A podcast sharing stories of lived experience with mental illness

Interview with tech entrepreneur, Belinda Agnew

Dec. 20, 2022

Interview with tech entrepreneur, Belinda Agnew

Interview with tech entrepreneur, Belinda Agnew

Interview with Belinda Agnew, technology entrepreneur, and businesswoman. 

JOEL: Growing up with the mum, whose challenges, obviously alcoholism, how was that overall job’s going to tell people about maybe something that they might not know about?

BELINDA: So, my mother. So, alcoholism is somebody that drinks often. People that think, you know, alcoholism was like drinking on the weekend, that's totally not the case. It's like an everyday thing.

So, alcoholism is literally somebody that is depressed and very sad internally. And they escape by drinking alcohol, or other things like drugs and things like that.

But in this case, my mom escaped her life, her reality, with alcohol. And that's her fault, because she hasn't done the work, she hasn't sat down and, you know, seen a psychologist and gone through the ropes, because she's been very stubborn about that, and for a very long time, and she doesn’t believe that she has an alcoholic problem. She believes that it's “oh, you know, I work hard.

And I just want to come home and drink. Because it relaxes me.” But you know, it's not just one drink. It's like, five. So, she's been struggling with this issue. For many years since I was, I think, since I was born really like she's had this issue for a very, very long time.

What were your thoughts on that growing up?

It's so interesting, because I talk about this all the time, especially to my friends. Because it's like a reflecting thing that we do, when we catch up and get together, my girlfriend's the best.

And I'm so blessed to have friends like that, but we reflect on certain things in our lives, and we talk about, you know, where we're at, and what could have happened to and with me, and there's a few of my other girlfriends that have gone through similar things, some of them, you know, extreme.

I could have taken the other side, I could have been on drugs I could have been in with multiple sexual partners, I could have done crazy things. When I look at kids that grow up in an alcoholic family, my cousins — which I don't want to mention too much — but my whole family pretty much have very similar issues.

So, it's like a pattern. So, I'm wanting to break, I guess, the generation pattern and the cycle.

And when I look at my cousins, they're, most of them are on drugs.

Unfortunately, most of them have multiple children with multiple women. Most of them are on the dole and Centrelink and don’t have work and don't have ambition to thrive or to do something or to do better.

Most of them are depressed and have gone to the hospital multiple times and jail as well, multiple times.

So, I could have been me because they're my first cousins. So, when I look and reflect on my life, what happened growing up, my mother was a single mom.

So, looking back at it, what had happened is I had no choice. So, I was in survival mode and survival mode led me to business and entrepreneurship. Because I didn't have a choice. I had to work, I had to go out and do things to survive.

I think that was my only focus at that time, because if I didn't have money, I wouldn't have a roof over my head. I wouldn't have food on the table.

So, it was like basic things. For me, it was like survival things. So that's what happened. And then I got a bit of a taste of it. And then I kept going and then I got more of a taste and then I kept going and then you obviously see where it's going.

So, I think it really came from survival mode. And I really didn't have a choice because I must step up because my mom's mother couldn't and I grew up very quickly, at the age of five, self-sufficient.

Is there any is there a story you can use to illustrate maybe a burnout from someone you or someone that you heard about?

The founder that reached out to me. So, she is amazing. She was like exact level, like 500 grand salaries, something like that ridiculous, including bonuses and whatnot.

And she had the lap, she was living the life. And she got poached by. She was at Google, and she got poached by Amazon. She went to Amazon. And then she found herself sad. Like every day she would just go show up to work and she would just stare at the screen, and she didn't know why she was there?

She was like, why am I doing it? She was questioning like, why am I doing this? why am I here? How is this helping me?

Where's the value add for me internally? What am I getting out of this? I don't feel it's on purpose. It's not something that I want to do.

So, she burned, she ended up burning out badly. And she then quit, she quit that day. And then she went into training. And she became like, a champion in weightlifting was crazy.

And she's doing that for like six months. And that was like to just let her steam off. And then from that she could obviously tell the story better than I could.

Then from that she started the product, which is called Journey J. You are and why. Which is really to help people like her in workplaces not to go through what she went through.

Because it's almost like suicidal, like, you have suicidal thoughts, you have thoughts of, why am I leaving? Like, why am I here? I'm making money, but I don't have anyone to share it with, like, why am I doing this? Because when making money and when successful, it comes with a lot of other things personally, like you have a lot of issues in your personal life. So, it's one or the other.

There's not in between, really, you must sacrifice one of them. So yeah, so she found herself in that. And obviously other stories with men committing suicide, unfortunately, because men take a big hit because they don't speak like women.

And they don't speak about how they feel and what's going on internally, because they find it like a weak trait, which is totally not weak at all. So, a lot of men unfortunately suffer more than women.

Everyone says “I want a good culture” they're like, what does that mean? So, does it matter to you?

It's what it means to me is different to everybody else, I think, Pete, when people come to us, it's more like, alignment issue.

So like, the values, like, just the founder does the CEO, does the manager or manager, like exact level have the same alignment as what I would have in life, like in general, and I think getting along, you have to lack the people that you work for, you have to lack the brand, you have to lack what they do, you can't be involved in a company that you don't really like, or you don't really believe in, because it's just going to go to shit.

