Episode 432 - Todd Westra / Chris Gazdik

00:19 Hey, welcome back to today's episode. I am so excited today to introduce Chris because he's gonna get inside my head a little bit and I think we're gonna get inside of yours a little bit. It's gonna be fun, Chris. Tell us who you are and what do you do?

00:32 Well, I don't know about heads. We're going to, we're going to get in and figure it out together is what I like to say. 

00:39 Awesome, let's do it!

00:40 Yeah, man. But I start out the show every time that I do a show on through therapist eyes with the human emotional experience. Let's figure this out together. And I think that's really important because, you know, yeah, I'm a mental health and substance abuse therapist, right? I mean, but, uh, I could assure you Todd, I'm not in anybody's head. And you don't want to be in my head. It's a scary place.

01:01 Well, that's probably fair enough. I generally get scared enough in my own head. I don't wanna be in anyone else's. That's why I do what I do, you do what you do.

01:08 I know, well, we do what we do together. And it's funny because, you know, I find that there is a lot of fear doing what I do, you know, with emotions and managing the way that we feel. And when people find out what I do, I get similar responses and inquiries about the way that you started, right? Like, oh, what are we going to do? It's like intimidating. We're going to get into your head. He's going to get into my head and we're going to be like in the, you know? And, uh,

01:36 And I'm just dumb enough to say that out loud, you know what I mean?

01:41 So I have, I've been doing mental health and substance use therapy for a little while since 1995. I always like to make the joke on the video. You can see even though I look kind of young, right? Like not the, yeah, not looking too bad for 50.

01:57 Oh yeah. Yeah, 95. You know, a lot of my guests weren't even born then, but yeah, keep going.

02:01 Ouch. It's getting so real. I don't like those jokes anymore. 

02:08 Sorry, sorry.

02:09 But no, in way of scaling up, I love your show and I love what you're doing because a lot of people don't get to talk about those things quite so much in the world that we are as a founder. So I've been doing therapy. I mean, that's my day job. That's my main gig. I am a mental health therapist. But, I've always been an entrepreneurial in mind kind of as well. And so I'm kind of drawn to the topic and I love talking about these two topics. And blending them together is so cool that I don't get to do very often mental health and business, true business, foundership and entrepreneurial mindset. And boy, I think there's a lot of parallels between the two, right?

02:52 Well, parallel, yes, but definitely, like, I don't know an entrepreneur that doesn't need to take a double check on their mental health. You know what I mean?

03:02 Yeah, absolutely. It's taxing. 

03:05 It's taxing. Yeah.

03:06 There's, there's a lot there. There's a lot, there's a lot, lot there. So I'm really looking forward to this conversation because I think I have a lot of perspective on it from a mental health therapist perspective and a founder. I guess I didn't finish answering the question. I mean, you know, I'm really scaling up some things that I'm excited about with through a therapist's eyes, right? Um, I'm an author, podcaster. 

03:24  And that's your podcast and your book, right? 

03:27 I'm sorry. Go ahead. What's that?

03:28 I was gonna say, that's your podcast and your book are titled that, aren't they? Yeah.

03:31 Right, right. Yeah. Yep. Cool little big crazy eye looking at you there. The, uh, the second book actually is coming out on marriage. 

03:37 Love it. Like, yeah, it reminds me of Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Rings a little bit.

03:42 Marriage is coming out in a second. I'm excited about that. And, uh, we just created a, a program called this will not defeat me after sexual abuse. Um, you know, a random. Right.random topic that might seem a little random, but in our listenership on business and scaling, just take a crazy number and a guess, Todd, how many people do you think you're listening have dealt with sexual abuse in your listenership? Right?

04:11 I don't even dare to go there because it like, that whole topic is just like so dark, I don't even like to think about it.

04:15 And it's so taboo, right? And I'm going to be willing to bet a significant double digit percentage of, of even business founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, FC, FCOs. I mean, all, we all are susceptible to these real realities. And if you don't think that's not going to affect how you scale a business, dude, right?

