Don’t Listen To Naysayers: It’s impossible to do anything big in life without people sharing their negative and unsolicited input. Don’t listen to it. Someone who isn’t happy with their life may project their negativity onto you. This is their issue and doesn’t allow it to discourage you.
As part of our series about young people who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Makin.
Sara Makin is the founder & CEO of Makin Wellness, Pennsylvania’s #1 Rated Online Therapy Platform.
Since establishing the company in 2017, she has led Makin Wellness to its position today as the state’s fastest-growing & privately owned tele-mental health company, achieving rapid expansion and mental health utilization. Under her leadership, Makin Wellness has established a proven track record of successfully shaping the mental health market & driving mental health transformation by executing on their mission of helping millions of people heal & become happy again.
Sara Makin has been featured in major media outlets including NBC, ABC, FOX, The CW, International Business Times, The Scientific Journal, and hundreds more media sources internationally. She has been named a Top 100 Healthcare Leader (2019) & an Empowering Woman in Philanthropy (2018). Sara has been on the cover of Inspiring Lives Magazine, Dispense Magazine, Pittsburgh Avenue West, and Steel This Magazine.
Nationally recognized as an innovator within the mental health industry & 2x best-selling author, Ms. Makin is fueled by a relentless desire to improve virtual mental health outcomes and provide the masses with outstanding mental health care.
Her successful career in mental health care began at Duquesne University, where she still serves on the Alumni Advisory Board. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from La Roche College & a Master’s of Science in Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Duquesne University.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us about how you grew up?
Thanks for having me, Sonia! I grew up in a suburb north of Pittsburgh. My dad was in the healthcare industry and my mom was attending The University of Pittsburgh for information technology when I was a kid. I have a younger brother Cameron that I love dearly and was my favorite person growing up!
I was a born an entrepreneur and have always been fascinated by innovation. I remember most kids were having lemonade stands and thinking that I could increase my margins if I did lemonade delivery, which I did. As weird as it sounds, I always dreamed of starting an organization that made a large impact. I believed it to the point where I knew it was going to happen and didn’t care if others believed me or not. I didn’t realize what type of company I’d start until I was about 15.
My life growing up was filled with incredibly light and dark experiences. I suffered from depression and always felt so alone. I the black sheep of my family, didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere, was on the verge of ending my life before I sought out help. At that time, there was so much stigma around mental health which postponed me from getting proper treatment.
Therapy worked and it completely changed my life and mentality. I then had my aha moment: to start a mental health company that will help people. I have been laser-focused on achieving this objective ever since, to the point where I graduated with my bachelor’s and master’s programs about two years early so I could launch my company faster. I don’t anyone to suffer like I did and this fuels me every day.
Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
This is a hard question to answer because there have been so many books and organizations that have impacted me! The Magic Of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz resonates with me because it gave me a practice guide on how to expand my mindset and think bigger. As a founder & CEO, it’s my responsibility to hold space for my team’s expansion and organizational change always starts at the top. Anyone interested in accomplishing big goals in life needs to read this book.
You are currently leading an organization that is helping to make a positive social impact. Can you tell us a little about what you and your organization are trying to create in our world today?
My team and I at Makin Wellness are on a mission to help millions of people heal and become happy again through research-backed online therapy. Our providers specialize in mental health, addiction, and relationship therapy. We are making the world a better place, one patient at a time. We believe that we can live in a world where people don’t have to suffer from these challenges alone.
Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?
I am a living, breathing example of someone who has transformed as a result of effective mental health care. I’m passionate about this because I know it is possible to get better. The stigma has to end as it is killing people & making others miserable unnecessarily. My vision consists of helping the masses heal and become happy again.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
The most interesting story that happened was getting a local TV show and being able to use that platform to reach people. It didn’t last long though… I was able to fund about two episodes at the time. I used to be more introverted and was so shy that I didn’t even watch the episodes that aired!
