How to stop men taking their own lives with Ben Akers

How are you out of 10?

These 6 words have saved lives.

And today you’re going to hear how.

Did you know that the biggest killer of boys and men from 9 – 50 is suicide?

That’s one man every 90 minutes in the UK.

Why is that?

In 2014 my friend Ben Aker’s life was turned upside down with the suicide of his childhood best friend Steve Yates.

After years of trying to come to terms with this tragedy, he decided to use his power to stop the next Steve. And today you’re going to hear Ben talk about how to stop men taking their own lives. Ben is the co-CEO and co-Founder of Talk Club, a talking and listening charity for men.

Ben is also a film maker, problem solver and mental health campaigner.

He began his career as an advertising copywriter and grew to a multi award winning Creative Director at some of the world’s most creative ad agencies in London and Sydney.

We talk about the creation of his changementary “Steve”.

We talk about how Talk Club was born and the major ingredients to its success.

Ben gives advice to anyone out there that’s listening that may be having a hard time.

And as a special treat, Ben then lets us in on his genius solution when it comes to funding his charity. “Not everyone has to be there with their hands out”.

This is a tough subject, but one that needs to be talked about, and today you’re going to learn some simple ways to help those people closest to you.

So grab that favourite beverage or throw on those running shoes, and here is Ben.

Please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

And if you would like to be reminded of future podcasts and other inspiring stories from TIE, join our newsletter here. http://bit.ly/TIENewsletter

Check out: Talk Club: TalkClub.org “Steve”

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEp5ck-DYzI
Full film: stevedocumentary.com TED talk: https://youtu.be/Y9FEQYp1imc
OurKidsOurLives: https://www.gofundme.com/f/ourkidsourlives
Instagram: @STEVEDOCUMENTARY
@Madewithltd @TalkClubUK @ourkidsourlives
Twitter: @SteveDoco + @benakers @Madewith_ @TalkClubUK @ourkidsourlives
Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-akers-39873729

00:00:02:05 – 00:00:27:03
Philippa White
Welcome to the show, where we unearth new ways of looking at ever evolving lights around the world. Seen from a number of different industries, cultures and backgrounds. But there’s one thing that unites everyone I speak to. They all want to do their part to make the world better in their own unique ways. It’s a uniting passion. Whether they’re from the commercial world, third sector or public sector from the Global North or the global south.

00:00:27:15 – 00:01:03:15
Philippa White
My name is Philippa White and welcome to TIE Unearthed. How are you? Out of ten, these six words have saved lives. And today you’re going to hear how. Hello and welcome to episode 66 of TIE Unearthed. Today I’m speaking with my friend Ben Akers about how to stop men taking their own lives. The statistics specifically in the UK are shocking.

00:01:04:07 – 00:01:29:13
Philippa White
The biggest killer of boys and men from 9 to 50 years old is suicide. That’s one man every 90 minutes. In 2014, Ben’s life was turned upside down with the suicide of his childhood best friend, Steve Yates. And after years of trying to come to terms with this tragedy, he decided to use his power to stop the next Steve.

00:01:30:16 – 00:01:58:07
Philippa White
Ben is the CEO and co-founder of Talk Club, a talking and listening charity for men. Ben is also a filmmaker, problem solver and mental health campaigner. He began his career as an advertising copywriter and grew to a multi award winning creative director at some of the world’s most creative ad agencies in London and Sydney. And we worked together at the London ad agency BBH.

00:01:59:07 – 00:02:29:17
Philippa White
Now, three years after Steve’s death, Ben created the change mentary. Steve That takes a positive look at male mental health and tries to help men help themselves. From there, Talk Club was formed, which currently has over 2500 male members and 65 global clubs. And our conversation today will bring all of this to life. So grab that favorite beverage or throw on those running shoes.

00:02:30:05 – 00:02:31:03
Philippa White
And here’s Ben.

00:02:32:15 – 00:02:35:08
Philippa White
How wonderful to have you with us today. Thank you so much for joining.

00:02:35:18 – 00:02:40:14
Ben Akers
It’s a it’s a pleasure. It’s it’s been a while since since I saw you last.

00:02:40:15 – 00:02:42:24
Philippa White
I know. In person. It’s been ages.

00:02:43:09 – 00:02:45:12
Ben Akers
Yeah, it’s been. It’s been it’s been a long, long time. Yeah.

00:02:45:24 – 00:02:48:04
Philippa White
2005. I mean, was it BBH?

00:02:48:21 – 00:02:57:18
Ben Akers
Yeah. So I left for I left the Sydney in 2008, so. And I haven’t seen you since then. So. Yes, it’s when you left. I, we have a call up in London.

00:02:58:01 – 00:03:21:10
Philippa White
So and of 2005, that’s a really long time ago. But of course I have been following the amazing stuff that you’re doing and I’m really looking forward to talking about it today because it’s life changing. It’s a movement. Yeah, it’s big stuff. So and I’m super, super proud. It’s just extraordinary. But before we get into all of that, I love doing this because I talk to so many different people from all over the place.

