Expect Resistance: When I started this movement, I didn’t realize the level of pushback I’d get. From cyberbullying to attempts to discredit me, it was brutal. Knowing ahead of time that there will be serious opposition would have helped me prepare mentally and strategically.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Truax.
Joe Truax is the driving force behind Legacies of Men, an organization deeply committed to redefining what “being a man” is all about, while at the same time creating an unparalleled men’s support network. Through its innovative programs, Legacies of Men serves as a suicide prevention resource, a staunch anti-misogynist platform, and a guide for non-toxic relationship management, all aimed at breaking down stigmas and creating a supportive community. Under Joe’s visionary leadership, the organization is more than just a support system; it’s a catalyst for change, empowering men to lead more fulfilling lives.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
It’s funny how things work sometimes. One minute I was on Reddit, watching videos that make grown men cry, and the next minute, I was leading a global men’s mental wellness movement that I grew from zero to thirty-five thousand members in only 60 days.
The funniest thing is that I don’t have any background in the field of mental health. I was just scrolling through Reddit, watched a video that made me, a 40 year old, 6’3″ 220lb man cry, I stated such in the comments, and all of a sudden, r/GuyCry was born. What was intended to be a space for men to come and watch videos that would make them cry, instead, quickly morphed into a space that allowed deep discussions to take place. And when it changed, I knew that I had to protect this space because every other space like it has been overrun by misogynists. Nothing was planned about this, and although I like to think I adapted well, I know that, at times, I didn’t.
There’s a reason that professionals go to school for a long time to become licensed. There’s a lot to being a mental health champion; patience being the most important. It’s something that I don’t always have, but I’m trying to acquire great amounts of.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Since launching GuyCry — now Legacies of Men — back in November 2022, my life, to put it mildly, has been a tornado. I’ve become the target of cyberbullying, online trolls, and Reddit even permanently kicked me off their platform more than a few times. All of this took its toll on me, and when Reddit decided to permanently suspend all of my accounts — for no reason other than that they could — I caved and turned back to using drugs. My work was being picked apart and it was like I’d wasted one hundred straight 15-hour tireless days. I was being forced to fail by the actions of others. I didn’t think I could succeed with this.
But I knew the impact that my work was having was profound; we were both changing and saving lives. Just prior to my relapse, I had saved a file full of direct messages from people who had praised the work we were doing. One day, while in my relapse, I started reading them. This reignited my fire, and so, facing all adversity, I decided then and there that I had to get myself together. For the first time in my life, I checked myself into rehab. I needed clean time away from the world. I didn’t use rehab how it was intended because their way simply couldn’t work for me. Instead, I inadvertently learned a lesson that has protected me well since; don’t put all your eggs in one basket. r/GuyCry was my basket and when it was being destroyed in front of me, I watched my basket break. Now though, I have many baskets!
I got out of rehab with a fire in me, ready to show the world that I was never going to let anything take me down again. I even wrote a 60-page emergency action plan to solve the men’s mental health crisis and wrote an amazing 43 minute speech, knowing that soon I’m going to be standing in school auditoriums across the nation, helping young people stay on the right path.
Everything I’ve been through has only strengthened my resolve to help other struggling men. I already know that as they see me persevere, and as our efforts gain mainstream media attention, they’ll find renewed hope that they too can overcome whatever it is they’re facing in life. That’s really what’s pushing me to try my hardest; I want people to have hope and life.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I honestly wish I could tell you something funny, but I can’t. This work is challenging everything that the world knows. I am very hated. That being said, I’m very NOT afraid as well. I love waking up and working on this each and every day. I can feel it in my bones, that for the rest of my life, I’m going to work to succeed with this because the world needs to be better.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
Legacies of Men is designed to reshape masculinity. We recently figured out that masculinity is actually a leading cause of the male suicide rate.
Think about it; when you’re expected to be a man a certain way, and you can’t conform to that way, then you’re ostracized and alienated, even if you have value for society. Traditional masculinity has been ingrained so deeply in society that we think that this is how masculinity is supposed to be. But did you know that masculinity has never been done right?
It’s time the world does masculinity right. I’ve designed a comprehensive strategy to help men become the best that they can be.