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Our team once was treating a client that was struggling with communication and emotion regulation. He owned a business and started to seek out professional help when his lack of communication skills started impacting his bottom line. After about 15 sessions, he found his voice and processed some cognitive distortions that were preventing him from going to the next level. He was able to get the help he needed, got out of an unhealthy relationship, and can now process his emotions. Stories like this inspire my team to continue offering stellar care!
How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Making a difference consists of doing something important that helps make the world a better place. I believe in adding value to society and using that as a metric.
Many young people would not know what steps to take to start to create the change they want to see. But you did. What are some of the steps you took to get your project started? Can you share the top 5 things you need to know to become a changemaker? Please tell us a story or example for each.
- Work on your mindset: Go to therapy and talk out your past struggles and thoughts that are holding you back. This is important because you can only grow a company as big as you can grow yourself
- Don’t Listen To Naysayers: It’s impossible to do anything big in life without people sharing their negative and unsolicited input. Don’t listen to it. Someone who isn’t happy with their life may project their negativity onto you. This is their issue and doesn’t allow it to discourage you.
- Read: Readers are always leaders! Incorporate reading into your lifestyle. Invest time daily to grow as a person. Be a lifelong student.
- Be a Go-Giver: Network within and outside of your industry and ensure that you have the spirit of a go-giver. Techstars always talk about giving first and that is a great attitude to have. You’ll attract more people to you and will have a tribe to rely on. We need teams if we want to make a difference.
- Age Doesn’t Mean S***. : You are NEVER too young to make a difference in this world. You will hear it and I’d advise you to refer to point number two. Justin Bieber was discovered when he was 13, Greta Thunberg is helping reduce climate change at 17 and Jazz Jennings founded a non-profit to spread awareness for people who are transgender. If these kids can make an impact on the world, you sure as heck can too!
What are the values that drive your work?
Identifying and living by your values is paramount for living a congruent life. The values that drive my work are excellent patient & team care, character, do it now, growth-oriented, and collaboration. These values are embedded in the Makin Wellness culture and our team does an amazing job with living out these values, both professionally and personally.
Many people struggle to find what their purpose is and how to stay true to what they believe in. What are some tools or daily practices that have helped you to stay grounded and centered in who you are, your purpose, and focused on achieving your vision?
I practice affirmations, visualization, and writing. I constantly am reminded of my goals and vision on a daily basis. If you are more visual, I’d suggest creating a dream board and keeping it in view throughout your day.
In my work, I aim to challenge us all right now to take back our human story and co-create a vision for a world that works for all. I believe youth should have agency over their own future. Can you please share your vision for a world you want to see? I’d love to have you describe what it looks like and feels like. As you know, the more we can imagine it, the better we can manifest it!
I believe in a world where mental illness is eradicated and treated in its early stages. I also dream of a world where people of color, women, and minorities are truly treated as equals. I believe world peace will exist in the future when humans are more evolved.
We are powerful co-creators and our minds and intentions create our reality. If you had limitless resources at your disposal, what specific steps would take to bring your vision to fruition?
If I had limitless resources at my disposal, I’d offer our online therapy services across the world and invest in international expansion. I would also love to have a non-profit where we empower people and share resources with young entrepreneurs.
I see a world driven by the power of love, not fear. Where human beings treat each other with humanity. Where compassion, kindness, and generosity of spirit are characteristics we teach in schools and strive to embody in all we do. What changes would you like to see in the educational system? Can you explain or give an example?
The educational system, just like most traditional systems, is not perfect and may benefit from some innovation. I’d like there to be an emphasis on mental health, multicultural classes, and more interaction with kids from outside the school districts. I’d like education to also teach kids about money and basic financial and investment management.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
If you don’t want to improve society, ultimately it will be your future children and grandchildren that will have to pay the price.
Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
This is a tough question! I’d love to have lunch with Ariana Huffington and ask her about her entrepreneurship experience.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can follow me @saramakin on Twitter, Linked In & Clubhouse. I’m @thesaramakin on Instagram. You can sign up for our newsletter on the Makin Wellness website to have the latest research-backed mental health advice & guidance delivered to your inbox!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Thank you, Sonia!