Cure your panic attacks with Austin Netzley

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Austin Netzley

Founder & CEO
2X helps startups scale up their businesses.

Sean has founded multiple companies and done multiple 8 figures worth of business.

He’s currently advising, consulting, and investing in business just like yours.

He knows where you’ve been, and he knows where you’re going.

Book a call with him today to see how he can help you get there smarter, faster, and in a way that aligns with your life goals.


00:00 – Lessons
02:46 – Adversity
05:19 – Change
08:09 – Anxiety
10:43 – Pressure of success
13:34 – Managing anxiety
18:54 – Ice baths
21:36 – Comfort zones
24:12 – Your body is an asset
26:57 – Outdoors
29:34 – Stress
32:01 – Focus


Read the transcript

Sean Weisbrot:
So, the topic of today’s episode is panic attacks. Funny enough. I’m currently, as we’re recording this experiencing a panic attack. I will do my best to keep it as cool as I can. I’d like to know when was the first time you experienced a panic attack? And do you think you know what caused it?

Austin Netzley:
Well, first of all, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, this level of stress that we sign up for as entrepreneurs, like it’s not talked about enough. So, I love that we’re able to talk about this and shed some light on hopefully how to fix it, how to address it. And it’s unfortunate that you’re in this situation, but also again, I think that this is gonna be worth it for us to talk about, to help save other people from going through kind of the things that we’ve been through. My first one was building my first business. I was working as an engineer in the corporate world. And I was building my first business on the side and I was in my mid-20s.

I was super healthy I played college football and then I went into getting into marathons and everything and I felt like crap I should have been just on fire. I should had so much energy. I should have had just like a peak health in so many different ways because I had great fitness and I kept going to my doctor I’m like I feel like crap like I’m like there’s something wrong. He’s like you’re the healthiest person in my office I’m like, no, I’m not like you don’t know how I feel. So, I felt like crap and I had so much stress from building my first business because I was trying to figure it all out myself. I was, again, working a full-time job, as on the side, I was building my first business.

So cumulatively, I was working at least 80 hours a week and I had so much stress because I was trying to make money, trying to figure it all out. I was trying to be very successful and I had this huge pressure on myself. It was all self-induced. I was doing fine. I was making way more money in my corporate job than I was spending. I was getting out of my student loan debt. I was living a great lifestyle. Life should have been amazing, but I was stressed out over my head that between the stress and the lack of health from my diet, that led to, that combination kinda led to a lack of sleep because I’m still trying to party and live a 20-something single lifestyle as well.

Sean Weisbrot:

Austin Netzley:
You can’t do all those things. Ultimately, my body just gave up. I remember I was in Athens, Georgia. I was with some friends, we were going to the college football game, we were tailgating all day and I just Ilaid down to sleep and I was so exhausted, I was  delirious, and I couldn’t fall asleep. Every time I would fall asleep, I would gasp up in bed for breath. I was like, I can’t breathe. Every time I would fall asleep, like drift off to sleep, I would stop breathing. And I was like, finally, I admitted defeat, and I was like, all right, I feel like I’m going to die. Something’s happening here. I woke up my friend and said, “Hey, you got to call 911. I think I’m dying.” And that was like, as a man, I was a big admit of defeat.

I’m like, I don’t know what’s going on. I feel like I’m dying. Call 911. 911 came to check me out and I was telling them the story. I was telling them about my new business. I was kind of proud of it. I was like, I’m working. I’m at the hospital and I’m building up my first business. And he didn’t look at me with any excitement. He looked at me with the most sad face I’ve ever seen. He had pity for me that I was putting myself. through this stress and this grind, literally killing myself to be successful, to be rich, to get ahead financially. And he told me, you’re fine, you’re having an anxiety attack, you need to get more sleep, take care of your health, pull back on the stress.

And I listened to him for a short period of time, but then I got back into it. And crazy enough, one year later, literally on the dot, had anxiety attacks again, had to call 911 again. And that second time woke me up of like, all right, you know, this is serious. The second time like shook me up like, all right, I’m going to die if I don’t change. And then I had to go on to figure out how to change.

