Chris Brogan: A Best-Selling Author, Thought Leader, and Tech Exec Reflects on Managing Mental Health

Some of the most successful people of our age have experienced issues with mental health. From the outside it seems as if things couldn’t be better, but the inner world can be insidious in its ability to show the world one thing but experience the inner turmoil in another way.
This rings true for our guest on today’s episode. Chris Brogan, co-author of Trust Agents, chief of staff at AppFire, executive level strategist, CEO advisor working with companies at the $100 million revenue and up range, sought after keynote speaker, and The New York Times bestselling author of nine books and counting, and, did we miss anything? The point is, this man has accomplished more in this lifetime than most dream to accomplish in 10, and he did it while dealing with depression.
Chris’ grew up in a loving, supportive home – much like The Brady Bunch, as he says. However, he still experienced severe clinical depression. After trying many different treatments, he found what worked for him and was able to manage his depression in unique ways, while still hitting major professional and personal milestones.
Chris has faced demons head on, and has come out on the other side with a ton of wisdom to share with our listeners.
Tune in to hear a story of triumph and perseverance, and someone who did not give up in the face of mental health challenges.
Topics discussed in this episode:
  • Background of Chris’ story
  • What does AppFire do?
  • Chris’s experience with social media then and now
  • How has social media impacted Chris’ mental health
  • Curating social media to impact your life positively
  • The idea of collectively pushing social media to a more positive direction
  • Chris’ journey with depression and how he manages it
  • Advice for those dealing with mental illnesses
  • Chris’s experience with ketamine therapy
  • Cultivating connections with a good network
  • The importance of advocating for your mental health
  • What schools of thought has helped Chris manage his mental health
  • What it means to heal the inner child
Head to Chris’s website for more information on what he is up to or follow him on Twitter!

Chris Brogan: There’s accepting that our body is wired to primal reactions, and then there’s choosing the next action. And that’s, you know, Victor Frankel, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, one of those books that people pull out all the time.

Chris Brogan: you know, here’s a guy in a concentration camp choosing to smile, right. And really ticking off the guards at every turn, just by smiling. he knew that that choice was actually having an impact. And he knew that that was there was a ripple coming from it. It’s really easy as humans to think that we are, helpless and that we are worthless We’re harmless, we’re, you know, impact less, but impact comes from the dopiest things. if you test the ripples every now and again, if you make just the smallest little nudge in a direction and try to do it more often, Then things really start to build, and that’s where it’s all gonna come from, you know?

Chris Brogan: Yeah. And this is maybe that’s the secret message of The Shelly Story in some ways is that it’s it’s, it’s not gonna be from a big thunder clap. It’s gonna be from raindrops.

Nikhil Torsekar: Hi, this is Nikhil coming from Chicago with The Shelly Story. my wife, Shelly and I wrote a book and are currently working on a movie about our journeys with mental health, specifically bipolar disorder. As an offshoot of that, we’ve developed a podcast called The Shelly Story where we speak to people from a broad variety of backgrounds about diverse issues.

Nikhil Torsekar: most notably mental health, very excited to speak to today’s guest. Chris Brogan, I’d actually crossed paths with Chris, so to speak about, 12 years ago, when I read his book, Social Media 101 cover to cover, and then I guess in an illustration of the synchronicity in the universe, I recently became connected to him through our mutual friend, Rick Clemons.

Nikhil Torsekar: here’s a little bit of a background about Chris. Chris Brogan is the Chief of Staff at AppFire and an executive level strategist and CEO advisor. Working with companies at the hundred million dollar revenue and up range. he’s a sought after keynote speaker and showrunner of the Backpack Show.

Nikhil Torsekar: he’s a New York Times bestselling author of nine books and counting, and he’s currently working on his 10th. so Chris, great to have you on the show. Thanks so much for, thanks so much for, for joining us.

Chris Brogan: It means a lot you having me Nikhil, thank you!

Nikhil Torsekar: You. Yeah, absolutely. so can you tell us a little bit more about your background beyond what I’ve presented here because I know right now you’re working at AppFire. Maybe if you can take us back a little bit sort of, of the evolution of your journey.

Chris Brogan: Sure. I mean, I haven’t had a day job in a hundred years too, so it’s kind of weird to start with that because you know, I, I said yes, after working for my own company for more than 10 years, throughout the various iterations of me, I’ve been somewhere involved in technology.

Chris Brogan: some were involved in communications and some were involved in, marketing and media.  Professionally I started million years ago with, the old phone company back when there was the one and I’ve worked in wireless telecom, I’ve worked in, events.

Nikhil Torsekar: Was it called Ma Bell back then?

Chris Brogan: Well, that’s how we all called it, but, yeah, it was, in my neck of the woods, it was New England Telephone and then it became, uh Nynex and then eventually Verizon. but yeah, but people who have a telecom background are a little different than other people.

Chris Brogan: And so right. What you know about telecom people is that we’re all very, insular. Like we think that everything is, you know, all inside our own business don’t ever look outside for the future. Innovation’s a bad word, probably. I grew up just always asking a version of the question, “wouldn’t it be neat if we could do this?”

Chris Brogan: Or, “how would this work?” I think that that’s been kind of my guiding star all along is can I help people, can I help companies, can I help anyone get where they want to go? That’s a little different than what the map shows right now. Right now you are at, AppFire and you’re serving as Chief of Staff Can you tell me a little bit more about the day to day at AppFire,

Chris Brogan: so there’s a company called Atlassian who makes JIRA and confluence and they bought Trelloand what Atlassian does is it’s an enterprise SAS type company. So they, they make big enterprise software. So AppFire has since the beginning of, places like Atlassian, worked with companies, bigger enterprise companies on how to implement this kind of technology.

Chris Brogan: And also as we started moving along, we started developing, creating our own. So Atlassian have a certain set of software that did trouble ticketing and whatnot, and we would build things on top of it that could really make, better solutions than just the out of the box feeling mm-hmm so.

