Dec. 20, 2021

On Mentoring and Mental Health

On Mentoring and Mental Health

Aiden studied IT and finished his degree in 2016, he has previously worked at Apple and PWC and now works as a Technical Trainer @ Microsoft. He is passionate about mental health.

Eric studied commerce at university and has worked in many roles across South East Asia in investing, business development, and communications. He's now an editor at Newsweek.
Both my guests Both guests are working on a project called MentorFold, where they aim to connect up-and-coming Graduates with early-career Mentors.

Read more about this episode and my takeaways
https://www.graduatetheory.com/on-mentoring-and-mental-health/

MentorFold - https://mentorfold.com/
Eric - https://www.linkedin.com/in/eric-barker/
Aiden - https://www.linkedin.com/in/b-gun/

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00:00 Aiden and Eric
00:42 Intro
01:36 What was the inspiration behind Mentorfold?
05:22 What are the benefits of having a mentor?
07:21 Friction of Reaching out to Strangers
08:29 What problems do mentors solve?
12:42 The New Job Code
20:31 Challenges Graduates Face and How to Deal with Them
24:46 Aidan and Eric on the Importance of Mental Health
35:49 Checking in with people about their Mental Health
39:10 Aiden and Eric's Advice for Starting Your First Job
44:13 Outro

Transcript
James:

Hello and welcome to graduate theory. On today's episode, we speak all about mentoring We spoke about mental health and how it works in with hustle culture and how those things can coexist and how to really look after your mental health, how to make sure you look after other people's mental health. And I think this is a really important episode. And given that we do cover some themes around mental health and things like that, if you do have any concerns or if you do want to reach out to people, there's links in the show notes, so you can find out more if you do need to. I think this is a really important episode. We're speaking about important topics, so I hope you enjoy. Hello and welcome to graduate theory. Today's episode. We have not one, but two guests have both. Guests are working on a project called a mentor fault where they aim to connect up and coming graduates with early career mentors. My first guest studied it and finished his degree in 2016. He previously worked at apple and PWC. And now it works as a technical trainer at Microsoft is passionate about mental health. Please. Welcome to the show. Aiden, amazing. And the second guest today studied commerce at university. He's worked in many roles in Australia and through Southeast Asia in investing business development and communications. He's now an editor at Newsweek. Please. Welcome to the show. Well, thanks so much for coming on today, guys. And now my first question for you both is around mentor fold. So you're trying to connect mentors and mentees, but what was the reason and what was your inspiration for starting mentor fold?

Aidan:

it's kind of an interesting story because I've worked in quite a few corporate environments, right? So Microsoft and BWC, and it got me thinking. W one of the experiences that I went through at PWC made me kind of realize, you know, I don't really have anyone to turn to. And in a corporate environment, when you generally get a mentor, there's a lot of structure around it, right? There's you go to the mentor or you talk to them. And the mentor is like, okay, this is how your career will look like at PWC. This is what you can talk about. This isn't what you're talking about. And it's really tied around, you know, job progression and how you're doing. But if you have problems, if you have issues that aren't necessarily. Something that you can do with people at, you know, at work or maybe something to do at work, or it could be something like, oh, I'm thinking about moving to another job. I'm thinking about maybe trying a different career. Maybe you can't exactly ask someone or a mentor at your job to do that because they'll just be like, oh, why do you want to leave? What's the whole rationale behind that? The other thing that really led me towards it was towards the end of my experience at PWC. I wasn't having such a great time and I really thought to myself, it would be really great to talk to someone about this and really good to talk to someone who isn't necessarily part of the company, but someone I can still get mental shift from. Now. I say that, but that was a long time ago. That was about three years ago, right? Two, two years ago, roundabouts. And the idea for men to fall didn't really take shape until literally a couple of months ago where I was in the shower. And I was thinking about this for some reason. And then I was like, wait a minute, nothing like this, actually. I don't think anything like this exist and if it did, I would have a hundred percent used it. So I immediately was like, okay, I need to get this down. I needed to write this down. I need to work through it. I need to figure out what's going on here. And with that being the case, I hit upon this idea of metaphor, being a platform where you connect with a mentor, they're not tied to any job, not tied to any university. And you generally get a mentor that sticks with you from career to career. From that point, he was an easy kind of thing. Cause I had that idea and I was like, okay, well I have an idea. I have a little bit of an idea of what it could look like, but I want to get some traction underneath it before I turned it into a proper startup. And I applied to the blackbirds jugs program with the idea and I was fully expecting not to get in. Cause it's a very good, it's a competitive process and there's a lot of very talented people in the program. And then I got it and I was like, this is crazy. How did I get in this? Is this just doesn't seem. True. You know, so at that point I was like, Okay. well, if I'm going to do this, I need to go work with someone to do this. Cause I definitely can't take this upon myself to do it. And then I reached out to Eric cause you know, Eric and I we've known each other for how long has it been Eric? Over 10 years? Probably at this point. And I was like, you know, Eric and I have built stuff together for over the past couple of years. And I was like, it's a negative. Kind of inclination to say, you know, what, if I'm going to build a salon, but someone, let me build it with someone that I've known for so long and who I'm close to, you know, even outside of working out of a Rocky relationship relationship and go from there really. And that's how it really got started. Just my personal experiences combined with a bit of luck in a bit of a bit of Hardwick.

