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Leading Through Discomfort featuring Jason Barnaby

Leadership often requires stepping out of your comfort zone. And once you do this, you’ll find growth.

In this episode of Executive Evolution, our host Craig Anderson is joined by Jason Barnaby, Founder and President of Fire Starters Inc., to dive deep into a candid conversation that peels back layers of personal and professional growth, focusing on the role of discomfort in leadership.

Join us as Jason discusses his most challenging leadership moments and why he believes being uncomfortable is not just inevitable but essential for growth.


After You Listen:

Key Takeaways:

  • Prioritize mental health and seek help early to prevent burnout and maintain leadership effectiveness
  • Foster collaboration by valuing team input and allow collective ideas to shape big initiatives
  • Admit when you’re unsure and encourage your team to do the same

Things to listen for:

  • [02:15] Lightning round with Jason
  • [06:14] Embrace discomfort for personal and business growth
  • [18:36] Disc profiles impact leadership
  • [21:20] Exceed expectations, learn, adapt, become subject
  • [24:11] Assess sales meetings and hold one-on-ones for accountability
  • [27:59] Mental health and well-being matters
  • [29:14] Checking in on others is important
  • [37:31] Advice Jason would give to his younger self
  • [40:18] Craigs takeaways


Jason’s Transcript:

[00:00:00] Craig P. Anderson: After receiving the call, I had to fly home. I didn’t know what to do, and I felt lost and without guidance. I got home, sat on the couch, and stared at the wall for three hours, trying to figure out what to do. Welcome to Executive Evolution. Hi, my name is Craig Anderson, and I spent 25 years in corporate America.

I learned a lot of lessons the hard way, and I created this podcast so you don’t have to. In a weird way. Quirk in my career, my business had been outsourced and then insourced back to the original provider. Unfortunately, the latter event was not well received by either party. I led a team of nearly a hundred people who were caught in the middle between two Fortune 500 companies duking it out over who owned us.

My mentor was on one side and not really able to talk to me. My boss was on the other and also not allowed to talk to me. And I had a hundred people looking at me to figure out what to do. I had to fly home from vacation after learning of this event and had to meet with all a hundred of the team, trying to explain to them what I knew very little about what was going on.

And they were all looking to me to find out what their next step was. I had to figure it out over the weekend, but I had nowhere to turn. And that’s where I really felt the full weight. Of being in charge. Leadership can be a very lonely and isolating place. And when your mentors and your bosses who could help you are pulled out of the equation, you realize it all comes down to you.

I was a bit depressed going into that weekend, frankly, going into that entire event, and I really struggled. I struggled through that weekend trying to figure out what to do. What happened from there is a story for another day. But in today’s episode of executive evolution, we’re going to hear from Jason Barnaby.

Jason is the Chief Firestarter at Firestarters Incorporated. He’s going to share with us the story of his leadership journey, and how struggles with mental health can impact leaders. This is a really important episode of Executive Evolution. So let’s jump right in.

Jason, welcome to Executive Evolution.

[00:02:12] Jason Barnaby: here.

[00:02:15] Craig P. Anderson: I am excited to have you and hear your story. You’ve got a great story that I want to have the opportunity for listeners to hear today.but Jason, you know, before we dive in and give you a chance to really opine on things, we’re going to go through a lightning round. Are you ready to dive in deep on the lightning round?

[00:02:31] Craig P. Anderson: All right, let’s do this question. Number one, what is the best leadership book you have ever read tribes?

[00:02:42] Craig P. Anderson: I know Seth Godin.

[00:02:44] Craig P. Anderson: me about What’s In there.

[00:02:45] Jason Barnaby: Um, and I would say, when he wrote it, but I read it as I was making my jump about seven years ago. And he reads the audible version, which is another reason I really love it. But the basic gist is that there tribes of people all over the world in your company, in your neighborhood that are looking for a And why not you and into that?

[00:03:08] Craig P. Anderson: Wow. So really see the gap, fill the gap because people are looking

[00:03:13] Jason Barnaby: plus I think he’s, I’ve seen him present live and he’s, he’s, I got to meet and it was, it was everything you hope. When you meet slash idol, like, I don’t, I mean, it’s not an idol for me, but it’s just somebody I really respect. And he like, you can actually website and look, he actually leaned when I leaned down to get the picture, he like leaned his head against mine and I almost cried. I was like, I was, I was a fan boy. And like, There’s no tomorrow,

[00:03:40] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah. I don’t do well in those situations, but I do think that’s, that sounds like a really good read because there’s so often that people don’t want to step in because it’s not their turn or no one’s tapped them on the shoulder. But it sounds like what he’s saying is, look, those gaps exist. People are looking for the leader. And if you feel compelled to fill it, even if you don’t feel, compelled to feel, fill that

[00:04:00] Jason Barnaby: and the whole, like, why not you question, right? Because we, we typically come up with reasons that we can’t or shouldn’t or somebody else or whatever. And his whole thing is like, just, you don’t even, you just have to step and, right.

