In this episode, we feature Jill Van Jean, founder of Fatso Peanut Butter. Beyond her business success, Jill shares her deeply personal journey, including her battle with addiction, pregnancy loss, and infertility. We delve into the concept of feeling deserving, shedding light on her struggles and vulnerabilities.
This open and candid conversation aims to inspire those dealing with substance abuse, infertility, and the challenges of balancing business and family. Listen for insight and inspiration from Jill's story.
"Not everybody has to know about your impact for it to be meaningful." - Jill Van Gyn
[00:01:20] Finding professional footing and sobriety.
[00:08:10] Impact work and community support.
[00:10:05] Taboo subjects and social impact.
[00:15:31] Addiction and moment of clarity.
[00:21:07] Repairing childhood through success.
[00:27:42] Shifting expectations and entitlement.
[00:30:07] Trying to get pregnant.
[00:35:20] The pain of infertility.
[00:43:19] Racing against time and COVID.
[00:45:04] Growing up with an identical twin sister.
[00:50:22] Letting go and finding peace.
[00:55:07] Redefining Success and Fulfillment.
First Session exists to help you find the right therapist for you so you can get help now. We deeply believe that the fit between you and your therapist is the most important factor for a positive outcome. First Session is committed to making your search for a therapist user friendly, transparent, and trustworthy.
[00:02:08] Jill Van Gyn: Hey, Rob.
[00:02:09] Rob Pintwala: I, we met about a year ago, I think, at a lunch here in Victoria, because, and one of the conversations got deep. Mental health-related stuff. Maybe that was based on my sharing, but I bet a year ago that clicked on me and I was like, I'm gonna start this podcast and I want to chat with you 'cause you were so open and your story is incredible.
[00:02:36] Rob Pintwala: So I was so excited to hear more about it and luckily I didn't hear that much of it. So here we are today and I'd love to maybe start by. You explain a little bit more about maybe your professional life in recent years and what that journey's looked like. Just to provide some context before we dive in way deeper.
[00:02:57] Jill Van Gyn: Yeah. So yeah, I just [00:03:00] sold a company that I had spent six or seven years building Fatso Peanut Butter. I started that company back in 2016. It was a really interesting, part of my life because it was really born out of a series of frustrations with finding professional footing and and I'm sure we'll get into this getting sober and, going back and trying to keep some promises I'd made to myself before addiction had taken hold of my life.
[00:03:28] Track 1: And so I have built this incredible company and I think a lot of people. We'll know that like covid hit so many companies really hard for us. It was a banner year. It was the ensuing years that really took a toll. And I made the really difficult decision to walk away before it got hyper-damaging. And yeah it's a much longer story. But we had. Some really successful years and we made huge impacts through some [00:04:00] of our social work and our impact that we had built into the company in terms of social justice and environmental justice and a whole bunch of other things.
[00:04:09] Track 1: So, we left a really solid legacy behind. But yeah, it's been a very interesting year to leave that behind and embark on something new, which remains to be seen
[00:04:20] Rob Pintwala: I love it from the top down hindsight view. Couple more questions about Fatso. So, yeah, I definitely have heard of the product years before I met you and many friends really loved the product for advocating for the product. And yeah it's amazing to put the face to the name. Now
[00:04:40] Jill Van Gyn: Yeah.
[00:04:41] Rob Pintwala: I'd love to talk a little bit more about how it got started.
[00:04:45] Rob Pintwala: And also more about some of these initiatives you were speaking about. Environmental and social. Yeah.
[00:04:51] Jill Van Gyn: Yeah, so, Cole's notes on it because like, I mean, I could do a deep dive into this and this one thing in particular, but [00:05:00] yeah, I got sober in 2010, and, very interesting six years that followed that I was 30. I was living in a government-funded recovery house and I knew I had these very big ambitions for myself.
[00:05:13] Jill Van Gyn: I had wanted to work for the un. I studied political science and when I got sober I thought, okay, this is my opportunity to really go after the things that I had wanted to do when I was a little bit younger. And so I enrolled in a master's program in human security and peacebuilding and went to Northern Uganda and did my research and published a paper and graduated at the top of my class. And I just thought like, this is it. Like I'm going to walk into any organization and get this job. And that just really wasn't the case. And what I found really interesting was. There's a lot of promises that are made. Just socially, we have these like [00:06:00] interesting little social promises, right? You go on, you get a higher education, and you are then equipped to go get a job, and I think that things have changed super dramatically in the past, like 10, 20 years around what qualifies you for a job? And what people are actually looking for and then what we're told to execute on. So I found myself in this really strange position where I wasn't getting any jobs and everybody wanted the master's degree plus 10 years of experience and I just felt very disillusioned with some of these social promises. I also, in the process, managed to get very disillusioned with both academia and international development, which were the two things that I had pinned my hopes on. It was like if one didn't work out, then I'd just go into academics and vice versa. So I found myself at this really frustrating crossroads where I was now 35 and had this master's degree, and I was like, I don't know what the fuck I'm gonna do with my life because. I did all [00:07:00] things like I got sober and I had met this wonderful partner and we had gotten married and we had bought a house and I was on my way to this incredible career and just fell apart and I. Fatso to get to the point was really born out of this deep frustration that I felt, and like I've always been the type of person like I need to be producing and be productive.
