[00:00:00] When a shadow emerges in our lives, it’s good to interrogate and know, okay, there’s some really bad things about this. No one wants a diagnosis of bipolar one, but what are the, what’s the other side of it? What is the potential good that comes of it?
Welcome to The Mentor Files. I’m your host, Monica Royer, founder and CEO of Monica Andy. Join me as I chat with leaders across the fields of entrepreneurship, parenthood, health, and lifestyle. This season we’re digging deeper than ever before to learn the story behind the story. Think of the show as one part Audible MBA and one part certification to be the confident CEO of your own life.
Monica Royer: Here we go.
Our guest today is someone very near and dear to my heart. The Andy to my Monica, my brother, Andy Dunn. Even before co founding the e commerce menswear brand Bonobos, Andy has been a huge source of inspiration in my life. And that is more true than ever today, as he opens up publicly about his struggles with mental health.
Today, we speak about our shared family history and Andy’s journey with bipolar disorder, including how that both helped and hindered his entrepreneurial experience. I hope you take away a fresh, a fresh perspective from this conversation. But I could do that one more time, Adam.
Okay. Okay. Should I say three, two, one? Okay. Alright. Three, two, one. Our guest today is someone very near and dear to my heart. The Andy to my Monica. My brother, Andy Dunn. Even before co founding the e [00:01:00] commerce menswear brand Bonobos, Andy has been a huge source of inspiration in my life. And that is more true than ever as he opens up publicly about his mental health struggles.
Today, we speak about our shared family history and Andy’s journey with bipolar disorder, including how that both helped and hindered his entrepreneurial experience. I hope you take away a fresh perspective from this conversation.
Mentor files. I’m your host, Monica Royer. And today I am here with one of the most special guests to my heart, the Andy and Monica and Andy, my brother, Andy Dunn. Welcome Andy.
Andy Dunn: Hi, thanks for having me.
Monica Royer: This is not the first podcast that you and I have done together. I think Andy was, I think it’s the second. I have to go back and check, but I feel like you were the first guest on the first season that I ever did.
So it was important to me that you’re the first guest and the newest season that I did as well. Yeah. obviously there’s much people know about you from a business perspective and we can get into all of that, but I thought it would be fun as we started to talk a little bit about our childhood and to give people a bit of a peek behind the scenes because I think that, you know, Andy has been one of my biggest personal and professional advisors, but I think, you know, we were really close as kids.
And so yeah. Tell everybody a [00:02:00] little bit, anything you want to tell anybody about our childhood and sort of what shaped that friendship into adulthood.
Andy Dunn: Should we talk about the flying off the bus incident?
Monica Royer: Let’s do it.
Andy Dunn: Okay. So, I mean, I don’t know, maybe we could talk about what you remember. I remember being really excited because dad was coming to kindergarten class to give a talk about George Washington. And so I thought I would express that enthusiasm by not taking the steps down the bus, but simply flying Superman style from the top to the ground.
I can’t remember if you were behind me or in front of me, but there was some kind of a wound under my hairline. I remember dad getting yelled at for not noticing it when he came into the class, but somehow we got through that day.
Monica Royer: Yeah, we did. Actually, is now that you think about it, I feel like that was like one head injury. The other was the time that, was it a pickleball racket?
Andy Dunn: not get into all my head
Monica Royer: Okay. And yeah, we came home and yeah.
Andy Dunn: I was ahead of my time on pickleball [00:03:00] and on having no coordination.
Monica Royer: That’s right. Yeah, we, neither of us were very coordinated. So I feel like that’s fair.
Andy Dunn: We should recap that one quickly too, which was like, it was kind of like an inside ball coming at me. I got it back, but then the pickleball racket went straight into my forehead. I don’t even know if Bella knows this story, but kind of a Klingon like facial features
Monica Royer: head, which isn’t really small to begin with, um, was at least like three times its size by the time we were, we, we came home that evening for sure.
Andy Dunn: I was a size 10 hat by the end of the night.
Monica Royer: I think one of the things is I think back to our childhood is, you know, our parents were from two different cultures. And I think in retrospect, that shaped a lot of the relationship that we would have in the sense that we weren’t quite the same as anybody. We were What felt like at that time different.
And so I think, as I think about it for me, that was one of the things that you know, you, as I looked around, you were someone that I felt similar to. And so I think that built part of the relationship. But I [00:04:00] also think for the parents that are out there listening to think, Oh my gosh, how do you get your children to, to like each other, to be friends as adults.