[00:04:16] Craig P. Anderson: I did a whole blog post off a star Trek quote, that was somewhere around the name of, you know, part of being a leader is believing you can be it, and just believing you can do that. So I love that. All right. Next question. Who is your leadership crush?

[00:04:34] Jason Barnaby: again. I mean, he’s, he’s, written. He, he writes it. I’m sure posted one every day, every single day for like the last 15 or 20 years. And it’s, sometimes it’s like Sometimes it’s, you know, a page. Sometimes, and it’s business and stuff like that, um, so, he’s so the, the conventional which is where I’ve always been, so to find somebody like him, who has made a life outside of there and a very successful one, that’s, that’s I crush on quite a bit.

[00:05:08] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah, I think I’ve on and off subscribed to that. he’s really got great insights, even in the short little kind of pithy posts are

[00:05:14] Jason Barnaby: He really

[00:05:15] Craig P. Anderson: really good things. And so, and he’s, he’s kind of been, you know, when you talk about stepping into that leader role, right. He kind of went out on his own a long time ago and just started up his brand. And I don’t know his whole story, but I know enough to know he’s a guy who’s just willing to kind of go out there and he’s been going on his own for all this time.

[00:05:32] Jason Barnaby: but in, but in both like irreverent and also way when it calls, I, it, it’s funny cause I think he’s sometimes when it calls for respect and respectful when it should be irreverent and I think that’s part of the, the appeal that he has because it’s like, you know, like piss off, you know, throwing up the, the middle finger Um,

[00:05:55] Craig P. Anderson: All right. And then finally, and this answer can’t be Seth Godin, but you can incorporate concepts if you’d like. In 10 words or less, how would you define leadership?

[00:06:05] Jason Barnaby: being uncomfortable and acting on It. Uh,

[00:06:09] Craig P. Anderson: it, say more about where that discomfort comes from.

[00:06:14] Jason Barnaby: uncomfortable is a I have used since I started my business. And I am a firm believer that, um, has to happen for growth to take place. The problem with comfort zones is that they’re Comfortable. Right? And to leave them is hard because we spend a lot of time and money and energy making our comfort zones comfortable.

And so to be able to download, experience something different. You have to be outside of what’s comfortable because, you know, like this is the way I describe the comfort Comfort PJs under your favorite blanket on a Sunday afternoon after you’ve door dashed your favorite food and you’re binge watching your favorite episode on, you know, streaming platform of choice, You have to be very to leave that scenario. Right? And it’s way something is compelling you to go like to, you know, just kind of like shift down in the couch a little bit and tuck the, tuck the, the your feet and no, I’m just, you just, you double down and go the other way.

And, uh, so and acting, cause I think to the end of the comfort zone and go, yeah, I’m uncomfortable here. And then run back the other way. You’ve got to get there and do something. Another phrase using a lot in 24 is strike the match. You got to strike the match.

You can, you can, you can put the together, right? You can, you can clear the area. You can get all the best wood and it’s going to smell great and it’s going to look good and it’s going to catch on fire super fast, but until you strike the match, that’s not doing what it’s meant. not doing what it was built to do.

[00:07:55] Craig P. Anderson: And it’s interesting you say that, but there’s, there were times in my career as I was coming up where I was uncomfortably comfortable. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. was miserable in the job and it was a leadership role and things would come out opportunities to escape. And I would look at those, but it was like, I knew the pain I

[00:08:13] Jason Barnaby: know, right?

[00:08:14] Craig P. Anderson: and the pain of something new, NEW was terrifying, you can be uncomfortable and still feel good about it.

[00:08:21] Jason Barnaby: And until what I’ve seen, until comfortable outweighs the being uncomfortable, you will stay, you’ll stay stuck and, and you come up with myriad reasons why it’s better to stay stuck than it is to go do the other thing,

[00:08:44] Craig P. Anderson: yeah. I’ve do sometimes with some of my group meetings I do with clients. We go through kind of a change exercise and why change is so difficult and for leaders, right? First, they have to be able to do it. Then they’ve got to drag an organization behind them, whether it’s five people or 5000 people. You know, when you say, hey, we’re going to pivot, we’re going to do this marking conditions are changing this thing that was so easy for us. Mhm. Is gone. I came up through an industry that went through tremendous change over 12 years and the people who weren’t willing to adapt literally just they died.

