Erin Frey Talks Human About How to Understand Anxiety and Mental Health in All Contexts of Life

Anxiety is part of the reason you got to that place, ‘cause you had enough anxiety to help you meet those deadlines. And anxiety is this healthy emotion. I don’t know if it’s an emotion exactly, but this is a healthy feeling, and it’s a natural feeling that you’re gonna have.
— Erin Frey

Erin Frey sits down to talk human to me about her dedication to mental health, her journey to understanding and living with anxiety, her experiences with therapy and not stigmatizing it, the complexities of human emotion, and how to embrace them.

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Our Conversation with Erin Frey

00:00 Jeffrey Shiau: Alright Erin, we're gonna get started here. Thank you so much. Actually, we're sitting in Erin's dining room right now, in this beautiful home. I think it's actually a common oasis for a lot of our friends to come here and just co-work for the day, right? 

00:18 Erin Frey: Yep. We love it when people come over. I'm never home, so I'm always glad when someone else is actually using the rent that I pay. [laughter]

00:25 Jeffrey Shiau: Awesome.

00:25 Erin Frey: Someone should be enjoying it.

00:26 Jeffrey Shiau: Awesome. Okay. So we're gonna go get started here. I start every episode with the same question, and that's, what about humans strikes you the most? 

00:44 Erin Frey: I'm always struck by how much we fight ourselves. Our most human tendencies to be vulnerable, to be emotional, we fight that all of the time. And I think you see this in, not just American culture, but all sorts of cultures, and so, I think I'm fascinated by our tendency to be so unhuman, which is why I was really excited to join this podcast and just the title of the podcast, "Talk Human to Me." So many times, I'm at a networking event or I'm at something else and talking to someone, and I just wish I could ask them that, tell them that, and ask them that question, "Please talk human to me. Please, please desperately talk human to me. I am so tired of pretending." So I think that fascinates me, plus other things, but we'll stick with that one for now.

01:42 Jeffrey Shiau: Talk about an experience where you felt kind of buried, or trapped, or you wanted to just escape from that moment. You were kinda alluding how, in your life right now... For those of you who don't know Erin, you have a background as a very... Right now, you're in a moment of hardcore entrepreneuring in terms of getting something started, but in terms of just in general, when you're going to these things, or maybe just non-entrepreneur related things, what are those moments? Can you describe a little bit more why you feel trapped, or why you wanna escape from those? Or...

02:24 Erin Frey: I think a lot of us... I've definitely been through impostor syndrome, and still kind of dealing with it. But also, just, I think there are moments... We all have moments when we're scared or we're new at something. Or, I remember when I first started out in tech, and you look around and you go, "Oh, I need to act like this and be like that to get somewhere." And so you start, kind of, separating from your authentic self, right? And you start just trying to be that person you think you have to be, and that makes me feel trapped. I wonder if you have ever related to this, but that feeling of needing to do something because you have to, or because that's the way that it's supposed to be, and then feeling like you can't. You're like, stuck in it, because it doesn't let you be your true self. Other moments... I can't really think of them off the top of my head, maybe we'll spur some more of it.

03:21 Jeffrey Shiau: Yeah, absolutely. Well, let's start this. I really wanna know, when you're talking about, "I wanna be my true self. I wanna just be myself." Who is that? Let's zoom back to when you felt really most comfortable in your own skin. I think most of us in, when we're growing up, we go through all these hormonal stages, we're super... We're very uncomfortable, we're very insecure in our skin, but when was the first time in your life you felt, "I know who I am"? 

04:00 Erin Frey: Yeah, absolutely. So I was... [chuckle] This would surprise a lot of people who know me now, but I was that terribly shy kid in grammar school and high school. In grammar school, I always had one or two friends, but never really spoke, was always, kind of, on the outskirts of the popular table. In high school, it got a little better. I had my best friend John, and we had like the nerdy kids hung out together. I was always one of those people who would go from table to table. Sometimes I'd hang out with the theatre kids, sometimes I would hang out with the nerdy, smart cool kids, sometimes I would hang out with the nerdy, not as cool kids, but we were dorking out about other things. I always had this social butterfly-ness, but I was always still very shy in groups and always afraid to show my true self. I would become friends with someone, and then all of a sudden, there would be this switch of they got to know me enough that I trusted them, and then, I'd go from not speaking that much to just, "Gosh, like my mouth would never close." [chuckle]

05:02 Erin Frey: And so, I remember getting to college, and I went on this retreat before. Yale has this something called Foot, and it's this...