James:

oh

Eric:

the best things to do.

Aidan:

exactly. Right.

James:

amazing what you can think of in the shower. Right?

Aidan:

Yeah, I know it's a top tip for this podcast. think of things in the shower.

James:

yeah.

Aidan:

goal. Do you want it?

James:

Yeah. That's so cool. Well, Eric, what's your relationship been with mentors and things like that. Have you had any in the past? One did one in the past.

Eric:

Both. So when he brought this to me, it brought up a lot of thoughts of how I'd interacted with mentors and mentorship and. So I've, I've sought mentors out privately, and I've also been assigned them from a corporate perspective as well. So one of the companies that I was working with, because it was a, a larger international company, they're like, you're starting here. We need to assign you someone. So you can ask questions who you don't report to. So there's not as much of a conflict and there's more honesty, but like Aiden said, there is, after all of that, after all of that rhetoric, there is an. Loyalty to the company and risks associated if you don't follow that as a mentor or a mentee. Right. So that was, that always seems to hamper via the level of connection that you could develop in that scenario. Whereas in my private life, like outside of a corporate kind of sphere, I went about mentorship a little differently. So I looked at who was doing exactly what I wanted to be. Maybe five or 10 years down the road from where I thought I was and I approached them, I sought them out. I said, I want to be doing what you're doing. Can I learn from you kind of take you out to coffee. And that has been a much more fruitful and, and long relationship that I, that I continue with a few individuals get into this thing. So we're trying to create that for like everyone else. Cause that's been immensely helpful for both of us from a personal and professional stance.

James:

I liked that a lot. One of the, one of the things that I think is really cool about that is you your initiative and going out and reaching, reaching out to people, which I think is a stopping point for a lot of people where it's, there's a lot of friction between. You, you, you know, maybe you're, you're sitting there, you really want you're in the shower. Maybe you're thinking, damn, I'd really like a mentor. But then, you know, there's, there's this whole thing about, okay, who am I going to reach out to? Like maybe they won't respond and kind of people can just talk themselves out of it or not even think that that is something that can do. So I think that's a great example, Eric, of using your initiative and getting out there. And it's great to hear that that's been useful for you.

Eric:

yeah, it can be hard to reach out for a lot of people. And we acknowledge that. Like, that's part of the problem that we're trying to solve. Like, what is stopping you from making the first step, right? You need to be used or you don't know how to reach out, or it's just scary. But those are all valid points.

Aidan:

We joke around and we say that we're taking the friction out of like reaching out to strangers. Cause we do the reaching out to strangers for you. But you know, like it's, it's an important part of seeking mentorship, Right? You need to go out and put yourself out there. And while we can take a fair bit of that away from the compensation, you still have to go out there and be like, okay, well I want to make a conversation with my mental or with my mentee, even in some cases. And in order to. I've just got to bare my soul a little bit and just, you know, form a connection that way.

James:

Yeah. What would you say, say someone's thinking about getting a mentor. I mean, what are the main things that you would want someone to take away from a mentor, like relationship or even Eric what's things that you've taken away from that those.

Eric:

so So part of what we're running up against, or we're experiencing in building this community is that there's a general lack of understanding around what mentorship is. Like a lot of people that comes up and it's a buzzword. So to are under. But for our purposes, I guess it's a combination of guidance, mentee driven, coaching, and problem solving guidance is when you, when you are looking for direction and you need someone to bounce thoughts off, who's more experienced than you are mentee driven. Coaching is where you say I have a problem where I have a goal. I need to figure out how to get to point B. Can you help me? And it's not up to the mentor to drive your coaching or to drive. your To drive your progress. You need to go to them as a resources, as an authority, someone who's more experienced and problem-solving because you don't know everything. And they're going to have experience with problems that you will run into in your professional life and navigating your career and navigating even the workplace when you start work. And so for us, it's a combination of all those three things with that definition. That's what we want.

James:

I think that's interesting. Yeah. And I liked what you said there about, you know, you've got to know almost like where your point B is right before you. It's a nice thing to have a mentor. And you're like, yeah, I've got a mentor, you know, like I'm better than everyone, you know, sort of thing, but it's like, okay, you need to like come to the mentor, what you need. And what's the reason why you're having someone there. Other than just as like, you know, just, it's cool to have someone like to talk about your career stuff with, right. It's kind of this, this thing where it's like, okay, I have you around so that I can better get to this certain destination. And I, I think that's

Eric:

And if I might cut it, like, it's good for the mentor as well. If you come to them with a point B, because if you don't think of. Like, why am I meeting with this person? Is this a social visit? Do they want something from me? Or they trying to sell me something? Like, what is the purpose of this? And so if you go to them, like, this is my goal, this is my plan. This is the difficulty. Can I buy you a cup of coffee? Or can I have some of your time to see what your experience with this has been all to see what your thoughts are with this, and then plan out a structure for the next week, two weeks month to see how we can get that.