Their, companies are gone. And the movie drop, since we were talking television and movies before we started here, other people’s money

[00:09:22] Jason Barnaby: I’ve never seen that

[00:09:23] Craig P. Anderson: a great movie. About it’s a Danny DeVito movie and it’s fantastic.

[00:09:29] Craig P. Anderson: rom com, but also about business and a business that doesn’t want to

[00:09:34] Craig P. Anderson: So at any rate, there’s my movie

[00:09:36] Jason Barnaby: you know, I used to, um, I used to in downtown Indy. And I don’t go there, but during COVID they closed because they didn’t pivot. They did not offer to go stuff. Capital grill did. Capital grill is still there. Morton’s is gone. You got to pivot.

[00:09:54] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah. Yep. Excellent. All right. speaking of change, let’s talk about your career. What was your first leadership role that you can really point back to where you stepped into that gap or were thrown into the

[00:10:08] Jason Barnaby: All right. Some people are going to go, uh, whatever, but this is true. This is like, this was the thing and things that helped me was when I ran for student body president in eighth grade. And I was the speech. The entire school was in the, in the, um, And I walked out. It’s really quiet. Walked out to the microphone. Um, made some promises I’m sure I didn’t keep them. It was probably like free lunches or chocolate cake every day or some, you know, something stupid. Um, did tell a remember the joke, but people laughed and that was one of the first times, like, like I’d always made people laugh.

Have you heard the difference between the class clown and the class comedian? Have you heard the difference in the the class clown is the guy who, you know, Runs 50 yard line at a football game naked. The class comedian is the one that convinced him To Do That. I was comedian.

So Much safer as well. You don’t get suspended. You just like, I don’t know what he’s talking about. Um, laugh. And when I was everybody cheered, or at least it sounded like everybody. And I just remember walking off the, or walking away and being like, This is cool. And I remember like organizing people into committees to do things.

And I’m like, man, people like to and going back to tribes. It’s like, you just have to, you have to step in. Right. There was already a system there. And then that, then that kept going. in leadership. full year leadership in high school through Lily. Um, I was president of my again.

Um, because I went to, I went to Indianapolis. That was, I think now it’s over a thousand class. We had like 320 in my graduating class. And, I wanted to go somewhere where nobody knew me. Cause I had been in leadership and so everybody knew me.

And I was like, I don’t want to do this anymore. And I didn’t even last a whole semester at IU before I was like, yeah, that’s just who I am. So it’s like, know, for me, really do believe this for me. I believe that it is a calling. I believe it’s something deeper than just having skills. There are things that I was born with make me.

A better leader. And I just, and, and went through like a, um, a disc profile and found out that my brain worked differently than other people. Cause I thought everybody liked to speak on the stage and everybody liked to lead and everybody liked to come up with ideas. Turns out not so much. So,

[00:12:49] Craig P. Anderson: the early leadership role or some of your corporate early leadership roles, you know, what were the takeaways? You said you learned that, you know, you could direct and people like to do things. People like to have this direction sent for them, right? If you can’t, the leader casts the vision.

The leader doesn’t do all the work. what went well from that? And what lessons did you say? Whoa, that was the wrong way to do that.

[00:13:11] Jason Barnaby: the first corporate. Leadership role I had. So I was a member of a sales team for about nine months and they managed my boss out and I became the leader of that sales team. Um, the very first day took me to lunch. Showed me all the personnel files of all the things I needed to know, which I had no idea about.

And then to me, Craig, that I’ve never forgotten. I’ve shared it with every leader that I’ve ever coached. She said, congratulations, Jason. direct reports around the country. She said, congratulations, Jason. now the topic of conversation at 17 different dinner tables around the country.

How do you want those to sound? I will tell you that that, like, you know, with some pride of like, Ooh, look at me. And I got this job and, you know, I got a nice raise and, you know, I got the bigger desk and all the BS that you think is important until you realize it’s not, um, but at that an epiphany of all the times that I had come home and complained about my boss at dinner, what my boss did or didn’t do, said, or didn’t say project a guy or didn’t praise.

I got, or didn’t. Whatever, right. And still friends with this boss that I had. And we had lunch like a month ago and I told her about this. She doesn’t even remember saying that. And it has been so pivotal for me. I have shared it. I’ve probably shared it a couple easily.