[00:07:22] Jill Van Gyn: And I'm constantly at odds with that because I also think that's, not to get too far down this rabbit hole, but I think it's a deep product of living in a capitalist society where it's like we always have to be producing, but I am quite happy when I am productive, so. I just found this amazing little peanut butter product. I was working at a healthy food restaurant trying to help franchise it and it was called Fatso. And I was like, first of all, this name is great. 'cause it was filled with plant-based fats and it tasted amazing and it didn't have any sugar and it had these chia seeds and flax. It was just like, it was the total package and it was just [00:08:00] being run into the ground. And I just got really fixated on the product and through a. series of unfortunate events for the previous owners and fortunate events for me. The uh, the product, needed to be sold quickly and I snapped it up for about the price of a used car. And I just set about trying to figure out how to build a peanut butter brand. I had no experience but I knew that if I could get people to taste the product. That I would be able to sell the product. That was the experience that I was having with people in my life. As soon as they tasted it, they were sold. And so I spent two years, demoing in stores every single weekend, driving to places like Nanaimo, Vancouver, Whistler, and Kelowna, like I was all over the place. And the product was just like a runaway hit. And we enjoyed a ton of very early success. One of the things that I had [00:09:00] promised myself once I started to see that the product was actually moving was if I ever have any success with this, I'm actually still gonna go back and make good on those promises that I made to myself. And we started small and we started, and by we, I mean the peanut butter in me, 'cause it was, it was just me for two. I started to really think critically about how I could get involved with impact work and I ended up doing a little fundraiser and donating about $1,500 to a local organization called Peers, which is a sex worker rights advocacy group. And a peer run uh, nonprofit. And they deal a lot with like, mainly with like sex work, but like the intersex of sex work and like harm reduction and, homelessness and, queer rights and indigenous rights. It's just like there was this beautiful intersection of everything in the organization.
[00:09:53] Jill Van Gyn: And so I thought, we're gonna donate this money to peers. And the executive director reached out and said, we'd love [00:10:00] to take you for lunch because we've never had a public-facing company. Donate this amount of money. And I thought that was absolutely incredible because why?
[00:10:11] Jill Van Gyn: I mean, why not, right?
[00:10:11] Jill Van Gyn: But people just don't, they tend to not wanna be associated with things like sex work. And it taught me a super valuable lesson: in impact work, what we're seeking to do is, take a dollar amount or a resource amount and make it go the farthest in a way of supporting our community. And my dollars and my effort towards that organization went so much further than it would have with a large national nonprofit. So I really started using that as a mandate to identify where organizations are being missed, and who is being missed in the conversation. How do we support those voices? Who is marginalized and who is not getting [00:11:00] what they need. And, we always went back to that sort of mandate to identify partners that we would work with. So, working with like very taboo subjects harm reduction and addiction and mental health issues and sex work and issues of race and inequality, Taking positions that people, normally wouldn't want to get behind. So vocally as a public-facing company, that main objective is to bring in revenue. But we found that people really resonated with us using our platform in this way. And while I'm sure some people dropped off, we just had an extremely loyal following. Consumers come along on the journey with us and contribute and support us so that we can then support other organizations individuals and causes that were highly marginalized. So we had done a lot of impact work around trans rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, indigenous sovereignty.[00:12:00] And sex work. A lot of those issues are something that public-facing companies don't love to get involved with. But that was really where we wanted to be firmly placed. And I'm really, in hindsight now that I've left the company, the peanut butter is great, but what we did, that to me is the legacy and the thing I'm most proud of. I continue to do that work. I actually am a board member at Peers now and have been for three years and continue to do other volunteer work and am always looking for opportunities to bring those aspects into other organizations as well.
[00:12:35] Rob Pintwala: Just a quick interruption to chat about my company. First session, have you had a less-than-ideal experience looking for a therapist? There are lots of options out there, but it's hard to know where to get started and who to trust. My company's first session focuses entirely on creating the best experience finding a therapist.
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[00:13:12] Rob Pintwala: That's incredible. That's incredible. I think about it when I bought the Fatso product. Years ago. Years ago, I did not know it was contributing to these causes. So that was amazing. Yeah, I'd love to, so you've, Pi was the first one it sounds like, and there were many others. Um, I'd love to just take a step back and Yeah, dive in a little bit more about the addiction or getting sober, that process, like you strike me as someone who's got a lot of energy and you're directing it towards some incredible places. And how did that look when you were struggling more?
[00:13:48] Jill Van Gyn: Yeah. You know, It's so hard to understand who I was then. Looking back on my addiction, I've battled a lot with not trying to [00:14:00] dwell on what could have been. For me, addiction was, I mean, it was a really classic story. Like I come from a really privileged background and I've always had the support of my parents, even though, with addicted parents in the nineties, like, what are you gonna do?
[00:14:19] Jill Van Gyn: Right? Like it's, they don't, they didn't have the tools that people have today, but there also weren't the drugs that we have today. Right. So I think parents are faced with different challenges. So. I would say that I would've approached having a child and addiction much differently. But my parents really struggled with that and I think there's a lot of expectation on their end about what I was going to be. And I think that instilled like a lot of like very deep regret anxiety and like this real fear of never being successful, which is not a great place to be when you're in addiction because you just like. You just use it to avoid all of that. [00:15:00] And, I was, it was interesting. I was my most productive even during my addiction when I was in school.
