Dr Alex George: My Hardest Day in A&E, Family Suicide & Finding TRUE Purpose. | E89 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Dr Alex George: My Hardest Day in A&E, Family Suicide & Finding TRUE Purpose. | E89".
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I've gone from 200 followers on Instagram to 1 million in 9 weeks. I just tasted the failure so much that I wanted that success. One of the biggest things was going back to work, you know, I went back to A&E. I am working in a position where I'm the recess department of a very busy hospital in A&E, in London, the mortality rate of COVID around 1%. I am seeing that percentage of people who are the sickest who are in the hospital. I could hear in his voice instantly that something really bad happened. I just said straight away, like, who's dying? It was weird, the whole world closed it. I can't explain it sounds very dramatic, but it was almost a spot that came onto me that moment. I was like, "No, it can't be. I just couldn't believe it." That's the thing about suicide or, you know, when these things happen. It can happen out of nowhere. And for everyone around that person is that guilt that you carry, I think, forever. Ask yourself, "Honestly, when is the last time you genuinely sat down? I thought about what you want to do in life, what actually is your purpose, what makes you happy?" And if you haven't done it in the last year or so, do it. We had a phone call again and she said, "It's back." And what do you mean? It's the cancer's back. What do you say to someone who is dying in the next couple of weeks? What can you say? A lot of it's non-verbal. You have a hug and you just share that moment, don't you? But when you walk out of that room, it's like, "Wow, I'm not seeing her again." Dr. Alex George, you may know him from Love Island. You may know him as one of the most well-known A&E doctors in our country, or you may know him as a government advisor to youth mental health, appointed by Boris Johnson last year. Alex knows a whole lot about happiness, about the things that make us unhappy. And about how we should be living if you want to live a truly fulfilling life. In this conversation, you'll come to realize that we are so far away from how we should be living. And that in order to get there, we might have to redesign the entirety of the society we live in. That's a belief that I have. This conversation energized me, it inspired me, it brought tears to my eyes, it gave me absolutely everything. And again, if there's a reason why I started this podcast, it's this conversation. Without further ado, I'm Stephen Butler, and this is the Diaries CEO. I hope nobody's listening. But if you are, then please keep this to yourself. Alex, I read a ton about you over the last couple of weeks, months, since you've sort of risen into the public eye.
Personal Development And Confidence Building
The Roots: Alex's Childhood (02:33)
And one of the things that I really wanted to understand before, and I tend to start here with most of my guess, is I want to understand what it was from your childhood that made you the man you are today and what those significant moments were in your view. Wow, that's a deep question to talk about into. Let's get in there. Well, I was brought up and born and brought up in West Wales. I lived on a little small holding appearance, not farmers, actually. I often would be assuming that I would be a farming background. My dad, a policeman, my mum, I worked in the bank. And I had quite a, I think a quiet upbringing, you know, in the countryside, to your brothers, to your younger brothers. School life for me, I think, was up and down. You know, I was bullied quite a lot at school, a little bit in primary school, more so in secondary school. I think as I grew up, I was naturally, I think it probably innately as probably as well as my environment that I was in. I was introverted or became an introvert. And there's a lot of conversation about, are you on that way? Is it molded that way? I think probably a bit of both for me. And I think, you know, when I was at school and I was growing up, I think my parents were a big influence on my life. I think they instilled a lot of the values that I have. And mum was a big believer in that you should, you know, go out there and try and add value to people around you in the world. And the focus was around what you achieve in terms of that, rather than necessarily being, trying to be really successful, make loads of money or whatever. And I think that instilled in me that sense of I want to do good or try, you know, I'm not extending anything. And you know, I have the same, you know, I love cars and I love doing things as well. I'm not saying I was trying to be some kind of save the world person. But I had that kind of general thing that I'd like to go out and do something good if I could. And I think when I was about 13, 14, I had a bit of an interest in science. I liked, you know, I liked the idea of working in a career or going to a career that had you know, a sense of teamwork, a purpose, which might sound a bit odd as an introvert, but you know, I still wanted to be part of a movement, if you like. And that's where medicine kind of appealed to me. So I started kind of watching early shows of like the equivalents of 24 hours in A&E, I had them back in the day and really, really kind of thought, I'll be amazing to be an A&E doctor, the excitement, the adrenaline, that'd be so awesome. Like, I love that idea of, you know, using science and medicine to save people. And I just started working towards that goal, really. And I'd say that, again, school wasn't that easy for me for various reasons. I know now that I'm dyslexic, I didn't know that then, I didn't know it at school, didn't know it at university. I really struggled with my written work and stuff. And I was very frustrated actually at school a lot of the time. I also had a very short attention span. When I was in primary school, I was put into a special needs class for a long time, because, well, I don't know, I think I had a short attention span. Maybe they were concerned about me. I don't really know why that was a concern. My mum actually went into school and said, "Actually, Alex is quite bright. I think you'd be fine. I went back into the normal classroom and we kind of continued from there." In secondary school, again, struggled a bit with the written work. And actually, when I applied to med school the first time around, I was at all the interviews at my place. I actually missed out on my grades at grade A in my chemistry by two marks, which cost my place at med school, which is actually one of the most painful moments of my life. And I think really, really a defining moment. Because at the school I was in, I wasn't in a great, I don't see a horrible school. It was a perfectly fine school, but I wouldn't say it was like a really, really high achieving school. It was a state school. No one had done meds for a couple of years, a good few years, potentially. Everyone was excited about this idea. We got a student going. And there was a kind of having waiting for me to kind of open results. And I was like, "Yeah, I've got two A's in a B, three A's in a B." Brilliant and really glad about that. But sadly, my two marks means that I can't go to med school. And I think that was a really defining moment for me. I was kind of my first feeling of failure in a way. And I think all of that has come together kind of mold by attitude of thinking to life and to kind of working hard, to wanting to achieve, to kind of appreciating success when you have it. You said you were bullied in school. What for?
Being bullied in school (07:01)
I grew very tall very quickly. I was very skinny. I always had quite a bit of acne and stuff when I was younger. And I think, but mainly actually, the main reason I think I was bullied was because I was sensitive. I am sensitive as a person. And I think things would get to me probably more so than I noticed my friends or other people around me. And I think that sadly, sensitivity attracts some bullies at times, you know, at the moment. Doing a massive campaign with a number 10 and down reward around bullying and tackling that. And a lot of the young people I speak to have experienced the same, you know, sensitivity sadly attracts that. But it's odd because I now look back and think, you know, the time, I thought that was a real weakness. But now I see it as a real strength. And I think my sensitivity has allowed me to be a better doctor. I think my ability to have empathy on my patients, I read people very well, understand when I'm in a team, you know, even now whether it's not in the hospital or the team that I'm working with, or kind of my management perspective or whether it's people working, you know, working with people at number 10, I read people very well, I understand people. And that allows me to get the best out of people. But back then, it was a real target for bullies, I think. And obviously, as you've spoken about, I think that sensitivity, I guess, is incredibly conducive with having positive mental health. Yeah, I think so. I think it's about, you know, when we're talking about being an introvert and things, being sensitive, they're not necessarily mutually exclusive or necessarily come together. But I do think that it's about learning what you have and how to use that to your use your strengths, you know, turn them into your strengths. I saw that as a big weakness, where as now I see it as a great strength. And I think sometimes, as you're growing up, you're unaware of what's good or bad about you physically, or, you know, in terms of your personality types. And sometimes the things that you kind of very harden yourself about when you're younger, like being sensitive, I'm now quite glad of. Even though now, of course, it still leaves me open. I mean, you know how it is being, you know, known in the public eye, whatever I hate that phrase, but I think it's an understood one. It obviously opens you up because you're open to criticism a lot. And especially now with the work I'm doing in mental health space, it's tough. And there's a lot of people in the political space, people watching what's happening who will criticize you. You know, and that is not easy, but you learn to deal with it. And you build a bit of a thicker skin as well, I think. Have you learned to deal with it?
Handling criticism (09:34)
Because as you say, 1.3 million followers, an Instagram 1.9 million followers, an Instagram, whatever it is, that's a lot of people, probably, there's going to be a bunch of them in there that, you know, they just want to ruin your day. You know, it's funny because have all the things I've had, I've had the full works of death threats and all this kind of stuff, particularly, you know, anti-vex and things like that, with recent months and stuff. That doesn't bother me at all, funny enough. I don't mind that and people can call me ugly, like say, look a certain way, or, you know, they can call me what they want. In that sense, and it doesn't bother me too much, to be honest. I've really been able to kind of, even though that was the kind of stuff that bothered me as younger, I'm very resilient to that now. What I think I'm more sensitive to now is when people kind of criticize the things that I'm working on that really matters to me, particularly the stuff around the mental health space. You know, when I've been actually working in this space for a good few years, before even before 2018, when I was on Love Island, even before all that, I was really, you know, actively working with the charities. I was also, you know, passionate advocate in my space in A&E. We see a huge amount of mental health. I mean, one of the big misconceptions about A&E is we just see, you know, injuries, cuts and bruises and heart attacks and things. At least 30% of our workload relates to mental health. I think it's probably higher than that in reality. And I've really worked in that space, but obviously, you know, since I was appointed Youth Mental Health Ambassador, since sadly my brother passed away last year, which kind of led to me focusing even more, and I guess the attention on it, which led to the appointment. It's tough sometimes when people go, "Oh, you know, you got 80 million for mental health support in your school. Why didn't you get 200? You know, you've let us down. You didn't get 200 million." It's very hard, you know, and when you especially when I go, I'm very, an actually very optimistic and positive person. You know, when I came to the role, I was in the role and I was in it for about two or three weeks and I got 80 million quid. There's a lot of money, you know, at a time in a pandemic with the government's pretty strapped, we spent a load of money. I'm not just saying just me, we worked as other people within the group and the number 10 and outside that worked on this, but I think it's fair to say, I was a big steer on that happening. And then someone goes, "Oh, you didn't get enough. You've let us down. What you've done is terrible. You know, you shouldn't be there. Why are you in this role?" Not easy. But I always go back to, and I think at the time when I came out, there's a huge, and I should say this, I have 95% amount of support. It's been unbelievable. It was always the 5% or 1% or whatever that they get to a little bit. But, you know, now I've gone back to the idea of, well, actually, what are my values? What matters to me? And I go, "Well, actually, I believe that I am making, you know, at least if even if it's a millimeter difference, I'm doing something. I'm doing something positive. That keeps me going." And that's what stops me becoming down, I guess, from the kind of hate, if you like.
Lacking confidence (12:13)
Are you a confident person? No. I don't think so. I am confident. That's a good question. No, I'm not. I don't think so. Not inherently confident. I think I was, if you put me in a party, if you were at a swanky party in New York that you might attend with before the band, then I'd probably be the guy in the corner quietly chatting to one or two people. You know, and just, I wouldn't, I would certainly avoid sense of attention, classic kind of introvert in that sense. But even though I'm not confident, I do think I'm very resilient and I think I'm very determined and I think that helps me. We're confident, slack sometimes. My determination, I think, pushes through.