Chris Brogan: People could add things like, project portfolio management, they could add things like, agile for instance, has been a, a big change in development in business, which is, this whole process. well we have all kinds of agile tools, like what they call planning poker and, how to develop better Kanban systems or whatnot to, to better isolate which, which projects to work on and that sort of thing.

Chris Brogan: So we do solutions and apps, for enterprise collaboration. Anytime a company has the opportunity to, change something in the way that they plan business or the way that they deliver that plan, and execute on it. That that’s what we’re trying to touch. So we have customers in 55% of the Fortune 500, and, like I said, it’s, it’s a different way of doing software because who used to be around were just big guys like Oracle and big giant companies that would sell you multimillion dollar software installs.

Chris Brogan: And we said, “man, wouldn’t it be cool if you could make enterprise software that you could buy off a credit card?” And that’s where we are.

Nikhil Torsekar: are your, customers, all over the map when it comes to industries and revenues Or do you mostly cater to, larger enterprise clients?

Chris Brogan: So a lot of them are larger. So a lot of the biggest names, zoom, Tesla, Microsoft, Google, have AppFire products installed. and then there’s a lot of smaller companies as well. So I mean, it’s, it’s the kind of software that you could have as little as a few thousand dollars of it in your business.

Nikhil Torsekar: so obviously we wanted to touch on a couple different topics. The main thing, since, The Shelly Story is really focused on, mental health and right people who have gone through their journeys and have found ways to manage it. we’ve talked to people on both sides of the table, really from people suffering with specific, disorders or people who are providers of alternative solutions.

but I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the topic that had connected us, which is, which is social media. I always equate it to these days, you know, how people talk about crypto, that was like, you know, it was a fad that’s becoming more mainstream, but that was your foray into it back when it was still a little bit of a novelty. I really did wanna understand a little bit your, your perspective on, social media, because, in our last conversation you made a great analogy and you stated that, ” I’m not a social media guy. social media’s kind of the tool.” And it’s like, you write content, but you use a keyboard to create the content. So, you’re not a typist guy that would be a misnomer, but you have a lot of very interesting insights So, I just wanted to get, your insights about social media, how you’ve seen it evolve. for good and bad in your life

Nikhil Torsekar: What was the platform back then for cuz I remember in the late nineties, they had Geocities, but I wasn’t sure were there actually blogging platforms, back then?

Chris Brogan: No. and in fact it was funny because when we would find each other out there in the realms of Geocities and Lycos, if you remember Lycos and yeah, some of those other companies. one of them, Trellix, for instance, I was using TRX.

Chris Brogan: And that was a company made by Dan Bricklin, who was the original founder of VisiCalc.

Nikhil Torsekar: Yeah, yeah. Was, That was like the first, that was like the killer app for the apple. if I recall correctly, right?

Chris Brogan: The first spreadsheet, online, first digital spreadsheet and, you know, changed the world, you know, there was no Lotus before this.

Chris Brogan: There was no, Excel.

Chris Brogan: I thought back then, gee, this is amazing. I can put down my thoughts and feelings and share them just, Click, click, click, click. And the whole web knows what I’m thinking. and then it took about eight years for that to mean anything because it turns out no one cares what you’re thinking.

Chris Brogan: Like, they care if it, you know, if it connects with them, you know, you and I were joking a little pre-show we were bonding over Paul Giamatti of all things. Yeah. I’d read a Paul Giamatti blog. You would too. That’s the power of this technology. And even before all these things, I was involved in old, bulletin board services. Yeah. And

Nikhil Torsekar: Like Compuserve and Prodigy and those things.

Chris Brogan: Before them, even they had FidoNet type, uh BBSs that people would run on their systems in their house. And so they’d have like an old server, hooked up to a couple modems. And, you know, I, I always joke about, you know, the big differences in a, in a old timey BBS is if you and I wanted to argue about a movie or something like that, you know, you’d have to dial in, you’d have to wait for the modem to connect.

Chris Brogan: You’d have to go find the forgo to the folder. Yeah. Or open the message and say, this star Trek is stupid and then you’d have to hang up and then I’d have to dial in, go find the folder, go down to your message. Right. And go, yeah, well you’re stupid. And then hang up and let you dial back in and, you know, fight with me.

Nikhil Torsekar: Think about how pissed off you’d have to be to get into a flame war like that. I mean, you’d have to have so much, you know, patience to, to endure all those, logistical hiccups. it’s not like today we just thumb out a fiery tweet, you know?

Chris Brogan: Exactly. And yet people would do it.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. all of it was the same to me. I just wanted to connect with people. I just wanted to talk about the things I wanted to talk about. And I think that I’ve said this in a lot of ways, this comes from being, I was I was raised in Maine.

there was, it was very small, there were three major conversations. It was, you know, Led Zeppelin or Van Halen. It was Camaro or Mustang. And would the Red Sox ever win a world series? Which, back then, the answer was probably “not really.” And so once you get through those three plus weather, that was it. Nobody had anything else to talk about.

Nikhil Torsekar: The answer to number one is obviously Led Zeppelin. I mean, hands down, that’s, that’s a fact,

Chris Brogan: see now we have to fight, but , that’s why the internet exists and, you know, right. It’s, it’s fun because, you know, these are the things that take up our time. Like that is where the energy is.

Chris Brogan: And if you, if you sort of saw the massive information that’s out there, it’s always around things like that more than it’ll ever be around, particle fusion. And should we use that to power our cars? And that’s always been that way. So I just, you know, from a million billion years ago until now, I still have the same opinion, which is these tools are not themselves “gee whiz,” but the opportunity to connect and make some kind of a relationship with people you otherwise would have no reason to be in contact with.

Chris Brogan: That’s the magic in this old silk hat. There’s like such a great chance to connect with people. You shouldn’t be able to reach and yet you can.

Yeah, for sure. And then it’s also the depth of the connection. you can have conversations with celebrities that you, you would have no business necessarily interacting with for good and bad.