04:46 Well, I can tell you one thing, for those that are trying to grow and scale, we're talking about business growth and scaling, not you. I mean, when it comes to that, I hear a lot of abuse stories that come from the tight, intimate groups of startups. A lot of things happen when you're working close confines all the time.

05:11 Well, there's that, but you know...

05:12 But don't make the mistake!

05:13 There's that yes, but there's that but you know what just occurred to me. I didn't plan on talking about this, but that's what we do right we figure this thing out together.

05:24 Yeah, me either. Right, right, right.

05:25 So, when you're when you're looking at the type of people that are really interested in doing high-level business Okay, they tend to be overachievers I know because I'm one you know an overachiever and write a book I do a podcast.

05:40 Yeah, I get it. I get it.

05:41 I started two businesses. I've got one running for 13 years now doing therapy in Charlotte area. You know, I mean, it's overachievers. What creates an overachiever mentality? Well, a lot of times it's a whole lot of that undercurrent that never really is dealt with and it causes us to go to the extra length, the extra mile to be successful, which normal people typically don't do. So if you're a founder, yeah.

06:10 I agree, yeah. We're all kind of whack jobs in our own little way.

06:14 You've got a lot going on.

06:17 It definitely is, the more, to be honest, I had no idea that people did not think like me until I was well into my 20s. I mean, I had, I remember I had a business partner at the time and we were both so nervous to talk to our employees about specific topics because we didn't want them to go start their own business. And then we were like, dude, nobody's motivated enough to do it. Like it's a stupid thing to go start a business. And for those of us that do, you know, it's like, 

06:52 Who does this?

06:53 we get into the super overprotective mode of like, I don't want to share this idea because someone's going to go do it. The reality is you could do the Elon Musk style and give away all your secrets and nobody competes with Tesla on the same level that Tesla operates. It's crazy.

07:10 Right. It is. Yeah. No, it's that's there's a lot of truth to that and there's psychological and emotional reasons for that. And here's the thing as it relates to, you know, the mental health side of things. There are a lot of awesome pieces of a personality that get created through trauma, through hardship, through emotional pain, really. And the awesomeness that gets created from that, you'll see you know, throughout the world really. And I've had the honor and privilege of talking to some pretty high level people, you know, in a therapy experience. And what you'll see though, is that at some point, if that's not dealt with, it'll crack, crack and crash under its own pressure.

07:56 I get it. Yeah, I get it. I think that's very valid. Yeah.

08:00 Yeah. You only go so far and the harder that you go, oftentimes the more that you crash. And so, you know, I love, you know, before the mics came on, you were telling me about your audience and the target really, your sweet spot is that new founder, that new entrepreneur, that new mindset of like, Hey, I've got this going. Now what?

08:26 Right, it's working, now what? Right?

08:27 Yeah, yeah. Well, you're getting ready to get an opportunity to really look at some of the emotional now what's that will excel and drive your company to the next level. And I believe that.

08:38 Well, I can appreciate that. Now, before we dive into our avatar, because I really wanna do that, take one step back about your business, because you are a therapist, yes. You're also a podcaster. You've interviewed hundreds of people on your show. You've got a book that's really focused on the same topic. You know, tell us how you've been able to kind of build and grow that because I'm curious, because a lot of therapists are just fine doing a one-off deal. They get some clients, they've got a little clinic, and they do their thing. You're taking a whole different approach on this that a lot of people don't dare jump into. Tell us about that journey real quick, and then let's talk about some of the avatars we've been talking about, because I think this will add a lot of value to the conversation.

09:31 Yeah, I appreciate that. I think it's because I care. I really care. And I don't mean to say that other people don't by any means, but there's a passion behind what I do about mental health and working with people and seeing the progress that people can make when we really deal with those real things, those dark things, as you kind of said, or those hurtful things. And so I think in caring, I really wanted to kind of get to a place where I can extend that to a greater means. A friend of mine who's a chiropractor said he was trading hours for dollars. And that's still what I do because I've got a passion for doing the individual process. That's what therapy is. But I really am starting to get to a place where this needs to be bigger. Like this needs to be a wider scope. And that's because I know of the power behind it and how it can affect people. Right?