Leukaemia, How It Affected My Confidence (12:58)
I mean, it kind of begs the question. I'm sure, you know, you're probably sick of people inquiring about this apparent contradiction, which is not a confident person in your own definition of confidence. And yet when that Love Island researcher comes knocking on your Instagram when you have 200 followers and says, do you want to be on one of the biggest shows in the world? Topless. Yeah. One of the biggest shows in the country, Topless, you were like, "Sure." Well, I mean, the reason that happened was, look, when I was at university, and I love my time university, I was mostly, I would come and talk about a little bit about a time that wasn't so good, maybe in a little bit, but on the whole, pretty, pretty good time. But in my second year uni, one of my very, very good friends, Freya Barlow, who was, and it's annoying because sometimes you hear, and I don't mean it's an introspector, but you hear people talking about someone that's passed and everyone goes, "Oh, they're amazing. They do this and they do this and that." But honestly, Freya was the most amazing person. She started two charities by a second year in med school. She spent a summer as a vaccinating kid and abroad and go to Africa and just doing a really amazing work. And very sadly, well, I actually remember one week it was towards the winter time. I'm trying to remember, towards the winter time, I said, "Freya, you've got some bruises on your arm. You're right at all this." But yeah, I've got a few bruises. I'm actually going to see the doctor. I think it was the next day or the day after. Anyway, a couple of days later, we'll attacks in the group, so we need to go for dinner time to talk to you guys about this. It's hard to. We went to dinner and just sat us down and said, "Look, these bruises I've had, I went to the doctor, had blood test taken, next day rushed into hospital. I've got leukemia." You know, she had acute myeloid leukemia, which is a very, very serious, serious form of leukemia and to put into context. It differs between people, but it can be a matter of short weeks from being diagnosed, or passing away if you don't have treatment really quickly. So it's one of the most aggressive and nasty cancers that you can have. So it's a huge shock to all of us. And she quite literally went to dinner and the next morning, straight into isolation, the hospital to have nuclear chemotherapy, basically, really, really strong chemotherapy. She was in there for a huge length of time, many, many months. And it was really hard to watch her, you know, here for, here for falling out, you know, losing weight, you know, swelling in her arms and feet and things like that from the chemo. And she was always so positive throughout the whole thing. A positivity was unbelievable on how relentless she was. And even to the point where she's actually, the university said, "Look, take time out clearly, you know, we want you to recover and have time out." She said, "No, I want to do my tests. I want to do my exams." She sat her exams in isolation, in an isolation cubicle in the hospital, which is just unbelievable. And she was her resilience. Anyway, after a long period of time, I think it was six months or more, she actually had a bone marrow transplant from, as I think it was something in Germany, that gave her the bone marrow. And she came out of the hospital and we were like, "Yes, you know, she's getting through this." And she even ran a marathon, something silly, like a month or so, a couple of months after, afterwards, raised money for leukemia research, you know, straight, but we're like, just chill out a bit. And she's like, "No, I'm straight back to the charity work." Fine. So then, running into the next winter, we had a phone call again and she said, "It's back." I don't know what you mean. It's Kansas back. And she was told, "You had a matter of weeks to live because she's had the bone marrow transplant. It was now at the point where there was basically nothing to do." So we threw a big ball and a party to kind of celebrate her life at that point. And we all kind of said, "Goodbye." So we went to a house actually to say, "Goodbye to her." And one of the things she said to me before she passed away a week or so later, it wasn't very long, she said, "Alex, you're an introvert. You're sometimes, I think you've got a lot of talent in terms of what you do and I'm very proud of the things you do. And I think you've got a lot of potential in your life, but you sometimes shy away. And I want you to go out there and say, "Yes to things. Put yourself in comfort zone." Something's fair to say, "Often in life, I just keep myself in that comfort zone." Put yourself out that comfort zone. You know, say, "Yes, things live your life. I'm in a position now. I have to stop my life here. I want you to live yours." And that, I think, is a very long-winded explanation, but that is why I went on that show, because I actually was very resistant to it the whole time. And even to now that the execs will say, "I'm the one person that didn't want to go on the show." But I almost felt like I don't know what I believe and what you don't believe. But I was like, "What would Freya say?" She said, "Get on that show and do it." And that's why I did it. I can't imagine what it's like having to go and say, "Goodbye to a friend like that." And it's so difficult. And at that age, only 22 or 23 or something, whatever it was, it's very odd. It's very odd to have a conversation with someone. And everyone's experienced grief at some point. But this was the only, and still is the only time I've been sat with someone, knowing it was the last conversation. It's a very odd situation, because what do you say to someone who is dying in the next couple of weeks? And they're so young, and you had all this hope about them getting better. And I remember it's almost like I could go back to that moment so intensely, because in that moment, I was like, "This is the last chance I'm going to speak to this person. I need to capture every second of this." So it's almost like hardwired into my brain. But I really appreciated what she said. And to this day, even now, you know, sort of skining is this morning and stuff, which is, again, miles out of my comfort zone, never, becoming what we're used to these things now, but miles out of my comfort zone, none of that stuff would happen. If it wasn't what she said to me, I don't think. I'd have just continued staying within that comfort zone, not pushing myself and protecting myself in a way, I guess. What did you say to her on that day? I told her I loved her, and that I was so glad that I knew her, and how grateful I was, really, that she was my friend. And what I didn't tell her, which I said to other people, was how cruel the world can be sometimes. You know, you've got someone who's going to be a doctor, and we want an amazing doctor as well, you know, not just talk to them, an amazing one, and such a kind, genuine person, like how cruel can it be to happen to that person. But obviously, in that moment, you don't want to say that. You know, she... You just want to instill that feeling of love and appreciation for them. But it was hard. What can you say? A lot of it's non-verbal. You have a hug, and you just share that moment, don't you? But when you walk out of that room, it's like, "Wow, I'm not seeing her again." Very odd. Very difficult. But, you know, I'm very grateful for another person that I've taken straight into a darker place there, but in a real positive, you know, I feel that the people around us can have such an impact on our lives, and like so much light has come from her life. Because of that, I continue to talk about how much possible, you know, and we all celebrate her and her life, and I hope that I have taken a bit of a with me to do some of the things I'm doing now, and I hope that she'll be proud of some of it. And you were working in sort of emergency medicine before the Love Island experience began. So, begs the question, how did you get into that if you weren't able to go to medical school? Well, so basically, I'd applied the time if we go back to one of my grades, and this is where I think I learned about failure, which I think is very important.
Failure is important for building confidence. (20:20)
I'm told not success, but failure is incredibly important. I failed by two marks. Obviously, Absie Gutted didn't have my grades, what made it worse was me and my friend were going to Liverpool together. He was going to go to dental school, I was med school, best buddies all the way through, like can't wait, and obviously like, "Oh mate, sorry, you got yourself, yeah, Gutted." So, I'd apply again. Well, I had to actually remember sat down my mum, and she was very upset, as you can imagine, and I said, "Look mum, it's fine." And I'd apply again. I'd get the grades, I'd do the interviews, do the tests, you've got to do the application, it's fine, I'll get in. And I believed that I would. I was like, "I'm not going to give up." I corrected a few sentences on my course, what I needed to correct to get the marks back up. I reapplied again, did the interviews, I got my place, and I went... Does this sound like a guy that lacks confidence? I don't know. I think, I think that resilience and confidence are probably separate things. I think I... That was the one of the first times I really faced properly in my life where I had really failed, and I had to kind of ask myself a question, "Do I give up?" And I was like, "I am not giving up, I'm going." And I think it was that I can... But I think that did give me confidence. I think if we're talking about that, it's like that resilience is going, I was like, "Wow, when I got the place again and I went to med school, I did feel more confident about that. I might not be confident to walk topless. In front of people like one of my knees were shaking and walking out on a love island, but I was more confident myself that I was resilient. And when I went to med school, the great thing was, and I think this is why it's fairly so important, A, I knew how painful it is to nearly miss out on something that means a lot to you. A second, I really appreciate it when I've actually succeeded. So when I was at med school, I just appreciated so much. I loved every moment of it. I worked hard, and even though I nearly missed out on going, I came out with a distinction, the top kind of two or three in the year. A few people each year get distinction. So I ended up doing well, but I don't think that's because I'm particularly better than anyone with exams or whatever. I just had tasted the failure so much that I wanted that success. And I think that has been a really good life lesson. I still fail today. We all fail all the time, but I know that I can pit myself up and I will always get there.
Podcast etiquette?? (22:32)
Do you want to come in and watch this podcast live from behind the scenes? If you do, all you have to do is hit the subscribe button. And now that the world has opened up, you'll be behind the scenes. As many of our subscribers have been, I can't wait to meet you. That's part of what inspires you to try things outside of your, there's sort of circumference of your comfort zone is knowing that even if, you know, the worst possible outcome occurs, you've been here before, you survived this storm and it worked out in the end. And I think even for me now in my life, when, you know, because we're all, our comfort zones are all subjective to our experiences in life. So I have a comfort zone too. People think I've achieved a lot in my business career, whatever, I still have a comfort zone. There's still this thing in my head that says, Steve, this is what you're capable of. Right. And so even when I step outside of mine, the thing that I'm always relying on in the hardest moments of my life is that hindsight of, you know, we've been here before, we've got through this. And you've got to have faith, even if it doesn't feel like it, even if your emotions are telling you otherwise, but have faith and trust yourself.
You've got to have faith in yourself (23:26)
Well, you learn every time you extend that boundary of the comfort zone, you've got to step further. I mean, what are the matter, what are you doing at the moments outside of your comfort zone? What are you, what are you doing? That's kind of pushing, because we're all, I think it's important to share because people will look at you and think, oh, these guys, so successful, everything, we all are pushing that boundary, right? Yeah. So a couple of things. The first thing is obviously, Dracken's Den, which I've, you know, I've done podcasting before, but I control this. And there's, you know, there's not 4.7 million people watching. I mean, we've got close to your time, but I control this. So, and I know how this works. This is my domain. Dracken's Den, when you start with five panelists, the one on your left has been there 20 years, the one on your right has been a 15. And there's massive camera swinging. There's this lift or swings open, and all of this. And then you're, you know, all of the, all of the dynamics to consider trying to learn, trying to learn how to play my role in this show while also trying to analyze the business and decide whether I want to give my money to this business within a short period of time. It's a lot. That's that. So I come to say DJing, as you can see over there, I'm learning to DJ, and I'm going to do a show this year. So outside my comfort zone, we're doing, I'll come through. I love that. I'll stand in the corner, at the back corner, out of the way. So notice me, but I appreciate you. This show we're doing in, I think it's 12, 12 days away. There's, you know, a thousand people coming to the Valba Hall. It's musical. It's, I've written the whole thing. She's chosen the music, 20 person choir, et cetera, et cetera. Big show. And then my, I'll just, I don't want to write along, but my last thing would be my business. So I started a company when I was 20, grew it, it's worth 300 million, you know, very interesting journey. Now I'm going like 10 times bigger. And to play at a 10 times bigger level, where you're trying to raise 200 million from the start, and grow multi-billion dollar company, it requires a completely different set of skills. And again, you feel in some areas like an imposter, but I don't give a fuck because I've always felt this way. I've always felt like this, like I've always felt like this sounds crazy to say. That's how I felt. Everything I've said my whole life sounded kind of crazy to me, until it wasn't. So when I say crazy things these days, again, it's that hindsight of me going, well, everything else I said said in a book. It's just you just learned, don't you, from your experiences that you, even though it's a different uncomfortable zone that you're in, you got through your last uncomfortable zone and you came out stronger from them. And even if, an example, even if you failed at that time, you still survived, you're still here, you're still breathing, you still get, you got up and you're going again.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable (25:59)
And that's important. That's an important point from it. And it's interesting to hear, like, I said, I'm starting my business prescribed, which is very much smaller business, the bath bombs that we're doing, self care, which is very exciting. But that's a very uncomfortable zone for me. I mean, I have surrounded myself with a team that have experienced in different areas. And I recognize that it is an area that is new to me. But even with the right people around you, it's quite scary. It's exciting as well. I think that's a big thing I've learned. I've learned to enjoy that feeling of being uncomfortable. My mum has a great saying, actually. And she said this for many, many years, and I love it, get comfortable being uncomfortable. I think that's a really great point. I mean, you never are quite, I mean, it doesn't, it's an imperfect statement. But it, I kind of get that. It's like, it's like an hospital, for example, right? It's like in the hospital, okay, you start out as a first year medical student, right? And you've never taken blood in your life. I don't know. So, you know, getting the needle into the vein, taking the blood test, right? Honestly, my hands shaking when I had to do the first blood test in real person, I thought, no, I'm out. I can't do this. I'm not made for it. I'm an imposter. What am I doing here? Get me out of here. And then, you know, you do it 10 times like, oh, that's, that's fine. And then you build up and then the first time, you know, when you're say a 50 med student, you're doing your first CPR on a cardiac arrest patient, helping out in recess and in the A&E department, like, Oh my God, this is too much. What am I doing here? You do it a few times. It's fine. And you just, you just, it just, every margin you gain, you get better at something. And, but it always happens. I mean, even consultants say we've been doing it, then studying for between study and working for 15, 20 years. And they say the first day of the consultant, they feel like their first day at med school camp. I think there's something really interesting there. So I want to ask you a question on that, that taking the blood from the veins of the junior doctor, how would you feel in terms of fulfillment? And I'm, this is, I'm totally leaving you to a place that I want to ask another question. But how would you feel in terms of fulfillment? If you were a junior doctor, they said, okay, today Alex, we're going to take blood from a vein. And then you had to do that exact same thing for 20 years. So first day, you're shitting it. Oh my God. No, no, no, no, shaking hands. Take the blood. Second day, a little bit more comfortable. Third day, a little bit more comfortable with it. How would you feel in 20 years time? Yeah, doing the same thing every day. Yeah, I think you need to, I think self-development is very important and feeling that you're adding layers to your skillset or whatever. We're talking about medicine here, but we're doing everything in life. I think that variation and variety is very important and feeling that you're pushing it. Basically, you're pushing yourself. Yeah. And I think that's the idea of, because at the end of the day, the struggle of life and the challenges in life, getting over them is what gives you that sense of reward. If you don't have a struggle, if there isn't any struggle, if life was completely easy, if you woke up with 50 million quid in a bank and there are no challenges at all, you'd be very bored actually, I think.
Worthwhile struggle (28:52)
There's always a balance, because you've got to balance it. It's all about balance. You don't want too much struggle, because that's what's too much hardship. And if A&E was making me cry, I wouldn't want to be there. But yeah, I think that it's good to have that increasing mounting challenge. And that's exactly what I was alluding to, which is that that worthwhile struggle is achieved by stepping out, being uncomfortable, as your mother said. So we know that worthwhile struggle is so critically important to being fulfilled in life, as you've said. And that worthwhile struggle, showing up that first day or then advancing, is achieved by being uncomfortable. So if we reason from there, we can say, being uncomfortable is the reason why you achieve worthwhile struggle, which is the reason why you achieve fulfillment. And this is part of what I was alluding to, which is people that avoid the uncomfortable piece, which is at the very start of that chain, then don't get the worthwhile fulfillment, which comes from the challenge. But also they stay in situations, which are no longer serving them, relationships, jobs. And that, again, because they're like, "Oh my God, I got uncertainty of jumping off this cliff and going into uncertainty." And then they have the middle-life crises and mental health challenges. So that's why I'm just so passionate about it. The whole idea around fearing less, I think. People are often, and I love psychology. I read a lot of power of now, the secret, all the kind of classic ones, but I'm really into that kind of mindset theory. And a lot of people are very afraid, the next situation they might find themselves in will be more painful or difficult in their current situation. But in reality, often you find that the change you can experience isn't as bad as you think it is. It's the idea of the analogy of having a Ferrari on your drive. And you get your Ferrari, and the first day you're so excited about it, and you think, "Oh my God, I'm going to be so happy about this car. Every day we're so excited about it. It's going to be incredible. I've got this massive house." But every day, you return to the baseline level of happiness. What you experience is pleasure, isn't it? Not so fulfillment, it's a pleasure. And that will come down. Obviously, the Ferrari, after a certain amount of time, you might love it, and I love my cars. But I'm not going to be jumping out and putting down every morning. Every time I see the car, it's eventually going to come out to the baseline. And equally, you know, people worry on the opposite end. So you're really, really worried about, I don't know, changing your job, and you're really worried that you might start to do a job, but you're going to be really bad at it, and it's going to be so difficult every day, and I'm just not going to be prepared or whatever. And you start the job, and the first few days can be really scary, and you might feel really uncomfortable, and it's really challenging. But you will come back to that baseline of it being okay. And if you look at relationships, people worry, "Oh, I'm in this relationship. What if I break up in this relationship, and the next one isn't as good, or I'm not as happy or aggressive, I think I've really all really messed us up. What have I done?" But actually, your fear, when they actually do it, they go, "Actually, it was fine." I wasn't meant to stay on a relationship. You know, I was actually staying at a place of fear and fearing too much rather than going, "Well, actually, if you stand to reason, you know, my current situation is far from perfect. I don't want to be in it. Why should the next situation be any worse?" I completely agree with everything you're saying. In fact, I sent one of my best friends a quote last night that I'd written because of the situation he was in, and I think it kind of exemplifies what we're saying. I said, "If you want to avoid making the same mistakes twice, make more decisions based on your past memories, and less decisions based on your current emotions." And what I was trying to say there is that in the moment, when you're in that relationship, or you're in that toxic job situation, you'll be like suffocated and imprisoned by your own fear of uncertainty or failure, or I'll never meet someone as good as this, or whatever it is. But you've always got through it. You've been in love. Like with me, I was convinced from the age of 12 that I was going to marry Jasmine, and then at 14, I was convinced it was heled. And then at 16, I always thought that this person was the one. In the moment, I've always thought, "This is it." And look at me moving on to number seven and thinking, "This is it." You kind of hold on to your current situation because ultimately, we always go, "Well, actually, my current situation, I'm in. I'm not in pain. I've got food and water. I feel okay. It's not that terrible. What if the next situation, whatever that might be, work or otherwise life or others?" What if that is worse than my current one? We always fear the unknown. But it's like this, I hope I'm quoting the right genius.