And she it, which to me is like, of course she doesn’t. Cause that’s just who she is. Um, but changed the way, like when I was asking somebody, To work on it. Cause we used to have these call things that we did where we would ask people to come in on a Saturday. Right. So how, like, how is dynamic? How is that going to affect, you know, all the things. So that was really helpful. And then the other thing is there was a guy that was on my team that, that took over after I left. Um, I thought. Because I I was entitled answers and kind of broadcast them like, this is what we’re doing.

And this guy came, we were changing the comp structure and I had worked with other people, but not with him. And he was a super thoughtful dude. And so we, basically in a meeting one day and I said, this is going to be our new comp structure. And he, I think maybe even while we were in the meeting, he scheduled a meeting with me to discuss it and came in and had a lot of questions, very, very good questions.

And I didn’t have any of the answers because I didn’t really dig thought like, well, this is, you know, up there said that they want, I pretty much agree this is what we’re doing, but he came with all of these things that many of us had not thought about and all very, very good ideas.

And I think we wound up implementing almost all of his. So for me, that collaboration thing and, know everything.

[00:16:04] Craig P. Anderson: And there’s two things taking, I take away from those examples that, that I talk a lot about with, with my leaders that I coach is one kind of when you get in that first leadership role, you know, you talk about you’re the topic of conversation every dinner. And thank God I never thought of that because I don’t think I could have handled that.

[00:16:19] Jason Barnaby: Yep.

[00:16:21] Craig P. Anderson: own makeup to realize, Oh, my God, they’re talking about me at work at home too. but immediately you also become isolated and lonely in the role, because there was a day that you were friends with all 17 of those people and you knew every bad thing that was happening. You were wide open communication, then you’re up and suddenly all that starts to close off and you’re still surrounded by people.

But the dynamic has changed. And now if they’re coming to you, they may have not necessarily nefarious, but they have an agenda, right? I’m coming to you. Everyone suddenly you realize has an agenda when they come to you for something. Right? And so until you’ve sat in that chair, I don’t even know when I talk to people, they don’t realize that’s going to happen. And it’s really hard when you

[00:17:04] Jason Barnaby: I, and I would say I did have enough wherewithal to, so the other piece was tenured person on the team. So there were that had been there for like two years, three years. I’d been there when I applied, I had been there for nine months in that role. And so I, role and a couple other people, I went individually and I said, Hey, I’m going to apply for this role. Are you okay with that? you going to be okay with my transition from, you know, your boss? And all of them said yes, which was very then it was great. Cause this, this guy that I, that took over for touch base. We would kind of do a feedback loop every six months.

And so after the first six months that I was in the role, he said, um, think? And he goes, well, don’t take this the wrong way, which you never want to hear when you’re about to get feedback. Right. And I was like, okay. And, and he goes, you, you’re a better manager you ever were an internal wholesaler. And, uh, and here’s the thing I hated that job because I didn’t, I didn’t I didn’t own I was building relationships to hand off to somebody else. And that is, that is not me. so it nice to get that feedback and that again, a leader. I’m a leader than I am being a member of the pack.

[00:18:26] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah. and I find that true a lot, a lot of individual contributors that aren’t great at individual contributing, especially in sales, but probably in other areas make better leaders. Cause they’re focused on different things, right? Going back to what you said about disc, right? There, I think probably any disc profile can lead, but some probably lend themselves to certain ways of leading.

And I think it’s a real struggle when you’re in, maybe in a leadership role, looking at people you want to promote saying, well, the fall, it must be the top performer. And it’s probably not, they want to keep doing more of what they’re doing. How can I pay them more to do that? And then find the people who are going to be better at the coaching piece of leadership or the data tracking piece of leadership, all those pieces.

and before I lose the thread to, I want to come back to what you said about, And Leaders not having all the answers because we don’t, and when we think we do, that’s when we start to trail off. And that’s kind of an old sales training lesson. I remember too, which was sales leaders who don’t know anything are really, your sales reps are really good.

Cause they ask tons of questions of the client. Then they get to a point where they think, well, now I know what they’re going to say, so I’m just going to pitch. And I think leaders get that way too. They start to get this confidence that they know everything, but they’re actually getting further and further removed.

And then you end up doing a presentation like you talked about and somebody asks you a question, you’re like, well, I either need to BS my way through this, like I already thought of that and discarded it, or I have to fess up and say, and show some vulnerability and say, crap, we didn’t think of that. I’m going to have to get back to y’all. And at that point you already rolled the thing out. So the polling and talking to your, team before you make big

[00:19:51] Jason Barnaby: Yes, and I would say that one of the first things and I think I don’t think I read this in a book Anywhere, I think I just did it. I just did worked in financial services. We were licensed through The federal government, we were on recorded lines. Like you couldn’t make up an answer to something because you could go to, I mean, you could be prosecuted.