Aidan:

Just to add to that as well. I found that I've started to recently mentor people as well as be a mentee as well. And I found the best mentor, mentee relationships from my perspective have been, people have like literally DNV and LinkedIn and they'll be like, Hey, I've seen your experience. I've seen what you've done. I really want to be in that same space. Do you mind if you take a couple of minutes to chat about it, and that's always been really effective from a mentorship perspective, because you just say, okay, well I've been in that position before. I've definitely been that clueless graduate while I'm like, I have no idea what I'm doing. So when you get to the point where you say, okay, well I have some experience now I'd really like to help other people in that same position. It, it's a really great thing because you're really just passing on that knowledge and people after you don't have to make the same mistakes that. you might've made. That's one of the interesting things that I've meant to follow up is that we have a lot of mentors who've joined the platform and every single one of them are like, we just want to help other people. It's nothing. Getting paid for it. It's nothing about, you know, maybe building a following. It's all about, I've learnt all this stuff through a lot of hard work and dedication and a ton of mistakes. And I just want to make sure that the people who come off to me don't have to make those same mistakes. And it's very altruistic that before.

James:

Yeah, certainly like there's like that idea of like, you know, paying it forward. And even once you're, once you're young and you've received advice or how to mentor. Yeah, unless you get that, get that feeling like I want to give back and, and give someone else that same experiences as what I had. So yeah, I think this is really cool when I, I liked this idea about removing the friction between a lot of getting a mentor. I think it's, it's really, really important. So, yeah, I wanna, I want to talk a bit about it now. I know you guys are releasing a book soon. Eric you mentioned that to me. Before the podcast. So is that, what's the title of this book and is it related to this project?

Eric:

it is it's called the new job. We're planning to have it come out in January, 2022. And we were positioning it as a guide to how the job market and the job getting processed has changed from before the pandemic to how it is now. There's different ways to get a job, different ways to go about finding them building the online presence that you need to have these days online. And there's, there's a whole ton of different example. So it's separated into seven chapters and we packed it full of like real life examples, like screenshots from every single step of the job, getting processed, including mentorship.

James:

yeah.

Aidan:

good to put that in that too. Yeah. but it wasn't, it was really fun to write because we just spent. You know, hours upon hours just talking to each other and be like, Hey, do you remember that time that you did this? Or do you remember the time that you did that? Why don't we put it in the book? Why don't we just be authentic about it and want to just talk about what we did and how we got to where we got to. So it was very one experienced writing and we both think that there's a lot of really good information in there that people can really take away from it as well.

James:

Yeah. Cause what, what let's say, someone's going to write this book. What is, what are some things that you want them to get out of it after reading?

Eric:

We designed this book so you can pick it. Anger. Cool. These are actions that I can actually take that will get me results. It's a really short book considering how long books on this topic can get, right? It's, it's 80 pages, which is not a lot and there's lots of pictures and screenshots. So it's all really accessible. And we like, we've tried to keep it that way as much as possible. So my algorithm for is for someone to pick it up, take a look at it, identify with the problems that we hotline. Few pages and then say, cool, this might actually work. Let's give this a trial and then follow the steps as we go down.

Aidan:

I think the best element of it is the fact that this action points at the end of each chapter. So even if you go to the action plan, Have I done this? Have I done this? Have I done this? And have I done this? And then you could probably get to the end of the book. And if you take through all those different action points, you can say, okay, I'm in a reasonably good place that I feel like I can get a job now, or I've been able to do this. I've been able to do that. I know what a resume looks like. I know how to write a cover letter. I know why people write those now what the purpose is of them. And then you get to a really good position where you say cool. I, I know how to look for the right jobs. I know how to create the resume and my cover letter. I know how to behave in an interview. I even know how to negotiate a job offer because that's the one thing that I wrote in that book. And I was like, if I knew this, if when I was a graduate, I probably would've been in a much better position back then than I was. And it's, like I said, it's another form of mentorship in a way, because instead of talking to people about it, we've just written it down. and we say, Hey, take a look at this because you're going to want to meet it when you're in a negotiation position or when you're applying to a job or something like that.

Eric:

And they have a whole section on the different questions that you get asked in an interview and what they look like now, as opposed to like maybe two or three.

Aidan:

Yeah.

James:

yeah, it's important that those things are, and it's good to hear that, that, you know, you're on top of it and it's really a modern, modern book because some of those things, you know, that the interview questions might be like 20 years old. It's not really relevant for today's day and age. Are there any concepts or. You know, some of these action items and things from the book that you guys apply in your lives now.