Avoid the unknown (33:16)
It was Einstein that said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action, or it's roughly along the eye, being the same action, expecting a different outcome. If you're one plus one, there's always going to be two. So if you're having that same outcome and frustrated with it, you have to change something in your equation to bring something different. Amen. We were talking about failure there.
Tom's difficult time in university (33:42)
That led us on to talk about university. You subtly said that there was a part of university, which you didn't enjoy. Yeah. I don't think anyone in life lives an entire life of having, just being happy all the time. Everything's great and everything appears of being flat or sad or losing itself. I think my time for that up to date, I think, was probably at university. I was at my fourth year. Everything going great. Studies going great. It was on for doing really well. I actually was based, so I went to university in Peninsula, which is extra in Plymouth. We do placements all the way around that kind of peninsula. Yeah. I loved my time there, but I got sent down to Truro to hospital day and I loved the hospital people. Everyone was fantastic. But I was kind of away from friends. I was in a place that I just felt quite isolated. I actually suspect I'm probably just putting it on that as a place of reason, but for whatever reason, I just become quite flat and I lost interest in my exercise, stopped exercising my studies even. I wasn't really working as much as I should have been. Sleep went out the window. I was saying I'm late, getting up late, eating bad. I just lost myself in time. I became quite unhappy. I kept really quiet about it. I didn't tell anyone, because this is terrible. I was going to be a doctor. I need to be really, really strong. How can you be a caring professional if you can't take care of yourself? I left it a long time, probably six, seven months of feeling pretty damn miserable. To the point where I eventually was I need to do something, but I was like, I can't speak to the med school because they might think this guy, we got off to hold him back or something. You can't be a doctor. That's not true. I actually look back and think that sadly that's a big part of the stigma and mental health, but that isn't true. At the time, I felt that way. I called a lot of people relate to this. What do you do in this situation of trouble? Call my mum. I said, it's a big outpouring emotion. I was like, this is what's happening. I feel dreadful. I said, well, there's a few things we're going to do. We're going to talk every single day and start speaking about the thoughts and things you're having. I'm going to beat myself up a lot and about the sensitive and weak and all the stuff. Let's talk about this stuff. Secondly, let's start getting you doing the things that you know that are good for you. She's like, you've stopped doing all the anchors in your life that keep you feeling good. It's pretty wise for you to not talk to. She works in the bank, but very wise for them clearly. I like to think so. She said, look, start doing those things again so I thought you're right. She said, she's making sense. I'll go for a walk every day so I get natural light and the benefits of being outside in nature. Let's start exercising again. I created an exercise routine. I was like, I'm eating crabby and rubbish food. Let's start cooking again. I make my own food rather than just getting ready meals. I'm not really connecting with people. Let's plan stuff. I started making plans with my friends. I also had an idea where I was like, well, actually, to help me feel less isolated, let's call a different friend every day. Some people I haven't spoke to for years and just chat to them. All these little things, all these microchangers added up within literally weeks to transforming how I felt. I got my zest to levivv back. I admit energy back. I was like, I'm back to that type of happy, forceful person to go out and really make the most of each day. I think I've learned so much from that. I've learned from that throughout my time post university. But also I've learned about that in terms of what I think people don't understand about health. When I was working at Lewisham Hospital, I still work there now in A&E. So many people that I see, so many patients come in. I realized that they've not been given the tools through education and school, understanding how to actually look after themselves. We talked so much at school about maths and English and history and whatever. But known tells you about why sleep is actually so important to your productivity, your self-worth, your happiness, that sleep is not actually a state of just being sedated. You're actually in a creative space. The idea that nutrition can actually help you feel better, not just for having a diet or whatever, that people see it as the role of exercise. All these different things, I'm like, but these things actually do matter because these things are not going to keep you physically healthy, mentally healthy as well. That's where the book lived well came from. I wrote that book because I felt those are the things that no one taught me in school. And even at med school, we focused on anatomy, physiology, and pathology looking at diseases and treatments. But we didn't do enough, in my opinion, about these fundamental things around sexual health, physical health, in terms of sleep, exercise, passion and purpose. A big reason we go to school surely is to find what our purpose and what we want to do in life. Knowing kind of gives you any tools I don't think to figure out what that is. I was lucky to find my kind of sense of purpose. I was kind of stumbled upon it based on some of my interests and I was kind of lucky. And I really felt that those kind of bits, that's why I wrote that book, I felt that as the stuff that I wish people had told me when I was younger. So I've got a couple of points here. When you went through that phase in university, would you classify yourself as being depressed at that point? I would look back and ask, I was depressed at low energy. My mood was poor, my sleep was disturbed, lack of interest in my hobbies and stuff. There's plenty of tick boxes for being in that category. I said I'd had mild depression at the time, mild to moderate depression. You said that, and this is because it speaks volumes to me, what you said after, which was what I heard was that people don't understand the full range of the causes of depression. I've sat here twice now with Johanna Hari. Do you know Johanna Hari? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Lost connections. Absolutely. Yeah. I went through the years and I've said this before, but I went through the years not believing this idea that we were just being born, broken and understanding that the only thing that's really changed in humans over the last, let's say, 20 years is the world we live in. And the way we live, the way that society has conditioned us to live more lonely as you've written about in this book. I read about less meaningful connections, less purpose in our lives, less exercise. We're getting more stagnant over the last 50 years than ever before. So one of the questions I was planning on asking you today, but you've answered it there, but I'm going to ask it again anyway, is what are the biggest misconceptions about maintaining good mental health and or what's causing bad mental health that you have in your opinion? Well, I think if you look at what humans designed to do, we're designed to be out, well, we should be outside mostly.
Mental Health Awareness And Self-Improvement
The effects of modern life on our mental health (39:58)
We will create shelters and things, but most of our day should be in natural light. We should be going out and searching and foraging and finding our food as part of the team. So we're using a family or a group of clan to try to get your food. We're supposed to feel that sense of purpose within our tribe. So someone is generally a leader, the people that help us, people with different skills, but you feel a sense of belonging to that tribe. We should be eating food that comes from the earth. That's not processed food that we certainly wouldn't do as part of nature. We get plenty of exercise as part of our day, we know the foraging, hunting, doing whatever building. We look at modern life and flip that round and go a lot of a spanner times in boxes inside without any natural light glued to phones, not connected with people, often feeling that we don't have our sense of purpose and not really understanding why we feel that way. A lot of the things in modern life are pulling us away from good quality sleep, giving us bad sleep, they're pulling us towards fast foods and processed foods away from natural sources of good quality food that fuels our body. And if you look at it all that and you think about another way, it makes a lot of sense why people feel quite lost. They don't know why they feel a certain way. And I think we just need to kind of step back and go let's educate. And this is why what the work I'm doing in the youth mental health role. I'm focusing on education so much we've made five well-being videos for the summer as part of the summer school program, which are going to go out to all the schools in the UK. And we're looking at sleep, we're looking at exercise, we're looking at nutrition, we're looking at managing social media and what to do when you're not feeling good in yourself. And within those videos and within the toolkits we're giving, I'm hoping there's a lot of stuff in there that people go wow, I didn't realize that about sleep and why that's important or why I need to get this natural light, why I need to get outside. So I think so much of that stuff comes together. I'm not saying that the cause of mental illness is always related to life. So that is obviously not true. There's a huge amount out there that's to do with genetics and disease. You can't blame lifestyle for all disease, but I do think it's a big part of it. And if you look at what happens when you go to your doctor and say, I'm depressed, I need help. The first thing we look at is lifestyle. And we combine that with other treatments if needed, regardless of that disease. And actually even when you're looking at severe forms of mental illness, the lifestyle factor will always remain really, really important because without that, I don't think the treatments can do it alone. It has to be a combination thing. But this is what, you know, and it is so many people out there, not so depressed, but they're just low mood of just anodone. They just don't feel themselves. They're just a bit lost. And I think a lot of it comes back to the things I talk about in that book. I couldn't agree more. And when I, because I agree so much, I've tried to figure out how one would from their, you know, from their apartment here in Shordich do something to help. And because it's such a fundamental issue about the way we've chosen to live our lives, you know, illuminated glass screens to dates to order food to move around. As you said, isolated four white walls. These, like, you can't tear that down, surely. So I, like, we, I, I reflect and go, we would literally have to rethink the way we live our entire lives, the foundations in which our lives are built in order to solve this problem. That's genuinely what I think to truly solve this problem, we'd have to redesign our society. I think so. I think we, and even, I think as a whole, I think that's a big part of the solution. But as an individual, if you're sitting within the space, you know, in your living in the world, where you're in there, right, you can't get a social media, it's part of our work, it's literally part of the mouthpiece of a lot of the stuff that we do, for example, you can't get rid of that. So what is the answer? It's about adapting and making sure that you are aware in your life of these principles and thinking about how you can actually adapt your life to make sure you encapsulate, you know, you're incorporating that. For example, stuff like, I know if I don't go for a walk each day and get a natural light and just feel that I'm about around in nature, I get anxious. I feel a sense of just like being not at ease. So I make sure every morning, I get up in the morning first, and I do every day's go for a walk out for a walk in nature. I move, it's great for productivity. I get great ideas sometimes when I'm thinking of walking some bad ones as well, but generally this being out and about is brilliant for that. You know, I make sure that the end of each day, I again get outside, I move, but also I do my exercise the end of the day. It signifies the end of my working day. You know, I plan things, meaningful connections with my friends and family that are more than ever. Like it's so easy just to chat on the phone or FaceTime. I'm like, now that we can, more safely, the pandemic, you know, make time for the people around you, see them in person, do things with them in meaningful ways. Talking about sleep, you know, the whole like sleep when you're a dead idea and a lot of, I think, you know, you talk, you've got to talk to obviously a lot of very successful business people and sometimes the slightly negative side of the work that that life is not fine, that balance of sleep. And I know the things I'm juggling as well, that can be difficult, but I really, really value and understand that if I don't have my eight hour sleep and good quality sleep, I'm not going to be as productive. I won't actually be as creative and I probably won't be as successful at the things I'm doing. So it's just making those changes, you know, just being aware. Once you're aware of a problem, you talked in an episode before, but we talked about exercising between for the summer, summer shape, right, being a summer body, right, not calling out, you know, like you before. Yeah, I'm not saying that, but you, but you, part of it, for me, it's saying for me as well, I went, well, why is that? Why are we doing that? As soon as you're aware of the why and why we're doing something, we then, through that awareness, modify and we realize all of a sudden we modify our behavior. It's kind of idea if I say to you, right, focusing your breathing, it's like, or like think about your breath or suddenly stop controlling your breathing or aware of it, you're making a conscious, conscious decision around that, that subject. So I think just having that knowledge, have that understanding and be aware of what it's doing to your life. Some of it might, you might incorporate something you think actually I'm fine in that sense, but think about it. You'll see a way. That's such a good point. And you know, like up until, so the example you gave just for reference sake is I always, the reason why I was always unsuccessful in the gym is because I was, my goal was to get to look good for summer. So when I looked good or summer ended, my why was gone.
Getting self-awareness & education on your struggles (46:13)
And I was, and it was a cycle that just repeated every single year. But most of us feel that. I mean, most of us have been there and done that, haven't we? But your point there was the thing that cured it was the self awareness of my own cycle. And without the self awareness in the education, which I think you've, you've done a tremendous job in this book of, like, of educating people on, we, as it relates to the point we're making about the society we live in and how it's broken, you will literally be a puppet to the society. And the society will be your puppet master. It will tell you the notifications on your phone will tell you when you can sleep. And it will tell you when how to communicate and form meaningful connections. Use Tinder. It will, it will, it will orchestrate your life for you. And I think what you're saying there is, which I completely agree with, is self awareness allows you to take back control and be intentional about these critically important areas of your health. And then if you want any more kind of evidence of how much it controls it, think about, you know, what when I said someone now, right, don't have your phone in the bedroom tonight. I mean, instance, for most people, I don't speak for a lot of people who've been in school. I'm not doing that anxiety around the thought of not having your phone in the bedroom. It's like, why is that such a big thing? It's not a problem to have the phone out. So the room, why do you really need a bit of shows or attachment to tech and to the modern life? You know, we don't need that phone. And actually, when I was on love, I was the best thing about going on another violin. So I didn't have a phone for nearly nine weeks. That was the best thing about it. I literally say that it was great being in a sunshine. But that actually was amazing. It was like, wow. And now I've come back with so attached to it again. And it's something I'm working on. I'm conscious I need to stop at my phone out of my bedroom. I've done it a few times, but it just creeps back in. But I'm aware of it now. And then I think that's a big starting point for fixing a problem, just knowing it's there. Speaking of love Island, when you came out of love Island, I heard that you went and did some therapy.