10:44 Right, right. Well, you know, and that's really impactful because a lot of people in professional services like you, they don't really ever have that desire to touch more people. They're happy with the, you know, I think of the dentist who's just happy to kind of let the office flow as long as it's making money, you know. But there are the unique people like you in a professional services category where they do see a bigger picture, how can I touch more people? How can I change more lives? It's very clear that you're set out to do that in your mission with your book, your podcast, and even coming on to other people's shows. I mean, this is a big deal, in my opinion, to see professional service people like you reaching out and going beyond the norm to help people. I think it's cool.

11:30 Well, you know, Todd, I thank you for that and little encouragements along the way make a big difference, right? So as the founder of a business, find those little encouraging spots because you will get discouraged a lot. Uh, thank you. Thank you for that, Todd. And, and I, and I would say like. you know, yeah, it's in part because, you know, this has been such a undervalued or missed topic for so long. You know, mental health care has been the redheaded stepchild of health care for a long time. And that needs to end. I'll make that bold statement. You know, the show that we're going to do, actually, I'm going to record after we're done recording our show on Through a Therapist's Eyes, 90% of us believe that we are currently in a mental health crisis and that's in the States, I don't know around the world. 

12:25 Are you serious?

12:26 Well, that's what a recent poll said. And we said, we're going to talk about it on the show. Just what did my panel of therapists think about that? How many times do you think you have 90% continuum in this country these days agree on something. So it's that important. It's that big. So we're going to do it. We're going to keep on blasting into the universe and do it.

12:50  captainscouncil.com 

14:28 That is so, that is so interesting. I wonder what the percentages of business owners who feel that way, because, you know, truthfully, like I just finished an interview with Trevor Testweed. He's a founder of a digital marketing agency tool. And we were just talking about how, you know, five years into his business, he just felt the weight of the burden of having a hundred employees and being bootstrapped and all that weight. Will you tell us about that? Because I don't think he's the only one. I know I'm not the only one that has felt that. What is that weight? What is that burden that every founder tends to carry with them? And what are some solutions for them?

15:13 You know, what immediately occurs to me right off the get-go, Todd, as you say that, is you know, the president of these United States had that phrase that got created, you know, the buck stops here. And we forget that in nowadays in our politics, but if you back that down to just even a small company such as I run with six, seven employees doing therapy, there is no one else that problems come to. I mean, somebody's got a problem with the internet just dropped. Well, they're coming to me. I don't know anything about the internet. Or the weight and burden you feel and the responsibility of like, if things struggle and this company goes under. You know, these 50 people are going to have a hard time picking themselves up off the street. You know, so, so I think there's a humanistic component to, to what we, we have going on also, unfortunately, not always altruistic. The burden comes also, it occurs to me from, you know, the pride that we have and, and the, the experience that we have of, do I look good? Am I, am I doing a good job or people looking at me critically? So I'm. you know, I'm not good enough. So there's, I think there's a lot of aspects that burdens. 

16:30 There's a lot of that. 

16:31 Yeah.

16:32 Yeah. And so what do you do? I mean, how do you, how do you pinpoint? What is that feeling? Because, you know, I, I know that I felt that. I know that, I know that you've probably felt that. Where, where does that come from? Where is that overwhelm and that burden? Cause we know it's not a physical burden, but it feels like it, it feels like your shoulders are just like, ah, yeah.

16:51 Love that. You're right. It's not a physical burden. I mean, we're not laying bricks here, but the mental burden, you know, is, is so strong. It's so strong. So I'll go back to the shameless plug tuning through a therapist's eyes and we will help you with all your A's and L's.

17:09 Ah, dude, I honestly can't wait. That's a great ad spot. I will definitely go listen to that episode because it's such a passionate thing. Like, it's so relevant to today's conversation with business leaders because especially operators. You know, sometimes not even the co-founder or other people even feel it as much as the operator, the CEO, the person who's making that final decision. And you know. I think that some of it comes from just looking at your teams and saying, holy crap, I'm supporting a hundred families. You know, sometimes just the thought of that is like,

17:51 Yeah, yeah. Yeah! There's something to that, isn't it?