Sean Weisbrot:
Hmm, well, the first time I experienced it. So like I had burnout from my first company. I was 27. And eventually I just had to let it go. I gave it to my ex-girlfriend and let her continue running it. The second company, I felt no stress at all because there was no team really. There’s just a few contractors. And people were coming to me and throwing stupid amounts of money at me. And I was like, OK, I’m just going to keep doing this. And that was great. And then I took money from that to start my software company. And the software company is where all of the anxiety started.

And it was like investing into this thing I thought would be good, but I was so used to people coming to me and paying me. Like, you know, when you’re running a consulting firm or a service agency, it’s like you’re selling all day long, right? You could have multiple payments a day from clients. But when you’re starting a B2B SaaS, it’s not like that, it’s totally different. And it sometimes takes, it took us years and we never launched. A lot of the time because of my own misunderstandings of how software companies run, but also because of the lack of money. And so for the first few years, I was investing my own money into the business from profit that was generated from the previous business. And the more I spent and the more the monthly cost ballooned, the worse my anxiety got. And about the same time COVID started and…

I was in a relationship in Vietnam and we were getting serious and that relationship wasn’t perfect and the anxiety wasn’t helping the relationship. And I happened to start a podcast, which, you know, I’m still doing obviously now, but it didn’t help because I didn’t know anything about podcasting. So I was learning about that. I was learning about software. I was learning about, you know, being in a serious relationship with someone again, because it had been a while. It’s like, I think all of these things stressed me out. But I think the biggest factor of it was spending all of that money.

At one point, I was spending about $30,000 a month of my own money to keep the team going, which when you look at it and you have no end in sight for the cost of  development and being able to get people to become customers and pay, like it was really, really bad for me. And so I’m curious, how did it manifestfor you? You said you felt like you were dying. I totally understand that. That expression. But maybe you can explain a little bit better, like what the physical symptoms were, like how you knew it was coming on and like what it felt like.

Austin Netzley:
Yeah, so a couple things. The physical symptoms were like I had tension in my chest. So basically near my heart, I had tension for a while. And it wouldn’t be like I was feeling like I was gonna have a heart attack or anything, but it was just definitely some tension, definitely some angst there. And the stress was just so high and it was about money as well. So I grew up, we didn’t have a ton of money. My parents, you know, didn’t fight a ton, but when they did fight, it was about money. So, I made the decision from a young age of like, I’m gonna get rich, I’m not gonna have to worry about money.

I had money on my mind every single day until I finally hit financial freedom and was well ahead financially at about 27. So, every day until then, especially in my 20s when I was making money, I was thinking about money. And my first business was a day trading business, which is one of the most stressful things that you can do because every single day, you’re either making thousands of dollars or losing thousands of dollars or somewhere in between. It is up and down, round and round, nonstop. And just that big trigger for me was financial, which is the most thing, or the most common thing that stresses people out. So that’s why we talk about, we gotta get you ahead financially. No matter what business you’re in, you gotta get into what we call the power position, that you’re ahead financially.

That reduces at least 50% of the amount of stress for most people. But money was on my mind every single day, and that was the big thing that drove it, but it created this tension in my chest, and that led to a lack of sleep. And I couldn’t really take a full breath. I couldn’t really just relax. I couldn’t just really let go, because I was thinking about work and all the things I had to do every single day. And anytime I took two hours off, I would have angst of what am I not doing? Why am I not productive right now? I got things to do. And again, it was all on me, but it was all self-induced. Like I said, I could have been great. I was making six figures in my full-time job. That was easy. And I was just killing myself over here trying to be successful. So, I think that pressure that we put on ourselves, that’s the real killer. And then trying to do it all yourself, like that just isn’t the path to success.

Sean Weisbrot:
Definitely noticed when I was doing my consulting business that money came really easily and I didn’t feel stressed at all and I was enjoying life very at a deep level and then doing the software company I kind of I shut off. I wasn’t making money anymore. I kind of put that business. I shut it down and Then I just started spending and I didn’t have I didn’t I wasn’t able to take a salary from the company until like three Ish years later And I was financially free, however, I still felt this intense anxiety. And it didn’t help at all. And it just got worse and worse and worse. And you said you felt this tension in your chest. I totally get it. And I’ve been able to identify what it is. I don’t know if you figured it out, but essentially it’s like you’re breathing here instead of here and you’re pushing on this. And when you’re not actually breathing, you’re like holding the… the muscles or you’re holding it in place. And that’s what I’m experiencing right now. I totally get it.

