Interviews with purpose-driven business leaders who have dedicated their work to helping others and are making a positive impact in the world.
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
I am Ricardo Zulueta, president and co-founder of Start Day One, a nonprofit foundation for mental health and suicide prevention, that is focused on taking a proactive role in helping people instead of reactively waiting for mental health issues or suicidal tendencies to arise. We raise funds to produce inspirational content, send inspirational speakers to different types of venues like schools, colleges, rehab centers, military bases, and other events, and provide more affordable life coaching services.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I own Fükitt Clothing which is an inspirational apparel brand. Every time you deal with something that is inspirational and motivational, it usually progresses into mental health, but we chose to take it one step further and included suicide prevention. I lost my brother to suicide and one of the most important things I learned from that experience was that whenever we get sad or depressed, it’s not actually our situation, it’s our perspective that makes us feel that way. Suicidal tendencies evolve from negative perspectives and everything in between is anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Start Day One’s mission is to inspire people to change their perspective from dreaming of one day to start living “Day One.” Day One means there’s a day two, day three, day four. Everyone gets really overwhelmed with how much they need to change, how much work to do, but actually, they just don’t know where to start. It’s that sense of purpose. People really need to understand that the purpose is where it all starts, and then the perspective comes into play. That’s why we really focus on perspective because that’s where all the problems stem from. And why is this important? Because I’m saving lives. I couldn’t save my brother’s but I can save other people by sharing what I’ve learned and it’s just so fulfilling.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
It’s hard to know exactly who, and how many, we’ve made an impact on. When you discuss suicide prevention, people assume you have to be suicidal to get involved, but they don’t understand that just like gaining weight, it’s a gradual evolution. When you’re really unhappy at work, when you don’t like what you do, guess where you’re potentially headed? People think you don’t need inspiration or to change their mindset unless you’re already suicidal and that’s what I’m trying to change. We’re changing people’s perspective on mental health, period. Everyone is so often reactive, but we need to be proactive because that’s how prevention works for anything such as diabetes or obesity. Prevention must be proactive. You don’t wait until you’re 500 pounds to go to the gym. All I’m doing is shifting your perspective, which is the goal of therapists or authors of self-improvement books. That’s the impact we’re trying to make.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
Obviously, my brother is a huge inspiration. My apparel brand has also had an influence since that’s actually where it all started. However, I’m mostly driven by the rise of mental health issues because doctors, organizations, and society are doing it all wrong, even though there’s more access to help for mental health issues and suicidal tendencies. I’ve found that all these inspirational motivational messages are completely useless unless you actually change people’s perspective and motivate them to make a decision. Nothing changes without that decision. Right now loneliness is high and because of lockdowns, suicide rates are going up. What if we can change that? Those are the things that inspire me to do this work because I have the knowledge that can potentially help people in pursuit of happiness and want everyone to know what I know.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
What we really want to do is scale our efforts – the big vision is to change people’s perspective on mental health. Just that alone will save people’s lives. Right now people have this perspective that once they have depression, they’re done. PTSD is almost like getting cancer nowadays. People don’t realize that depression is just an emotional response. The keyword is “response,” you’re responding to something. There’s an action that’s causing it. People don’t walk around saying, “I’ve been dealing with happiness for 16 years.” When you hear someone talking about mental health issues, you always hear about depression and anxiety. Those are just two emotions. How about every other emotion? Why don’t we talk about what’s causing those?
The biggest goal is to save people. The impact we want to make is around getting people to take a proactive approach to their mental health as a means to prevent suicide.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
What I’ve learned from talking to people is when we’re in a bad state of mind we tend to love excuses and we hate accountability. It’s never our fault, right? Here’s the problem: doctors, organizations, and our society are giving patients with mental health issues the excuse that the result is the cause. When they tell someone, “You have depression,” too often medication is prescribed without any kind of discussion on how you got here. We need to remedy the cause, not the result. Depression and anxiety are just the effects of bad perspectives, not the cause.
It’s really your perspective that creates the problem. We’re under the assumption that chemical imbalance is the cause, not the result. Chemical imbalance is the result of the stress response when your body creates cortisol as part of its fight or flight system. It’s responding to something. That’s a big challenge we’re facing because people assume there’s almost nothing you can do about depression aside from medicating a chemical imbalance. The common denominator with cancer patients who defeat cancer is the hope and decision to do something about it.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
Proactively changing people’s perspective is the most important thing we do. Whether it’s producing content or finding inspirational speakers, we’re working to proactively change people’s perspectives and we’re saving lives. You can never prevent anything by focusing on and reactively waiting for symptoms of the issues.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
This all stems from Fükitt Clothing’s mission to make the decision to live life without regret and accept challenges worth the risk. The idea of the Fükitt brand was to help persuade people to say “F**k it” a little bit more. Everyone is exposed to motivational and inspirational content, but they’re all meaningless unless you actually make a decision to do something and once you make a decision, everything tends to follow automatically. We never say the phrase, “F**k it.” unless we’ve already made a decision. We say this phrase as a confirmation that we’re going to commit and follow through on the decision we just made. We never back out. That mindset is important because it is what allows you to quit the job we hate, leave bad relationships, or just go on vacation. Once you decide, everything else follows automatically.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
The number one way would be to donate to our cause at StartDayOne.org. We’d love to connect with anyone who is willing to volunteer their time to join our cause, especially people who want to do inspirational events or speaking engagements. That’s one of the best ways for us to scale what we’re doing. Also sharing our content, because you never know who might need inspiration.
Orapin Marketing + Public Relations helps purpose-driven companies increase visibility and grow their influence so they can scale their impact. We believe those who are working to make a difference in the world deserve to be known, supported, sought-after, and celebrated. If you would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.