Nikhil Torsekar: I’ve had some struggles with it because again, like for our book and our platform, there’s no way, we would be able to reach out to people, on the scale that we are right now. where I’ve struggled with it is, is just, I do feel sometimes prey to it, just in terms of “is my content worth a plugged nickel?” You know, all this stuff that I’m spending all my time and my pouring my heart and soul into. What’s it all worth if it’s not reaching, the right, the right audience and also there’s the, pretty standard FOMO. I mean, there’s always those carefully curated pictures of people’s vacations.

I’m a parent looking at other kids, you know, what college did they get into? What awards did they, did they win. do you feel like it’s something that you’ve been able to, harness mostly for good, or do you find that it has impacted your, mental health, much these days?

Chris Brogan: Maybe early, early, early on, as you know, is kind of the rise of my efforts and all that sort of a thing. When I was starting to get really popular as a blogger in 05 or 06, you know, there was, it was quite the crazy rat race out there. And it was, there was a lot of, you know, how many people are doing this or what are, what people are doing that, or, wow.

Chris Brogan: I was way ahead of such and such a person. And now I’m not, you know, in that kind of a thing. And you can, you can definitely have, I mean, there’s a lot of counting involved in social networks, this many followers, this many, you know, subscribers, this post got this many likes, there’s this many people watching this thing live right now, you know, there’s, there’s all of those moments that you could have to feel like the kid who nobody showed up at your birthday party.

Chris Brogan: And I would say that that’s really dangerous for a lot of people’s ego. I would love to lie and be like, no, totally “psssh” nothing. I’ve never felt a single emotion about any of that. everybody feels that emotion every, every, everybody. Right. I made a joke once to a billionaire about that. Nobody liked his speech, not realizing that billionaires also have, feelings.

Chris Brogan: I didn’t know. I thought, “with that much money who cares what I think?”, it’s that saying, you know, “do you think the lion ever concerns himself with the bleatings of the sheep?” It’s supposed to be “no.” Well, everybody’s just sheep, you know, we maybe get to be the line, but we still have that sheep, you know, underbelly that says I hope people like me.

Chris Brogan: But yeah I, I think I, I spent a lot of concentrated effort, with my mental health, with my spirituality to uncouple from all of that stuff and not care a lick yeah. About it. And I, I could tell you now that, you know, despite the rare moment of FOMO where every one of my friends is at some conference and I’m not, yeah. I’m not even in that industry anymore. So when I have those moments of FOMO, I’m like, why would I be there?

Chris Brogan: What would I benefit? Right. Besides a lot of hugs from some people I really love. Right.

Nikhil Torsekar: Maybe some fun hats and, beer cozies and stuff like that.

Chris Brogan: Right, right, right. But I would say that that world is really alive and abundant. You know, there’s, there’s a lot of teen of violence, teen mental health attacks going on. people are getting bullied for the weirdest things, If you show up in the default skins on Fortnite, you could get beat up for that kind of thing, you know? And parents are so quick to brush it off, but it’s the equivalent of if you showed up in Pony sneakers instead of Nike, you know? Yeah. And it’s, it’s as real as it was for you in this new format. So it’s tricky out there.

Nikhil Torsekar: I guess it’s, you always have to take the good with the bad. That’s really what I’ve made as my charges to really look to the benefits of things. Like for instance, like it’s mental health awareness month right now, and the number of people that I’m able to connect with and the type of content that I’m getting exposed to.

Chris Brogan: I, I just feel very fortunate, to be in this era where we have access to all those great resources,

Nikhil Torsekar: So I made a, very conscious effort in that regard and I’ll, I’ll share that right now because it does play right into the mental health stuff as well.

We choose a lot of where we, we put our attention. We can block people, we can unfollow people. And we put our time towards where we wanna spend it.

Nikhil Torsekar: So for instance, I can go watch fail videos on YouTube and watch a lot of people’s misery. Which can make a lot of people laugh, or I can watch those ones that are called “Restoring Faith in Humanity.” And you see people buying a car for this cafeteria worker who hadn’t had a car and was walking six miles to work every day.

I cry so many times a day watching YouTube videos. Mm-hmm and I’ll, you know, I’ll come bleary eyed from crying, from watching, you know, a whole bunch of like, military secret return videos where the. Dad hops out of a cake at school or something, and the kids are losing.

Nikhil Torsekar: Yeah. Very uplifting, uplifting message.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. but I seek those and, and I think that, you know, if, if we choose to seek, joy and other ones suffering, then what, you know, what’s really weird is we’ll find it. my dad especially is very, he’s got the, the, the hook really deep on him about, politics.

Chris Brogan: And so I say, you know, what’s amazing is I watch zero of those shows and I still feel informed enough to vote. So maybe there’s other ways to do it. Maybe you don’t have to yell at your screen, you know, four hours a day. Yeah. And I feel Nikhil that there’s so many people, who forget that, you know, well, you know, we need to be informed.

Chris Brogan: you don’t, you need, you need to choose where you want to make a contribution and change things. Are there bad things? There are always bad things. Are there good things? There are always good things. You just can pick the one you wanna work on and it doesn’t have to be Pollyannaism; you don’t have to put on rose colored glasses.

Chris Brogan: You can just choose where you invest your calories.

Nikhil Torsekar: Calories is a great way to talk about it because I definitely equate what I consume. from an information standpoint, it’s so much like, eating food. think about how you feel after you eat three Big Macs and a Frosty, I guess I’m cross pollinating brands there.

Nikhil Torsekar: Cause that’s Wendy’s and McDonald’s., but think about when you’re ingesting all that garbage. you feel uplifted maybe for the moment, but then there’s that, malaise that sets in. It’s the same thing for me. I’d say TikTok is probably the most insidious one where it’s just, I can sit there and just watch all these, like you said, these failed videos or whatever, and because it’s a guilty pleasure.

Nikhil Torsekar: And then, an hour later, I wonder, what did I do with my time? And it’s the one, two punch it’s double whammy because on the one hand feel drained. and I don’t feel as disposed to, go do some exercise or go do something worthwhile, but there’s no output to account for all that energy that’s been expended.

