Mental Health in Influencer Marketing

Today we’re speaking with Ginger Bertrand, Jenny D Safransky, and Kelsey Formost about mental health.



Jessy: Thank you guys so much. All three of you. We have a group chat today, which I mean this is like my ideal. I just think that first of all, you’re all three amazing in your own right. I also think that the topic that’s I pitched to have you guys come here and talk about today would really benefit from having multiple perspectives, which is mental health.

Because it’s mental health awareness month and it’s a topic that like, fortunately, unfortunately, affects so many of us. I almost feel if it doesn’t affect people, I don’t know if you’re lucky or you’re living under a rock or if it probably does and you’re just unaware.

All of those scenarios, I guess are possible. But first and foremost, welcome everyone. So I think that maybe a great place to just like level set is just to have a little short introduction from each of you so we can just get to know you guys individually before we get started talking about everything.

But, Ginger, will you be so kind as to start and introduce yourself.

Ginger: Sure. Hi everyone. I’m Ginger Bertrand. I own a PR and talent management firm out of Toronto, Canada called Gab Group, Inc. I have been working in entertainment for over 15 years now, and I started this company about eight years ago. And we started as a PR firm. And now we are a PR firm, talent management firm, and we invest in our clients’ companies.

Jessy: That’s huge. That’s pretty exciting. Kelsey, let’s get to know Kelsey and ask, can you introduce yourself?

Kelsey: Absolutely. Hey everyone. I’m Kelsey Formost. I am the founder of Magic Words Copywriting, where I specialize in teaching entrepreneurs and small business owners how to write words that sell without sounding salesy or feeling gross. And what I realized in all of my years of doing copywriting and marketing and entertainment was that people had a really hard time figuring out their brand voice because they didn’t know their true voice.

And I ended up becoming a mental health advocate in the process because I would have meetings with people and they would end up crying and being like, oh my gosh, now I have to figure out who I am. So I’m so excited to share all of the research that I have found over the years that really helps small business owners.

And entrepreneurs and creators to what they can do to optimize the situation to help their mental health along the way.

Jessy: And you have a podcast on mental health, please shamelessly plug cause I want you to.

Kelsey: Thanks for the opportunity. Yes, I do have a podcast. It’s called Find Your Magic, and it is specifically about the intersection of entrepreneurship and mental health. So I bring on an expert every week who gives both tips that build your business as well as tips for managing your mental health and making it the best that it can be.

Jessy: That’s phenomenal and you’re wonderful. And there’s many reasons why I asked you to be here today. So, thank you for coming, Ginger, Kelsey, and now Jenny, I’d love to get to know you. So if you could share a little bit about yourself?

Jenny: Sure, thanks for having us on today Jesse. So my name is Jenny D Safransky. I know that’s lengthy but I am the founder of JD s Projects, a talent management agency focused on connecting diverse female creators and experts with like-minded brands. I’ve spent the past 11 plus years in the advertising and marketing industry prior to starting JDS projects In 2020, I was working at the Grammy Awards in brand partnerships.

The reason why I started JDS Projects was because, I wanted to marry my experience in brand partnerships with my passion and love for just supporting mentoring other women. So I found that the talent management space was for me, and now I get to work with some amazing, talented women out there from chefs to wellness creators to podcasters, and more so excited to be here.

Jessy: I’m excited to have all of you guys here with us today and that’s like a very formal introduction that I asked you guys to do when I would love to pivot and just have a very casual conversation amongst friends. So let’s like shake that out because look like it’s mental health awareness month.

My hope is that we can freaking have these conversations well outside of the, confines of a 30 day period or however many days are in May. My education is not impressing anybody right now. I have to do the song, does anybody else have to do the song? 30 days, half September, April, is June end November, okay. All of it. Yeah. So 

Ginger: Never heard of that.

Jessy: If you’re like my brain who grew up in the Florida educational system, that’s probably a reflection of that, maybe more than anything else. That is how I know how many days are in a month. But, so within the confines of, this month we hear like a lot of conversations about mental health, which is fantastic, phenomenal.

There should be space for it. But there are also 11 more months of the year, arguably like the end of the year, like like the nuttiest time, the holidays is probably when we should be talking about the most, when we’re all like losing our minds.

Kelsey: I second that so hard. I heard a podcast the other day that was like, it’s the most wonderful time of the year should be struck for. It’s just the most time of the year. It’s just the most.

Jessy: I appreciate the heck out of that and so here we are, and first of all, I posed the question out to our community and, had a lot of people want to have this conversation, which is exciting to me because I feel like it’s a conversation that just needs to be had.

So, with all that being said, I’d love to hear, what mental health even like means to you. There’s some of these like phrases that we just like casually say 1,000,001 times, and I almost feel like they like lose their meaning. And I was thinking earlier today, I was like, mental health it’s actually a really powerful thing.

And if you really break that down, I think that it also can mean something very individualized depending on who you’re asking. So, Jenny, what does mental health mean to you? I’m gonna put you on the spot and then I’m gonna ask everyone else.

Jenny: For me, just a lot of times I think in our culture, just in society, we focus so much on physical health. I think mental health is just as important. That’s how we function every day. Without our mental health, we actually don’t have physical health.