05:11 Jeffrey Shiau: Foot? 

05:11 Erin Frey: Foot. It's this camping retreat before you start your freshman. It's the freshman orientation. I remember going and I was so intimidated to be in this place. I remember I'd gone to the pre... The April before school starts, I'd gone to that like, "Oh, for new admits, go to this event." And the people I met were crazy, they had discovered these things, scientific studies, and someone had written a book, and I just felt so intimidated. And so, I remember going and I was so shy that I didn't speak for seven days on the whole camping trip. I spoke a little bit, but I just held my tongue, I didn't really talk a lot. Plus, I had asthma, I grew mostly out of it, but at that point, I also, accidentally, had put on the hardest trail, and so, I couldn't... Not only were... At the times in which we weren't walking, I was too afraid to talk, and the times in which we were walking, I literally couldn't walk 'cause I was just trying to breathe. It was just this fascinating experience.

06:15 Erin Frey: So I remember, I got to my dorm, this is day seven, and I walked into my room where my roommates were. My roommates weren't there yet, I waited and then finally, when one roommate came into the room, I feel like my mouth opened and it never shut up, like all of college. That was the moment in which I became the extrovert and just the person I am. I think I fell into this place where I finally, even though I was scared on the freshman orientation trip, I found people who are also like me, and I felt like myself there. And so, that was the moment that I'm sure that, in retrospect, it seems like this one moment, when Crystal walked into the room, and then I just started talking and then, I was just my bubbly extroverted self.

07:06 Erin Frey: But that was a big turning point for me. And so in college, I remember not having the fears I used to, or not having the fears of being unpopular, or saying something and being made fun of, and all those weird insecurities you have when you're in high school or younger, because I don't know, I was on my own, loving it. There are million people, you don't have to be friends with everybody, you just have to find your niche and be yourself. So that was a big turning point for me, college.

07:40 Jeffrey Shiau: That's interesting, that one, yes. You brought up some physiological effects that you personally had in those moments of fear, when you're freezing up, during that one week, that seven-day trip, and then this transformation that happened. Well, I love to hear more about what finally, within you, was able to feel free? More examples around why you felt, "Okay, I can be myself." Who is that right now that you're trying to describe? And curiosities, a lot of those physiological symptoms that you had, do you think any of those actually disappeared as you became more comfortable? Or do you still have some of those around? 

08:34 Erin Frey: Which symptoms are you talking... Like which? 

08:36 Jeffrey Shiau: Just like sometimes, you would have some asthma or sometimes...

08:41 Erin Frey: The asthma was definitely... That was related to the fact that we had cats and dogs in my house growing up, and so, I left my house and, "Wow, surprise, surprise I could breathe." [chuckle] I think that was more related to allergies and asthma, and people do tend to grow out of it. I was also a fencer in college, and so, you keep... Yeah, I still had asthma and I still am not great at running, and all of that, like I do need to take more breaks, and drink more water, and sometimes take medicine for it. Whenever I got the flu, I'm a mess, my lungs are just a mess. But I think, mostly, there is this... I deal with anxiety and I think there is this anxious symptoms that do create, maybe the fear or the feeling, whether it's tightness in your chest, or a feeling of being a little closed in. I definitely still deal with that, I'm dealing with that right now. I started going to therapy six weeks ago for anxiety triggered by just overwhelming amount of stress that you deal with as a founder.

10:00 Erin Frey: I think, I still get that every once in a while, but I do notice that... And I'm exploring this right now with my therapist. I do notice that, in moments when I feel more like myself, I am more confident, obviously, and then that anxiety does go away a little bit, and she had a theory. I came into therapy saying, "Oh, I need to deal with... I don't have enough confidence." And she suspected, in that first session, and it seems like it's true that it wasn't having a confidence issue, I had an anxiety issue, and that once the anxiety went away, the confidence would shine through. But anxiety can just tamper. It just affects everything. You get into a fight or flight mode, and it puts you in this place of fear, and I think learning to manage that, I definitely probably... I'm sure I have tons of anxiety throughout my life that I just never really dealt with or realized.