Aidan:

That's a good one. Did you want me to go? Yeah. Yeah. there's actually quite a few. There's quite a few, I think from, and this is interesting because I've been applying this more and more recently, there's, I'm really plotting out what your next move is or how to apply to a job or how to look for the right jobs for you. Cause I'm, I'm not a very organized person by any means, but, but after writing new job code, I was like, you know what? I don't really. Do this first bit, I should really make a conscious effort to sit down and make less than, you know, my wife she she's fully organized. So I talked to her about it and she was like, why don't you just make a, to do list? Why don't you do a pros and con list? Why don't you do this? Why don't you do that? And for the longest time, I was like, oh, I didn't know. That's not really my style, but now. A hundred percent. And I was talking to Eric about this a bit earlier. I had a pros and con list about something were talking about, I was like, this is how this looks like. This is, this looks like, and I've got a whole mental framework around that now. So like allocate points based on how important it is to me and how non-important it is to me and I quite a nice lot score. And then based on the school, I can make a decision to be like, Based on all the numbers that I put together, this is the direction that I should go, and this is the direction I shouldn't go in. And it's a, that's really been helpful. And that whole mental model piece has been great.

James:

Yeah. Yeah. I liked that a lot. And I think that, that almost weighted matrix a weighted decision thing, or, you know, there's probably a whole, you know, it could be. Number of different names for it, but yeah, that was something that I've used in the past. Not, not knowing that it was something that you can actually use, but like, you know, making it be choices. I remember I was going to go on exchange and I was thinking about if this was a good decision and, you know, having those things, I call it's going to cost a lot of money. I'm not going to be around, like, it's going to be like, I'm going to be going to a whole new city. Like I'm not going to know anyone. Whereas the pros are that I'm going to get to travel around. I'm going to maybe friends, you know, things like that. And then you try and do it as unbiased as possible. And then whatever you get that score or whatever at the end, like you were saying, and then that kind of takes your emotion out of the decision alleged. Cause sometimes. You can be making these, these decisions. And then maybe it's something that, you know, you get a bit of, more like emotional about, or it's something that can be hard to decide as a having that written down in concrete can definitely make those decisions easier. Um Hmm. Eric, is there anything that you use or any key concepts from the book that you have.

Eric:

Maybe I've absolutely adopted some of this without knowing about it because we've written the thing, right. There's a section in there on networking and networking is like a dirty word. No one likes to do it. When you think about it, you want to gag a little bit. But part of my journey, I guess, has been reframing, networking as being about providing value wherever you can And if you look at it that way, and it's not about what can you get from this person that you're talking to, and then you feel like you're harassing them. You have to scrounge around for a bit of time from them. And you're like, there, is there anything I can help you with? Like, is there a need that I can see or connection that I can give you? That's going to be beneficial for you, even if you're the CEO of. wherever So the way that translates into the messages that you send out, the emails that you send out, the proposal you make, the content you produce, it all comes together. I think that's really important. If someone doesn't already know that, then they need to learn it because that's how things work

James:

Yeah, I liked that a lot. I've been reading this book recently, code give and take by Adam Grant and it's it's about decide your bang, someone that's. Versus someone that's a tiger. And the idea of like, you know, like you were saying, offering value to people with kind of no expectation of them doing something back for you. Which I think is really powerful concept, you know, like you saying, when it comes to networking and things like that, looking at people and saying where's somewhere that I can offer value to this person, or how can I do something for this person and then creating a network that way. I think that's really cool. One thing I want to ask too is let's say someone is finishing a university, they're starting a new job. What are some key challenges that you think that person would face? And even what are some things that you would maybe there's concepts from the book or, or advice that you would give to that person to help with those challenges?

Aidan:

It's an interesting question because the stuff that you know now is not the same thing that, you know, when you first started at a job. Right. So if I was just starting out and I got into PWC, you know, like there I'd have been like, oh, go look at a big four. There's plenty of experience. You get to try different things, but being older now and looking back at that time, I would say to anyone who's just graduated. University and looking for a job and haven't quite got one yet. I would say don't go working for a big company just because you think a big company is the best thing to do. You know, for example, here in Melbourne that the startup scene is amazing now because it didn't used to be that way two years ago, but after COVID the startups everywhere and everyone's hiring and everyone's got all this money from all the rounds that they've raised. And I would say that as a. As someone who might be just getting into a job, the best thing to do for you is you want to accelerate your growth. and you're at that age where you can take a lot of risks. Don't go work at a big tech company or a big four big law firm or whatever it is. Go work at a startup because at a startup there's less people. So you've got more time with the people that make decisions. And at a startup, you get given more responsibility more quickly. And if you're the kind of person who says I'm up for the challenge, and I want to take all that. on Then I'd say, go for it. Like you literally will be in a much better position if you can make it through. And you'll be like, I've heard of people who, you know, they started at a startup and they worked in product and then two or three years later that the head of product. And then if they've decided to, they go to places like Lassie in Canva and they're like a senior product manager. And then, you know, let's say maybe 22 or 23 or 20. And meanwhile, the normal kind of pathway to get into a role like that would take you all the way up until about 28, 29, if you will, like really good at your job. Right. So my main kind of advice for someone who's just graduating is don't think about it properly, make sure that you're doing the best decision for you. And of course, if you've got other things you've got to think about, of course, think of those as well, but if you can take the risks and if you offer. Maybe forgo, working for a big company and go join a startup and see what that can do for you.