00:03:21:21 – 00:03:22:11
Philippa White
Where are you?

00:03:22:20 – 00:03:42:00
Ben Akers
So I’m in. I’m in high school. We’re still in in south west England. It’s cold, it’s dark. And I’m in a terraced house, an old working class terraced house, and I’m looking out into the street. We’ve sort of all the bins are out and it’s just dark before Paul is where I am.

00:03:42:09 – 00:04:11:16
Philippa White
Mean Yeah a little bit different to where I’m obviously I’m in Brazil recording this, so it’s quite hot. But I have to say the grass is always greener because we don’t really have seasons. So I miss the, the jumpers and the jackets and that’s in. Yeah, it’s nice. Just even how you’ve explained where you are. I think perhaps the listener can already tell that you’re probably more creatively inclined and maybe just to give people a bit of an idea as to who you are in your background.

00:04:11:16 – 00:04:22:23
Philippa White
Maybe tell us about life before the film, Steve, and before the incredible work you’re doing with Top Club and maybe just a little bit of your background that did involve Steve as well. So.

00:04:23:00 – 00:04:54:16
Ben Akers
My name’s Ben Akers. I am. I’m let’s specify as I describe myself as a problem solver. I grew up in South London. I was born in a place called Lewisham, which is not a particularly lovely part of the world. I went to an all boys school where there was only two of us, went on to do a of a of 170 boys went on to university, did are a union and sort of broke into the world of advertising and so became a creative, a copywriter first pick up in advertising and worked for some big aid agencies doing some work and some big, big clients.

00:04:54:16 – 00:05:12:06
Ben Akers
And so I’ve almost flexed my creative muscles you slack as you were allowed to do in those years and learned under some amazing, amazing people like John Hegarty and Steve Henry. And there do this there’s a sign of if you bought to London report a life but I actually got to this point where I could see where London was.

00:05:12:06 – 00:05:34:23
Ben Akers
I could see exactly what I was going to do in London. I could almost see where I was going to be in five years time. And I think, like I needed to be scared again. I think I jumped on a plane and I went to Australia and I joined the revolution at Droga5 in Australia. I was employee number eight and I left employee number 98 has a really good fondness, although you know, Vanilla Ice say sorry for your musical wrongs.

00:05:34:23 – 00:05:54:15
Ben Akers
I got sort of a world record for tweeting of Virgin Australia not as a challenge. People are challenged or challenged to work around us and stuff like that. I then joined WPP, a big sort of network agency. It was correct. Archer HQ What are didn’t enjoy that. I didn’t enjoy that. I was there for nine months and it wasn’t me.

00:05:54:15 – 00:06:16:09
Ben Akers
It was very, very political. Great people that were very political started getting sort of anxious. First time in my life I really had anxiety and wasn’t feeling great about who I was and what I was doing. I was getting acupuncture out of office. Acupuncture. This is how brilliant the strokes get out of office. Acupuncture to relieve the stress.

00:06:16:14 – 00:06:36:04
Ben Akers
I hate needles, but I was paying someone to stick me with needles for an extortionate amounts of money because I was being paid an extortion amount of money because and I was getting very stressed from it. I rang my mate and I was in the cab coming back to my apartment in London and he asked me, Penny, wouldn’t it make more sense to earn less money and be less stressed?

00:06:36:08 – 00:06:58:08
Ben Akers
And I was like, Yeah, you know, playing someone to stick needles. The next couple of days I resigned and I joined a small collective called The Republic of Everyone, and I just fell in love with problem solving again and behavior change. And we were working on projects that were good for the world and we were looking at sustainability and we were looking at sort of it’s like a Coke for Greenpeace.

00:06:58:08 – 00:07:13:12
Ben Akers
And we were we were doing stuff that mattered. And I think I sort of really developed my hustling skills in those times, but it didn’t have any budgets. But I’ve come from big world advertising where you can achieve anything as long as you throw money at it. And it was like, Well, if I don’t have any money, I could still achieve that.

00:07:13:12 – 00:07:38:16
Ben Akers
Good night, Mike. Cheeky South London demeanor got me through a lot of getting people to do stuff. It was better for the world in sustainability. It was fascinating because you you could actually see changing the world and as you moved up using your powers for good is the way that was all we were looking at it. Around that time I was we were planning we’d had our first child there, me, my wife, and then we were coming back and at the same time, my childhood best friend, Park was Steve Yates.

00:07:38:16 – 00:07:59:05
Ben Akers
We grew up together in South London and he’d been living in Canada for the same time. I’d been living in Australia and I was there for so I was there for six years. I think he was there for five. We’d arranged to sort of meet up. We were so I was moving to Manchester to work for a production company and then after right back, I’d been back two weeks and then I got this phone call that so flat from Steve’s cousin.