11:00 Erin Frey: And maybe going to college, one thing is I am really independent, and I grew up with two sisters who's always really loud at home, and I feel comfort in loud places, I think, because of that. But I think, being able to just go out and be myself and not have to worry about coming home, or doing this, or fitting the molds, I grew up super conservative Catholic and I'm now not. My parents will, probably, not talk to me now that I said that, but that's okay. I don't know. I just started living more aligned with the values that I had, but just didn't really even know I had, because I grew up a little differently than how I do now. Did that make sense? 

11:50 Jeffrey Shiau: No, absolutely, that does make sense. And I just wanna ask, who exactly is Erin now then, that you're describing this person you mentioned a couple times now, "Oh, I came out of the shell, I'm now able to be who I am." Who do you want people to see when they interact with Erin? 

12:11 Erin Frey: That's a good question and I think it's always changing. I am a person who... I think about my values. This is good, well I'm NFP, that's not scientifically validated, but I'm an NFP on the Myers-Briggs scale.

12:31 Jeffrey Shiau: What is...

12:32 Erin Frey: Oh Gosh! I forgot what it stands for. But, basically, some of my values are realness, talking whether it's in conversations or in the work I do. This interest in always just being directing, direct, clear and true about things, not... I can't stand this super hyperbolic talk that works on, as for clickbait titles, or I'm preparing for a talk at a conference right now and it's an HR-related conference and my goodness, the titles are so cheesy, and this is probably why I love what I do, when talking about therapy is... It's like, how do you explain things in a practical way that really are true to people, and one of the things I loved about my therapist was that, she was very real in the moment. It wasn't a, "Oh, we'll get you better", or, "Oh, it's all good. You'll be okay." It was, "Okay, cool. You have anxiety. This is what we're gonna do to deal with it." This sucks, this sucks, but there are ways around it. I think I love when people are real and open, and having meaningful conversations.

13:50 Erin Frey: I think one thing that we're part of Thousand Network, and one thing that I really love about the group is that, when we get together, we're all... We're the same kind of people you would find at a networking event or any other. There are tons of people who are in the Forbes 30 under 30, but when we get together as a group, we're often not... Even if we're talking about work, we're not talking about the growth hacking or how to fund raise. If you'd need when, and you need to have those convos, they're there for you. But, our group conversations are about how we're feeling building a family amongst friends, the meaningful things in life, what are our values. How do you figure out of your values? You ask that question, "Who am I?" I still have no idea. I'm learning on that path of who I am, and you constantly grow. And these are the kinds of conversations that I love having with people. And so, I really love... I treasure vulnerability. It's fascinating.

14:51 Erin Frey: I've always... I don't know if it's 'cause I'm more open or I'm willing to listen, but I was always the person people would come to, with their problems. Or other number of times, I'd have friends crying to me and holding me, 'cause they were going through a really hard breakup or they were depressed, didn't know what to do. And I think it's more like, I know how to empathize well and so, I recognized, sometimes, I just need to sit there. And so, I always had that and I treasure the ability to give that people. It does make me feel really good to be able to help someone in their time of need. And so, I think that's something where even... Well, I noticed that when I was in more anxious periods of myself, that I had a hard time giving that to people and being vulnerable, because I remember when I was little, I would make friends and they would use me. I think it's easy, when you're willing to be vulnerable, to get shat on, because other people aren't always wanting to do that. And I think the more I have comfort in myself, in my being as a human, the more I'm able to be well open, and willing, and giving, and vulnerable to other people, and that makes me happier and better.

16:12 Erin Frey: I have huge conflict in myself when I do things that I perceive to be selfish, not offering something that I have, even though I could, and not helping someone out. And I think it's important, if you're a type of person who is very giving, to learn to give to yourself first. That's a huge skill a lot of people don't have, that I didn't have a until few years ago, I think. But, I think that's me being able to be in that position, where I am open, and willing, and able to be vulnerable and give to others is really important.