Right. And so we were dealing with very, and very intricate rules and laws that had to do with retirement plans. So one of the first things that I did. When I, I think it was actually in the meeting that I ever had with our sales team meeting. I said to everybody around the table.

I said, look, here’s a deal. I’ve been in this role for nine months and now I’m leading this team. I can’t, I don’t know everything. want to know everything. That’s not, I don’t feel role is to know everything. My role is to develop you, to remove roadblocks when they get in your way.

But my role is not to know everything. That’s why I have a team. And from that, We were able to, by the time I left, we had seven or eight SMEs on the team and all these different areas, because the thing that I told people don’t care if you tell a client once, know, don’t want to make it up.

Right? So if you don’t know, say, I don’t know, you’re not going to get in trouble with me because you don’t know. And you go bust your butt. To find the answer when you’re done, find more than the answer. So you’re exceeding expectations. And if you told them you would get back with them tomorrow at noon, you get back with them tomorrow at 10 in the morning, you exceed the expectations.

And then guess what? Through that you And now, you know, for next maybe you become the person on the team that becomes that subject matter expert that we need, nobody could all those things. And the other quote that I heard that I love that I think every leader

highly if you can adopt the mindset of when you’re done learning, you’re done to be somebody. Who knows more than you, who’s got more experience than you, who’s done more than you.

It’s a new scenario. That’s never happened before. And what you do, like what I did in front of those 17 people as a leader saying, I don’t have the answer, gave them permission to not feel the stress that they had to know it. And because of that, the synergy on that team was amazing.

[00:22:10] Craig P. Anderson: Nice. well, let’s take it forward. I know you’ve had fire starters for several years now, and you’re working with a lot of leaders, how did you use those early lessons to grow, develop and change and have a bigger impact as a leader? How are you using those lessons today with your

[00:22:24] Jason Barnaby: Um, we could go with that. I would say for me, throw this back to something. A good friend of mine said who people listen to your podcast may know, but that’s a guy here in indie Brian Neal, who, uh, leads blind zebra sales consulting.

And we went to college together and I’ve known him for years and years. And I do some coaching and consulting with his company for other people. And when we met several years ago for lunch. Um, I said, so you’re, you’re a consultant. what that means. And he’s like, well, here’s what I do.

And he goes, and by the way, you should also be consulting. And I was like, well, that’s stupid. Cause nobody wants to hear anything that I have to say. And nobody would want to listen. Even if I had nobody would want to listen. And he, and I’ve never forgotten. This is I’ve shared probably a couple hundred times.

He said, I want you to think of five things in your brain, in your mind right now that have made you successful that you do. You’ve done them forever, you, you could just say, Hey, here’s suggestion, you could, like, top five. He’s like, I’ll give you 30 seconds. had it by the time he was done talking.

And he’s like, alright, here’s the deal. He’s like, 75 doesn’t know the stuff that head right now. And I was like, that’s crap. There’s no way that 75 percent of the world does not know this. And he’s like, I’m telling you. I set out to prove him wrong. And I actually came back a year later and I said, actually, Brian, you were wrong. It’s not 75, 25, it’s 90, 10. And here’s the other thing that he said, he said, so the 75 percent don’t know the other 25%, even though they air quote, know it, they still need to be reminded. And so for as I. with leaders, I have what I would consider to be very simple. easy answers.

They’re just simple questions. Not, not you can tell a you know, I’ll give you a couple of examples. Um, you know, let’s talk weekly sales meeting? Yes or no. In that weekly sales meeting. Do do you go through stages and where people’s deals are and how likely it is that they’re going to close?

If you tell me no on both of those. Then I know that you’ve got of people who are kind of running amok and there’s not a lot of tightness in the ship around running sails. And then if I say, do you have ones regularly with your people? And that’s for anybody. And they go, well, you either, that’s a yes or no. You either don’t. And if you’re not having them.

[00:24:45] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah.

[00:24:45] Jason Barnaby: You’re missing a lot. And so for me, was like saying the thing that when you’re in the moment, especially because you talk to these people who are CEOs or in the C suite with like 20, 30 something years of experience. And you think clearly they know this.

Why like what, what could I breakfast, but I was working with the client once and. And I just said, you accountability, how do you guys structure that? And he just, he was like, I don’t even know what you talking about?

