On Mental Wealth #9: Know the Story Behind the Data 📊

Who's telling the story?

My first job out of college was in pharmaceutical sales. Within the first month, there was a physician who dropped some keen knowledge on me, 

the company that pays for the research drives the results and crafts the story

There's a ton of research and data that we consume each day. This week, I wanted to help increase your ability to take a more critical look at the data the drives your behaviors.

Here's an example: 

One of the most quoted studies on the mental health of founders/entrepreneurs is a 2015 study titled Are Entrepreneurs “Touched with Fire”? by Freeman et al. 

Analysis of the research revealed that when compared with general population, entrepreneurs were:

  • 50% more likely to report having a mental health condition

  • 2X more likely to suffer from depression

  • 6X more likely to suffer from ADHD

  • 3X more likely to suffer from substance abuse

  • 10X more likely to suffer from bi-polar disorder

  • 2X more likely to have psychiatric hospitalization

  • 2X more likely to have suicidal thoughts

This study has been cited by major publications including TechCrunchFast Company and several others. I even cited it in my inaugural Founder Mental Wealth Report published earlier this year.

The major limitation of this data is that the majority of the participants (242 entrepreneurs) were male (70.5%) and white (72.9%).

As a Black founder, this report only reveals part of the story for me. I am a founder, so, yes...like my peers, I have an increased likelihood of mental health challenges. At the same time, my lived experience includes social and generational issues (institutionalized racism, deliberate malpractice in the healthcare system, etc.) that are multipliers on top of the above stats in the Freeman research.

So What?
My hope this that your eyes are opened as mine were by the comment by the physician. Their words are one of the core philosophy of how I plan my research including the Founder Mental Wealth Report and why I work to be transparent about the results including any funding sources.

Mental Wealth Deposit of the Week

What data are you living?

This week's deposit is for you to review your life.

  1. Pick one area, like financial planning.

  2. Are you using data created by someone else without knowing the story behind the data.

  3. Make time to find at least one cited study or research report that has been driving your decisions.

  4. Dig into the details including the demographics of the participants.

  5. What did you learn?

  6. Is the data still valid for you?

Start to develop this practice of going beyond the headline or sensational stats, and you'll never look at the world the same.

Deeper Dive

Depression in African American Men: A Review of What We Know and Where We Need to Go From Here (2014) by Earlise Ward and Maigenete MengeshaI'm always intrigued by studies of studies. Due to the lack of research studies on depression in Black men, the researchers decided to research 25 years worth of available studies.

My Current Work with Founders

1-on-1 Founder Mental Wealth Roadmap Sessions: 
These are two (2), 2-hour sessions with startup founders who identify as "underestimated" aka Black, Person of Color, Woman, LGTBQA. They are designed to move you from overwhelmed and on the verge of burnout to confident and able to overcome imposter syndrome and other typical challenges faced by our peers.

Dates: December 1 to January 15th
For more info: Book Q&A call

On Mental Wealth is a weekly publication created by Anthony Ware, Principal of AWare Catalysts. It's the fusion of mental health, culture, and business based on his experiences working with Black, People of Color, Women, and LGBTQ+ startup founders from around the world. 

Who is Anthony?

I help underestimated startup founders who are struggling with imposter syndrome, or mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, create their Mental Wealth Toolkits, so they can: get out of their own way, regain confidence, hire the right people, accept the right investors money, create generational wealth for their families, and find joy in the journey.

You can find out more about my life here.

What is Mental Wealth? Mental wealth is a key part of the foundation of the next evolution of humanity. It's the collection of intentional thoughts, behaviors, and experiences —mental wealth deposits—someone uses to make a positive impact on their mental health. These deposits have a cumulative positive effect, especially useful during times when you’re challenged with mental illnesses and external events.


This post originally appeared in On Mental Wealth, a weekly creation by Anthony Ware, Principal, AWare Catalysts.

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