00:07:59:15 – 00:08:20:11
Ben Akers
Are you sitting down? I was like, Why are you running, mate? Why would I be sitting down? Okay, so triggered by that. Now I’m sitting in a coffee shop in a media city and she tells me that Steve’s taken his own life and I’m like you all. This is the last thing. I mean, we were born four days apart.

00:08:20:11 – 00:08:39:15
Ben Akers
We were brothers by another mother. We were inseparable from the age of 12, 13 to my twenties. He liked to drive fast. That’s how he. I thought he was going to die. That’s what I thought this phone call was. I didn’t think it was suicide. And so I’m back in the country. I haven’t seen people for some people for ten years.

00:08:39:15 – 00:08:53:21
Ben Akers
I’m at his funeral carrying his coffin, giving the eulogy. And I’m going, what is going on here? Let’s fast forward three years, me trying to work out what to do with this grave. Spent a lot of time in therapy trying to solve. Why didn’t I do this? Why did I do that? Why did a spot it? Why is it not helping?

00:08:53:21 – 00:09:26:12
Ben Akers
Why didn’t I why, why, why? Why, why? And what you’ll find with suicide is this. This there’s never an answer to why you can never solve that. So I was reading this article sitting in a hammock in France. I was reading this magazine, one of those sun ups that they’ve got in the UK here telling me the statistics of suicide, telling me at that point it was the biggest killer of men under 45, now biggest killer of men under 50, telling me that 76% of suicides of male tell me that a man dies currently in the UK at that point every 2 hours, but currently dies every 90 minutes in the UK by their own

00:09:26:13 – 00:09:26:21
Ben Akers
hand.

00:09:27:10 – 00:09:28:02
Philippa White
Oh my God.

00:09:28:05 – 00:09:45:18
Ben Akers
And I was so blown away by this and sort of like wanting to sort of throw up because I’d never been confronted by suicide before. This is Steve. Steve’s not a number. He’s a human. He’s a he’s a he was a father. He was the son. He was my age. It was a brother. It was my my friend.

00:09:45:22 – 00:10:00:18
Ben Akers
And then I rented the back of this magazine that men of men of my age were talking. There was a breakdown of what people do with their time and stuff. And men at my age watch sports documentaries. And I literally put down this magazine, turns my life and said, I’m going to make a documentary about Steve. She said, No, you’re not.

00:10:00:19 – 00:10:20:05
Ben Akers
She said, That’s because the impact he was going to make on she saw said, I don’t think you’ve dealt with the grief well enough. I don’t think you’re there yet. She she made me sort of ring my therapist. She might be with my mum, who’s a therapist as well. If I took this on, I wasn’t allowed to, so I had to up my level of commitment to my therapy, but I did.

00:10:20:06 – 00:10:34:20
Ben Akers
And what the idea was so in my head I didn’t know what was going to be. It might been like a little 15 minute film of sort of just making people aware of statistics. I think it was that was a little bit my head, a bit of a sort of this is a shock. Steve wasn’t a number. He was a person.

00:10:34:21 – 00:10:56:07
Ben Akers
And I still remember the day booking my my camera crew and I needed to I need to Steve’s dad just say yes, but I left it to the last second of the book, some on the Saturday. If you have a watch, Steve, and there’s, there’s a little trail of me sitting on the bench, Steve left a note, so I, so I had this note in my bag that I didn’t had read and I was going to read it for the first time because I could bring myself to read it.

00:10:56:07 – 00:10:59:01
Ben Akers
So I the first time I read that note is actually on that.

00:10:59:01 – 00:11:00:24
Philippa White
Based on that, I didn’t know that.

00:11:01:03 – 00:11:18:21
Ben Akers
Yeah. So so it’s not for dramatic effect. It’s just I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. And I was like, I’ll read it and then I’ll work out what to do with it. And I was like, Excuse my language, but fuck it, I’ve got to do it this way. So I rang Steve’s dad and they’re very private people and I said to him, Look, I want to make a film about Steve.

00:11:18:21 – 00:11:39:24
Ben Akers
I don’t know what it’s going to be, but I promise you it’ll help. People are probably, Oh, oh, sorry, I can’t do anything about Steve, but I promise I’ll, I’ll have the next day. And he goes, he goes night. If it’s you, we can do this. I trust you. I trust you. So we sent this Kickstarter out there, I think it was after ten kale, something like that, to sort of make a 15 minute film.

00:11:39:24 – 00:11:57:15
Ben Akers
I ended up raising about 35 and I took in about 50 hours of footage because every single time I started so putting this thing out, more people wanted to go, Well, if you heard about this or this is happening, it’s my journey to finding out about what’s going on. But it’s actually a celebration of all the great work this out there.