But what mental health means to me is just, being in a space, at least a healthy mental space where you’re feeling good in what you’re doing, you’re feeling supported. So many other things, but that kind of just comes top of mind when I think of mental health. I don’t know. What do you think, Ginger?

Ginger: Yeah, when we look at the research tend to frame mental health as mental illness. And I look at mental health as being kind of the best version of yourself. Taking care of yourself, prioritizing yourself. And I tend to do a lot of journaling and writing down, if I can’t be the best version of myself, I can’t be the best version of myself for anyone else either.

So I look at mental health as being, prioritizing everything. And the brain is that, main part of your body that controls everything else. So if this isn’t working properly, nothing else is gonna feel good. So that’s how I look at mental health and I really look at it as health and prioritizing my full being.

Jessy: Totally. I love that. What about you, Kelsey? How do you think of it?

Kelsey: I agree with you, Jesse, that it is so individual and for me in my personal exploration, what I’ve actually realized is that mental health and nervous system health are extremely interconnected. So or I’m currently about to finish. The Body keeps the score, which is a very well known book about how experiences impact us and we store emotion in our bodies and in our nervous system.

And what most people don’t realize until you need to do some self-exploration is that. We’re walking through life disconnected from our nervous system, disconnected from our body. We either are numbing or we are overproducing, we’re anxious. We are people pleasers.

We’re perfectionists. It’s the next thing and we’re not really stopping really sit with our bodies and to really sit with our thoughts. So to me, mental health, step one is can you sit with your thoughts? Can you feel a sense of presence? And then like gold star, zen level stuff, can you get to a sense of peace? That’s what mental health is to me. 

Jessy: That’s real. I feel like when I’m in a place where I am not feeling mentally healthy, I am scared to sit in my own thoughts. 

Kelsey: Yeah. 

Jessy: I can definitely understand that it would be, it could be the opposite. What are some like, I don’t know, let’s like dispel some myths or stigmas or anything that comes to mind for you guys.

Like what I think of Ginger you brought up like mental health sometimes equals mental illness, and the two are like not a subtle difference, but it’s a one word change. And I’m seeing more and more people use vernacular that feels more appropriate to what I think we’re all getting after.

But labels, like mental illness, like there’s something wrong with you. That sort of notion is just gonna perpetuate anything that maybe needs support. So I don’t know what are other, myths or, things that we can dispel or, phrases that we wanna see go out the window. Does anything else come to mind for you guys?

Ginger: Well just, adding to that stigma around mental illness and mental health. There was, some research done in Canada. we wanna talk stats, we wanna dive deep into the research. And 75% of respondents said that they would refuse to disclose a mental illness to an employer or a coworker.

That’s a big problem. And that the respondents were nearly three times less likely to disclose a mental illness than a physical one.  My mind is blown and I think that’s how you know I approach mental health, is I talk about my own struggles with my team all the time. And trying to break down the the stigma and the barriers. And my team knows if you need a day, you take the day.

Because that stigma and even knowing that number and that research, even if I can just affect change within the seven people on my team I feel like I’m helping break down that stigma and talking about it really, really helps.

When I left the corporate world, we didn’t talk about mental health. It wasn’t a thing and I had no idea what I was dealing with. Kelsey, you mentioned something about the nervous system and actually in the process of diagnosing what I was dealing with and I have been seeing doctors for about 12 years trying to figure out what was going on.

There is a, brain gut connection and that the nervous.

Kelsey: The vagus nerve.

Ginger: The vagus nerve. If you don’t know about the nerve and you have gut issues, start to do some research.

Kelsey: You got IBS. Look into it girls.

Ginger: Oh my goodness. Yes. So this vagus nerve runs from the brain to the gut and it affects you physically. Now listen, if we’re gonna talk about what I’m dealing with, and I’m gonna be completely vulnerable with you guys here, like I have generalized anxiety that I treat with a small dose of Prozac because the doctors were eventually like, okay, it’s actually high functioning because you can’t really diagnose it.

It’s under the diagnosis of generalized anxiety, but I never let anybody else see what I’m going through. It’s all internal, so it manifests physically. That is a big deal. I make myself sick from stress and anxiety, and so I’ve really started to learn how to cope and I’m excited to get down into talking about how we’re coping and coping mechanisms But yeah, I’m really trying to be vulnerable and that’s why Jesse, I said, I’m joining this podcast with you because the more we talk about it, the less stigma there will be around it.

Jessy: Thousand percent. And so I don’t wanna put anyone else on the spot, but depression, anxiety, ADHD, and family members and friends who experience that and so much more as well. So appreciate, a vulnerable share. And I also appreciate the idea that talking about it, it almost feels as if it’s a small thing, but it’s actually the opposite.

I don’t know about you guys, but years ago before I was taking medication, I had a stigma about medication, a big stigma about medication. I was like, oh my god, I have to get to the degree that something’s wrong enough that I need medication. So I think that what really got me to, the first place of being able to just get help and live a better life was talking about it because not talking about it, at least for me was out of shame and I’ve had so much freedom once I got to the point that I could just feel comfortable just saying yeah, this is just part of me ignore it, push it down, like whatever, to get rid of it. And deal with it, then I’m just gonna continue to struggle and life is too short. So, I don’t know. Are there any other, like myths or, wanna dispel or Kelsey wants to go?

