaves as you meditate. And so I think what’s going to happen is there’s going to be a confluence of all of these things. And then VR and all of these other pieces, AIVR imaging tech, better imaging technologies, it’s all going to emerge. Emerging solutions that we don’t see right now. But all of these technologies are really starting to be leveraged. And there’s more and more and more money that’s going into this space. Last year, there was record numbers of deals in mental health tech, mental health tech is probably the hottest sector right now in the VC space, if you’re not talking about like, unless it’s “Clubhouse”, that’s like the oddest, the hottest thing out there is mental health technology, we’re seeing more and more dollars go into it. And we’re also seeing legislation change around different types of therapies and different types of treatment protocols that I think have a lot.
I have no professional opinion on entheogens, and psychedelics, and all of those types of things. But just from my own personal experience, and again, please do your research, that those have a lot of potential. And then medications are just going to continue to get better and better and better as we start to understand the impacts of these things on our brains.
Mike:01:04:04 So we’ve got Tethr, really is trying to change the social construct around and making sure that they’re empowered to use all of these various items and making sure that it’s okay, and that’s not something that they should fall into the trap of the previous social construct. I also wonder if you can talk to the young men. Before, if you think back to your childhood is struggling as a young man, you got through it, but if you don’t get through it and you choose a path of some other thing, and you’re not wise enough potentially to engage in the conversation that we’ve had and say, it’s okay to get help. You’re just trapped as a teenager or late teenager. Have you had much experience with that? Does Tethr help in that regard? Can you comment about how those young men might seek guidance or how parents might watch for signs of anything.
Matt:01:05:13Yeah. Tethr is an 18 plus platform, and I’m by no means an expert when it comes to early adolescent or teenage mental health. It’s really tricky because the brain is still developing, in large part at that stage major behavioral changes are definitely something to look out for. Obsessive behaviors are definitely something to look out for. But I actually, from the perspective of what do you do with children, I think it’s really on us to model that behavior. Because at this point we should know a little bit better, right? So I think it’s on us as men who are leading, and men who have children, and not that I have children. But as men who are leading for you guys, as men who have children, is really allowing your children to come to you with struggle, especially male children to come to you with struggle and not be something where it’s like, just suck it up, or let’s push it aside.
And I remember, it’s funny Mike, because we actually had this talk, but in a very different context. And we actually talked about this from the perspective of when you’re on the phone with a potential client, but it actually really applies to working with other people. When somebody says something to you, I remember, there was different levels of listening that we had. I think you know where I’m going with this, where it’s like, it sounds like you’re really upset about this or it sounds like you’re feeling really anxious, and it may be related to something like this. Well, by doing that, what you’re showing is a couple things, you’re showing empathy, you’re showing patience, you’re showing that it’s acceptable, and you’re also showing that you’re listening to the person. And that more than anything is really what resolves so much of a feeling in a person, is really just letting that child know that they are heard, that they are seen, and that you don’t think any less of them because of what they’re going through.
So again, I think it’s really incumbent upon us as men, to actually learn how to hold space for each other and as a result hold space for people that are younger, and then this starts to really get really juicy in our relationships with everybody, because if you’re somebody that is emotionally aware, there is a certain grounding and a certain energy to you. And I keep pointing up and down because there is this sort of connection with, maybe let’s call it like a different type of energy. But there’s a grounding, and I was mentioning a book to you guys earlier. And so for anybody that is watching right now, that’s how I got to do it, this is a great book if you want to start to investigate.
Mike:01:08:10Tell them the title.
Matt:01:08:11Sorry, you’re right. I figured, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover”. I forgot this is also a podcast and not just the live stream. And you can get that book on Amazon right now. And it goes into the four main archetypes of male psychology. And one of the most interesting archetypes is actually the ‘king archetype’. It layers on top of all of the other archetypes, and it has a certain quality and a certain presence. It’s that wise knowing grandfather that you just feel comfortable and loved around, where it doesn’t have to be about him. He’s there to listen to you. There’s nurturing, he asks you how you’re doing. And you’re not able to do that unless there’s a certain rooting that you have in yourself. If you can get to a place where you feel comfortable with yourself, with your emotions, with what’s coming up and you’re profoundly connected to an inner knowing of who you are. And that really only comes from actually going through this shit, and actually feeling what you’re feeling, and getting in there and talking about it and really digging deep.
And by the way, this is going to hurt a little bit. This is not going to be a fun process for you all the time. But on the other side of it, what I can promise you is that there is a significantly deeper level of being, an existence and a richness to life that doesn’t manifest itself necessarily in just like, I got to jump out of bed. I’m just like happy all the time. But there’s a groundedness to you, there’s a rootedness to you. And that actually starts to reflect in your relationships. When you can simply sit there and ask people and not feel the need to actually talk. And I know I’m a bad example of that today because I’ve been rambling on and on and on today.
Mike:01:09:56You’re the guest, you’re supposed to talk.
