Victoria Garrick is not only an accomplished collegiate athlete.

 She’s a speaker, TED Talk host, nonprofit founder, and mental health advocate who shares her story and message of support to millions. After struggling with her own depression and mental health in college, she gave her now famous TED Talk, “The Hidden Opponent,” in 2017, which explored mental health challenges for student athletes. Now her nonprofit The Hidden Opponent aims to raise awareness for mental health issues in teens and student athletes and provide support and resources.

Don't rush anything. Give yourself time to think things through whenever possible.

Victoria GarrickFounder, The Hidden Opponent

Transcription

Katie Hankinson  (00:00):

Hi, I’m Katie Hankinson and I’m Mickey Cloud. Welcome to Building While Flying a Sasha Group podcast, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient, and navigate ever changing skies.

Katie Hankinson  (00:20):

Welcome to building while flying this week’s guest is Victoria Garrick. Victoria is a former division one volleyball player, a Ted talk speaker and mental health advocates. She was a foyer starter at USC where she won. I don’t even know how to say this cause I’m not an American sports person, 12 championship, and finish her career with a top five most bigs in program history. Victoria first began sharing her story of how she battled depression and anxiety in the TEDx talk in 2017, the hidden opponent, which has now been viewed over 370,000 times and has cysts since had amassed over 1 million followers on her social media platforms and founded a mental health. Non-profit the hidden opponent Victoria. Now tours the country as a public speaker and advocate sharing her story with the aim of raising awareness. And de-stigmatizing the conversation around mental health. Welcome to the show, Victoria. Great.

Victoria Garrick (01:24):

Thank you.

Katie Hankinson  (01:27):

So I feel like building while flying is a very apt topic here because you have been on this kind of epic journey. So from division one, volleyball to a mental health advocate and organize a leader of a nonprofit. Can you talk a bit about the journey that brought you to here just to give us the grounding in this story?

Victoria Garrick (01:48):

Um, certainly, you know, I never saw this as my future or what I would be doing when I grew up. And I think that is something that I find very grounding and fulfilling in. What I do now is that it really came out of evolving as a person and having different experiences and leaning into those. I entered college thinking I would be a sports broadcaster and, you know, I wanted to accomplish something like that. But as I was studying journalism and also being an athlete at school, I started to experience struggles with my mental health, which first started as anxiety, body image issues, feeling so overwhelmed. I got to a place of feeling very depressed. And as I’m going through that, I’m also simultaneously like reporting on statistics and trades and things like that. And I’m thinking, whoa, there’s a much more important to me story to be told here.

Victoria Garrick (02:53):

And as I went through my own mental health journeys and then went to therapy and started working on things, I realized, you know, this isn’t my fault. This happened because I’m in a very, a high pressure environment and there’s a lot that’s being asked of me and my teammates and this is happening to a lot of us athletes, but we’re not talking about it because it seems like we’ll be viewed as weak or we’ll be embarrassed or we won’t be played. And so once I started to kind of understand better what I was going through, and this was like a whole two year ordeal, um, I felt so inclined to share because I didn’t want anyone to have to go through what I did feeling alone for such a long time as an athlete. And so that’s what led me to feeling, uh, drawn to deliver a Ted talk.

Victoria Garrick (03:44):

And then from that Ted talk, um, I received messages and comments and, you know, emails from people saying that they were related and they felt seen, and that this is what they went through, which gave me the courage and the motivation to keep storytelling and to keep sharing and to keep posting. So everything that I do now really did come out of this sharing of my truth, right. And this like dropping the mask and this being honest about no, you know, I’m not living a picture perfect life. Yes. Am I a USC volleyball player? And I live by the beach and I am in sunny Los Angeles. Yes. And are there many privileges and blessings that come with that? Yes. But I’m also the most miserable I’ve ever been in my life. Why, you know, how did I get here and how, how, how do we, you know, cope with these feelings? And so, you know, in an, in a nutshell, but a bit more of a nutshell, that’s really what got everything started.

Katie Hankinson  (04:45):

That’s awesome. So taking her own struggle, but also what is it clearly a natural proclivity and talent to communicate with people, you know, to, to, to be able to tell that story in an approachable way. Um, and you’ve turned that into, uh, what you’re doing today, which is like, you’ve got the hidden opponent, you’ve got, um, a podcast series. Talk a bit about what that has now kind of grown into.