00:11:57:15 – 00:12:20:01
Ben Akers
And it was described by a very kind journalist as a change commentary. Documentaries are there to document the world and they normally hold a mirror up to the world and they go Last year and you go blow shit and you go, Well, now you go ring this number. If you think last year and the feedback over the past, I mean, we released in 2019 is now 2023.

00:12:20:01 – 00:12:38:13
Ben Akers
So you come out to four years in March, this March, the feedback from in those four years, some people have said it’s the only film that ever talked to them. It’s the only time that they feel that they can actually identify with how someone really feels about this type of thing or how this son this feels, or it’s been quite impactful to a lot of people’s lives.

00:12:38:13 – 00:12:45:20
Ben Akers
And I’ve got I have over 500 messages now from people telling me that it’s either saved or changed their lives for a piece of footage.

00:12:46:06 – 00:13:16:02
Philippa White
I sent you a message just the other day, even because I wanted to watch Steve before we had this conversation. I obviously watched your TED talk and so I watched the watch. Steve and hearing what you said about his dad who said, I trust you, go and do it. One, I’m going to get teary. And that the trust that he put into you to do that, it’s a beautiful piece of work and you can see God at the end when you see how they stop to think.

00:13:16:02 – 00:13:32:04
Philippa White
Actually, I think maybe it would help for us to talk to someone. And that film did that, not just for them. And that’s huge, but it did that for so many people. And yeah, it’s a very, very, very powerful piece of work.

00:13:32:08 – 00:13:48:22
Ben Akers
But thank you. I mean, it is interesting because when I started filming with Low Stage Steve’s mum, it could have been yesterday. It was about four years. Yeah. When, when we started filming. But anyone says Steve’s name and she couldn’t, she couldn’t even be in the room, she had to walk out. It was like he was still that raw for her.

00:13:48:22 – 00:13:49:08
Philippa White
Yeah.

00:13:49:15 – 00:14:04:08
Ben Akers
And now what we do is we’re now on the fourth year of the Steve Yates shield. So if you watched a film, the beginning of the end is just taking from like a football match. We have once a year and now we celebrate celebrating. Now we know we remember the good times that we saw, but we can’t go back.

00:14:04:08 – 00:14:19:12
Ben Akers
We have to move forward. But we celebrate. But in a prescreen teeing off at the first ever Steve Air show, I need people to know what I’ve been doing for the past 18 months. What came out of that was people come out to me, What now? Because I’ve opened them up and I need to sort of give them something else.

00:14:19:12 – 00:14:35:09
Ben Akers
I was talking to Neal, one of my oldest friends, and he was one of the producers on the film as well. And we said, Look, I think what we need to do is we need to try and create something that is positive. There is talking groups out there. There is other mental mental health charities for everyone just focuses on the negative.

00:14:35:09 – 00:14:58:05
Ben Akers
Everyone focuses on, I call it trials, keeping people alive. And something needs to be done about prevention, proper prevention. And there’s a bit in the film where an amazing man called Danny Sculthorpe, who’s Ex-England rugby league captain, at one point he was a hard heart man. And just the way that he looks at the world now, from being broken to game self back to being fixed.

00:14:58:05 – 00:15:18:18
Ben Akers
And he introduced me to this idea of mental fitness and just literally this light bulb went on in my head and I was like, that is how to talk to people that is have sorts of men. And as we start looking through and try and work out what this new talking prevention talking group that’s all about positivity. It was looking like one of the other founders, Blue, who’s in the film, was working with children, youth mentoring.

00:15:18:18 – 00:15:34:16
Ben Akers
And he said, Well, I use this thing with youth mental. I get them to ask them how they are. And I was like, Boom, that’s it. It’s a confidence. See, you’ve got with advertising and being a creative director where you could spot an idea and you go, That’s the idea, and you know that that’s going to work. So that’s what took club is all based around.

00:15:34:16 – 00:15:57:14
Ben Akers
It’s the idea of mental state, it’s the idea of positivity, the idea of prevention and lucky we do with our physical fitness. But then also the way that you get men to talk is to ask them how they are outside. Because many kids, it’s really, really interesting the way it’s grown because people go especially here in the UK, we’ve got this relationship with Stoicism, pulling it all up and holding it in.

00:15:57:15 – 00:16:17:03
Ben Akers
And I think especially on the last five years, there’s been a major thing about mental health awareness. I think we’re aware of mental health, especially here in the UK, but we don’t know how to speak that foreign language called feelings men don’t. And so when you sort of say, talk to your friend, how how do I talk to my friend?

00:16:17:03 – 00:16:17:16
Ben Akers
You might as well say.

00:16:18:02 – 00:16:43:17
Philippa White
I love you. Let’s say no. I know and I love. That’s the other insight for me, which was so interesting. Just it’s so fascinating watching the film. I hope I’ll obviously put it in the blurb and I hope everybody does watch it because it’s well worth watching. But you can see in the film how Talk Club came to be because there are all these links in the chain that started to come together and it just you can see how and that’s the next step kind of thing.