Matt:01:09:58Right. But what’s super interesting is like, as I’ve gone through this transformation, I actually do genuinely want to be heard less, and I want to listen more. And it’s because I just I’m not trying to prove myself as much anymore. And so this is a very long and roundabout way of saying that the work that we do as men actually becomes the healing that our children and the next generation receives. And it’s through that rooting that you find in yourself, you can’t pass along something that you don’t have. I think that’s like pretty much a principle of anything. It’s like if I don’t know it, if I can’t explain it, if I don’t fully understand it, I can’t give it to you, I can’t teach it. So first, it’s something that we have to do ourselves.
And then the second thing is, this concept of holding space and making it safe to express for people who are younger to express themselves emotionally. And I think it’s important that there is an encouragement and we sound like we’re being pedantic or we’re talking down to them, but like actually being like saying, listen, it is okay for you to be feeling this way. Even that’s that one sentence alone has such a profound impact, genuinely asking how that person is doing, actually being like, you seem like you’re a little bit about upset right now, what’s going on? But not doing it just because you feel like you should, but doing it because you actually are going to spend the time. Because kids also know that, they can see through the bullshit. They know if you’re asking how you’re doing, because you’re just asking how they’re doing. But like actually caring about how they’re doing is a very different thing. And that permeates all relationships. If you can actually start asking people how they’re doing from a genuine sense of curiosity and wanting to actually know what’s going on with them, everything transforms in terms of your relationships with other people. And that’s I think when things start to get really juicy and good.
But in terms of kids, for kids it starts with us. It starts with us modelling the behavior, and that’s positive attitudes towards openness, vulnerability, and sharing, and being curious. And that’s something that you always taught me Mike was like, actually being curious to hear what the other person has to say and being like, tell me more about that. The same things still work. ‘Tell me more about that’, is actually one of the most powerful things that you can say to another person if you don’t know what else to say. Buys you time to think about things.
Adam:01:12:40I think you learned that from Adam.
Matt:01:12:41I learned it from one of you guys. But ‘tell me more about that’ is a really powerful statement.
Adam:01:12:51I’ve heard that in an IBM sales training dude.
Matt:01:12:54Really? Is that where it comes from? I thought it must be like Dan … or something like that.
Adam:01:13:00Yeah, early 2000s man. In a much more constructive context man.
Matt:01:13:10Anyways, that’s kind of where I land on that.
Mike:01:13:14Well, that’s pretty awesome. I always find it interesting, being someone who struggled with dyslexia. So I’m a dyslexic. And it’s interesting that I view the educational system through a particular lens, because if you had the library set up there, and the library only had these very large steps, and someone in a wheelchair couldn’t get in there to use the library, everyone would cry out in horror. Yet, if you have someone who has some sort of learning disability and they have access to the library, they really don’t have access to the library. But no one really cares. And I sort of liken that to, if men are having these health issues, it really is sordid, the caring is starting. And I think what you’re saying is, hey, there is help, there is access and it’s okay to ask for it. And that’s the key is that it’s no different than any other type of sickness or illness, it requires attention. It requires the appropriate treatments. It’s not you’re weak, that’s not the answer. And I think that empowering men to be okay with that vulnerability is incredibly important. So Tethr is spelt a funny way too, so why don’t you tell everybody where they find it and all that funny stuff?
Matt:01:14:45We got like another 10 minutes or whatever before we go.
Mike:01:14:47If you’re good 10…
Matt:01:14:51I got another 10 man, so we don’t we don’t have to wrap up.
Mike:01:14:52What did we miss? What didn’t we ask?
Matt:01:14:55I don’t it’s that we didn’t ask anything, I think what’s great is that granted, we have a very deeply personal context that is preceding this conversation. But I think it’s really important that you guys are going outside of what you typically deliver in terms of content, what you typically deliver, because I think it’s so important to throw that hook to people once in a while, to keep them off balance, and to give them something that may expand their view, because I really do believe, and this is kind of where it comes back to the industry as a whole in the finance industry as a whole, it’s like, all of this stuff that people rail on finance for, like the destructive behavior, like the misogyny, like all of those things that we typically associate with the underbelly of finance, I think is in large part there because a lot of these guys are grown up boys that have never been given permission to cry.
And so what ends up happening is, you’ve been told that you’re not allowed to express yourself emotionally. What are the emotions that men are allowed to express? Anger is a really good one. But power and all of that force and energy that comes with it. And this is actually where that book really starts to get into it really well, because you have this triangle, so the archetypes have like a peak version and then they have descended versions. And so I would say go to the book, read King, Warrior, Magician, Lover, because so much of this stuff is really just about these archetypes kind of gone wrong, but within the finance related industry. It’s so interesting that there are so many guys out there that are overshare, like overdoing the aggression, you know sticking out their chest, the suits that they wear, the cars that they drive, it’s all about overcompensation. And what is that compensation for? It’s compensation for like a deep level of inadequacy. And there’s something underneath that. There are men that are just grown up boys that are feeling really sad that never, we’re never told that it was okay to cry and that it was okay to express emotionally.