Besides our online community, we’re prepping to start free-forever in-person weekly meet-ups to provide a real world support network. “Legacies of Men; Unburdened” is designed to help men shed what I call “valueless burdens;” society imposed “masculine traits” that benefit society but don’t benefit men. These burdens make life hard for men, and the value in removing them is that less burden equals less anxiety, anger, aggression etc., etc. Our other meeting, “Legacies of Men; Growth” focuses on personal development and self-improvement.
Think of it like this; the first meeting is designed to help men take off their old selves, and the second meeting helps them put on the new man. And we all root each other on while we’re doing this knowing that the end man is superior in all ways to the original man.
On top of the meetings, we have an image series called “Traits of the Desirable Man,” which takes all of the topics from the “Growth” meeting and puts them into shareable social media images so that our reach goes beyond just our community and in-person meetings.
Added to that, we have the unburdened “New Man” video series, consisting of 61+ plus videos that teach men about the society imposed burdens, give examples, and help them see a better way.
I’m also preparing a training program for school guest speakers so that we can reach young people early in life in order to keep them on the path of a good life. My dream is to be an unforgettable youth motivational speaker, or what I call, a “life impact speaker.”
Finally, I write impactful thought-provoking articles, I write children’s books designed to help children see the world through the eyes of other children so that they can learn empathy at a young age, and I write books about what it means to love each other in this hateful world. I’m trying to do a lot for a lot of people.
This is a crisis, and we’ve created something that’s working; an emotional support network and practical tools that men can use right now. We’re also redefining manhood. The ‘superior man’ I mentioned earlier? He’s respectful, kind, and treats everyone as equals. Imagine a world filled with men like that…
This isn’t just about individual well-being; we’re talking about a ripple effect that could change homes, communities, and society at large. So, reader, if you’re tired of the status quo and want to be part of something monumental, now’s the time to join us. Because if we get this right, the impact could be felt for generations to come. What does that impact look like? Peace.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
I have some really fantastic advisors. They don’t want to be named or known because the work is not about becoming famous; the work is about helping men have a support system so we can start reducing the rate of suicide, as well as helping them become unforgettably positive influences in the lives of the people around them. We are life-saving legacy makers.
One of my advisors just keeps pushing me to succeed. He’s a driving force for me to keep going no matter what. He’s also the one I reached out to when I wanted help getting off of drugs; he’s the person that found the rehab that I went to. He helped me get back on track. Without him, I wouldn’t be here picking up the pace.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
1. Media Support: The media has a powerful role in shaping our world, and we invite them to be part of the solution. By highlighting initiatives like Legacies of Men — not only highlighting, but also constantly keeping coverage of it at the forefront of the news — they can help shift the focus from persistent negativity, to stories of growth, resilience, and positive change. Isn’t it time we make greatness newsworthy?
2. Serious Investment in Men’s Mental Health: Governments, charities/foundations, corporations, even just regular individuals, everyone needs to prioritize funding for men’s mental health. Right now we’re throwing money at the consequence instead of at the cause. Proactive programs like this need real money in order to affect real change.
3. Make It Okay to Talk: Aren’t politicians supposed to help the greater number achieve the best quality of life? Right now, a lot of people are suffering, and they’re doing it without any relief. Lawmakers have the power to make it easier for men to talk about mental health. Why not mandate lessons on emotional well-being in schools? Or enforce stricter rules against online bullying? Just think about how many young overburdened but under-supported lives could be saved in this internet age.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I’m having a hard time with leadership. I’ve never really been a leader throughout my life. This is a new experience for me. True, I have intelligence, can strategize, and have the best interest of everybody at heart, but rallying the people is a lot more difficult than it may appear. People are skeptical. Something like what we’re building is too good to be true. Add my past to the equation and that makes things especially difficult. Furthermore, because I’m dealing with a lot of trauma from my past, I often react poorly to criticism and the online attacks towards me that have occurred. Regrettably, I don’t always act how I think a leader should act.
I do have the following traits of a leader; integrity, honesty, accountability, long-term vision, am able to delegate, am able to make hard decisions, am a problem solver, and my resilience is incredible. The traits of a leader that I need to work on are being motivating, adaptable, and the biggest one is humility.
