David Brower:                          So I gotta ask you first before we get into the mental health stuff, tell me about the corporate drumming.

Mike Veny:                             Sure, uh, I do drumming with adults in corporate America as a form of leadership development and team building. And one of the reasons that I do it is because adults have trouble working well together and it’s important for people to learn some better skills about playing well in the sandbox. And my services with the drumming give people some new ideas and tools on how to work better as a team.

David Brower:                      How cool. I mean, uh,

Mike Veny:                            Yeah.

David Brower:                      Egos could get in the way and it’s tough to get those balanced, the balance working, huh?

Mike Veny:                            No absolutely, and you know, it’s funny because I do both that and and speaking about mental health, and I’m a big believer in this idea that mental health issues and people issues go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.  And that being said, by working on this side of the coin, I allow people to possibly also work out certain mental health issues that are happening that work, too.

David Brower:                      Nice. So tell me about the, the mental health thing. How did you get into that, what was the epiphany or the life experience?

Mike Veny:                            Sure. Well I actually had a breakdown in 2011, and that actually started my speaking career. But my mental health history has been going on since the beginning of my life. Uh, just to sum it up for you, in this short 20 minute podcast, as a child I had a lot of behavior problems. A really, really hard time uh, behaving myself. And that led to me getting expelled from three schools, hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital three times for extended periods of time. I was on a first name basis with everyone in the hospital emergency room because I was always in crisis. I used to harm myself. I tried to take my own life at age 10. And I was just acting out violently at home. And and I realize that you know this this this this was tough, life was tough for me and the thing that actually turned my life around, the the medication that worked, was drumming. That was the thing that made me feel better. And so, uh I became a drummer because not not because I think it’s cool, I mean it is cool, don’t get me wrong, to be a drummer.

David Brower:                      Well yeah. Yeah.

Mike Veny:                            Let me set the record straight

David Brower:                      I mean girls love the drummer, come on.

Mike Veny:                            Girls love the drummer. And, but one of the reasons I decided to do it is because it was my medication, the only thing that makes me feel better. Still does. And I’m 37 years old, and I’m not on any mental health medications, pharmaceutical. I just do my drumming, run my business, exercise and have good friends in my life. And I realize that, you know, self care was really important. And there are a lot of people like me who are struggling with the same issues, or families that are struggling with the same issues and that’s why I speak about it.

David Brower:                      Outstanding man, my gosh. What an experience uh, to get you where you are and have the opportunity to really uh pay it forward to people who may not even have an idea that there’s a crisis in their home.

Mike Veny:                             Absolutely. And it’s an issue that people don’t want to talk about. You know, it’s the uncomfortable subject. And I’m trying to make it a normal conversation.

David Brower:                      Good for you. Good for you. It’s, and it’s become more and more, I guess, in the news really, when you have like this Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and you have some other things like that where you know a a young guy shot some people in a college in Washington and Roseberg, Oregon and different things like that. And and they oftentimes bring up well there were mental health issues, and nobody caught it, and.

Mike Veny:                            Hmm.

David Brower:                      But they don’t seem

Mike Veny:                           Yeah.

David Brower:                      They don’t seem to at least talk about some kind of way to address that for other people.

Mike Veny:                            Well, it’s a great subject you brought up that we can spend so much more than twenty minutes on.

David Brower:                      Right right.

Mike Veny:                            But one one of the things I want to say to that is, there are different sides of that whole issue. And I’m just coming from one particular side. And one thing I always say to people is that, yes, mental health issues can contribute to anything in life. But at the end of the day, someone can just choose to make an evil decision regardless of whether or not they have mental health issues. And most people with mental health issues, statistically, are proven to be safer than everyone else. You know, we’re we are more likely to have a violent crime committed against us than us doing something, and that’s an actual statistic.

That being said, when things like this happen, it becomes so overwhelmingly emotional, and we get so angry and sad hearing about it that we need to come to an answer. We we as humans like answers to things. And why would, why would someone do this? And one of the first things people just go to is mental health. So people with mental health issues are violent. And that’s, that’s  really not true. That being said, it’s really about the decision just to cause harm. It’s really really about that decision to cause harm. And one thing I always tell people is that, if you allow people with mental health issues to be categorized, is that then you basic disempower us. Because there are many CEOs in companies, successful companies, that are struggling with the same issues as those shooters. You know?