And so what they do is they push that down, they push their feelings down, they push it aside and then it starts to come out in all of these different paths. And I am by absolute no means a saint when it comes to this. I know this because I’ve experienced it first-hand and I have absolutely been at that place where it’s like all I wanted to do was show you how manly I was, how much I could close, how much money I was going to make, the house that I was going to live in, I wanted all of that. And then when I started to actually go underneath the hood, what I realized was like I was just really sad, I felt really alone, I didn’t feel like I was good enough, I didn’t feel like I measured up to anybody or anything in this world. And then I needed to start to go and like repair all of that.
Mike:01:18:16Matt, so we have we have a male dominated field, it has all of those archetypes in it. Someone’s feeling that way right now and they’re watching this, what should they do?
Matt:01:18:28First of all, download Tethr. And that’s www.tethr.men. Come on. I know, it’s coming. It’s a meatball.
Mike:01:18:45How do you spell Tethr?
Matt:01:18:46T-E-T-H-R. So it’s www.tethr.men, and it’s TETHR, you can find us on social media @Tethrformen both on Instagram and on Twitter. If you’re not ready to share, I would just say just go in and just look at what the other guys are saying. Just scroll through. And what you’ll start to notice is that there is a space where these conversations can happen. And maybe you don’t do anything with that for a long period of time. And that is totally okay. But if you are feeling like there’s something missing, if you do feel like you want more purpose and meaning in your life, if you do feel like you want better relationships with other people, there are avenues that you can go down. There are men’s groups, I mean not right now but pre-COVID there was men’s retreats, there’s a lot of men’s groups that meet online weekly, therapy is great. Start the process, just take that first baby step. And, what I can tell you is that, that first step is going to feel like you’re wearing cement shoes, but like the cement will start to crumble away the more you start to rub that on the ground. It’ll just start to saw itself off, it’ll start to peel away, you’ll start to feel lighter and you’ll start to feel like your life matters more.
And again, this is a journey, there is no end state to this, this is something that I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life. This is something that we’re all going to be doing for the rest of our lives. And I think, getting in that mindset of it being a journey and then also finding that team of guys that can be on that journey with you. One of the biggest powers of peer support is that the men in our community no longer feel like they’re walking that path alone. Therapy, self-improvement, reading books, so much of that is done in isolation. But what we know is there’s the saying, in psychology that women heal face to face and men heal shoulder to shoulder. And there’s very much this idea and like if we look at sports as an example, there is such a deep profound connection that happens within a sports locker room. And if you look at what the Seattle Seahawks are doing with Pete Carroll, he’s very much trying to introduce a little bit more emotional vulnerability into his players and into his locker room culture. And that’s because when you bond that that level, you’re actually willing to do a lot more crazy shit, than when you’re not bonded at that level. The deeper the connection, the more you’re willing to go to bat for that person.
So I would say, just start to reach out, start to find those people in your life that you can actually begin having those conversations with. If it needs to be a therapist and truly safe, I would totally start there. But know that there are other men out there who are on this path and that are doing this as a collective and as a team.
Mike: 01:21:32Yeah, I think if you’re feeling alone, and you’re somewhere regardless of finance, but I just envision a lot of finance professionals and the myriad of men who are in different positions and are just feeling alone, for whatever reason and don’t know where to go. It’s pretty anonymous and innocuous to go download an app and start to begin the process of watching others share, just observing others having vulnerable conversations and realize that in your loneliness, you are not alone. And you’re just needing to find your conduit for which you can start to share and start to build more relationships. You’re just not alone. We know you feel alone, but you’re not alone. And pretty great place to start if you’re feeling really alone is the anonymity of an app.
Jason:01:22:32We’re all so hard on ourselves generally as men, we’re very hard on ourselves. We don’t allow ourselves anything, we are a brick wall to ourselves as opposed to having a backbone or some flexibility, and give ourselves permission to recognize we made a mistake a week later, a month later or a day later. Maybe sometimes we can get to an hour and we really get really good sometimes in the moment. And I think that is kind of alludes to what you just said there Matt, in terms of just like make progress. It’s a journey, you can have these moments where you have an aha, but even then, it’s still a step on the journey, it’s not necessarily the end. And while this has been fantastic, I can imagine we’ll have another, let’s do another call some time. I look forward to seeing you again.
Adam:01:23:21Get together for beers or something.
Matt:01:23:25I could come down the Cayman.
Mike:01:23:29Whatever you can get in.
Matt:01:23:30Is it cut off right now? Like no, I was already have to like have like a lipstick a twig up your nose first.
Mike:01:23:36Three times, three twigs, two weeks.
Jason:01:23:40… sometimes, few months from now.
Matt:01:23:45Yeah, listen, as soon as they start to let me go places I’m definitely going to be coming down. Rodrigo told me that I could sleep in the bottom of his pool, so I’m really looking forward to that.
Mike:01:23:59He’s such a giver that guy.
Adam:01:24:08The only place in his house that it’s available at the moment.
Mike:01:24:16Volunteer to be in the bottom of the pool. All right, this was great. Thank you gentlemen, another great Friday. Thank you Matt, and if you enjoyed the content by all means make sure you like and share. I think this particular episode has some far reaching implications that can be shared more broadly in finance, so smash the like button, write a review, send some comments in, hit up Tethr and have a great weekend.