Taking on a new perspective (48:03)
Yeah. Tell me about your thinking there and what inspired that. When you look at risks for deterioration in mental health or mental illness, one of the biggest things we talk about is change and big life change changes. And people sometimes think that means bad things. It means good and bad. Like for example, you could have been given your dream job in London and you're from Leeds. Now that's the goal and what's happening is your dream. You've had that dream job, but it means a big life upheaval getting a new flat thing away from family friends. So even good things can bring problems. So when I came out of the show, I was like, wow, I've been through, I was quite aware I've been through quite a big thing. I've gone from 200 followers on Instagram to 1 million in 9 weeks. I'm not someone from social media. I don't understand it at all. It was all completely new. The life of change and now being stopped by everyone in the street, which is something so different for me. And I was like, I need to process this. So that's why I went to therapy. I think it was one of the best things I've done. I kind of had to kind of like, unpick what I was going through. And it was almost like a such a big shock to the system. And it really, really helped me. And I'd say to anyone, you know, everyone should have a therapist. I actually think, you know, everyone needs a therapist in life. And it's one of the things that I think the Americans have really got right. The thing that we could learn from is that it's so much more open just to talk about things and what you're going through. And people are very happy to say I'm getting therapy. You know, and it wasn't because I was particularly going through a difficult time. I just was aware I've had quite a big change. Very self aware of you to even want to do that. Because as you say, you weren't struggling tremendously in that moment, but you were it was almost preemptive, I guess. Yeah. I just kind of was like, this is just, you know, kind of like, sorry, it's a work at crazy. It's like, this is a crazy thing to go through. I need to kind of process this. And it really, it really helped me because I went back to unpicking about like, who am I? What do I want in life? What I want to achieve in my life? And it allowed me to kind of consider those things as well as dealing with like, okay, what's it like, you know, to for people to recognize you all this kind of stuff. And it really helped me. And going back to that kind of purpose point, I kind of had this kind of big life shift of like, what is my purpose now? Because I've trained, or I wanted to be a doctor since age about 13. I've trained in all that training and all past all those exams. I've actually pretty happy at 27 years old, being a doctor, you know, got a good life in what I'm doing. I enjoy it. Now I've got this whole new thing. What is my purpose? And it really helped me kind of figure that out. And one of the biggest things, and most important things I did was going back to work. You know, I went back to Amy after a couple of months, and to kind of, to kind of just get back into that kind of what the sense of me was. And from doing that, actually, it gave me the purpose for everything else. And all the things that I do and all the things that the books, the podcast, the, you know, the other bits and pieces that I'm doing my life, it all stems off that purpose. And I think I was very lucky to have that therapy.
The influence of others (50:57)
And I'm glad that I had it to help me figure out what I was going to do. Christ, because in that moment coming out of Love Island, you have more options than ever. But you can make it up, but more options also gives you brings the opportunities of making a lot of mistakes. For example, you know, and I, again, I don't, I'm not saying any kind of site at all, or different, everyone's different. But for me, I was not going to come out and do club appearances or, you know, do those kind of things because it's a, I'm an introvert, I hated it, because you're probably relaxed by now. But secondly, it would have drawn away from what I actually, what my purpose was and what I really wanted to achieve. So, you know, and I'm very wise advice I received coming out of the show. I guess things already go. So, wise advice I received when I came out of the show was, you know, say no to most things. You know, if you're saying yes to more things, you say no, you're probably doing something wrong. And I had to kind of channel that. And it was a risk in it in some sense. I could have made a ton of money going to club peers. You know, most of us offered like 10 grand to go to a club, right, just for half an hour, 40 minutes or something. And I said, no, to every single one of them, is there I've never ever done one. But by doing that and channning my energy into things that I care about and putting my time into the projects that kind of matter and giving me that longevity and the direction I want to be in, that was very important. And yeah, as I say, I think a big part of figuring that all out was therapy that really helped me, I think. It's really interesting as well is when you take, when you drift away from yourself, you almost don't notice it happening because you just take one of those club PAs and then, you know, someone, they go, we'll get them back next week. And then they tell the club down the road and they get you down there. And then they go, oh, well, I've got a friend that maybe you can do some, you know, this or that the other. And it's just this slow sort of swaying from from yourself, from who you are. And this happens with a lot of people. And you know, sometimes it happens becoming yours was huge temptation in terms of like financial temptation. Some people, it's, you know, their mum telling them that they should be a lawyer. And they go, well, you know, I do that. And then they get 10 years down the line and they've swayed so far from who they are that they've lost that sense of their purpose. They don't even know the way back. It's almost their new identity. Their false identity has become so much part of them that they don't know how to they built this group of friends. That's the other thing. Because then it's reinforced by the people you then associate with, you get the wrong type of people around you. And then, and it's hard to get back, right? I believe in that kind of, you know, not law of attraction, but you know, if you if you move in a certain direction, you take a step in a certain direction, you will you will move in that direction. And the further steps you take, you move further in a direction, and you'll attract people that are moving in that same direction. And that's fine if it's going in the direction you want to, but if it's not, you're going to have a place you don't want to be. And that's why the number one first chapter that I do talk about is that passion and purpose, the purpose idea. How do you find your purpose? You know, and a lot of people ask that question. And I think it's that idea, you've got to look at your like values, your experiences, your beliefs, your interests, and find that intersection between those, you know, what are your actual talents, you know, we're where does that all kind of lie. I think you've always got time to change that direction. I think when you're if you're in your in life and you're doing law, but you wanted to do, I don't know, you want to be an artist or whatever, well, you know, why, first of all, you know, what do you need to what what do you need to do to get to that position? I do believe like modern life, unfortunately, does create a lot of boundaries. I think you can't do this or that you can't change direction. If you're in this direction, you can't go in the opposite. And I think that's that's that's such a shame. And we should change that. Look at medicine, for example, I mean, imagine that eyebrows raised when I moved in the complete opposite direction. And, you know, I don't mean this. I hope it doesn't come across this way. But a lot of the things I've done haven't been done before by someone that's, you know, a junior doctor that's going through those ranks. It's the first in certainly in this country, the Dr. Mike has done something similar in America, but in this country, it's quite different. And but I hope that people what they'll take from that is that actually you can change. You don't have to go down a certain path. And if you're not happy with the party going down, what are you going to do to change it? You know, what are your goals, write it all down. I still do it now. Every now and then when I'm feeling a bit more wanting to, you know, think about where I'm going with things or I just need to have a moment. I write down all my thoughts, my goals, my ideas, sometimes I just word vomit onto paper, whatever I'm just thinking in the moment. And then I leave that piece of paper for a day or so and I come back and look at it. And sometimes you think, what is written back? I start circling stuff. I start thinking about what how does that connect? Why did I write that? What am I thinking about when I'm looking at that? And and then from that you draw, take away that word vomit and make a new list of like, you know, what is my purpose? Number one, you can, you know, what is my number one purpose that I want that? What is my purpose? And then, you know, under that, put your goals, you know, how am I going to achieve that? What are my goals? What are my aims? How am I going to put into practice? And it's just a simple thing, actually, it's so easy. You need a panel of blank piece of paper. But I think everyone should do that so often. I mean, in business, they talk about the five-year plan and all this kind of stuff. I think just as an individual, just get out of your head sometimes, you know, get out on paper, know what you're doing. Am I happy? Do I want to change it? Am I following? When I write down my purpose, am I actually doing that? Am I doing my purpose? But also, if I'm not, what am I doing to achieve it? Because if you're not doing anything that will get you to that purpose than what you're doing. There's something, what you're describing there is you're like interrogating yourself. You're interrogating your thoughts, your underlying reasons why you're thinking things, maybe thinking of pursuing things. And in a world where there is this constant whispering, this external whispering, which is saying, you should be an influencer, you should be a YouTuber.
Start interrogating your purpose. (56:27)
That's the people who love you or if you're a millionaire. And that is, we're exposed to that every hour of every day, no matter where we look, this external thing, telling you what your purpose is, what the best purpose is. And we know that, as you're saying, purpose is subjective, mind's different from yours. But the world has a very clear idea of what the best point purpose is. It's very interesting. It's a very interesting thought. And this is why I'm such a big advocate of this like interrogation. In fact, that's what's it's cured. It's it's saved me in my life because 18 years old, I want my diary, it said, Range Rover, Hot girlfriend, million pounds, literally said, million pounds from 25 Range Rover Sport. Those were my goals and I came from a place of insecurity, obviously, I was therefore I was susceptible to that whispering, telling me what the best purpose and the way to millionaires, the way to happiness is. But without that interrogation you described, you will go with that voice because it's fucking loud. So there has to be a counter voice. And by putting it on paper, you're really attacking that external narrative, which is with threatens to lead you astray, right? Yeah. And I think it's it's that idea, like you said, everything life is trying to all the influences within your life, like friends and family, they have common beliefs, what your mum wanted you to do, whatever, and that directs you. But as you say, you've got this massive, it's loud and quiet. And that's the problem is under tone and allowed to kind of bother saying do this. This is what what should make you happy. I think that interrogation is very important. I think anyone listened to this, ask yourself, honestly, when is the last time you genuinely sat down? I thought about what you want to do in life, what actually is your purpose, what makes you happy, what is peace, what does peace mean to you, you know, and and if you haven't done it in the last year or so, do it. Take out piece of paper, only a pound of paper is very easy task. It's not a complex one. Write write it down. It's amazing. It's such a, it's a really enriching and motivating process. And and again, the key thing is not like, it's not like, yes, I'm achieving it. It's not about that. And it's about going, well, you know, what direction am I going in? If it's not the direction I want, what am I going to do to change it, basically? I can't. Yes. So and to do it often as well, because again, you're going to log in often to Instagram and to you're going to be exposed to that external voice often. So I think the practice has to the counter practice has to be done often as well, which is that re centering to self, right? And I think yeah, absolutely. And I think when you're talking about the Instagram, the voices, the noise that you're seeing online, particularly on on that note, I try and tell everyone this, go through your feed. If you haven't done it recently, go through your followers and unfollow anyone that doesn't serve your hobbies, your interests, your beliefs, your passions. It's amazing how much we collect people that we're following that actually make us feel bad. They're giving us the wrong noises. They're making us kind of judge us house, harshly with that's your body type or what they're achieving or they just annoy you. Unfollow it your feet. If you're going to have this noise, have it as a noise that reflects your purpose, your passion, your hobbies, your beliefs. And I think that will, for a lot of people, make a big difference. You're going to have the noise, have the good noise. Oh my god. I don't, I can't explain how important that advice is. Just thinking logically, if you go in the phone at the moment, you probably see that I probably spend several hours of down social media.
Curate your feeds! (59:44)
That is several hours potentially polluting my brain with junk values. Making myself feel like shit. That is mental self harm. And I, so once upon a time, quite literally, once upon a time I made that decision. And so what, you know, because people listening to this, they'll say, well, Alex, I can't unfollow this person because they are my friend or my work colleague, but you can hit the mute button. You can mute them. I'm 95% people at my time. I'm like, genuine on my Instagram, about 95% people muted. And I'm exposed. Now I was looking and going, hang on, I thought I might want to attend. I might want to attend. Do I watch your stories? I'm not in your stories. And it just is what it is. We've got to protect ourselves. I agree. Honestly, that 100%. If you can't unfollow, mute them, just curate your feed, have it to be what you want to be. It's not just about the business or influence. It's about just general life. And let's be honest, most people spend a couple of hours on your phones and make that a couple of hours either enjoyable or useful or funny. And the same with TikTok and stuff. I use TikTok most of it just for a bit of fun. So I follow mostly like cats doing stupid stuff or whatever they think that makes me laugh. So it goes back to the kind of interrogating why using that platform, why using that social media is it serving you of purpose.
Daily Routine, Body Image And Covid Experiences
Protect your evenings and mornings (01:01:00)
And generally, it's not easy, but try and create those boundaries. If I was going to say to anyone about boundaries around using your phone, try and protect the last and first hour of each day. The first hour is very hard because people get up in the morning, up and I'm sure looking at you like, oh, even if you can do it to protect the first 20, 30 minutes, because the first thing people do, when you wake up in the morning, and there's a lot of scientific thoughts around us, we are a blank canvas or blank piece of paper. We are so vulnerable actually in the morning to our day being dictated based on what we see and what influences our day. So if you pick up your phone and you see your ex-girlfriend or you see something or with Trump has said something or there's a new piece that's really triggering you. You are allowing external factors to take the start of your day when you're talking about being productive, creative and hitting the day and winning at the day. That's not a good start. So if you can get up in the morning, leave the phone for the first 15 minutes. If it's an urgent message, fine. But get up, have your coffee, have your shower, do your ex-husband, have your walk or whatever, then open your phone. Even if you can do it for 15 minutes to start with, it makes a huge difference and I find that benefit. Protect that morning and the evening. Protect, give that time because what people don't realise often is that what we see in the last kind of hour at night dictates a lot of what goes on our brains. If you are watching triggering stuff on TikTok, if it's funny stuff, that is going to influence what your brain's doing from then on. So think about what you're putting in front of your eyes before bed. Quick one. I'm getting incredibly busy again. And as you'll know if you've listened to this podcast or if you follow me on social media, I've decided over the last year and a half that my health is my number one priority. I will compromise it for nothing. And as I get busier and as I get more into the swing of my fitness regime, the heel ready to drink quite literally saves my life like two times a day in terms of keeping me high energy and making sure I'm getting all the nutrition I need.