[00:15:06] Jill Van Gyn: I've always been attracted to highly structured environments. And I found that I really did okay while I was in school. But you know, the last five years of my addiction were the heaviest and the scariest. And. an interesting experience with getting sober and I took a crack at it once, went to rehab, and promptly went out and used it again. But, it's almost hard. It's hard to speak of because I've, I've removed myself from that active experience, but. When people look at me, they do not know that I was deeply suicidal and I was using not just every day, but you know, from the time I got up until the time I was no longer able to like either passed out or whatever.[00:16:00] And. In so much turmoil and pain that like, it was almost, there was this sort of like I was forced into rehab because of a pretty dire situation.
[00:16:12] Jill Van Gyn: What I found interesting was when I got out of treatment and immediately started to use again, was that it took me about seven weeks to absolutely wipe out the time that I had spent sober in rehab. And become so ill and incapable of functioning in such a fast period of time. And I had a, an experience and like I've been, you know, I was a long time, um, of 12 step programs and I've shared this experience publicly before, but I had this moment where I, it was about 10 o'clock in the morning and I crashed my vehicle very close to my grandmother's house. She was no longer living there. But [00:17:00] it was like a childhood neighborhood and I was arrested and I had a cop's knee in my back and I was handcuffed and I had this brief moment of clarity. For the first time in my life, the idea of using again was scarier than trying to get clean. And that to me was a very small shift, but I will never forget it. It's a very, like, a very sensory memory for me because there was just this brief moment of clarity where it was like, oh my God, like this can't be my life. This cannot be how I die. And. It didn't last that long because after I got outta jail I went and picked it up again.
[00:17:51] Jill Van Gyn: But two weeks later I was back in treatment and I kept on having those flashes. Like every time I wanted to leave treatment, I realized if I left I would die. And [00:18:00] that fear of using was now greater than the fear of getting clean. And that to me was like one of the biggest and most monumental shifts in my life because my natural state was really to be intoxicated in some capacity and fighting against that natural state and. Understanding that I'm gonna have to do some work to get outta this was really pivotal in that experience of getting sober. So yeah, in 2010 I got sober and yeah, really had to start from scratch. Like every, like, I don't know, you're 30 and you're living in a government fund and recovery house.
[00:18:37] Jill Van Gyn: You're just like, how did this happen? And I just had to really embrace like, okay, this is what you're gonna have to do right now and this is what you're gonna have to do. Commit to, and it was just a recommendation every single day until the training wheel came off a little bit. So
[00:18:54] Jill Van Gyn: yeah, it was a very difficult time and the life that I've built on the other side of that, it just feels very, in some [00:19:00] ways fragmented because I look at who I am.
[00:19:03] Jill Van Gyn: I, it's funny, I was like writing checks for daycare and like. My big accomplishment was like, okay, I figured out how to deal with all the piles of laundry. You have to fold it as soon as it comes out of the dryer. And I had this moment where I was like, Jesus fucking Christ Like if these are my problems now, like compared to what they used to be like, who the fuck was that?
[00:19:29] Rob Pintwala: It's,
[00:19:30] Jill Van Gyn: like, yeah, it's an interesting experience.
[00:19:33] Rob Pintwala: How can you reset like everyone, right? Like no matter, like, it's just your problems reset to where you're at, right? And then, yeah. I. So thank you for sharing all that. And it's, yeah it's just hearing the way that you're speaking about it now is just inspiring just to even listen to the way that you're framing it.
[00:19:50] Rob Pintwala: I'm curious in terms of like the timeline or, regardless of like when, but I'm just curious if there was a feeling or some sort of realization that [00:20:00] you are using in turn. To like dependency? Like, or was it just gradual and like, and I'm also curious, like you've mentioned like success earlier and like productivity and things like that.
[00:20:13] Rob Pintwala: Like, were you always like that, and how was your, like, initial drug use associated with like, success? Like, was there any connection there or like the feeling of, I don't know, maybe like, yeah. How was it?
[00:20:27] Jill Van Gyn: It was almost inverted. So like my upbringing, like my parents are both professionals. My dad is a dentist and my mother was a tenured uni university professor at 30. I mean, they really grew up in a period of time where if you had a university degree, you got a job and you got good jobs and you would like to raise a family and do well. Both of them were professionals who excelled in their fields. And, for all intents and purposes, like we were very bright. Children full of potential We weren't stupid kids. And, 'cause I'm sorry, I should say like, I have a twin [00:21:00] sister as well who was also in addiction and who was also in recovery. But you know. I think there was, not to like, not to drag my own mother on a public podcast, but lemme just drag my mother on a public podcast for a second here. But she was like, I mean, it's all based on these historical experiences, right? Like my mom's experience, you know, I don't wanna go back too far into her history, but like, what was important to her was like she was successful on her own terms. She appeared successful. She liked it, she looked good. She was dressed appropriately and behaved appropriately. And that came from her own sense of not having control over her life in her childhood. At least that's what I think, that's what a therapist might tell her if she would ever go to fucking therapy, but yeah, it is it's like one of those things where I think that she just had these expectations, like, okay. And it's similar to me, right? Like. I am gonna go get this university career. I'm gonna do it [00:22:00] despite my upbringing, and I'm gonna marry this guy who is a wonderful man and also wants to go after this career. We're gonna have these kids and we're gonna give them every opportunity and they're gonna grow up and they're gonna be successful. And then I'm gonna feel like I repaired my own childhood. And so I think in my view, that's what was expected of us. But like you've met me and my energy and my energy is not like piano lessons and like, white dresses. That's not me, that is not my brand. So, there's a product of like, who I am and then also this box that I had to be stuffed into. And if you could, the image that comes to mind is like trying to put a feral cat in a box
[00:22:48] Rob Pintwala: Yeah.
