For Cristyl Kimbrough of OWN’s Ladies Who List: Atlanta, therapy is essential. Kimbrough is the owner of Kimbrough Law, one of the oldest, minority-owned real estate law firms in Georgia. Since its opening nine years ago, Kimbrough has done over 20,000 closings for residential and commercial properties. Operating such a thriving practice requires her to keep her mental health in check.
Throughout her time in therapy, she’s learned many valuable lessons that have not only helped her in her personal life, but as a businesswoman. While speaking with MADAMENOIRE, she said therapy taught her why it’s important for leaders to know how to listen to understand and not to reply.
“Every boss should remember that just because you’re a boss doesn’t mean that you don’t need to listen,” she said from her Atlanta office. “And that’s something that sometimes I have to stop and remind myself to do. You don’t own the people that you employ. And maybe you are wrong. You want to get people’s feedback on how they’re feeling about their workload.”
The challenges that come with being an entrepreneur can take a major toll on one’s mental health. A study by Resurgo found that 70% of entrepreneurs feel overwhelmed most of the time. They also found that 22% of them often feel like they want to “escape life.”
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The mental health of entrepreneurs declined as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as well. A study by The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) found that since the start of the pandemic in 2020, self-employed folks are finding themselves more depressed. In their study, the number of entrepreneurs who felt that they have “poor” or “very poor” mental health jumped from 6% to 26%. Women in business had a significant decrease in happiness, whih dropped 54%.
To promote emotional wellness amongst her employees, Kimbrough included mental health days in their benefit package, which are separate from sick days and personal time off.
“Maybe starting three, four years ago, I started mental health days [at my firm],” she said. “Mental health days are given when I see an employee has either been working, working, working, and I can kind of see the burnout about to happen. Or if an employee has just been killing it and deserves an off-day just because.”
Since being in therapy, Kimbrough often wants to share what she has learned with her loved ones. This innocent urge to give advice took a toll on her relationship with Robin Andrade, whom she said she has forgiven but can never be friends with again.
“It helps you just recognize patterns within yourself and even with other people,” she continued. “But it can also be a curse because now sometimes you overanalyze or you share your opinion with other people when it’s not asked. And you would hope that, at least in the personal setting, if you’re sharing your opinion on how someone’s reacting, they will receive it from a place of love. But if they’re a person that’s not used to receiving love, chances are they’re not going to receive it as love. They’re going to receive it as an attack.”
As we saw on the reality show, things got heated between the ladies throughout the first season. This wasn’t the stressful part though. For Kimbrough, the most difficult thing to do was watch the show on television.
“The stressful part was seeing how it was edited. Because I know what was said and done in real time,” she said. “And then to see how it was edited to fit what my narrative needed to be. That was the stressful part… When the show started airing, that’s when [my therapist] was on speed dial.”
Kimbrough also shared her disappointment with how she was portrayed on Ladies Who List: Atlanta via on social media, saying she “hated that the show didn’t show that [she lives] abundantly.”
Even though she has mixed feelings about her experience on reality television, there’s a chance she will return for another season, but one condition.
“I would have to look at the numbers. Like I said, I’m a business woman first,” she said. “So is this show helping my numbers?…We’ve never operated at a deficit. So, if the numbers are exceedingly well, then I know perhaps it can be attributed to the show. And if they can be attributed to the show, then perhaps it’s worth me entertaining.”
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