And I’ve sometimes have been able to figure out how to stop it by redirecting my breathing back down towards my belly. And other times I can’t no matter how hard I try. I’ve had it in multiple ways. So I’ve felt it here before, I’ve felt it here as a whole before. I felt it in my neck. I felt it in my overall scalp. I felt it everywhere that you could think of. And this one’s the worst because imagine being able to hold all of the muscles in your scalp.

Austin Netzley:

Sean Weisbrot:
It’s not fun. It’s not fun at all.

Austin Netzley:

Sean Weisbrot:
That’s when I know it’s bad.

Austin Netzley:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Have you done like Wim Hof breathing or any deep, deep breathing techniques?

Sean Weisbrot:
No, I meditate.

Austin Netzley:
Okay, I’ll send you something. You can even send it out if you want. But there’s this Wim Hof breathing that I do. So, it’s basically some deep breathing. And I shortened it down. So, I do three minutes of kind of intense deep breathing and he’s guiding you through that. And then I have audio or meditation audio after that. So, it’s like a five minute meditation after that. So, I’m doing three minutes of deep breathing followed by like five minutes of meditation. And it’s like the best meditation and it’s only again eight minutes total for that entire thing and that is so calming so reinvigorating it’s almost like a power nap.

So, try that but I’ve been doing that recently So the past few months, so I just launched a new book called two-week vacation test and I’ve been on tour like promoting that I’ve been busier in heck and my lifestyle has been full like full So I’ve been like I knew I was gonna be extra busy for a few months. So I cut out drinking, which was a big thing for me in the past when I had anxiety attacks, and I started adding that breathwork. That combination has me taking everything in flow and feeling really, really good. So, I would be encouraged for you to try that.

Sean Weisbrot:
Do you do that like every morning or only if you’re feeling anxiety or?

Austin Netzley:
I don’t do it every afternoon, but afternoon is my favorite time to do it because I have my morning routine
that I do. And there is a little bit of meditation and visualization and stuff in that, but that’s a pretty short
morning routine. And then I get into it. But I prefer personally the breathing as an afternoon kind of check
in and recharge because that’s where things start to hit me later in the afternoon of like a little bit of
fatigue and definitely I need some type of recharge. I can’t take naps. I’ve tried many, many times to be
able to take a quick power nap. But doing this breathing is a great reset in the afternoon. So late morning,
I do a workout. That’s my reset then. Then I do a lunch. And then I do, in the afternoon, a little reset there.
But if you can have a reset of some kind every two to three hours, that can help you keep you invigorated.

Sean Weisbrot:
Alright, let’s talk about that a little bit more in a little bit. I wanna go back to the anxiety itself. So, I found
that when I felt burnt out from my first business, getting rid of the business, got rid of the anxiety like
really fast.

Austin Netzley:

Sean Weisbrot:
It’s been a lot harder to do with this other company because there’s a big team and there’s salaries,
salary debt, unfortunately. And there’s other complications that are that’s preventing me from moving
forward. And so, while I’m working on building we live to build, I’m also still trying to take care of that. And
I think that’s probably why I’m still experiencing the anxiety. But you had said that you found it was
possible to get rid of the anxiety. Do you feel like you’ve conquered that? Or do you feel like even though
you have success now, once again, you’re still kind of having that. Like, is it something that can go away or
is it something that kind of sticks with you once you, once it starts?

Austin Netzley:
If you have ambitious goals, you’re gonna always be dealing with some level of anxiety, right? The big
thing is to be in control of it. The big thing is to be ahead of it. With my first business, the one that was
stressing me out the most, since I burnt myself out, since I was having those anxiety attacks, I stopped
the business. I quit my corporate job and I traveled the world for 18 months. I needed at least six months
at that time to totally recharge to get my health back underneath me, yada yada, like all the different
things. So, I needed to leave that one behind. I needed to take a full time off to separate.