Go for it.

Kelsey: I got one. I think that one of the really insidious ones is that you’re being dramatic or you’re overreacting. I think especially for women and people who are female, identifying that is a huge one. You don’t wanna be perceived as overreacting or dramatic what’s wrong with me? Why this isn’t a big deal, Kelsey, oh God, it’s such a, again, insidious, like it’s under the surface.

It’s woven into our culture. This like drama queen. That’s a huge myth that I absolutely would love to dispel and to weave it into what y’all are saying. Talking about it makes us understand that we’re not alone in experiencing those things. It helps us feel less othered. And I heard something just this morning that I would love to share in a post on Instagram.

Let’s talk about how social media is busting stigmas left and right because gosh, that makes us feel so much less alone. but I saw something that said previously asking for help might have been a sign of weakness, but what if we reframed that to asking for help is a sign that you are not willing to quit.

And I loved that because it reframed it as perseverance instead of giving up. 

And it’s true, like that rings so deeply true to me.

Jessy: It does ring really true. And I think what I heard, like a little bit of what both of you guys said is especially as women, I feel like some of this stuff, like it just presents maybe differently than in men. And a lot of us, I’m like generalizing to a certain extent. We’ll acknowledge that, but like a lot of us are like high achieving people.

And so it just might present in different ways. I very much know people that what they’re experiencing inside is the exact opposite of what people perceive them to be. Also just knowing that people can be struggling with things even if they seem as if they’re on top of the world and living the their best lives.

And you have no idea what somebody is experiencing inside. So just to your point, Kelsey I don’t know our words really matter. Especially when talking about something that’s like sensitive like this. And like somebody could be like at the very beginning of their own mental health journey if they’re a little bit even more sensitive.

So just being really careful with like your words don’t be dramatic or a drama court, like anything like that could really impact somebody who’s dealing with this or going through something like this. But, I don’t know. Jenny, is there anything that you wanted to add to?

Jenny: I love this. I’m thinking about so many things right now that come to mind. I think one common word that I feel like is very common now is imposter syndrome. I feel like that’s a form of mental health or mental health, quote unquote issue, and going back to men versus women, I feel and again, I don’t know the statistics behind this, but I feel like I hear more women talking about imposter syndrome versus men.

Maybe men don’t talk about that, or maybe they just don’t use that phrase, but I feel it’s more commonly used in communities of women. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like that word imposter syndrome is definitely thrown out a lot to to sum up why people are feeling like they’re not deserving of things or they’re not good enough, and things like that.

I feel like that’s definitely, a common word right now. don’t know what your thoughts, ladies, if you commonly hear imposter syndrome or think of that about yourself as a business owner sometimes. We question, if we’re good enough or if deserving of working with ex-client or not.

What are thoughts?

Ginger: Oh, absolutely I have imposter syndrome all the time. 

Jessy: What do you think it is if you could dig into it a little bit yourself. Have you always had it did it get worse at a certain point in your career? What do you think it’s about?

Jenny: I think it’s a lot of things, I think social media is helpful in some ways, but it’s also very toxic in many ways. Especially as women entrepreneurs and business owners, we can’t help ourselves but compare to what others are doing. 

Regardless of what you tell yourself don’t compare yourself, don’t you know your focus on your lane? Do this, do that. We’re on social media, we’re in influencer marketing, we’re running our own businesses. We have to be on social. So I feel like a little bit of it is comparison, when it comes down to it is comparison.

And then two, I also think the negative talk in your head. It’s hard to be positive all the time. It’s hard to just be like, I’m amazing, I’m great. Like things are wonderful and rainbows and butterflies. I think it’s our self-talk that is creating that imposter syndrome.

It could be from past trauma, it could be from past experiences that you can’t let go of. I think it could be many things, but those are like the two that come to mind in terms of how imposter syndrome shows up, at least for me. 

Jessy: Yeah. A hundred percent. What about you guys? How does this exist in your worlds?

Kelsey: I would love to throw a log on the fire and say, women and female identifying people are not usually shown examples of how to, A, identify and B, communicate desires and needs. And that’s a huge part of imposter syndrome. 

Because women from day one are taught not how to want, but how to be wanted.

We are taught to attract, you have to be attractive to get what you want, whether that’s physically your resume, whatever. We are taught to pull things into us because we deserve it because of the picture that we present versus traditionally male upbringings, which are taught go after it, conquer, get what you want.

And both are toxic in their own ways. I’m not saying one is better than the other. However, with imposter syndrome in particular, it’s I don’t feel like the picture that I’m presenting, but this is the picture I have to present in order to get what I want. So I think that there is that piece of it when we’re speaking specifically about women.

Jessy: Yeah. That’s super interesting.

Ginger: My imposter syndrome manifests a little differently than that, Kelsey. I think mine is deep down, I know that I am able and that I am capable and that I can do the things. For me when it comes to the deserving factor, I never feel deserving. 

