Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, for episode #198 with mood and stress expert, Erika Ferszt, who was a senior creative executive for over 20 years and for 10 of those years, led all of the advertising, media and digital efforts for Ray Ban. She must have made such an impact with her work that the Ray-Ban Erika’s were named after her!
✔︎ The signs and symptoms of work burnout that led Erika to leave a job she loved and create an app to help reduce workplace stress.
✔︎ How her health scare led her to pursue 2 years of Postgraduate studies in neuroscience.
✔︎ How someone without a science background can understand and teach neuroscience in a way that it's simple and easy to use.
✔︎ What she offers at Moodally.com for corporate executives.
✔︎ How a stress management program like her app can help improve self-efficacy, so we can better manage our daily stress.
In 2015 she suffered a burnout episode and was hospitalized for 10 days with stress-related vision loss, and through this experience, went back to school to study the relationship between stress, the brain and the mind and founded her company Moodally.com as a result.
If you’ve been following our podcast, you will see clearly why I have asked Erika to join us today, for season 7 of this podcast where we are focused on brain health and well-being. Welcome back. I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. My vision is to bring the experts to you, share their books, resources, and ideas to help you to implement their proven strategies, whether you are a teacher working in the classroom or in the corporate environment.
Today’s guest, Erika Ferszt, loved her job with Ray Ban. She will tell her story, explaining it was not like she was working for a terrible boss in a toxic work environment, but quite the opposite as she loved her work, but when her body reacted to the constant stress it was under, she was forced to make some changes, that led her to a whole new path in life.
Let’s meet Erika and hear how her burnout led her to create Moodally.com and a whole new life.
Welcome, Erika, thank you for meeting me on a Friday night (I think??). Are you in Italy now? (I know you said Europe).
There was so much to your story, when I saw it that resonated with me when I saw the path that you took after your health scare, but I have to start with a question that’s not so obvious (like tell me where this all started).
I’ve got to say that most people I know here in the US push themselves hard work wise. You know, the American Dream can be had, but there’s a price to pay, and I’m always watching those close to me, looking for a sign that the push is too much, and now we can measure if our body is recovered or not with these wearable devices that can tell us if we need to rest and slow down. Were there ANY signs or symptoms that you can think of, looking back, with that episode, that you were close to burn-out?
Q1: So, you land in hospital, with quite a scary situation. I’ve lost my eyesight before, but it was temporary, and in one eye only, and I found out later, after I freaked out because I couldn’t drive the kids to school, that it’s common (it was an ocular migraine and I Googled it by looking out of one eye while calling my eye doctor) but your vision loss lasted much longer and was serious (and when I Googled loss of myelin sheath around the optic nerve I almost wish I hadn’t. Can you share what the stress did to your optic nerve to cause the vision loss, did you Google it and notice what I could have been, and with everything that you learned is that what led you to pursue 2-years of Post Graduate studies in the Neuroscience after this experience?
Q2: I have just completed a one year Mindfulness Based Neurocoaching Certification program (that took me 2 years because I found it to be very difficult/intensive) it was with a neuroscience researcher, who I have been working with over the years to understand the science behind what’s going on in the brain, and it’s one of the reasons I host this podcast, to make neuroscience is simple and easy to use for all of us, whether we have a degree in neuroscience or not. How do you think we can bridge this content and make it easier for people to understand? I’m always looking for ways to simplify ideas. Do you have any thoughts so that a teacher, or someone without a science background could understand and teach others these complex ideas with confidence?
Q3: Let’s go to how you founded Moodally.com (your Mood ali) and go straight to WHY you created this company, with a focus on our moods? I’m one of those people that is happy fairly consistently, because I know how important my mood is for my results and how it’s our competitive advantage, but I have to work at it (daily). If I miss a day of my routine, it’s pretty obvious. What does Moodally offer and how do most people implement it into their daily routine?
3B: How is mood different from our attitude or mindset?
Q4: I heard you say that “what shapes our mood is our self-efficacy or our belief in our abilities to face what life throws at us.” On any given day, we can have work pressures, health pressure, kids (health and school pressure), and the Pandemic magnified this, making many people I know consider a career-change, since there was so much change in the workforce. Can mental strength built by your app (or other ways) help with this self-efficacy, so we can better face all of the challenges that are thrown our way daily?
Q5: I was talking with a good friend of mine from high school, and he was sharing how his life has been since the Pandemic, and he said “sometimes it would feel good, just to get a win, eh?” (he’s Canadian) and yesterday I had an usually stressful day, where it was not obvious I had done any mental training, and I wondered at that moment, what do constant dead ends do to our self-efficacy? You know, those days where nothing works out right (like for me yesterday) Does it de-motivate us, lowering our ambitions and prevent us from pushing ourselves forward? What’s the healthy balance of the push that keeps us reaching higher, without letting those down days push us towards burn-out or apathy?
Q6: What is your vision for Moodally.com and who do you typically work with?
Q7: Is there anything that’s important that we haven’t covered today?
Thank you very much Erika, for sharing your expertise with us, and giving us some tools that we can access to help push us forward in a healthy way.
If anyone wants to learn more about you, is the best place Moodally.com?