Nikhil Torsekar: So my hat’s off to you for being able to, to regulate that, you know, and, and seek out the good things, because as I’m sure, you know, it’s a cognitive bias, right? Because our brains tend to just be drawn to the negative stimuli. I think they’ve done studies where they show like 49 smiley faces and that one frowny face.

Nikhil Torsekar: And then you look at where the eye and the attention goes, it’s always to that blotch,on a otherwise great painting

Chris Brogan: There’s some primal reasons for that though. And there are probably good reasons, right? Like we’re always survival, instinctive emergencies, right?

Chris Brogan: So the emergencies, if someone’s not happy out of the 49, we probably ought look at them because maybe there’s an issue there. Maybe we need to take something on, but,there’s accepting that our body is wired to primal reactions, and then there’s choosing the next action. Victor Frankel, wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, one of those books that people pull out all the time.

 here’s a guy in a concentration camp choosing to smile, right. And really ticking off the guards at every turn, just by smiling. And I keep thinking what a dude, because he could choose. And he knew that that choice was actually having an impact. And he knew that there was a ripple coming from it.

it’s really easy as humans to think that we are, helpless and that we are worthless and that we are, we’re a lot less, right. We’re harmless, we’re worthless, we’re, impact less, but impact comes from the dopest things. And so I find that if you test the ripples every now and again, if you make just the smallest little nudge in a direction and try to do it more often, Then things really start to build, and that’s where it’s all gonna come from, you know?

Chris Brogan: Yeah. And this is maybe that’s the secret message of The Shelly Story in some ways is that it’s not gonna be from a big thunder clap. It’s gonna be from raindrops.

Nikhil Torsekar: Well, I, there there’s that quote that I love, If you doubt the impact of things that are small, try sleeping in a tent, with a mosquito all night. So it’s always, it’s good and bad. I mean, but it’s, it’s always the power of the small things that can really, move mountains, I did want to talk about the topic that I think is really important, which is mental health.

Nikhil Torsekar: And, you’ve been very forthcoming in talking about depression and your experience with it. as you know, Shelly and I had a very, interesting multifaceted journey, with mental health because I had suffered from bipolar disorder for more than two decades.

Nikhil Torsekar: Finally got diagnosis and treatment. six years later, I would say that life is good. I mean, there are challenges, but I would say I’m very grateful for how things have progressed. Since I finally accepted, the bipolar disorder, talked to our mutual friend, Rick Clemens yesterday, and. the great analogy would be like becoming UN closeted.

Nikhil Torsekar: Right? I love that analogy because, just finally getting out and living this identity and all that it entails. I’d love to hear more about your, journey with depression, when it originated and how you’re managing it currently. is it something that you identified early on or is it something that over time you started to see it in your life more?

There’s an interesting, experience that goes on with depression that still to this day is the way we talk about it a lot, which.

Chris Brogan: There’s the feeling of depression. Oh man. I feel depressed today. Yeah. And then there’s a medical clinical problem called depression, which is, there’s a lot of chemicals involved in that one. What happens to a lot of people, including evidently myself was, I would say “I’m dealing with depression” to family members and loved ones who didn’t know any better.

Chris Brogan: And they go, “well, just cheer up.” And you know, all the things that you…

Nikhil Torsekar: PMA – “the power of positive mental attitude, right?”

Chris Brogan: that’s right. Right. And so you would, you know, there’s so many ways that people have of let’s, you know, so much advice basically. And I would say, you know, what’s really cool is go up to somebody in a wheelchair and try to “advice” them out of it and see what happens.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. You know, take glasses off someone’s face and advice them into being able to see it. And I’ll show you what depression looks like. The other problem I had with depression was I kept thinking, “I should be able to deal with this. You know, this is dopey. I don’t even have real problems. I have, I have the normal problems, a regular human will have, oh, I don’t have enough money.”

Chris Brogan: Right. Whatever. Right. Well, the problem with the chemical problem of depression, the way I explained mine is it feels like you’re driving around with the handbrake on. So everything takes more work. Everything is harder. if I see a blank form, for instance, ” pshew” my head goes, forget, it I’ll probably need a nap after this.

Chris Brogan: If I have to fill out a form for something like, apply for a new passport or something, I’m done that wrecks me in a way that it has no impact on “neuronormative” people. So with depression, what was going on with me is like, if you kind of imagine sort of a wave in the wave is, you know, people’s ups and downs in life.

Chris Brogan: My whole wave was set about 40% lower than everyone else’s. So it was the wave in. And so I was feeling what I thought were the same emotions. Other people felt, you know, I’m feeling good. Right. And then, and then boy, oh boy, you get a, you get a really good medication one day and he went, oh, wait a minute.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. This is what you guys feel. And that’s, the entirety of the, the drug system when it comes to mental health. Right.

Nikhil Torsekar: Except what was the timeline like Chris, for that? I mean, was it something like, oh, early adulthood or before that?

Chris Brogan: No. So, so, I mean, I dealt with depression for lots and lots and lots of years.

So the number one way to treat depression was with, SSRIs, serotonin something uptake reinhibitor basically right. There’s a whole set of drugs that say, when this comes along, we’re gonna mash it with this kind of a problem and you’re gonna be fine.

Chris Brogan: And what happens with SSRIs with most of them. Because there’s like a whole bunch that you’ve heard of Prozac and Wellbutrin and all these other ones, a lot of them have the same other side effects. You get fat and you lose your sex drive. And all I thought was, if I lose my sex drive, I’m gonna have more problems with depression, depression, depression, right.

Chris Brogan: Not fewer, I like sex. And that’s how I thought about it. And, and, you know, I would say this to doctors and they’d be like, well, but isn’t your mental health important? I was like, you don’t make a guy choose. Like, that’s not how life is supposed to work

Nikhil Torsekar: “Your money or your life,” as the saying goes.

Chris Brogan: Right, that’s a rather, I wouldn’t say it’s, it is primal, right.