Victoria Garrick (05:13):

I mean, so much that I would not have ever been able to imagine. And, you know, everything kind of was a step along the way with the hidden opponent. That was me sort of realizing how can I create a community where we can all kind of be under this umbrella together. I was public speaking and traveling to different colleges and meeting athletes and just seeing firsthand how many people there are that have a story just like me that went through something just like me, right? Like I’m not special in the fact that I felt stress and pressure from being an athlete. A lot of athletes feel that way. So, you know, I thought, how can I create something where other people can have a platform to share their stories? We can all join forces for this same movement. Um, and our voices can be heard at a greater scale because of that.

Victoria Garrick (06:07):

And so that is why I founded the hidden opponent and I’m not gonna lie. I will not sit here and act like I’m a founder CEO who knows what they’re doing. I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I kind of, I’m someone who like, this is me throughout my whole life. I like make the announcement. I declared the thing and then I got to go figure it out. So I launched this nonprofit. I tell all these athletes, you can be a part of it and then slowly but surely we’re figuring it out. I have an awesome co-partner Leanne Pissarro who is day in and day out helping with the nonprofit and, you know, making things happen. So we’re just figuring it out as we go. And then with the podcast, you know, that was me feeling like, well, my captions on Instagram seemed to really hit and resonate for people.

Victoria Garrick (06:53):

How can I make this a conversation? How can I invite other people to join the conversation? Um, so I kind of evolved the hashtag real post, which is where my Instagram started with these unfiltered on Photoshop posts, to the real pod, which was unfiltered conversation. And I think everything that I, I think while I came out of athlete mental health, I’ve really just gotten to this place of realness. And I, I am frustrated. It’s a bit of a bummer now that that’s become a buzzword and it seems a little like authenticity, you know, it’s like where I’m like, no, that’s what I genuinely feel like I have to live and breather. I can’t show up in this world. So it’s been cool to watch everything grow and continue to grow.

Katie Hankinson  (07:41):

There are a lot of examples out in the world. I think that’s a bit of bandwagon in going on. Everyone’s certainly all about keeping it real, but like when you scratch once a piece below the surface, you may be uncovered that there’s the kind of same level of artifice around that conversation to

Victoria Garrick (07:59):

Right. And I’m glad that more people are feeling empowered to be real and to be vulnerable. Um, you know, it is just tough because it’s not really realness if you’re doing it because it’s the hot topic, you know, I think when you’re being real, it’s when you genuinely are like almost nervous to share something because it is so true to you. And I have just found that that is how I live my life now. And I, I mean, to, to an extreme, I’m like checking out a trader Joe’s and they’re like, hi, how are you? And I’m like, oh, I’m not good. I was looking at me like, just say, find me.

Katie Hankinson  (08:37):

I just wanted to check out, check your reg through the

Victoria Garrick (08:42):

Right. I can’t, I don’t even like to have a filter in those conversations, you know, but I just think, I do think in general, um, it is great to see this become a big, big movement and more people are inspired to be real and be honest.

Katie Hankinson  (08:57):

I, I watched that TEDx tool from 2017. And at the end, you kind of ended it with this sort of feeling or this wish that in years to come, the conversation would get louder and that you will be able to get up on stage and ask a question about mental health and no one would be afraid to put up their hand and chime in. And so for years on from that, when you do look at this and you look at kind of the conversation, you look at things like Simone Biles at the Olympics and the conversation that came off the back of her deciding really intentionally and working with her team and sharing exactly what the thought process was about not competing on that particular day. Um, you know, what, where do you think the conversation is like, and how are you playing a part in that

Victoria Garrick (09:49):

It has drastically changed. It has been incredible. The, the rate at which the conversations changed specifically to athletes. When I talked about in my Ted talk, Googling depression and not being able to find anything related to athletes, that was the truth I couldn’t, but you Google that. Now you see Michael Phelps, you see Kevin Love, you see Allie Raisman, Simone Biles, you see DeMar, DeRozen you see? I mean, the list goes on and on, in the most magical way, because now we have the best athletes, high performers in the world saying I am on medicine or I’ve been depressed, or I have anxiety. And I mean, the rate at which that’s changed is incredible. Um, you asked then at the end, uh, you said, you know, what’s my role in it? Well, it’s funny because, you know, um, my parents will be like, wow, Vic, you re like, cause when I first was giving my Ted talk, my parents were even like, are you sure you want to give this talk like a future in Polaris? You know, I, I love them and they are so supportive, but they definitely were like, are you sure? And now my dad’s like, you were talking about this before anyone, but that said, Simone Biles doesn’t know who I am. They don’t know who I am. So do I think I played a role in that? No, but I think it’s amazing that everywhere around the world, all these dominoes were falling at similar times.

