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The Downside of Being Up: Why mental wellness is key to entrepreneurial success

Announcing a Partnership Between the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship and The Optimal Living Lab

Sean Mullin and Reva Seth
July 6, 2017

Succeeding as a startup founder or sustained entrepreneur requires a unique set of personal management tools, relationship skills and mental wellness habits – it’s an area of development that has been traditionally left to the individual to personally navigate.

The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) is pleased to announce a partnership with Reva Seth, bestselling author and the founder of The Optimal Living Lab. The Optimal Living Lab is an initiative making the case for public investment in the personal infrastructure of individuals.

We have come together to lead a research initiative exploring the positive impact that could be gained from deliberately training emerging entrepreneurs to develop these mental wellness habits as well as personal and emotional management skills earlier in their journeys.

Research shows that the uncertainty, stress, competitive work environment, high expectations and loneliness that often accompany the startup journey and self-employment status, as well as the lack of support and stability of a “traditional” office setting, make entrepreneurs more vulnerable to mental illness and mental wellness challenges than the general public. And their personal health and emotional struggles have a ripple effect on the well-being and productivity of their teams, families and communities.

Studies show that 30 percent of startups fail due to the emotional state of their founders; 72 percent of entrepreneurs deal with some type of mental illness and, in turn, 49 percent of first-degree relationships (spouses, partners, children and parents) will develop mental health issues themselves from the second-hand stress of the entrepreneur.

With this partnership, BII+E and the Optimal Living Lab will be leading the national conversation on what is still an underleveraged and overlooked opportunity – and one where strategic changes have the potential to have a positive, powerful impact across the startup and small and medium-sized business sectors.

Working with entrepreneurs, experts and stakeholders across the Canadian landscape, the project will look to answer the following:

  • Based on the research and data, what are the five personal infrastructure skills that would best help emerging entrepreneurs and why?
  • How can these insights be successfully shared and scaled?
  • What programs and tools are currently being offered and at what points of contact?
  • How do we build and share the case that shifts the cultural frame from one that sees these issues as an area to be addressed by the individual to one that recognizes the collective benefit of fostering mental wellness, emotional intelligence (EQ) and self management skills?
  • What are the recommendations for moving this dialogue forward? How can we increase the use of these tools across the existing training, educational, and entrepreneurial support networks?

Building on the approach that BII+E champions, this innovative and nimble initiative on amplifying entrepreneurial success through investments in personal infrastructure will be “done out loud” – meaning that we will be sharing our process, research, interviews and data along the way.

The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship is pleased to announce our newest Senior Fellow, Reva Seth. Reva joins us as a Senior Fellow with over a decade of experience at the intersection of journalism, public policy and strategic communications. She’s the bestselling author of two non-fiction books, and regularly writes on talent optimization and the new world of work. Reva began her career as a lawyer on Bay Street. She attended the University of British Columbia (international relations), Western (LLB) and Osgoode Hall (LLM).

If you would like to receive updates on this project and the exciting work happening at the Brookfield Institute, please sign up for our newsletter.

If you’d like to collaborate on an engagement with BII+E, please get in touch.


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