AD Magic Radio (01:02:45)
Because before, when I got busy, the first thing to go be my diet and that had a huge impact on my performance, my creativity, my appearance and how I felt, my confidence, my energy, my sex life, my sleep, everything and he'll plugs the gap because it is nutritionally complete. The other product that I've been talking a lot about lately is he'll's new protein range. And so with working out and with being a very sort of busy young entrepreneur, these two products have saved my life. And that's why I talk about them. That's why I'm also an investor in the company. That's why I sit on the board. And that's why it's such a pleasure to have a sponsor on this podcast who you can evangelize authentically and who I've used pretty much every single day for the last four years of my life now. Anyway, back to the podcast. I need to watch all these bloody murder documentaries. I fall asleep watching a murder documentary, I'd say 90% of the time. And that's no exaggeration. What do they say about CEOs?
Do Instagram and Love Island trigger unrealistic body image horizons? (01:03:52)
Something you said that is really interesting. And this could be a tough question. So you talked about the Instagram giving false unhealthy false comparisons. Love Island is the same. How do you kind of like having been on the show? How do I find peace with it? It's interesting because there's two sides to it. I think that people watch Love Island for escapism and a lot of people watch it and don't go past that level of just easy watching fun stuff that you're seeing. But then for some people, they're seeing these bodies and it is affecting their belief and their value within themselves. And that is what worries me in a big, now I sit on the ITV board for mental health. So one of the things we're really looking at now is that we should be reflecting on particularly reality TV society as a whole, both in kind of diversity, in terms of backgrounds, but also body image as well. And I think that's the direction we should be moving in very importantly. And something that I've really said before, the series of Love Island, we've got to see that it reflects society as a whole. Whether they follow that advice, that's down to them kind of thing. But my real worry is that for some people, it does send out that wrong message. But it's difficult. I went on the show as myself pretty much. One of the great I had going on the show was I think I probably trained very much for the show. If I did it now, I'd still train, but I'd probably do it less worrying about being ripped or whatever. But it is interesting because most people would say if they went on TV in that way, they want to feel comfortable. I don't think there's a balance of feeling comfortable in your own skin. But not to the extent extreme, but I went to, I was training so hard and stuff and I was worrying about it too much. Now I'd be a bit much more like, they want to feel comfortable as an interesting thing. Because the reason they wouldn't feel uncomfortable is again, because of what society's told us what you should look like. And I think Love Island's success is somewhat linked to the Instagram culture we live in. It feels like if Instagram was a show, it would be Love Island. Yeah. And it's kind of what I mean by the comfort, comfort, I guess. It's about what you will wear you feel that you want to be within your within yourself. Like at the moment, I'm probably carrying a few more pounds and I'm happy with it. I know that I move better that way if it more comfortable in that way. And it's just being happy than yourself, but not being influenced that I'd, for example, I don't, I'm not bothered to have six back. I wouldn't feel that now, something, maybe uncomfortable means me having a six back. I actually very happy just to be lean, to move, to, you know, feel energized and stuff. And that is what comfortable would mean to me now. But at the time, because I felt like, Oh, I needed to look with the abs and everything like that, I was like very much actually out of my comfort. You know, I was restricting my diet huge. I was over training. I wasn't spending time with friends saying before the show, I didn't see anyone for like 20 weeks. I found out on the February, I basically went to this interview and I had no intention to go on the show. It just kind of happened. From there, I was off of the place and actually my consultant said, do it. And I had this obviously noise of frame. I had been like, take opportunities. I was like, all right, I'm going for this. You know, I had 20 weeks between knowing I was going on and going on the show. Most people apply the show applying the September before, almost a year before, and in that year before they're already in, you know, this certain shape and look a certain way. So I felt a lot of pressure from it. And I say, if I went back, I'd do it differently. I would do it differently. But it's easy to say with hindsight, of course, very easy to say with hindsight. Do you think do you think you think Love Island is good for one's mental health? Is it good? I wouldn't say that it adds to people's mental health. No, but in a way, you know, if it's escapism that people enjoy and they watch it, I think the important thing is how people perceive what they're seeing. What you're seeing as a show ultimately, it is just TV, isn't it? It's how you're perceiving it. But if you're finding that it's triggering you, don't watch it the same with Instagram and I'm following accounts and not making feel good or that are not serving your purpose. If you are, if you find that it's triggering you and how you feel, don't watch it. I haven't watched this series. I've got a lot of stuff going on. I just don't have time to watch the show. And I'm not missing it. I don't feel that I'm missing it. My issue there is that people don't know if the impact it's having. And I remember this study by Professor Tim Keser, who studied how people's values changed from what they see on the TV. And he talks about, he does the study with these kids. And when kids watch the exampleers, they watch some people, another kid with not so good values, playing with a really nice toy. And they've shown that the kid watching the show, the advert for the toy, they've made the kid really want the toy. And then they've given it to someone with really bad values just because they watch the advert of the toy, the kid will then, from that point onwards, choose to associate with bad values just because of it. So the kid didn't know what was going on, writes a bait as a kid. It doesn't understand that its values are being swayed just by what it's seeing on the TV. But then in its life, in the study, the kid will then go and choose bad values over good values. And it's that obviously, you know, to be fair, like, most people aren't as like psychologically introspective as maybe me and you are. So they are just... The thing isn't, I guess, the point when I completely see that side of it. I see that, in my opinion, it's good and bad to love on. It's like those most things like life is out in social media. My point is, if you got rid of Love Island tomorrow, when you cancelled it, it'll be replaced by something else. It's like social media, you can't, it's out now, like, reality TV, these kind of shows are out there.
Educating on Reality TV (01:09:24)
So what can we do about it? First of all, let's think about what we're putting on and what we're presenting on there. And second is educate. And I think that's why, for example, one of the well-being videos around social media and a big part of that is like dealing with what you see online, body image stuff, which actually links, like it extends, like you said, from Love Island. It says education is the very important point within that if you're being aware. I think that is the part that we can control. Same with social media, we can't get rid of Twitter. Twitter, you know, there's some good stuff about Twitter. I think there's a lot of bad stuff about Twitter. I find it quite triggering a lot of the time. Can we get rid of it? No, it's not going anywhere. So is it about learning how to manage what's going on in there and working with the social media companies to improve that space, which is what we want to try and do? Yes, is it also educating people about how to use that tool as well? And that's the difficult thing. You know, and ideally, if we get rid of all the bad things in life or things with the elements that are bad, that'll be amazing. But it's some of stuff out there we have to just learn to manage and learn, you know, how to deal with. No, I think you're right. I think that I think Love Island is definitely a consequence of a culture that is demanding that type of show. I think you're right that if you are to help erode the demand, then you have to kind of go to the root cause of, we have to change what people want. And then that will, the stuff on TV is like exactly who's had it just reflects what people are wanting in that moment. Cause that's what they believe you want. It's like what, what papers right and what the headlines are. They're just reflecting what they believe people want to see or what they believe that people will be interested in. And reinforcing it. And reinforcing it. Yeah, exactly. It's this cycle. So by changing and going into into schools and going, well, actually, why does the bot, why do you need to look like that? If you have, does that actually make you happy looking like that? Is that something to aim for changing that? I think that is how we'll change what we see on screen. And you worked as a, as a doctor throughout COVID.
A Doctors Experience of Covid (01:11:11)
Hmm. That is, whoof. Yeah. It was, it was, it was, it's odd because it was good and bad all at once. And I clearly have to justify why I'm saying it's the element of good to it. The bad part was obviously everything we saw. And I think Lewis and hospitals, one of the hardest hit hospitals. I mean, the amount of death that we saw was huge. And I saw so much death every day, young people as well as old. And I think it was a real, I don't know, it was a real kind of, wow, this is happening, you know, feeling as we saw everything getting so busy, the recess department being full of patients having to make very difficult decisions about situations and patients individually and also how to manage the hospital in terms of capacity and ventilating difficult decisions. Well, you know, when we see, when we see a really unwell patient in, in, so recess is the place we see the sickest patients in hospital. We've got them generally most departments like minors, majors and, and, and recess recesses, the place that you are, that if you're really unwell, and if we don't do something, you're, there's a high chance that you're going to, to die, have serious outcomes. Right. So if you're in there, generally, you're pretty unwell. And when we see a patient, even pre-COVID times, we have to make a decision about what we're going to do and how we're the best places for their treatment and what the sealing of treatment is as well. You know, for, for, for, and what I mean by that is, for example, so we're seeing a patient in recess, um, you know, for example, if we're seeing a patient that has loads of comorbidities, there's lots of, a high burden of, of, of illness, uh, it could be, uh, you know, they would have diabetes, heart disease, they might have end stage kind of dementia, they might not be aware of where they are, might be very elderly, very frail. If they are very unwell and with an illness, we have to make a decision about whether actually it is kind and correct to put them in intensive care with all the invasive wires, the lines we put in central arteries, putting the tube down, down the airway. You know, what is, what are we doing that for? Is that going to likely benefit that patient and lead to a good outcome? And what we want is to treat people in a way that's kind and that we can, we know that what we're doing is justifying for that patient because that patient is the center of that approach. So we have to always make decisions about that. You know, if it's a young person and it's not an eight, very important to say age is not, is not, is not the factor that we make that decision based on upon being fragile and, um, frail physically, which might be associated with age or something we think about, but not age in itself. But if you are a, in, in your physical health, young fit and healthy, and we think that taking intensive care and do all this stuff is like to lead to a good outcome for you, then obviously that's, that's what we do. But there's certain decisions where, for example, in the COVID and the pandemic, we had someone with dementia and maybe wasn't where, where they were that at the kind of end of their life, they've got this, this horrible illness, should we be putting them in intensive care? And we have to make those very difficult decisions. Now, important to say that going to intensive care, not going to intensive care doesn't mean that you're not going to get treatment. We still oxygen, you know, the lines, antibiotics, all these things, we still do that. But is it kind to put tubes down down people's airways? It's very difficult though to make all those, those kind of decisions and it's made between intensive care department, the, the only department. But these are really tough decisions to make and, and even people, younger people in these situations that we had to make those difficult decisions with. And, you know, I think that was very, very hard. I think we were at a point, particularly at the start of the pandemic and also at Christmas, where we were pretty much nearing being overwhelmed. You know, I remember this Christmas, just after it was January, I worked Christmas day and then it was a few days after that. I think it was just, just after new years in January, we, we had like no ventilators left in the hospital. You know, we found, we found, we managed to get ahold of some, literally the point where like, oh my god, we don't have any more. So thank god that no one went without. But it was really at that point where we're like, wow, we're like resource wise running out here because I don't know if you remember the declared a major incident in London. And what that really means is that for healthcare professionals, for doctors, for heads of departments, for heads of hospitals, they are then in a position where they might have to make decisions about resources. I do give a ventilator to you or you. That is ultimately what we're saying is that the pressure and the weight on the NHS is at the point where we might have to decide you're having this ventilator, you're not. And very fortunately, like, certainly when I was in there, we didn't have that situation. I didn't, wasn't face to that situation, but it was one that we were anticipating of things and get better. So that's, you know, it was pretty tough in that sense. The good side of being an A&E throughout the pandemic was that I wasn't on my own. You know, I was living my own in London. I would otherwise been at home the whole time. I felt a sense of purpose going there. I felt that I was able to do something in that time. And I surrounded by my friends. So it's an odd catch 22 of like the worst, but also kind of helps. Do you have a worst day?
Worst Day During Covid (01:16:06)
It threw out that period. A day where you think that was the hardest? Worst day? Worst day throughout the pandemic. And I think there was a day where we were, I was in recess that day. So we were kind of rotating in parts department. So I was in the recess department. And I was in there with a couple of the doctors and other nurses. And we were pretty much at capacity. So within the our recess department, we have like, well, five, six, seven or eight beds, seven or eight beds in that recess area. Bearing mind these patients that require a huge amount of care. I mean, these are, you know, trying to be near enough to one to one as we can to look after them because they're very unwell. They're very sick. And and we're at that point day, we had two patients per bay. So we had to put two beds in each bay because we were absolutely at capacity. And in fact, we're at the point where we're having to put some almost in the corridor area of the recess. So it's within one big room, big box room, but not in the bay. And that is very scary. And then we also are having that day. I remember we had ambulances lining up. So blue light ambulances. So they're the ones bringing the sickest patients outside. And you're looking at the situation going, we're at capacity. No, actually, we're we've gone over the capacity. We don't have any more capacity. So what do we do? And that is very frightening, not just in terms of space. But in terms of, right, I'm looking out at this patient, this patient, this patient, this patient, this patient, this patient, they're all really sick. They all actually need by one to one time. How do we manage that situation? And that is very, very difficult. And a lot of, a lot of people in the NHS face that across the country, you know, in parts of, I'm saying, Thomas is they were had like one nurse for every five patients at some point doing the pandemic in intensive care. It should be one to one intensive care. How do you, how do you deal with, how do you deal with the forming a connection with someone and then losing them in that hospital ward? And that must have happened time and time again throughout the pandemic. Very tough. And I think one of the things that were hardest was, you know, people couldn't believe it had happened to them. I saw a, I've got to be careful, of course, confidentiality by sort of gentleman who came in, who was a professional middle aged man, was otherwise pretty well had a family. A few days later, it was fine. And all of a sudden, just to tear it with his cough and breathlessness by the time he came to us, his auction levels were incredibly low. You required a really high level of oxygenation. Even with the high level of oxygen, we give him through a mask. It was clear that he actually needed to have a tube passed down to take over his breathing, because even with that high level of oxygenation, and actually the pressurized mask we're using, we still weren't achieving adequate levels of blood saturations of oxygen. So it's, it was not survivable to continue in that way. And we had to have a conversation with him. And I had to say to him, look, you know, we are going to have to intubate you. We'll have to put you in a juice coma, we'll have to put you doing a throat, we'll have to take over your breathing. You need to ring your family. We're going to get the iPad, because we had this, you know, it's kind of sad. We had iPad there for people to talk to their family before we did these things, because we knew that roughly if you're going to intubate, there's about 50/50 ash, something like that of survival. It depends on the patient. There's a lot of different things with a general rough kind of thing is that. And we said, look, you're going to have to say, potentially say goodbye, because we don't know, we don't know what's going to happen. And he was very well, but he couldn't, you know, he's still in his suit at the time when he came in. And he just couldn't believe it was happening. And it was that disbelief. He was like, am I really that sick? You know, we just explained everything as to why. And it was really, really hard watching someone going, how has this happened to me? You have this moment of like, is this real? You know, is this some kind of, you know, dream nightmare, I guess? And we had to intubate him. He did survive. But he was very sick. And I think he was the, he survived by like a, like a hair, hair strands kind of width of, of being from, from death, I would say, he was very, very unwell, was in TensorFlow long period of time, but he did make it through. But he could easily have not. And I think witnessing those kinds of events, and I've witnessed many other times with even younger people who didn't make it through. And that is very tough. That's very difficult. Because when I go home at the end of that shift, I'm like, well, will he make it? Will he not? So very, very hard. And then when you find out they haven't, I just, the constant, the constant bad news associated with that job. Most of the time, A&E, the beauty of A&E is the last majority of the time we get it right. And most majority of the time people survive, people, we make people better. And that's, we're very fortunate about actually most of the time we spend our time making people better. And it works. And with the pandemic, it's very hard. But, even within that, of course, there's death. I mean, I don't know the actual exact figures, but every day or so, every day, some, every day someone will die in the A&E multiple times a day, people will die across the hospital. That is unfortunately the reality of the job that we do. So we do get used to that. But I think when the pandemic is the volume of that, the amount of death we saw was just exponential. So you kind of, you balance in your head, because you think, well, 95% of the time, this is a good outcome. We do good, and we help people and people get better. But in the pandemic, there was a swinging of that balance to being like, oh my gosh, I'm trying my best for all these patients, but a lot of people aren't making it. A very, very important thing to say here is obviously talk, I am working in a position where I'm the recess department of a very busy hospital in A&E in London. We know that the mortality rate with COVID around 1%. So I'm not, don't want to like sensationalize that element, but I am seeing that percentage of people who are the sickest who are in the hospital. So it's obviously important to say that in very many that 30% don't even have any symptoms. But I think it's very important for people to realize that there is very much two ends of that spectrum. And at the very sharp end, if you're a very sharp end of that spectrum, then they can be very serious.