Kelsey: Why do you think that is? 

Ginger: That’s how it manifests for me and it manifests for everyone so differently, and I think guys, if we sit for hours with a psychologist or a psychotherapist and we peel back those layers, we might figure it out. But here we are in a one hour podcast, and I don’t have all the answers, but I know that’s how it manifests for me not feeling deserving. 

Kelsey: I just read a really great book, by the way, I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially women in business. It’s called Burnout. 

It’s by Dr. Emily Kowski and her sister. I wanna say Sarah, but I think I might be wrong. But they speak a lot about this idea of deserving something and human giver syndrome, which is yeah, we’re raising our hands. 

Ginger: why we do what we do. 

Jenny: I think speaking to the giving part as talent managers Ginger and this influencer marketing space, not, are we only trying to keep ourselves sane, we’re trying to help our clients stay sane in this industry, things ebb and flow, like things are never consistent.

Things are not always the same. All our clients are different. They have different personalities. Not every day is a good day, but there are some amazing days, and I think as talent managers, it’s figuring out how to balance those different emotions, but also make sure we keep the business in mind and them forward.

So I know Jesse or Ginger you guys have something to 

Ginger: say? I was like, how to handle your talent suffering from their own mental health issues and how to not let it impact you. 

oh God, that’s hard to balance. Like back in the day before the pandemic, I used to be all about work life integration. My goings at were, with friends or my clients or my partners.

And now with the pandemic, now that I work at home, I’m work-life balance. I shut off. I shut off and then people know to text me if they really need me. But for all intents and purposes, everything can wait until the next day. Let’s be honest. Balancing that’s like a whole other job in and of itself.

Balancing how you handle your talents, mental stresses, and then how to not let it impact you. I don’t know, Kelsey, do you have any reference for that?

Kelsey: Sure do. Because a lot of the people that I work with are creative, and I think creators are small business owners, they are absolutely small business owners, entrepreneurs. They’re running everything as a business. Certainly if they’re at the level that they’re working with, a talent manager. So here are some tips. Ask people what their triggers are. A lot of times deadlines are a big mental health trigger, so if you know that going into a client contractor creator contract, you can pad the deadline a bit. You can say it’s earlier than it is. Of course, everything within legal, if we wanna keep everything like legal, we don’t wanna lie.

But if there is some padding around a deadline and a creator can understand that, that they’re being given some grace, then that will make them want to work even harder to meet that deadline for you. 

Another trigger is, editing someone’s creative work. And a great way to preemptively talk about that is to say we may need to edit the copy, but we’re not gonna put force you to put anything up that you don’t believe in. Level setting that at the very beginning, let them know to expect edits rather than feeling quote unquote blindsided by edits.

That’s a big one. So those are two really big triggers, deadlines, and edits that you can address at the very beginning of any creator contract that’s really gonna help them feel taken care of as they complete their work.

Jessy: That is so interesting. I feel like the deadline thing, I almost feel like I know that with like other people in my life. But I never really associated that or drew the correlation between like creator deadlines. And then what was the other one you said? The other one was about edits?

Kelsey: Knowing ahead of time that your work is probably going to be edited.

Jessy: And that is so wild. I almost feel like I’m triggered by that. it’s a delicate moment, and I feel like maybe in an influencer marketing in particular, a lot of us are trying to do this quickly and at scale and we just like brush past what?

It could be a really delicate moment for someone like you put hours or days or even weeks sometimes in videos into like of energy into this one piece of content to then have it literally like just pan you with a slew of edits and no context, no humanity to it. Like I appreciate you bringing it up because I’m having like a little bit more of an appreciation almost, of course it would be triggering to someone and like, why wouldn’t I think of that? But again I can guess at the why. I just think people are trying to move too quickly. And then imagine being on the reverse side of it, like receiving that what do you do with that? You don’t wanna be the one to ruffle feathers or say Ooh, do you advocate for yourself? Do you say I would actually rather not do this edit or that edit.

Even bringing up the conversation and pushing back can trigger something else to other people. So I guess I gotta ask you guys like influencer marketers, no matter where you sit, experience that 

editing process, which usually feels like one of the more sticky, tricky situations to navigate. Is there anything that you guys have seen that’s worked well to get through that?

Ginger: If I may, this goes back to how not to let that feedback affect you personally, but we tend to shield our clients from a lot of it, I know Jenny’s like yeah, girl. We always tell our clients when we sign them, we only want you to be the yes person.

We will be your no person. We are your shield. We become that first line of defense for everything. So trying not to let that impact you personally is a big thing. But also protecting my clients and my talent because the bigger they get, the more people hide behind anonymity, the more negativity you get online.

Negativity is also a huge one too. A huge source of mental health stress in this influencer world. So we go Jerry McGuire on our clients when the bigger they get, the more Jeremy McGuire we are, and the more hands on we are, we will actually have, the bigger your client gets, the bigger your team gets, the more people you can have working on that one client.