That was kind of the level of burnout and anxiety that I had. That’s usually not the case for most people. Most people can get it back much quicker than that. And then now I’ve learned a better way to run and grow a business that I should never have anxiety again. I definitely don’t have even close to the anxiety that I had. But. At the same time, there are still stressful situations. So, in business, anytime we’re not growing
at the rate or succeeding at the rate that I think that we should, or most importantly, anytime that there’s
a people situation, because people situations like they’re the most stressful thing. I feel like that and
money, but I’m like fine from a money standpoint.

This business is we do coaching, consulting, we invest in businesses. There’s not what you’re talking about from like the software application that you dealt with. but we still do have some of the people decisions and having those conversations and firing people and impacting their family, that’s never fun. Like you’re always gonna have anxiety around that. But the big thing is, is I’ve really went on the game to master the game of business, or went on the path to master the game of business to understand, all right, how can I run a wildly successful business that’s not dependent on me and my time? And if that’s the case, that’s a healthy business and I’m in control of my time so I can live my lifestyle, I can stay healthy and I’ve got the free time and clarity and focus to be able to work on the business on the right things; to scale it to the next level. So that’s what we teach now is how to run your business so that it’s not so dependent on your time. So it’s not so stressful. So you can be more successful in business and out of business and not have that anxiety, not have that burnout.

Sean Weisbrot:
Yeah, I remember we were talking with you before and we are pretty much on the same path with what
we do, which is pretty cool. Okay, so Wim Hof. I’ve heard of Wim Hof. I’ve seen the Yes Theory guys, go
and spend time with him. I don’t know if you know who they are.

Austin Netzley:
Oh yeah.

Sean Weisbrot:
I thought that was really interesting what they did with him. I can’t imagine getting into a tub of ice. But,

Austin Netzley:
It’s amazing.

Sean Weisbrot:
and I’m,

Austin Netzley:
Ice baths

Sean Weisbrot:
You’ve done it.

Austin Netzley:
Oh, many times, many times ice baths, cold plunges, those are an amazing thing. I was just at a spa
yesterday that you jump back and forth from the hot tub to the cold plunge back and forth. In college
playing football, they highly recommend that you get an ice bath after every practice because it reduces
inflammation. It is a really good thing to do. So I really encourage you to try it out.

Sean Weisbrot:
The only benefit that I, well, so I’m aware that one of the benefits is being able to recover faster from
injury and it also is known to force you to burn more calories, but it burns like brown fat. It burns the fat
that is good for you. So like actually burning the brown fat, I believe increases your body temperature.
And so it, It just helps you to stay healthier. I don’t know, maybe I’m slightly wrong there.

Austin Netzley:
Yep. You’re right on those two benefits. Another benefit is this increases circulation. So it helps kind of get bad things out of your body. And the main one that I enjoy is like every day or every time you do it, you’re
beating the lizard brain. Right? The lizard brain is like, that’s cold. I don’t want to do it. But if we let our
lizard brain be in control, then we’re going to be checking social media lizard brain loves dopamine. It
loves easy, simple tasks, things that we shouldn’t be doing. It loves the things that, you know, it loves
avoiding pain. It loves avoiding the things that we know we need to do. It loves avoiding the hard work that
we should be doing as CEO.

It loves avoiding the things that are going to make us better, like, you know, going to the gym every day or whatever it is. Right. So if you can every single day have different ways that you can beat your lizard brain, whether it’s jumping into a cold shower, doing a cold plunge, asking for a discount at Starbucks, which, you know, they’re not going to do, but like. Just asking for that is like a little fear thing that you’re like, uh, you, yeah, you just beat your lizard brain every single day. And if you do that, you build the muscle of, uh, making more of the right moves and being more in control instead of again, just letting our brain and dopamine and the psychological triggers that we have kind of control us.

Sean Weisbrot:
Hmm. Fair enough. Yeah. One of the things I’ve been doing in Portugal recently is trying to go to different
kinds of events and do activities that I normally would never do. So for example, I don’t draw like I’m not
an artist by any means. I’m not creative in that regard. And I never drink alcohol. And I found this event
called the drink and draw. And so, I said, screw it. I’m going to drink and I’m going to draw.

Austin Netzley:
Let’s go.