Grief, Relationships And Work-Life Balance
How does he deal with Covid conspiracies (01:21:53)
So my last question on this COVID topic is, you know, because of that perspective that you do have and the spectrum, the side of the spectrum that you sit on, when you come online and you see people going, "Oh, COVID's not true." Conspiracy. "Oh, vaccines don't work." COVID's not real. It's some government, blah, blah, blah. It's the 5G masks, blah, blah, blah. What do you think? Well, I mean, forget almost for a second the disrespect that it shows to all the doctors and nurses that have worked and that situation had to deal with the things that dealt with. And actually the professions that have died of COVID don't forget. We have lost quite a lot of NHS staff. I actually really lost one of my good friends. There was a nurse at Lewisham. She had an intensive care for three months. She nearly died of COVID treating patients in recess. But also the respect to all the people that have lost their lives, you know, from this, and the families that now have to live have been one of the, you know, the groups of people that have lost. It's very upsetting. I mean, you know, people are going round. I mean, people are going round to hospitals, going to waiting rooms of like boots or outpatient reception. They're going look at the hospital as empty. It's like, yeah, it's empty because we're closed or like, it's all the doctors and nurses are pulled into the acute settings in the hospital to look after the round wards of patients that we need to care for. But the public see this picture of an empty reception room until the hospital's not busy. And, you know, so it's, but I think the vast majority of people out there are good. Most people have been incredibly supportive of it. The amount of support we've had for the NHS has been unbelievable. The fact that the 73rd birthday, the NHS has awarded the George Cross of, I think, for bravery, isn't it? But anyway, so it's the highest recognition isn't it? That it can achieve is a really good thing. And I hope that actually people have realized now how much we need the NHS, how lucky we are. I mean, you've been to America, you know, the beauty is if you're here in this country, if you've got for a period, you're cycling home for work one day and you get no October, you get hit on the head and you have a bleed in your brain, you will go to a hospital. You'll be operated on by a neurosurgeon who will look after you. You'll be in the hospital bed. You'll have all the rehabilitation that you need and support, even if it's for many months. And you will at the point of that service, at the point of care, you won't pay a penny. That is incredible. If you compare that to the, God knows how many hundreds of thousands of millions out of costs in other countries, we're very lucky. Oh my God, anyone that's against the NHS only needs to go spend a week in New York and just go, you know, speak to people about their relationship with their health. For us, we don't think about it in the same way. People in the US have to choose their job based on health options and they have to, and when they get, you know, when they lose their job, they're losing their health care. And it's just, and we don't even consider it. And I tell you what, from living in New York for three years, I'd much rather have it this way. I fit in, it's given me this huge sense of gratitude for the NHS because we just totally take it for granted, especially people that haven't experienced the alternative. I mean, I, I, I, I, um, a few years ago, I got sepsis. I was actually working in A&E and I'd say in a shift in leadership and about, I saw them in fear in the afternoon and by, by late afternoon, I didn't really didn't feel well. I actually cycled home about six miles from work really struggling. I was really fit at the top of our struggle to get home, got home. I was like pulse and I'm fever. Oh gosh, I'm actually quite sick. I was a bit of a realization, got on the tube to go to St. Thomas's at Westman's, the pretty much collapsed in the door of St. Thomas's end of in recess and had the most incredible care. It was in hospital for a week, we're sepsis. But they saved my lives. And I was like, wow, and I saw, it was really interesting because I saw the NHS from not as a worker, but as a patient. And I was like, God, we are so lucky. I literally had everyone looking after me, the care I had. And let's be frank, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the treatment I had. And at the end of the week or whatever, thankfully I had a quick recovery. I just walked out of the hospital and with, and I was like, that's it. You know, I've had this amazing care, don't have to pay anything. And I, and I'm still here to tell the tale, you know, so I think I really hope people will support the NHS more than ever now coming out of it and protect it and make sure we don't strip it of any more of its money. And I want to talk about 2019, which was the year 2020, the Lost Your Brother.
Losing his brother (01:25:46)
I saw your interview with Land Bible and I saw the, I can't quite, you know, I can't quite shake that image of you sat at dinner. You said about your dad's phone phone call. Can you take me back to that that moment? Yeah, it was almost a year to the day now. I think 23rd of July will be at the anniversary's death, which, you know, the years go on very quickly, where it's very odd. It feels it yesterday, but yeah, very odd at the time. But yeah, I was sat at dinner in London with some friends. We actually just ordered a few drinks about to order kind of stars, manes, busy looking at my menu thing, or going to eat and whatever. I think it was a great place. This is, you know, enjoying myself. And the phone went, I'm thinking of my dad, I'd say, look, if you, because I do a lot of stuff for filming or whatever, you know, if you ring once, just if you just want to chat, ring once that I know you're ringing for chat and I'll call you back. If you ring twice on war, I know it's so important that I'll always answer, doesn't matter what situation I'm in. So he'd run twice. In fact, I think it was going to the third quarter, right? Okay, I need to answer this. And I could hear in his voice instantly that something really bad happened. It's weird when you, when you hear that rattle or that kind of tone into his voice, there's only one thing that has happened. And I just said straight away, like, who's, who's died? Like, who's passed away? Like, what's happened? And he said, a clear as passed away, clear as dead. And I was like, what? And it was weird. The whole world like closed it. And I can't explain it. Sounds very dramatic. But it was like, what's a spot like came onto me that moment? And I was like, no, it can't be. I just couldn't believe it. And the disbelief and he said, yeah, he's passed away. And then we had to drive by middle brother Elliott, who's in the RAF. He drove up to London. He works out just outside and on the bases. And he came in to fetch me. And we drove back together and it was kind of five hour drive back to West Wales. And it felt like 10 attorneys, like, we every mile was at the longest mile. And I went into every corner of my mind. But you just couldn't fathom it really. You know, and you think, that's the thing about suicide or, you know, about when these things happen, you know, it can happen all out of nowhere. And you just haven't seen it. And you can hit by this train. And it was kind of a weird, we were talking earlier on about Freya and having the opportunity to say goodbye, like having that closure. I didn't get that with him. You know, we're supposed to come to London the week after, and then we were going to go back to Wales together. And it's the first time I'd have seen him in a long time because of the pandemic. And all of a sudden, I was like, wow, I don't get any closure. That's it then. You know, and I think that has been varied and continues to be very difficult. The lack of, you know, why, you know, why didn't he talk to me about it, you know, as someone who knew the work was doing my mental health, particularly during the pandemic, you know, why didn't you ask me for help, you know, that's very, very hard. I saw you said that one of your biggest, one of the greatest as a family was not seeing the signs. And in hindsight, you can start to think, well, you know, it's one of those things, isn't it? I mean, it's, you know, he was very worried about his exam results coming up, but, you know, understandably so, he's a place at med school that he's very excited about that. He's future planning about it and very looking forward. And, you know, I think probably in the weeks before, he probably was a bit more anxious about the pandemic. And I thought, well, you know, he's been locked up quite a bit with all the restrictions that we're going to see him next week. But nothing out of what I would say is what you'd expect as a, you know, a 19 year old kid that's been kind of stuck in the whole time. But now it's easy. It is easy when you look back and you think when hindsight, well, that was a sign of that and that, but you're going to have that regret on you. You know, you always go into his human nature. My mum has always has that sense of guilt around it. You know, she can't control what happened. It's his action. It's his choice that he made. But for everyone around that person, it is that guilt that you carry, I think, forever. And there was no lasting indication of how he was feeling. He hadn't said anything to anybody. No, I mean, he was, he was really fed up with being kind of the pandemic again. And he was like worried about his exam results. We talked about that a lot and I'd asked him how he's feeling. I was like, yeah, once he got there, he got through this bit, you know, I'm kind of all right kind of thing. And nothing that would make you think that, you know, and go down to that route. But it's one of those things that people often when people go and, you know, take their own life, or, you know, not all the time, but quite often people will sometimes, well, at least in this case, you know, they don't give the warning signs because they've made their decision of what they wanted to do. And the shame is, I think the biggest shame, I think, is that he just obviously couldn't feel the sense within him that he could ask and say, this is how I feel. Can I have help? And when I talk about a lot of the work on a Dura and Stigba, and people go, oh, yeah, we're talking about loads of stigmas done. So I wouldn't know because, you know, he felt the point where he'd rather take a fine, you know, a fine decision that had a binary decision, if you like, with his life, he felt so much like this with it that he couldn't talk about it, that he took that decision. So I think there's so much cultural stuff, there's so much stuff around Stigma that there's still, we still got to do to change that because, you know, if you'd have said something, you've just talked about it, we could have, you know, a big belief that we can get through anything, we can change, you can, we can, we can work through most things, but you've got to have the opportunity for help. But I think that's where there's an interesting conversation around, yes, mental health services clearly need real funding.
Dealing with his brothers loss (01:31:04)
I'm going to, there's no counter-argument against that and we need to do more. But we actually have to work on education around mental health and the stigma element too, because in his scenario, even if you had the best mental health system in his country ever, he, if you didn't ask for help, how is he going to access that service? And I think we lose too many, particularly young men each year who are not actually accessing any help or reaching out at all before they take that decision. We're losing the chance to save those people, you know, and I think there's that balance, you know, we need to work on the stigma, we need to work on the funding in combination to kind of change this. But, you know, for him it's too late, you know, but I hope that through my work I'm doing now, I can't take the pain or whatever way of what's happened, but I can hopefully prevent other families going through it, because it's an awful burden to carry, you know, and I've got to carry it for whatever, you know, hopefully a long time, but you know, whatever length of my life is, I have to carry that, you know, but that doesn't go away. It's always there. This is a tough question, but you just said that you have to carry that burden, and people often think that especially people that aren't a naive to grief, they think that it's you go through the process like a breakup and then you're, you know, your business is usual, but you've got to carry that grief for a long time. Yeah. Is there a mixture of emotions in terms of feelings towards the decision he made that you also contend with? Yeah, I think you go through, I think, through every emotion of like anger, upset, frustration, sadness, feeling of guilt, every spectrum of negative emotion, I think, and you cycle through that, and in the process of I've had with grief is kind of going through kind of shock phase, you know, anger, shock, upset, you know, the kind of sadness through it and trying to come to a place of acceptance, I guess, is where you've got to try and get to. And I don't know, I'm guess somewhere on the way, I guess on the way to that, but you kind of go backwards and forth that sometimes, you know, I think your grief is not a linear process. I think it's very much that zigzag of kind of, you get better, get worse, get a bit bit better, get a bit worse. And, and you know, you carry, I think, is like a black box in your head with it, you know, when you first happens, you're just staring into this abyss of this black box of sadness and everything. And then eventually you learn to close the box, eventually it shrinks a little bit, and hopefully eventually you can put it on your shelf and you can sometimes go and sit and ruminate with it, but then you can put it back when you, when you need to. And I think that is what happens. And I think that's why you always carry it. You can't get rid of it. You never stop loving that person. You just have to learn to live with that black box in your head, basically. And you, I imagine that's quite, I mean, losing, I've got two brothers. So, I imagine that's quite an informative life, in tragic, informative life incident, that then changes the way you view your own life and choices and decisions. Yeah, I think it puts in the perspective thing. I think it puts in the perspective. But, interestingly not as well, I still get annoyed and upset about the same things I got annoyed about before, but I have to go Alex, like in reality to some things you've had to kind of deal with is probably fine. And I think it's funny in that way. But it also does, it does mean that, you know, I try, it's kind of given me a certain other purpose that, you know, in life, I guess, that I want to kind of work on. And I think it's, it does, does make me think much more about, like, I want to do, I want to make sure that in life, I can impact positively on people. And then if I can influence people in a positive sense in this space, then I think that would be success to me. I think that if it was to ask like, what was the meaning, what is a definition of success to me, I think it probably would be feeling that I've made a genuine impact in that mental health space and that other young people, other people won't take their life or seek help and get help before they're at that point or when they're at that point. I think that would be success for me. And yeah, I think that has, that has changed a lot of that kind of mindset in my hands. But I also want to live life a lot more. I have also, like, because it's happened, I'm like, I want to go on holiday, I don't enjoy my love cars. I'm going to go and form them on this weekend. I want to go and enjoy my hobbies. It's made me want to like live as an enriched life as I can.