16:55 Jeffrey Shiau: I really liked this opening up and recognizing who you wanna be, why you are the way you are, and especially regarding the kind of... I don't know if this is the right word, but are you embracing your anxiety, or is it not something that's positive or negative? It's a part of you, and you actually value that part or recognize that part deeply, and know that it's always gonna be a part of you. When you're going to these therapy sessions, is it a goal to try to get rid of it? Or is it, "No, that's not the goal. The goal is, 'I know this is part of me and this actually... '" It almost sounds like, when you're describing the way, and the love, and the connection that you like offering to people, that you almost get anxiety about how well you're doing that. And if you're able to reach out and provide that comfort to others. And maybe, the innate anxiety actually helps you become better at that 'cause I think empathy actually has like, when you don't feel empathy, it's usually because you're not worried about something. It's kind of harder for someone to listen. So, how do you see... Or what does anxiety mean in your eyes? 

18:27 Erin Frey: For sure. So any good therapist... Well, it's never about ignoring anxiety or trying to not feel it or to avoid it. It's the common instinct that you have, when you have anxiety, is to just avoid it, and that creates these unhealthy coping strategies. And so, instead, what a therapist teaches you to do, what I'm doing, is to embrace that anxiety. And for so many of us, especially people who are overachieving in their career or any aspect of life, anxiety pushes you through. Anxiety is part of the reason you got to that place, 'cause you had enough anxiety to help you meet those deadlines. And anxiety is this healthy emotion. I don't know if it's an emotion exactly, but this is healthy feeling, and it's a natural feeling that you're gonna have. And what happens is, I think... I don't know if this is scientifically validated, or it's the most scientific explanation, so I would always refer to a therapist. [chuckle] I run a therapy startup, I'm not a therapist. We all have, kind of, the ability to handle a certain amount of stress and anxiety. And at a certain point, whether like, the anxiety just gets too much that it hinders your ability to live a normal life.

19:46 Erin Frey: And so, in those moments and I've reached that point, six weeks ago when I started going to therapy, and at that point, it was just affecting my work, it was affecting how I was interacting with others; I was stressed out constantly. I was not engaging with people. I was self isolating, because I was just too stressed about other things. And what you learn is to embrace the anxiety, to learn ways to manage it, so reduce the stress and anxiety. So for instance, coffee will increase anxiety in most people who are anxious. And so, I stopped drinking coffee for a couple weeks. Exercise reduces anxiety, because anxiety is this nervous energy that you need to get out. But then, once you learn to manage it first, so that you can get back to normal, but anxiety is something you always live with, and you just have to learn to embrace it, and use it for the good. It's great that I have anxiety before a podcast like this, because it means I will channel it into positive energy. But it's always there, and we all have anxiety. It's not something that one person has or doesn't; it's just that, at certain points, you will have so much anxiety that it becomes a hindrance on your life, and that is the part of time when you need to get help, or it'll behoove you to get help, or find some other way to channel, to reduce anxiety, like exercise.

21:16 Jeffrey Shiau: So, actually since you started therapy and really kind of embraced this anxiety, as you're describing, what are your relationships now? I know it's only been six weeks, but what is it in comparison to when you were in high school, when you're in college? 

21:35 Erin Frey: Yeah, and I think that's been a process that I've over time, not just the therapy of how my relationships have changed. I think, before college, I was always afraid to talk to anybody who was new. Now, my favorite thing is to talk to strangers, like that is... I always feel bad when I tell this to a friend, but my favorite thing to do is actually go to a party where I know nobody, and meet everybody, and learn their story, and learn about them, and make a new friend. When I tell my friends that, they feel bad, it's like, "Oh, I'm not as cool as a stranger. I understand that I'm a second tier activity for you." It's not true, I also love enjoying and having relations with my friends, but there's just, I guess, got this perpetual curiosity and enjoyment of like making that connection with people. And so, that changed in college. And I would say more so, in the last few years. I would say, as of two or three years ago... Actually no, I was always willing to talk to strangers and I always loved just interacting with whoever's near me; but in moments when my anxiety is high, I will avoid that.