Eric:

I'd like to build on that into ways because I absolutely. Specifically for any role. First thing is when you join, ask as many questions as you can, while they still think he don't know anything about the role, because you won't have that chance again, because they'll expect you to know your shit. And the second point on deciding what kind of company to join it's about knowing your limits as well, and figuring out where those are, and that ties into mental health. So if you joined. Professional services. If you join a big four, anything, be prepared to work very long hours. And if that's the kind of work that you want to do and the kind of schedule you want to keep then fantastic. But if you want to join somewhere where things are a bit more flexible and you can help shape the culture and the role that you're in, then maybe go for a smaller company.

James:

Yeah.

Eric:

The considerations that have been important to both of them.

James:

Hmm. Yeah, that's powerful. When I think it's. Like you were saying, Aiden at the start-up scene really across Australia almost is becoming something that's a lot larger and it's creating a lot more opportunities for things like that. Where if you're someone that's you know, graduating, maybe you think you're nuts and talented, you can go and get a good role somewhere. You never really looking at that other side and saying, okay, I don't actually have to go and work at a big established company where I'm just to. You know, in a role like somewhere, but I can actually come and join a startup of a few people and yeah. And like you were saying Eric really shape the culture of the company and really build something in there. So I think that's really cool. I want to touch on as well. You guys are both quite passionate about mental health and it's something that you mentioned before the podcast. How, like, how do you guys become passionate about something like that? And how does that was there any kind of inspiration or any story behind your passion in that area?

Eric:

Just personal experience, I guess. So mental health has always been something close to my heart and I can say the same for Aiden as well. Through both personal experience and what we've seen in our PSRs. So we had a mutual friend of ours passed away when we were all about 23 years old. And at 23 years old, no one knows how to handle that. No one knows how to talk about it. And so you have to figure it out as you go along and you can't compare compartmentalize. It really, it affects everything. And when those kinds of experiences start to stack up, when those stack with stress. That you acquire from the workplace, from your family life and your personal circumstances or whatever you happen to be going through. You don't fit the mold of what is expected in a corporate environment. And so it becomes your responsibility to figure out how to take on what you can take on and set what's appropriate. If you're on backwards, at least from a work setting on a personal side, that's a whole other, a whole other question that you need to.

Aidan:

just to add to that. This is like a pestle story as well, but so when it happened and this was back in 2016, And I remember cause it was towards the start of the year and it's bent into my memory a bit. And it's one of those things where, you know, it's a 23 year old, you go through quite a significant amount of change at that point in your life. The kind of the cusp of maybe early twenties into your mid twenties and you going from uni to a full-time job and things like that. So I was in my final year of university and I was doing my final year project and I was dealing with a lot of personal issues at the same time, a lot of family issues. And I had all of those things build on each other on and on and on and on. And then. When my friend passed away and long, long is his name when he passed away. That was kind of like if you're playing a game of gender and I know this is probably a bad kind of a metaphor, but it's like, I gave a gen gender and someone's gone for the bottom piece and just yanked it out. And the whole thing falls over. Right. And that's basically what it felt like for a long time. And, you know, Eric can attest to this as well. Like I went through quite a significant amount of problems at that point. Cause I was like, Yeah, work is stressing me out. I was working at apple for quite a long, like I was four days at apple, three days at uni. Didn't really have time to. myself, had a lot of other stuff going on at the same time. And then all of that combined with, you know, the trauma that you go through when, you know, a close friend of yours passes away and it breaks you and you just think, okay, well, what do I do now? I don't really care about anything. I don't really want to reach out to anyone. I just want to sit at home and not do anything. And I think that this is why mental health is such an important topic for the both of us, is that we know what that looks like. And to be completely candid, I've had anxiety from back then as well. And I've continued to have it for quite a while after that. And I was diagnosed with it and I took medication for it as well. And we know what it's like to be in that position. And we know exactly what it's like to feel a bit lost and a bit hopeless. And. It's that. And that's just really the reason why we really got into mental health afterwards, because we were like, if someone else goes through something like this, and if it can help just one other person, you've brought a lot more net good into the world, haven't you? Because you've really helped someone to dig themselves out of that kind of hole that they might've settled into. And yeah, it's, it's just one of the reasons why we're just so passionate about mental health, just that and other things and friends around us also going through. Issues as well. And it's also, it's been a very interesting experience looking at that.