Difficult Conversations (01:35:08)
You said that you kind of, your life will always kind of be defined as before and after that incident. And I was, when I was reading about the interviews that you've done in a podcast, you've done following losing your brother, they always grab a tape back to this conversation. Right. It's almost, and it's become part of one of the things people like me want to talk to you about and ask you about. So I'll set, I'll set the wondering, how does that feel when you know that if you go into an interview, go into a podcast, that at some point it's going to come back to that topic or tragic topic of losing your brother? Well, so I think it's true is that before and after element, isn't it? I don't think I am entirely the same person as I was before. I think, in fact, and it makes a lot of sense. If you were going to experience a massive life-changing event, it's probably going to change you. If it's changed your life, it's going to change you. I'm still at the core, the same person I always was, but I think I've probably been slightly molded a bit differently. And I think I don't think I'm entirely the same. And I don't really know what I mean by that. And I can't really give an answer to what way am I different, but I'm just not quite the same person, I think, and potentially because I have to carry this box. But yeah, in terms of kind of interviews and things afterwards and talking about it, as odd as this might sound, in many ways, it's therapy. I don't know that might be maybe not the answer you probably expected, but in a way, it's a way of me talking with different people about an experience that has shaped my life and hearing their thoughts on that as well. And I've taken a lot from speaking to people about it. And I think talking is good. And I think bottling these things up and hiding away wouldn't help. And it's interesting because I, when you passed away, we took the decision to go public and tell people, because you passed away, I didn't want there to be any confusion, obviously died of COVID, you know, what's happened, you know, how has he passed away? I wanted people to understand, though, he died of men suicide, he had a mental, he died of mental health illness. You know, that was very important for us to make that kind of statement. But I knew in that point that the people then, you know, that we would end up talking about this. But the way I kind of see it is that even on days is difficult to talk about. If it helps someone else, if someone else is listening or watching his podcast and they go, you know, I'm going to watch out for the signs and other people, or I'm going to be much more aware of this now, or if I'm struggling, I'm going to give it this chance of going to speak to someone I'm going to go to professional, I'm going to speak to my family, talk to my friends, then that to me is worth doing that interview, you know. The other consequence of speaking about it so often, and being known as someone that has, you know, part of your story, tragically, is that your brother took his own life is you will get, and I know I have a fraction of this, but you will get thousands of DMs of people who are feeling suicidal, who are, you know, in a very, very, very dark place. In fact, I imagine if you opened up your phone now and went on your DMs, it wouldn't take long for us to find a couple of those just at the top of the inbox, right? That is, I mean, that must feel like it's heavy. It's heavy. And I think this role has been, I mean, I really enjoy what I do in youth mental health work, and I think a lot of what we do is very, very positive, very uplifting, actually, and I think the work of particular and well-being is really, really positive, and I want the conversation around mental health to be one about how exciting is as a space, by empowering yourself, giving yourself the tools to live a happy and successful life in whatever definition that is. But of course, there is the other side of it, of having that weight of those who are struggling. And what I try and do is work across, you know, basically in areas and campaigns that can help the majority in these things. And I realize that sadly, I can't sit and help and fix everyone's that's the enemy. If I tried, I would fail, I'd probably cripple and cry if I tried to do it. You know, so I try and look at doing the big projects and help people in that way, if that makes sense. But, you know, of course, when I speak to a lot of people, because I go out on a group of young people, I speak to people who are struggling in person, and it is heavy sometimes. But again, I go back to if I feel I've managed to help them and that really helps. And of course, a lot of the content that I make is around, you know, speaking about out about well-being, about mental health, I feel that I'm able to influence people in a positive way. But of course, it is heavy. It is hard. It's not an easy thing. And I'm sure, and it's the same, anyone in you talk about a lot of a lot of the motive subjects as well, particularly around the space, actually, in your podcast and have them for a long time. So you, of course, get those messages. And it's difficult, isn't it? Because you can't help everyone is the truth. You can't, well, I say you can't have everyone, you can't individually help everyone. And I think that's hard. And you also know logically that the best return on your time would be, in that case, making, just in the case of Instagram, I know that the best return on my time, if I want to help people, would be to take that one hour that I could have spent going back and forth with someone in my DMs and make it into something that could reach a million people by making a video, for example. Yeah, it's the same idea of like A&E, you know, an A&E and a shift in A&E.
Getting Back to a Work-Life Balance (01:40:00)
And I still, I do it for some really, really love it, selfishly, maybe. But if I do a shift in A&E, I can help 11 or 12 people, which is really, and I'm not taking away from that at all, because the change you make in that person's life, literally saving people's lives. Okay. So I don't see it as it's like, oh, I can help more, it's better. But if I'm using my platform in the mental health space, particularly what I'm trying to achieve, I can reach so many more people, you know, because in A&E we're fixing people with problems that we can fix in that moment. It's the idea of A&E, you know, the work I'm doing is really prevent preventative. So that's what I realized, that's why I stepped away more because it's post-pandemic from the A&E work, because I've realized that that is fixing the problems when they've happened. I want to work on that preventative side and reach as many people as possible. So that's why that's that kind of that value of time. Of course, makes perfect sense. I actually watched your video on this last night where you were announcing that you were making the shift. And I'm starting to think, I was thinking, obviously, I was like, there's not a lot of people that have the ability to reach millions a day with a preventative message. So I feel like, and this is not me trying to tell you how to live your life, but I was like, that's obviously the best return on your time is to work in the preventative end, which you've talked about today. Do you think you've got balance in your life? I think I'm finding it. So probably no, with binary hands is a binary answer. I think we're all trying to do that. And how much are you all life out of balance? I think at the moment, particularly coming out of the pandemic, I'm still trying to figure out the workspace stuff. Like as before, I worked in any kind of two days a week than I'd worked from home and doing stuff. But now I moved kind of out of the A&E sphere as much even though I'm going back to do some shifts. I'm not going to be in as much as I was. I'm just trying to find a balance of switching off and switching on to the working day, especially because so much of a work across Instagram and stuff. I'm finding that challenge. And people go, hang on, this is what you talk about a lot on your book and stuff. It's like, yeah, but being aware of the problem doesn't mean you always got it fixed or it doesn't mean you got it down all the time. Most of the time I'm getting there and I'm pretty good at it. Things that get out in the walk in the morning, get my exercise in, my sleep stuff I'm doing all right. But the thing of switching off the phone and my Instagram, particularly, that is the bit I'm still not quite finding the balance on. And as I say, finding that balance between being at work and not being at work. But the truth is that's okay. Because most of us think like, no one has got life down. I don't think it's anyone I've ever met, they've got entirely what they like. They might have their career down, they might have problems in their family or their falling out of their girlfriend or whatever. Do everyone call it down? Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Everyone has a time rate. Like at any time something's going too well, you know, something's not something's going to happen. So I think it's just being honest with yourself and going like, right, you know, at the moment, I'm just wondering, it's on look actually looking for an office space. Now at the moment, I'm going to define my space that I work in, you know, so it's been realizing the things that the challenge you have. And actually, like we said earlier, what are the steps you're taking to fix those challenges to find that balance? One of the things that I've done, which I've worked really well, is that on the weekends, by and large, I stick this very strictly, weekends are mine again now. You know, I work for almost a whole year throughout the whole pandemic, I've been on TV, public health England stuff, been on Instagram, YouTube, all this stuff. And I was working almost every day on ridiculous hours, between full time and aiming and everything else. It was crazy hours, right? And it was only going to lean to be being burnt out, you know, and I think, you know, and that's fine for a short period of time. It's not fine for the long term. So now I've fought back and dragged back my my weekends, mostly, mostly got my weekends back to actually do stuff with my family and my friends go to the formal one, go to Goodward or go and watch tennis and stuff, you know, very fortunate to be able to do these things. But when I'm old, and I look back on my life, I'll remember and look back and go actually, I didn't make the most of life. It didn't just work all the time, you know, it is work life balance is those cliche little thing. But it is important to have you mentioned something there about you doing an indirect app me about my poor relationship with my family and my girlfriend. It was, it just happened. It just happened.
It was. Throw that back at you. So in terms of your dating situation, your relationship situation, you posted a photo not so long ago of your girlfriend. Ellie. Ellie. Okay. I don't want to say her name, but we'll go there. New girlfriend, new relationship. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, look at the pandemic scenario. I mean, I was working in the hospital and, you know, the work I was doing was going well, and all that kind of stuff. Pretty fear losing his life. That's just a focus on that part of it. But my relationship suffered because I worked so hard in that sphere. You know, my girlfriend at the time moves back to Ball Muth with her family was so I was working ridiculous hours, not seeing her at all because the pandemic restrictions being separated and my relationship suffered. So I've been in that situation and it ended for that reason, you know, in relation to like two or more years. And I think it was quite serious relationship at the time. And then, you know, the pandemic and my focus on the work probably was resulted in that relationship. So that was a big thing. I think part of came back that worked like balance and I go into this new relationship. I think I'm trying to make sure that I'm investing in both all that in those aspects of my life as well, you know, the family, the friends, relationships, it's not all about the work or, you know, the campaigns of the things I'm doing. You've got it again. It's finally that balance. But I, you know, I learned I learned from that. And I don't regret it. My role in that pandemic was to be there. I don't regret choosing to be an Aini and to do what I did in the pandemic because that was my purpose at that moment. That was the right thing for me to do. And sadly, sometimes following your purpose has outcomes and things that it affects. And that's the way I see it. In the in chapter six of your book, when you're talking about relationships, you talk a lot about how to how we meet each other in this day and age and you talk about some of the dating apps, etc. How did you meet her? We actually met in person in the in the kind of traditional way like in when there was the kind of break in the pandemic, you could meet people and just just at a pub actually, just a natural, normal meeting place. But obviously that's changed so much now. I mean, I'm not on the dating apps for the reasons that, you know, I think for obvious reasons. But that has become so much to me. Inquiries. I love how you have to brush over that. That is that is the thing, isn't it? That is where people are meeting each other now. And I think that's why in the book, I didn't brush over that topic because we have to accept that people are meeting each other through all these various apps, whatever it might be in the technology and things now. But it's about not forgetting that the heart of that, that connection that in person and physical connection that you build with someone needs to be there as well, it can't just all be online. It's an entry point of meeting people, isn't it? But I think it's an interesting one. Things have changed so much. I mean, are you on the dating apps? I'm not on the dating apps. No, I couldn't do that. No, unfortunately. No, no, no. Not that I'd want to buy a gift now. No, but it's changed so much for people. I think the world of dating, I think the one of the things I do worry about, I don't know what you think about this, but I think the world has become so, I must have thrown away things that you can date someone, see one of the dates, bump, go on next time. And that worry about a little bit about that, about people. Not real, even once friendships and stuff, people are just like, right in and out. It's like a swipe left, right kind of idea. And I worry about that a little bit. Why are you hard to date? I think that over the years that I've been so focused, I think, on my work and the things that I want to do, driven in that space, I mean, yeah, there's always a down-of-selfishness, isn't there? When you focus on something to the extent that you have, and I have certainly, particularly, because, for example, in the pandemic, it becomes almost selfish, because even if you're doing it for altruistic means, it's becoming something you are doing so intensively that other people are being maybe not being having the focus that they're expecting or you're not giving attention to other areas. It's becomes selfish, doesn't it? And I think that makes it challenging, but I'm getting much better at that. I hope Ellie would say that as well. Well, we spoke to her and she said... She actually said... Ellie, come on out! He's on his phone all the time. Yeah, yeah. What relationship advice would you give me if you've learned something, you know, I'm single at the moment, trying to fix that situation, but what advice would you give me that you've learned as being a, you know, a very purpose-driven, busy guy? What's the one thing you think? Do you know what that's the most important? I think the first thing is don't try and fix it. I think it's that acceptance. I think... I believe that happiness is altered, whether you're in a relationship or not. Your state of happiness is an internal thing, relationships, so pay other people are external. They do add to that, of course. I'm not clearly, you know, be worrying if I didn't think Ellie did make my life happy, but she can add to something that's existing, because not there in the first place has nothing to add to. So, you know, I always think it's focusing on yourself and your passions and interests and try and meet someone that will genuinely... I'm so cliche, but I think it is really, really true that genuinely adds to you as a person. You know, if you're rubbing up against someone, your purposes aren't aligned in some way. There isn't some kind of crossover in your directions in life. I don't know if that's going to work. No, so you kind of need someone else that's got millions and millions of them. I mean, I have the same size as the build, but massive empire podcasting, whatever. No, I'm joking, but it's a sharing common ground, isn't it? It's finding something that adds to you in some way. But I mean, even without Ellie now, for example, you know, she recognizes in me when I'm starting to get stressed and working. I particularly mental health work does cause me a lot of stress sometimes, ironically.