00:16:43:17 – 00:17:01:08
Philippa White
But one of those links which I thought was such a truth, when women get together, you know, you get together and you have these conversations. And I can pretty much tell you literally everything about that person’s life. By the end of that coffee meeting. But when you ask your partner, your husband, boyfriend, whatever you say, so you end up with such and such.

00:17:01:08 – 00:17:22:07
Philippa White
So how is everyone I know? So sorry, but we’re talking about moving to blah blah blah. Like are they going there? Okay. But so I remember hearing that something I haven’t spoken to the wife in ages. Like how’s her dad? I think she’s really ill. What’s happened? No idea. And you’re like, you’ve been out for 4 hours. What did you talk about?

00:17:22:20 – 00:17:45:05
Ben Akers
Well, then it’s it’s actually called the round table in the film. And it’s it is easily my favorite section where I get my seven best friends together. We’ve lived out each other’s pockets for the last 20 years. You mean summoned new additions, but I mean all of them new days. There’s that exact moment when someone says that literally, when I do these screenings now doing a screening next week, Brentford Football Club, 50 screenings.

00:17:45:05 – 00:18:05:13
Ben Akers
The idea was when we finished a film, I thought, I actually take it out to places I go to men, comfortable spaces. I told me football clubs, I mean pubs are doing where men are and every single time that book comes up, it’s always a laugh because men just know. Exactly, I think I think that’s the whole point is this all we can talk for 4 hours about?

00:18:05:13 – 00:18:28:15
Ben Akers
Completely nothing. And and I saw the boys before Christmas and Claire had exactly said my wife had exactly. CENTCOM said, how are they? I’ll be honest, even though this is now my job. You do? Yeah. I try and get the numbers. We try and do the numbers and we’ve got a small club group among the boys, so I know where they are on a day to day basis, but it’s not in our vocabulary like something that we’re used to.

00:18:28:15 – 00:18:53:03
Ben Akers
I’d imagine if you are suffering, I imagine if you are in that world where you haven’t got someone who’s on your case going, know, what number are you? I mean, one of those boys rang me up one time and went, Benny, I’m a three. And that was the opening conversation. So suddenly I now know my job as his friend for the next next 20 minutes before we done that roundtable, before we trade so club I could spend half hour talking to him before he actually tells me what’s really going on.

00:18:53:04 – 00:19:08:03
Ben Akers
And my gang are quite close. We’re quite open. But imagine if you were in that, if you were in those worlds where you are and that builds and that builds and that builds. And that’s the reason why. I mean, my opening line of my TEDx talk is hope I don’t spoil it for anyone is that suicide is the biggest killer.

00:19:08:04 – 00:19:30:15
Ben Akers
A man under 45, now 50, statistically the single most likely to kill me is me. I’m working on a new film called The Key to Our Lives The Mental Health Kids, basically biggest killer of men under 50 is nine of 50 because suicides are rated at nine. But the fact that boys are killing themselves at nine because of this world, of not being able to open up and talk and because of where their parents are and where their parents would be.

00:19:30:15 – 00:19:47:24
Philippa White
When I had watched your TED talk and then obviously Steve and I asked my partner, I said, out of interest, how are you between one and ten? And he gave me a three and I thought, Oh my God, really? I did not know that. It is so powerful. You might think that, you know, you know somebody really well.

00:19:47:24 – 00:20:06:11
Philippa White
You’re living with them all the time. You can see what’s going on, but suddenly you get a three and you think, Oh God, okay. And then it opens up the conversation. And I just think for people listening, I mean, obviously watch the film and watch the TED Talk. But very briefly, two questions. What advice do you have for people who are listening who might be having a hard time?

00:20:06:11 – 00:20:11:13
Philippa White
And what advice do you have for people who may know people who are having a hard time?

00:20:11:14 – 00:20:32:21
Ben Akers
What you’ve got, remember, for the first first thing is physical health and mental health, mental fitness, physical fitness. You can have a bad back and you can have it in a week. You’re going to have a good back again. You can rest yourself. You could have a coffee. You’re going to be better, right? If you carry on lifting all that stuff, you’re going to give you do self damage, keep comparing everything with your mental health to your physical health.

00:20:32:22 – 00:20:52:16
Ben Akers
That’s really, really important for for the what I’m going to say next. We’re so much in a broken fix it mentality. We think that we need to be fixed. And quite a lot of when it comes to our mental health, there is mechanical imbalances in the brain for certain things. There are pills to help you live. Quite a lot of the time, though, what it is is actually being overwhelmed by stuff.