Chris Brogan: What are we supposed to do? We’re supposed to procreate. We’re supposed to protect those things until they go on and make another life. Everything else is gravy. So right. I took all the drugs everyone takes and, the official ones and none of them were doing a great job for me. And then, way back, 2012, my, shrink who I went to go see, had not prescribed well, he was getting me ready to try a, a, a new.

Chris Brogan: That was just coming onto the market, which supposedly wasn’t gonna hurt my sex drive. And I was like, mm-hmm, , I’m all for this. And he says, have you heard of any of the experiments going on with drugs? Like ketamine? I said no. Mm mm-hmm yep. I didn’t know what ketamine was. I it’s like 50, 50 people know it as a party drug.

Nikhil Torsekar: You said this was in 2012,

Chris Brogan: 2012 I think it was. Oh, wow.

Chris Brogan: It was well it’s bet out forever, but first, it was a, tranquilizer. And then people were like, man, I’m hallucinating on your stupid tranquilizer.

Chris Brogan: And they’re like, oh, no problem. We’ll make it a horse tranquilizer. Yeah. Yeah. And then the horses were like, well, I don’t like it anymore than you do. . And, and so the horse, stopped using it too. And then it became a party drug and they’d call it special. K right. Special K. Yeah. So I’ll skip a few steps to say that this is how I treat my depression, but I will tell you that, that what that involves is a massive amount of hallucinations that I can’t imagine a normal human doing in kind of a party environment.

Chris Brogan: Like I was not much of a drug guy, so I don’t get it. Like I didn’t even smoke pot. but I, but I, when I take that drug, it, it, I hallucinate. So back to the setting, the way they give it to me is I go to a doctor’s office. I sit in a doctor’s room with a IV and all kinds of heart monitors, and they just pump this drug into me for an hour.

Chris Brogan: And it washes through my entire body. What I feel is this almost kind of warm, glowy feeling, almost like when you’ve had a couple of glasses of Brandy mm-hmm on a cold winter’s night and then

Nikhil Torsekar: No Merlot. Paul Giammati would not approve.

Chris Brogan: No, no merlow no,

Nikhil Torsekar: I can’t say the word, but no Merlot go ahead. Sorry.

Chris Brogan: So I started doing that drug, that drug. For me, and it’s different for a lot of people. And it only seems to work on about 11% of people. Yeah. It took all my depression feelings away. it’s all, all the worst of the symptoms. So I was not feeling like I drove over the hand break on. I was feeling like if a challenge came up, I would feel this kind of wash of energy and go, all right, let me see if I could take on this challenge.

Chris Brogan: I’ll see if I can figure this out. Yeah. I’ve never said that for like 25 years. So Nikhil that changed everything for me and what I really is. Wow. I can really work on my sleep. I can work on my lifestyle. I can work on, you know, people say to you, these things that sounds so simple, like sleep is important.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. But as you probably know, from bipolar disorder, and as I know from depression, sleep is a perfect time for everything bad to come and attack you. So, yeah. you know, I wasn’t working on it and I was afraid of it. And so I think that.

Chris Brogan: So I wanna stop and pause and change the topic for a second. Just to say, I don’t talk about any of this, like a victim, right?

Chris Brogan: None of this is bad. None of this is awful. My reason I started talking to people about this was to say, I deal with all that. And I’m an entrepreneur. Mm-hmm I deal with all that. And I now have a regular old day job where in which I’m vocal about my mental illness and still manage my day job. And so I wanted just to stop us on that, just because I realized that some people are like, you know, wow, that really blows that guy’s gotta, you might also be dealing with that, you know, in some other way that people who are gonna be part of this project are think.

Chris Brogan: Well, I’m not gonna tell my boss, I deal with depression. I’m gonna defend that. Maybe you could. And that’s why I figure you and I are talking.

Nikhil Torsekar: Yeah. I think it’s, it’s very courageous of you to be so forthright because entrepreneurs, really have to ha have brains of steel and body of steel, where you’re going into this domain, which is, there’s so much uncertainty and there’s no playbook about how to make X dollars and, you’re subject to the whims of the market And so to be in that world and to be so transparent about the struggles that you’re having is very, impressive.

Nikhil Torsekar: So I, I really applaud you for that. Overall, I mean, have you found that it’s been very effective? Like, has it been well received by your clients and your collaborators or have you gotten pushback when you say to people, I’m going through depression right now?

Nikhil Torsekar: I need a little bit of time Yeah. well, so let’s break it up a little bit. So one element that I’ve done from having this experience for instance is, I, I, I think that even more important than brains and, and body of steel is what’s the most important thing in any business relationship it’s communication, right?

Chris Brogan: Sure. If, if I’m not gonna make my deadline. I really need to communicate to some people I’m not gonna make my deadline where people, who deal with depression kind of run into a problem is they, they hide on that one. They forget to, communicate what’s going on, or they’re afraid to communicate what’s going on.

Chris Brogan: They’re like, oh no, these people are gonna find out I’m dealing with depression. I’m gonna run and hide from them. Well, I learned that all I had to do is say, Hey, I should let you know. I deal with clinical depression. Doesn’t impact the, the level of my work. Sometimes it slows down my work. Mm-hmm if ever I’m in one of those situations, if ever I’m kind of feeling that that’s just gonna take me a little longer, I’m gonna let you know.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. And I’m gonna try my damnedest to make sure that, you know, I have my, deadlines managed for you, but I’m always gonna let you know, anyway, just in case we’re gonna run up against something and I, what I’m hoping you’ll come out of this with, is that feeling of, wow. He mentioned it, but it never really did come up.

Chris Brogan: That’s the goal. If it doesn’t come out that way, then at least you’ll have heard. And I’ll tell you to it. Every turn, the more I communicate and then show like, whatever output I come up with, mm-hmm, the better it is every time. Right. Because it’s not, you know, I, I’m not always gonna win every time. I’m not the quarterback, you know, in, in some fictitious movie I’m, I’m gonna fumble.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. And so when I do, I communicate that I fumble and I pick something back up again. The other thing though, with, helping people understand how to deal with and, and, and work in and around your mental challenges is I always tell people, dealing with things like depression, and this is probably true for you and bipolar.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. I tell people without depression, even they should learn how to schedule their days. Not to a hundred percent. If you look at your computer for instance, and if your CPU on your computer is peg did a hundred percent, you can’t even use your computer. It’s sitting there going, ah, full. Right. Right.