[00:22:49] Jill Van Gyn: carrying that through your life. That's what it was like to have me as a child. So like, because like, I'm just constantly fighting against
[00:22:57] Jill Van Gyn: it. Right? And like, [00:23:00] what amazed me? And what I think gave me an enormous amount of confidence was going back to grad school after I got clean, because I never did well in school. I did pretty well in my undergrad, but when I was clean and sober and determined, and was like, alright, let me see what Jill can do in an academic setting. Then being like holy shit, I do have potential. And like watching what I was capable of then, that was really remarkable. And that has been something that I battle going back and forth with like, I. Shit, I wish I had done better, but I just wasn't there because I was living in addiction.
[00:23:48] Jill Van Gyn: Right?
[00:23:49] Jill Van Gyn: So my relationship with drugs and alcohol, it was really with drugs when I was younger. Like in the, like, late nineties, it really started out with party drugs, with the rape scene. I then, you [00:24:00] know, through this like, oh my God, I am not making good on this extra idea of success. I need to go to university in a panic. Also I had to deal with like, understanding that I was like, a daily like, narcotic user. I thought, okay, I'm gonna move away. I'm gonna get into university, which I eventually did. It took me a little bit of time. And just completely like geographical cure, right? Which I. We know it doesn't work. But when I got to university, as I said, that structure really helped me. And then it was almost as soon as I left university where I was like, all right, I'm gonna take some time off and do some fun things. It was almost immediately and as I went through, I started drinking obviously in university. And that really started to edge into daily use after I graduated from university. And I just remember one very specific day and it hadn't occurred to me before.[00:25:00] It was funny. It was like, I actually like just thinking about this. I was going out at night and I was doing a lot of clubbing and all that sort of stuff, and I was ordering a martini at the bar. And as I went to reach for the martini, my hand started to shake. That was like the first time I was like, uhoh. And then I just, I packaged that up and put
[00:25:23] Jill Van Gyn: that's away and then I started to find that I was drinking earlier in the day. And I remember one time I just had this, I think it was, I don't know, maybe midday and I felt like I really needed a drink. And the thought crossed my mind. I was like, well, go take your fucking medicine. Right? And then I was where it started. And I remember that was like, that was just before I left Montreal and that was the first time the idea of alcoholism crept in. And
[00:25:55] Rob Pintwala: Montreal is a great city to choose. I would frequently block out in Montreal.
[00:26:08] Jill Van Gyn: Great place to black But But yeah, I think once that thought took seed in my mind, it was almost like the guardrails came off and then I ended up in a bad relationship and, it was that nasty cycle of like drinking, trying to find a job, not being able to find a job, hating myself because I showed up to an interview drunk knowing that I didn't get the job because I probably smelled like alcohol, but still applying for more jobs because I think I'm qualified for it.
[00:26:37] Jill Van Gyn: Not getting the job because I'm drunk and then being sad 'cause I didn't get the job. Like just vicious. Vicious, right? And this idea too that like, I don't know, I just have this like thing in my head that like I was, I don't know, I deserved something and like, I've really been. This idea deserves to me that we're owed [00:27:00] something. This is the theme that I have been turning around in my brain. Mostly for another reason, which I'm happy to speak about too, and it has to do with having kids and pregnancy loss and all this sort of stuff, but it's this bigger theme because and I hope you don't mind if I just like to go with this one.
[00:27:31] Jill Van Gyn: and I don't know when it happened, but I had a shift a while back around thinking I deserve something or thinking that I'm owed something. And I think that there is, like, it goes back to like, alright, well I got this university degree, so I'm owed, I don't know, X, Y, Z, or I, got sober and. I got this [00:28:00] master's degree, so I'm owed X, Y, Z. And those expectations and not actually like always falling short of those expectations, I think had a big impact. And it's been this sort of theme throughout my life, and I feel like this idea that if we bank certain things. Whether it be spiritually or emotionally or professionally or whatever it is this like effort will equal a result. And when we don't get that, like, it's interesting 'cause I've always liked thinking about expectation is like, I fail because I have an expectation. right? The expectation exists within the failure and vice versa. Like I've [00:29:00] really struggled with this idea that if I just do these things in a certain way, that there will be an outcome. And I think there's schools of thought that people are like, yes, that's true. It's karma, or whatever, right? Like I just. I've just come to a place where this idea has taken me down so many times
[00:29:26] Rob Pintwala: Mm-Hmm. .
[00:29:27] Jill Van Gyn: and I'm completely responsible for it. And like, I think my hardest lesson and I, I'll get into the pregnancy stuff, was, was my experience with pregnancy.