00:20:52:16 – 00:21:10:11
Ben Akers
So what you need to do is actually give people space to talk and don’t be afraid of that talk. So like you did, how were you at ten? He says a three. It’s not about you, it’s about him. And suddenly it’s why. Why are you three? And then suddenly that’s the opening of that conversation. Oh, I’m a three because of that.

00:21:10:19 – 00:21:28:23
Ben Akers
Then it’s a case of, Well, okay, well, how long have you been a three? And then more importantly, how can we get you to 3.5? How can you get yourself to 3.5, 4 to 4, also 4.5 or to five? I think all my time throughout my twenties, I didn’t let myself get above a six. I didn’t let myself get below a six.

00:21:28:23 – 00:21:51:14
Ben Akers
I was always almost slightly numb inside that world where I wouldn’t let my career highs or the fact that I was filming in New York or whatever would like to excited, which means I didn’t get too low. Soon as you start opening this thing up, I’ve been down to $4, but I’d like to exist nine and a half and I’m at now I’m currently I’m 40 and I got home, I was adopted and I sat down with eight and a half chat to you.

00:21:51:15 – 00:22:11:05
Ben Akers
So the question of space, give people space to talk, don’t try and solve it for them. It’s their number. Don’t try and solve it for them. Just let them give them the space to talk. As you identified quite nicely earlier, women’s problem is not about when it comes to them. Mental health is not about being able to talk most of time, it’s about being heard and taken seriously and actually being heard and respected in this situation.

00:22:11:05 – 00:22:28:13
Ben Akers
When it comes to men, we don’t know how to talk. What’s fascinating, What’s So club is that in a talk up session you actually teaching men to talk. But more importantly, it’s easier for them to listen for a two hour session with eight men in a room. You’ll only talk for 15 minutes. Ten, 15 minutes. That time you listening?

00:22:28:14 – 00:22:32:22
Ben Akers
So being able to listen and not solve it is really, really important. That’s such.

00:22:32:22 – 00:22:33:15
Philippa White
Good advice.

00:22:33:17 – 00:22:52:10
Ben Akers
The other thing on site that is you got to remember, if you keep bringing about the physical health, you don’t get a six pack overnight, you have to work on it. And it’s the same as your pride. You’re not going to be mentally fit overnight. You’ve got to work at it. But also, how are you going to get yourself to a 3.5 to a 4 to 4.5 to a five now physical world?

00:22:52:10 – 00:23:16:21
Ben Akers
So say I could buy you two trainers. I could even even download the motivational music and put it on your iPad, your iPod. You’re not going to do that unless you get your cells out. I run those run those miles famous your mental fitness now obviously mental ill illness is something different if you are mentally unwell or you’re mentally ill and that is not in the space that club is at the moment, even though we are now moving into therapy.

00:23:17:01 – 00:23:35:03
Ben Akers
But we’re talking about prevention, the same as with physical health. If you’ve got a broken leg, then you see someone, you see an expert. But that’s the reason why you’ve got physios at gyms. So the reason why we’ve got a therapist, we’ve now got a therapy we talk club is because we’ve almost built this mild case, if you like, of men being able to open up.

00:23:35:03 – 00:23:35:22
Philippa White
Absolutely.

00:23:36:00 – 00:23:39:00
Ben Akers
If they do start getting on well, then we have got therapy for them.

00:23:39:05 – 00:24:01:20
Philippa White
Obviously, with the work that we do, we work with a whole load of different organizations around the world, a mix of social enterprise, social initiatives, charities, NGOs, etc.. Now, I know that Talk Club is a charity, but I am fascinated by your business model and I just wonder if you can quickly bring that to life. But then also as you bring that to life or explain what what is success?

00:24:01:20 – 00:24:02:15
Philippa White
What’s your vision?

00:24:02:18 – 00:24:25:00
Ben Akers
Oh, what what’s success for the club? Well, domination. Let’s be honest. I want a mentally fit world. That’s what I want. I want every every person to be mentally fit, both male and female kids, whatever age. We were just with men at the moment because 76% suicide. So my goal is like a gym. Every town, every place has got an outlet for mental fitness.

00:24:25:01 – 00:24:29:18
Ben Akers
Our business model call it a business model because that makes it sound like we planned it.

00:24:29:24 – 00:24:31:23
Philippa White
Oh, my God, it’s genius.

00:24:32:00 – 00:24:57:19
Ben Akers
Well, the way that we work is because the advertising ness of who we are and how to work with brands. I mean, human sustainability. That’s my job. I’m trying to keep people alive to be sustainable in human sustainability. Most charities work on the handout, get grants and the handout model. I didn’t want to do that. We decided that we wanted to sort of we wanted to partner with brands and create products where you can be purposeful with your purchases.

00:24:57:19 – 00:25:13:11
Ben Akers
So we create a bare culture, clear head and that nonalcoholic beer there is now Bristol Beer Factory’s biggest selling beer, even though he turned me down three times and we get 5% of the profits from that and it’s been going just over 18 months and it’s just gone from strength to strength. They can’t they can’t actually make it quick enough.

