Faces of Entrepreneurship: Russell Glass, CEO of Ginger

Ginger is the world’s first continuous care system for behavioral health. With more than half of Americans experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress in their lifetimes, and nearly 60 percent of adults with a mental health condition didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year—there’s a strong need to combat the problem with an intelligent solution. Russell Glass, the startup’s CEO, believes that everyone deserves access to high-quality emotional support whenever they need it. The AI technology has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Technology Pioneer, and also recognized as one of the top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Healthcare by Fast Company. Hundreds of thousands of people have access to Ginger.io’s virtual coaches, therapists and psychiatrists. Glass took a moment to update the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center on his journey as an entrepreneur so far. 

What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?

RG: Entrepreneurship is freedom to work how you like to work, solve problems in new and creative ways, build teams of people that you love to work with, and the ability to build significant economic and societal value.

Can you describe how Ginger came to be? 

RG: Ginger recognized that the behavioral health space is fundamentally broken. There is a huge shortage of providers, help is expensive and hard to access, and there is a huge stigma to reaching out for help. We’re trying to fundamentally transform the space with on-demand 24/7 access to emotional and mental health support delivered virtually whenever you need it

What is the biggest experience or lesson gained on your journey so far?

RG: Hiring world-class people and ensuring they understand their goals and how those goals drive impact are the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur trying to scale a company.

How is your company changing the landscape?

RG: Our vision is a world where mental health is never an obstacle. We are creating a new way of delivering behavioral health support that is measurably more effective than the old way while being highly scalable.

What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?

RG: Going back to my first company, I didn’t realize just how important the right people are to success. The difference between someone who is a decent fit and one who is a superstar is exponential.

What advice/credo do you live by as you grow the business?

RG: Think about members first. Hire great people and work to remove obstacles to their success.

Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges?

RG: Sleep! Things always look clearer in the morning.

What does “success” look like for you?

RG: We want to transform the behavioral health space so that everyone can afford it, can get access if they want it, and feels good about accessing it. That will be success for us.

What is your proudest and darkest moment so far? 

RG: One of the proudest moments of my career so far was the first day at LinkedIn after they had acquired my company Bizo in 2014. We were all in our initial onboarding session and I suddenly realized what an incredible group we had brought together, and I recognized the opportunities they all had ahead of them in this global and transformative company.

The darkest moment of my career was when I had to let go most of the staff at my first startup AGEA – about 60 people – after the economy collapsed and we were unable to secure more funding. I never want to have to do that again!

What lesson did 2018 have for you? What do you look forward to in 2019?

RG: If you can do it, taking significant time off to clear your brain, focus on family, and get charged up again is a blessing. Time is our most precious commodity, don’t take it for granted! In 2019 I’m looking forward to making a significant progress towards our mission to transform how behavioral health care is delivered.

Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day?

Alarm, snooze, alarm, read email with one eye open, coffee, kids breakfasts, kids lunches, coffee, shower, dress, calls or podcasts on the way to the office.

What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as, as in, what do you want your legacy to be?

RG: One of the things I’m most proud about is how many people I have worked with that have advanced their careers significantly both during and after we worked together. I’d love to be known as an entrepreneur who built great companies that hired great people and helped them continue to grow.

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