David Brower:                      Yeah.

Mike Veny:                            But again at the end of the day it’s just about the decision to do harm.

David Brower:                      And we have to have, for whatever reason, it seems we have to label everything.

Mike Veny:                           Yes. ’cause human beings don’t like to be confused.

David Brower:                      Right

Mike Veny:                            We don’t like, we don’t like things that are vague. We don’t like things we don’t understand. And if we can’t put it into a category, it it stresses us out.

David Brower:                      Yeah. I’m going to put it into the mental health box and then okay, I’m good now and I can move on and have lunch.

Mike Veny:                            Yes absolutely.

David Brower:                      Wow. Wow.

Mike Veny:                            Yeah.

David Brower:                      What about, and of course mental health, um, is, there’s a connection to that to suicide as well, right?

Mike Veny:                           Absolutely. Uh, depression has been linked to suicide, and there’s so many things actually linked to suicide. Sometimes when someone attempts or follows through with it, uh, you don’t even see that there was ever a problem. But the reality is, we all struggle with internal pain sometimes that we don’t understand.

David Brower:                      Yeah.

Mike Veny:                            And I like to operate with the point of view that we all struggle with mental illness at some level. Every single one of us. And if we treat others assuming that they might be going through something, even if they look happy and fine and are doing well in life, we’ll find better ways to connect with each other and prevent suicide.

David Brower:                      Well I couldn’t agree more with you. I had a circumstance personally in, in November of 2012 and uh, we never have guns in our house but our our son was home from Afghanistan and he left his pistol on a table in the in the uh dining room. And I had my own home studio, I do voiceover work and stuff, and I was just having a, I I can’t even tell you. I was just having a a thing. And uh, was unbelievably depressed and and walked out and saw that gun and for about two minutes, I was ready to go. And then, um, fortunately it was unloaded. And fortunately I caught myself and asked the question, “what the hell are you doing?”

Mike Veny:                            Yeah.

David Brower:                      You know, and then I got some counseling and some medication and some whatever, and. But I couldn’t agree more because that really opened up my thought process to be more aware of potential issues with my family, my friends, even strangers that I just run into. You know? I’m just much more conscientious about being observant I guess.

Mike Veny:                            Yeah, and by the way David thank you so much for being transparent and sharing that, because you are not alone, and I think that’s something that happens to people regularly, where we think a thought like that. You know? And the the problem happens when we act on those thoughts.

David Brower:                      Yeah.

Mike Veny:                            But we we we all think them, you know, it’s it’s not just a select group of people that thinks that sometimes. It’s all of us sometimes, and I want to say it’s a human thing. To think that. We’ve all had overwhelm. We’ve all been done with it. And that’s why it’s just really important again like you just said to connect with people and be empathetic to their situation, whether they look a certain way or not.

David Brower:                      And one of the things too, I think, is you become who you surround yourself with, and so, and that’s a general statement but I believe it to a certain level of, of if you surround yourself with with positive influences, loving influences, those kinds of things, that’s going to help you and your mental health and and all kinds of things in your life. And then conversely, if like the Columbine shooting here in Denver, uh 12 years ago probably, um, you know these guys surrounded themselves with like minded people and there wasn’t anything wrong percievably with them. They did what you said earlier, as far as they just “it’s time to go do something evil.”

Mike Veny:                           Yeah. That’s the thing, “it’s time to go do something evil.” But I think it’s important you know, it, what you just said. I I love the idea of being intentional about who you surround yourself with. Now, that’s a little hard if any of your listeners is listening and thinking well, what about my family? You know?

David Brower:                      Right.

Mike Veny:                            That’s, that’s a, that’s a whole other podcast. That’s a few episodes right there.

