“The product is just an excuse,” said Brickroad founder Mike Faley, of the specialized Obie coffee mug. Mike’s real mission is to spread the word about the transformative power of therapy, which he believes every one of us should be regularly engaging in. Still, the story of the mug’s creation, and everything that led up to it is nonetheless fascinating.
Growing up in the rough interior of Baltimore, Mike was surrounded by violence and trauma every day of his early life. Like so many men, he quickly learned to develop a thick skin as a means of survival and never confront his feelings.
After helping a girlfriend move on campus at the University of Maryland College Park, he walked into the college admissions office and demanded to be allowed to enroll. It worked. After graduating, he began a 15-year career in advertising, 10 of which were good, but soon he started to wonder what he was contributing to.
Wanting to build something concrete and eternal, he set out to make the perfect coffee mug. After discovering Japan’s legendary Maruassa Porcelain company, he decided they were the company he needed to work with. Putting to use the same tactics that got him into college, he cold-called and queried the company, through every avenue, on a daily basis despite neither party speaking the other’s language. Finally, he asked for a meeting with the CEO of the company and, hours later, was on a flight to Japan.
Of all the bold moves Mike has made ahead of becoming an entrepreneur, his single greatest decision was to start therapy at an early age. Inspired by MTV’s “Loveline,” a live call-in show about sexual health, he credits therapy with saving his life.
Mike and Dax discuss some of the common misunderstandings that persist about therapy, and compare the benefits of using it preventatively and continuously versus in response to a crisis. He uses the Obie mug to get the word out about the benefits of therapy, and five percent of the profits go toward providing those in need with access to therapy.
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- “I thought to myself that I needed to reconsider my relationship to work. That’s how I put it. I didn’t know what the answer was, but I knew what it wasn’t, which was staying where I was.” (1:46-2:00 | Mike)
- “I think those people that don’t do therapy or those people that grow up with a jaded view of therapy, which I would argue is still 90% of England, don’t understand that it is not about what you see in a sitcom laying down on a sofa, whiskey and handle… it’s more like going to a coach…What am I missing? What do you need to teach me? So the next time…I can handle it better.” (30:12-30:54 | Dax
- “The brain is really good at dissociating when it needs to by focusing and optimizing for survival when things are tough. Whether that’s an acute, one-off situation, or long-term trouble. And I’m very aware now that I didn’t know how much I was hurting, and how vulnerable I was, and how sad I was, until I was in a place that was safe enough for me to feel that way.” (37:40-38:09 | Mike
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