I had the chance to sit down with Kunal Gupta, founder and CEO of Polar, a trusted-web platform provider for global media publishers. He is a member of the Board of Directors at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada (CAMH) which is an organization with over 3,000 team members operating a hospital, providing mental health education and advocacy in Canada, and has one of the largest research teams in the world focused on understanding and solving mental health conditions.
Kunal’s passion or MindTech is unparalleled. He has met with and maintained relationships with over 150 founders and entrepreneurs who are actively building in the space and has access to some of the best minds in the world on the topic of mental health.
In this episode, we have a very frank and honest two-way conversation about mental health and our personal journeys. As the conversation unfolds, Kunal shares about his mental health journey, and how becoming mindful of his mental well-being made him a better entrepreneur, a better leader and a better CEO.
If you want to hear more from Kunal, check him out on his blog at www.findfocustoday.com
Some of the key takeaways from my conversation with Kunal Gupta:
1) We talk at the beginning about Kunal’s framework for thinking about the human condition. Humans by default like to ignore our suffering which invites the use of substances, addiction, etc. that we use to numb that pain. When we numb our pain, it’s akin to seeking ignorance. Ignorance feels good, but ignorance leads to more suffering. Then the cycle continues. In order to break that cycle, we introduce mindfulness, awareness, and meditation which can break the cycle.
2) Kunal explains how meditation has changed his identity as a leader and CEO. We talked about how Kunal handles things that happen in his business before and after he introduced meditation to his life. He gives this powerful example of how a client canceled their account. He discusses how he would have reacted before embracing the art of turning inward and meditation, then he explains how he handled the situation after meditation. He explains how his method of handling losing a client has changed from blowing people up in the office, to sending thank you notes to his team when he loses a client.
3) How we get more people to meditate and be aware
4) Kunal has developed a framework for discussing the MindTech landscape which he has outlined here: http://mindtech.institute/mentalhealth/
The framework helps us think about where entrepreneurs are solving within the spectrum of mental illness, to mental wellness and to mental performance. I believe this framework is key to understanding the problem sets, solutions, customers, payers, and strategy for solving problems with startups in this industry.
5) We wondered out loud, what technologies, or startups, or solutions should be built to support better mental health. It starts with where on the spectrum (see above) that you want to focus. Kunal explains this spectrum of mental illness, mental health and mental performance. You can read more about the way he see this spectrum here. We talk about how a point solution will not be developed for mental health, it will require an ecosystem of solutions attacking all parts of the spectrum mentioned above in order for us to see an improvement at a national or global scale in mental well-being.
6) We talked about passion versus profit driven problem solving. When we are passionate, we bring our best self to the table. The people in MindTech are driven by passion and purpose. These are big problems to solve. We need big resources. We need capital, human resources, talent, and enthusiasm. Yes, there will be plenty of profit to go around, but there will be many struggles along the way and passion to solve a problem that we have personally experienced is the secret sauce to building in the space right now.
7) Kunal talks about tech evolution in the MindTech space. He makes the comparison to the cell phone industry and how phones started as large clunky devices and over 40 years they evolved into power smart phones that fit in our pocket. There were three major evolutions in cell phone development. With MindTech, we are in that first stage of tech development with suitcase sized phones. The bridge to the next phase is data. Once we get the data, we can start to look at signals. The data may not be perfect, but having any data, is better than none. Data will accelerate us from “suitcase sized phones” to flip phones. Then we still must evolve to the “smart phone” generation of MindTech.
8) Learn more about Kunal:
a. Kunal’s blog on mindfulness, leadership and awareness: http://findfocus.today/
b. LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bykunal/