Katie Hankinson  (11:17):

There’s, there’s something in the woods. One of the things from a brand stretch deep perspective that I am constantly fascinated by is zeitgeists and how conversations sometimes do happen simultaneously or organically. And it’s impossible to trace back where they all came from, but it’s a good thing in this case that it has been happening. So when you think about the hidden opponent, you know, you, I love the way you said that, you know, you didn’t set out to be, I’m the super buttoned up CEO and founder, and I’ve exactly how to build on profit. You know, you’re building while flying. Like how has that played out? What does look like day to day? Like as you, as you continue to build out the organization. And by that, I mean, you’ve got, uh, uh, a kind of overarching mission of raising awareness for student athlete, mental health, um, empowering athletes around the world to kind of face those challenges together. But I also think there’s this sort of secondary layer within those conversations where student athlete or athlete as role model. There’s a lot of other people looking to those people and kind of seeing them model things, which even if they’re not athletes themselves, they could learn from. So when you think about the hidden of permanent, is it something that is very much serving that student athlete community or is there almost that concentric circle, um, that I spoke to you just then,

Victoria Garrick (12:42):

You know, that’s something that we, as a nonprofit have been trying to figure out ourselves recently when it started, I had every intention, not this was for student athletes. You know, obviously everyone can experience mental health issues and everyone is valid being a part of that community. I had felt like that community was being overlooked because of a particular stigma in sports, which is undeniable. And I also felt like professional athletes are in a whole other stage. And it’s the student athlete who are the majority of athletes in the world that don’t go play pro that don’t make millions of dollars, but that’s still play at a very competitive level. And so yes, with, you know, the founding ideas in mind is very student athlete based, obviously now, as it grows. And as people are interested in, want to be involved, of course, we’re not going to say, well, you weren’t a student athlete, so you can’t be a part of this.

Victoria Garrick (13:35):

Um, we want everyone to be a part of it, but I think at the heart and our heart of hearts, we do have that special love for the student athlete. And I think it’s important that there is a community for someone to feel like that totally gets them. And that, that resonates with their experience as an athlete. Um, and I think, you know, there are tons of mental health non-profits and communities and groups. And I think that’s, the beauty is you can find one that’s for mothers who can’t conceive or people who are getting sober, you know, there’s different communities for everyone. And I think it does mean a lot to me that this community is for student athletes of all ages sports and divisions.

Katie Hankinson  (14:17):

Talk a bit about, um, your skill set. I think, you know, you’ve come from being an athlete. You will, you’re moving into being that founder and CEO. What are some of those things that you’ve carried through from one field into the other that are really standing in a good stead as you, as you continue to build out, uh, about the hidden opponent and all of that world around it?

Victoria Garrick (14:41):

Well, social media is definitely its own animal and there’s really not an easy rule book or a guide book. I do think the creative in me, the, the journalist in me who did love writing, um, and who loves being on camera. I think all those things do play a role in my eye for content and for, okay. I have a message. How do I deliver it in a way that is consumable and is going to grab someone’s attention? Who’s scrolling tech talk and has limited attention span for the opening line of a video. And it has been interesting and it’s for me to navigate as well. And sometimes I struggle with it because I feel like I imagine, like I have these hats and I’m like, if I put on my business hat, like, I think you could give me a random off the street and I would know how to build them a brand.

Victoria Garrick (15:34):

Like, I just feel like I have that in me and I get it and I’ve put the time in to consume social and look at it in a certain way and, um, understand it. However, um, quick pin in that when everything was happening for me, it wasn’t calculated. Um, it was like, I, like I said, I didn’t think I would be doing this with my life. I kind of realized once I experienced my mental health issues, this is what I’m passionate about and people care about it. And I slowly kept leaning into that, which I think has been so beneficial for me is that everything I do is rooted in who I am. Um, I think I wouldn’t be able to do this if I woke up one day and was like, how do I get lots of followers? Like, I don’t think I could have done it that way.