00:25:13:11 – 00:25:30:14
Ben Akers
It’s sold out everywhere and then so then from there I approached a coffee maker called Bogans and I said, I want to create that type of thing with you guys. I want to create a coffee with you guys and we get 10% of the club, ten coffee. And the idea was to take 10 minutes out and ask yourself how you were at ten or ask a friend, see you.

00:25:30:14 – 00:25:52:10
Ben Akers
So like so you’re using the product to create conversation, but you’re using the conversation to help fuel fuel the, the charity. And, and that’s the type of stuff that really interests me work collaborating with like minded people with doing good and everyone’s winning the coffee and the beer. I mean, they’re doing good. They’re helping obviously they’re helping the charity, but they’re selling a lot of beer, they’re making profit.

00:25:52:10 – 00:26:09:18
Ben Akers
They’re they’re keeping themselves sustainable and you can do that. Not everyone has to be there with their hands out. So we’re all helping each other. We were described quite nicely as an entrepreneurial charity, which I really like. I mean, we’re only tiny. We’re also like, there’s only four of us, but we’ve got over 3000 men in the community.

00:26:09:18 – 00:26:20:20
Ben Akers
We’ve got 70 clubs around the world and we’re not stopping. We haven’t even started literally to my head. I haven’t even got out second gear because I’ve got so many other ideas. I just need some space to do it.

00:26:20:20 – 00:26:38:20
Philippa White
I’m actually just as you’re talking, I mean, we talked the other day about, you know, I love what you’re doing, too. And let’s find a way to collaborate, a way that we could collaborate. I mean, if you were able to get to a club into developing countries, I could get time to help raise awareness of it and get things happening.

00:26:38:20 – 00:26:43:14
Philippa White
So I think just as a way to bring our initiatives together, that could be really interesting.

00:26:43:14 – 00:26:59:16
Ben Akers
So once so our coffee is made one of one of the grows of our coffees in Brazil and I want to get I talk club over with the farmers over there that we’re trying to make therapy accessible because here there’s a waiting list of therapy after the pandemic. You can’t get on it. We’re trying to make all of it accessible.

00:26:59:17 – 00:27:15:21
Ben Akers
Imagine if you couldn’t get someone to help you with your back, which is trying to get the conversation started. Because if you can get more people saying how you were ten and getting the idea of looking after themselves through mental fitness, then I’m already winning. I don’t I don’t need you to sit in a group and sit in a circle.

00:27:15:21 – 00:27:25:03
Ben Akers
I love I’d love it because you’ll you’ll be able to look after yourself better if one person takes this away and goes, like, I’m going to ask someone I care about how they are outside then of want today.

00:27:25:04 – 00:27:29:10
Philippa White
What happened? I asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners. As we wrap things.

00:27:29:10 – 00:27:46:10
Ben Akers
Up, I want everyone to ask someone they care about how they approach it, and I want them to listen. I don’t want them to solve it. They just listen. And when they finished, you say, thank you for sharing. But that’s the hardest part. The hardest part of Talk Club for me when I start doing it, because being a problem solver, I want to solve people’s problems.

00:27:46:10 – 00:28:03:00
Ben Akers
But actually sitting there and going, Thank you for sharing. So start the conversation with someone that wouldn’t normally talk. I would like people to do that, especially for your audiences. I’d say the back yourself. My wife has been amazing backer of me. She didn’t want me to make the film, but she accepted that I was going to do it.

00:28:03:00 – 00:28:21:05
Ben Akers
And somehow I’ve started from nothing of the charity where I’m salaried. I’m a CEO of a charity. I didn’t mean to start three years ago, four years ago, five years ago. I didn’t know that I’d be sitting here talking about this now. I didn’t know they’ll be talking about Liam Gallagher wearing one of my t shirts or Tyson Fury recording and calling Sweet Caroline for us.

00:28:21:05 – 00:28:23:10
Ben Akers
All the other stuff that I can’t tell you about yet, but.

00:28:24:13 – 00:28:26:04
Philippa White
Next season we’ll get you on again.

00:28:26:10 – 00:28:47:00
Ben Akers
Next season. People say that following your passion, I don’t even think it is that if you if you need to make something, I need you to make. Steve and I went with that feeling and I backed myself. And I was lucky enough to have people around me who who emotionally backed me. And, yes, it was financially uncomfortable. But the thing is that I’ve now got a purpose in what I’m doing.

00:28:47:00 – 00:28:57:03
Ben Akers
And I think that people say to me, Well, let’s talk club can to go. And I don’t know, but I know at the moment I’m using my creativity for good. So I would just say, back yourself.

00:28:57:09 – 00:28:59:21
Philippa White
If you could say something to Steve now, what would it be?