So it’s not gonna help for everyone, but this is a tip that we do. We have actually an outside, text chain, so to speak, when issues happen for certain clients that the client is not involved in, so that we can actually just go and fix it so that it’s not a pain point for that client. Because it is so hard to be that vulnerable and which is one of the reasons why I’m not an influencer and could never put out myself out like that, but they have to be so freaking vulnerable.

If there’s anything I can do to take that stress away from them, I will. Because you know what? I come with a PR background and I’ve done a, reframing the way we talk about things and the way we position things and wording and that sort of thing. And just basically like critical, PR management and response. So, we tend to be that middle person for that negativity response and we definitely shield our clients from a lot of it.

Jessy: So I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here and throw out a very different, just the question is that serving everybody? I used to do it too, by the way, and I know most people do. But just simply to play devil’s advocate do we think that is actually the most beneficial thing to do for your mental health?

Because then that puts a lot on you. And then from shielding creators from some things that you think that they should be shielded from? What do you guys think the answer could be? Yes, by the way, of course.

Jenny: I think that there’s a balance to it. I think, like Ginger mentioned, you said it shielding. I do feel like the protector of my clients. I feel I am their advocate so this is why I am put in this position to protect them. But to your point, Jesse, is that healthy? Cause I’m sure what you’re getting to is is it good sometimes for them to see that direct feedback so they can learn, so they can grow?

I think, again, everything with balance. I think depending on the messaging from the client, whether it be negative or too direct, I do share that feedback, but in my way. 

Cause at the end of the day you have to know your clients either from the brand side or from the talent side. You have to know who your talent is and what triggers them.

Kelsey mentioned, what triggers your clients? And you have to be mindful of that before you share any type of feedback with them. So I know that’s an answer that’s not a direct answer, but that’s how I’ve managed my relationship is like I’m happy to give them direct feedback, especially if they need to hear it.

I’m not afraid to give my talent direct feedback, but it’s how you position it to them. And on the other side too. Because sometimes the creator might say I don’t wanna do it right. Or, this is not what I believe in. And how do you tastefully share that with the brand too, but also be direct.

So it’s a game. It’s a balancing game, but I think that’s the way it has happened at least for me. It’s finding that fine line between being direct, being honest, being truthful, but also making sure like we all learn from all sides of things.

Jessy: Totally. This is business. We’re talking about mental health in the framework of business. So like maybe in our personal lives we have the luxury to be very direct because there’s not money on the line or people’s mouths to feed on the line and so we have the luxury to maybe do things differently.

But yeah, I respect the hell outta what you’re saying. Cause you’re like this isn’t even my livelihood, I’m acting on behalf of my client. So there’s so many variables at play and so many things that you have to take into consideration. And I think that middle person, whether you’re a manager between an agency or brand at a creator, or you’re an agency, which is also a middle person in between the brand and the manager and the creator. It’s a really delicate place to sit and I almost wonder if mental health concerns exist more in those areas than others because you’re just trying to please so many me more people.

There’s so much more on the line and I feel like I know that it could take a toll. I sold my agency and I’m not directly managing talent anymore, but I coach managers. And so like I hear all the time from different people’s businesses, how, it can feel manic, and it can feel as if there is gonna be some ball or multiple balls that drop by the end of every single day.

It’s almost like you want it to be perfect. You want it to be as close to perfect as humanly possible. But It almost can’t be. It’s never gonna be and so I don’t know if any of you guys experienced that. 

What it’s like to live in the messiness and how that even affects your mental health. What is that like for anyone?

Kelsey: I think that manic is the perfect word for it. And I think learning to process that feeling through my body was an incredibly useful tool for me. Cause bottom line, we can’t change everything about a situation. We can’t manipulate the situation to be perfect cause that’s codependence. And we might try for years, but it’s never gonna happen.

But what we can do is look for ways to process that manic feeling. some of the most successful ones join a community like WIIM have other people who understand what you’re going through. A safe space where you can just vent without having judgment or advice. It is so valuable. They literally see changes in the physical brain and in neurobiology having a safe space to vent without judgment or advice. 

So find your community, find your people, and then can you physically process a difficult day after the day has happened? 

This literally tells your body, this is in the burnout book, by the way, by Emily Na kowski. If you experience fight or flight that flooded feeling of adrenaline.

If you do not, then move your body after your body stays in that fight or flight state until you physically process it. And what it does is if you don’t, it makes you want to overeat. It makes you wanna zone out, it makes you, not wanna get up in the morning. It makes your sleep terrible. So, working out after work, even though I’m sure none of us love going to the gym. I hate it. I dunno about anybody else. I hate the gym, but even just like a

walk, move it through your body in order to calm down after. 

Ginger: Come on.

Jessy: That’s your book that you’re gonna write. That’s a book I wanna read.

Ginger: No. I agree though with the walking or getting on the Peloton. I actually also implemented a breathing technique that I learned through meditation, which is the breathing in for eight seconds, holding for eight seconds, breathing out for eight seconds and holding for eight seconds. That is a surefire way if you deal with anxiety and your mind goes in spirals and all over the place. 

Kelsey: That’s called box breathing. by the way, 

Ginger: Box breathing. Thank you. Yes, that’s it. 

It’s amazing. It is an amazing tool. I couldn’t think of the name. 