Victoria Garrick (16:18):

So I think there is like a connectedness to what you’re doing. And whenever people come to me and they’re like, how do I build a brand? And, and what do I really want to say to the world? And like, I’m just like, you’re thinking too much, like stop trying to brand it and think of your color scheme and your title and what your audience is going to be. Like, I am a big anti niche person. Like when people are like finding a champion, I’m like, no, just do a little bit of everything that makes you happy, be yourself a hundred percent. And like, hope people gravitate towards that. So I think that’s been helpful, but back to the hat thing, it is weird for me to put on my business hat and break down a caption and think about how it’s going to read and what picture is going to be optimal, but then put on my, like, take off the hat and be like, Victoria, this is a caption about your suicidal thoughts.

Victoria Garrick (17:01):

Like, like, come on. Like, you know, it’s like that literally. And I know it’s funny, like that’s the back and forth I have with myself all the time. It’s like, whoa, like, yes, I, I, this is the career I’m in. And like my stats matter to brands and that’s why I make a living. And, you know, I want to grow an audience cause I want to touch more people, but I’m also talking about something that I don’t need the validation and that is close to my heart and not should be real. And so I think that’s a unique tug of war I have in my space. Um, when most of my content is around mental health, it’s

Katie Hankinson  (17:35):

Well, a little bit of what’s coming through as well as, and we talked about this at the beginning. In many ways, you, you built, um, you, you, you built, uh, a platform around your experience, your personal life experience, and you have a personal brand that you’re building that is relatable and that, you know, it has a growing audience. And to your point, as someone who is a person of influence, like that piece is very important. We’ve also built, um, the hidden opponent, which is separate to your personal brand and you need to recruit for that. And so talk about how you think about those things differently. So as you’re building the hidden opponent, reaching out to those athletes, growing that movement, what, what, how does that come to be? What are you doing in that vein that, that differs from how you’re building the personal brand side of things?

Victoria Garrick (18:28):

Well, I can’t believe you just asked that because that is like nail on the head, the quote, unquote problem that me and my, um, non-profit, we are all trying to figure out right now, because I think in the beginning I was very like, this is a place for other athletes to be elevated. Like I have my own brand, I’m the face of that, that’s mine. So, you know, but then this, I want to be about other people, but like with more and more people we talk about, it’s like, and this is, you know, I think something that I’ve been learning along the way is like, you do have to put your business hat on for many things in life, even with a charity, you know, my charity did evolve out of my, my experience with depression and anxiety. And when people want to believe in a charity and be a part of it, they appreciate that story. And so with people we’ve been talking to more and more, I’m hearing like Victoria, how can you blend the two better? How can you put your face more on the hidden opponent? Which to me felt weird because I didn’t think that was the move at first, but now slowly we are trying to make them a bit more cohesive. Um, which also brings it’s it’s, um, tough elements as well, because something I struggle with all the time is like, I don’t necessarily love living in and rehashing the mental health issues I dealt with in

Katie Hankinson  (19:57):

Sort of thing, defined by the 2017 story versus really defining what the, what the bigger conversation looks like.

Victoria Garrick (20:06):

Right. Right. And like, I think that’s something I talk with my co-partner Leanne about all the time at the hidden opponent is like I, and she feels she has a full-time job. We all full-time jobs. We volunteer and we just give time to, to build this organization. But like, you know, I do not think I will be my best self if every day I’m talking about student athlete, mental health and what I experienced there, it’s heavy. I think that’s what people forget too, is like, as much as it’s my story. And a lot of people know it, it’s also something that the average person struggles to admit to their therapist in the privacy of a confidential space. And like, that’s what I talk about all the, and so I find that, especially with brand-building now, I really have been meticulous about wanting to create a community who I feel like will be there for me and the message regardless of what it is.