22:57 Erin Frey: And this is where I say, anxiety can stop you from kind of living the life that you wanna live, because I will be very aware that I will go to a museum alone, and normally, I would say, "Hi", to the person next to me who's also getting a glass of wine at the cafe, or I would interact with someone about this painting next to me. I'm not the annoying person in a museum, but sometimes, you'll hang in a painting and you make a comment, and it's fun to have a little conversation about it. I will notice that I will not do that. But I also noticed, like I want to do that but I can't. So inside of me, I have this urge that I wanna talk to the person next to me, but then, I have a fear to actually talk to them, 'cause I'm afraid of rejection or that they might think I'm weird. So when I'm anxious or my anxiety is really high, that will happen. But then, if my anxiety is at a manageable level, which is now, I won't be afraid to do that. And then, I can just do what I want to do. [chuckle]

24:01 Jeffrey Shiau: And you mentioned earlier that you want to... That this journey that you're on now, you're not sure if there is an endpoint or that there's some goal that you're supposed to try to get to. What direction or what path are you on right now, with this new journey of therapy, with this embracing of your anxiety, with kind of recognizing all the transformations you had in different periods of your life, especially in that dorm room, that one moment? What is the next 20 years look like for you? 

24:43 Erin Frey: That is such a scary question.

[laughter]

24:46 Erin Frey: I have had this discussion quite a few times, about goals. I had it with my therapist this week when I told her... I asked her, I said, "Okay, so my anxiety's pretty toned down and we have these strategies I'm working on, what's next? What the next goal? Where are our targets?"

25:05 Jeffrey Shiau: Is it strange to call them goals? 

25:09 Erin Frey: I don't think so, no. When you start therapy, no matter what kind of therapy you do, although I always recommend CBT and evidence-based therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy.

25:23 Jeffrey Shiau: I thought you said CBD for a second. I was like, "CBD!" [laughter]

25:25 Erin Frey: CBD also can work. [laughter] But that's for another conversation. So you always set a goal with your therapist, that's standard. So it's not weird to call them goals. And generally, therapists will try to work with you in the language and frameworks that you understand. So, if I call it a target or a goal, the therapist doesn't really care, as long as we're on the same page about what it is. It's definitely what my therapist... People always assume that CBT therapists are only about goals, and targets, and getting things done. That's not true. You're doing a lot of other things in the session. There's a lot. You're looking at your thought patterns, you're looking at your learned behaviors, and the things you learned from your experiences in the past. And you do do things that teach you who you are and how you live.

26:18 Erin Frey: And so, she's challenged me and said, "Well, I think you need to learn how to... We wanna explore not having to have a goal. Sometimes, you just have to let things move at their pace." And so that's funny, and I met with a friend three weeks ago. We had this conversation. I think I asked her what her five-year plan was, and I said I didn't have a five-year plan, I'm kind of freaking out. And I think I just seen a Facebook post about people and their five-year plans, and I just... And Zana just said, "My God Erin, why make a five-year plan? What's the point?" She just was not into it, partly, I think 'cause she's finishing up her PhD, and so she's had a seven-year plan for a while, and she's so ready to be done with having this structure. So right now, I just have the plan of... I think it's always important to have, in your life, something that's about self-care and learning, really learning and loving who you are. And so I have that. Probably first and foremost, I have the company that I'm running. I know we're not supposed to talk about work, so I'm not going to, but that's the number one thing right now.

27:35 Jeffrey Shiau: It's part of your identity.

27:36 Erin Frey: It's part of my identity. I think that's the tricky thing though. I think that's where founders often suffer, is when it's too much a part of their identity. You have to both embrace the company fully and be that outward facing representation of the company, and live that life, but not judge yourself based on the metrics of your company, because you always will have low growth moments where you're not growing. You'll always have bad weeks. You'll always have setbacks, just like you also always have success stories. You have a great customer who loves you. You have investors who put money into you, because they believe in you and your dream. And so the trick is, how do you embrace the company as part of your identity, and how do you really channel that, to do good for the company and for you, but without judging yourself too harshly, if the business doesn't work out in the end, 'cause what, 95% of startups fail? 

28:40 Erin Frey: Something that I've talked to with my therapist about is... She always asks the question, "So what?" "So, I'm really stressed about this thing at work." "Okay well, why?" And we'll go through why, whether there's evidence for what I'm thinking or not. And then she'll say, "Okay, but what if you do fail? So what?" I say, "Well, then, if we don't grow enough, then the company won't get... We won't be able to raise money and then we will fail." And she goes, "Okay, so what?" and I say, "Well, then we would have to sell the company or shut it down." And she says, "So what?" And I'm like, "Well, that would really suck, but I would move on." It's just you... Where you see people not doing well and going through really hard... Crashing and burning, where people commit suicide, who are founders, is when they're not able at that "So what?" point, where, what if it fails they're not able to say that, "I can move on." And, that's why I also think therapy is just such a valuable tool for founders, because our biggest problems, especially early on, are not in the strategy of how to run a company, usually. I'm sure there's exception, like, "Oh hey, we raised a bajillion dollars, and we had to hire 50 people. How do I manage them?"