[00:29:38] Jill Van Gyn: Because like I went through some pretty intense stuff during my addiction, obviously. And I went through some stuff getting clean, and I went through stuff like after I graduated from my master's degree and went through a very serious depression and questioning all my, life's choices [00:30:00] and then starting this company and I was like, okay, well, like I've been through the some of the hardest shit people can do.
[00:30:06] Jill Van Gyn: Getting clean is very difficult. The thing that I didn't anticipate being so difficult, like hard, was this, trying to get pregnant. And how close you sit to pretty consistent grief. And that's an area in my life that, you know, I'm out of now. I have two kids. We did 11 rounds of IVF. Which is a lot.
[00:30:38] Jill Van Gyn: And I was really good at getting pregnant. I just couldn't stay So that's what I mean when we're like constantly just
[00:30:47] Jill Van Gyn: touching grace
[00:30:48] Jill Van Gyn: in a way that has really put a lot of fear into me.
[00:30:52] Rob Pintwala: Yeah.
[00:30:53] Jill Van Gyn: like hearing that I've done 11 rounds of IVF, F should tell you all I need to know that I think I deserve [00:31:00] something right.
[00:31:01] Jill Van Gyn: That I'm owed a baby. Because I've done all this and for me, I think that my biggest personal weakness is that idea. And I recently let go of it. I don't know how I did it, Rob. I have no idea how I did it. I think I just got really tired constantly, like doing the same thing over and over. A lot of it had to do with the fact that we. Finally had our second child a year ago. I mean, that definitely takes the sting out of it. But we had just been through so much loss and it just, I just remember like, it felt so unfair because we had been through so much pain and loss trying to conceive our first child. [00:32:00] The second we thought great, and we got pregnant like the first time we tried through IVF. And both my kids are through an egg donor, so they're not biologically related to me. And she was so much harder.
[00:32:14] Jill Van Gyn: And I remember like we got pregnant and at 14 weeks found out that the baby had died. I was wracked with this thought of how unfair
[00:32:31] Rob Pintwala: Yeah.
[00:32:33] Jill Van Gyn: also being like, who the fuck do I argue with right now? Like, who? Who do I yell at for this injustice?
[00:32:46] Rob Pintwala: do you do that directly, do you direct that too, are you, have you ever been spiritual or religious? Like did you direct that anywhere?
[00:32:54] Jill Van Gyn: You know it. No. Like yes and no. [00:33:00] I've never liked having been hard-lined either way. I've always been open to the idea, you know? I think, maybe, but not in that way where I could talk to something. But I think about it. Oh, this is gonna sound a bit nihilistic, but I think what it taught me, is this idea of deserve, because if we think we deserve something, we have set out a plan and the universe is gonna unfold in the way that a red carpet rolls out because we have done these things that we were told we should do, and that like I've been through enough pain that eventually I'm owed a baby. Like who am I talking to there? It is the universe, whether I like it or not, or a God or something, right? Like because I am negotiating with something. I don't know what that is, but if I think I deserve something, I'm saying somebody else is responsible for looking at like [00:34:00] all of the homework that I've done and giving me a fucking grade on it and being like, yes, Jill has done all of this. Okay. She's. Been through grief and loss. She doesn't get to have her own biological children. Here's the threshold of pain that she has to meet before she gets a baby. 'cause if we strip it away, that's basically what I've been asking for. That's the negotiation I wanted to have. Is it enough? So this is the thing that I've been grappling with, is like, I don't. No, I don't think I am spiritual and I don't think there is some sort of God that is looking and tallying up my pain when I look around me, my pain pales in comparison to the pain that other people experience that doesn't get, pregnant or lose [00:35:00] Like a baby close to term or an infant or a child.
[00:35:06] Jill Van Gyn: Like, so you go through these things and you think, no, my pain isn't enough. It wasn't enough. I am gonna be one of those people. There is bottomless pain available to me. And so it gets very like, um, I really had been grappling, I guess, spiritually with this question: what am I owed?
[00:35:25] Jill Van Gyn: Like, it was interesting.
[00:35:27] Jill Van Gyn: I like having a conversation with my husband. There was a fantastic series that came out recently for anybody who's gone through fertility issues the Retrievals. And it's based on like the, the story is somewhat like secondary to like the bigger picture around women's health and fertility and the pain around that and all this stuff.
[00:35:47] Jill Van Gyn: And there was a really remarkable Just one idea is like, why do some women like myself, put themselves through nine years of IVF through [00:36:00] multiple losses and pain, stretch their marriage to the point of breakage, push themselves to the brink of insanity and beyond. But destroy their bodies through hormones and pregnancies are lost.
[00:36:19] Jill Van Gyn: And what is it about these women? Why do they do this? Why do they have this tolerance for pain?
[00:36:27] Jill Van Gyn: and they
[00:36:27] Rob Pintwala: in the program too. Yeah.