I think mom and dad deserve a lot of the credit for that in the sense that we. We probably fought for sure when we were little, but as adults, we supported each other more than we were ever competitive.
Andy Dunn: Yeah, I think you get a lot of credit too, in addition to mom and dad. Because I feel like the older sibling often sets the tone on what the sibling dynamic is going to be. And I feel like you were seeing the long game. I wasn’t aware of being biracial. Until the Windu incident. Should we talk about that?
Yeah, so what was that? I was probably a freshman or sophomore in high school. And this kid, who will remain nameless, but let’s call him Ed for the record. Hi Ed, I hope you’re out there. Um, who was a friend.
Monica Royer: Yeah. I wonder if Ed even remembers.
Andy Dunn: Yeah, Ed, if you’re listening, let’s just refresh your memory. So, Ed, you invented this nickname Windu, which stood for white Hindu.
Which in retrospect is kind of funny, if you think about it. But [00:05:00] it just like took off like wildflower. Uh, wildflower is a good nickname to us. And I came home to our very empathetic parents and I described it and they both just burst out
Monica Royer: I remember,
Andy Dunn: Yeah, which only like deepened my self pity. And then maybe you can like pick it up
Monica Royer: yeah, I think I always felt protective and maybe that’s just my personality. I’ve realized that, but having a younger brother, I remember, and I don’t think I realized we were biracial either for a very long time. I just, I don’t think it was probably like fifth or sixth grade. I think until it. I, I realized it myself, but I remember it striking a chord at that point and anything that called out that differentiation, like really upset me.
And so when I heard that, I thought, well, I can’t let this happen until I remember calling somebody else and talking to the person that did it to say, Hey, this can never happen again. You know, I was a cool junior at that point, so yeah, I felt like I could just go to this freshman and talk about it, but that would set the tone for a lot of things to come.
Andy Dunn: Yeah, you pretty much shut [00:06:00] that down.
Monica Royer: I did shut that down. And I think another thing that, for, in my mind, brought us closer together was, we were really fortunate to spend time as adults together. Like, as we finish college and actually get to spend time together on our own. And I think that also really helped to solidify our relationship.
Andy Dunn: Yeah, to all those siblings out there looking to get closer, just name a company after yourself and your sibling and it
Monica Royer: of keeps it, keeps it tight. It keeps it real, for sure. Andy, one of the things that I think back to, and let’s talk for just a minute now about your entrepreneurial journey. I’m going to start about, I’m going to start this off from my perspective and then you can fill it in. As I remember, Andy was graduating from business school in 07, mom and dad were extremely excited.
You were going to have this great financial job. Remember you had multiple financial job offers. And then we came to your grad, I think in my mind it was your dinner, one of the dinners at your graduation. It could have been in and around there at any point. And you said, Hey, I’m not going to take any of those jobs.
I’m actually going to start selling men’s pants online. [00:07:00] And I remember thinking, I don’t know about this, but I remember mom and dad saying to me, you know, on the flight home, don’t quit your day job because we think that you might end up having to support your brother because he thinks people are going to buy pants online.
It just doesn’t make any sense to us. It
Andy Dunn: And I think you did support me. I remember some, like, ATM runs. Which was, which was nice, but Yeah, selling pants on the internet. I don’t know. That was a dubious idea, but we made it work.
Monica Royer: was a dubious idea and you did make it work.
We’ve been on many journeys as a family
Andy Dunn: Yes, we have.,
Monica Royer: part of them business, part of them general things that families go through. But we’ve been on another pretty big journey as a family that we haven’t, we’ve talked about many times together, but never publicly. Um, since the last time that Andy was on the podcast, he’s written a bestselling book called burn rate about his entrepreneurial journey as it coincided with mental illness.
Andy tell us a little bit about the journey that we were on.
Andy Dunn: Well, I think [00:08:00] one, one thing that was comforting as I got to the process of writing a book was realizing that if you have a mental health condition or some stripe of neurodiversity It makes you more likely to be an entrepreneur, so I felt better about that. And so my particular affliction challenge journey has been with a mood disorder called bipolar disorder.
And when I got to the data later, I guess it’s something like 2 3 percent of the general population deals with some form of mood disorder. For entrepreneurs, that’s like 11%, so it indexes 5 1. And if you go through and look at ADHD, depression, OCD, Substance use, other conditions like dyslexia, sadly, suicide, all these things over index in entrepreneurs.