But I think that's what it means in terms of cultural and I guess, cultural fit in terms of the dynamic of the people like, age, current situation, female, male, a lot of other issues as well, like now I see a lot of people wanting to work remotely. So that's like the first question like, is it remote? And then if it's not, then they're like, ah, probably not.

So, it's strange, because everybody's going back to the office. I don't think that should be an issue, but it is. I'm seeing that to be the main issue right now is people don't want to go back-to-back to the office.

So, you talked about the big corporates and stuff like that. And you said, what they do is like, you know, he's achieved a membership. Do any of those places have free, let's say free counseling or free psychologists?

Macquarie quarry does, for example, because I've got an exec that works there, one of my girlfriends and she has like a psychologist that she speaks to internally.

But that's it. And they're not available. You must go into the CRM onto their system to book it. And they're not always available.

So, if something's happening in your life that you want to talk about right now to get guidance or feedback or just somebody to vent to, in that situation. ration, you'd probably have to wait like, days or weeks, maybe months to speak to them. And by then, I mean, where's your mental health going.

So, if you had unlimited resources, what should a company do? Do they wanted to be serious about mental health or mental illness or stuff?

I don't think I believe every individual should have access to doing the work. And what I mean by that is having a life coach, having a psychologist, having access to teachers that teach you how to meditate, because meditation is key to mental health as well.

Having access to yoga, like things that are very calming for your body, and things like that is really helping the mental, your mental stability.

But I think having access to people that we would usually go outside and seek for individually, if we wanted to do the work, we should have access to those internally, always.

I think that's important. And I guess when I say life coach, I mean, somebody that has done the work to guide individuals to doing the work also. So, you know, like, going internally, I would say more than externally, but they should have access to people like these professionals.

Is that something you use yourself?

So, myself, I went externally outside. Because, you know, with internally, we don't do that. Therefore, this founder came to me. And this product isn't now amazing. And it's something that I would use and everything that I touch.

Now in terms of startups and business, it's something that I will continue to do. Using a product like this is going to change the culture internally completely. And I think it's just going to benefit everyone and the whole companies like Amazon, Google, things like that. This is something that I see that a lot of companies will use.

But for myself, I have a psychologist, I have a life coach that I see often. And I also try to meditate as much as I can. I'm bad at it. Because I have ADHD, I can't sit still.

So, I do really try but my meditation is more walking, talking to loved ones listening to podcasts, that uplift to me, things like that is also a part of meditation. I know what people would agree with me. But you know, it is important to find what works for you versus what people think that will work. I guess just try a lot of things first, before you kind of go in and say I just need a better team that's going to fix everything.

With the overall use of social media now, how do you think just as a general question has been a positive or negative in the scope of things?

Social media has been such a huge positive for me. So, I can't say it's a negative, I think it's a negative for people that don't know what they're doing on social media.

Like if you're just on social media, to scroll, and to post some images of you and your family, and all of that, I think, get on WhatsApp or telegram or a family chat or like a close friend, chat, and share.

I think if you're on social media, like me, that is all about personal brand and showcasing my personal side and business side.

Because obviously, my personal brand is literally my brand. And that's where people find me and see me and want to work with me and all of that everything that I have has been mostly inbound.

So, I would say 95% of the businesses that I'm involved in, actually, 100% of the businesses I'm involved in inbound, the founders reach out to me, and they bet to me, and then 95% of the business that I receive to is businesses inbound.

So, it's from what I show online, what I talk about and what I say. But I think social media is positive for that if you know what you're doing. But it's not positive if you don't know what you're doing.

Like, for example, I know people that just show up on social media on Instagram and LinkedIn just to get validation.

And I don't think that's healthy. I think getting validation from strangers isn't healthy.

And that's not a healthy way to have social media. Just ask yourself, why do I have social media? How is it benefiting me?

What would be your advice for let say 12-18 years old who’s maybe going through a rough childhood or something like that, or having a tough time in their teenage years?

I would always say what Gary Vee says is you need to taste a lot of things to really know what you like.

I'm just directing this business, because this is like what I did when I was young, I dropped out of school in year nine, and do the nine didn't even finish your 10.

So, first of all, University School, don't stress, if you don't like it, that's okay, drop out, do something that you lack. Because it's not going to change anything to be honest.

And then I went to tape, and I thought, you know, oh, like, I want to be traveling tourism, I want to, you know, be a beauty therapist, I tried all of that, absolutely hated it.

And then I started selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door knocking on people's homes at the age of 17.

And not that I loved it, but I loved it. Because what I was achieving in that and were how I found my way was I was good at selling.

And that was my gift. And that's when I knew that this is my gift. And this is what I should be doing is selling.

So, from there, I obviously tasted a lot of types of selling like product service, you know, different things, different industries.

And I tasted so much until I would say three years ago, I truly found and I'm like 32 now and so three years ago, out of from 17 years old to like 30, let's just say there was a lot of tasting, I was still tasting for a long time.

And I just found what I really want to do. And now I've really aligned with where I want to be and the future. But my advice would be tasting a lot. And don't try and rush the tasting as well like because this ship takes forever.

So, in my language, but it's literally does it takes it takes a long time. So don't be so hard on yourself. And money will come it will come if you just keep going and you keep being consistent with where you want to be. Trust me, it will come it will come.

To learn more about Belinda, visit her website

To watch the video interview click here