17:55 What's the escape? Yeah, what's the escape from that? Because I think that would be so helpful for people to know, how do I get out of that funk when there really is nothing to be worried about? The business is operating. You know what I mean? You got 100 employees. Something's working.

18:09 You know, you kind of just went a little bit to one of the things that you can do. Yeah, so that was a funny answer. I'll give you the shameless plug, but the real answer is like, yeah, you just turned that around and looked at the positive aspect. So for some reason we will see the negative. We will see the problems. We will see, you know, because a lot of founders, a lot of business people are very anxious people. They won't tell you that. But their worry factor, makes them get so driven like we were talking about with the high achiever. So, so they're seeing all the negatives and that makes the burden worse. When guess what? You've already got the LLC up and running. You've already got a couple of business lines operational. You've already got some things in place and there's some things that are working. So you just turned the focus point and my book, you know, that was one of the four highlights. What is your focus point? If your focus point is on all that crap, you're screwed. If your focus point is on the positive things that are working and how to add to that, you're going to flourish. But there are other things. Breathing literally the cornerstone of mental health I call self-care, fun, relaxing, enjoyable activities and aren't self-destructive in any way. And for us high achievers are not work related tasks. So you've got to take breaks.

19:31 Wait, so no golf? You just said a no stress.

19:35 You gotta go golfing, bro. 

19:36 Okay, okay, all right, all right, good. Good, good. 

19:38 Got to go golfing. I'm a golfer too. Although not in this humidity we get down South, man. That's brutal. Do not like that. So I go kayaking instead. Oh, wait a minute. I read a book and get into a fun reading activity. Oh, my best one is the Pittsburgh Steeler football game, man. Oh, it's coming here in two or three months. Right. 

20:00 Oh, that sounds stressful.

20:01 Oh, well, yeah, that one is a little stressful care a lot but.

20:03 So when you think of the positives and when you think of the things, I think that is about the only way out of that mental game that we get ourselves trapped into. And it is amazing. I want you to explain a little bit too about running businesses are very much logistical. Like I pull this lever, this thing happens, and this money comes in, right? Like, It's a lot of lever pulling, it's a lot of logic, it's a lot of things like that. How do we keep the emotional side of business from consuming us when so much of it is just pulling levers?

20:48 You know, it's interesting that you put it that way. I definitely agree with some of the structural things that you put into place that is pulling levers and making money or pulling levers and providing service, you know, getting your trinkets sold or your gadgets seen. I get all that. But wait a minute, I don't want to agree totally with you, right?

21:11 Yeah, I don't think you will, but I like to be a little controversial.

21:17 Because what's that you like what?

21:19 I like a little controversy here and there.

21:22 Controversy's good, because we learn together, right?

21:25 Yeah, that's how we learn.

21:27 A lot of business is emotional relational, isn't it?

21:30 Relational, yes, for sure. Yeah, yeah.

21:34 Right. And anytime you have a relational interaction between that person, you're trying to sell your widget or the advice that you're trying to offer in a business consultant relationship, or, you know, the organization that you're trying to kind of create for some world research group. I don't care what it is. If you don't have the mental relationships, the mental health with the relationships going in a way, like I've been a part of a lot of organizations through the years that have had terrible inter-agency relational politics that just destroy the outcome and the product. Right? So you've got to be aware of how those things are kind of running into the ground or how there's a balance. 

22:16 So there's a balance.

22:17 Yeah. There's a big balance.

22:18 Yeah, no, that's a really good point. You know, I guess as a man, I think more lever pulling, but to be honest, I'm also a very social person and I do agree with the premise that business growth does have so much to do with relationships and that is all emotional. You know, there's a huge emotional tie there. So what else are you seeing? As you observe and you help people who are business operators with some of these mental health issues, what are the big things you see? I mean, what are the things that you're seeing that I'm not even alluding to that we need to watch out for?