Victoria Garrick (21:06):

Um, yes. Well, I talk about athlete, mental health, of course, body image, intuitive eating, um, decorating my apartment. I just got engaged. You know, I want people who are there for everything that’s coming and not just this one pillar. And then that’s been hard because my, uh, my, my original audience came for one thing and I, part of me can’t even be that anymore. I’m not a college athlete anymore. So you have to, I have to stop milking this, this cow that like, I’ve, I’ve exhausted. And so when I went on to tic talk, I was like, well, what’s really on my heart right now. And I was like body image and intuitive eating. And so I built that up and now I have a mix of people who are like, you played volleyball. What’s the hidden opponent, which to me is hilarious because at one point that was like, all I did.

Victoria Garrick (21:55):

So there’s so many things I feel like I am trying to, I’m trying to water so many plants. I am trying to also make sure they all look good together and they blend, um, you know, so those are all the things I feel like I’m currently navigating as an entrepreneur, as a founder, um, as a business woman, uh, who has their own company as well. So, and you know, these are the real things that I think people will deal with and go through as an entrepreneur, regardless of if their work is a clothing company or if their work is advocating, trying to provide accessible resources.

Katie Hankinson  (22:37):

Yeah. I think, well, the way it sort of comes into my head, it’s, we’re talking about it is what you’re building with. The hidden opponent is built around community. And that you, uh, as, as someone who is kind of, you’re acting as a magnet or a, uh, sort of, uh, uh, a point of reference for people to gather around, but the community is the thing that you’re building and the perfect professional brand that’s built around your story and your evolving experience and your practice of, but I also think there’s some principles that probably live across both that are around like how to go forth in the world, whether you’re a student athlete, whether you’re, you know, coming from some of these other walks that you intuitively lead as part of your just way you live, but maybe could be codified into how the community kind of organizes around it. So

Victoria Garrick (23:32):

Definitely, and across all the things that I’m involved in, I do think realness is at the forefront. And that is something that is so important. Like even with the hidden opponent, we have all of these athletes who come and they share these beautiful stories on our website. They write these blog posts and they, for them, that’s like maybe the realest that they’ve gotten is in this article that they’re going to share on our platform. And that’s very special to us that, that, that can bring that out in someone. And not that they can feel like they do have a place to share their truth because I, yes, I created this one for me. I can pull out my phone and that’s, what’s almost expected as Victoria is going to be real with many other people in their everyday lives. It can be very difficult to carve out that space. I remember how hard it was for me to give the Ted talk and really break, shatter the glass of this picture. Perfect life, my friends and family thought I was living because I was upkeeping it. So I think that’s also like one of the most rewarding things is that to be in this community, like we only want you at your realist. Right.

Katie Hankinson  (24:45):

All right. That’s I like that phrase. Yeah. You’ll get providing a space for people to express themselves besides the safe space piece, but it’s also like a very, hopefully a very empowering group. Very, very cool. So what’s next, what’s the next step for you? Sounds like there’s, there’s obviously some work being done right now in terms of shaping the brand. What else? Yeah.

Victoria Garrick (25:08):

Yes. Well, it’s funny because I do feel like I am at a bit of a place of burnout shocker. I’m sure everyone’s listening. Like girl, we were listening to this just exhausted by everything you were saying. Yes. I am feeling burnt out and actually talking about Vayner. I had a call with Sid recently. Gary’s right. Hand loves said. And um, I said, you know, I’m feeling kind of burned out. I just, what are your thoughts? Any advice, you know, because obviously with Vayner media, it’s just quantity, quantity, content, content, content. And I love what Sid said. He was like, it’s not about making a YouTube video tomorrow. It’s about being in a place to make one in 20 years. And that really resonated with me. It’s very easy to get caught up in the short-term game game of followers and where your peers are at and what’s trending on TechTalk. And if we just keep just forcing ourselves, we’re going to be at a point where five years from now, I might even want to look at my phone. And so I loved what you said about like, it is a, it is overall a long-term game, and it’s not about the two followers tomorrow. It’s about being in a place for the two followers in 20 years. And that was really helpful for me to hear. And so I hope sharing that now can help anyone listening to

Katie Hankinson  (26:26):

It’s about the long game. Yeah. So, so true. Going through the motions, it becomes, it’s like a kind of more active form of procrastination, as opposed to like knowing why it is that we’re doing it and being, setting yourself in a, in a way that you’ll be learning and protecting you, your self and your enthusiasm for the years to come. Right. So we have a question that we ask all of our guests, which is really around the building while flying pilots checklist. And the idea is that, you know, just like a pilot, when you’re building while flying, it’s important to keep calm under pressure and to be able to make those spot decisions in the moment. So when you’re faced with a tough decision for your business, for your nonprofit or even a personal brand, what is your internal checklist or your process that helps you build well flying?