30:05 Erin Frey: But a lot of our problems are things around our emotions. Things around are emotions, how we think, how we feel, how we're unable, or we just don't have skills to navigate human interactions, navigate difficult conversations, navigate our own emotions around, when things go bad and when things go well. And so, a therapist kind of, they give you the tools for personal growth, that you need to be a better leader, and to be a more effective leader and team member, and so I think that... I don't know where I was going with this, but basically, therapy is just so helpful in helping you figure out those steps to personal growth, that like you do need, to grow as a person to run a company, 'cause you go from, "I have this idea." You're one person with this idea, maybe two people, and you build out this idea, and you raise money, and you make a product, and you get customers, right? All of the sudden, you go from being this one person who has an idea then running everything by yourself, to, "Wow, I have five employees", or, "I have five employees and 10 contractors, and I have all these people talking to me, wanting things. I have a million people asking me for things, how do I prioritize?" You know, getting things done. Until I was a founder, I don't think, I'd never dealt with the sheer amount of things that were high priority, that all had to get done.

31:38 Erin Frey: Where usually in a job, you have obviously a lot of things on your plate, but normally, it's a feasible amount, or you have other people to quickly delegate to, if you have this huge project. You have team members who you can work with. You're a founder, all of a sudden, "Crap, I can't do this, I have to go hire someone and I have to teach that person how to do x, y, z", or maybe, "I can't find that higher right now, with that person left. Now what do I do?" And you're just dealing with this sheer amount of, everything is high priority, and you have to actually do extra work to figure out, like, how do you prioritize 10 high priority items? 

32:13 Erin Frey: It's hard, it's stressful. And you put a lot of pressure, knowing you have a lot of pressure from external parties, you took money from investors, you have all these customers who are using your product, you have people who are making money and maybe earning a living, because, as your employees or your contractors and then... See, you're not just facing external pressures, but also a lot of pressure on yourself, to succeed. There are many moments in which I felt, "Wow, this is like my chance, to really be who I am and grow as a person." And if you look at it as, my only chance, that puts you in this really negative framework and puts way too much pressure on you, and you just have to... It's helped me to be more realistic, and just say, "This is awesome, okay let's go."

33:03 Erin Frey: I was talking in this other interview about how therapy's helped me change my frame of mind, my way of thinking. Before I went to therapy, I would look at problems as these big behemoths, that I wouldn't be able to solve on my own, or I was gonna probably fail at solving. And with therapy, I've learned thought frameworks and thought processes that have helped me get back to thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is a really exciting challenge." Well, mental health is just really hard thing in the world, and I'm looking at problems as these opportunities to excel at, at these challenges I can solve, and figure out that there's not just solution b to problem a, but there is actually, if solution b doesn't work, there's c, d, e.

33:55 Erin Frey: And that was the thinking that got me to start a new company, in the first place. I looked at mental health and we started Kip with this idea, that this is a really fun exciting challenge, that we wanted to solve, and we could solve. And I think, that to me, is really important. And there's an entrepreneur who wrote on a Facebook post recently, it was this quote, I'm gonna butcher it but, "What got me here won't get me there", something like that. And I think that's really true for people who are founders, who are... Or founders or anyone who's gone to a certain place in their career, or in their work, or in their life.

34:38 Erin Frey: Sometimes the things that got you there like, "Did my anxiety help me get into Yale?" Absolutely, I mean, why else would I be staying up 'til 2:00 in the morning as an 11th grader, like doing work. I remember, the night before, I had appendicitis and went to a doctor. They said I didn't have it. So like, I'm in pain and I still woke up the next morning at 5:00 AM to finish my math homework, only 'cause I had this dream and drive, but also enough anxiety that I was worried about not doing my math homework. Having appendicitis and also doing my math homework at 5:00 in the morning, it's ridiculous.