Sean Weisbrot:
And, and I went and I did it and it was a really fun time. And I met some interesting people and made
them laugh the whole way through. I was teasing them about their drawing and teasing myself about my
drawing, being self-deprecating and, and they loved it. And they, they enjoyed their time. And so, I agree
kind of doing those things that you’re not comfortable with, uh, are really freeing in a way. Um, yeah.
What are some other things that you do besides the ice bath that kind of force you outside of that may
help you with different things in your life?

Austin Netzley:
Um, one of the ones that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, um, so getting into serious relationships
important to me and, uh, one of the things I’ve been thinking about is like, what’s the most, what’s the
most emotionally brave thing to do, right? So, whether you’re thinking about in business or out of
business, just think about that question. And like, I’ll again, a lot of times we don’t want to have a
conversation. A lot of times we don’t want to approach the girl. A lot of times we don’t want to tell
somebody how we feel. A lot of times we don’t want to have, you know, again, make the decision that we
need to make, but like what’s the most emotionally brave thing that you can do and then lean into that
and just do that.

And it’s a really important thing to do, but again, from a small decision standpoint, there’s a lot of things that you can flex that muscle of being in control. So again, I jump in the cold shower every single day. So, it’s only at the beginning. So, I turn it on cold and jump right in and it’s only for a few seconds and then it gets warm, but like every single day, that’s a small thing. when you’re eating something, you’re like, I know I shouldn’t eat that. Like if you really want to be at peak performance, you need to treat yourself like a professional athlete. And there’s hundreds of small decisions throughout the day and there’s dozens within food alone of, oh, should I buy that or should I buy that? Should I drink this or should I drink water? You know, those types of things. If you can just flex that muscle and get some of those wins, that leads into everything, right? So, everything, I hate the saying of like, how you do anything is how you do everything. But in some regards, it’s right. Some regards, it’s not right, right?

And everything of how you’re treating your body impacts your stress level, impacts your success and your happiness as well, right? And I think stress, obviously, and happiness are so intertwined. But there’s a great story of Warren Buffett. So, Warren Buffett in this documentary, he’s like, imagine that once you’re 16 years old, you get a car for your birthday. But that car comes with a caveat. This is the only car you’ll have for the
rest of your life. You get one car, that’s it. His whole point is, that’s your body. You get one body for the
rest of your life, right? Like if you have that one car, you’re gonna treat it differently. You’re gonna be
washing it, you’re gonna take care of it, like extra care of it, you’re gonna protect it, you’re gonna get
regular maintenance on it, you’re gonna monitor the health of it by, that any indicator light comes on,
you’re gonna attack the head on.

You get one car, but you are the asset as a human. So, you gotta treat yourself as that important asset, taking care of your rest, taking care of your diet, taking care of your fitness, monitoring your stress, doing different things to really understand your body. And one thing related to our bodies is everybody’s different. Like the foods and stress and environment and things that I need are different than what you need or different from what everybody else needs, from a slight difference. Like, yes, the 80-20 is pretty common, but the specifics are a little bit different. So… That’s why there’s no one set morning routine or one set diet or one set routine or whatever. But it’s really understanding those things and again treating yourself as the asset. If you do that, you just play the whole game differently which actually leads to less stress, more success and more happiness and fulfillment.

Sean Weisbrot:
One of the best things I did was, as soon as I got divorced, I stopped eating sugar for about six months. And I started walking three to four hours a day before I didn’t do that. And I lost about 50 pounds. And I’ve gained a little bit of back because the sugar is back in my diet, but I’ve kept off the vast majority of it. And I lived in Asia for 14 years. And in Asia, people move fast. There’s like, you think America’s bad, China’s way worse. And so having moved to Portugal a year ago, I, or no, so actually in Vietnam, they moved a little bit slower than people in China. And so I tried to slow down and I couldn’t.

For four years I’ve tried and I couldn’t. And being in Portugal, I’ve tried to slow down and I feel like I’m able
to do a little bit more now. But maybe that’s also my body just going, dude, you just gotta like take a. Like I’m not working that much at the moment because you said you took 18 months to travel. And while I do travel a good bit, I feel like I need to work less. And so like Portugal is so beautiful and there’s so many parks. Like yesterday, for example, I did an interview by 12:30, I was done. I went outside and it was incredibly beautiful. I was like, you know what? I don’t want to work the rest of the day.

And I just went for like a two and a half hour walk, was talking with a friend on the phone. went to go get lunch and just didn’t care I was like screw work whatever needs to be done I could wait until tomorrow.