Victoria Garrick (27:20):

Oh gosh, I love this question. I’m obsessed. Um, um, I would say Tom, uh, I’d say a few things are coming to mind. First of all, at the time you had to get to give yourself time with decisions. I, and I make mistakes all the time on this. So this is by the way, guys, I’m not trying to preach. I’m just trying to say, this is what I’m working through and learning through time. You know, when you have to make an important decision ask, if you can have another week, um, don’t give yourself, don’t say, I’ll get back to you tomorrow. If they’re not saying, give us the answer tomorrow, give yourself time. I think you always need to sleep on it. I think that is so important. So don’t rush anything. Um, secondly, I’d say I really do value insights from my people. Um, so you want to make sure you do have that one or two people in your life who can always lend an ear and you value their opinion.

Victoria Garrick (28:16):

And I think that that’s so powerful. Um, whether those are people in your life that you trust or people who’ve done what you do and they’ve done it better, or they’ve been there and they can help you. I had a very important decision I had to make recently. And there’s a, someone I came across in the business. I didn’t even have her phone number. I don’t know her very well. I was like, I’m just going to send an email because if I could get her advice, it would be so helpful. She responds call me. And it was so helpful. I mean, this phone call with her changed everything. So time, I think, asking for advice from people who you trust or who have done it. Um, and then lastly, I think, you know, your gut does play a big role. You’ve got to listen to your gut and if something doesn’t feel right, try to withhold the judgment of what you should be doing, like screw the should, like you got to also tap into what feels right for you at the time.

Katie Hankinson  (29:08):

Fantastic. Three very, very valuable piece of advice. I feel like I need to take, take, take those pieces of advice. Most of the time thing is so, so real.

Victoria Garrick (29:18):

I know, I don’t know why I do it to myself. I’m like, I’ll get you an answer tomorrow. I’m like, why did I say that? Like, I can give them an answer next week.

Katie Hankinson  (29:25):

I’ve always been, I grew up with, I totally inherited this from my mother, the need to like, have the answer and just present it with complete confidence is excellent in many circumstances, but it’s also such a, like a, that you get end up in because you need to have the answer every time

Victoria Garrick (29:44):

There. One more thing on that. So I have been trying to figure out this problem recently where all my anxiety is coming from and my mentor, who’s a high-performance coach, Nicole Davis, Olympian, she’s iconic. She said, um, I bet you’d reach answers. If you try to observe what you’re feeling with openness, acceptance and curiosity, allow yourself to take a moment, meditate, feel what you’re feeling, notice it, and any judgment that comes up and just let that go. Eventually answers, reveal themselves. And I was like, that’s true.

Katie Hankinson  (30:17):

Love it. Well, what a wonderful thought to leave us with? Well, thank you so much for joining. It’s been so great chatting with you, Victoria. I’m excited to see what comes next, where we keeping an eye on both your personal brand side of things, but also the hidden opponent. And of course, take a look in the show notes and you can see the link to Victoria’s podcast too.

Victoria Garrick (30:39):

Thank you so much for having me

Katie Hankinson  (30:43):

Well, now that we’ve finished that thoroughly interesting interview, we’re getting ready to land, but before we do Mickey and I caught up on some of the themes and topics that stuck out to us,

Mickey Cloud (30:53):

Yes, we liken this to the post game show where we break down the key lessons we all can benefit from, including us here at the Sasha group here is the Sasha sidebar. Katie, what a fun conversation with Victoria,

Katie Hankinson  (31:12):

Uh, what, uh, like an achiever at such a young age, be like all star sports queen and then jumping straight into content.

Mickey Cloud (31:20):

Yeah. And I thought what it was was so, um, what I wanted to dig into was just the fact that she’s, you know, she clearly had this moment that launched for her personal brand. Um, the Ted talk that she referenced and kind of her, her being real about the struggles with mental health. Um, but you know, that’s now been four plus years and she’s talking about kind of the, the, she wants to kind of, she’s no longer a student athlete. She’s got other things that are happening in her life. And I think it just reinforced this idea that like in order to launch a personal brand, you might need to have a niche of content that you are going deep on, that you are constantly kind of talking about sharing about. So you kind of get that reputation of like, right. This is the, this is the, you know, Victoria is the real woman who talks about, you know, mental health and the struggles that you went through.