[00:36:29] Jill Van Gyn: yeah, I mean, but it really, for me, it was like I had done all this stuff to my body, like the amount of needles I had put in my body, and therapies and procedures and. Medical trauma and just the scale of loss that we went through. And they just said something like it's because we're already mothers to those children. 'cause we're fighting for our kids. I'm already a mom. I don't have kids yet. But this is just the process of how fierce you are for [00:37:00] the children that you are going to have. And I said to my husband, I was like, it's so interesting because I've met many women who have gone through IVF and have gone through one round and have said no more. the body can't take it and my marriage can't take it. And we met people who have gone through like two rounds of IVF and in a divorce and I just like, I looked at him and I was like, I think I might have been temporarily insane. He's like, he had this look of relief on him 'cause he's like, I'm so glad that now I was like, Jesus Christ.
[00:37:36] Rob Pintala: Wow.
[00:37:37] Jill Van Gyn: It was
[00:37:38] Rob Pintwala: I mean. The amount of resilience that just like pours out of you when you speak or your presence like you are, like looking at your whole story that you've talked about in the last 40 minutes, is that
[00:37:53] Rob Pintwala: You have this level of resilience that's unheard of. It's wild.
[00:37:57] Jill Van Gyn: Oh, thank you for saying that. [00:38:00] I'm always reluctant to accept compliments like that because I just feel like I have it so good. like, I am so mindful of. I think like for me right now, one of the things is watching this what's unfolding over in
[00:38:16] Jill Van Gyn: Palestine has been really tough. And I think about all like versions of parents and mothers who are just trying to figure out how to keep their kids safe
[00:38:30] Jill Van Gyn: and all. I don't know. I mean, I know it's a bigger-picture answer,
[00:38:34] Rob Pintwala: I've been ruminating quite heavily on it as well. Yeah.
[00:38:38] Jill Van Gyn: Yeah,
[00:38:39] Jill Van Gyn: it's very
[00:38:40] Rob Pintala: Um.
[00:38:41] Jill Van Gyn: So, you know, I just like, I'm well supported and I, yeah, I don't quite know what it is. I mean, maybe it's because I thought I deserved something, and maybe that idea of being deserving or being owed something does create a sense of insanity and sometimes it works. [00:39:00] Like to your benefit and sometimes to your detriment,
[00:39:04] Jill Van Gyn: like, I
[00:39:05] Rob Pintwala: Well, there's kind of this theme of you pushing yourself to the limit. Like multiple times, not just, like, like you said, you wanted to go back to school to prove yourself, what to prove to yourself, what you can do when you are sober, and push yourself to the limit again.
[00:39:20] Rob Pintwala: and I can, well, when you were talking about your first undergrad, I could sort of relate because just in the sense where I felt at times for me, I would like to procrastinate.
[00:39:31] Rob Pintwala: And like, try to learn a whole course at university like 24 hours before and like stay up all night and whatever, right? And like, that was exciting 'cause like whatever, I could do it and, but then I'd just like kick the shit outta myself. But then there was this theme emerging that I would like to put myself through unnecessary stress all the time and drink a lot, and finally like, forgive myself, learn to forgive myself after I kept feeling so bad about overdrinking or things like that.
[00:39:57] Rob Pintwala: But. Yeah, I can [00:40:00] relate to that. I mean, it's not, I don't mean to compare it, but just like putting yourself through this like self-induced stress almost as a test to yourself and like I, you strike me as someone who's like, sort of has this innate level of confidence, at least in maybe some of your abilities or maybe all, but at the same time you like.
[00:40:21] Rob Pintwala: It also strikes me as someone who probably kicks the shit out yourself, or at least used to a lot.
[00:40:25] Jill Van Gyn: yeah, I do. I really have been. I've had this very big shift in my life, and I think it's because I've had the luxury and the privilege of having this. Second child. And like my first obviously, that was just a goddamn miracle. And it was just, it was the process of our second that felt so much harder. And we also just had this like a finite amount of embryos and I was just like, well, you can't leave chips on the table for Christ's sake. Like.
[00:40:57] Rob Pintwala: Oh my goodness,
[00:40:59] Jill Van Gyn: [00:41:00] Well, that's the thing, I was just like, you'll regret it. Right? It'll be one of those things. And like, I remember it was so funny 'cause it was a period of my business where I was trying to find money to fund this run. And it was, I was getting involved with this loan that I needed and I was like, running around, dealing with all of these. Guise and it was like just an extremely stressful period of the company, and it was time sensitive and I needed it. Now, it also coincided with mine. This round of IVF, which was like my very last round of IVF, actually I think we have one embryo left, but I was like, just so done and I was like, I just don't give a fuck anymore.
[00:41:42] Jill Van Gyn: I was like, these guys are driving me to the point of like breaking and I'm gonna go do this round of IVF and it's not gonna work because I'm just gonna be so stressed out about it and like, but I was like, I'm just gonna do it. Like, I don't even know why, like why wouldn't I have just waited until [00:42:00] things were like, but like, I'm also not like a spring chicken or anything, right?
[00:42:03] Jill Van Gyn: Like I had my daughter when I was 42,
[00:42:06] Jill Van Gyn: so,
[00:42:07] Jill Van Gyn: You know, though, I was kinda racing against time and like there was just like, there was so much happening. So I did this round of IVF and then the day I tested positive for pregnancy, I tested positive for Covid
[00:42:18] Rob Pintwala: Oh my goodness.
[00:42:20] Jill Van Gyn: And I was just like, I didn't even care. I was like, I just need to, like, I'm gonna use these embryos and we're gonna be done. It's not gonna work, but I'm going to walk through the process because I just have to like, I just have to, And
[00:42:34] Rob Pintwala: the expectation at that time, it sounds like.