And in fact, I have a friend, um, a Brazilian guy who’s been an entrepreneur and at some point when I wasn’t really able to yet talk about what the book was about, because it’s a pretty, um, heavy topic and one that I hadn’t disclosed to so many people, he said, what’s your book about? And so I [00:09:00] had to kind of test how to describe it without going all the way there, or at least when I wasn’t quite ready to.
And I said, it’s about entrepreneurship and mental illness. And he, without missing a beat, was like, aren’t those the same thing? Uh, and they are and they aren’t right. The entrepreneurial journey is a roller coaster. And in my case, probably amplified in terms of the highs and lows by an underlying mental health condition.
And so it was just amazing, you know, last year to have everyone’s support. Yours included mom and dad, my wife, Manuela, everyone around kind of said, Hey, it’s time to be open about this. There’s, um, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. And shame by definition is what, what is unspeakable. So the idea was, okay, let’s expunge this shame by showing, hey, here’s, here’s the real story of what was going on, which I think is a heck of a lot more interesting than just selling pants on the internet.
Monica Royer: It is. And as I think back to it, I think one of the things that strikes me so much about the book, because I got to live it, but then I got to read [00:10:00] it is that it was funny. I laughed out loud and I feel like there wasn’t it. It didn’t feel that funny as we were going through a lot of it. So the fact that you were able to make light of certain parts of it, I thought, and even laughing at myself was what was surprising.
But let’s let’s take us back a
Andy Dunn: Can I just talk about the comedic element of this? So who knows what’ll happen, but there is a amazing writer in Hollywood who has written a pilot. for the book or inspired by the book. There’s actually two interesting anecdotes about this. One is, and I don’t know if you know this, I talked to mom about like, hey, how do you feel about a TV show?
And she was like, look, first of all, we’re at a point where I’m going to support anything you want to do. But also, I don’t know if I can do it, which was a classic mom, um, you know, dual, dual thoughts at the same time, which I appreciated. I said, how come? She said, well, I lived through it. Then I lived through the book.
I’m not sure I can like see us all on screen for this and I was like, okay, that makes sense. And I went back to the writer and I said, Hey, why don’t you do it as a inspired by [00:11:00] rather than literally. And that will also give a couple of things would happen. One, the, the writer and if it got picked up, anyone working on it would have the creative freedom to figure out where the story could go.
That’s, I would say, like from having read the pilot way more interesting in a lot of ways and way more controversial. And then the second part, not being that annoying author who’s like, that’s not how it happened, or wait, that’s not something that Monica would have said, and feeling so protective of the actual narrative.
And what I’ve heard from folks in Hollywood as I’m getting to learn it is like the best thing an author can do for a movie or TV show is write the book and get out of the way. So hopefully this will give us a chance to lean into it more because it’s inspired by, that’s the first thing about it. The second thing about it is the writer.
Who herself has dealt with some stuff, you know, in the mental health world. I guess we all deal with things in the mental health world. But she’s had some, some really intense experiences, both personally and in her family. [00:12:00] She said, you know, we’ve gotta do this as a dark comedy. Because this shit is so hard that it’s, we’ve gotta treat it with some levity.
And I was, I mean, if you think the book is funny, like, I appreciate that. This pilot is hilarious, because if you step back, a lot of the things that, um, that are a part of the bipolar journey, messionic delusions, things you do and you’re out of your mind, like, it’s tragic, and it’s also kind of hilarious, as long as you get through it, right, as long as you come out on the other side, and I think the hardest thing about the process of accepting the diagnosis was just reading about the suicide rate, you know, 60 percent of people with bipolar 1 at some point attempt suicide, 21 percent end their own lives.
And I don’t think it’s, it’s normal to expect anyone between 18 and 25, which is typically when there’s a diagnosis, like, accept that as the stats. Like, you’re just too young. [00:13:00] So we’ve gotta do this work to take the amazing things that are happening in medication and treatments and therapy and psychiatry and move the conversation into the open because then we can catch it, we can talk about it.
And we can diminish so much suffering. Um, and it’s felt, in some ways it’s felt like Bonobos was just a gateway to doing this mental health advocacy. It feels like it was just a beautiful, um, difficult, but a beautiful opportunity to take our collective suffering and kind of put that out there on behalf of others.