Eric:

there's not a lot of spaces in the discourse Around the startup space around hustle culture. There's not a lot of space in that for mental health. You, you look on Instagram on corporate accounts of startups or you look on LinkedIn and everything's shiny. Everyone wants to put the best foot forward. And these are people that go through things and to, to deny that. Is to misrepresent, I guess, the reality of what it means or what it means to, to, to work

Aidan:

yeah.

Eric:

Don't like to talk about that.

Aidan:

Exactly. And it's just one of those things, I guess this is going on a often, a bit of a tangent, I guess, but when you look at things like social media and stuff like that, and you look at the very curated feeds of people and you say, oh, this person's killing it. They got a job at so-and-so. This fence is killing it. They got married or they bought a car or they bought a house is other stuff, but it's a near on a lot of stuff that's happened. In their own personal lives. And I can attest to that because, you know, if you looked at my LinkedIn at the time that all of that will happen, they're like, oh, he he's in this degree, he's going to get a job here at all. Everything's looking pretty cool for him. But internally I was like, I don't really know what I'm doing. I'm stuck. All this stuff has happened to me. And it's just something that we don't talk about a lot.

Eric:

Yeah. So to take it back to the topic at hand, I guess, you know, when you're 18, 19 20, 21, and you start a new job and it's, full-time, it's a massive period of upheaval. And you know, you, you go through the process that I finished uni, I'm going to get it. Everything's sorted. Just try and keep it together and do well at my job, but there's a whole other side to it. You have to manage that personally and navigating that change can be really hot, especially if you have other stuff.

James:

Hmm. Yeah, that's a, that's a great story there. Is there any things that you guys are involved with or any things that you do to. Can you continue that, you know, involvement and interest in this mental health space and really trying to help people, you know, as they go through that transition, starting your first job in and switching that, is there anything that you guys are involved with or anything that you do to, to help with.

Aidan:

so at work, I'm part of what's called the real mates program and it's not just Microsoft specific. It's it's actually a program that was developed outside of Microsoft, by someone who used to work there and then left to pursue it. But yeah, that's definitely something that I presume. From a personal perspective, it's just a matter of reaching out to people and having those uncomfortable conversations. Cause the worst goodness, the worst that could possibly happen is you reach out to someone you say, you know, how you actually going is everything okay? And it just might be like, yep, everything's perfectly fine. Thank you for asking, you know, but occasionally there'll be that one person will be like, no, no everything. Isn't okay. And do you mind if we talk about it for a couple of minutes and. That's that's that opportunity. That's the opportunity of being able to say, Hey, I'm in a position where I can talk to this person and let them know about my experiences. And they're in a position to put themselves out there and they say, yeah, I'm willing to listen and I'm willing to talk. And you might, you know, avoid a situation. Like what happened to us when we were 23 with. one of our friends, like, it's really just a matter of making yourself just a little bit uncertain. But you don't know what you could do. You might end up saving a life

Eric:

And that seems like a pretty stock juxtaposition to talking about how do I get my first

Aidan:

yeah, it really does.

Eric:

Mentorship,

Aidan:

Uh, but

Eric:

it needs to be part of the company.

Aidan:

It does. Yeah, I look up part of meant to fold. Isn't just the fact that you're mentoring people through their careers, but there's also other problems that arise. And one of those big issues that happens when you look for a job, you move to another job, or you're not sure what's happening is your mental health, you know, and it's really good to be able to talk to someone and say, Hey, I'm struggling mentally with this decision I have to make, or this thing that's happened at work. And just being able to talk to someone about it. Yeah. So much more than what used to happen back in that day. And that's one of the things I really love about kind of our generation and the generation that follows us is that we just see more open to talking about mental health and talking to people about it. Whereas you didn't see the kind of thing, you know, 10 years ago when people would speak, Hey, I'm not doing so well or I'm going through this and it's good. It's, it's, there's a lot of positive change that I really enjoy.

Eric:

Specifically, I guess one of the initiatives I've been involved in recently, there's a, there's an app called mind care club. That's currently, it's grown up the last year and a half around Southeast Asia, specifically in the Philippines. It's a telehealth counseling app, counselors, registrar on it. And people sign up and they can go on their phones and just call someone. I think it's like a subscription service. Actually, it was started by another friend of mine who also died, but that was his legacy. He knows something. I helped him. I plan out a little bit. So that's something I try to stay open.

