Mental Health for High Achievers: Anxiety, Ambition, Perfectionism, and Balancing Striving vs. Self-Acceptance

My Guest

This week, I was thrilled to be joined by Andy Johns. The bulk of Andy’s career has been spent in the start-up and technology ecosystems, with growth and product-oriented leadership roles at Facebook, Twitter, and Quora, among others. Following his time at these three companies, Andy became VP of Growth, VP of Product, and eventually President at Wealthfront, an automated investment platform that currently boasts $27 billion AUM across 470,000 accounts.

Outside of his various operating roles, Andy has also been an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Greylock Partners, an Advisor at Unusual Ventures, and an Investor and Advisor across various start-up and technology companies.

Recently, Andy underwent a significant pivot in his life and career, and now spends his time helping others heal from emotional pain, transform themselves, and discover their life purpose. He is the Founder of, an online collection of wisdom, information, stories, and research on mental health, personal transformation, and the pursuit of meaning and purpose. He is also the author of a very popular substack, where he writes about the mental health struggles often faced by high achievers like himself.

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Mental Health for High Achievers: Ambition, Anxiety, Perfectionism, and Balancing Striving vs. Self-Acceptance In The Trenches

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Questions Asked


  • Please share your story with us, and what led you to what you’re doing today
  • When you experienced burnout, how did you know that it evolved beyond day-to-day exhaustion and became something that warranted formal treatment?


  • In the past, you’ve said that “I used to believe that I was only lovable and valuable as a human being so long as I was achieving.” How did you come to this realization, and how did you “un-do” decades of conditioning that told you this?
  • When do we interpret ambition and and achievement-orientation as things that are helpful, and when do we recognize them as potentially harmful?


  • Sometimes anxiety is helpful and constructive, but at other times it can be unhelpful or counterproductive. At any given anxious moment, how does one recognize which type of anxiety they might be feeling?
  • What signs might people look for to determine if they’re experiencing a “normal” or “acceptable” level of anxiety, versus a level that would require more meaningful treatment?
  • What is the best way for somebody to go about the process of finding and selecting a therapist?


  • In the past you’ve said that “perfectionism is fear in disguise”. What does that mean to you, and why do you believe it to be true?
  • Is perfectionism a bad thing? Or is it yet another example of any given virtue also coming with an associated cost?


  • What are some of the more common struggles shared with you specifically by entrepreneurs and CEOs? To what extent are our struggles similar to those of other people, and to what extent are they different?
  • Is there anything that has been left unsaid? Anything that you want to share or communicate with our listeners that we haven’t covered today?

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Resources Discussed

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