00:28:59:21 – 00:29:18:09
Ben Akers
Oh you bugger. So I’d say to him, you bugger it’s never that bad. It’s never that bad. You will come out of this just sort of just back yourself. You will come out of this because quite a lot of the time what we do is we think it’s the end of the world. And he would hate all this.

00:29:18:14 – 00:29:34:05
Ben Akers
He was such a shy man. It was really funny that when I did the poster, the posters made up of a thousand men that I hope to help making up stories face. And when stage mum saw it, she goes. She just laughed. She went, I’d hate that. I think with Steve, the only thing I could ever say to him was just sort of Relax, it’ll be okay.

00:29:34:05 – 00:29:51:00
Ben Akers
That’s the whole point with where we are is that so many men that I know that we’ve now lost through people raising money for us or telling me their stories, and even with a new feel, hearing about younger people, younger people taking their own lives, which is really, really hard. It’s almost like you need to be patient with you, with your mental health needs.

00:29:51:01 – 00:29:54:22
Ben Akers
You should give yourself a bit of time. Just just back yourself. You’re going to come out of this.

00:29:54:22 – 00:29:56:00
Philippa White
It will get better.

00:29:56:00 – 00:30:15:12
Ben Akers
It should all be talk about you talk about going in. Why to me, like you, your physical health comes in way. Sometimes you feel better, sometimes you feel worse. And if mental health will go in the way we were patient. We’re patient. We’re in a patient society now even more. And I think you just to give yourself time to sort of like look after yourself and give yourself time to sort go, it will be okay.

00:30:15:12 – 00:30:32:06
Ben Akers
I see that quite a lot, especially with the new film, with showing these young people who haven’t even begun their lives thinking that life is over. It’s really hard. It’s really hard and we’ve all got PTSD of what’s just happened over the past two years, two or three years. And I think that you just got to give yourself time.

00:30:32:10 – 00:30:49:08
Ben Akers
And I think that’s what the problem with blokes is that we think that we won’t recover from this. I still see like we’ve got men who’ve come out, especially older men who still find themselves feeling useless. Useless is the word that comes up quite a lot, especially when they’ve sort of they’ve had a divorce or they’re not with their children, they’ve lost their jobs, their purpose.

00:30:49:11 – 00:31:05:16
Ben Akers
They feel useless with the world and knowing that they are important. And I think that’s where it comes back to. Steve he’s important to see the three for people at his funeral to know that many people loved him. The left over of this. If he was well, he wouldn’t have done that. And I think that that’s the thing.

00:31:05:16 – 00:31:08:10
Ben Akers
I think we just need to give ourselves chance to be well again.

00:31:08:24 – 00:31:21:06
Philippa White
And that’s where Top Club comes in. And how are you from 1 to 10? So I will include the links for people to be able to learn more about Talk Club, get involved if there’s one in the area of where they’re at.

00:31:21:06 – 00:31:45:18
Ben Akers
Yeah. If there’s not, if you’re male over 18, you want to set one up, please contact us. Hello, talk club talk. Go to talk about talk and you’ll see where we are but we’re trying to set up all over the world takes hard takes an hour on on zoom is the training and the trainings that that simple how to run a group and how to deal with eight men if you like but we’ve also got talk a move groups we’ve got some good skates took a football took a rugby and these are just like little feeder groups into your main talking group.

00:31:45:18 – 00:31:59:04
Ben Akers
And then we’ve got souped up therapy. So the idea is once you’re in the community, you don’t you don’t really need to leave about you. You can play football with us or you can have one on one counseling and you’re safe. The idea is so you could be vulnerable. There’s no judgment.

00:31:59:05 – 00:32:09:14
Philippa White
Then congratulations. Amazing work, so inspiring, impacting so many people’s lives. And I feel honored to call you a friend. So thank you for joining us.

00:32:09:18 – 00:32:12:03
Ben Akers
Thank you.

00:32:12:09 – 00:32:14:21
Philippa White
Until next time.

00:32:16:01 – 00:32:37:14
Philippa White
Hey, everyone, this is Phillip again. I hope you enjoyed listening. Now this is your chance to get involved with Thai. If you work in the commercial world, whatever your profession, in your position or your experience, then TIE could be for you. You may have been in business for decades, but have always felt there’s another way. Or you may just have a few years experience but want to do more equally.

00:32:37:17 – 00:33:05:06
Philippa White
If you want to create game changing employees and see your company impact the world, we’ve got you covered. TIE has never been more necessary than right now and you can be a part of it. Reach out to me at Filippa at the International Exchange, Skoda UK and I can tell you more or join the TIE accelerator intercession for more information apply dot TIE accelerator dot com better leaders better companies better world.

00:33:05:19 – 00:33:24:11
Philippa White
I’m your host, Philippa White. This podcast has been co-produced by Beth Navarra and me music by Berna Vieira and artwork by Kelts for his. I hope we’ll meet again soon.

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