That being said, each and every day I grow. The me that started this movement is not the me that stands here today. I’ve become better at ignoring troublemakers, harassers and abusers. I’m not all the way there yet, but this is my training ground. And I know I’ve impacted lives in ways that they may have never been impacted had this work not existed; I’ve received comments and direct messages from men that have told me that my encouragement — along with the practical advice that I’ve given them — has not only improved the lives of many, but has saved the lives of some. It’s an incredibly humbling experience to have a man say that you saved his life. To know that that person will wake up tomorrow and keep going on top of having the knowledge that their family members don’t have to deal with the devastating loss of their loved one, well that just means the world to me. May all of us strive to make that kind of impact on the lives of those around us.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Expect Resistance: When I started this movement, I didn’t realize the level of pushback I’d get. From cyberbullying to attempts to discredit me, it was brutal. Knowing ahead of time that there will be serious opposition would have helped me prepare mentally and strategically.
2. You Can’t Do It Alone: In the beginning, I thought I could handle everything by myself. I learned quickly that I needed a strong support system, both personally and for the organization. My advisors have been invaluable in helping me stay focused and overcoming challenges.
That being said, choose your help wisely. I gave some people positions of power and they misused them. That’s the problem with anonymity; you can pretend to be anybody you want.
3. Platform Risks: I wish someone had warned me about the risks of building a movement on a platform you don’t own. My work was nearly wiped out multiple times due to suspensions and abuse by Reddit administrators. That mistreatment was the primary decision for us to move offline. But something like this should have started offline anyway. The internet can never satisfy what only face to face interaction can.
4. Think Before You Act: At first, I offered solutions backed by my own experiences, assuming they’d work for everyone. But I quickly realized that each situation and person is unique. What works for one may not work for another. Now, I focus on making suggestions rather than assuming my way is the only way. This approach is less likely to cause harm and more likely to be helpful.
5. Public Perception Is Powerful: No matter how much good we were doing, I found out all too well that people are actually very easily manipulated. Incredibly easily. Thousands of people unsubscribed to r/GuyCry at the drop of the word “scam.” Even as the work we were doing could clearly be seen lighting up people’s lives, once that word was said, walls went up. Even without any evidence. That’s the skeptical world we live in, and those who don’t want the status quo to change, know exactly how to manipulate people. Like a small amount of saffron flavors a lot of food, a little bit of doubt goes a long way. I wish I had been told how vital PR and image management are, especially in the age of social media where news spreads like wildfire. Never forget, a lie will go around the world before the truth has time to put its pants on.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I have all kinds of movements, coalitions, and impactful works planned, but one that really needs to come into existence sooner rather than later is the ‘Humanity First Initiative.’ The main goals would be to make empathy, compassion, and understanding non-negotiables in our society. These are the missing pieces in a lot of the big issues we’re dealing with today, like racial tensions and mental health stigmas.
First, we’d get into schools and make sure kids are learning how to understand and communicate with others. Soft skills — people skills — can’t be an afterthought anymore. After that, we’d set up ‘Humanity Hubs’ in communities. These would be places where people of all ages can come together, have meaningful conversations, and work on solving local problems.
The end game is to tackle the root causes of social issues. By doing this, we’re not only helping individuals but also building a stronger, more caring society.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
From the moment I heard this quote almost a year ago, I knew that it was put in front of me for a reason. I have not often paid attention to quotes, but since this one walked into my life, quotes have become a staple of the work that I do.
I have some incredible people working with me. My team is only about 10 people strong. Half of them know each other, and the other half don’t. Yet. And yet, they each have their part in this overall grand plan, and they’ve each come into my life exactly when they needed to. What we’re doing carries a lot of weight, and without them, I wouldn’t be where we are today.
The advisor I’ve spoken of above who helped me get into rehab? The following is a quote from him; “if you don’t believe in God, believe in good.” I believe.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I wish I could sit down with my future self to see how this whole thing plays out. I’m anxious.
As for sitting down with another human being, Simon Sinek. I’ve only recently learned about him, but the title of his book “Start With Why” hit me hard. It was awesome to find out that I was intuitively on the course of success without being told how important the “why” is. My “why?” It all boils down to three simple words; ‘because I care.’ That care shows in everything I do.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
The fight for the best quality of life is taking place at https://www.legaciesofmen.org. There is an abundance of hope there as well for those that need it. And it’s all free.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Much obliged 🙂
Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Joe Truax of Legacies of Men Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.