And I said, well, at the end of the meetings that I have, we ask a question, who’s to do what by when? Craig, this guy had been in business 35 years and he goes, what did And he’s writing this and I’m like, Oh my gosh. And he goes, he goes, He’s like, I’m implementing that today.

I mean, great. Right. But absolutely one of those things that I think, doesn’t everybody know this? So as I’m carrying that forward, it’s having the, well, knowing that I don’t know everything about their organization, the way they are in business. And so just asking a lot of questions, even the really simple, basic ones that you feel like might be. Almost like a, it’s so simple. And it, and I’ve it’s not. Which just solidifies that that’s what I Need to be doing.

[00:26:04] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah. when I talk to people, that kind of comes to me as like a leadership leader confidence, right? Knowing how to, get the best information out of people. Right. And it’s a lot of soft skills stuff, right? Having one on ones, but it’s shocking when you start getting out there, talking to all these businesses, how many people aren’t having one on ones with their teammates because, oh, they don’t need to talk to me every week. And then stuff happens that you miss or stuff’s holding them up that you’re not aware of. it seems like a lot, it’s like all time. It’s meetings. Meetings are bullshit. You know that, Oh, that’s just, we really don’t need more meetings. That can be an email. No, you know what, there are certain things that are worth doing.

I’m not saying you make it an hour a week, but you need to have a dedicated time with your direct reports, be that biweekly, weekly, something with a regular consistency, or you’re not going to know what’s going on in your own business, and then you’re going to come back and try and blame them when it’s like, you didn’t make the

time. And I think a lot of leaders make the mistake of thinking their job isn’t coaching their people. and staying in touch with their people and holding their people accountable. Right. They think, well, I’m up the chain and they work for me. And it’s like, in many ways you

[00:27:11] Jason Barnaby: Oh, Oh, 100%. And when was the last, you know, gives me a good indication of the culture. I’ll say, when was the last time that you sent either a handwritten or an email? Thank you. No. To anybody in your organization, thanking them for what they do. I’ve, I’ve never done that. That tells me a lot that about your, about your company right there. Mm hmm.

[00:27:31] Craig P. Anderson: Step one. well, I, I don’t want to miss this to talk about while we’re here, because, you know, I talked about kind of that isolation of leadership, the loneliness of leadership, someone once said to me, that leadership is being willing to carry the weight of something most other people don’t even want to bear. You talk a lot about kind of, especially lately, I know you’ve been very focused on this kind of the mental health aspects of leadership. So talk to me a bit about what you’ve been discovering

[00:27:57] Jason Barnaby: Yeah. Well, say, you know, in, have developed and created and all of the challenges that I put forth to people in keynotes or in executive coaching. Every single things is something that I ask myself or challenge myself with first. So if you see like a post of mine that’s got a challenge on LinkedIn, Know that that came because I was giving that challenge to myself and that’s why it’s gone out into the world so Sometime like maybe like fourth third or fourth quarter of last year They said, you know mental health is at a place where you know All the, this whatever the stats were, this many people are burned out. This many people are depressed. This many people are anxious.

This many people are on meds. This many people are obese and overweight, which by the way, all of those things are costing your company through if it’s, if it’s lack lack of productivity, sick days, uh, what you’re paying out in for those people who are not well. Um, but they go.

Take a walk down the have to do this. You can’t just do this out of the blue. You have to do this with people that you’ve got a little bit of time and you have relationship with. When you see them say, how you doing? Cause most of us, how you doing? Isn’t really, you don’t really want to know.

That’s how we say hello in America, right? How you doing? How you doing? When you say, how they answer like live in the dream or doing, doing great. You know, you know, default thing they’re going to say. The challenge was to stop after that, to, to look at the person in and say, how are you really doing?

And this person um, that they had the first answer was and what the second answer was, and they were so very different. And my wife is Um, and she comes home and tells me some of the stuff that, you with during the day. And Craig, like especially in today’s world, What we see on the outside is so little

of what’s really going And I will tell you that, um, because of my own uh, I’m about nine post, um, depression, getting on meds. Uh, I’ve also kind of self myself forever as somebody who has ADHD, but, but, uh, self medicated a lot of it.

Um, and finally Looking at some different meds to help that turns out that executive function and not being depressed are pretty amazing tools in the toolbox for business development and, and being out in the world. Um, Firestarters Incorporated. I’m a motivational speaker that gets brought into companies to talk to people about actionable inspiration.

