What I Learned From My Mentors About Mental Health At Work

I’ve reflected a lot recently about how much of our mental health is related to work/career, bc of the amount of time we spend there. For me, I didn’t turn to drugs/alcohol as my coping mechanisms from the effects of early life’s traumatic experiences. But looking back, work was my drug that kept me coping & afloat. Work can very much be a drug…& an unhealthy one if you’re not careful.


I wanted to reflect on some excellent mentors I’ve had (some of the best leaders I’ve been around) & share what they imparted on me…bc thinking back, it wasn’t just advice to help me w career growth, but rather each tidbit learned strengthened my ability to handle that work-related stress that can often take us down.


These folks now are in positions ranging from Deputy Commissioner of the NBA, to CMO of the Caps/Wiz, to President of NFL Experience (& many are successful outside of sports). But it’s clear, based on where they’re at, they’ve practiced what they’ve preached. Hope these are as helpful to you as they’ve been to me:



Mark Tatum: No matter how much you get beaten up by your boss for your dept’s performance, never take that negativity back to them & play the blame game. Own part of it, & use it as fuel to better motivate.


Hunter Lochmann: Creativity is not a pass to drop organizational skills. Make lists. There’s too much going on around you, to keep it all in your head. Not only will you forget things, you will be overwhelmed by trying to keep it all straight without something to refer to on paper.


Francie Gottsegen: When you call a meeting, you are expected to be the expert & to come prepared w answers to the questions you will likely receive. Don’t call the mtg unless you have thought about and are ready for those question if/when they come.


Bernie Mullin: Treat your dept. like a family (I still call this man “uncle Bernie”). If you treat everyone like a person & not an employee, camaraderie will take your group far.


Randy Hersh Hanlon: Business is a small world. Maintain relationships w those you no longer work w. Paths often do cross.


Dr. Bill Sutton: No matter your age (you can be the youngest in the office), you can study a topic no one else knows much about, & become the go-to person the office leans on for answers in that area.


Lou DePaoli: Doesn’t matter how administrative your early roles are. Show you are competent & reliable & more exciting opportunities will come your way.


(Chicago Sky)

Steve Goldsher: Being the #2 decision maker gives your lee-way to offer constructive feedback to change your boss’ mind. But, you only have so much equity to use & you only want choose the most important battles.


(Phoenix Suns)

John Walker: If you are ambitious, choose to work only for people who are ambitious themselves when making a career move. If not, you will be held back, frustrated, & eventually want to leave bc of stagnation.


(NJ Devils)

Michael Williams: When you build up a track record of doing what’s right for your customers, they will support you in good times & bad. Customers develop relationships w brands – they are not just buyers – they are people who want to feel a part of a company that stands for good.


(Florida Panthers)

Vinnie Viola, Doug Cifu, & Matt Caldwell: When you own or manage a whole biz entity & have the power to make final decisions, the health of your employees trumps anything related to your business’ growth/decline.



Theo Fleury: You fight an uphill battle every day. But if you want to bring about change bad enough, being a driven SOB, you can make it happen.

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