Sorry I’ve been MIA while on the road. These events & the catch-up after, often take the life out of you. I promised I’d share some greater detail from the employee events from the Panthers, & the following quote on this pic came to mind.
Usually when we do these events, I have a member of our Celeb Alliance w us, to piggy back on this #5in5 concept that – life affects us ALL. In this case w the Panthers I didn’t bring anyone.
Shawn Thornton, who you see pictured here, is a 2x Stanley Cup champion w 2 diff teams. He played for the Panthers right as I was leaving, so I got to know him a tiny bit, & then after he retired he became an SVP in their business offices. Very sharp dude. So, through the employees I knew there, the idea was to have Shawn be our “Alliance” member for the event.
Shawn was an enforcer on the ice. The toughest guy on any team, who often had the role of fighting. He also doesn’t love extemporaneous public speaking. He’s an “old school” hard-nosed guy. But, he was willing to do this event w me, when I told him – he doesn’t need to share details of some major mental illness – but just common challenges he’s faced.
So, w/o much coordination, he’s at the event, first w the employees (many of which he oversees), & he starts sharing & saying – “well I don’t have anything major or too in-depth/intricate like Eric’s story, but…”
He then proceeds to share some of the angst he felt before going into games. Researching some of the fighters & enforcers he’d go up against. How he would want to drop the gloves to get the fight out of the way early in the 1st period.
He’s telling the group this like it’s not gonna be that interesting or impactful. And while I’m sitting & listening, I hold my hand up & say – wait a second Shawn, we gotta repeat what you just said. You, one of the baddest MFer’s ever to play this rough sport, just told your staff, who saw you dish out thousands of hits, & get in hundreds of fights (& have the nose to prove it ;)), that you had “angst” or whatever term you want to put on it, before games, & in games. That’s a HUGE revelation. I shared that as fans & even employees, we see guys go on the field, court, ice, stage, in front of thousands ppl & we think they (you, Shawn) are perfect robots, unaffected by the fans or the world around you. This is huge.
Can’t tell you how many employees came up to me after Shawn revealed that, & that he’s had many sports psychologist at teams who have helped him, say to me – that was amazing, we’ve never seen Shawn like that. He made us feel “normal” about anything we go through.
Here’s my point – celebs revealing stories of mental illness alone, no explanation, no background, & then the erratic behaviors that may come from what they “went through” – it may increase awareness of mental illness. But is it doing it in a way that’s inclusive or relatable? Or is it making us form judgments about this group of “only 1 in 5 affected.”
Instead, if more & more celebs, like Shawn, realized that just sharing the ordinary – that they are just like us w feelings & emotions, & even angst – we would really tear his wall down on this concept of MH “stigma” that is plaguing our society. Relatability is so important!
Also, wanted to share some more slides on what the panthers did to educate the market, if you scroll left: radio & tv spots, employee newsletters, Jumbotron/video board PSAs. This is the stuff we gotta do more of!