This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
I have a story to tell. I could say that it's the story of a man who has lived on both sides of the coin, but that wouldn't do it justice. Since I was a child, I have allowed my passion to drive my greatest successes. As I grew through my adult years, I also learned that at its worst moments, unfiltered passion can take you through the trenches and back. It's a story of transformation, acceptance, and growth. And it all began with the creation of my initial brainchild, Cryptologic.
As far back as I can remember, I have been a builder. My curiosity always led me to aspire for more, and invent ways to produce efficiency and convenience in otherwise tedious tasks. As the digital era accelerated and increasingly entered various facets of our lives, an idea was born; how do we create a market that goes beyond the limited accessibility of our brick and mortar economy? The answer followed in quick strides. In 1995, alongside my brother Andrew, I recruited every mental and physical resource into creating one of the first online applications in the world that allowed consumers and businesses to initiate financial transactions. At the time, the market was proliferated by a populace that feared financial cyber-security, so we had quite a hurdle to battle through. A system of efficiency needs more than accessibility to succeed, it needs reassurance. What began as a challenge blossomed into one of the most widely consumed resources available to the public, and along with it my success. But success can be a fickle mistress, leading you blindly to the edge of your very being. And I fell.
We live our daily lives driven by business, profit, and consumerism. For many, this comes with great mental fatigue, and long-term psychological stress. The inception of Cryptologic grew alongside partnerships with various online casinos, and I partook in the results. After exiting the company in 2003 and thinking, "I have made it", I didn't realize how far I had steered off my path. What was initially a successful venture, became a crutch in my daily life. The reality was that I had no idea who I was, where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to do. This sudden loss of purpose withered my senses, and drove me into a deep abyss. I had to change my course. As Martin Heidegger once said, "Transcendence constitutes self-hood". I managed to untie the metaphorical rope and go on a personal pilgrimage to discover what separated me from the man I had become.
After many pit-stops and conversations on the road, I finally found my answer at the world-renowned treatment facility, Passages in Malibu. Its excellence in dealing with mental health, trauma, and addiction counselling opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities. My experience left me rejuvenated, enlightened, and at peace with myself and the world in a way I had never imagined conceivable. Naturally, I advocated greatly on the world-class services they provided, but eventually I found myself thinking, 'What better way to share my experiences with the world than to reach out to others like me?' And what better way indeed than to pass on the very gift that liberated me from my shackles.
Drawing on my experiences of creating a business from the ground-up, I pushed all my efforts into putting together Helix Healthcare Group with one intention in mind, helping others find the tools they need to liberate themselves and move forward in their journey. A combination of neuropsychology, mind-body alignment, and individualized treatment plans allowed me to recreate the vision I took away from my experience in California.
We often overlook our mental health in favour of squeezing out yet another number on our spreadsheets, to slide the scales by just another inch. But we often mistake volume for success when we're teetering on the tip of our triumphs. Take from my story what you will. But let it serve as an example to take heed of your mental health. It's never too late to get exactly the kind of help you need. After all, great achievements come only from a mind that is hale and hearty.
Mark Rivkin is the co-founder of CryptoLogic Inc., which he started with his brother Andrew Rivkin in 1995