David Brower:                      I know right. Well there’s my mother in law, and …

Mike Veny:                           Yeah. But you know I think for most of us there are people in our life that we can choose to spend time with. And I’m also a big believer if there are family members that we are you know, stuck seeing that that are toxic for us. There is a way to say I love you to somebody and love them from far away, and put up a thing called boundaries. Which people are just not very good at. And I have actually found that the more I surround myself with good energy and good people for some strange reason, David, my mental health has been a lot better.

David Brower:                      Couldn’t agree more, man. Could not agree more. My experience is exactly the same and, and in fact, a few years ago I lived in northern California and I had these five best friends of mine, and they, they were just, I can’t even tell you how important were, they were to me. I was coming out of a divorce and the energy that they brought me, the ability to feel good about myself again and all that kind of stuff. Just a unique group of people that I’m still in contact with three of them, two of them have passed on but, when I came to colorado and met my wife, I told her, I said “the reason I was attracted to you was because the best thing of every one of those five friends are all in you.”

Mike Veny:                            Aw. Love it.

David Brower:                      And, and so that put me in such a safe place that I’d never felt before.

Mike Veny:                            That is amazing. That is amazing. And oh, see now I want to start asking you questions about it, and this is my interview. Um.

David Brower:                      It’s all good man.

Mike Veny:                             Yeah, but I I think I think it’s very important you know, and one of the things I remind people, you it’s funny, we tell it to kids, you know, watch who your friends are, watch who you spend your time with. We tell this to kids all the time.

David Brower:                      Right.

Mike Veny:                             But adults need to focus on this even more. And the other thing that I really suggest that people have in their lives, and this is unique to every situation, is heroes. Adults, especially. We tell kids to have heroes but we forget that adults need them just as much if not more.

David Brower:                      Well said.

Mike Veny:                            And I think that’s very important, whether it’s heroes spiritually, heroes that are your friends and neighbors, it does not matter. Looking for heroes to look up to and model your behavior after.

David Brower:                      Boy that is, wow. I got goosebumps on that one. That is totally spot on in my life, and obviously it is in yours too.

Mike Veny:                            Yeah, no absolutely. I had a realization um, a few years ago. I’ve been doing a lot of work around um, mental health and masculinity, being a man. And you want to talk about a taboo subject!

David Brower:                      Right.

Mike Veny:                           Mental health is one thing but you bring it up with men that’s like the no no. But one of the things that that um, I I realized was that when I was looking up online on google, looking at like male role models, like who who’s a healthy male role model. Really, I couldn’t find many things.

David Brower:                      Wow.

Mike Veny:                            Yeah. I mean it, there were, there were different forums discussing it, but I put put something in similar for women and plenty of things came up.

David Brower:                      Right.

Mike Veny:                           You know, and and I realized even for men what what is an example of a healthy male role model? And I think that definition is unique to everyone. And even for women, they might not have certain, you know, women role models as as the women who are listening to this might might think, but I think it’s important for all of us to be intentional about discovering what is a role model for us. Who do we want to be like?

David Brower:                      And redefining that as you go, because if you, I mean, if you tap into who you believe to be a role model to day and you pick up some of their energy that may very well lead you to another role model to another role model to another role model, right?

Mike Veny:                           Agreed, absolutely. I’ve been, um, see in my business something you’ll appreciate, is I look at other businesses that I want to be like. And I have, have taken the time in my life to model my self after those businesses, being intentional. And actually I don’t ever tell anybody who, who it is, um.

David Brower:                      Right, right, right.

Mike Veny:                            But I, but but I, but I pick three different businesses each year to model myself. And they might be businesses that are totally different than mine. But it’s a great exercise in looking at someone else’s behavior and how they interact and trying to bring that into my world.

David Brower:                      Oh man absolutely. There is a guy I interviewed for a podcast in atlanta, real estate guy, and he came off so authentic and so genuine and so pay it forward, uh kind of thing, where he just you know what, if you want, if you want to text me or email me or call me and ask questions, uh, it was just so refreshing to hear his business model. And I’m going “I gotta think about that, what can I creatively borrow from that to help my business” you know?