[00:42:36] Jill Van Gyn: don't know what, so it's wild. Like everybody's always like, oh yeah, you need to be like, so, like stress-free and all these hormones and like. I was not stress-free. I was like, like, just like half caffeine, and like everything was like, I was just a ball of stress. So I don't really know, I don't know how much water all that stuff holds with, what makes[00:43:00]
[00:43:00] Jill Van Gyn: fall pregnant or not. But yeah, so I don't know where that drive comes from, but I will say that I'm Fairly sure it's rooted in fear
[00:43:11] Jill Van Gyn: and I am trying to not operate from a place of fear, but it's very deep inside me, right? Because I started off my early life just as such a failure and as somebody who wanted so badly to succeed.
[00:43:31] Rob Pintwala: And how much of
[00:43:33] Rob Pintwala: come from your own opinion of yourself versus like your parents or like? The failure, image.
[00:43:38] Jill Van Gyn: I mean, I think it was like my parents didn't help. But actually, you know what, I will say this. My parents always knew I was capable of what I did with Fatso and what I did with my education and what I did with my nonprofit work and stuff like they knew. Is not like, it's almost like [00:44:00] frustrating 'cause it's not surprising to 'em
[00:44:01] Jill Van Gyn: because like even when I got there, they were like, well yeah, fuck, we knew the whole time which
[00:44:06] Jill Van Gyn: I
[00:44:07] Rob Pintwala: getting back to level ground. Oh, expectations.
[00:44:11] Jill Van Gyn: So yeah, I think that growing up with an identical twin sister was really challenging. We were often in competition with each other compared to each other. And, you get into cycles when you're younger, especially when addiction is involved. It gets to a point where you can't see yourself. It's very hard to break the loop.
[00:44:35] Jill Van Gyn: Right? And it's these self-fulfilling prophecies, which is like, I'm a failure 'cause I can't be a success and I'll never be a success because I'm a fucking failure. Like, it's just like the dumbest. The hardest thing to get out
[00:44:47] Jill Van Gyn: of.
[00:44:48] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. I mean,
[00:44:50] Jill Van Gyn: but I
[00:44:51] Rob Pintwala: branded it as imposter syndrome. It's a brand now
[00:44:54] Jill Van Gyn: God honestly, like, and I was, I mean, yes, but it's just like, [00:45:00] join the fucking club.
[00:45:01] Jill Van Gyn: Like this is the thing that I've actually, it's been great 'cause like I went through a lot of, I've done a lot of therapy. I've done a ton, like I was hardcore in 12 Step for about eight or nine years, and. I still really like those programs. I think they're valid and worthy depending on who you are and if it's right for you. But, I owe my life to two 12-step programs. But I think that there's just like a, I had a, I have a, it's a gift and a curse of like self-awareness and like, I don't know where this shift happened. But I just stopped. I just started to see that like everybody, everybody is fucking operating from fear, right? And whether it comes out as hyper-confidence or aggression, or like toxic positivity, it's fear. And I don't want [00:46:00] to sound reductive, but everybody just wants to be loved. Everybody just wants to be seen and heard and loved, and they wanna know that they exist. to me, it just boils down
[00:46:11] Jill Van Gyn: to that. And like, I think having come through the loss of my business, which was, having gone through pregnancy and then, well, my last trimester and giving birth and. Like six months of the newborn phase was all dragging through this goddamn deal to sell this company. So, it was just like a different type of loss. It was very, I feel very fortunate because I came through this really horrific experience with fertility and gave birth, had a wonderful pregnancy, and gave birth. No issues with an absolute blockhead of a baby daughter.
[00:46:55] Jill Van Gyn: Like, she's just like a fucking linebacker. I love it. It's great. Should [00:47:00] we call her Blockhead? That is her nickname. She's great, but like, she was born and I was like selling this company that I had built, and my persona was deeply attached to Fatso, deeply attached to Fatso. It was this process of being so in love and proud of myself and my body and my family for getting through this period of wreckage having this beautiful daughter and having so much love for her. While also going through absolutely brutal negotiations to get this company sold. I mean, brutal. And this was all happening at the same time, right? And like you're dumping hormones and you're doing all this stuff, but like, man, does it give you perspective? [00:48:00] And I'm so grateful that I had her while I was going through this because I think there was a very real possibility that this would've been another. Moments in my life where I would've lost myself, where I would've thought, but I was owed something. I was building a multimillion-dollar company, right? Like we were gonna exit at like at least 50 million. Like for the fuck, I'm owed this. I built this. This was finally the thing that I did really well.
[00:48:30] Jill Van Gyn: It can't end like this. That's not like, that's not the story that I've written. And seeing once again that you're not owed anything. Things went pear-shaped. You can fail. It's not a bad word. You can do other things like that, letting go again and again. I don't know. I think I just [00:49:00] found a bottom for that after all of it. And it's been a really peaceful place to be. 'cause I think maybe somebody else, or somebody with different experiences or a different perspective, I don't know, maybe all of those like horrific failures and losses and like trying to climb out of the bullshit and all this stuff. The culmination of that was just like. All of that you went through, because now you're able to go like, oh, you're owed nothing. You deserve nothing. So fucking stop thinking like that because now that I've let that go, I'm just like, there's so much freedom in it. I don't have expectations. I battle them every day. I'm so scared that I'm like, like not gonna, I don't know, win another award like.