James:

Yeah, I, yeah, I think it's a, it's a great ad. A great point. And I think it's. Something that, yeah, like you guys have both said that needs to be discussing, you know, like kept in the dialogue rise, especially when let's say you go into a startup or you're working at a consulting company or wherever, wherever it is. And you're working, you know, 60 hours a week or whatever, and you're really grinding. You want to, you know, like you were saying, I put your best foot forward and, and, and show the world what you can do, but you don't want that to come at the cost of. All of your mental health and, and really like keeping that kind of idea of, you know, Korea you know, doing well in your career, being physically healthy and mentally healthy. And that's what makes it a good, a good career almost is having all those things in good, in good condition, right? Because one, one of those not quite bad, it makes things, makes things difficult. And it's important that like you guys were saying those, those people that. Yeah, it's hard to get that out of someone, right. It's important that you check in on your friends and make sure that they're doing okay. Yeah, I think, I think it's yeah, it's a really special story and I think it's. It's important that, you know, like, it's great to hear that you guys are both involved with things like that too, to improve the dialogue around this kind of thing. Cause as much as much has been done in the last few years, and like you were saying, Aiden, you know, our generation is pretty good at it, but you know, there's still work to be done. I think around even just people being more open with sharing their mental health and it not being seen as this week. Thing to do too, to share how you're going. Cause I think sometimes it can be like, well, I'm not a tough guy. If I you know, if I tell people that I'm not having a good day or my home life, isn't very good or things like that. So yeah, I think it's really cool that you guys are helping to create that space and, and helping to improve that. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's really cool. Well, yeah, one thing I want to touch on as well is I guess your experience with this mental health area what, what, what tips do you have for someone to check in with someone? Is there any like you're saying you send a message. Is there any other things that you guys do or any, even things to look for in someone that you know, they're not doing okay, how can we you know, how can we realize that.

Aidan:

It's a good question. And, you know, when I speak about this, I'm not speaking in any professional capacity whatsoever. I'm not going to claim that or anything like that. But the way that I usually look out for signs of someone possibly going through things is it's usually kind of the obvious signs, right? So maybe not reaching out as often, maybe you've noticed and not spending time doing the things that they actually like doing. Even things like you've reached out to them and you make plans and they say, Hey you know, they're going up until the date. And then they bail and they're like, oh, you know, I'm just so busy with everything else. One thing that I've noticed, especially for people who tend to be, you know, type a, got to get stuff done, got to finish everything. One thing that I really noticed to what they do when it comes to mental health issues is they buried themselves. So there'll be like, oh, I'm too busy. I've got to build this thing. I've got to build that thing. I've got to do this, I've got this other, the meeting. And if you've noticed that they're doing well more often than not, then that's a good sign to be like, Okay. well, is it that you're actually busy? Or are you just trying to give yourself a lot of busy work to distract yourself from something else? So really, you know, once again, it all just boils down. Just ask them, just ask them a simple question. Hey, are you actually okay. And if you've got a good enough relationship with you and if you don't, they might just be like, you know what? I I'm actually not. And you goes from there.

Eric:

I will say also that I'm not professional, but neither of us are, we just have personal experiences and there's ample literature on this from, you know, resources like beyond blue or Headspace. If you're really interested, you can go and look up yourself and become acquainted with, you know, what the S what the science looks like, what the symptoms of depression and anxiety and other, and other conditions look like that people may be going through, whether they admit it or not. But something that's not talked about that often is not coming across as performative without. And so not asking that question out of the blue, I got you. Okay. Without first building a sense of vulnerability.

Aidan:

that's very important. Very important.

Eric:

This is one of the problems that I see sometimes with initiatives like the R U OK. Day. Right? If you ask the question just for the sake of asking it, because it's that day, no, one's going to give you a straight answer, but if you take the time to build a relationship and create a space where they feel like I'm not going to suffer ramifications of this, like if you talk to HR at work or something like that, and it's a conversation. born out of genuine connection and that's usually a lot more. conducive

James:

Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I think that's so important. I totally agree. Definitely. One thing. I've got one more question for you guys before we, before we wrap up and that is, you know, we've spoken about this mental health and how that's so important, and it's important to check on your friends and things like that. What, what is some advice that you would give someone starting their first job, whether it could be to do with mental health and that's obviously an important piece, but is there anything that you would, even if it was yourself when you were starting your first job what advice would you give yourself? Maybe we'll start with the.

Aidan:

That's good. There's a lot of advice I think I would give I think that going back to my conversation about startups and corporates, I'd probably say, you know, take the time to research all the options available to you. And if it makes sense, go still, you know, join a startup or even better start a startup you're young, you've got time and it might work out really well for you. The second thing more specifically do to do with the mental health conversation. Make sure that you're taking the time to preserve your own mental health. And one of the best ways of doing that is, you know, setting boundaries. So, if you think work is too much set a clear boundary and said, this is overstepping the bounds that I'm comfortable with and therefore I'm not going to do it or communicate them clearly to other people around you as well. So they know what you can do and what you can't do and go from there. And I think that. Kind of piece of advice I would give. And this is probably more general is when you start a new job as a graduate, find out all the. people that are going to be in your team and take every single person out for coffee once and make that a goal in the first month. I don't care how many people it is. It could be five, it could be 10, it could be 20. It might be a bit expensive, but just do it take every single one of them, out for coffee and get to know them a little bit so Ask them what makes them tick ask them, you know, what, their kind of work experience is what they do a work in specifically and, you know, just get to know them. And you'll tend to find that a, the grateful cause, you know, free coffee, who doesn't love that. And they get to know you on a personal level. And because of that, it's a lot easier to get to grips with the team, get to grips with the work and you'll have those actual connections formed within the first month. Whereas, you know, a lot of people who tend to be quite introverted, don't really talk to anyone. You know, a few weeks and you just need a break out of your shell a little bit to do that.

