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C-Suite Profile - Rachel Serwetz

Rachel Serwetz

CEO of WOKEN

What life events or challenges that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major) – whether you’ve experienced them directly or via someone close to you, have had any type of impact on your ability to feel the healthiest you can feel from a mental health standpoint?

Being a solo, non-technical, first-time, bootstrapping, female founder has been difficult. It has required me to get very comfortable managing uncertainty and the unknown, gaining confidence/trust in my decisions even though I’ve never done this before, not having much support in strategic decision making, learning by making mistakes, and putting a ton of pressure on myself to make the business work so that I can support myself. The very core elements of starting and building a sustainable business, for the first time, by yourself, when not many other people care or understand, are what affect me every day.

How did those life events/challenges listed above impact your ability to think, feel and function on an optimal level? If so, did this have any impact on work performance?

Building a business for the first time makes me question my decisions. Oddly, it has both halted my decision-making and at other times, rushed it. My fear of making a mistake has halted my decisions, and in other instances, my need to move quickly, build the business, and make progress, has made me rush to hire or move forward on things that really require more patience. In building a company that I rely on to support me, it feels like a race against the clock, and that is the feeling that employees, friends, family, and most people around me don’t understand fully. This forces me even further to feel like I need to handle things alone. And while handling things alone can give you the freedom to make your own decisions, it can also be scary that you’re not making the right ones, it is a catch 22.

How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? Did they influence the way you view mental health?

It often makes me feel nervous, stressed, and frustrated. I find myself comparing myself to others, hindering my energy and ability to relax and take on other hobbies outside of work. It influences the way I view entrepreneurship and how I try to help others see behind the curtain rather than glamorize the CEO life.

What methods or practices have helped you become more mentally fit, optimizing the way you think, feel, function overall?

Gaining support from peers (other entrepreneurs), advisors, coaches, mentors, consultants, contractors/teammates, and more. Being part of a community where others can relate to you. Therapy helps a little bit to vent, but I don’t necessarily feel that it can solve the issue — the stress remains as long as the business is being built so I often try to turn to whatever resources or guidance will help me the most in whatever challenges I’m facing at that time to feel informed and confident in my approach and decisions. 

Why did you decide to share your story (whether previously or on this site for the first time)? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?

I believe it’s important for entrepreneurs to feel that they can relate to others and know that they are not alone in the very normal but difficult challenges that a solo entrepreneur faces. I feel it’s important for prospective entrepreneurs to know what they’re considering and ensure it’s right for them, to understand the reality of it, and make an informed choice if they do want to pursue it. 

If you have told your story before, how did people react when you went public? If you have not previously shared your story, how do you think people will react?

Anytime I’ve shared my story, I find that people generally receive it well, with positive comments about the bravery it takes to begin an entrepreneurial journey and to handle its challenges. There have been moments when I have been judged or not treated fairly (inherently in startups means being judged constantly) but for the most part, people love to hear about the “under the hood” stories as they have commended and celebrated what I’ve done and am doing. While this encouragement is helpful, it somehow doesn’t seem to take away the everyday stress I deal with, though I wish it would. If nothing else, people who resonate with what I’m doing, the importance and impact we are having, that is what serves as validation and motivation to continue on the path that I’m on. This article is a great example: https://thriveglobal.com/stories/rachel-serwetz-of-woken-give-yourself-more-credit-than-you-want-to/ .

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