Chris Brogan: Well, why do we try to build our schedules to be 120% or. I schedule my days to 40% you and one other meeting were the only official things on my entire calendar today. And I, you know, the boss just asked me to connect with him after that’s it. So you can’t always do that. Sometimes they’re super busy.

Chris Brogan: I’ve had days where every 20 minutes I’ve got something. Right. But I try to aim for scheduling only 40%. And I try really hard to honor that in how I execute my other choices in my life. And so I think that if we start working around our challenges, we’re gonna have a better day of it too. Yeah.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. You know, and I think, one of the things you had mentioned in, I love on, on your website, you have this, cheat sheet.

Chris Brogan: Right. And I think one of the things on there was, starting with acceptance and permission is that sort of in line with what you were just talking about is just giving yourself. Acceptance of the fact that you might have some of these challenges you have to deal with and, you know, permission to maybe not, not be so exacting and demanding of, of yourself, right?

Chris Brogan: Yeah. I mean, I, I just talked to a person the other day that was saying that, you know, she didn’t know what to do when everything was coming to a head and everything was just going crazy. And I said, well, you know, by the way, dropping everything is actually one of the ways you can deal with it all, like literally just let it all drop and then pick it up again.

Chris Brogan: Mm-hmm , you know, and people, like, I never thought of that. And I was like, the only thing you can’t drop in life are babies and something you hope to put in your mouth, right? Like everything else you could drop for a minute, it’s all fine. And so, and even babies, if you’re a parent, you’ve dropped a baby don’t lie.

Chris Brogan: So, you know, guess what they do, they bounce and, thank goodness for the world. But you know, life is about. depressurizing those bad moments. Right. And then picking back up and going, okay. Whew, boy, I just went through that and then you just keep going. You don’t have to stop. You can keep going, but you can depressurize and that’s a lot of times what we need more than the other part mm-hmm

Nikhil Torsekar: one thing you talked a little bit about, ketamine that is being like a effective, treatment. Are you still using that right now? some people take it about once every six months. I take it about once every year. I have gone a year and a half or so sometimes and felt, you know, okay. To manage myself. okay. So it’s really different for different people. I take it intravenously. Sometimes there’s a, a setup where you, you take it intravenously. And then there’s like an inhaler, almost like an asthma inhaler and you, or a nasal one.

Chris Brogan: And you could take that every couple of months. And so, I haven’t gone to that method and I haven’t needed it. And by the way, I should stress stress again. Ketamine’s just one medicine that you could take for depression. Yeah. There’s so many options. but I think what I’d mostly wanna say is it’s important to try to find the right medicine and that there’s almost always going to be a medical component.

Chris Brogan: If you have clinical depression. I always say that because yeah, that’s what I was just gonna ask is I don’t need to take drugs. Right. You don’t need to do anything, but I definitely need to wear my glasses if I wanna see anything.

Nikhil Torsekar: Right. I was just gonna ask, what other tools are you using to manage your mental health?are you taking, any medications or are you going to therapy? I was never especially good with therapy. but I read a lot of books on resilience. Dr. Robert Brooks is a really good guy who writes about a lot of mental health stuff.

Chris Brogan: He’s a mental health professional for maybe four decades or so. his talks are always about how resilience is very important and resilience is based on a few things. It’s kind of how you bounce back from things, but also what kind of a network have you built around you?

Chris Brogan: And one thing that he tells in several different books is if you are trying to go it alone, you are going to fail. That does not mean you need a significant other, but you need a network of humans. You can reach out to in some form or another, no matter what that is. Friends, family, church, whatever.

Chris Brogan: if you try to go solo. You’re gonna have a bad time. Yeah.

Nikhil Torsekar: Yeah. Relationships and, he also mentioned about micro moments. I think you talk about in one of your, appearances, right. Just emphasizing those moments of joy that can really take care of you through the bad times as well.

Chris Brogan: Right? Absolutely. Yeah.

Nikhil Torsekar: I want to touch on that a little bit because that’s so important. in my experience, I’m very blessed to have a very supportive wife. my kids, I have a great relationship with them. Not always perfect as, you know, being a parent, but for the most part, I consider myself very fortunate.

Nikhil Torsekar: and yeah, it’s very important to have friends that know you for who you are, and if they see you veering off the path a little bit, they’ll check in on you and they won’t let. Things get out of control. on the other hand, there’s what I like to refer to as the Marie condo approach to relationships, which is making sure that you are cultivating the good ones and also pruning or just removing the ones that are toxic or that, that are not serving you well, what’s been your experience with relationships in terms of managing your mental health? you did allude to, the importance of surrounding yourself and having a good community, but, how about the flip side of that?

Nikhil Torsekar: Have there been times where you’ve had to, extricate yourself from certain relationships for me personally, I’m a strange kind of mix of human. Anyway, I’m a very introverted person. I prefer my own company.

Chris Brogan: I prefer being to myself a lot more than other people do. but then I do start to miss people and I do get a little extroverted and also by the nature of being a guy who speaks on stage to thousands of people at a time, and then goes to conferences where I’m hugging hundreds of people at a time.

Chris Brogan: it’s really hard to, balance that sometimes the reason people go, I can’t believe you’re not an extrovert. I say, well, when I’m done having this great time, hugging all these people, I go back to my hotel room and curl up for a day and a half. Right. You know, other people are like, let’s do more crazy things.

Chris Brogan: That’s how you know, they’re next to, right. I think that, what’s your,

what’s your M B D I, if you don’t mind me asking, I don’t know if you’re into that Meyers Briggs thing at all.

Chris Brogan: Oh, oh, I don’t remember. I. Introvert F whatever the other of F was, I N T J or something like that. I don’t know.

Chris Brogan: Yeah.

