C-Suite Profile - Seth Young
Chief Strategy Officer of Fifth Street Gaming
Managing Partner at The Strategy Organization
Board of Director at Aquimo Technologies
Board of Director at EQL Games
Formerly Chief Innovation Officer at PointsBet
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?
There’s an old saying; ‘You never know what someone is going through, so be kind.’ It’s accurate. Most everyone struggles with something, and anyone who claims that they’ve never been stressed, never worried too much, never felt low, or never had some sort of mental health struggle – whether formally diagnosed as a “known issue” or not – isn’t being truthful. While I’ve certainly experienced stress and anxiety throughout a roller coaster of a career to date, the topic of mental health and my keen interest in normalizing mental health became front-and-center in my life when a member of my family suddenly and unexpectedly went through an acute crisis, and was subsequently diagnosed with a “mental illness” after many years without treatment, counseling, or management.
Watching this family member go through the trials and tribulations of recovery – and now the journey of successfully managing the next chapter of their personal and professional life – instilled in me a sense of responsibility to raise awareness that everyone – truly everyone – experiences stress, trauma, and challenges, and it can be lost on many that this does not have to be the defining characteristic in one’s life. From my vantage point, watching someone – a brilliant someone – that I’ve long admired and respected go through such a turbulent experience, was difficult. Now, watching this same person rebound, refresh, rebuild, and rethink their approach to work, life, and how it defines them as a person is inspiring.
While I was fortunate to have a stable upbringing and have managed to avoid acute mental health challenges in a clinical sense, I’ve certainly had a front-row seat to observe those in others. In some ways that’s helped me maintain an even keel in my own life, and in other ways I’m certain that it has helped me develop a strong sense of empathy and understanding towards others that battle their mental health. I think it could be fair to say that this is a major contributing factor in having a healthy balance in my own life, while juxtaposing my experience with those of others could equally be an explanation for those having different life experiences.
How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? Did they influence the way you view mental health?
Watching someone close to me go through a traumatic episode, coupled with the trials and tribulations following it instilled in me a sense of purpose to act. The purpose was born out of a deep emotional connection to a family member, and a moral responsibility to tell anybody that will listen that a mental health diagnosis – whatever that may be – is not what defines any single person, nor does it preclude anyone from living like any other person on this planet. The truth is I’ve never been passionate enough to champion any social issue in the past, and there is absolutely truth to the statement that it can be hard to care about something until it happens to you or someone close to you.
While I’ve historically championed neurodiversity in organizations where I have worked, it hasn’t always been as directly relatable to me as it is today. For this reason, I feel obligated to use the platform I’ve built to help raise awareness for an important cause that touches the lives of most everyone, and help others realize that we all deal with the same things, though it may manifest and be dealt with in different ways by different people
What methods or practices have helped you become more mentally fit, optimizing the way you think, feel, function overall?
My father told me a long time ago… “Don’t sweat the petty stuff, and don’t pet the sweaty stuff.” The second half of the sentence definitely lightens the first half, which has more serious undertones. Having a strong filter to discern what really matters versus what doesn’t matter at all is a tremendous skill to hone. It allows one to truly release any semblance of worry on or about things that, in the grand scheme of things, just don’t matter. It’s something simple to do in theory, but something quite difficult in practice.
One of the hardest things I’ve learned to do is say “no” to people and opportunities that just aren’t a fit for me. Once you remove the sense of obligation to please others before taking care of yourself, you might find that taking care of yourself allows you to function more optimally across the board. This is to say, putting yourself first isn’t selfish – it’s healthy – and it allows you to be better to the people in your life, and to apply yourself better to professional opportunities.
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’m fortunate to work in an industry that is exciting, fast-paced, and ever-changing, but that also means it’s quite demanding. Those with the privilege of leadership in their industries have a great responsibility and duty of care to others. In this case, it took a tough experience of somebody close to me to spur my own sense of responsibility to act. Which is precisely why I’m stepping out today and making the commitment to say, “Same Here,” and committing to amplify the message that no matter who you are, what you’ve been through, what you might be going through, and where you might be going, you’re not alone in your journey. We all face challenges.