My name is Matt. I’m 37 years of age and writing this is hard. Why? Because I’m opening myself up as a man, a proud man. However, I am about to be brave and tell you my story, because opening up has helped me, and I want other men to be able to open up and know it’s OK not to be OK.
Like all of us, I get worried. I worry about the ordinary things in life; money, health, family, success, appearance and my career.
For the past 10 years, I have been self-employed. I was the CEO and Owner of S3 Advertising. S3 Advertising is a 40+ person full-service advertising agency. We have won many awards for our work in the industry, not just locally but on the national stage.
Personally, I have won the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur of the Year, two years running. These awards are all fantastic, and I will always hold them dear to my heart. I loved my role, job, team and business since the very beginning when I launched from my attic in Barry.
When you create a business, you create a persona for it. But not just for the company, for yourself too. People don’t see you as the real you, they see you for your successes and failures. They criticise you without knowing you, and they also praise you for your achievements. But no one will ever really know what it takes to strive to build a business and keep doing so until they have done it for themselves.
It’s not a walk in the park, and no-one ever gets lucky in business. People may think you do, but trust me, there is no such thing as getting lucky. Setting up a company and creating your point of difference to win business isn’t luck. Its blood, sweat and tears, and even sacrifice.
Success comes with a price, sometimes the price is a relationship, a marriage, a family, a social life. For me, it was a combination of the above, plus my mental health.
It’s one thing getting to the top, it’s another staying there. Most people who know me will see the happy, decisive, ballsy businessman Matt. But beneath that smile and positive attitude, I have suffered from anxiety and stress-related issues, and I have ADHD.
There have been days when I would walk into the office and feel a sense of dread come over me and feel as if the motivation I had was just sapped out of me.
I would sit at my computer and part of me would be willing me on to do something amazing, reminding me of how much I had achieved, how far I had come from that attic in Barry, and who I was doing this for; my children, my wife and that I shouldn’t fail them.
New business and sales are my biggest passion and I am electric at it. But on these days I couldn’t face talking to anyone, never mind making a cold call.
I would sit at my desk staring out of the window, super miserable, feeling like a fraud and a failure, thinking to myself that it must’ve been a fluke to get this far. So many negative thoughts would fill my mind of how bad I was. I felt inadequate, I felt like I didn’t deserve to be there, let alone be the CEO.
Imagine feeling inadequate in your own business. I felt under pressure, all I wanted to do was run away and hide. I could feel I was becoming irrational, and I felt like I was losing myself.
For me, talking to the people closest to me was a gradual process. It wasn’t a sit-down, and let’s have a conversation right now, type of talk. Why? Because I am terrible about talking about my feelings, or what’s going on inside. I started to talk to people close to me and let them in slowly by surely as the trust built.
Sometimes, the persona you build in business can take over your life, I was a lion, and I thought by opening up, I’d be more like a pussy cat. But, in fact, it’s the total opposite. I proved to myself that by opening up and asking for help, I am in fact that lion, fierce and brave.
Feeling like a fraud and feeling inadequate are false feelings. By talking to people close to me, they reminded me, that there is no luck to being successful; it’s grit, it’s perseverance, it’s bravery, and in my case, it was the absolute determination to build an agency in Wales, from scratch.
Soon enough, I started to feel better, less irrational, and I found that planning for the future keeps my high functioning brain in a good place.
I have always struggled with the way I see my own appearance, whether that’s my hair, my skin, or body shape. It’s the society we live in, the people we see every day, the people who influence us. How we should have our hair, how we want our complexions to look, and what we should be wearing. It’s not just women who struggle with their appearances, it’s men too. And it’s a genuine feeling.
So MESOA For Men, for me, comes in two parts. The first is about solving problems about appearances and knowing what products are best for men of all hair and skin types.
The second is our MESOA For Men Community – a safe non-judgemental community where men can share their stories anonymously or publicly about anything they wish. We have some incredible stories already from some amazing men.
I want to breakdown the stigma around masculinity and male grooming. I want to normalise the conversation around mental health and asking for help about looking better and feeling better.
From mental health to healthcare, we are all in this together.
Thank you for reading my story,