Nikhil Torsekar: I’m always curious to hear what, what people’s I, MBTI are, but

Chris Brogan: mine is, mine is, terribly wrong, I guess, you know, whenever, whenever I read it to people, they’re like, no, you’re not like, know, I don’t know. You know, I paid someone to take the test from me. That’s what they said. But no, the, I would say that with relationships, the most important thing, there again is.

Chris Brogan: Oh, alright. Here’s, here’s what I, I would say about all of that. It’s all back to personal advocacy. It’s all about what you need. my son is a very highly functioning, autistic child. He’s very highly functioning. He’s super smart. it’s not unobvious that he’s autistic, but it just doesn’t get in the way of a lot of things.

Chris Brogan: He’s a very, good, operating kind of guy. Mm-hmm everything works. So, but when we fly, for instance, he does not like takeoff, that is not his moment. And so he had to try to figure a way around it. And I think it was his mom who came up with the idea she’s brilliant. he has to sing. So when he goes to take off, he just sings along with something and plays his, headphones or whatever.

Chris Brogan: And he has to belt it out, out loud then. And, oh my gosh, this makes me uncomfortable. It makes me nervous. It makes me feel worried. Sure. You know what it’s exactly what he needs. So this last flight, I was like, you go, and both times that he, you know, before the takeoffs, he says to me, dad, I’m gonna tell the guy sitting next to us, just so he is, you know, so he’s not weirded out by me.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. I said, I think he’s gonna be weirded out by you telling him you’re about to sing really loud. And he goes, I I’m gonna tell him. I said, yeah. Okay. I was like, I was having the problems with it. Yeah. And guess what? Both times he told a complete stranger I’m nervous when planes take off. And when I do, I sing out loud both times the guy was like, Hey, no problem.

Chris Brogan: That’s great. You do what you gotta do. I’m the dad, like, I’m, I’m the one having the emotional problem with it, like an idiot. So let’s pull that out for a second that’s relationships. You’ve gotta advocate for what you need and sort of like with you and Shelly, you know, there are times when you’re dealing with your stuff and your, your illness.

Chris Brogan: I always tell people this all the time, you’re never allowed to be an ass. your mental health is not a badge to be an ass. You might do things that are not such great things, but you don’t get permission because you have a mental illness. Yeah. And you have to apologize just like everybody else.

Chris Brogan: And you have to try not to do the, the jerk thing. And so. you have to advocate for yourself. I can’t go to this party. I know it’s important to you. I know you’re gonna be upset with me. I can’t go to the party. That’s it? Right. Shelly has to advocate. She has to say, you’re driving me crazy right now. I know you’re going through a problem right now.

Chris Brogan: I’ve gotta disengage. You’re gonna have to go solo through some of these forests right now. I can’t pull you through the rest of this forest right now. I’ve gotta let go, you know? Yeah. And I think that again with what’s the most important part of that communication, for sure. If you hear that, but you hear also, but I love you and I’m gonna pick it up the minute my hands can and I’m, and I’m here for you.

Chris Brogan: I just can’t do it that way then every then everything’s clear, cuz you’re not hearing, I’m not doing this because I’m mad at you or I’m not doing this because I, I can’t, you know, you, you make me grumpy instead. You’re hearing, this is what I need. This is what you need. They’re not in alignment right now, but I’m still on the team.

Chris Brogan: Right. Like that’s important stuff and, and that’s, I think that’s what we should all struggle to do. And so when my kid says to me, dad, I gotta sing. When we take off at an airplane, now I’m singing with him. Let’s go. That’s so cute.

Nikhil Torsekar: I love that. I love that. Yeah. I mean, and, and so you’re saying that people have been pretty, pretty accommodating then, like on, on flights and stuff.

Nikhil Torsekar: When your, when your son has to do that, then hasn’t been any, pushback or any sort of raised eyebrows then.

what other people think is the least interesting and least valuable, response to the universe at a large, that right. There is pretty much, religion and philosophy in a nutshell.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. Breaking your, breaking, your tie and your connection and your fears and your worries to what other people think that’s a multitrillion dollar industry, all on it. we talked before about some of the, influences that have been helpful for you in terms of, scholars you’ve read or, you had mentioned, one that’s very popular, which is, sod guru.

Nikhil Torsekar: I wanted to hear a little bit more about some of these schools of thought that have resonated with you in terms of, helping to manage your mental health and, just live a happier fuller life. the first real connection I had, like that was with Pema Chodron, Shambhala Buddhist author and nun. my friend Julien Smith, my co-author Julien Smith said, you ought read this book. Seth Godin told me to read it, but I’m not going to. He said you should. And I was like, okay, Seth Godin told her to read it.

Chris Brogan: Or, Seth Godin told Julien, you should read When Things Fall Apart. And Julien said, I’m not gonna read this. And he told me to read it instead. And I did, and I loved it. And I went and I met Pema Chodron. I converted to Shambhala Buddhism, which is, more a practical kind of conversion. It’s not a religious one.

Chris Brogan: Like you could be Christian and do the same thing. You could be Jewish and do this certain thing, right? It doesn’t overlay your religious beliefs. It’s more like a practice. But one of the things in there is a concept called shenpa S H E N PA, which is the idea of like a hook. And the idea is that, you know, every now and again, things in life will hook us.

Chris Brogan: We’re a fish and we bite that hook, even though we know it’s just a metal. And we’re like, this is not food. This is not good for us. We see it. It’s a metal. Yeah. I think I’ll bite it and see if it’s food, right.

Nikhil Torsekar: Like a conditioned response almost. It sounds like.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. And we do it all the time. Let’s say that, “always” for instance, is a phrase that means that we’re biting something.

Chris Brogan: Never like, I always fail at taking a diet.  I start the diet, I get five days in and then I break it. That’s Shenpa right. Because you have that chance to try it again from start .

Chris Brogan: Shempa is also, you I’m worried whether other people think, you know, I’m on an airplane full of strangers and I’m worried that they’re gonna think my son’s weird.