Business And Entrepreneurial Journey
Relationship learning (01:49:49)
And she recognizes that, and she's really great at helping you step away and say, "Do you know what you've done a lot in that space? Step away for a moment and take a bit of time. When do you stop that quite line, learning to stop?" And she adds in that way a huge amount, a sense of calm to my life, actually, which is really great. So I do feel that if you're with someone, even if it's a friendship, your friend should actually add to your life in some way. If they're not adding to your life, are they truly your friend? Very deep thoughts. No, yeah, no, but what are you all talking about? And what are you looking for in your next girlfriend? This is 10. No, good questions. What am I looking for in my next girlfriend? I've actually always been pretty clear. Your final girlfriend? Yeah, because I do the podcast. So I always ask these questions and I ask them to arrange a guest. And I've got, I mean, 10 years ago, I would have told you about hair colors and nonsense like that, right? And I've got more fundamental over the last decade. And I'm at the point now where one of really three things, which is I want them to help me become a better version of myself purposefully ambiguous. So that could be a more kind person. They could be more spiritually in touch. It could be more successful in my business, but help me become a better person and device versa. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Because the second thing is sexual attraction, which you write about and you write about the importance of having those conversations and being open about that in your book. It's just important. I've had everything else and that and it doesn't work. And the last one was, I would refer to it as like mental stimulation, which is just being able to connect intellectually around topics. And I think if I can, those are the three things, everything else is kind of, you know, blah, blah, blah. And I know there's going to be loads of bullshit. You can't, as we talked about earlier, all things come with a cost. So it's really, and that's another point is this really important question, which I've come to ask myself, which isn't, which used to be, are they perfect? Right? And I've had it over the last, you'd be looking for the whole your lifetime, the unicorn, I'm fact, you know, but now it's refrained. And it's now, is it worth it? Yeah. Which I know exactly what you're saying. Do you know what I mean? Because I agree with all your three points entirely. And all of them are required, I think, to be in there for it to kind of work. But yeah, I mean, no one's perfect. We're all in the beauty of the world as everyone's imperfect. You know, we'll all have things that people would say, Alex, that's really annoying trade of yours. You know, we're going to have that, right? It's finding what you, it's finding is the good worth the things that you maybe don't think are as perfect about that person. And when you found that in someone, you've really won, you know, being like, do you know, I accept their imperfections, they accept my imperfections, but the good and the combined good parts of each of us makes it worthwhile. And I think that is the ultimate goal, isn't it really? Yeah. Just to find someone that's worth the bullshit. And I mean, we all have bullshit. And this is what really works. It's a really introspective thing where I realized that I am so imperfect. So the pursuit of finding someone that is perfect is such a nonsense thing to do when I'm so clearly imperfect by whatever definition you want to use. We're all like, we're all like jigsaw shapes, all really in our lives. And you kind of got to be able to fit. And it's also the practicality of life you need to have careers that when it's so difficult in modern life, like people have opposing careers that don't work together, it's like the Sony bits of that jigsaw. But I think, again, it comes to even stuff about careers. If the other bits and the sum of the rest, it equates to that being worth it. And you find a way to make it work. You know, you find, you find a way to, you know, make that relationship grow and work, but you just got to find that right. If find that right person, I think, and I think if you go into it without mindset, with those three kind of key ideals and things that you're looking for, then yeah, I hopefully won't go too far wrong.
Why did you want to start a business? (01:53:25)
Well, I have to ask you one last question, which is, you know, this is a business podcast at the end of the day, or at least I say it is, it starts to crack grab, put it in. And you've started a business prescribed, which is in the wellbeing wellness space. Why you were already busy? What are you doing? And tell me how hard it is. Well, funny, if it started from a place of I love bath bombs, because I, right, okay, so I have to like stop myself from doing things. I need to like put myself in a place where I sit down, I relax and unwind, getting in the bath, you know, put your phone away from the bath. You can't do very much really, you're sat in the bath, right? Put some music on, listen to your podcast. Well, okay, don't have to come out of the bath. That's not image you probably want to think. Anyway, I sit in the bath, listen to the podcast, right? So just, it helps me chill out. I chuck a bath bomb in or whatever. And I was doing, I was showing on my story, I was chucking in the bath bomb, and my story is I chucked the phone and I used to get in the bath. And people start saying, why didn't you do it yourself? Why didn't you get lost as great? But there's no in that space. Why didn't you create it? And I thought, I actually do a lot of stuff in my life. It's very heavy. It's very stressful. This would be a really exciting business to do. So I kind of started looking into it and a few months later, we've got, we're going a range of bath bombs, which I'm very proud of. The vegan bath problems, we're trying to, I say environment in mind, because I think sustainability is a word that's very tricky to say that your dream is truly sustainable environment in mind. And we're growing our product range. The idea of prescribing is that you're prescribing yourself time, investing in yourself in self care. And I think that's what I was doing getting into the bath. And that's what the brand to be. So it's going to be candles, shower products, self creams and moisturizers, everything around that self care space. But it's great, it's booming quick, because I think people are so interested in this space. It's what is a three billion pound space in the market, isn't it? It's a huge industry that's growing. And people want to genuinely take care of themselves. And it's just, yeah, it's very exciting. It's my first business. Yeah. You see, yeah. I'm CEO. How are you finding that? It's outside the comfort zone. I mean, I'm talking about it as well outside the comfort zone. But I really enjoy it. I really enjoy it. I got a great team around me. We've got like a small team, it's not compared to your businesses. We know, but we've got to start somewhere. I've got a small team around me. And what I think is very important, and I say this, I've got no right to say this in the business space, but I've learnt it in life to be true. Recognize the areas that you are weaker at. Recognize what you don't know about. And bring people in to sort that. So I've got people that I got someone, a fantastic person called Ella, who is amazing at products, product design, finding products within the beauty space. She's done an amazing job of working with an amazing factory that we're working on the bath bombs. Got people that understand marketing properly, what people understand, the business side of it, and how much do things cost, how much does that, what do we price it at? So I've just realized, but what I'm not good at and get people in to come and help me. You know, the bit I understand, I do understand the social media sites. So I kind of lead a quite a lot on that because I kind of get it. It's just kind of incorporating into my into my life. But yeah, it's pretty scary. I mean, especially when running into Christmas, we're planning the Christmas. It's a very important thing. People are doing pop up, might do a pop up shop and stuff like that. I mean, it's all a bit scary and you have to invest in your own business clearly. But it's exciting, right? I mean, I need to keep listening to your podcast. But I need to give you some expert now. I need to drag us down. I need to be expert wise to help me make it into massive business.
The best entrepreneurs know their weaknesses (01:56:56)
No, it's fascinating. And it's amazing that after five months, it's been, you figured out already one of the most important lessons about business, which the best in this country, the best entrepreneurs in this country have also figured out, if you look at Ben Francis, Julian Hahn, who, you know, the founder of Hule, all of those individuals realized that they weren't either it's one of two things, either competent to be the CEO, or they didn't want to be. Yeah. And you have to want to do it. Yeah. And you have to also think you're capable at doing it. Now, it's the same for me in my business. Like, there were so many things that I either didn't want to do or didn't feel competent enough in doing. And how I not had that self awareness and how to let my ego say, no, you have to be the CEO and you have to be involved in everything. There's zero percent chance I would have succeeded. And I'm seeing this tremendous, really positive shift amongst founders, who are getting out the way of their own sort of inexperience, especially young ones, because when you're young, again, ego comes in. And the other thing that happens, which I talk about in this podcast, and the other critical mistake you make is when you're a new entrepreneur or an experienced, you don't think you have the right to hire super mega experienced people. Yeah. Yeah. They want to come and work here in our little, you know, social media company or our bath bomb company and this cupboard that we're working out of. Why would they want to be here? So you make the critical mistake of hiring your mate Dave. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Who's who, you know, I don't know who Dave's in the talk. Well, I made that mistake, you know, and you do it because of, you know, and that again, is a critical fatal mistake. And I, those are probably the two most important things. Business is all about, you know, by definition, the word company means a group of people. That is literally what ends up mattering the most, the group of people. That is, and it took me probably three to four years to figure that out in my journey. So it's the most important thing for me now to make sure I got the right team. It's 100%. Moving forward. It's the, it's the, it's what you're, you are, you aren't every, so think about what you've created. You've created this idea, this bath bomb, vegan idea. Where did that come from? The genius in it? Where did it come from? It came from a person, the finance, the way your businesses run in terms of its finance, the strategy, the marketing, the investment you raise, all of these things, the decisions, they're all going to come from the people. A business and the product is all a manifestation of people. Apple's a great example of that. He was a great example of that. And if you have, and I view it as a starting 11, if you're starting 11, and you're starting 11 is going to war with another, with, with lunch, right? If you're starting 11, does not match up, you will fail. And so, and it took me three years to get to the point where I realized that I am just a recruitment business. I am. Okay. I see. Do you see what I mean? I think you're probably under eight. I will. We've based on my recruitment. We are a recruitment company. And I remember the day I stood in front of social chain and said that like, if we know the people are the most important thing, why don't we have an internal recruitment? That is a really, it's a really interesting, because I kind of, I realized that having the right people is important, but I quite haven't viewed it in that way. Everything comes from that. Everything comes from that.
Dr Alex I have terrified at giving up responsibility (01:59:59)
And it's a very good point. As you get big, as the company gets bigger, your role as a founder is somewhat diminished. That scares me a little because we are, I mean, we are very, you know, we're still small, but we are, I'd say we're doing very well. We're growing very quickly.
Harry and Dr Alex I should grow my own team (02:00:11)
We're expanding quickly at range, etc. That scares me that growth quite a bit. Yeah. Because then that's again, I'm being uncomfortable zone. It's like, well, how do we manage who needs to come in and do this? And it's a bit scary. So you just go have to go find really good people. And one point in my business, maybe year three or four, we hired a lady called Katie Leeson from MediaCom who'd been doing this for 15, I don't know, 10 years, whatever, she went and went back to MediaCom and hired all of her friends from MediaCom who were also like double my age, in some cases, whatever, almost double my age. And they ran the business. And I had no problems. Yeah. They, they, they were so experienced and had done this before. So you're saying, don't let your ego get in the way that people come and do the thing. I flew off to New York. I had no problems. They solved all the problems in my business that I didn't even know were problems. And I can, I can say, well, what if I hadn't made that decision? Well, before then I hadn't made the decision. And my life was hell. Every day was hell. Like hell. I'd wake up in the morning, hell. And the thing that killed it was installing a group of people who had done this before and were really, really good that to be fair, when they accepted the job, I thought, why do they want to work here? And those people, and they, they've loved it and they've grown, they've done it. They've grown as well. And the business is, it's really interesting to hear you said, because I think we talk about work, life, balance, right? And I'm looking for an office space. The other thing I've realized is that I need to grow my own team. So I'm actually now growing, not just prescribers, one of their elements, I'm growing my own team as the kind of Dr. Alex Brand team. And I think a big part of I've come to that point of realizing I need to let go of certain aspects. People can take over that. They can do this part of it. They can add and allow me to basically free at my time to the front facing stuff, which you've talked about, I think before. So it is interesting. I think I'm learning that. It's taking me time. And then one of the things funny enough that I think is helped. And obviously, I know that I'm going to make mistakes as business. I think I've heard listening enough to your point of say that people make mistakes. But one of the things that's helped is of working as a doctor, you know and accept that you are not a specialist in every area, but medicine is huge. We have dermatological cardiology, and neurosurgeon surgeons, obstetricians. So I'm kind of quite happy to be able to go like your specialty is that you do that. You do that. I'm kind of happy with that idea. You know, I've got it for the fear, but the thing that I do fear a little bit, I still fear, I worry about letting things go a little bit. It's not for the ear that I just worry about not having sight over things. So I think that's what we're kind of building the brand of Dr. Alex and have people help me allow us to do more. I'm just scared a little bit of letting go of stuff. And it becomes a lot easier when you pass the buck to trusted hands. You'll always have the fear if you're passing any part of the responsibility of your business to a hand that you don't fully trust. What you want to do, and this is exactly what happened in my business, is I passed it, passed it to hands that were better than me. So I was, I was kind of, and I always think this, I said this is my peer a few times, like in the company in like say the video department or the studio, whatever, the guy is better than me that runs the studio. So I never speak to him.
Inspirational Figures And Lessons Learned
Steve Jobs Pete Precious's closed loop (02:03:00)
And Steve Jobs said the same. He said, "Your job as a CEO is to hire great people and they tell you what to do. And if you're still, you've still got trust problems in your business and you still aren't, you're concerned about giving up responsibilities, then it's because you don't have the right people." And so again, it comes back to that point of that being, it turns out that that's everything. And I didn't know it. That's really useful. I mean, yes. I'm not just a chapter like that. I don't want to take all that away. Well, I took a genuine email. It took me years and I had to witness the pain of the opposite to realize. And I don't, I just pray you don't. And I, I've, I've, I need to sound myself the right people and trust them. Pete, yes. People way beyond the people you think you deserve in your business at this time. And that's what moves it forward. People that you think, why would they, that go get the global head of marketing of Lush? And your job as CEO is to sell them on the reason why it's better to be in this small, exciting agile startup than that big, boring conglomerate where you're a carbon wheel. That's the, that's the pitch, right? I'm going to write that down. Yeah. Saving a pitch. You've got a little query. But listen, Alex, you know, you've given me tons of your time and reading about yourself, your journey. You know, I don't, I don't watch "Love Island." I've got to be honest. But, so there's always that stigma when you think about, oh, love island. It comes with a bit of a tainted brush. But as I delve further into your journey, I was just so inspired by everything, by how intelligent you are, by your radical empathy for people, which is, again, is quite rare these days, by your sense, your being so obsessively purpose driven, which again is super rare, especially for someone that's been on "Love Island." You don't have to say anything. I'm Thor and Staira, I think. And it's just so incredibly inspiring. And this book that you've written, "Live Well Every Day," is a perfect, it's perfect because it's so inclusive and it's so actionable. And it's so, it's, and that key word there is inclusive. When I read it, I felt like this isn't going to create a barrier to entry for anybody. And you're a doctor, so you could have easily just equated and done like word porn. But you made it really accessible and actionable and broken down into key categories. And you're conveying a critically important message to a society that needs to hear it right now. So thank you. Thank you for all of your work in the NHS. Very selfless. And I mean, that in and of itself is, you know, tremendously commendable. And thank you for all of the inspiration because you've certainly inspired me. Well, thank you so much for having me. It's an honour to be on this podcast. And I have learned a lot as well. So thank you. Oh, amazing, Alex. Thank you so much.