I read somewhere that you are a completely new person every seven years because all of the cells in your body turnover in that time. You are physically not the same person you once were.
As I get ready to celebrate my 35th birthday next week, I could not relate to this more. That’s just it: I’m not the same person I was when I started Mend seven years ago. The core parts of myself are intact, sure, but wow…how much everything has changed.
When I started the newsletter that became Mend, I was single, in my twenties, and writing from my kitchen table in an apartment in Venice. I was also very heartbroken and determined to make the experience of a breakup less painful for others.
I was driven by this mission and I had an idea for a newsletter that could help – marrying authentic storytelling around heartbreak and evidence-based advice from experts – and it turns out that idea did help. That weekly newsletter evolved into a blog, then a community, then an app, and eventually, a whole venture-backed company.
In the last couple of years, Mend has changed dramatically. In 2019 we shifted gears and focused on profitability, which allowed us to prioritize the mental health of our users above everything else. In 2020 we launched a major redesign and expanded beyond heartbreak to burnout.
In that time, the seasons of my life also changed. I got married, I became a stepmom and I moved to Paris, where my husband is from. And as summer is about to begin, it feels like the perfect time to share that the seasons are changing at Mend too: I am thrilled to announce that I am passing the CEO reigns to a dear friend and long-time collaborator Sara Shah.
You may know Sara as the founder and CEO of Mother Yin, and if you do, you can help me congratulate her on the exciting news that Mother Yin will be joining the Mend family. Mother Yin, a holistic platform for women’s wellness, will fold into Mend in the coming months and Sara will continue to drive forward the mission that we are both very passionate about: supporting your journey inward.
As for me, I’ll continue on as Chair of the Board, deeply involved in Mend’s future, but no longer involved in day-to-day operations. This is a big, exciting change for me and Mend, and it’s one I’ve been contemplating for a while.
To be frank, I never thought about leaving my position as CEO until last year. But like it was for many of you, 2020 was a year of reflection, and once Mend weathered the storm of the pandemic I felt for the first time that I was ready for this change. It took me a bit longer to work towards telling my team, and later, our investors. I was nervous but was ultimately met with complete support all around and I don’t take that for granted.
So my next question was: who would I hire?
As I considered and interviewed CEO candidates, I always had Sara in my mind as a blueprint for what I was looking for, but the timing wasn’t right in her life. Luckily, the stars finally aligned this spring. Sara and I have been friends since we met at a Mend event with Maude in 2017 and she’s been a steadfast cheerleader for Mend at every stage of our growth since. She’s even organized and led two Mend Away retreats with me, in Portugal and Spain.
Passing the torch to her feels so natural, as if it was always the plan. Sara’s experience in the mindfulness and wellness spaces positions her perfectly to take on this new role as Mend’s CEO without skipping a beat. The future is bright with Sara at the helm and I couldn’t be more excited to see her ideas come to life.
Growing Mend to this point and seeing it impact the lives of millions of people in every country around the world has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life so far. I hear from many of you that Mend has changed your life, and I always feel like sending back the same thing: “me too!!!”
It’s cheesy but it’s the truth. Starting Mend and meeting all of you changed my life. I became an entrepreneur, and I learned what that actually meant. I made mistakes and celebrated successes. I also met so many close friends along the way. I would not be the person I am today without the experience of starting and growing Mend. It’s been extremely stressful and overwhelmingly fun, often at the same time, and pretty much everything in between. Above all, the work we do has brought so much meaning into my life for the past seven years. Thank you.
I know many of you have been following my personal story since I wrote about leaving Google in 2013, and I’m thankful for your support all these years. My newsletter grew out of that randomly viral Medium article, and without that newsletter, there would be no Mend at all. Writing has been the constant thread throughout my life, and certainly through Mend, and it’s one of the things I will continue to do. If you’d like to keep updated on my next chapter, you can sign up here.
So, what’s next? I’m focused on a smooth transition with Sara over the next several months. I’m excited about my next chapter beyond that, but for now, I’m most looking forward to spending the entire month of August en vacances (“on vacation”). As you may know, the French take the month of August off. My husband is religious about it. As an American running a startup, I have never joined him in this tradition. I don’t begrudge it though. I’ve always just seen it as a cultural difference.
Not this year. This will be the first August since we met that I’m not inside working while he swims in the sea.
This year I’ll be swimming, too.