Brad Baum: Hustle Responsibly

“I’ve had multiple founders say ‘I cry on the bathroom floor before my weekly stand up,’ and that same founder was at an event doing the ‘rah-rah’ spiel.”  Such is the nature of business-founding, says today’s guest Brad Baum: the personal and professional stress and sacrifice is hidden by the (albeit necessary) public-facing hustle culture, which, in turn, creates yet another element of pressure. As common as mental health struggles are among entrepreneurs, they remain, nonetheless stigmatized. Brad is seeking to change that with the Founder Mental Health Pledge, which he founded and co-created to support founders’ mental health and promote a culture of mental health in the startup community. 

Signing the pledge—which many industry leaders already have in the short period of time since its founding—means promising to treat the direct cost of caring for founders’ mental health as a legitimate business expense and puts mental health as a priority. Brad talks to host Alex Raymond about the ability of such a pledge to build a bridge between the historically distant relationship between founder and investor, and the founders and VCs reporting that the pledge helped them win deals. They also discuss the changing attitudes toward mental health among Gen Z and on social media. 

The overwhelming consensus from the startup world has been one of compassion and a desire to help. Join today’s discussion to learn more about how the Mental Health Pledge is doing its part to change the way we treat founders and their well-being.


  • “On the periphery, founders are sort of forced to run around to the Forbes Under 30 Summit and all these conferences and in board meetings and when they’re fundraising, everything’s ‘Up and to the right. We’re crushing it, man! Hustle-hustle, Grind,’ eighty-hour weeks, that whole spiel. And it’s not that that’s not true sometimes, it’s that, I think, the bulk of the time, you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to figure out what to do next, you don’t have guidance, and it’s a struggle.”  (4:55 | Brad Baum) 
  • “We think the right signal to send is: treat mental health the same way you would treat accounting, legal, etc.— all these other expenses.” (12:59 | Brad Baum) 
  • “It’s been incredible to see—the ‘community’ word gets played out—but it’s more like this recognition of both the problem but then also recognition of the opportunity to change it.” (25:29 | Brad Baum) 
  • “There’s a social—not a moment in time, not fad—but a complete societal shift in how we think about our mental health, especially propagated by the rising generations and social media, where it’s no longer—actually, I can’t say it’s no longer—we’re getting to a place where it will no longer be, ‘Hey, I’m struggling. Hey, I think I might have anxiety or bipolar or depression.’ You go on TikTok these days, people 18 to 25 talk about it without batting an eye.” (26:13 | Brad Baum)
  • “We’re not saying go to your investor and say, ‘Sit down, I need to tell you about all my anxiety and depression.’ We’re saying that conversation does not even need to happen because they’ve signed a pledge and/or have the clause…You should feel empowered to just go out and do it. No one needs to know if you don’t want them to. I think you’d be surprised with how much people can empathize and sympathize if you do, but that’s your prerogative.” (33:28 | Brad Baum)


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