And, you know, for anyone listening who is thinking about disclosing something in their journey or wondering what will happen if I put this out there, I can’t say. I don’t know, but what I can share is that for me, it was, there’s so much love and acceptance for this. People connect so much more to our vulnerability than they do to our strength.
Um, and it’s, it’s been a wonderful experience putting it out there.
Monica Royer: Absolutely. [00:14:00] And I think from my perspective, I think that a few things. One, um, as I read the book, I think at some point, and I don’t remember if this was when you were initially diagnosed when we were younger or this, the, the, as the time, as time built when we were still younger, I’d like to consider like we’re, we’re still fairly young, so, but we were much younger at the very beginning.
I think we, at some point, you and I had a conversation and we described what happened as like you being on like the other side of the. You know, the wardrobe almost like I, I don’t remember if we were reading the Narnia books at the time, but it was like, I was on one side and you were on the other. And I think, and I don’t think I’ve ever told you this before, but for me, the hardest part was always like, you were the person that I went to when something was wrong, the first person that I would call.
And so as this happened, it was like, you were there, but I couldn’t confer with you about what to do. And that was such a struggle for me as, Oh my gosh, here is like this person that I tell everything to is my sibling. And now, you know, You know, something’s not right with him and who do you [00:15:00] go and, and, and, and get that advice from.
And I think one of the big learnings and for people out there that are going through something like this, I think the idea that you can tell people what’s really happening, like you would with any other illness. And I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes that we made in retrospect or the things that we now know that we could have done better was like this idea that we didn’t share any of it because we didn’t even know how to talk about it.
So I think. Um, having that conversation started where it’s okay to talk about this stuff is such a big part of it because you feel very alone as you’re going through it because you, you’re, you’re afraid to share it.
Andy Dunn: Totally. And in a way, that’s a great plug and an advertisement for one of the ways that I got healthier. On the other side, which in addition to all the family love and support. And medication, which is so critical for me and sleep regimen. The other part of this for me in terms of staying healthy is seeing a psychiatrist, who’s also a therapist, at least twice a week.
And part of what I’ve learned from that is, at some point we probably all need [00:16:00] that scaffolding or support of someone who, uh, to put it kind of in a funny way, like who we pay to be our friend. My doctor jokes, he’s not my friend. But when we’re in crisis, or someone in our family’s in crisis, they can’t be that go to, right?
And that could include with a physical ailment. If you’ve got someone in your family, as we dealt with going through cancer, that person is not in a great position to be your support. You need to be there for them. And so that’s why I’m such an advocate for therapy, because it gives you someone who’s not codependent emotionally, who is a paid professional who’s there to hear about your, your fears.
And, um, so just such a, such a big fan. And… For anyone listening, I would encourage you to consider it not as a I’ve got this particular mental health condition that I need dealt with, but as like, I’m a human being and the Buddha was onto something, right? Life is suffering. Not all the time. I think it’s a bit of a grim view, but at some point we all [00:17:00] experience a mental health crisis, right?
That could be the mental health crisis of a loved one. That could be a personal physical health issue, financial stress, a move, a breakup, divorce. The loss of a loved one. We all go through these different life experiences. And at that point, we are having a mental health crisis. And at that point, we should know that there are, there are resources out there, including, um, mental health professionals.
Monica Royer: As one, as I think about the, I remember the, the first time that I sat in the, in the room and the doctor diagnosed you when we were 20 whatever the age we were when that happened. And I remember as any people would do like. Denying it or thinking, and I remember at the time, because I like, as I explained the, um, bipolar, I thought there’s, I’m much more up and down than you seem to be at that time.
It’s like in my early twenties. And I thought to me, it legitimately just didn’t make sense. Like the way she was describing, it didn’t make [00:18:00] sense to me. Right. But as I reflect on it now, with, with some of the journey behind us, I think I would want to take away your suffering if I could, and the suffering that we’ve all had over it.
But I don’t think you would be as special of a person. And so one of my takeaways is that whatever the, and I don’t always have the right way to say it, but whatever… The mental health affliction or some of what we suffer as humans I think you would not have created what you’ve done as you said There’s so much about the entrepreneurial journey that is tied to mental illness.
And I don’t think you would have been as Brave to do what you did to start bonobos or as brilliant as you’ve been and the other side of that brilliance There’s just been a price for you But outside of the suffering I would say that’s it It’s what’s made you special. And so that’s been a big learning for me.