35:20 Erin Frey: It helped me get to where I was, but then sometimes, you need to grow and learn, like grow into a different person or have, grow different skills to then, grow even further in your life. I think that's where I see therapy and I see a lot of... Anything people do for personal development, is about expanding your tool kit, expanding your ability to grow, and it's okay. We're not these single entities that are predestined to do x, y, z, like people who... You see someone at their... You see a famous, writer... Or you see an entrepreneur who's made it, there's a lot of shit that they dealt with before that, and they were not an overnight success. We always think of them as overnight successes, but there are just years and years of them not being successful before that.

36:13 Erin Frey: And one example I love is, I know Dave McClure had a really good post. Gosh, I think this was four or five years ago, and I read it right when I moved back from Singapore and I had just moved to San Francisco. I had no job. I had one friend I knew, who let me crash on her couch. And I had, basically, four months to spend all the money I had and find a job. And I read his post, and it was just so motivating to see. Here's this guy, who I look at and I respect as having built 500 start-ups, and he wasn't an overnight success. Most people, probably, when they meet him are like, "Oh, gosh, Dave McClure, woah." And thing is, he's super real when you meet with him, 'cause I met with him a couple of times. And he also just, he was honest and said, "I definitely had my downs. I definitely was not the prototypical success." But then eventually, he got to where he was.

37:18 Erin Frey: And I think, that's the true story for most people. We like to look at the Zuckerberg story, and stories of people who were super young when they succeeded, the Bill Gates. And it's really inspirational, and it's awesome, but most people aren't that. And one thing for women is, I think... There was a story I read, that a lot of women founders tend to be older, and I think there's a lot of reasons for that. One is, if they have kids earlier, maybe they're like, because of societal norms and everything, they're focused on that first. Or, I wouldn't have been in a position to start a company until I was... I started this when I was... I had just turned 30 or 29. I had like almost 100k in school loans. And I was doing that on my... I had to pay that off on my own. And I was not in a position to start a company. And so I think... Anyway, rambling thoughts, but those are some thoughts I had. [laughter]

38:20 Jeffrey Shiau: I think this has been an amazing glimpse into how you grew up and why you are who you are today. And you actually had a small comment before you went into this story, which is, "I know we're not supposed to talk about start-up stuff." And I actually think, because of who you are, and even the type of company this is, it is based around deep human emotion. You can't avoid that. And hearing your story of just how you got to this point and all the struggles you had to experience emotionally, you could replace the start-up lingo and all those things within that. It can be almost any type of human experience. That's why I really, really appreciated everything you just shared right now, just because that's just a part of your life. And right now, we are actually at a time where I think... I don't want you to be late for your next meeting. [laughter]

39:39 Erin Frey: Thank you.

39:40 Jeffrey Shiau: What I wanna do is... I always end the conversation with the same question as well, and kind of thinking about this journey that you've gone through, how you came to become who you are, especially your... Very much part of your identity is anxiety. Ultimately, what's the point of all of this? 

40:09 Erin Frey: Of life? Gosh, what a question. I don't know what the point is. It's what we're kind of figuring out as human beings. I don't know what the point is, and I think that's why I care about just being real and open, and being humans to each other, because maybe there is no point. And if that's the case, I think we should all be experiencing the best... We should all be having the best, most real experience that we can until we die, or until this world collapses because of a Trump-induced climate change fiasco. But maybe, there isn't a point, and that's a really interesting way in which you can guide your life. I remember moments when I started having doubt about whether there was a God, and what was the point of life. And I think it's just really healthy to have those questions, because it makes you ask that question of yourself. And then, I hope it pushes people to really embrace life more fully while they're here, and not go to the other direction of, "Well, there's no point, so why does it matter?" Yeah, I think that's it. There really, maybe there isn't a point at all.


 

Why Did I Start This Podcast?


Equipment & Software:

Yeti Microphone & Ice Microphone by Blue Microphones

Audacity for Mac

WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB

Macbook Pro Retina 15inch Late 2013

Music:

Smile by Daniel Alan Gautreau

Tiny Bits by Felipe Adorno Vassao

Time & Reflection by Bjorn Lynne

Retro Video Game Hotseat by Bjorn Lynne