Kelsey: Nerd Alert over here.

Jessy: And what else helps you guys? Because I also am so cognizant, like some people have come on even this podcast and I’m like, you know what helps you with balance? And they’re like, oh, meditating every day. And I’m like, okay, that’s like phenomenal for you. I am just not a meditator at all.

I’ve tried, I feel like I’m so in my head this is not my thing. What actually really, truly no bullshit. 

What really helps you guys when you’re in a moment that you wanna get out of whoever wants to start?

Kelsey: Make a playlist of a time period that you really have good memories for. Play the playlist. Sing aloud. This stimulates the vagus nerve. So for me, I’ve got like musical theater songs that I loved in high school that I would like belt with my gay best friend in the bathroom cause it had great acoustics.

Nothing is better than singing 525,600 minutes. 

 Jenny: just playing that in my head now. When you said that. 

Kelsey: Resets my nervous system immediately. Sam goes for Disney songs. Same goes for like y2k pop music. Singing or moving or having music that is from a happy time in your life stimulates your brain and your body and it’s that amazing vagus it’s like a vagus nerve hack. 

Jenny: I love about this vagus nerve hack or just the terms. It sounds so cool. I think for me, similar to Kelsey, it’s music. I love music growing up, music brings me joy. So taking a moment to think about what brings me joy, what do I like and enjoy doing? I love music.

I love food. I’m a foodie. So going out, if I had a tough day, maybe I’m like, let’s go to a dinner or to somewhere that we really like. I started working out again after, I have a toddler, he’s three years old, but I hadn’t worked out in so long, and I had just started my business and I truly wasn’t taking care of myself.

And I finally got the urge to work out again. And I joined Orange Theory, not a plug to Orange Theory, but love Orange Theory. I need someone to tell me what to do. Cause I’m so used to telling people what to do. I’m like, somebody tell me what to do. So taking time to at least two times a week to just go to Orange Theory.

And then like Ginger mentioned, taking a walk throughout the day, even if it’s like a 20, 30 minute walk to step away from your desk and away from all that you’re doing, it has been really helpful for me.

Jessy: I love that so much.

Ginger: Wine? No. A really good glass of red wine. No, I’m kidding. All jokes aside, I do love a glass of red wine, but not all the time, but okay. I have something to throw your way. Both of you, physical activity, music. What if you’re someone who’s anxiety gets you so worked up and so exhausted and you can’t physically do anything? How do you deal with it? What’s a good way? I like the box breathing the walking. But sometimes if I’m so busy I can’t get out and walk, or I can’t hop on the Peloton or I can’t do something and I know this is time, but it’s not physical activity.

It’s hopping in my car and just going for a drive. I don’t know what it is, it’s like when you to put a baby to sleep, when you have to take them out for a drive and they go to sleep, same thing. Just doing something physically different, especially when we’re working in our homes now, just getting out and going for a drive, that’s not making me tired or having to do something or think about. 

Jessy: I think it’s the opposite. I actually relate to you Ginger on that a hundred percent. Prior years when I was really working for someone else, were talking about like the idea of manic, like I felt like I was going and have experiencing that to the 10th degree where I would work myself to the bone, so much so that I would just completely burn out. 

But it wasn’t like a one-time thing. It was like a cyclical, pretty regular thing. So I agree, like I would get to the point that I would like drop. And so I haven’t really thought about this, but I do feel like has worked for me to help that.

So I very religiously use like a calendar booking system for calls, meetings of any sort. And I very intentionally set my hours so that people cannot book me Mondays or Fridays and most days after 4:30, 5 o’clock at the very latest. And it gives me guardrails. I need guardrails because otherwise I will do exactly what you’re describing.

And so it’s interesting, sometimes it’s I don’t know that there’s like a magic bullet for some of this stuff. I almost feel as if the older that I get, at least I learn things from people that I talk about, and I just implement safety guardrails for myself to be able to deal with how I am naturally.

So I don’t know if that helps, but I can totally relate to what you’re describing, just being exhausted. And also the driving thing, I’ll say like I sometimes feel like a school bus because I pick my stepdaughter up and drive her more than anybody else. And we have multiple parents.

I’m a stepmom. But as much as sometimes I’m like, oh, what am I? Just a school bus. It takes me away from my desk and it makes me drive for a full, like 60 minutes. Picking her up, driving her somewhere else. And I actually enjoy it. It’s the sunlight, it’s like being able to like zone out cause it’s not even a lot of turns it’s like a one, straight shot.

But stepping away and doing some of those things that you described, I feel you on that, like experience similar things.

Ginger: Yeah. And I think Jesse, similar to you too, I was in a corporate environment and I think at the beginning of this talk we talked about language and use of words, and I loved my job. I had the best job and when I left, everybody’s what? Why would you leave that? I had to give myself the flexibility and freedom to figure out what I was dealing with and to give myself the space to deal with it.

Because I would go into a corporate office and this is before treatment, when I didn’t know what I was dealing with, when I was seeing an allergist because they thought I had an allergy, and they thought I was allergic to stress. That’s what I was told. That’s what the allergist told me.

Kelsey: We’re all allergic to stress. 