22:57 Well, let me, yeah, I'll tell you one that I know you're aware of that, that just going back and adding those two together, because another thought occurs to me as we're talking Todd, right? Like, you know, you, when you're looking at the relational aspects and the emotional aspects, well, you know, one of the plugs I think that you do that you're, you're currently, and I totally applaud you for what is it you're doing the captain's group or 

23:20 Captain's Council. Yeah, yeah.

23:21 love the captain's council man, love that. I'll tell you why. Because if you're lever pulling and you're kind of doing the functional structural realities in business, then you're also probably trying to take a whole lot more on your own. And when you do that by yourself, guess what happens? Yeah. The pressure. They need to see you on video, right? Because you went with your hands back and you pulled your shoulders and it's like, oh, yeah, you can't do it alone.

23:50 Yeah, that's what happens. It's telling that bear to stay away, right?

23:52 Yes. So there's a lonely, lonely world when it comes to being a founder and being an entrepreneur. And we try to start a lot of times by doing partnerships, and then you figure out, wait a minute, that doesn't work out usually really well. I need to backtrack and realize that I'm going to execute this myself, but I'm going to pull in support for me.

24:18 Yes, yes. And I appreciate you bringing that up because this conversation is very relevant to that. And I'm not gonna shamelessly plug too long, but I will say the people I've had on my show who have been the most successful, almost all of them can point back to a group of friends or a group of peers who understand the burden and it helps them make it lighter. You know what I mean? And my movement to push out this product of Captain's Council is entirely that. You know, I interview hundreds of CEOs, hundreds of founders. And every time I talk to them, the biggest burden is that loneliness and feeling like, who do I talk to when if I share with my, if my investor knows, I don't really know what my next play is, they're going to freak out if my If my COO doesn't know that I don't have a plan for this thing, they're going to freak out. Who do I go to? You know what I mean?

25:22 Yeah. Right? Right. It's terrifying, Todd. And I'm telling you, we look at these successful folks and we kind of feel like, you know, we were talking about the mindset of insecurities before. We've turned the show on, I think. And, and, you know, we, we look at these people that are, you know, successful in one way or another by our predisposed notion, well, they're not feeling that way or they will certainly won't feel in that way when they weren't successful. And you didn't see him 20 years ago. Cause this is a long grind, man. You're, you're, your avatar again, you know, at, at five months or, or a few years into this business. Dude, you have to be clumping along sometimes for 15, man, years. And people don't think about that in that, and what gets you through that, that whole journey, that, that real dark time and it goes up and down. I mean, it's tough sometimes before long, before you get to, to that reward.

26:17 Well, oh, totally, and you brought up something interesting right there that I hear a lot of people talk about is, literally until the day they exit, which if you haven't thought about it, you need to be thinking about it now. Like even if you're just starting, be thinking about your exit. But I've talked to so many people who have exited successfully and they say, I really didn't understand the value of what I had built until someone offered me the money to buy it at that price. Like. you don't even understand that what you've done is impactful, it's meaningful, there's some value there that you're not giving yourself for building that.

26:56 You know, that's really true, Todd. And, you know, I'm, and I'm glad we've arrived here because, you know, again, another little tidbit, I've, there's lots of suggestions that people have done it with a jar of success or the jar of awesomeness. You know, you've heard these little pieces of keep a file corny. I am in my brain. I'm not so creative with names. I guess mine's called the feel good file. Right. I have it.

27:20 Yeah, you could use some marketing help, buddy.

27:22 Yeah, I'm sorry, man. Thank you. You're totally right. I'm humble enough to admit it. In, in that file cabinet over there, I have all kinds of things over the years that remind me of, wow, there is great value in Metrolina psychotherapy associates and what you do in individual relationships. I mean, Todd, there's a letter in there where a lady says that I saved her life in a crisis hotline back when I started, you know, years ago, and it just, it's so humbling to have a sense that you really do make an impact. You really do have a purpose. There's a good guy, his name's just escaping me, wrote the purpose-driven church, and he's pretty famous, his name's just escaping me. But it's having that purpose and knowing you're having that impact. If you don't know that, it's so sad to me that you just said, and it's true, that you don't know it until you're done. It's kind of like, How fulfilling can it be if you know it while you're doing it?