And I think that as we look at the future with our kids or as we learn things, what I didn’t know is like the 21 year old [00:19:00] sitting in that room that heard that diagnosis was that it wouldn’t, it wasn’t, it wasn’t all bad. It was more the makeup of who you were. And I wish, you know, that I could have seen some of that at that time, because I think.
As a family, and a lot of that catharsis as you wrote the book and read the book, and I think we even were in denial, not about the, the, not about bipolar as you wrote the book, but about our ability to have done things differently and better. I think that was the hardest thing to face because as a family, you think that you’re doing the best.
And I think we always rallied around Andy, but as we looked back on it. We did a lot to tell ourselves that that wasn’t the case because it wasn’t something that we wanted to be true. And unlike a really definitive diagnosis of cancer, even as we sat there with the doctor to begin with, it was like, it could be, it couldn’t.
And if it doesn’t come back for X amount of time. And so I think as we look back on it, obviously there’s a million things we could have done the same and would have done different. But, [00:20:00] the, the acceptance of it, for me, is looking at like the bigger picture of all that’s happened.
Andy Dunn: Yeah, if it was, if it had been a mystery TV show, there were a lot of red herrings, right? And for, for those of you who won’t have a chance to go out and read the book, I had been on a really strong medication, um, acne medication that was thought to correlate with mental health issues. I had been using substances, mushrooms, ecstasy, things that we think can correlate.
And there’s some truth to that, according to my doctor, right? These different, um, drugs can interact, maybe amplify mental health conditions. They don’t mean that the mental health condition might not be there, but it was, it was, um, a potential thing to latch onto, right? And I was having a conversation with my doctor, who I refer to as Dr.
Z, because I had heard from one of my friends when I was writing the book that our mom was saying, well, oh, I didn’t know he was using all these drugs. Marijuana, maybe that could have been [00:21:00] it. And Dr. Z just said, like, she’s right. It could have been it for a lot of people. You think of marijuana as like a chill drug.
But for a lot of people, it actually can be a stimulant to like an elevated mood state. And then the, maybe the ultimate red herring was at the time of the diagnosis, the psychiatrist sharing, Hey, this is a differential diagnosis. We don’t, we don’t yet know until we can look back in retrospect. And I guess those words that dad would repeat back to me of like, if Andy is fine for the next five years, it might mean that this was a one off psychotic break.
It might mean that this was related to some of those, you know, chemical ingredients. And then the worst possible thing, at least for that narrative happened. Which is nothing happened for five years. In fact, nothing really happened for eight or nine years. So I think that led all of us, me included, to sort of cling to this life raft of an idea, which is that was a one off.
I think that was the hope, and I think it’s normal for that to be the hope. And then to your point of, hey, would we want to change the story if we could? Maybe at the time, [00:22:00] there would have been many moments where we would have changed it. I don’t know. And so I’ve got this saying that I heard somewhere. I stole it from someone, but I love, which is strengths have shadows.
And so when a shadow emerges in our lives, it’s good to interrogate and know, okay, there’s some really bad things about this. No one wants a diagnosis of bipolar one, but what are the, what’s the other side of it? What is the potential good that comes of it? And it was, it was Manuela who educated me about this.
This Chinese parable of the lost horse, which I now love. And basically in the story, I won’t bore you with it. Everything that’s good in the story turns out to be bad. Everything that’s bad in the story turns out to be good. And it just, like, keeps looping as an oral history. And the lesson of it is, like, be careful when there’s good news because there could be a bad side to it.
And be careful when there’s bad news to assume it’s just calamitous because there might be some, some good that comes of it. And so I guess that… The Chinese saying is Sai Weng Sher Ma, which is, refers to this, it’s a [00:23:00] story about a man who loses his best horse, Mr. Weng. And you say it when you hear good news or bad news.
So like, I could come home and be like, hey Monica, I won the lottery. And you would just be like, Sai Weng Sher Ma. Like, maybe that’s bad news. Or, I can’t believe this, I just got this diagnosis. And you would say, Sai Weng Sher Ma. Like, we don’t know yet. We don’t know yet if it’s bad or good. And I think it’s…
It’s so true. Both of these things are true.
Monica Royer: Sitting where you are today, and knowing the evolution that we’ve needed to make as a family, in order, I think, maybe taking it back even one step further, we didn’t accept things the first time that things happened, and there was many things that showed. They could that we that could have been bipolar or maybe it was okay as you described over the next 5 to 10 years.