Jenny: A great line. I’m allergic to stress.

Ginger: I know, right? But going into a corporate office space where God forbid you’re not that energetic 24/7 person for one day and your boss says, oh, you’re not happy today. How do you live in a space like that? And that is why it’s so important for me to A shield my clients and B, talk about this openly.

I talk about it with my talent and I talk about it with my team. And that I think has been the single biggest factor in allowing my team their own flexibility and freedom to thrive in this environment. 

Jessy: Yeah. I appreciate the heck out of that. Very much so and so if you guys could share final thoughts. I wish we could chat about this for, we’ll we will have you guys back on. I feel like these are honestly like really important freaking conversations and we’re, just scratching the surface here.

But if you guys could share what’s helped you?

 I’ll start and I’ll make it quick. Therapy has literally changed my life and coupled with removing the stigma of medication, because medication absolutely probably was the first thing to change my life.

So what about you guys?

Jenny: I think for me is again, am continuing to practice is truly setting boundaries, I know that sounds, everyone says set boundaries. Set boundaries, but how do you put that in practice? For me, I’ve really made an intentional effort on setting boundaries.

Doing what makes me happy. Not saying yes to everything, I think as givers and helpers, we wanna help everyone around us, but I think when we do that, we drain our own energy. So I’ve been making an intentional effort on setting clear boundaries and being impeccable with my word. If I truly don’t wanna do something, or even I tell this to my clients, I’m like, hey, if you really don’t wanna do this, don’t do it because the last thing I want you to do is to do it and then regret it.

So truly thinking about before you make that decision does this make me happy and do I truly want to do it? You’ll know if it’s a yes or a no. So that’s been really helpful for me. It’s just setting clear boundaries and being impeccable with my word.

Ginger: Yeah. I have three, three things that I do for myself. One medication. Big deal. I’m not on a high dose of Fluoxetine, which is Prozac. I am on a small dose, but it helps connect the dots and it helps me get through and over the hurdles that would’ve otherwise taken me five days I can’t stress that enough.

Please don’t think it’s a bad thing. It has helped me so much and I tell everyone who’s struggling to maybe Fluoxetine is not the right one for you, but there are so many SSRIs inhibitors and that sort of thing that, that could be a good fit for you. So explore that.

It’s not a bad thing and there should not be a stigma around it. Number two, journaling. I do a five minute gratitude journal every day, and I can’t believe how much more positive. It makes me think throughout the day and be grateful and thankful for the little things that I never think about that make me happy.

There’s also a journal called The Human Being Journal, which is a one year journal and it’s based on the Power of Now, which is Eckert Toll’s book. And it guides you through one year of goal setting and you know how you’re feeling in different aspects of your life every month. So I know I said two and there was a third one, and now I forget it, but if I think about it, I’ll come back to it.

Kelsey, your turn.

Kelsey: You bet. So I’ll start with something called habit stacking. So one of the things that really held me back for a long time was I would be like, today’s the day that I get mentally healthy and I’m gonna do 20 things that I read about on Instagram, and I’m gonna be this perfect yoga person. Like I was just ridiculous.

And then I would do it for about three days, and then I would start shaming myself for not wanting to do it, or I didn’t follow through. And the shame spiral would happen and I would fall off the wagon and then it, I would just do nothing. So I learned about this thing called habit stacking from a therapist echoing therapy.

Absolutely find a therapist that’s right for you. Explore different types of therapy. Not all therapies, like laying on a couch and talking to somebody, holding a notepad. I personally do somatic therapy, which is nervous system-based. It has changed my life. Neither here nor there, though, habit stacking.

So starting and being compassionate with yourself and being like, I am only going to adopt one new habit and however long that takes me. It’s how long that takes me. And habit stacking is taking a habit you already have and putting a habit you want to adopt on top of that habit. So for me, I have coffee every morning.

That is a habit I am never gonna get rid of. So help me God. They can pry it from my cold, dead hands. I love my coffee. That habit is going nowhere. So I started before I got my coffee opening the Calm app, and there was a daily, it’s called the Daily Wisdom or something. It’s 10 minute long.

You just listen to it and even if I don’t focus, whatever, all that I had to do was just open the app. Then I added another thing, bring a journal with me like a month and a half later. And lo and behold, after a year, now I’ve got these, like beginning of the day and end of the day. Tallies of habits, these new habits that are super healthy.

And like Jesse said, they act like guardrails. It’s like anything else, you just have to practice it and get it into your body, get it into your system for long enough, and then it’ll come way more naturally. And be nice to yourself. Please be nice to yourself in the process. And then the second thing, which this is more of a hack, smell and temperature are immediate bridges into interrupting an anxiety cycle or a thought cycle.

So if you drink an ice cold glass of water, that will immediately reset your nervous system. If you drink some hot tea, reset your nervous system. If you light a candle, reset your nervous system. Essential oil, same thing. Keep some in your desk. Smell and temperature are great, immediate, like 911 I need something to reset my nervous system. 

Jessy: So good. 