I was depressed probably for two years, if I’m being honest. Maybe more really honest and that’s two years that I walked around in the smoke and, and I’m telling you a a good, for why it took that long is because I couldn’t get over, since you already said I couldn’t get who’s going to hire a depressed fire so, in every keynote that I’ve had, uh, all of last year, every keynote I’ve had this year, like, last year I talked about going to therapy, I’ve been in therapy for three and a half years. And so here’s the other thing, I was in therapy while I was depressed! And, you know, my, my therapist say, Hey, I think this might be, and it was like, and, you know, I would just kind of know I’m, you know, I’m exercising. I’m trying to eat right. I’m trying to sleep. I’m trying to, you know, do these things.

It wasn’t what my body needed. My brain was not regulated. And the that I have experienced is night and day. I mean, my family sees it, the people around me see it. I’m, my calendar throughout the week because I’m meeting with people again, and I’m putting positive things out into the world.

So people want to meet with me. And, the incredible. And this idea. That if we take meds, if we go to the doctor, especially if there are men listening, just when was the last time you just went to a doctor and got a checkup, right? Dudes just were dumb about this So, you know, that, like, you’re less than, you’re, you’re, you, you you’re some kind of a, it’s a crutch, uh, you’re labeled, um, well, you just, you’re, meds cause you don’t wanna work as hard as everybody else. None of that is true. And I remember when I, when I to therapy, my wife gently, she, she really didn’t, she didn’t nag She just said, Hey, I’m going to therapy and it’s been really helpful. You might want to go. And she said that a couple of times. And eventually I was like, all right, I don’t even get, I don’t, I don’t even get like, what, Right.

And she said, you’re going to have somebody who has your back. 100 percent of the time in May of this year, my wife and have been married for 27 years. I don’t have my wife’s back a hundred percent of the And she doesn’t have my back a hundred percent of the time. Cause we’re both selfish with our own agendas. And we want our own things and we have our own comfort zones. thousand pieces and needed somebody to glue me back together. I needed somebody who could come in in a professional way and support me. And they also remind me where I was three and a half years ago. And Hey dude, look how far you’ve come. And by the way, let’s celebrate that. And they give and things to use because our minds are assholes. They just, they, ourselves. We don’t talk to our, enemies the way that we talk to ourselves in our head. And we spend, most of us spend more time in our head than anywhere else. So shouldn’t that be a, a, a nice place to visit and out?

[00:33:41] Craig P. Anderson: this is tricky, right? ’cause you’re not a therapist, I’m not a therapist or a psychiatrist, but What are the signs that kind of triggered for you to say, God, this may be something more than I’m just tired, not getting enough sleep. And, and kind of said to me, Hey, I should probably check this out because maybe

[00:33:56] Jason Barnaby: So for me, it was the, it was the two It’s so in my business, it’s me. So, but I Right. Um, and I couldn’t find To go out and meet people. And what happened was that became a very closed circle because you’re struggling with money because you’re not making any, because you’re not meeting with people because you’re not selling business. So you’re not making money. And, and that,

[00:34:31] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah.

[00:34:31] Jason Barnaby: that closed gets you to a place where you don’t. It’s comfort zone. It’s easier to stay on the couch. I have this stupid game on my phone that I play. I played for years that I used to like, help me, you know, just like when I want a little I, I, on my, like weekly, usage of your phone in one week, played like 40 hours of this game. because that was easier than picking up the phone. The other thing for me that was a big, that was I didn’t between 6, almost every day. And I was setting my 7 7 38 and it would go off and I would be like, I’m not getting up and I would sleep for another hour or longer.

And guess what? When you, aren’t reaching out to people, when you aren’t doing the things that you need to do. Um, you, you get stuck I was. And, and I became a like, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. What’s going on. I’m not making any money. What, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. And it turns out what you need to do is go get somebody else, at it from a, professional opinion, both a therapist and a doctor that says, I mean, to see my primary care doctor and she said, here’s a, or depressed? And I said, probably. And she said, well, here’s a questionnaire. And when she came in and when she did the score, she was like, she was like, you are depressed. just said that straight out loud. And I was like, well, damn. And she said, because of that, we’re putting you on these meds. And I was like, okay.

[00:36:09] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah. So really paying attention to those things that are getting in your way. Sometimes they’re legitimate things. Sometimes they’re you and really, you know, having the therapist, having the honest conversation, having somebody, when people are pointing out to you. Wow. You know, whether it’s the app or the doctor, you

[00:36:25] Jason Barnaby: And I would say too, like people talk about and burnout Precursor to depression, and they talk about three signs. So if you are, if you’ve got no energy, which I didn’t, if your work product begins to suffer, like you stop, you miss deadlines, you don’t show up for meetings. And if you start to just get a cynical nature about everything, right?