Austin Netzley:

Sean Weisbrot:
I just…I just want to like not go inside. I just want to feel the breeze on my skin. I just want to be outside.
There’s no clouds in the sky, beautiful blue, just like why would anyone want to be inside working on a day
like that you know, and,

Austin Netzley:
I love that you have the flexibility to do that.

Sean Weisbrot:
Yeah, of course. I’m very blessed to be able to do that because of a lot of the work I did when I was in my
late twenties and early thirties to be able to get there. But you know, of course I still have a lot of work to do to kind of build up this new company. And I’ve also invested in a few companies. So, I’m like splitting my time between advising them and, and managing, you know, all of the rest of the stuff. So, my focus really for the rest of the year and into 2024 is making this business sustainable so that I can start to hire people who can help me to serve clients because I don’t want to do all of the work. I mean, obviously I love what I do, but I don’t want to be the only one doing it because then it starts to become too much work in order to be sustainable – financially.

So, you know, I like you want to be able to take revenue and invest in more companies. I mean, I’ve got three right now, but I have three companies I’ve invested in. So, I want to be able to, you know, invest in more. I’d love to be able to invest in five to 10. new companies a year. But then I need to build a team to help me to advise them and manage them and provide value to them so that I can make sure I have an ROI. So you know, there’s a point where it goes from lifestyle to like, okay, we’re building something again, right?

It’s like, okay, well, do I want that stress? Can I handle that stress? And now I’ve got to hire a team. Now I’ve got to manage a team. Now they’ve got to help these other companies. Are they the right people to be helping them? right? So there’s like an internal team and an external team, right? The team to serve the clients and the external team to help the portfolio companies. So, you know, this it’s a lot to think about.

Austin Netzley:
Yeah, yeah. For sure, for sure. And I think that you can build something great and have big ambitions and not be super stressed. And I think you got to understand like, what are the key things? What are the key causes of stress for people? And like, let’s address those and that way you can still work hard but not be
overwhelmed. So those key stressors are financial, right? Like we got to be head financial, we got to be in
what we call the power position. So, if you’re in the like a head financially and you’re clear on your
financials, yada yada.

Then that’s number one. Number two is related to your time. If you have too many tasks on your plate, you have too many responsibilities, you have things that drain you, you have too many different directions that you’re being pulled, that’s stressful. Third is related to people. A lot of times, one of the biggest stressors is the people, either the clients that we serve or the people that we work with on our team or different vendors or whatever. We gotta understand and make sure that those are good. But if you’re working with great people, you’re in control of your time and working on the things that you want. and you’re ahead financially, you can work really, really hard and not be burned out. Right.

And that’s a really cool situation to be in. It takes some time to build that through the proper decisions
and systems and structure. But if you do it, again, you’re in a really, really good spot to be able to thrive
and, you know, feel good about yourself too.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, you may have already just answered the question, but I will ask you explicitly this time around, what’s
the most important thing you’ve learned in life so far?

Austin Netzley:
Oh man, this is such a good question, such a good question. I would say the most important thing I
learned is like the first thing that comes up is like, you’re gonna die someday. Right? It’s like, you’re going to die someday. And it’s like, we’re on this earth for a very short period of time. And you can believe whatever you want to believe about what happens after that. But like, at some point you’re going to die. All right. So if we understand that, then we understand a few things.

Number one is that there’s some things that matter and most things that don’t. Right? So, we stress ourselves out, out of all these things that in the grand scheme of things, aren’t really that impactful. So, if we can get more focused on what truly does matter and build an optimizer life around that, that’s a win. The second is, it’s like we got limited time. So like, if you’ve got limited time, go and make your life worth living for, right? Like go do something that you wanna do, live with passion, impact people around you. And
hopefully ultimately leave a legacy that’s bigger than just yourself. Now that legacy can be different things. It could be obviously success in business in different ways. It could also be just creating a great family. It could be creating great relationships. It could be impacting other people’s lives. So, I think that is an important thing to just get us refocused on what matters, what doesn’t, what do we wanna do, how do
we maximize this time? Because really.. it’s pretty freaking short period of time that we actually have. So, I
would say that’s the most important lesson.