Chris Brogan: My son is weird. I’m weirder than my son, you know? Yeah. Like that’s not gonna be the thing they’re gonna have to think about on the plane. You know what I mean? So it’s trying to disconnect from those hooks and untangle from things that’s helped. So Pema Chodron’s writing. Sadhguru’s book Karma I’m on my fifth reading now and it is fascinating. it’s not, it’s not because it’s some other world’s spiritualism, there’s just ridiculously practical things in there. It says, if you want to get along with other people one way is to just realize that you are the parent of the entire galaxy in front of you.

Chris Brogan: Yeah. You are the parent, every single thing in front of you is your kid. What’s a little harder to yell at your coworker that you’re mad at. If you realize they’re your kid, if you want something different for your kid. that one’s helped me a lot. that helps me work.

Chris Brogan: There’s somebody I’m not really into what they’re doing and how they think about it. And I want to just poop on them and say mean things. And I think, well, I probably wouldn’t do that to my kid. And so instead I say to them, well, can I give you some feedback? Can I, can I talk you through what I’m thinking about right now? And I phrase it a lot more like I would, if I wanted to help my child out.

Chris Brogan: And I think that helps. So those are some of the tools, hopefully that’s helpful. Yeah.

Nikhil Torsekar: that last one you mentioned is very interesting because, one of the things that I’ve been looking into a lot is this, whole topic of inner child therapy. it’s about healing that inner child, and it’s not about sort of wallowing in this. Oh, I had such a rough childhood. I had, my life is terrible, but it’s more about like, when you find yourself indulging in certain things, like whether it’s that Snickers bar or it’s that, 10th viewing of succession on, on HBO or whatever, if it’s those vices that you succumb to, it’s, you have one of two options.

Nikhil Torsekar: You can sit there and, and beat yourself up, or you can try to, to heal that inner child. So, that’s something that I’ve been. I I’ve always had a little bit of a mixed relationship with therapy because what I hated growing up, if I had to go to a therapist, if I got in trouble at school, or if my grades weren’t so great, I would have to go to a therapist and they would always try to focus on my childhood and I hated blaming my parents.

but at the same time, I really do think a lot of the the hardships that we face now can be attributed, to a lot of the trauma that we encountered in childhood. So I don’t know if that’s, something you know, that’s resonated with you as well.

Chris Brogan: I had a Brady childhood, mom and dad are and continue to be and were the most supportive parents in the whole wide world.

Chris Brogan: That’s great. I was born and raised with parents who said at every turn you are going to rule the universe. You’re the most successful guy in the world. You’re amazing. That’s awesome. You’re a star. super loving, super affectionate, huggy, kissy, you know, all of it. And, so I’m, I, I don’t have, I didn’t walk to that path.

Chris Brogan: Like, you know, I, I had the most amazing childhood, my bullies, the only guy who ever beat me up, was like a bunch of years older than me. I’m gonna give myself that defense. and he beat me up because he didn’t like that. I played clarinet. and while he was punching me out in a snow bank, I, I, I stopped at midway and I said, Hey, what if I play saxophone instead?

Chris Brogan: And he kind of like paused and looked up and he went, yeah, that’d be okay. And then he hit me a few more times and then left me alone. And that was it. That was my only beating. You know what I mean? Mm-hmm, it wasn’t for skin color. It wasn’t for race. It wasn’t for right. Social, economical reasons. He didn’t like that.

Chris Brogan: So, I didn’t have any of that, but I, you know why I bring that up to Naqui is because we don’t need excuses, for why we ended up screwed up. Like the most successful, the most, you know, wonderful people could be screwed up the most, you know, loving parents could have really messed up kids because again, my depression was chemical.

Chris Brogan: My chemicals led me to make choices, to either avoid a pain or to seek a pleasure. And you know, that’s what all humans are built to do. That’s all we do all day, fear and love, pain and pleasure. we don’t want to be scared. So we head towards things that we think will make us feel better.

Chris Brogan: So some of us are a little less adventurous. we, some of us don’t have the resilience to endure some pain to delay the pleasure. Mm-hmm to get something better for it. Right. You know, so we didn’t develop a great habit with the gym. We’re not thrilled that we can run 10 miles without even thinking about it.

Chris Brogan: We’re thrilled that there’s more Wagyu beef. Right. So like, there’s, we, we kind of pick from a big pallet, so I never had those problems. I just had my own problems.

Nikhil Torsekar: Hmm. Okay. Okay. Well, Chris, I really have enjoyed talking to you. I had come across your writings long ago, and I think it’s really cool that eventually I was able to connect with you and, and have this discussion. I’m pretty happy with what you asked and, you know, just if ever someone needs to reach me or connect with me, that’s, I’m always open, I’m wide open. I always tell people I’m really, for all the things I’ve been so fortunate to do and all my successes and all that, I’m a lot like everybody else, you know, I pay someone to put my pants on one leg at a time, just like you.

Nikhil Torsekar: Right. any closing words of wisdom you want to share? small bites, do everything in small bites. we we’re always taking on the biggest challenges in the whole wide world.

Chris Brogan: but just make everything smaller. You know, the movie Man of Steel. The Superman movie that came up with Henry Cavill. there’s a scene really, really early on when like Clark’s powers are manifesting mm-hmm and, he’s having real trouble cuz he, you know, he is just sensory overload. Which is an incredible scene because it’s a lot like what people with autism deal with it’s a lot of what neuro atypical people have to, to handle.

Chris Brogan: and he says the world’s too big mom. And she says, well, then make it smaller. Hmm. And I’ve always thought, oh my gosh, that is such great advice to the planet, you know? Yeah.

Nikhil Torsekar: Yeah. That’s all I got for sure. Make everything bite sized. I love that. Okay. Well, thanks so much, Chris. I’ve got your, website here.

Nikhil Torsekar: if people are interested in reaching out to Chris or learning more about what he’s up to, his website is You can also find him on Twitter at, Chris Brogan and, yeah. Thanks so much again, Chris. It was really great. Great. Having you on the show.

Chris Brogan: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.