Mike Veny:                             Yeah, authenticity is a big thing. And and for those of you that are listening that are in the workplace or have your own businesses, there’s a wonderful book I just started reading. It’s called 2017 Trends. Um, and it’s about noticing trends that are going on in the world in our culture, and everything from feminism, the rise of that, to other things. And one of the things that it talked about is the importance of authenticity. And not even just authenticity, but just just showing your sloppy side. Even in a youtube video. It doesn’t have to be fully polished, but just showing the real human side of yourself. And for so many of us, we spend time, money, and effort trying to look polished.

David Brower:                      Right.

Mike Veny:                             Trying to appear a certain way.

David Brower:                      Right.

Mike Veny:                           And it’s just really funny how there’s a trend in our culture that’s moving towards authenticity, which I think is a wonderful thing.

David Brower:                      Absolutely right. When I uh, when I first started dating uh, Karen, my wife, um, I had come from Colorado from northern, northern, uh California where I managed a group of radio stations and I was on the air and whatever. And, so, her oldest daughter stopped one, stopped her one day and she says “what is that guy about?” You know, because I had my radio persona on instead of being authentic and I hadn’t even thought about it.

Mike Veny:                           Mm-hmm (affirmative),

David Brower:                      Because I had been in that other place for so long and so we had some wonderful conversations about that, and over time I gradually learned to be as authentic as I know how to be on any given day. And, and and throw integrity in there as well, and uh, I’m really a totally different person than I was 15 years ago.

Mike Veny:                            Yeah, and it’s something that um, you know, the more, go back to what we initially started talking about- mental health.

David Brower:                      Yeah.

Mike Veny:                           A lot of times when it comes to mental health, learning about yourself, becoming more aware of yourself, is really the key strategy for any of us to improve our mental health. Whether you’re struggling with just, well the stress, or you know, severe depression, doesn’t matter. Self awareness is a good thing. And I’m learning that the more self aware that I become, the more I can just be myself.

David Brower:                      Yeah.

Mike Veny:                            Market, even, just know who that is and celebrate it. So I think it’s a very important thing.

David Brower:                      So speaking of that, do you, do you help individuals work through that, or do you, do you stay on the the speaking tour, or how does your, how does your business model work?

Mike Veny:                           My business model is still evolving actually. It’s something that’s, it’s uh always evolving and that I’m learning about. And by the way, I always tell people “start a business if you really want to learn about yourself.”

David Brower:                      Right!

Mike Veny:                           Um, great …

David Brower:                      True story.

Mike Veny:                           Great teaching, great mirror. Uh, what I mainly do is, I am a speaker. So I travel around to schools, conferences around the country, corporate events, and I speak about mental health. And one of my roles is to teach people from the perspective of someone who struggles with it. Who’s also living a very successful life. You know, I’m pretty fortunate. I have wonderful family, friends, a business. Life’s going pretty good. If you look at it on paper, it it’s going good. I’ve got good health and and I’ve got social plans several times a week at night in New York City. Life is pretty good. And that being said, you know, at the same time I struggle with some of the most painful issues that people with mental health issues have. And, I’ve been able to learn some skills on how I think about myself, and how to cope. And so what I do is share these tools in simple, easy to understand language, with people and try to inspire them to take action in their own lives.

David Brower:                      Fabulous. What a gift, man. Paying it forward and in spades. If, uh, people go to your website,, uh, what will they find there?

Mike Veny:                           Well, number 1 they’ll see probably a picture or a video of me, so they know it’s me, and uh number 2, I think one of the most important parts of my site that I’ve been trying to continuously work on is the blog. Where I try to write articles that are for people are struggling, and even mental health professionals, with just some different resources that they can use. There’s also a resources page. So if you are listening to this show, and thank you for listening if you are, and you are struggling or you know someone who is, there’s a resources page that can point you to different organizations and hotlines that you can reach out to in your area.

David Brower:                      Outstanding. Mike Veny, it’s been, it’s been a blast, man. And that was the quickest 20 min I’ve been in in awhile.

Mike Veny:                            Cool! Well it’s been fun and thank you so much for having me on your show.

David Brower:                      Hey you’re very welcome. You’ve been listening to your 20 minute podcast with David Brower, and our special guest Mike Veny, and be sure to visit his website and that is Mike, have a great week! Thanks again.