James:

Yeah. Eric, what about you? Any any advice that you would give.

Eric:

yeah, so early. So when I. But when I was close to graduating, I had a mentor at the time, one that I sought out, I went to a speech and we started meeting regularly. And this is some advice that he gave me that I took two years to act on, which is to build something create a visible identity or content or something that you can be proud of outside of of your role, whatever it happens. And that, that does a lot of things, right? It gives you confidence. It requires you to build the skills required to build whatever you want to build. It's about a building and it means that you are visible. So if, and that's something that we can now point to, I mean, we both have our own online identities that speak for us, and that's something that we go into in the book as well. But if I had started it earlier, it would be so much. Okay, thank you so much. So much more valuable. That definitely something that I would never tell anyone who's early on in their career, or even still at uni there was something you can point to and be like, I built that it's a demonstration of what I can do.

Aidan:

just to add onto that. James, you've pretty much done that. Hit that on the nail right there on the head. I should say,

James:

yeah.

Aidan:

with a graduate theory, right? There you go. Shiny example.

James:

Yeah, that's a great tool. Very good. No, certainly I, I totally agree with both of you in that. I think that's really profound advice. Cause yeah, Eric, will you saying about building almost your personal brand, I think is so important, especially in today's day and age where you can have things on the internet that it just there Someone having to meet you or spend time with you, they can see what you're about and they can see the things that you've created. I think it's so important. And like with you aid, and I think it's great advice to, to connect with your team and even through the wider organization, you know, really starting that networking is something that you do proactively and you know, really creating a network you know, as much as you can, especially when you're early on. I think it's really, really important to

Eric:

So, if I could add onto what was, what Aiden was saying before, I think it's important to acknowledge the caveats that come with setting boundaries, especially when you're starting out and you want to be high achieving. You want to make a good impression, like we said before, and it can be hard to say no, or know how to say no. And that can be that that's a difficult thing to navigate. So you take a lot on, but I will say. The first few years of maybe your twenties or your career the time is the time where you get to test your bandwidth and see how much work can you do? How much can you take on before you feel yourself starting to burnout, and then you stay in that.

James:

Yeah, I think that's spot on. I think, you know, one of the keys around that is like, okay, yes, I'm going to take on that extra task, but that means that I'm going to do this other task slower. You know, so not necessarily having to say no, but making your manager and whoever's giving you work. You know, you do have plenty to do. And I think that's so important too, cause you don't want to become someone that just says yes to everything. You know, you need that space for yourself. Absolutely. I totally agree. Well, yeah. Thanks so much for coming on today, guys. It's been a really cool conversation and a really important conversation too, I think. But before we go, I want to ask you, where is the best places to connect with with both of you and even to find out more about mentor, fold and find out about this book that's launching.

Eric:

So you can visit our website@mentorphone.com. We're growing much faster than we thought. So we've onboarded mentors from Google, Microsoft Bain company, Deloitte KPMG

Aidan:

Telstra. Quite a few. Yeah. There's a lot of big

Eric:

than we anticipated. So anyone who's in university. Even just after university. I think this is a great resource that I wish we had when we were starting out as well. And the book will be on there as well. If you sign up, we'll send it out to everyone in our list and on social media,

Aidan:

I'm speaking of social media, you can get in contact with us on LinkedIn. Cause we're both on LinkedIn. We can drop a link. I'm guessing I'll

James:

Yeah. Yeah. I'll put all the, yeah, all the links I'll put in the show notes. So if you are interested in connecting with these guys yeah. We can do it in that.

Eric:

yeah, I've been to connecting or answering any questions. Really? The baby.

James:

Amazing. Got thanks so much for the chat today, guys. Thanks so much for listening to graduate theory. I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Aiden and Eric. I certainly got a lot out of it. So if you want to find out more, if you want to get involved with graduate dairy, what you can do is you go to graduate theory.com and there you can read my takeaways and what I learnt from this episode, if you enjoyed this episode, consider subscribing on whatever podcast platform you're on. And if you're on apple podcasts, if you could leave a review, that would also be really appreciated. If you want to get new episodes into your inbox every single week, please go to graduate theory.com, subscribe to the newsletter and that you get the new episodes and my insights delivered straight to you. Thanks so much again for listening today. And I look forward to seeing you in the next session.