Yeah. Certain things happen and you’ll have to read the book to understand exactly what those were. Um, but then really confirmed that and I don’t think there was any [00:24:00] denial from any of us at that second point. Do you feel like there’s advice that you would give families or parents that are out there?
And I talked to parents all the time where, you know, there’s mental health issues that can emerge at any place. Yeah. Are there things that now you would say to parents, hey, like, this is how to approach some of this, or this is the lens to think through some of this, as people that are listening might be going through something just like this?
Andy Dunn: Yeah, I just learned about this thing called the Stockdale Paradox. That I had heard from someone else years ago. It’s actually about being a leader. And I actually think it applies to just being a human. And it came from, at least the way I heard about it, was from Ken Chenault, who was one of the first Fortune 50 black CEOs.
He led American Express for maybe 20 years. First of all, like made American Express an amazing company and brand, and also going through maybe like the ultimate corporate crisis, which was 9 11 and losing. I can’t remember, you know, how many employees from AmEx perished in, [00:25:00] in 9 11. And some point coming out of that, he said, you know what, the job of a leader I can define in like two bullets, four words, create hope, define reality.
And the problem with hope and reality, the Stockdale paradox is that. They often diverge, right? Reality is often, whatever the word is, depressing, challenging, not something that feels like something we can be hopeful about. And so then how do we create hope? But without being, let’s say like in denial or delusional, hope with a counterbalance of reality and reality with the counterbalance of hope.
And I think that’s what makes these moments so hard when you’re like hit as a family with something that you never saw coming, that you didn’t expect. And how do you. Accept it or accept the possibilities of it and also feel hopeful. And I think it’s hard to expect anyone to be able to do that. But it, I think that’s the journey.
I think that’s the challenge of being human. I
Monica Royer: [00:26:00] How many years have we been on the journey now for?
Andy Dunn: mean, I don’t want to give your age, but I’ve been on the journey 44 years in terms of my age, but 24 years since, um, since the diagnosis. And so I guess that’s the same number for you. I
Monica Royer: What’s been the hardest year for you?
Andy Dunn: think the hardest year was 2016. It was, as you alluded to, it was when the psychosis, the mania that informed the original diagnosis came back. And, you know, the cliff notes are I spent a week in Bellevue Hospital after this, what’s called a manic episode. In mania, the, the DSM criteria are racing speech, elevated mood, uh, relentless optimism, uh, grandiosity or some messianic delusion.
Basically, you think you’re God. Which is part of what makes mania hard to talk about later because you’re like, I can’t believe people think that I think that. And it took a lot of work with, with Dr. [00:27:00] Z for him to explain, like, we actually all live with a God delusion of some kind because as infants, we are gods, right?
We cry, we get milk, we cry, we get comforted. If you survive infancy, you were for a period of time an omnipotent being. And then at some point in your early childhood, you learn that this doesn’t last forever. And it’s a horrible realization to learn that we die, that our parents are going to die, that we’re going to die.
And so we have this, like, unconscious or subconscious, unrealized wish that that’s not going to happen to us. And in fact, some people try to actually pursue, you know, pursue immortality. Some people have means. It’s still talked about. It’s what a lot of the religions are about, like eternal life. And then we have culture that helps us with this journey, right?
First, Disney kicks in, and it’s always about an oppressed child who’s dealing with something traumatic. And then as soon as we’re kind of done with Disney, there’s a handoff to Harry Potter, who’s, you know, another kid who turns out [00:28:00] to have superpowers. And then when we’re done with Harry Potter, that’s where DC Comics and Marvel kick in with superhero stories.
So we’re kind of incepted between the popular culture, religious lore, with this idea of being God or immortal or all powerful. I’m actually reminded of an Alec Baldwin movie called Malice where he’s a surgeon and someone says like, no, you have a God complex and he goes, I’m a whatever, I’m a cardiac surgeon.
I don’t have a God complex. I am God. And this is like funny, funny line. And so it was that 2016 episode where that came back where the delusion came back that it was crystal clear what we were dealing with. And you know, I don’t want to spoil the whole story, but ended up in the hospital for a week.
Finally came down from medication from the, from the mania and I was ready to deal with it. Right? I think we all were. I was 36, had a company with hundreds of employees, had raised a hundred million dollars, had [00:29:00] an amazing girlfriend. We, we had all, it was a quantum leap from where we were even as a society in 2000 to 2016.