28:27 No kidding, no kidding, right? No, very few people are at that point mentally. And so, you know, this is honestly a really therapeutic conversation like I anticipated it might be. How do people get in touch with you? We're gonna put links to your book down below in the comments and things like that. But who in your circle has kind of been that pillar that you lean on or that mentor who's kind of helped you get to what you've been able to accomplish in your business.

28:53 Yeah, I appreciate that the chance to kind of speak about that is the You know, I've thought a lot about this over the years and I've had a few opportunities to be able to cite her powerful influence in my life. And, you know, I mean, there's a lot of people, don't get me wrong. I mean, I'm a part of a mastermind group for business. You know, God top and front center, you know, is my great source of strength. But in a humanistic sort of way outside of the business people and all, it's my mom. You know, she gave me a solid foundation and standing that only came through hardship and struggle. Right? So bear with me for just a moment to describe why I chose that. Cause it's not just a regular, oh, my daddy or my mommy. Dude, I watched her go through serious struggle. When we were going through a divorce when I was probably 10, 11, 12 years old or something like that. You know, we were eating government cheese. She became a single mom, not having any uh, training, uh, she, she was a stay at home mom prior to being a single mom. My brother and I didn't make it easy on her at all. My sister was disabled. Okay. As, as my younger sister. And so I watched this lady, uh, go and get her first part-time job. Go and get some education, get a couple of more jobs in addition to doing then full-time school commuting from Wheeling, West Virginia to Morgantown, West Virginia, because I'm also a mountaineer, by the way, very proud West Virginia University mountaineer. So that's an hour and a half commute, Todd. So this woman did school, rose kids, full-time, part-time work, and launched a career in the human services field. I watched that woman do what she did, right? And I'm like, dude, you know, then we can deal with struggle. We can deal with struggle.

30:49  Amazing, amazing. Love it. That's a fantastic shout out. 

30:50 Strong Woman.

30:52 Fantastic shout out. And for those of you listening, I do recommend you start trying to understand your own mental health. Like as hard as it is to admit, we are all kind of wacky in our own little way of thinking that we can go out and just create and create and create. And we do. And many of us are really successful at that. But you've got to get your, yeah, get those check-in moments. Get those checking moments, whether it's a peer community like what I'm doing, whether it's through a therapist, whether it's through, you know, I suggest all of the above, to be honest, because you really do need it for more than one place. You need to understand what's going on in your head so that you can continue to be that leader that you need to be to build your business the way it needs to go. That's it.

31:35 Yeah. And the last part to reaffirm, yeah, through a therapist's eyes, we talk about all mental health and substance abuse topics, really good, fun conversations. We have fun on our show, believe it or not. We have a blast talking about feelings and emotions.

31:50 I believe it. Hey, you know what? I think it would be kind of humorous to talk about some of your therapy sessions. There's gotta be some fun humor in some of those.

32:00 Dude, I have I have felt if I was gonna do another career I just too afraid to do like an open mic night or something, but I would be an awesome comic

32:08 No, no, you need to do open mic and therapy because that just feeds you stories. That's just content delivery right there.

32:16 Listen, my stick on stage would be like, okay, listen, we're gonna do big group therapy concept and immediately everyone's gonna go, oh, and I'm gonna say, you sir in the front end, man. How about we start with you and talk about the marriage relationship that clearly you have there with the lady and we'll just go on from there and the comedy show would be classic. 

32:32 I think that's your next path in life, buddy. We'll get you there. And hopefully this might, if this is the kickoff to that, let's hope that you give me some credit later. I need the shout out, the confidence build later. But dude, Chris, thank you so much for being on the show and I really appreciate the time you've given us today. For those of you listening, you do. Check this stuff out. Read the book, figure out where you're at, and let's get you moving the right direction with your business. Growth and scaling doesn't happen on a shaky ground. Fill that thing up, get stable, make sure you know where you're taking your team and it'll happen. Thank you, Chris, for being here, buddy.

33:10 Honor and privilege to have him here. I really appreciate it, man. Best wishes to you.

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