Ginger: I remembered my third. Can I say, cause I think it’s a really good one and it’s really related to business, and to the power of believing in yourself. And it is to Jenny’s point about words, the ability to say no. My business coach always tells me the best position you can be in is one where you say no.

And that is one of my favorite words. 

Jessy: It’s so good. I love that framing of it though. The best position you can be. Slightly different take on it. That’s powerful. It’s really good. I’ve said before there’s just a loud power in No, yours is better. 

Ginger: Yeah, and we’re thinking this is a business podcast. We’re thinking business, we’re thinking about how we relate everything to business and operating our business. And just the best position you can be in is one where you say no in business, it works all the time.

And trust me in a negotiation, if you say no and they really want you, they’re gonna come back with more money every single time.

Kelsey: I actually have one more little hack too. You made me think of this and I love this. Just like Jesse said, give yourself guardrails, but give yourself like an hour in the middle of the day where you actually turn notifications off so that if people are trying to text you, they see that you have notifications turned off and it actually relieves that pressure on your brain of people are expecting me to get back to them.

Even if it’s just for one hour for lunch in the middle of the day. 

Jessy: That’s so good. And that’s a big one too. And look, there’s a lot to unpack here, so there’s only so much that we could discuss. And honestly, I feel like we talked about quite a lot, which is awesome. That leads me into like just the anxiety aspect of it and then there’s so many different aspects.

So I guess like first and foremost, Really appreciate you guys just having a very honest conversation about this and I really feel strongly and at least I hope that one person probably more will be listening to this and just feel as if they’re not alone, feel as hopefully maybe they’ve found a hack that can help them.

Or at least it could just start a conversation to lead them to something that will help them improve their life. Life is just too short to go through this stuff, like white knuckling our way through it or, whatever sort of shuts us down. Whether it’s a stigma or pressure or even just the anxiety itself.

Like life is just too short and there’s so many resources out there. They are hard to find sometimes. So I heard Kelsey say it’s not just finding a therapist. You gotta find the right therapist to like really help you. I’ve been through so many bad ones and I found my one, and I will never let her go.

At one point she was like, shaving clients away and I was like, I’ll pay double. I don’t care what it is. You’re not leaving me cuz it’s hard.

Kelsey: You know what? She had the power to say no. 

Ginger: Yes she did. 

Jessy: And it worked cuz I could never let her go. I think all of these things are relevant. I heard you guys say a lot about words that words matter, the idea that, saying one thing out loud, oh my God, how many times is that one thing loop in your head?

Oh my God. That’s just a whole other conversation. So all of these things I appreciate you guys talking about today. I Will link social platforms of all of our guests today in the show notes because if you would like to connect with them, I think they would love to connect with you guys.

So for all of you guys tuning in today, thank you so much for indulging us in this very important conversation, and we will see you guys next week.

Ginger Bertrand

President, GAB GROUP INC

Gab Group Inc’s Founder and President, Ginger A. Bertrand, is an award-winning publicist with over 15 years of experience in Canadian media. Originally hailing from Ottawa, Ontario, Ginger grew her PRoots in Toronto working with Walt Disney Studios, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Rogers TV, Family Channel, Lifetime, Food Network Canada and other nationally and internationally recognized brands.

Jenny Dinh Safransky

Founder, Head of Partnerships and Talent Management, JDS PROJECTS

Jenny Dinh Safransky, Founder of JDS Projects is born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area with over 10+ years of experience in the advertising, marketing and most recently securing brand partnerships for Music’s Biggest Brand, the GRAMMYs. She’s secured innovative partnership deals and launched major multi-million dollar marketing campaigns with brands such as Pernod-Ricard (Absolut), Mastercard, Hilton, Delta, Trident and more. As a talent manager, she is now responsible for securing major brand deals for some of the most diverse women influencers, creators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders out there. She helps them connect with like-minded brands, level up, and tap into new growth opportunities. As a first-generation Asian American, it is important to Jenny to empower other women. She believes that no one should ever have to do things alone, there is always knowledge to be shared. When she’s not finding ways to connect diverse creators with brands within the multimedia and philanthropy space, she spends her time mentoring young women and girls. She is a proud Board Member of the non-profit Step Up that believes that all girls should have the opportunity to pursue their dream of success. More than 97% of girls enrolled in Step Up identify as a member of a community of color. Through these purpose-driven priorities, she believes we all help create a more equitable workforce together. Just like how Jenny sought to work in the entertainment and music industry in 2015 and moved to Los Angeles to pursue this dream and made it happen. She is confident that with her positive and “Make it Happen” attitude she will continue to provide quality work for all her clients and help everyone around her win.

Kelsey Formost

Senior Director of Content & Brand, TAGGER MEDIA

Kelsey Formost is the Senior Director of Content & Brand for leading influencer marketing platform, Tagger Media. Her work and expertise in the digital content and influencer marketing space has been featured by Business Insider, Refinery29, Glamour, and more. This year, Kelsey was named a ‘Rising Star’ by industry leader Talking Influence on their ‘Influencer Top 50’, a curated list of the Top 50 global individuals in influencer marketing. Kelsey is also an experienced speaker, presenting at high profile events such as HubSpot’s Inbound 2020 conference and SXSW 2021.

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