[00:49:50] Jill Van Gyn: I don't know, add another million to like the p and l. Like, I'm not gonna come up with a cool new product that people [00:50:00] are gonna love me for. Like, I don't know, like I still battle with that a little bit. Like I got a lot of validation from my community around what I built
[00:50:11] Rob Pintwala: Yeah.
[00:50:12] Jill Van Gyn: and that went away like a day.
[00:50:15] Rob Pintwala: It didn't go away. , maybe it changed
[00:50:18] Jill Van Gyn: No. I couldn't keep pursuing that form of validation.
[00:50:21] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah. You said the word perspective and that's what I'm taking in. It's like, wow you've climbed many mountains. And I'm curious, about two things as we start to wrap up. You just said, you're in this place of peace, which is amazing to hear, and it sounds like you deserve it to me.
[00:50:41] Rob Pintwala: And also how you feel like you've, you strike me as someone who's there's still this desire to fulfill your potential and I think
[00:50:51] Rob Pintwala: potential and capabilities just continue to expand.
[00:50:54] Rob Pintwala: So how do you kind of align this like greater perspective and maybe purpose or maybe more of just, [00:51:00] you know, kind of at least understanding where things are in your life at the hierarchy of importance perhaps, but also like fulfilling your own potential.
[00:51:09] Rob Pintwala: Like how do you, how are you currently grappling with those things?
[00:51:13] Jill Van Gyn: Yeah, I think you know, I had a bit of a, with Fatso, I had a bit of a template for like. Building this path is like ultimate, like fulfilling the ultimate potential. Like I've just become one of those like super rich founders that like just is like philanthropic and like, go on like a speaking tour and I write a book and like, I think There was part of me that really thought that's how that was gonna turn out and that I was gonna create all this amazing impact and have this platform and I was building this platform and the resources to like, deploy all of that. And I think there's a real fear in me that I won't [00:52:00] leave a lasting impact. And I don't constantly remind myself of that like. Impact doesn't have. Not everybody has to know about your impact for it to be meaningful. In fact, nobody has to know about it. And like, feel like Fatso put me up in this like hot air balloon and this like grounded gel in this like post fatso, post infertility battle, post addiction battle is like having to slowly let that air out a bit and just be like, Hey, The impact is in what you do with your kids. The impact is like, doing stuff with your local community when you have time to do it. It's like infusing passion into your work. Even if it's not like I'm doing this big thing. It's about like, how do I support amazing people to do these big things? And so it's now for me, I think. I'm like, I feel like I'm almost like [00:53:00] trying to physically turn myself around and be like, somebody said this great thing there, I'm talking about another founder actually. It's like he's not a show horse, he's a workhorse. And I was like, I need to start turning myself towards that love of producing amazing things in the world and not being worried about who fucking looks at it. Who cares about it and who gets credit for it? And like, I don't wanna be that person. I enjoyed it 'cause it came naturally to me, but I need to get to a place, or I hope to get to a place where I don't think I need it. And I've really started to tailor down the expectations I have. What it means as I like to enter is like, I'm 43, I'm gonna be 50.
[00:53:55] Jill Van Gyn: And then, golden years from like, I don't, I have time, but like, [00:54:00] I want to start redefining like, what is super important. And I think for me it's like I'm okay with not making a whole bunch of money. I just like, I want. To leave an impression on my kids, I wanna be okay and feel fulfilled through the work that I do. And I just wanna get right with the scale of impact that I think I need to leave. And then what, like what is actually going to make an impact? And it goes back to the beginning of our conversation where I realized that like $1,500 To an organization that doesn't get that type of money. I need to go back to that. It is like, it doesn't have to be huge. It doesn't have to be big. And success doesn't mean that everybody has to be looking at Jill and saying Jill's a success. [00:55:00] Like, I'm okay with getting by and loving my kids and making sure that they are focused on leaving a better world behind.
[00:55:10] Jill Van Gyn: And I know this sounds a little woo, but. I just think that is very important work. And I don't know, I just wanna take the pressure off.
[00:55:21] Rob Pintala: I
[00:55:22] Jill Van Gyn: wanna take the pressure off. And I think if I can do that, I'm gonna have enough groundedness to like, say like, I did enough and be okay with it for myself.
[00:55:36] Rob Pintwala: I love that. That's super powerful. I also think that's a great place to wrap up. So. I usually ask where can people find you? But I'm not gonna let you say because maybe it's not that important, but
[00:55:49] Jill Van Gyn: It is not.
[00:55:49] Rob Pintwala: But, I'll, but I'll put it, I'll put it in the show notes for people. So thank you. Thank you so much, Jill.
[00:55:55] Rob Pintwala: This was the most powerful conversation I've had to date. So thank you
[00:55:58] Jill Van Gyn: Oh, awesome. [00:56:00] I'm so glad.
[00:56:01] Rob Pintwala: And yeah, I really look forward to future conversations with the youth, so thank you.
[00:56:05] Jill Van Gyn: Yeah, definitely. Anytime. All right. Take care.
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