Mickey Cloud (32:11):

But in order to sustain it, you’ve got to show the other parts of who you are as a personality. I mean, we, we do consulting for a lot of athletes and things like that on at Sasha group. And, you know, we talk about like, you might be known for what you do on the field or on the track or, or whatever, but people are interested in you as the person. They want to know what else is going on in your life. And you’ve got the opportunity to share that now with content, with social and things like that. So I just, that she’s at like one of those moments where she feels like she wants to push beyond what she’s kind of was originally known for. And in my opinion, she’s got to do it in order to keep herself engaged.

Katie Hankinson  (32:49):

Agreed. She comes across as like a wonderful work in progress. Like she’s so generous sharing the fact she’s still on this journey. And I think she you’re right. It’s like a pivotal point where she doesn’t want to be defined by what she’s built with the hidden opponent, which is so specifically about the college athlete experience. Right. And she’s got all of these new areas around exploring mental health and vulnerability, and maybe this is about body positivity, body consciousness, um, and like stepping into some of those other areas. It doesn’t mean you’re leaving behind the other, it’s simply dimensionalizing yourself. And potentially there may be new ventures that you have inside those new areas. Totally.

Mickey Cloud (33:30):

Um, and it also speaks to this, this idea that like, if this is something you’re gonna be doing for 20 years, I think the notion of kind of what Sid the advice that he said from G Gary kind of day, right. That, you know, that resonated.

Katie Hankinson  (33:43):

Oh yeah. Don’t just, you don’t have to feel like you’re just having to do the volume content day in, day out and burn yourself out. This is about legacy and being able to like do something and continue to enjoy it over the term. Yeah. The other thing I loved, which was right at the end, when we went into the kind of building while flying checklists was, um, Victoria’s example about a decision she had to make. And the fact that she just reached out to someone who she didn’t really know very well, didn’t even have a phone number just because she knew that that person would give potentially good advice and it opened up a whole conversation. That was game-changing. And I love the bulls. I think so often we’re a bit shy of making those, those outreaches. And, you know, I think it’s a lesson to say, you know, people love being asked those things. It’s a fantastic way to connect and to get diversity of information or opinion. And, uh, obviously really paid off Victoria so

Mickey Cloud (34:45):

That, you know, all they can say is no, right? Like that’s the worst thing I can say is I don’t have time or not ignoring.

Katie Hankinson  (34:54):

Um, so that’s going to be my question. Well, not necessarily on the topic of like the kind of sports or mental health thing, but actually this last point of, is there someone that you have recently reached out to that maybe wasn’t, uh, you know, with a distant or cold outreach, um, that you got really good piece of Intel or advice from, thanks for joining us for building while flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.

Mickey Cloud (35:27):

If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times tune into the next episode. And if you’re so kind, please rate and review us, plus we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on building while flying, across brands, businesses, marketing, and more original

Katie Hankinson  (35:42):

Music by Fulton street music group.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

Mental Health Matters. You’re not alone.

Victoria Garrick is not only an accomplished collegiate athlete. She’s a speaker, TED Talk host, nonprofit founder, and mental health advocate who shares her story and message of support to millions. After struggling with her own depression and mental health in college, she gave her now famous TED Talk, “The Hidden Opponent,” in 2017, which explored mental health challenges for student athletes. Now her nonprofit The Hidden Opponent aims to raise awareness for mental health issues in teens and student athletes and provide support and resources.

Victoria joins Katie in our latest episode of Building While Flying to share more about her journey: from USC to the TED Talk stage to nonprofit founder. She’s open about her own struggles, not just with mental health, but with branding for her personal content versus nonprofit content, running a nonprofit, and dealing with burnout. She discusses the importance of a supportive community, vulnerability, listening to your gut, and growing the conversation around mental health for everyone—athletes and non-athletes alike.

Other in-flight topics:

  • The TED Talk that started it all
  • Real realness and vulnerability
  • The current conversation around mental health
  • Nonprofit branding vs. personal branding
  • Building community around shared experiences
  • Dealing with burnout
  • …and more!

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