Like when we even, when we came out of COVID, we were starting to come out and people were getting hopeful. And then, then there was like, man, we’re coming out of COVID and somebody, I remember saying that somebody goes, yeah, but now monkey pox is going to be everywhere. So it’s like, right? Like it was so cynical. And if you have those three things that are all clicking together, you are likely either burned out. Or fully depressed. So if you can check those three boxes better, even ask the people around you, cause they’ll know better than you know, cause that was the other thing for me. I just didn’t see it myself and I didn’t want to admit it.

[00:37:22] Craig P. Anderson: having having those trusted people

[00:37:25] Jason Barnaby: Very important. right.

[00:37:28] Craig P. Anderson: So, you know, we always like to end Jason to say, hey, if you could go back in time, probably not the student council job, but it can be, but that 1st leadership role in sales. What’s the one piece of advice you would give yourself that if you had it, would have helped the most?

[00:37:46] Jason Barnaby: belief. In myself, that I chosen for the job, therefore, the people who are my leaders believed that I should that space because I would say for the first six, eight ish months, I was like, gosh, Am I supposed to be here and and think this goes to a lot of things, just remembering, like, if you get hired for a keynote, if you get hired as a coach, if you get promoted, like right? So when the, the doubts the, and the stuff comes into your head, what I call your, what if about. Like you answer them out loud. Like who are, I remember for only been on the team for nine months, who are you? And I answer those things Now, some people think it’s a little weird, but my response to that is I’m the person that interviewed and got chosen. shut up. Cause they’re not used to you talking back. That’s what I found.

[00:38:44] Craig P. Anderson: that’s great advice because that is even to this day, I’ll have clients hire me and I just, I’ll have the, it’ll just crash in on you a couple of days before like, what the heck did he pick me for? You know, and you have to come back to say, this is who I am. This is what I’ve done. These are the lessons I’ve learned.

This is the value that I bring. And that is a huge difference for you as a leader to really have that strength to show up as a speaker, as a leader, whatever it is you’re doing. So, well, Jason, this was great and very helpful. If people want to know more about you or follow you what are the

[00:39:15] Jason Barnaby: So best ways, uh, LinkedIn is where I spend my time. It’s my social media platform of choice. You can just search my name, Jason Barnaby. Um, that’s a great place. is fire starters, tribe. com. You can go out there and check that out. And I’ve got of books, um, that are out on Amazon.

the fire starter within is the first one. And this next one I’m changing the name of. For various reasons, currently it’s called 30 days to blaze. We are moving it to be a good night, your life, but that will be later in 24. And that is a five week, 30 day journey on just what I call striking that match every day. What’s one little, what’s one one match you can strike. And then the next, and then the next and the next. And

[00:39:59] Craig P. Anderson: Excellent. And we will drop links for all those save for the new book that isn’t out yet, in the show

[00:40:04] Jason Barnaby: Thank you for having

[00:40:05] Craig P. Anderson: again for being here

[00:40:06] Jason Barnaby: pleasure.

[00:40:08] Craig P. Anderson: Oh yeah. We always love to get great stories of executive evolution. So thanks so much. I want to thank Jason for being so vulnerable and honest with us in that interview today. I think there’s a lot to take away, both around how leadership can be isolating, and And challenging and even lead to mental health challenges for many of us, but he also had great advice that we can break down into the crucial areas of confidence, competence, and calm in the area of competence.

One of the ways that you stay competent, staying in touch with what’s going on is making the time to have regular one on ones with your leaders at least weekly, maybe every other week. But you have to stay in touch with the organization. And it’s a show and display of your competence that you are staying in touch with the organization through those tools.

In the area of confidence, you have to realize that as a leader, you don’t know all the answers to all the questions that are part of what’s going on in your business. So you have to ask questions, reach out, talk to not just your direct reports, but other people in the organization and realize you don’t have all the answers. and by reaching out to other people for their input and their guidance, you’re going to reach better decisions.

And finally, in the area of calm, really pay attention as a leader to your mental health. It can be really challenging when you feel it’s all coming down to you. And that weight starts to build and build. And if you don’t find an outlet for that, if you don’t find people, you can talk to a coach, a therapist.

And maybe even more significantly, if you’re struggling with your doctor to figure out what’s going on with you, you can find yourself lost. So this is just my encouragement to you to have that self awareness, realize when everything is off, and reach out and find help. Thanks again, Jason, for sharing your story today. Remember, you can go from being an accidental leader to the greatest leader of all time. All it takes is developing your confidence, competence, and calm. See you next time on Executive Evolution.