And instead of being able to walk out, you know, and deal with it, I walked straight into handcuffs and was arrested and charged with felony and misdemeanor assault. And if that isn’t an awesome cliffhanger for the book, I don’t know what is. Um, but you know, that, that was then a really hard year and without going into every detail, you know, six months of catatonic depression that followed in and out of the legal system, wondering if I was going to lose my girlfriend, wondering if I was going to lose my job.
The only thing I wasn’t worried about losing was my family, right? And that’s where a family can be such an anchor. And then to get through all of those things and navigate them. And then like the Cubs won the World Series, you know, six months later and everything was amazing for the next year, you know, more or less.
There were some hiccups, but got married 10 year anniversary of the company, 300 million exit to [00:30:00] Walmart. Converted to Judaism. So got like some, some worldview grounding in literally, as you know, only like 20 people knew the real story of the previous year.
Monica Royer: Was it even that many? It was 20 people.
Andy Dunn: It was maybe 20 people. I thought about this once.
It was our family. It was the Bonobos executive team who had to know it was the Bonobos board who had to know, and maybe like a handful of close friends, like a small fraction of close friends, because it’s just really hard. To talk about how do you unpack that all you might even need to write a book to explain the whole thing And so in a way the book was a way to not even just with the public But for people in our lives who were close to to be able to explain it because it’s not such an easy thing to transmit You know even over a two hour lunch It’s just to kind of scratch the surface and I’ve learned that when the audible version of the book came out Which is like 13 hours.
So that’s that’s about how long you’d have to sit down To understand it and, um, [00:31:00] I guess it’s such a privilege to be able to explain something so difficult in your own words. On your own terms and with the support of, you know, family and friends close and a broader community. I would wish that on anyone who goes through something hard in their life to have a chance to metabolize it and then share it.
I feel actually so lucky to have been able to put this out.
Monica Royer: It was such a catharsis because when you say 20 people knew about it, I think it was our family and people that knew you. And for the people that knew me, almost nobody knew about it. Like I had told nobody. And so it was really interesting for. People to read the book and really understand, like shocked almost that, Hey, like you never said that or you never told, but it felt so wonderful to let go of that after all that time, because I realized part of what I was holding onto was a secret [00:32:00] that we just, and you, and you felt like you just had to survive, but nobody could really understand what it was that you were surviving.
They just thought it was life as normal. And the, the. The kind of funny thing is like, I’ve read a lot of the book to Bella, who’s now 12 going on 13. And like the big part that I had to skip was really your college years, to be honest. I think like the, yeah, there, there’s like a youth version out there, but there was so much about, about you that I think she learned from the book as well.
And it’s awesome to be able to have that openness about mental health for this next generation, which will hopefully approach things in a completely different way.
Andy Dunn: Right. Well, I’m glad to be able to fill in the details on the college years for Bella, who may or may not be in this room. And just to clarify for the group, Bella is my niece and Monica’s daughter.
Monica Royer: Yeah. And it’s, it’s really been fun because now Andy has a wonderful son. I have a wonderful daughter. They get to spend time together. To me, that feels like the next generation of Monica and Andy. And I think that’s been the gift [00:33:00] really. They’ve been the gift through all this that we survived enough and long enough to be able to have them, you know, we’re working for them at this point.
Andy Dunn: Yeah, maybe it’s time to buy BellaAndIzzo. com and just see what happens.
Monica Royer: I think that would be great. I’m excited for the next, the next iteration, Andy, and the next ten years and what’s to come, but grateful to have had you by my side this entire time.
Andy Dunn: Yeah, likewise. I, I truly mean I don’t think I would have made it. So it’s fun to sit here and say, we made it and we’re going to keep making it.
Monica Royer: Thank you. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Andy Dunn: Thank you.
I hope you enjoyed the episode. I wholeheartedly recommend Andy’s Memoir to everyone. You can find Burn Rate, Launching a Startup and Losing My Mind wherever books are sold. You can also find out more on our website, MonicaAndAndy. com. Thanks so much for tuning in. If you have a moment today, please subscribe to and share the mentor files with a friend.
Monica Royer: I’m your host, Monica Royer. See you next time. [00:34:00]
[00:00:00] When a shadow emerges in our lives, it’s good to interrogate and know, okay, there’s some really bad things about this. No one wants a diagnosis of bipolar one, but what are the, what’s the other side of it? What is the potential good that comes of it?